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Title: Curiosities of Impecuniosity
Author: Somerville, H. G.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  Publishers in Ordinary to Her Majesty the Queen.



It is customary for the proprietor when starting a newspaper or periodical
to issue a notice to the public explaining--or purporting to explain--the
_raison d'être_ of the new venture, which notices, with very trifling
exceptions, are to the effect that the projected journal "will supply a
want long felt."

I might, in sending forth the following pages, state something similar
with perfect truth, since if the little work be as successful as (I say it
with all modesty) it ought to be, it will unquestionably _supply_ a want
long felt--by the author.

It is frequently averred nowadays that much that is written bears evidence
of being of a non-practical character, and under these circumstances, I
felt I should take a pardonable pride in being able to point to one volume
in the English language to which this stigma could not be applied; for I
flatter myself the subject of Impecuniosity is one with which I have
long--too long--been practically familiar.



  CHAP.                                                  PAGE


    II. IMPECUNIOSITY OF THE GREAT                         13

   III. THE SHIFTS OF IMPECUNIOSITY                        25


     V. THE INGENUITY OF IMPECUNIOSITY                     73

    VI. THE IMPECUNIOSITY OF ACTORS                        87

   VII. IMPECUNIOSITY OF ARTISTS                          132

  VIII. IMPECUNIOSITY OF AUTHORS                          158

    IX. THE ROMANCE OF IMPECUNIOSITY                      196




"I wish the good old times would come again, when we were not quite so
rich," says Bridget Elia. "I am sure we were a great deal happier. A
purchase is but a purchase now that you have money enough. Formerly it
used to be a triumph. When we coveted a cheap luxury, we were used to have
a debate two or three days before, and to weigh the for and against, and
think what we might spare it out of, and what savings we could hit upon
that would be an equivalent. A thing was worth buying then, when we felt
the money we paid for it. Do you remember the brown suit which you made to
hang upon you, it grew so threadbare, and all because of that folio
Beaumont and Fletcher which you dragged home late at night from Barker's
in Covent Garden? Do you remember how we eyed it for weeks before we could
make up our minds to the purchase, and had not come to a determination
till it was near ten o'clock on the Saturday night, when you set off from
Islington, fearing you should be too late; and when the old bookseller
with some grumbling opened his shop, and by the twinkling taper lighted
out the relic from his dusty treasure-house, and when you lugged it home
wishing it were twice as cumbersome, and when you presented it to me, and
when we were exploring the perfection of it, and while I was repairing
some of the loose leaves with paste, which your impatience would not
suffer to be left till daybreak, was there no pleasure in being a poor
man? Do you remember our pleasant walks to Enfield, and Potter's Bar, and
Waltham, when we had a holiday? Holidays and all other fun are gone now we
are rich,--and the little hand-basket in which I used to deposit our day's
fare of savoury cold lamb, and how you would pry about at noontide for
some decent house where we might go in and produce our store, only paying
for the ale that you must call for, and speculate upon the looks of the
landlady. We had cheerful looks for one another, and would eat our plain
food savourily. You are too proud to see a play anywhere now but in the
pit. Do you remember where it was we sat when we saw the 'Battle of
Hexham,' and 'The Surrender of Calais,' and Bannister and Mrs. Bland in
'The Children of the Wood,' when we squeezed out our shillings apiece to
sit three or four times in a season in the one shilling gallery? You used
to say that the gallery was the best place for seeing, and was the best
place of all for enjoying a play socially, that the company we met there,
not being in general readers of plays, were obliged to attend the more. I
appeal to you whether, as a woman, I met generally with less attention and
accommodation than I have since in more expensive situations in the house.
You cannot see, you say, in the gallery now. I am sure we saw--and heard
too--well enough then; but sight and all, I think, is gone with our

But this is not the experience of every one. "Moralists," Sydney Smith
remarks, "tell you of the evils of wealth and station, and the happiness
of poverty. I have been very poor the greater part of my life and have
borne it, I believe, as well as most people; but I can safely say I have
been happier for every guinea I have earned."

Doctor Johnson, in addition to alleging that "Poverty is a great enemy to
human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues
impracticable and others extremely difficult," maintains that "poverty
takes away so many means of doing good, and produces so much inability to
resist evil, both natural and moral, that it is by all virtuous means to
be avoided." Burns is stronger still in his denunciation, exclaiming,
"Poverty, thou half-sister of death, thou cousin-german of hell, where
shall I find force of execration equal to the amplitude of thy demerits?"
But in striking contrast to these, is that remarkable passage in George
Sand's 'Consuelo,' in which every known blessing and virtue is attributed
to "the goddess--the good goddess--of poverty."

Samuel Smiles is of opinion that "nothing sharpens a man's wits like
poverty. Hence many of the greatest men have originally been poor men.
Poverty often purifies and braces a man's morals. To spirited people
difficult tasks are usually the most delightful ones. If we may rely upon
the testimony of history, men are brave, truthful, and magnanimous, not
in proportion to their wealth, but in proportion to the smallness of their

With this I agree to a certain extent; but I claim for impecuniosity
certain charms and characteristics not associated with poverty. To me the
former conveys the idea of a temporary shortness of funds; the latter of a
chronic state of want.

I should also have preferred to say, "Nothing sharpens a man's wits like
impecuniosity," for to many minds poverty, _pur et simple_, has been
simply crushing.

A volume might be filled with the different opinions that have been
expressed on this subject, and as there is abundant proof that many who
have become great in science, literature, and art, have found insufficient
means a stimulus to exertion, it must be conceded that poverty is a
splendid thing for those who are equal to fighting against it.

Although impecuniosity has been most extensively experienced by actors,
authors, and artists, many of the mighty in law, medicine, and the army
and navy, have furnished instances of its universality, but comparatively
few cases are to be found connected with commerce. Of course it may be
urged that the struggles of business men are, with few exceptions,
unrecorded; but still I think their experience on this subject is rather
of "the trials of poverty."

The history of George Moore furnishes an interesting instance of the early
struggles of a literally "commercial" man. When he came to London in 1825,
he was possessed of a most modest amount of money; and on the day
following his arrival in London he made application after application for
employment without success, being sometimes received with laughter on
account of his country-cut clothes and Cumberland dialect. At the
establishment of Messrs. Meeking in Holborn, he was asked if he wanted a
porter's situation. So broken-hearted was he at his many rebuffs, that he
could not send a letter home, it was so blotted with tears.

At last he was engaged by Mr. Ray, of Soho Square, at a salary of £30 a
year, and bargained with a man driving a pony-cart to convey the box
containing all his personal effects. They had not proceeded far when Moore
missed the man: pony, cart, and trunk had vanished.

The poor fellow sat down on a doorstep almost broken-hearted at his

After waiting for two hours, not knowing what to do for the best, he
beheld a pony-cart approaching, and his joy may be imagined when he
recognised the identical man with his identical trunk.

The carrier, who had called somewhere in a bye-street and so missed Moore,
did not scruple to laugh at him for his "greenness" in trusting a
stranger. In gratitude, young Moore proffered the man his whole capital,
consisting of nine shillings, which the driver declined, saying "he had
agreed for five, and five was all he wanted," an instance of honesty which
Mr. Moore, the merchant, never forgot.

Want of money does not always demoralise. Andrew Marvell, the son of a
Yorkshire minister and schoolmaster, entered Trinity College, Cambridge,
at the early age of thirteen. Decoyed from home by the Jesuits, he was
discovered by his father in a bookseller's in London, and induced to
return to college, where he took his B.A. degree in 1628. He then appears
to have travelled considerably in France and Italy, while from 1663 to
1665 he was secretary to the Embassy to Muscovy, Sweden, and Denmark. In
1660 he was chosen to represent his native town, Kingston-on-Hull, in
Parliament. Here he made himself so obnoxious to the governing party, that
his life was threatened, and he was forced to go into hiding. His
conspicuous ability and marvellous wit were acknowledged by all, and
appreciated by Charles II., who took pleasure in his company, and on one
occasion instructed his Lord Treasurer to ferret him out, and ascertain in
what way he could help him. At this time Marvell was living in a court off
the Strand, up two pair of stairs, and there Lord Danby, abruptly opening
the door, discovered him writing. He suggested that the Treasurer had
mistaken his way; but his lordship replied, "Not now I have found Mr.
Marvell;" adding that "His Majesty wished to know what he could do to
serve him." Marvell replied that "it was not in His Majesty's power to
serve him;" adding that "he knew full well the nature of Courts, having
been in many; and that whosoever is distinguished by the favour of the
prince, is expected to vote in his interest." Lord Danby told him that
"His Majesty, from the just sense he had of his merit alone, desired to
know whether there was any place at Court he could be pleased with." The
answer to this was that "he could not with honour accept the offer, since
if he did he must either be ungrateful to the king in voting against him,
or false to his country in giving in to the measures of the Court. The
only favour therefore which he begged of His Majesty was, that he would
esteem him as faithful a subject as any he had, and more truly in his
interest by refusing his offers, than he could have been by embracing
them." After this Lord Danby said that "the king had ordered Mr. Marvell
£1000, which he hoped he would receive till he could think of something
farther to ask His Majesty;" whereupon Marvell called to his

"Jack, what had I for dinner yesterday?"

"The little shoulder of mutton."

"Right! What shall I have to-day?"

"The blade bone boiled."

"Right! You see, my lord, my dinner is provided, and I do not want the
piece of paper."

The Lord Treasurer departed, finding his mission vain; and, shortly
afterwards, Marvell sent his boy out to borrow a guinea from a friend. The
incorruptible integrity he had displayed was by no means due to affluence.

Another historical case where poverty and patriotism have been blended is
that of Admiral Rodney. At the general election in 1768 he was returned
for Northampton, after a violent contest, the expense of which, combined
with a fatal passion for gaming, compelled him to fly from the
importunities of his creditors.

While residing in Paris he is said to have been occasionally in want of
the veriest trifle for necessaries, which fact becoming known, the French
Government, through the Duc de Biron, offered him high rank in their navy.
His reply was worthy of a sailor and a gentleman. "Monsieur le Duc," said
he, "my distresses have driven me from my country, but no temptation can
estrange me from her service; had this offer been voluntary on your part,
I should have considered it an insult; but it proceeds from a source that
can do no wrong."

The foregoing illustrations of the inability of impecuniosity to drag
certain characters from off their high pedestal of honour, are
unfortunately counterbalanced by the considerably too numerous instances
of those who have not been proof against its degrading effects. The
characteristics of such as have succumbed are naturally the antitheses of
those just referred to; instead of strong, healthy, moral minds, their
natures are found to be more or less weak, selfish, and in every case
wanting, to some extent, in self-respect. The last-named attribute
undoubtedly supplying the chief cause of defection.

In this category may be placed Desiderius Erasmus, one of the most
remarkable scholars of the 15th and 16th centuries, if not, as is
considered by some, one of the most illustrious men that ever lived. The
benefits that he conferred on the world at large by his profound and
extensive erudition are so priceless that it seems a shame to pillory one
so revered; but "necessity has no law," and as he was chronically
necessitous his weakness on one occasion must be laid bare.

Independently of his failing to rise superior to the want of money, which
will be referred to directly, it will be seen that his character lacked
nobility, by his own confession. He was at the time of Luther pre-eminent
in the world of letters, his fame as a student of the deepest research was
world-wide, acknowledged not only by the sovereigns and popes of Europe,
but by our own monarch, Henry VIII., and by all the men of learning of
that age. Thus his power and influence were immense, and it is deeply to
be regretted that his cowardice should have prevented him from espousing
the doctrines of Luther, since there is no doubt he believed in them.

  "Many loved truth and lavished life's best oil
  Amid the dust of books to find her,
  Content at last for guerdon of their toil
  With the cast mantle she had left behind her.
  Many in sad faith sought for her,
  Many with crossed hands sighed for her,
  But these our brothers fought for her,
  At life's dear peril wrought for her,
  So loved her that they died for her."

Erasmus was not one of those who died for the love of truth, but rather
one who "with crossed hands, sighed for her," since in one of his letters
he says,--

"Wherein could I have assisted Luther if I had declared myself for him,
and shared the danger along with him? Only thus far, that, instead of one
man, two would have perished. I cannot conceive what he means by writing
with such a spirit (so fearlessly); one thing I know too well, that he
hath brought a great odium upon the lovers of literature. It is true that
he hath given us many wholesome doctrines and many good counsels, and I
wish he had not defeated the effect of them by his intolerable faults. But
if he had written everything in the most unexceptionable manner I had no
inclination to die for the sake of truth. Every man has not the courage
requisite to make a martyr; and I am afraid, that if I were put to the
trial, I should imitate St. Peter."

Deliciously truthful this, is it not? The practical way in which he
reveals his creed, "self-preservation is the first law of nature," is
particularly interesting, more especially as it is so thoroughly in
keeping with the sentiments displayed on the occasion when from want of
money he penned the following letter to his friend James Battus,
beseeching him to dun the Marchioness of Vere, in the following terms:

"You must go to her and excuse my shyness on the ground that I cannot
tolerate explaining my difficulties in person. Tell her the need I am in.
That Italy is the place to get a degree; explain to her how much more
honour I am likely to do her than those theologians she keeps about her.
They give forth mere commonplaces. I write what will last for ever. Tell
her that fellows like them are to be met with everywhere--the like of me
only appears in the course of many ages--_i.e._ if you don't mind drawing
the long-bow in the cause of friendship. What a discredit it would be to
her should St. Jerome"--whose works he was preparing--"appear with
discredit for the want of a few gold pieces."

That the opinions expressed were perfectly truthful there is no
gainsaying; but the taste, or rather, want of it, that dictated such an
epistle is pitiable, and materially mars the character of one who as far
as learning is concerned was indisputably great.

If culture could avail against the deteriorating effects of impecuniosity
the career of Orator Henley would have been a different one. The son of a
Leicestershire vicar, and educated at St. John's, Cambridge, he attained
considerable eminence as a linguist, and while keeping a school in his
native place compiled his 'Universal Grammar,' which was written in ten
languages. He afterwards came to be regarded as a sort of ecclesiastical
outlaw, having a room in Newport Market, Leicester Square, where he
started as a quack divine and public lecturer, Sundays being devoted to
divinity, Wednesdays and Thursdays to secular orations, the charge for
admission one shilling. He afterwards migrated to Clare Market, and became
a favourite among the butchers; but though gifted with much oratorical
power, he obtained but a precarious subsistence. When at his pecuniary
worst he seems to have been at his inventive best, and in proportion to
the lowness of his funds his audacity rose. On one occasion when
particularly pressed he advertised a meeting for shoemakers to witness a
new invention for making shoes, undertaking to make a pair in presence of
the audience in an incredibly short space. When the evening arrived, and
the room was filled with the followers of Crispin, Mr. Henley simply cut
the tops off a pair of old boots, and thereby illustrating the motto to
his advertisement, "Omne majus continent in se minus" ("The greater
includes the less").[1]

    [1] The elder D'Israeli in summing up the character of this
    extraordinary man, who left behind him more than 6000 MSS., says, "A
    scholar of great acquirements and of no mean genius; hardy and
    inventive, eloquent and witty; he might have been an ornament to
    literature, which he made ridiculous; and the pride of the pulpit
    which he so egregiously disgraced; but having blunted and worn out
    that interior feeling which is the instinct of the good man, and the
    wisdom of the wise, there was no balance in his passions, and the
    decorum of life was sacrificed to its selfishness. He condescended to
    live on the follies of the people, and his sordid nature had changed
    him till he crept, 'licking the dust with the serpent.'"

Dr. Howard, the Rector of St. George's, Southwark, and Chaplain to the
Dowager Princess of Wales, towards the close of the last century, was
invariably short of money, a fact pretty well known to his tradesmen. On
one occasion he ordered a canonical wig from a peruke-maker's in Leicester
Fields, and the porter had instructions not to leave it till the bill was

Arrived at the rectory, the man asked for the doctor.

"I've brought your wig home, sir."

"Oh, ah," replied the doctor; "quite right--you can leave it. Just put it
down there."

"No, I can't leave it, sir--that is, without the money."

"Oh, very well, then. I'll try it on."

The man handed him the wig, and as soon as the doctor put it on, he said
to the messenger,--

"This article has been bought and delivered; if you dare to touch it, I
will prosecute you for robbery."

Dr. Howard once preached from the text, "Have patience with me, and I will
pay thee all"--a passage gratifying to the feelings of an audience
including many of his creditors. He dwelt at considerable length on the
blessings and duty of patience, till it was time to close, and then said,
"Now, brethren, I am come to the second part of my discourse, which is,
'And I will pay ye all,' _but that I shall defer to a future

Colton, the author of 'Lacon,' who became vicar of the poor living of Kew
and Petersham, must likewise be included in the list of those who have
succumbed to circumstances. Finding himself unable to pay the price of
apartments in the neighbourhood of his living, he transported his gun,
fishing-rod, and few books (one of which was De Foe's 'History of the
Devil') to Soho, where he rented a couple of rooms in a small house
overlooking St. Anne's burial-ground. There he wrote his book of
'Aphorisms,' a broken phial placed in a saucer serving him as an inkstand.
His copy was written on scraps of paper and blank sides of letters, and he
dined at an eating-house, or cooked a chop for himself. At one time he
opened a wine-cellar in another person's name under a Methodist chapel in
Dean Street, Soho, a position for a spiritual adviser which would scarcely
be tolerated even in these days of considerable religious liberty.

Many amusing stories are told of Joe Haines, a comedian of the time of
Charles II., sometimes called "Count" Haines. It is said that he was
arrested one morning by two bailiffs for a debt of £20, when he saw a
bishop, to whom he was related, passing along in his coach. With ready
resource he immediately saw a loophole for escape, and, turning to the men
he said, "Let me speak to his lordship, to whom I am well known, and he
will pay the debt and your charges into the bargain."

The bailiffs thought they might venture this, as they were within two or
three yards of the coach, and acceded to his request. Joe boldly advanced
and took his hat off to the bishop. His lordship ordered the coach to
stop, when Joe whispered to the divine that the two men were suffering
from such scruples of conscience that he feared they would hang
themselves, suggesting that his lordship should invite them to his house,
and promise to satisfy them. The bishop agreed, and calling to the
bailiffs, he said, "You two men come to me to-morrow morning, and I will
satisfy you."

The men bowed and went away pleased, and early the next day waited on his
lordship, who, when they were ushered in, said, "Well, my men, what are
these scruples of conscience?"

"Scruples?" replied one of them, "we have no scruples! We are bailiffs, my
lord, who yesterday arrested your cousin, Joe Haines, for a debt of £20,
and your lordship kindly promised to satisfy us."

The trick was strange, but the result was stranger, for his lordship,
either appreciating its cleverness, or considering himself bound by the
promise he had unintentionally given, there and then settled with the men
in full.

John Rich, manager of the Lincoln's Inn Fields and Covent Garden Theatres,
1681-1761, was another dramatic delinquent. It was owing to his marvellous
ability as harlequin that pantomime achieved its popularity. His
gesticulation is said to have been so perfectly expressive of his meaning
that every motion of his hand or head was a kind of dumb eloquence,
readily understood by the audience. One evening, when returning from the
theatre in a cab, having ordered the coachman to drive to the "Sun," a
tavern in Clare Market, he threw himself out of the coach window and
through the open window of the tavern parlour, just as the driver was
about to draw up. The man then descended from the box, touched his hat,
and stood waiting for his passenger to alight. Finding at length there was
no one visible he besought a few blessings on the scoundrel who had
imposed upon him, remounted his box, and was about to drive off, when
Rich, who had been watching, vaulted back into the vehicle, and, putting
his head out, asked, "where the devil he was driving to?" Almost paralyzed
with fear the driver got down again, but could not be persuaded to take
his fare, though he was offered a shilling for himself, exclaiming, "No
no, that won't do. I know you too well for all your shoes; and so Mr.
Devil, for once you're outwitted." In addition to his successful
pantomimes, his production of the 'Beggar's Opera' was a wonderful hit;
but he seems never to have been well off, and was at one time in such
difficulties that he hit upon the clever expedient of taking a house
situated in three different counties in order to free himself from the
attentions of sheriffs' officers.

One name must not be omitted from this section of the subject, that of
Richard Brinsley Sheridan. His adroitness in profiting by his very
practical jokes commenced soon after his leaving Harrow, when spending a
few days at Bristol. He wanted a new pair of boots, but, not having money
to pay for them, ordered a pair from two bootmakers, to be sent home on
the morning of his departure, payment being promised on delivery. When the
first tradesman arrived he complained of the fit of one boot, and when the
second came he objected to his make of the boot for the other foot. Each
bootmaker took a boot back to be stretched. When the dupes called next
day, each displaying a boot, they found that Sheridan had departed in the
fellow pieces of their property.

Later in life his difficulties became chronic, but his ingenuity was
generally equal to them. Having arranged to give a banquet to the
leaders of the Opposition, he found himself on the morning of the event
without port or sherry, his wine-merchant having positively refused to
supply any more without payment. In this dilemma he sent for Chalier, and
told him he wished to settle his account. The wine-merchant, much
delighted, proposed running home for it, when Sheridan stopped him with
"What do you say to dining with me to-day? Lord This, and Sir So-and-so
That" (mentioning several celebrities), "will be here." The offer was
accepted with enthusiasm, the merchant leaving his office early in order
to dress for the occasion. As soon as he made his appearance Sheridan
despatched a messenger to the clerk at the office, to the effect that Mr.
Chalier desired so many dozen of different kinds of wine sent at once,
which instructions were promptly executed, the Burgundy, hock, &c., &c.
arriving just in time for the dinner.

One Friday evening at Drury Lane, just after the half-price money had been
taken, Sheridan was informed by his treasurer that unless a certain amount
could be raised there was not sufficient to pay the salaries of even the
subordinates, and the house would have to close the following Monday.
After making certain suggestions which were voted useless by his
business-man, Sherry took a look at the meagrely-filled house, and calling
a servant, said to him, "You see that stout, goodtempered-looking man in
such and such a box?" "Yes, sir." "Immediately the act-drop is down go to
him; have a boy who can bow gracefully precede you with a pair of wax
candles. Open the box-door, and in a voice loud enough to be heard by
everyone, say, 'Mr. Sheridan requests the pleasure of a private interview
with you, sir.' Treat him with the greatest attention, and see that a
bottle of the best port and a couple of wine-glasses are placed in my
study." These directions were all carried out, and when the manager was
alone with his visitor, after expressing the great pleasure he always
experienced in seeing any one from Staffordshire, he said, "I think you
told me you came to London twice a year." "Yes," was the reply, "January
and June, to receive my dividends. I have been to the bank to-day and got
my £600." "Ah you are in Consols, whilst I, alas, am Reduced and can get
nothing till April, when you know the interest is paid, and till then I
shall be in great distress." "Oh," said his constituent, "let not that
make you uneasy; if you give me the power of attorney to receive the money
for you, I can let you have £300, which I shall not want till then." "Only
a real friend," said Sheridan, "could have made such a proposition." The
£300 duly changed hands, and when April came the power of attorney was
handed to Sheridan to sign, "I never spoke of Consols in Reduced," said
he, "I only spoke of my Consols being reduced. Unhappy is the man who
cannot understand the weight of prepositions." The Stafford man went to
Sheridan in a fearful rage, but the latter was as cool as a cucumber. He
made a clean breast of it, and told all. "But," he said, "my dear sir, I
am now commanded to go to the Prince Regent, to whom I shall narrate your
noble conduct. My carriage is waiting, and I can take you to Carlton
House." The creditor was delighted. He shook Sherry by the hand,
exclaiming, "I forgive you, never mention the debt again," to which
Sheridan readily assented, and we may be sure kept his word for once. The
carriage came, into which both entered, but when it arrived at Carlton
House Sheridan alighted, closed the door, and told the coachman to drive
the gentleman to his hotel. The Stafford man expostulated that he
understood he was going into Carlton House, when Sheridan calmly told him,
"That's another mistake of yours," and of course, though his statement
inferred as much, he only said he would take his constituent _to_ Carlton
House. It goes without saying that at the next election the Staffordshire
elector voted on the other side.

There is no doubt that at last Sheridan was so desperately involved that
his life became, "not to put too fine a point on it," that of a schemer.
He lived in an atmosphere of duns, but such a thorough master was he of
the subject that it was the tradesmen who eventually were "done" by him.
It was customary for them to assemble early in the morning to catch him
before he went out, and when informed "Mr. Sheridan is not down yet, sir,"
they were shown into the rooms on each side of the entrance-hall. When he
had finished his breakfast he would say, "Are those doors all shut, John?"
and on being informed that they were, would deliberately walk out as
pleased as though he had obtained a great moral victory.



It must be admitted that impecuniosity is impartial, the peer and the
peasant being equally open to its visits, and the Sovereign, under certain
conditions, as liable to its influence as the subject. Edward the Third
was compelled to pawn his jewels, and his imperial crown three times, once
abroad, and twice to Sir John Wosenham, his banker, in whose custody the
crown remained eight years. Henry the Fifth was also under the necessity
of pawning his crown and the silver table and stools which he had from
Spain. The Black Prince made the same use of his plate, and Queen
Elizabeth was obliged to part with some of her jewels.

More than two centuries ago when Clerkenwell was a sort of Court quarter
of London, and could boast amongst other distinguished residents the Duke
and Duchess of Newcastle, this couple, both of whom are remembered by
their literary eccentricities, had more than once to patronise the
pawnbroker. The duke, who was a devoted Royalist, after his defeat at
Marston Moor, retired with his wife to the Continent, and with many
privations owing to pecuniary embarrassments suffered an exile of eighteen
years, chiefly in Antwerp, in a house which belonged to the widow of

Many of our most illustrious families have been indebted to the exertions
or the genius of some humble ancestor. The case of Charles Abbot,
afterwards Lord Tenterden, is a typical one. He was the son of a
Canterbury barber, and at the age of seven was admitted on the foundation
of the King's School in that town, where he soon attracted attention by
his industry and intelligence. At an early age he much wished to become a
chorister, and was so disappointed when he failed that in after years,
when visiting the Cathedral with Mr. Justice Richards, who commended the
voice of a singer in the choir, his lordship exclaimed, "Ah, that is the
only man I ever envied. When at school in this town, we were candidates
for a chorister's place and he obtained it." When seventeen, there was no
prospect for the clever youth but the drudgery of trade, and on this
becoming known in the school there was a general wish expressed that his
perseverance and ability should be rewarded. To private generosity he was
indebted for his outfit, the trustees conferring a small exhibition upon
him, and adding a pittance which enabled him to live, with rigid economy,
until he took his B.A. degree. When asked by Mr. Lamont, the father of the
lady to whom he was engaged, what means he had to maintain a wife, he
replied, "The books in this room and two pupils in the next."

Sir Peter Laurie, when Lord Mayor of London, said at a dinner given to the
judges: "What a country is this we live in! In other parts of the world
there is no chance except for men of high birth and aristocratic
connections, but here genius and industry are sure to be rewarded. You see
before you the example of myself, the chief magistrate of the metropolis
of this great empire, with the Chief Justice of England sitting at my
right hand, both now in the highest offices of the State, and both sprung
from the very dregs of the people." There are many men who would have been
anything but pleased at this reference to their humble extraction; but it
was not distasteful to his lordship.

Macready, in recounting a visit to Canterbury Cathedral, says he was shown
by the verger the spot where a little shop once stood, and was informed
that when Lord Tenterden last visited the Cathedral, he said to his son,
"Charles, you see this little shop. I have brought you here on purpose to
show it you. In that shop your grandfather used to shave for a penny. That
is the proudest reflection of my life. While you live never forget that,
my dear Charles," an injunction which, coming from a Chief Justice of
England who died worth £120,000, ought to have a salutary effect on

The equally famous Lord Erskine, though a man of gentle birth, was
nevertheless indebted, to a certain extent, to impecuniosity for the
greatness he achieved, since that impelled him to the spirited defence of
Captain Baillie, which attracted the attention of all England. Called to
the bar on the 3rd July, 1778, Erskine made his first appearance in public
on the 24th November. Previous to this time he had been unknown. His first
brief fell to his lot in this way: A certain Captain Baillie, who, for
gallant services, had been appointed to a post in Greenwich Hospital,
discovered the gravest abuses there, and brought the state of things to
the notice of those in power, but being unable to get them remedied,
determined to publish the facts of the case. His statement implicated Lord
Sandwich, the First Lord of the Admiralty, who, to serve his political
purposes, had filled the vacant posts at the Hospital with certain
landsmen. The Board of Admiralty immediately suspended the captain, and a
criminal information for libel was lodged against him, the case exciting
the greatest public interest. During the vacation Erskine had met Captain
Baillie at the house of a mutual friend, and, utterly unconscious of his
presence, had, after dinner, so strongly censured the shameful practices
ascribed to Lord Sandwich that the captain immediately inquired who the
young fellow was, and on being told that Erskine had formerly been in the
navy, but had recently been called to the bar, he exclaimed with warmth,
"Then that's the man I'll have for my counsel!"

In due course this now historic trial came on, when the young barrister's
marvellous speech created an impression called by Lord Campbell, "the most
wonderful forensic effort of which we have any account in our annals. It
was the _début_ of a barrister just called, and wholly unpractised in
public speaking, before a court crowded with men of the greatest
distinction, belonging to all parties of the State. He came after four
eminent counsel, who might have been supposed to have exhausted the
subject. He was called to order by a venerable judge, whose word had been
law in that hall above a quarter of a century. His exclamation, 'I will
_bring_ him' (Lord Sandwich) 'before the Court!' and the crushing
denunciation of Lord Sandwich, in which he was enabled to persevere, from
the sympathy of the bystanders, and even of the judges, who, in
strictness, ought to have checked his irregularity, are as soul-stirring
as anything in this species of eloquence presented to us by ancient or
modern times." As Erskine walked along the hall after the rising of the
judges, attorneys flocked around him with their briefs. When asked how he
had the courage to stand up so boldly against Lord Mansfield, he replied
that he fancied he could feel his little children plucking at his robe,
and that he heard them saying, "_Now, father, is the time to get us

Lord Eldon's life furnishes abundant proof that he was perfectly familiar
with adversity. The son of a "fitter" employed in conveying coals in
barges from the pits to the different ports on the Tyne, John Scott was
born at Newcastle on the 4th June, 1751, and after being educated at the
Grammar School in the town would have been apprenticed to his father's
business but for the remonstrances of his brother William (afterwards Lord
Stowell), who had obtained an Oxford scholarship, and subsequently a
fellowship at the University. The success of the one son induced the
father to send John also to college, where he at first studied for the
church. While at Oxford he made a runaway match with Miss Bessy Surtees,
the daughter of a Newcastle banker. The young couple went to the Queen's
Head, at Morpeth, but on the third morning of their married life their
funds were exhausted, and they had no home to go to. Mrs. Scott was
naturally very much upset at the predicament in which they were placed,
but while lamenting it she suddenly caught sight of a fine wolf-dog
belonging to the family, called Loup, whose presence at Morpeth was to her
the joyous sign that help was at hand. In a few moments Mr. Henry Scott,
her husband's brother, entered the room. John Scott had written a
repentant letter from Morpeth to his father, which had the desired effect,
and the younger brother had been sent to announce pardon to the offending
couple, and to invite them to take up their abode under the parental roof.
The year of grace allowed for retaining a fellowship after marriage having
elapsed, Mr. Scott abandoned the thought of taking holy orders and studied
law. He was called to the bar in 1776, when he says, "Bessy and I thought
all our troubles were over, and we were to be rich almost immediately."
This golden dream was however speedily dissipated, for during the first
year the total amount of his professional income was ten shillings and
sixpence. But when Lord Chancellor, and living in a magnificent mansion in
the vicinity of Hyde Park, he often referred to this period of poverty as
the happiest time of his life, for then, he maintained, his wife, to whom
he was always passionately attached, was able to show him attentions never
so freely bestowed when Society asserted its claims on them. Like Lord
Tenterden he gloried in the obstacles he had overcome, and used to point
to a small house in Cursitor Street, saying "There was my first perch;
many a time have I run down to Fleet Market to buy sixpennyworth of sprats
for supper."

Edward Lord Thurlow, who rose to the woolsack in 1778, was not always
affluent. After being called to the bar in 1758 he seldom had the means of
going on circuit, and it is asserted that on one occasion he reached the
assizes on a horse that _he had taken out on trial from London_. Lord
Chief Justice Kenyon is found guilty of having been poor on the evidence
of Horne Tooke, his constant companion when they were students, who, with
a friend named Dunning, used to dine with him in vacation-time at a small
eating-house in Chancery Lane, for 7-1/2_d._ a head. Says Tooke, "Dunning
and myself were generous for we gave the girl who waited on us a penny a
piece, but Kenyon rewarded her with a halfpenny, and sometimes with only a

Sir Samuel Romilly also says, "At a later period of my life--after a
success at the bar which my wildest and most sanguine dreams had never
painted to me--when I was gaining an income of £8000 or £9000 a year--I
have often reflected how all that prosperity had arisen out of the
pecuniary difficulties and confined circumstances of my father."

Lord Campbell, before he was Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor of
England, often knew the inconvenience of want of money. The son of the
Rev. Dr. Geo. Campbell, second minister of Cupar, Fifeshire, he was
educated at the local Grammar School and the University of St. Andrew's,
and though intended originally for the ministry, after spending some years
at college gave up the idea of the church, and went up to London to try
some more congenial occupation. His first appointment was as tutor to a
Mr. Webster, and while engaged in that capacity he penned the following

"My dear brother,--I live very economically; I dine at home for a
shilling, go to the coffee-house once a day, 4_d._, to the theatre once a
week, 3_s._ 6_d._ My pen will keep me in pocket-money. I this day begin a
job which I must finish in a fortnight, and for which I am promised two
guineas, but alas! Willy Thompson paymaster. He owes me divers yellow-boys
already. I go no farther than write the history of the last war in India
for him till he pays me all."

After this he obtained the post of reporter and dramatic critic to the
_Morning Chronicle_, but in 1800 he determined to try the law, and entered
himself a student of Lincoln's Inn. At this time, however, there was a
strong feeling against one of their set having anything to do with
journalism, so that his position was uncomfortable and mortifying, and his
reporting prevented him from forming any acquaintance with his
fellow-students. He entered a special pleader's office in 1804, and in
June 1805, was able exultingly to announce that "he was no longer a
newspaper man." Called to the bar in 1806, he became a bencher in 1827;
member of Parliament for Stafford in 1830; Solicitor-General in 1832;
Attorney-General in 1834; Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1841; Chancellor
of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1846 (in which year he produced his
celebrated work 'The Lives of the Chancellors'); Lord Chief Justice in
1850, and Lord Chancellor in 1859.

Sir Rowland Hill, to whom we are indebted for the penny postage system,
was the son of a Birmingham schoolmaster, a man of simple, but high
character. An outbuilding attached to their house contained benches,
blacksmith's forge, and a vice. Here Rowland and his brother spent much
spare time and cash, which latter he remarks was very scanty. "Ever since
I can remember," he writes, "I have had a taste for mechanics, but the
best mechanician wants materials and materials cost money," and this want
caused his brother and himself on Good Friday morning to turn tradesmen.
They had been sent with a basket to buy a quantity of hot cross buns for
the family and as they went along were much amused by the itinerant
vendors, who were calling out, as was the custom in Birmingham then,

  "Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! One a penny, two a penny, hot cross
  Sugar 'em, and butter 'em, and clap 'em in your muns, one a penny,
      two a penny, hot cross buns."

On their way home the boys in the pure spirit of fun began to repeat the
cry, Matthew, the elder, being a capable mimic; and to their surprise they
found the public respond to their offers, the result being that the
youngsters soon "sold out," and had to return for more to the wholesale
establishment, the difference in this case between buying and selling
being, as is usual, very well worth the trouble. When the family lived at
Hill Top, his mother presented Rowland with a portion of the garden for
his own use, covered with horehound, which he was about to root out to
make way for his flowers, when he was given to understand that the
horehound possessed a monetary value. Immediately on discovering this, he
cut it up carefully, tied it in bundles, and borrowing a basket from his
mother started off to the market-place, where he took up his position with
all the air of a regular trader, but was saved the bother of retail
dealing by disposing of his entire stock for eightpence to a woman
standing near, who he presumed made a hundred per cent. by the
transaction, though with true business tact she complained of her
purchase, and told him to tell his mother, "she must tie up bigger bunches
next time." The proceeds of the sale went to purchase some tools and
materials for the mechanical contrivances spoken of.

The early years of Benjamin Franklin (one of a family of seventeen) were
uncongenially spent with his father, a soap-boiler and tallow-chandler,
and his brother, a printer. When seventeen years old he sold his books and
took a passage from Boston to New York, whence he was advised to proceed
to Philadelphia in search of work. On arriving there he tells us that he
was "fatigued with walking, rowing, and the want of sleep, and very
hungry: my whole stock of cash consisted in a single dollar, and about a
shilling in copper coin, which I gave to the boatmen for my passage. At
first they refused it, on account of my having rowed: but I insisted on
their taking it. Man is sometimes more generous when he has little money
than when he has plenty, perhaps to prevent his being thought to have but
little. I walked towards the top of the street, gazing about till near
Market Street, where I met a boy with bread. I had often made a meal of
dry bread, and inquiring where he had bought it, I went immediately to the
baker's he directed me to. I asked for biscuits, meaning such as we had in
Boston. That sort it seems was not made in Philadelphia. I then asked for
a threepenny loaf, and was told they had none. Not knowing the different
prices, nor the names of the different sorts of bread, I told him to give
me three pennyworth of any sort. He gave me accordingly, three great puffy
rolls. I was surprised at the quantity, but took it; and having no room in
my pockets, walked off with a roll under each arm, and eating the other.
Thus I went up Market Street, as far as Fourth Street, passing by the door
of Mr. Read, my future wife's father, when she, standing at the door, saw
me, and thought I made, as I certainly did, a most awkward, ridiculous
appearance. Then I turned and went down Chestnut Street, and part of
Walnut Street, eating my roll all the way, and coming round, found myself
again at Market Street Wharf, near the boat I came in, to which I went for
a draught of the river water; gave my other rolls to a woman and her child
that came down the river in the boat with us, and were waiting to go
farther. Thus refreshed, I walked again up the street, which by this time
had many clean-dressed people in it, who were all walking the same way. I
joined them, and thereby was led into the great Meeting House of the
Quakers, near the market. I sat down among them, and after looking round
awhile and hearing nothing said, being very drowsy through labour and want
of rest the preceding night, I fell fast asleep, and continued so till the
meeting broke up, when some one was kind enough to rouse me. This,
therefore, was the first house I was in, or slept in, in Philadelphia."

A strange beginning to the career of one who, in addition to his valuable
discoveries in electricity, lived to attain the highest honours his
country could bestow, and to be the ambassador to foreign countries; whose
marvellous intelligence carried out diplomatic undertakings which
undoubtedly affected the destinies of nations. It is interesting to note,
now that electricity plays such a leading part in the inventions of the
day, that when Franklin made his discovery of the identity of lightning
and electricity, it was sneered at, and people asked, "Of what use is it?"
To which he replied, "What is the use of a child? It may become a man."

William Cobbett is another example of the wonderful results to be attained
by temperance, frugality, and unflagging industry, who, originally an
uninteresting yokel, rose to be a power in the land, to edit political
papers, to write political pamphlets (one of which had a circulation of
100,000), and to pen, amongst other most important matter, a volume of
'Advice to Young Men,' which, if followed by the rising generation, could
not fail to make them more worthy the name of Englishmen. At the time
referred to, when he was eleven years old, he was employed in the Bishop
of Winchester's garden at Farnham Castle, and happening to hear of the
royal gardens at Kew, he thought that he should like to be employed there,
started off next morning with only the clothes he was wearing, and
sixpence halfpenny in his pocket, he arrived at Richmond towards evening,
having expended threepence halfpenny on bread and cheese and small beer
and as he jogged along tired and weary with his walk of thirty miles he
was attracted to a bookseller's window, in which was displayed a
second-hand copy of Swift's 'Tale of a Tub,' price 3_d._ He expended his
remaining coppers on its purchase, sat down in an adjoining field, read
till he could see no longer, then putting the book into his pocket he
dropped off to sleep by the side of a haystack. In the morning, roused by
the birds, he continued his journey to Kew Gardens, where he succeeded in
getting engaged by an old Scotch gardener. A year, or two after this, when
he was working again in his native town of Farnham, the old idea of
getting into a larger field of action came back to him, and while waiting
one day for some young women whom he had arranged to escort to Guildford
fair, he was tempted by the sight of the London coach, secured the one
vacant place, and before he had time to realise the importance of the
step, was being whirled away in the direction of the metropolis. When he
arrived the next morning at the Saracen's Head on Ludgate Hill, his
possessions amounted to two shillings and sixpence, but fortunately he had
managed to interest a hop merchant, one of his fellow-passengers, who took
him home, and in the course of a day or two managed to obtain a situation
for him in a lawyer's office. Here he soon discovered that he had made a
"miserable exchange," for his want of skill as a penman made his duties
exceptionally irksome, and his close, confined lodging was very wretched
to one coming fresh from fields musical with the sweet songsters of the

Eight months later, he enlisted in the 54th regiment of foot, and was
ordered to Nova Scotia in twelve months. Here in five years, by temperance
and industry, he managed (doing clerical work for the quarter-master and
pay-sergeant) to save £150, and it was while serving with this regiment
that he acquired a knowledge of Lindley Murray. "I learned grammar," he
says, "when I was a private soldier on the pay of sixpence a day. The edge
of my berth was my seat to study in; my knapsack was my book-case; a bit
of board lying on my lap was my writing-table, and the task did not demand
anything like a year of my life. I had no money to purchase candle or oil;
in winter time I could rarely get any evening light but that of the fire,
and only my turn even of that. And if I, under such circumstances, and
without parent or friend to advise or encourage me, accomplished this
undertaking, what excuse can there be for any youth, however poor, however
pressed with business, or however circumstanced as to room or other
conveniences? To buy a pen or a sheet of paper, I was compelled to forego
some portion of food, though in a state of half-starvation; I had no
moment of time that I could call my own, and I had to read and to write
amidst the talking, laughing, singing, whistling, and brawling of at least
half a score of the most thoughtless of men, and that, too, in the hours
of their freedom from all control. Think not lightly of the farthing that
I had to give now and then, for pen, ink, or paper! That farthing was,
alas! a great sum to me! I was tall as I am now; I had great health and
great exercise. The whole of the money not expended for us at market was
twopence a week for each man. I remember, and well I may, that on one
occasion, I, after all necessary expenses, had on a Friday made shifts to
have a halfpenny in reserve, which I had destined for the purchase of a
red herring in the morning; but when I pulled off my clothes at night, so
hungry then as to be hardly able to endure life, I found that I had lost
my halfpenny! I buried my head under the miserable sheet and rug, and
cried like a child!"

Wonderful, however, as were the achievements of Franklin and Cobbett in
self-education, they were both eclipsed by Elihu Burritt. The son of a
shoemaker, he was at the age of sixteen apprenticed to the "village
blacksmith," and from that time applied himself to the study of languages
with such success, that he mastered French, German, Italian, Latin, Greek,
Hebrew, Spanish, Bohemian, Polish, Danish, Syriac, Samaritan, Turkish,
Ethiopic and Persian. To understand how he accomplished this, we take a
glance at his diary.

"_Monday, June 18_: Headache; forty pages Cuvier's 'Theory of the Earth,'
sixty-four pages French, eleven hours' forging. _Tuesday_: sixty-five
lines of Hebrew, thirty pages of French, ten pages Cuvier's 'Theory,'
eight lines Syriac, ten ditto Danish, ten ditto Bohemian, nine ditto
Polish, fifteen names of stars, ten hours' forging. _Wednesday_:
twenty-five lines Hebrew, fifty pages of astronomy, seven hours' forging.
_Thursday_: fifty-five lines Hebrew, eight ditto Syriac, eleven hours'
forging. _Friday_: unwell; twelve hours' forging. _Saturday_: unwell;
fifty pages of Natural History, ten hours' forging. _Sunday_: lessons for
Bible class."

There were times when, for a short season, he abandoned the anvil, and
devoted his whole time to study; but after a few months' absence from the
forge he would return to earn money for his support, and for the purchase
of books. Hearing one day of an Antiquarian Library at Worcester, U.S., he
determined to go there to work as a journeyman, for the sake of obtaining
access to such rare books, and started off to walk. It was a long journey,
and when he reached Boston Bridge, footsore and weary, he encountered a
waggon being driven by a boy, who was going to Worcester, forty miles
distant. All his valuables consisted of a dollar and an old silver watch.
He availed himself of the chance of a lift, but felt reluctant to part
with his single dollar, and suggested that the waggoner should take his
watch, which, if properly repaired, would be worth a great deal more than
his indebtedness, also suggesting that, in the event of the boy having the
watch mended, he should give Burritt the difference in money if they met
again in Worcester.

The young blacksmith obtained work on his arrival, and some short time
after received a visit from the waggon lad, who honourably brought him a
few dollars, the estimated difference. Some years afterwards Burritt
happened to be travelling from Worcester to New Britain by railway, when
he was accosted by a handsome, well-dressed fellow-traveller.

"You have forgotten me, Mr. Burritt?"

Burritt was obliged to confess that he had.

"Oh," said he, "I'm the boy to whom you gave the watch. I'm now a student
of Harvard College."

After chatting for a bit, Burritt said,--

"I should like to have that watch back again."

"You shall," said the student. "I sold it, but I know where it is."

In a few days he received the watch, which hung for many years in his
printing-office as a memento of early vicissitudes.

Michael Faraday, unquestionably one of the greatest English chemists and
natural philosophers, had few educational advantages before he was
apprenticed to a bookbinder in Blandford Street, Manchester Square, and
while working at his trade he constructed an electrical machine and other
scientific apparatus. These having been seen by his master, Mr. Riebau, he
called the attention of Mr. Dance to them, and he took the boy with him to
hear the last four lectures delivered by Sir Humphry Davy at the Royal
Institution. Faraday took copious notes of the lectures, and afterwards
wrote them out fairly in a quarto volume, and sent it to Sir Humphry,
begging him for employment, that he might quit the trade he hated, and
follow science, which he loved. The answer is a model of kindness and

    "_December 24th, 1812._


    "I am far from displeased with the proof you have given me of your
    confidence, and which displays great zeal, power of memory, and
    attention. I am obliged to go out of town, and shall not be settled in
    town till the end of January. I will then see you at any time you
    wish. It would gratify me to be of any service to you. I wish it may
    be in my power.

        "I am, sir,
          "Your obedient, humble servant,
            "H. DAVY."

Through Sir Humphry's interest, Faraday obtained the post of assistant in
the laboratory of the Royal Institution, where he remained ever
afterwards, eventually becoming its first professor. Tyndall says of
Faraday, "His work excites admiration, but contact with him warms and
elevates the heart. Here, surely, is a strong man. I love strength, but
let me not forget its union with modesty, tenderness, and sweetness in
the character of Faraday.... Taking the duration of his life into account,
this son of a blacksmith and apprentice to a bookbinder had to decide
between a fortune of £150,000 on the one side, and his unendowed science
on the other. He chose the latter, and died a poor man. But his was the
glory of holding aloft among the nations the scientific name of England
for a period of forty years." In 1835, when Sir Robert Peel retired from
office, he recommended Faraday to William IV. for a pension of £300. The
minute was placed in the hands of Lord Melbourne, Peel's successor, who
saw Faraday, and involved him in religious and political discussion,
wanting to entrap the philosopher into a promise to support the
Government. Failing in this, Lord Melbourne said, "I look upon the whole
system of giving pensions to literary and scientific people as a piece of
gross humbug." To which Faraday replied, "After this, my lord, I see that
my business with you is ended. I wish you good morning." The next day Lord
Melbourne received the following letter:

    "MY LORD,

    "After the pithy manner in which your Lordship was pleased to express
    your sentiments on the subject of pensions that have been granted to
    literary and scientific persons, it only remains for me to relieve
    you, as far as I am concerned, from all further uneasiness. I will not
    accept any favour at your hands nor at the hands of any Cabinet of
    which you are a member.

        "M. FARADAY."

It is said that for some years Faraday's income never exceeded £22 a year,
and it is a fact that when a youth he was much exercised about the
purchase of an electrical machine which he had seen in an optician's
window, price 4_s._ 6_d._ He had no money, but out of his dinner allowance
he saved the requisite sum, and this machine was the one he used in all
those early experiments which led to some of his great discoveries.



In 1748 there resided in the wilds of Connaught a lady named Gunning, of
whom little is known but that before her marriage she was the Hon. Bridget
Bourke, and that after it she became the mother of two exquisitely
beautiful daughters, destined to make such a stir in Society, as was
unknown before, and has been unequalled since. Before they left Dublin
they were invited to some brilliant festivities at the Castle, which were
on a scale of magnificence unequalled, it is said, in the memory of the
oldest courtier. To such an entertainment Mrs. Gunning was anxious to
introduce her daughters, for their faces were literally their fortunes;
but the overwhelming difficulty of dress presented itself. They had
nothing that by any amount of manipulation could be transformed into Court
costumes, so in her difficulty Mrs. Gunning obtained an introduction to
Tom Sheridan, who was then managing the Dublin Theatre. He was struck by
the beauty and grace of the girls, placed the wardrobe of the theatre at
their disposal; and by lending them the dresses of Lady Macbeth and
Juliet, in which they appeared most lovely, enabled them to obtain the
_entrée_ to that aristocratic circle in which they afterwards shone so
brilliantly. In addition to providing the necessary garments for the great
event Tom Sheridan is credited with superintending the finishing touches
of their toilets, for which it is said he claimed a kiss from each as his
reward. These beautiful creatures were at one time in even greater straits
for funds.

Miss Bellamy, the actress, asserts that she once found Mrs. Gunning and
her children in the greatest distress, with bailiffs in the house and the
family threatened with immediate eviction. With the assistance of her
man-servant, who stood under the windows of the house at night, after the
bailiffs were admitted, everything that could be carried away, was
removed. But for this and other help the Gunnings were not grateful.
Indeed, in the case of the Countess of Coventry who had borrowed money
from Miss Bellamy, presumably for her wedding _trousseau_, the monetary
obligation was repaid by unpardonable insult. One night when this actress
was playing Juliet, and had just arrived at the most impressive part of
the tragedy, the countess, who occupied the stage-box, uttered a loud
laugh. Miss Bellamy was so overcome by the interruption that she was
obliged to leave the stage, and when Lady Coventry was remonstrated with,
she replied that "since she had seen Mrs. Cibber act Juliet she could not
_endure_ Miss Bellamy." When they came to London in the autumn of 1751 the
fashionable world went mad after "the beautiful Miss Gunnings," who were
positively mobbed in the Park and elsewhere, and were compelled on one
occasion to obtain the protection of a file of the Guards. When they
travelled in the country the roads were lined with people anxious to catch
a glimpse of their lovely faces; and hundreds of people were known to
remain all night outside an inn at which they were staying, in order to
behold them in the morning.

Not many months after their _début_ in London, the Duke of Hamilton, owner
of three dukedoms in Scotland, England, and France, and regarded as the
haughtiest man in the kingdom, became deeply enamoured of the younger
sister, and was married to her at Mayfair Chapel one night at half-past
twelve o'clock, the suddenness of the ceremony compelling the divine who
performed the service to make use of a ring from a bed-curtain.

The elder sister, became Countess of Coventry in the following March, and
was then acknowledged as leader of fashion in the metropolis, although
from the seclusion in which the early part of her life had been spent in
Ireland, she was little fitted, so far as accomplishments were concerned,
to hold that post. Her reign was brief as it was brilliant. In 1759 her
health completely broke down, and she died in October 1760, of
consumption, the result of artificial aids to beauty, which in her case
were utterly unnecessary.

Curran, the advocate and wit, experienced vicissitudes almost as
startling. He was born at Newmarket, County Cork, in 1750, and describes
himself as "a little ragged apprentice to every kind of idleness and
mischief, all day studying whatever was eccentric in those older, and
half the night practising it for the amusement of those who were younger
than myself. One morning I was playing at marbles in the village ball
alley, with a light heart and a lighter pocket. The gibe, and the jest,
and the plunder, went gaily round. Those who won laughed, and those who
lost cheated, when suddenly there appeared amongst us a stranger of a very
venerable and cheerful aspect. His intrusion was not the least restraint
upon our merry little assemblage; he was a benevolent creature, and the
days of infancy (after all, the happiest we shall ever see) perhaps rose
upon his memory. God bless him! I see his fine form, at the distance of
half a century, just as he stood before me in the little ball alley in the
days of my childhood. His name was Boyse; he was the rector of Newmarket.
To me he took a particular fancy.... Some sweetmeats easily bribed me home
with him. I learned from poor Boyse my alphabet, and my grammar, and the
rudiments of the classics: he taught me all he could, and then he sent me
to the school at Middleton--in short, _he made a man of me_. I recollect
it was about five-and-thirty years afterwards when I had risen to some
eminence at the bar, and when I had a seat in Parliament, and a good house
in Ely Place, on my return one day from Court, I found an old gentleman
seated alone in the drawing-room, his feet familiarly placed on each side
of the Italian marble chimney-piece, and his whole air bespeaking the
consciousness of one quite at home. He turned round--it was _my friend of
the ball alley_. I rushed instinctively into his arms. I could not help
bursting into tears. Words cannot describe the scene that followed. 'You
are right, sir--you are right; the chimney-piece is yours, the pictures
are yours, the house is yours; you gave me all I have--my friend--my

    [2] Many struggles had to be endured, however, before this pinnacle of
    prosperity was attained.

After leaving school at Middleton, Curran passed to Trinity College,
Dublin, which he entered as a sizar when nineteen years of age. He does
not appear to have distinguished himself at the University, from whence he
proceeded to London, and contrived, _quodcunque modo_, to enter his name
on the books of the Middle Temple. At that time, he says, he read "ten
hours every day; seven at law, and three at history and the general
principles of politics, and that I may have time enough"--it is believed
he wrote for the magazines, etc., as a means of support--"I rise at
half-past four. I have contrived a machine after the manner of an
hour-glass, which wakens me regularly at that hour. Exactly over my head I
have suspended two vessels of tin, one above the other. When I go to bed,
which is always at ten, I pour a bottle of water into the upper vessel, in
the bottom of which is a hole of such a size as to let the water pass
through so as to make the inferior reservoir overflow in six hours and a
half;" so that if he wished to remain in bed after daylight, he could only
do so by consenting to a cold shower-bath.

He was called to the bar in 1775, and for some time had a tremendously
uphill fight, wearing, according to his own account, his teeth to the
stumps at the Cork Sessions without any adequate recompense. He then
removed to Dublin, and for a time fared no better. "I then lived" said he,
"upon Hog Hill: my wife and children were the chief furniture of my
apartments, and as to my rent it stood pretty much the same chance of
liquidation with the National Debt. Mrs. Curran, however, was a
barrister's lady, and what she wanted in wealth she was determined should
be supplied by dignity. The landlady, on the other hand, had no idea of
any gradation except that of pounds, shillings, and pence. I walked out
one morning to avoid the perpetual altercations on the subject, in no very
enviable mood. I fell into the gloom, to which from my infancy I had been
occasionally subject. I had a family for whom I had no dinner, and a
landlady for whom I had no rent. I had gone abroad in despondence, I
returned home almost in desperation. When I opened the door of my study,
where _Lavater_ alone could have found a library, the first object which
presented itself was an immense folio of a brief, twenty gold guineas
wrapped up beside it, and the name of _Old Bob Lyons_ marked upon the back
of it. I paid my landlady, bought a good dinner, gave Bob Lyons a share of
it, and that dinner was the date of my prosperity." From this time he
rapidly rose to the top of his profession, and his services were eagerly
sought for. Wonderfully eloquent, with a highly imaginative and powerfully
poetic mind, his sway was something marvellous, for, added to these gifts,
his wit and power of mimicry were unapproachable.

In the case of Valentine Jamerai Duval, who ultimately became Professor of
Antiquities and Ancient and Modern Geography in the Academy of Luneville,
youthful hardships occasioned extraordinary expedients. The son of
labouring people, at the age of fourteen he was ignorant of the alphabet.
His occupation was that of turkey-keeper, but after an attack of
small-pox, which nearly killed him, he wandered through certain parts of
Champagne, then in a condition of famine, in search of employment. When he
reached the Duchy of Lorraine, he obtained a situation as shepherd, and
became acquainted with the hermit, Brother Palimon, whom he helped in his
rural labours. In return for these services the hermit gave him
instruction, and subsequently he lived as a labourer with the four hermits
of St. Anne, studying arithmetic and geography in his leisure moments. His
one object then was to obtain books, impossible without money, which,
situated as he was, seemed equally unattainable. Finding out, however,
that a furrier at Luneville purchased skins, he set snares for wild
animals, and by this means realised enough money to procure the books he

But beyond the self-denial of Curran with his primitive invention for
early rising, and the contrivance of Duval for obtaining the needful, is
the interesting career of Bernard Palissy, the Potter, who, in addition to
his fame as an artist in pottery, was celebrated as a glass painter,
naturalist, philosopher, and for his devotion to the Protestant cause in
the sixteenth century. Born in 1510, at Chapelle Biron, a poor hamlet near
the small town of Perigord, he was brought up as a worker in painted
glass, in pursuit of which occupation he travelled considerably, devoting
all the spare time of his wanderings to the study of natural history, in
which he delighted. Though an ardent student of nature, he yet found
opportunity to make himself acquainted with the teaching of Paracelsus, of
the alchemists and of the reformers of the Church. He did not settle down
till nearly thirty years of age, when he established himself at Saintes as
a painter on glass, and surveyor, and then turned his attention to the
making of pottery and the production of white enamel, which latter was
useless excepting as a covering for ornamental pottery, and at this time
Palissy was not sufficiently skilled to make a rough pipkin. Under these
circumstances it is not surprising that his wife took exception to the
money expended in the purchase of drugs, the buying of pots, and the
building of a furnace, as the loss of time told heavily on his limited
resources; and it would be perfectly truthful to say that the first things
Bernard Palissy produced in the way of pottery were family jars. Mrs.
Palissy was undoubtedly very wroth at his going on in this way, more
especially because, as is so frequently the case, his family increased as
his income decreased, and she succeeded at last in stopping his
experiments for a time. He then obtained an appointment as Surveyor to the
Government, in which profession he was remarkably proficient, but before
very long the old craving for experimenting returned with redoubled
vigour, and he again set to work in search of white enamel. The expense
incurred was so great that his wife and children became ragged and hungry:
nothing daunted, he broke up twelve new earthen pots, hired a glass
furnace, and for months continued watching, burning, and baking. At last
his eager eyes were gladdened by the sight of a piece of white enamel
amidst the bakings. Urged on by this, he felt he must have another
furnace; he succeeded in obtaining the bricks on credit, became his own
bricklayer's boy and mason, and built the structure himself. On one
occasion he spent six days and nights watching his baking clay, sleeping
only a few minutes at a time near his fire, but disappointment was all the
result. The vessels were spoilt. In desperation he borrowed more money for
his experiments, which was consumed in like manner, until at last he was
without fuel for the furnace. Insensible to everything but the project on
which he was bent, he tore up the palings from the garden, and when these
were exhausted he broke up the chairs and tables. His wife and children
rushed about frantic, thinking that he had lost his senses, and well they
might when they saw the demolition of the furniture followed by the
tearing up of the floor. Success ultimately crowned his praiseworthy
perseverance, but not until he had devoted sixteen years of unremunerated
labour, enduring unexampled fatigue and discouragements. When at length he
succeeded in obtaining a pure white enamel he was enabled to produce works
in which natural objects were represented with remarkable skill, his fame
spread rapidly, his sculptures in clay and his enamelled pottery being at
once accepted as works of art of the highest order. His career, however,
was destined to be remarkable at every stage, for no sooner had he
acquired renown and riches than he was subjected to religious persecution,
which would have ended in death had it not been for the Duke de
Montmorency, one of his patrons, who succeeded in rescuing him from
prison. When established in Paris, assisted by his sons, he continued to
produce most remarkable specimens of ornamental pottery, and in addition
to his artistic labours instituted a series of conferences which were
attended by the most distinguished doctors and scientific _savants_, where
he set forth his views on fountains, stones, metals, etc., desirous of
knowing whether the great philosophers of antiquity interpreted nature as
he did. Although in the ordinary sense an unlettered man, his theories
were never once controverted, and for ten years his lectures were
delivered before the most enlightened of that age, but his teaching once
more arousing the animosity of his religious opponents, he was thrown into
the Bastille, where he died after being incarcerated for two years.

After such a "shift" as having to tear up the floor of a dwelling, most
other instances might be expected to appear more or less tame; but the
experiences of William Thom, the Inverary poet, are scarcely inferior in
intensity. This untutored, but extremely sweet songster, whose first poem,
'Blind Boys' Pranks,' appeared in the _Edinburgh Herald_, was a hand-loom
weaver, who was deprived of his occupation by the failure of certain
American firms, and compelled to tramp the country as a pedlar. Before
resorting to that line of life, and when in the receipt of the sum of five
shillings weekly, he relates how on a memorable spring morning, he
anxiously awaited the arrival of this small amount: and though the clock
had struck eleven, the windows of the room were still curtained, in order
that the four sleeping children, who were bound to be hungry when awake,
might be deluded into believing that it was still night, for the only food
in their parents' possession was one handful of meal saved from the
previous day. The mother with the tenderest anxiety sat by the babes'
bedside lulling them off to sleep as soon as they exhibited the least sign
of wakefulness, and speaking to her husband in whispers as to the cooking
of the little meal remaining, for the youngest child could no longer be
kept asleep, and by its whimpering woke the others. Face after face sprang
up, each little one exclaiming, "Oh, mither, mither, give me a piece;" and
says the poor fellow, "The word sorrow was too weak to apply to the
feelings of myself and wife during the remainder of that long and dreary
forenoon." When compelled to leave the humble dwelling which,
poverty-stricken though it was, had all the endearing influences of home,
he made up a pack consisting of second-hand books and some trifling
articles of merchandise, and sadly started with wife and bairns through
mountain paths and rugged roads, often sleeping at night in barns and
outhouses. The precarious nature of a pedlar's life must have been
terribly trying to one so sensitive, especially when, as in his case, it
ended in his having to have recourse to the profession of musical beggar.
Before entering Methven he sold a book to a stone-breaker on the road, the
proceeds of which (fivepence halfpenny) was all the money he possessed.
The purchaser when making the bargain had noticed Thom's flute which he
carried with him, and had offered such a good price for the instrument
that the poet had been much tempted to part with it, though it had been
his solace and companion on many and many an occasion. Thinking that
possibly it might be the means of his earning a few pence, he resisted the
temptation to part with it, and soon after took up his post outside a
genteel-looking house, and played 'The Flowers of the Forest' with such
exquisite expression that window after window was raised, and in ten
minutes after he found himself possessed of three and ninepence, which sum
was increased to five shillings before he reached his lodging.

It would hardly be possible to conceive anything more truly touching than
the shift of William Thom, when he practised the pardonable deception upon
his hungry children of turning day into night, though for downright
deprivation the experience of John Ledyard, the traveller, may be said to
excel it. This celebrated discoverer, who came into Europe from the United
States in 1776, when making a tour of the world with Captain Cook, as
corporal of a troop of Marines, arrived in England in 1780. He then formed
the design of penetrating from the North West to the East Coast of
America, for which purpose Sir Joseph Banks furnished him with some money.
He bought sea stores with the intention of sailing to Nootka Sound, but
altered his mind, and determined to travel overland to Kamschkatka, from
whence the passage is short to the opposite shore of the American
continent. Towards the close of the year 1786, he started with ten guineas
in his pocket, went to and from Stockholm, because the Gulf of Bothnia was
frozen; proceeding north he walked to the Arctic Circle, passed round the
head of the Gulf of Bothnia, and descended on its east side to St.
Petersburg, where he arrived in March 1787, without shoes or stockings.
He proceeded to the house of the Portuguese Ambassador, who gave him a
good dinner, and obtained for him twenty guineas on a bill drawn in the
name of Sir Joseph Banks, with which sum he proceeded to Yakutz,
accompanying a convoy of provisions, and there met Captain Cook. He says
in his Journal, "I have known both hunger and nakedness to the utmost
extremity of human endurance. I have known what it is to have food given
me as charity to a madman, and I have at times been obliged to shelter
myself under the miseries of that character to avoid a heavier calamity.
My distresses have been greater than I have ever owned, or will own to any
man. Such evils are terrible to bear, but they never yet had power to turn
me from my purpose."

To have to submit to be thought a lunatic to escape starvation must
certainly have been rather trying, though from the fact of part of the
journey being performed without shoes or stockings it would certainly look
as if John Ledyard were anything but particular; and it is well for us
that he and other glorious pioneers were not, otherwise we should not be
living in such an age of marvellous enlightenment as is our present
privilege. Round the world in eighty days, facilitated by Cook's tourist
coupons would hardly have been practicable, had not men like Ledyard been
martyrs in the cause of exploration.

_Apropos_ of travelling in days gone by, an incident in the life of the
Rev. Henry Tevuge presents a somewhat strange shift; at any rate, strange
for a clergyman. This eccentric clerical was Rector of Alcester in 1670,
and afterwards Incumbent of Spernall, which he appears to have left in
1675, for on May 20th in that year he writes, "This day I began my voyage
from my house at Spernall, in the county of Warwick, with small
accoutrements, saving what I carried under me in an old sack. My steed
like that of Hudibras, for mettle, courage, and colour (though not of the
same bigness), and for flesh, one of Pharaoh's lean mares ready to seize
(for hunger) on those that went before her, had she not been short-winged,
or rather leaden-heeled. My stock of moneys was also proportionable to the
rest; being little more than what brought me to London in an old coat and
breeches of the same, an old pair of hose, and shoes, and a leathern
doublet of nine years old and upwards. Indeed, by reason of the
suddenness of my journey, I had nothing but what I was ashamed of, save

  "An old fox broad sword, and a good black gown,
  And thus old Henry came to London Town."

At that time chaplains were not provided with bed or bedding, and the
divine, having no money, and wishing to redeem a cloak which had been long
in pawn for 10_s._, he sold his lean mare, saddle and bridle for 26_s._,
released the cloak, but only to re-pledge it for £2. A writer, alluding to
that period, says "it must have been a rare time for cavaliers, clerical
and secular, when the cloak that had been pawned for 10_s._ acquired a
fourfold value when offered as a new pledge." It must have been a rare
time for clergymen of the Church of England when a navy chaplain is found
on such intimate terms with "No. 1 round the corner," but that
circumstance is accounted for by the fact that the Rev. Mr. Tevuge is
spoken of as having "contracted convivial and expensive habits."

The literary, musical, and dramatic professions are the most prolific in
furnishing curious cases of impecuniosity; and separate chapters will be
devoted to those three branches of art, but there are a few instances more
directly of the nature of "shifts" which I have included in the present
portion of the subject; amongst others being the incident of Dr. Johnson
dining with his publisher, and being so shabby that, as there was a third
person present, he hid behind a screen. This happened soon after the
publication of the lexicographer's 'Life of Savage,' which was written
anonymously, and though the circumstance of the hiding must have been
rather humiliating to the mighty Samuel, yet the attendant consequences
were pleasant. The visitor who was dining with Harte, the publisher, was
Cave, who, in course of conversation, referred to 'Savage's Life,' and
spoke of the work in the most flattering terms. The next day, when they
met again, Harte said, "You made a man very happy yesterday by your
encomiums on a certain book." "I did?" replied Cave. "Why, how could that
be; there was no one present but you and I?" "You might have observed,"
explained Harte, "that I sent a plate of meat behind a screen. There
skulked the biographer, one Johnson, whose dress was so shabby that he
durst not make his appearance. He overheard our conversation, and your
applause of his performance delighted him exceedingly." It is also
recorded that so indigent was the doctor on another occasion that he had
not money sufficient for a bed, and had to make shift by walking round and
round St. James' Square with Savage; when, according to Boswell, they were
not at all depressed by their situation, but in high spirits, and brimful
of patriotism; inveighing against the ministry, and resolving that they
would _stand_ by their country.

Being thus intimately associated, it is only natural that the doctor in
his 'Life of Savage' should thoroughly believe that individual's version
of his own birth and parentage, which was that he was the illegitimate son
of the Countess of Macclesfield, and that his father was Lord Rivers; the
birth of Richard Savage giving his mother an excuse for obtaining a
divorce from her husband, whom she hated. It is stated that "he was born
in 1696, in Fox Court, a low alley leading out of Holborn, whither his
mother had repaired under the name of Mrs. Smith--her features concealed
in a mask, which she wore throughout her confinement. Discovery was
embarrassed by a complication of witnesses; the child was handed from one
woman to another until, like a story bandied from mouth to mouth, it
seemed to lose its paternity." Lord Rivers, it is alleged, looked on the
boy as his own, but his mother seems always to have disliked him; and the
fact that Lady Mason, the mother of the countess, looked after the child's
education, and had him put to a Grammar School at St. Albans, certainly
favours the view of his aristocratic parentage. He was subsequently
apprenticed to a shoemaker, but discovering the secret, or the supposed
secret, of his birth, for not a few discredit his story, he cut leather
for literature, and appealed to his mother for assistance. His habit was
to walk of an evening before her door in the hope of seeing her, and
making an appeal; but his efforts were in vain, he could neither open her
heart nor her purse. He was befriended by many, notably by Steele, Wilks
the actor, and Mrs. Oldfield, a "beautiful" actress, who allowed him an
annuity of £50 during her life; but in spite of all the assistance he
received, his state was one of chronic impecuniosity. No sooner was he
helped out of one difficulty than he managed to get into another, and
though he is described by some biographers as a literary genius, his
genius seemed principally a knack of getting into debt. Rambling about
like a vagabond, with scarcely a shirt to his back, he was in such a
plight when he composed his tragedy (without a lodging, and often,
without a dinner) that he used to write it on scraps of paper picked up by
accident, or begged in the shops which he occasionally stepped into, as
thoughts occurred to him, craving the favour of pen and ink as if it were
just to make a memorandum.

The able author of 'The Road to Ruin' was likewise one who had travelled
some distance on that thorny path, for at one time he found himself in the
streets of London without money, without a home, or a friend to whom his
shame or pride would permit his making known his necessity. Wandering
along he knew not whither, plunged in the deepest despondency, his eye
caught sight of a printed placard, "To Young Men," inviting all spirited
young fellows to make their fortunes as common soldiers in the East India
Company's Service. After reading it over a second time he determined
without hesitation to hasten off and enroll himself in that honourable
corps, when he met with a person he had known at a sporting club he had
been in the habit of frequenting. His companion seeing his bundle and
rueful face, asked him where he was going, to which Holcroft replied that
had he enquired five minutes before he could not have told him, but that
now he was "for the wars." At this his friend appeared greatly surprised,
and told him he thought he could put him up to something better than that.
Macklin, the famous London actor, was going over to play in Dublin, and
had asked him if he happened to be acquainted with a young fellow who had
a turn for the stage, and, said his friend, "I should be happy to
introduce you." The offer was gladly accepted, and when the introduction
had been managed Holcroft was asked by Macklin "what had put it into his
head to turn actor?" to which he replied, "He had taken it into his head
to suppose it was genius, but that it was very possible he might be

Holcroft was engaged for the tour, became an actor, and though he does not
appear to have shone particularly strong on the stage, acquired
considerable celebrity as a dramatic author, his play before mentioned
being one of the few works of the old dramatists that has not become out
of date with the playgoing public.

More than one literary man of note, has been compelled by poverty to
accept the Queen's shilling. Coleridge, according to one of his
biographers, left Cambridge partly through the loss of his friend
Middleton, and partly on account of college debts. Vexed and fretted by
the latter, he was overtaken by that inward grief which in after life he
described in his 'Ode to Dejection.'

  "A grief without a pang, void, dark, and drear,
  A stifled, drowsy, unimpassioned grief,
  Which finds no natural outlet, no relief,
  In word, or sigh, or tear."

In this state of mind he came to London, strolled about the streets till
night, and then rested on the steps of a house in Chancery Lane. Beggars
importuned him for alms and to them he gave the little money he had left.
Next morning he noticed a bill to the effect that a few smart lads were
wanted for the 15th Elliot's Light Dragoons. Thinking to himself "I have
all my life had a violent antipathy to soldiers and horses, and the sooner
I can cure myself of such absurd prejudices the better," he went to the
enlisting-station, where the sergeant finding that Coleridge had not been
in bed all night, made him have some breakfast and rest himself.
Afterwards, he told him to cheer up, to well consider the step he was
about to take, and suggested that he had better have half-a-guinea, go to
the play, shake off his melancholy and not return. Coleridge went to the
theatre, but afterwards resought the sergeant, who was extremely sorry to
see him, and saying with evident emotion, "Then it must be so," enrolled
him. In the morning he was marched to Reading with his new comrades, and
there inspected by the general of the district. Looking at Coleridge, that
officer said,--

"What's your name?"


"What do you come here for, sir?"

"For what most other persons come, to be made a soldier!"

"Do you think you can run a Frenchman through the body, sir?"

"I do not know," said Coleridge, "as I never tried, but I'll let a
Frenchman run me through the body, before I'll run away."

"That will do," said the general; and Coleridge was turned into the ranks.

Alexander Somerville, author of 'Cobdenic Policy,' 'Conservative Science
of Nations,' &c., &c., was also driven to the extremity of enlisting under
circumstances more or less humorous. Unlike Coleridge, Alexander
Somerville was not of gentle birth, being, as he styles himself in 'The
Autobiography of a Working Man,' "One who has whistled at the plough." He
received as a boy but scant education, being sent to a common day school
where cruel discipline and unnecessary severity preponderated over
learning. Though put to farm-work, where he was by turns carter, mower,
stable-boy, thresher, wood-sawyer and excavator, his natural intelligence
and love of books made him anxious to turn his face from the parish of
Oldhamstocks, where he was brought up, in a westerly direction towards
Edinburgh. When about eighteen years of age he was much interested in the
Reform Bill of 1830, and gave evidence then of his enthusiasm for
politics, became canvasser for a weekly newspaper, but does not appear to
have succeeded in this vocation, for his circumstances were such that he
wandered about moneyless; and meeting with an old chum they agreed to go
and have a chat at any rate with the recruiting corporal of the dragoon
regiment popularly known as the Scots Greys.

"My companion," he says, "had seen the Greys in Dublin, and having a
natural disposition to be charmed with the picturesque, was charmed with
them. He knew where to enquire for the corporal, and having enquired, we
found him in his lodging up a great many pairs of stairs, I do not know
how many, stretched in his military cloak, on his bed. He said he was glad
to see anybody upstairs in his little place, now that the regimental order
had come out against moustachios; for since he had been ordered to shave
his off, his wife had sat moping at the fireside, refusing all consolation
to herself and all peace to him. 'I ha'e had a weary life o't,' he said
plaintively 'since the order came out to shave the upper lip. She grat
there. I'm sure she grat as if her heart would ha'e broken when she saw me
the first day without the moustachios.' Having listened to this and heard
a confirmation of it from the lady herself, as also a hint that the
corporal had been lying in bed half the day, when he should have been out
looking for recruits, for each of whom he had a payment of ten shillings,
we told him that we had come looking for him to offer ourselves as
recruits. He looked at us for a few moments, and said if we 'meant' it he
saw nothing about us to object to; and as neither seemed to have any beard
from which moustachios could grow, he could only congratulate us on the
order that had come out against them as we should not have to be at the
expense of getting burnt corks to blacken our upper lips, to make us look
uniform with those who wore hair. We assured the corporal that we were in
earnest, and that we did mean to enlist, whereupon he began by putting the
formal question, 'Are you free, able and willing to serve his Majesty King
William the Fourth?'

"But there was a hitch, two shillings were requisite to enlist two
recruits, and there was only one shilling. We proposed that he should
enlist one of us with it, and that this one should then lend it to him to
enlist the other. But his wife would not have the enlistment done in that
way. She said 'That would not be _law_: and a bonny thing it would be to
do it without it being law. Na na,' she continued, 'it maun be done as the
law directs.' The corporal made a movement as if he would take us out with
him to some place where he could get another shilling but she thought it
possible that another of the recruiting party might share the prize with
him--take one of us or both: so she detained him, shut the door on us,
locked it, took the key with her and went in search of the King's
requisite coin. Meanwhile as my friend was impatient I allowed him to take
precedence of me, and have the ceremony performed with the shilling then
present. On the return of the corporal's wife, who though younger than he
in years seemed to be an 'older soldier,' I also became the King's man."

In connection with music the name of Loder, the clever composer (author of
the 'Night Dancers' and other charming musical compositions), recalls an
interesting episode in his life revealing a remarkable shift to which he
was put. One evening when leaving his lodgings with a friend named Jay for
the purpose of enjoying a quiet little dinner at Simpson's, he received an
ominous tap on the shoulder from one of those individuals whose attentions
are not appetising, since without you can settle the little amount, they
require your immediate company. Loder was by no means able to satisfy the
law's demands, and the sheriff's officer refused to lose sight of his man,
even though "he had a most particular appointment;" so the only thing to
be done was to invite the bailiff to join them at dinner. After the repast
was concluded the party repaired to Sloman's, a notorious spunging-house
in Cursitor Street, Chancery Lane, when just as Jay was taking leave of
Loder the latter remembered having something in his pocket which might be
turned to account. It was a song by Samuel Lover. "Goodbye, old fellow,"
said Loder. "Come to-morrow morning, and see what I shall have ready." As
soon as his friend had gone he set to work and set Lover's words of 'The
Three Stages of Love' to music, which was a most successful and
satisfactory way of composing himself to sleep, for when Jay called in the
morning he received a manuscript which, when taken to Chappell's, realised
£30. The proceeds enabled Loder to pay the debt, and dine with his friend
at Simpson's in the afternoon, without the unwelcome guest of the
preceding day.

John Palmer, the original Joseph Surface, in which character he was
considered unapproachable, was a man evidently of the greatest
plausibility. When complimented by a friend upon the ease of his address,
he said, "No, I really don't give myself the credit of being so
irresistible as you have fancied me. There is one thing, though, which I
think I _am_ able to do. Whenever I am arrested I can always persuade the
sheriff's officer to bail me."

Contemporary with John Palmer was another celebrated comedian, also
addicted to more extravagant tastes than his income warranted--Charles
Bannister, who made his first appearance in London with Palmer in a piece
called the "Orators" in May 1762. In this he gave musical imitations, but
the performances taking place in the mornings, his convivial habits over
night precluded him from shining as he might have done; a fact which was
noticed by Foote, the manager. To this Bannister replied, "I knew it would
be so; I am all right at night, but neither I, nor my voice, can _get up_
in the morning." He was invariably in difficulties: on the death of Sir
Theodosius Boughton, the topic of the hour in 1781, as he was said to have
been poisoned by laurel water, Bannister, said "Pooh! Don't tell me of
your laurel leaves; I fear none but a bay-leaf" (bailiff). Once when
returning from Epsom to town in a gig, accompanied by a friend, they were
unable to pay the toll at Kennington Gate, and the man would not let them
pass. Bannister immediately offered to sing a song, and struck up 'The
Tempest of War.' His voice was heard afar, the gate being soon thronged by
voters returning from Brentford, who encored his effort, and the
turnpike-man, calling him a noble fellow, expressed his willingness to pay
"fifty tolls for him at any gate."

John Joseph Winckelmann, who became one of the most famous of German
writers on classical antiquities, was the son of a poor cobbler, who not
only had to struggle with poverty, but with disease which, while his boy
was yet young, compelled him to avail himself of the hospital. When
placed at the burgh seminary there, the rector was struck with young
Winckelmann's dawning genius, and by accepting less than the usual fee,
and getting him placed in the choir, contrived that the boy should receive
all the advantages the school afforded. The rector continued to take the
greatest interest in his apt pupil, made him usher, and when seventeen
years of age, sent him to Berlin with a letter of introduction to the
rector of a gymnasium, with whom he remained twelve months. While there
Winckelmann heard that the library of the celebrated Fabricius was about
to be sold at Hamburgh, and he determined to proceed there on foot and be
present at the sale. He set out accordingly, asking charity (a practice
not considered derogatory to struggling students in Germany) of the
clergymen whose houses he passed; and, having collected in this way
sufficient to purchase some of his darling poets at the sale, returned to
Berlin in great glee. After studying at Halle and elsewhere for six years,
his early passion for wandering revived, and fascinated with a fresh
perusal of Cæsar's 'Commentaries,' he began in the summer of 1740 a
pedestrian journey to France, to visit the scene of the great Roman's
military exploits. His funds, however, soon became exhausted, and when
close to Frankfort-on-the-Maine, he was obliged to return.

When he arrived at the bridge of Fulda, he remarked his own dishevelled,
travel-stained appearance, and believing himself alone, began to effect an
alteration. He had pulled out a razor, and was about to operate on his
chin, when he was disturbed by shrieks from a party of ladies, who,
imagining that he was about to make away with himself, cried loudly for
help. The facts were soon explained, and the fair ones insisted on his
accepting a monetary gift that enabled him to return without

It was not until the year 1755, when Winckelmann was thirty-eight years of
age, and had published his first book, the 'Reflections on Imitation of
the Greeks in Painting and Statuary,' that he freed himself from penury.

Flaxman, who throughout his honourable life seems to have entertained a
most modest view of his own talents, married before he had acquired
distinction, though regarded as a skilful and exceedingly promising pupil;
and when Sir Joshua Reynolds heard of the indiscretion of which he had
been guilty, he exclaimed, "Flaxman is ruined for an artist!" But his
mistake was soon made manifest. When Mrs. Flaxman heard of the remark, she
said, "Let us work and economize. It shall never be said that Ann Denham
ruined John Flaxman as an artist;" and they economised accordingly, her
husband undertaking amongst other things to collect the local rates in

It is to a "shift" of this nature that we are to a certain extent indebted
for the writings of Bishop Jeremy Taylor. After the death of Charles I.,
Dr. Taylor's living of Uppingham, in Rutlandshire, was sequestered, and
the gifted ecclesiastic repaired to Golden Grove, Carmarthenshire, and
taught a school for the subsistence of his children and himself. While
thus employed, he produced some of those copious and fervent discourses,
whose fertility of composition, eloquence of expression and
comprehensiveness of thought, have enabled him to rank as one of the first
writers in the English language.

Beau Brummell, the autocrat of fashion when in his zenith, was in the days
of his decline particularly shifty. After George IV. had cut him, and when
he was about to depart for France to undertake the consulate of Caen, he
made a desperate effort to raise money, and, amongst other people, he
wrote to Scrope Davies for a couple of hundred pounds, which he promised
to repay on the following morning, giving as a reason for his request,
that the banks were shut for the day, and all his money was in the Three
per Cents. To this Davies, who happened to know how hard up Brummell was,
sent the following laconic reply:--


    "'Tis very unfortunate, but all _my_ money is in the Three per Cents.

          "S. DAVIES."

Brummell's appointment at Caen, owing to the representations of Madame la
Marquise de Seran, and others who had known him in London, was known in
that place some time before he arrived, which had the effect of making all
the young Frenchmen of the Carlist party anxious to become acquainted with
him. Soon after he was settled down, three of them paid him a morning
visit, and, though late in the day, found him deep in the mysteries of his
toilet. They naturally wished to retire, but Brummell insisted on their
remaining. "Pray stay," said he, as he laid down the silver tweezers with
which he had just removed a straggling hair, "pray remain; I have not yet
breakfasted--no excuses. There is a _pâté de foie gras_, a game pie," and
many other dainties that he enumerated with becoming gastronomic fervour,
but which failed to overcome the scruples of the young men, who went away
enchanted with Brummell's politeness and hospitality, one of the trio
afterwards remarking that "he must live very well."

There is not the slightest doubt that the beau was pretty sure his
visitors had breakfasted, and it was only the extreme improbability of
their accepting his invitation that made him give it. Had they taken him
at his word, instead of the magnificent repast which he offered them, his
guests would have sat down to an uncommonly plain breakfast, for the
polite and hospitable host had nothing but a penny roll and the coffee
simmering by his bedroom fire. On another occasion a visitor called on
him, and in course of conversation said he was going to dine with a
certain Mr. Jones, a retired soap-boiler, who had radically opposed the
appointment of a man like Brummell to superintend the British interests at

"Well I think I shall dine there too," said Brummell.

"But you haven't an invitation, have you?"

"No," was the reply; "but I think I shall dine there all the same."

As soon as the caller left, Brummell sent a _pâté de foie gras_, which he
had received from Paris, with a grand message to Jones. The courtesy
seemed so disinterested, that the Radical sent a pressing invitation by
return; and when Brummell's visitor of the morning joined the party, he
saw the beau installed in the seat of honour at the hostess's right.
Brummell told his friend next day how he had managed. The gentleman said,
"But I did not see the pie on the table."

"True," explained Brummell; "I know it never made its appearance. It was a
splendid pie--a _chef-d'oeuvre_, and I felt deeply interested in its fate.
When going away I inquired what had been done with the pie. The cook said,
'Master had kept it for Master Harry's birthday.' To be the 'cut and come
again' of a nursery dinner. To be the prey of the little Joneses and their
nurses was atrocious. It was an insult to me and my pie! 'Go,' I said, 'to
your kitchen; I particularly want to see the _pâté de foie gras_.' Feeling
that it would have been a sin to leave it with such people, I took it
away. It was not honest, but as I cut into it this morning I almost felt
justified, for I never inserted a knife into such another."

It certainly was anything but honest, and it would have been well had
Brummell remembered the childish saying about "give a thing and take a
thing," but where a person's _amour-propre_ is touched on such an
important matter as a game pie it would not be right of course to judge
the action by the ordinary standard. The idea of taking the pie back for
the reasons alleged was really funny, though the fact of the beau being
extremely "hard up" very possibly had a good deal to do with his conduct.
_Apropos_ of this condition it may be news to some to know that there once
existed an institution called the "Hard Up Club" the formation of which is
alluded to by "Baron" Nicholson in his autobiography. He says "just before
I left the Queen's Bench I had a visit from Pellatt (a well-known man
about town in that day, who had formerly been clerk and solicitor to the
Ironmongers' Company), with the news that he and another jolly old friend
of mine had made a discovery of a place of rest suitable to our condition
in life, which I must say was seedy in every respect. Pellatt had been in
the habit of coming over to the Bench almost daily to dine with me and
others, who were delighted with his amusing qualities. He gave excellent
imitations of the past and present London actors, and his genius for
entertaining was brought into active operation in our prison circle. The
history of the discovery of 'The Nest,' or tranquil house of
entertainment, was this: Pellatt and a friend of his, 'Old Beans' (whose
right name was Bennett, yclept 'Old Beans' for shortness), were strolling
about the Strand one foggy November night, their habiliments were
uncomfortably ventilated, their crab-shells of the order hydraulic; snow
was on the ground, and their castors 'shocking bad hats.' Not liking to
enter any very public places they strayed round the back streets on the
river side of the Strand, and turning from Norfolk Street into Howard
Street, _vis-à-vis_ they perceived a tavern, a dull, unlighted (save by a
dim lamp), small, old-fashioned public-house in Arundel Street, with the
sign of 'The Swan.' '"The Swan,"' said Pellatt, as he read the sign, 'will
never sink! Beans, old fellow, we'll go into the 'Never Sink!'

"The house was better known for years afterwards by this name than by its
real sign. The two wayfarers entered. Old Charles Mathews in his 'At
Home' used to tell a story of pulling up at a road-side inn, and
interrogating the waiter as to what he could have for dinner.

"'Any hot joint?' said the traveller.

"'No, sir; no hot joint, sir.'

"'Any cold one?'

"'Cold one, sir? No, sir; no cold one, sir.'

"'Can you broil me a fowl?'

"'Fowl, sir? No, sir; no fowl, sir.'

"'No fowl, and in a country inn!' exclaimed Mathews. 'Let me have some
eggs and bacon then.'

"'Eggs and bacon, sir?' said the waiter. 'No eggs and bacon, sir.'

"'Confound it,' at length said the traveller. 'What have you got in the

"'An execution, sir,' was the prompt response of the doleful waiter.

"And so it was at 'The Swan.' When Pellatt and his friend entered the
parlour there was but a glimmer of light, and no fire. A most civil man,
whose name turned out to be Mathews, informed his guests that he would
instantly light a fire and make them comfortable.

"'Not worth while,' said Pellatt, 'We only want a glass of gin and water,
and a pipe.'

"The host would not be denied. In a few minutes there was a blazing fire,
the hot grog was upon the table, and Pellatt and Old Beans were smoking
away like steam. The supposed landlord was invited to take a seat with
them, and during the conversation informed them that he was the man in
possession, and that he was allowed to provide a little spirits, and a
cask of beer, and reap the profits himself just to keep the house open
until a purchaser could be found for it, and he further stated how glad he
should be if the gentlemen would come again. Being told by Pellatt all
about the 'Never Sink,' when I again left the Queen's Bench Prison, and
visited the outer world, I aided them in establishing what we dignified by
the title of 'The Hard Up Club.' Its institution commenced by Old Beans
being appointed steward, and in that capacity began his campaign by buying
a pound of cold boiled beef at Cautis's, Temple Bar, and four pennyworth
of hot roasted potatoes from the man who stood with the baked 'tatur' can
in front of Clement's Inn. As the club increased in number so did our
commissariat in supplies and importance, and the office of 'Old Beans'
became no sinecure. His duty, and it was performed _con amore_, was to be
in attendance early in the day at the club to provide the dinner. The
money to pay for this was invariably collected over night; and I have
known the funds to be so short that 'Old Beans's' ingenuity has been
frequently and greatly taxed to meet the necessary requirements and
expenditure. A shoulder of mutton was a familiar dish, Beans preparing
heaps of potatoes, and with a skilful culinary nicety, for which he was
eminent, making the onion sauce himself. A bullock's heart was also a
favourite with us, provided always that Old Beans made the gravy and
stuffing. I said to our gracious and economical steward the first day we
had the ox heart, 'Beany, you'll want some gravy beef.'

"'The deaf ears' (the hard, gristly substance attached to the top of a
bullock's heart), said he, 'will make excellent gravy. The 'Hard Ups'
can't afford beef. No, no, we'll make the deaf ears do.' It may be
imagined that Old Beans's place was a difficult one. One Kay, a large,
seedy lawyer, who wore shabby black and white stockings, and shoes, was
always behindhand with his share of cash. If a shilling were required, Kay
would pay into the hands of the steward about nine pence halfpenny, vowing
that he had no more, and Beans always declared himself out of pocket by
Kay. We had, however, a visitor who added lustre to our association, but
he was not a dining member--he could not be--his means were too limited
even for our humble carousings. This member was a very old man, Colonel
Curry, formerly a member of the Irish Parliament. He lodged in one room in
Arundel Street, therefore the 'Never Sink' was to him a convenient
hostelry, and he could do as he liked. He did so. On a small shelf over
the parlour-door the colonel kept his own table-napkin, mustard, pepper,
and salt. He also had a small gravy-tight tin case, and in that he brought
with him every day four pennyworth of hot meat, generally bought at the
corner of Angel Inn Yard, Clement's Inn. All he spent at the 'Never Sink'
was three halfpence for a glass of rum, which he diluted from six o'clock
in the evening till eleven o'clock at night: in the last mixing the rum
was unrecognisable, the water colourless. Curry was a proud Irishman,
never accepting the oft-proffered hospitality of others. His conversation
was delightful, amusing, instructive. He never complained, and we were
left to doubt whether his economy proceeded from parsimony or poverty; but
from his highly honourable sentiments I should conclude the latter. It was
a rule with the club that all the good sort of fellows with whom the
members might be acquainted should be pressed into the general service of
the club: thus any member who in better days had been a good customer to a
thriving publican (and there was scarcely one exception in the whole
society) should use his best endeavour to introduce that publican to the
'Never Sink,' and get him to stand treat. The number of dinners and
liquors obtained by such endeavours were prodigious. The club included
several members of the republic of letters, who, to quote Tom Hood, had
not a sovereign amongst them. Indeed, they had but one passable crown. One
hat served nine; their shirts were latent; their dinners intermittent, and
their grog often eleemosynary. Nothing sparkled about them but their wit,
which was as keen as their appetites. The man of genius crouches in social
poverty in a commonwealth of mutual privation.

  "'There wit, subdued by poverty's sharp thorn,
  Was joined by wisdom equally forlorn;
  And stinted genius took a draught of malt
  On baked potatoes mixed with attic salt.'"



Shakespeare, though he says "There's a divinity doth shape our ends,
rough-hew them how we will," admits that "There is a tide in the affairs
of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune," which certainly
looks as if we had something to do with the matter. "Man," it has been
said, "is the architect of his own fortune," but it is equally a fact that
some individuals have many more chances than others of making that
fortune, especially those who are apparently undeserving. In the same way,
impecuniosity has with some been the very means of introducing them to the
road to success, while it has only plunged others in suffering.

Amongst the former may be ranked Benjamin Charles Incledon, who flourished
in the latter part of the eighteenth century, and in the beginning of the
nineteenth. He was born at Callington, in Cornwall, and at a very early
age was a choir-boy in Exeter Cathedral, in which city he received his
musical education from Jackson, the composer. At sixteen he entered the
navy, and in the course of the two years that he remained in the service
was in several engagements. When the _Formidable_ was paid off at Chatham,
in 1784, the young sailor turned his steps towards Cornwall, but when he
reached Hitchen Ferry, near Southampton, he had got rid of whatever money
he started with, and had to ask assistance of a recruiting sergeant, who
not only gave him the means to get ferried over, but invited him to a
public-house in the town, where they made merry over bread and cheese, and
ale. The company became convivial, and Incledon, in his turn, sang a
ballad which delighted everybody, but especially the prompter of the
Southampton Theatre, who happened to be sitting in the bar-parlour smoking
his pipe, and who rushed out to his manager before the song was finished
to tell him of the _rara avis_ he had found. Collins, the manager,
returned forthwith, and was so delighted with the sailor's vocal abilities
that he offered him an engagement at _half-a-guinea a week_, there and
then, which offer was accepted, Incledon making his first appearance as
Alphonso in 'The Castle of Andalusia.' His career was most successful, and
he is spoken of by more than one authority as the first English singer on
the stage of his day.

Under the circumstances it must surely be conceded, that the impecuniosity
which caused him to sing that song at that particular time, was
particularly lucky, and Incledon is not the only individual who has been
blessed with good fortune through the same means. In 'The Life of a
Showman,' by D. G. Miller, that gentleman relates that one winter's
afternoon he arrived with his family at a Cumberland village in a most
pitiable plight, for though he had several "children he had but one
sixpence." The journey, effected with a horse and cart, had been extremely
trying, because across the road they had travelled ran a small rivulet,
which was frozen, and a passage through which had to be made for the
horse, the driver standing upon the shafts across the back of the horse,
while the showman waded through the water nearly up to his waist, a state
of discomfort enhanced by the plunging of the horse and the shrieks of the
children. When the party arrived at the public-house (where there was a
large room which was occasionally let for entertainments, &c.), they were
nearly frozen, and proceeded to warm themselves by the kitchen fire. After
calling for a quart of ale, and paying for it with the solitary sixpence
in his possession, the showman proceeded to look after his properties, and
found that the man with the cart, being anxious to get back, had unloaded
the luggage at the door. Enquiring of the landlady if he could engage the
large room for a few nights for a very superior exhibition, the itinerant
performer was informed by her, "I can't tell, but I think not. The last
people who were here didn't pay the rent. However, the landlord is not at
home, and I can say nothing about it."

After this he asked if they could be supplied with some tea, and on being
replied to in the affirmative, says, "The expression on my wife's face
seemed to say, 'Are you mad--where will you get the money to pay for it?'
I paid no attention, however, to her look: the tea was got ready, and we
sat down and made a hearty meal--at least, the children and I did. As to
my wife, she was alarmed at my conduct, and was too frightened to eat,
although she had tasted nothing since breakfast."

After tea he asked if they could be accommodated with beds, but was
refused by the landlord, who showed his suspicions. The showman pointed to
the snow, which was falling heavily, and asked permission for his wife and
children to remain by the fire all night, professing to be able to pay,
and at last the landlord sulkily agreed to let them have beds. After the
wife and children retired, a good number of customers came in, and a
raffle was started for a watch, thirty members at a shilling. While this
was being arranged the visitors joked and sang, and presently the showman
was asked if he would oblige with a song; he readily complied, and was
voted a jolly good fellow by all present, including the landlord, who
apologised then for having demurred about the accommodation. When the
raffle began, it was found there was one more subscriber wanted, and the
showman was asked to join, which he said he would gladly do, but his wife
kept the purse and she had gone to bed, and being very tired he did not
like to disturb her. The landlord at once said, "Certainly not, here's a
shilling; pay me in the morning." He accepted the proffered coin, threw
the dice, and won the watch, which he sold for a sovereign. He then gave
an exhibition of his skill with sleight of hand tricks, to the great
delight of the customers, and was informed by the landlord before he went
to bed that he could have the big room for a night or two. To this he
replied, "I will think it over," and joined his wife, whom he found in a
state of the greatest trepidation at the thought of their not having the
money to pay for their board and lodging. He set her fears literally at
rest, by showing her the proceeds of the watch he had sold. The next and
two following evenings he gave three most successful performances in the
big room, and finally left the village with flying colours, _en route_ for
Carlisle. His good fortune, as in the case of Incledon, being fairly
attributable to the singing of a song; which savours strongly to my mind
of what is generally understood by the term "lucky."

Though somewhat different in detail, the impecuniosity of the late
distinguished journalist, G. A. Sala, when a young man, was equally
felicitous. Born in 1827 of not over-wealthy parents (Mrs. Sala was an
operatic singer and teacher of music), he from an early age suffered with
bad eyes, which prevented him learning to read until he was nine years
old. When fourteen he began to earn his own living, and from that time
till he was four-and-twenty, his mode of existence seems to have been more
or less precarious. At one time engaged in copying plans of projected
railways, then acting as assistant scene-painter at fifteen shillings a
week, afterwards designing the cheapest and least elegant description of
valentines, and subsequently drawing woodcuts for those inferior
periodicals pretty generally known as "penny dreadfuls." In the year 1851
his health gave way while he was pursuing the avocation of an engraver.
The acids used in engraving so affecting his eyes that for a time he was
quite blind, and loss of eyesight meant loss of work, and loss of work
involved loss of income. The poverty he suffered at this time must have
been of the direst; but though he had lost almost everything else, he
never apparently quite lost heart, and when his sight improved he dashed
off an article called "The Key of the Street," descriptive of a night
spent by a poor wanderer in London, which he sent in to Dickens, who had
not long started _Household Words_. The feelings of the homeless man were
described in a manner that shows the writer _felt_ his subject, although
it is hinted that the experiences related may have been the result of

He says, "I have no bed to-night. Why, it matters not. Perhaps I have lost
my latch-key--perhaps I never had one; yet am fearful of knocking up my
landlady after midnight. Perhaps I have a caprice--a fancy--for stopping
up all night. At all events, I have no bed; and, saving ninepence
(sixpence in silver, and threepence in coppers), no money. I must walk the
streets all night; for I cannot, look you, get anything in the shape of a
bed for less than a shilling. Coffee-houses, into which--seduced by their
cheap appearance--I have entered, and where I have humbly sought a
lodging, laugh my ninepence to scorn. They demand impossible
eighteenpences--unattainable shillings. There is clearly no bed for me.

"It is midnight--so the clanging tongue of St. Dunstan's tells me--as I
stand thus bedless at Temple Bar. I have walked a good deal during the
day, and have an uncomfortable sensation in my feet, suggesting the idea
that the soles of my boots are made of roasted brickbats. I am thirsty too
(it is July and sultry), and just as the last chime of St. Dunstan's is
heard, I have half-a-pint of porter, and a ninth part of my ninepence is
gone from me for ever. The public-house where I have it (or rather the
beer-shop, for it is an establishment of 'the glass of ale and sandwich'
description) is an early closing one, and the proprietor, as he serves me,
yawningly orders the potboy to put the shutters up, for he is 'off to
bed.' Happy proprietor! There is a bristly-bearded tailor too, very beery,
having his last pint, who utters a similar somniferous intention. He calls
it 'Bedfordshire.' Thrice happy tailor!

"I envy him fiercely, as he goes out, though, God wot, his bedchamber may
be but a squalid attic, and his bed a tattered hop-sack, with a slop
great-coat from the emporium of Messrs. Melchisedek & Son, and which he
had been working at all day, for a coverlid. I envy his children (I am
sure he has a frouzy, ragged brood of them) _for they have at least
somewhere to sleep. I haven't_."

Then follows a most graphic account of the persons encountered during the
eight hours' enforced prowl (including a flying visit to a fourpenny
lodging-house, which was not a "model" of cleanliness), all the personages
met with, and the occurrences witnessed being described with a freshness
and fidelity that stamped the author as a descriptive writer of uncommon
power. Charles Dickens at once forwarded a cheque for the contribution
named, and, in the words of Oliver Twist, "asked for more;" and the late
George Augustus Sala has for years been regarded as the journalist _par
excellence_ of the day.

In like manner the needy circumstances of Charlotte Cushman had much to do
with her obtaining an engagement at the Princess's Theatre, and making the
great reputation she achieved in England. When first introduced to Mr.
Maddox, the then lessee and manager of the house in Oxford Street, she did
not impress him favourably. She had no pretensions to beauty, and Mr.
Maddox considered she had not the qualities essential to a stage heroine.
From London she went to Paris, in the hope of getting engaged by an
English company performing there, but failing, and having obtained a
letter of introduction from some one supposed to have great influence with
the lessee, she again sought Mr. Maddox, with no better result. Stung to
the quick by this second repulse, and made desperate by her critical
situation, she turned when she had almost reached the door, exclaiming,
"I know I have enemies in this country, but" (here she cast herself on her
knees, raising her clenched hand aloft), "so help me Heaven, I'll defeat
them!" Mr. Maddox was at once satisfied with the tragic power of his
visitor, and offered her an engagement forthwith.

If there is any doubt as to Charlotte Cushman's success being attributable
to impecuniosity the case of O'Brien, the celebrated Irish giant, is most

This lengthy individual, whose height was 8ft. 7in., was born at Kinsale,
where, with his father, he laboured as a bricklayer. His extraordinary
size soon attracted the attention of a travelling showman, who, on payment
of £50 per annum, acquired the right of exhibiting him for three years in

Not satisfied with this extremely good bargain, his master tried to sublet
him to another person in the show business, a proceeding which Cotter (the
giant's real name) objected to, and for which objection he was saddled
with a fictitious debt, and thrown into Bristol Jail. This apparent
misfortune was, in the end, one of the luckiest things that could have
happened to him. While in prison he was visited by a gentleman who took
compassion on his distress, and believing him to be unjustly detained,
very generously became his bail, ultimately investigating the affair so
successfully as to obtain for him not only his liberty but his freedom to
discontinue serving his taskmaster any longer. It happened to be September
when he was liberated, and by the further assistance of his benefactor he
was enabled to set up for himself in the fair then held in St. James's,
and such an attraction did he prove that in three days he realised the
considerable sum of £30. From that time he continued to exhibit himself
for twenty-six years, when, having realised a fortune sufficient to enable
him to keep a carriage and live in luxury, he retired into private life.

A practical joke led to the ultimate success of Edward Knight, a popular
comedian of last century. While with Mr. Nunns, manager of the Stafford
company, he received a message from a stranger desiring his presence at a
certain inn. On repairing thither he was courteously received by a
gentleman who desired to show his gratification at Knight's performance by
giving him permission to use his name (Phillips) to Mr. Tate Wilkinson,
the manager of the York Theatre, who, the stranger felt sure, on account
of his intimacy with him would be sure to give Knight a good engagement.
Next morning a letter was sent by the elated actor, who in due course
received the following reply:

    "Sir,--I am not acquainted with any Mr. Phillips, except a rigid
    Quaker, and he is the last man in the world to recommend an actor to
    my theatre. I don't want you.


This rebuff was so unexpected, and so mortifying, that the recipient sent
a short and sharp answer:

    "Sir,--I should as soon think of applying to a Methodist parson to
    preach for my benefit as to a Quaker to recommend me to Mr. Wilkinson.
    I don't want to come.

      "E. KNIGHT."

After an interval of twelve months, when the elder Mathews seceded from
his company, he wrote to Knight as follows:

    "Mr. Methodist Parson,--I have a living that produces twenty-five
    shillings per week. Will you hold forth?


The invitation was gladly accepted, and for seven years he continued at
York with unvarying success; at the end of which time he obtained an
engagement at Drury Lane, and became a metropolitan favourite.

Though perhaps not so striking an example as any of the foregoing, an
episode in the life of William Dobson (called by Charles the First "the
English Tintoret") is more or less of the same fortunate nature. Dobson,
who always betrayed in his best efforts the want of proper training, was,
as a boy, apprenticed to a Mr. Peake, who was more of a dealer in, than a
painter of, pictures, and who consequently was anything but a competent
teacher. Nevertheless, his collection of paintings, which included some by
Titian and Van Dyck, was most valuable to the youngster, who copied both
those masters with such wonderful correctness that none but an _expert_
could detect the difference. When very young, and very poor, he managed to
get one of his copies of a Van Dyck exhibited in a shop window on Snow
Hill, which, strangely enough, was seen by no less a person than the
author of the original, who immediately sought out the individual who had
reproduced his work with such fidelity, and finding him toiling away in a
miserable garret, took him by the hand, and brought him to the notice of
King Charles.

Another instance of luck not dissociated with impecuniosity is found in
the case of Perry, of _The Morning Chronicle_. Educated at Marischal
College, Aberdeen, which he entered in 1771, he was first employed in that
town as a lawyer's clerk; but full of literary ambition, and possessed of
much literary culture, he made his way to Edinburgh, where he almost
starved, not being able to find employment of any kind. From Edinburgh he
went to Manchester, where he just managed to eke out an existence; but
believing London was the El Dorado for men of letters, he was not content
till he had started for the great city. Amongst others who had promised
him work was Urquart, the bookseller, to whom he wrote without success.
One morning he called upon that gentleman, and was leaving the shop after
a fruitless interview, when the bookseller said he had just experienced
great pleasure in reading an article in _The General Advertiser_, and,
said he, "If you could write like that, I could soon find you an
engagement." It so happened that Perry had sent in an article to that
paper, and his joy may be imagined when he was able to claim the lauded
production as his own; bringing out of his pocket another of the same
sort, which he was about to drop into the editor's box as before. He was
immediately engaged as a paid contributor to _The General Advertiser_ and
_Evening Post_, and ultimately became editor and proprietor of _The
Morning Chronicle_.

One of the most remarkable of the lucky illustrations, however, is that of
Hogarth, when he was a struggling artist. At the time referred to, when
studying at St. Martin's Lane Academy, he was oftentimes reduced to the
lowest possible water-mark; and while laying the foundation of his future
celebrity, he was exposed to all the humiliating inconveniences too
frequently associated with penury, not the least of such annoyances being
the contemptuous insolence of an ignorant letter of lodgings. The story
goes that on one of these occasions when he was unmercifully dunned by his
landlady for the small sum of a sovereign, he was so exasperated that,
with a view to being revenged upon her, he made a sketch of her face so
excruciatingly ugly, that it revealed at once his marvellous power as a

Turning to the opposite side of the subject--the unlucky, there is, it
must be admitted, a dearth of similarly appropriate examples. It is not
that there is any scarcity of cases of great misfortune in connection with
impecuniosity, but the circumstances connected with such cases are not so
apparently the result of accident. In the lucky instances enumerated the
chance element was conspicuous, but the same cannot be said of the adverse
anecdotes; for they, or rather those that have come under my notice, are
unfortunate cases rather than unlucky. For instance, the impecuniosity
that introduced the Irish giant to some one he would not otherwise have
met, who put him in the way of realising a competency, was manifestly
lucky; but the impecuniosity that attended Stow, the antiquary, in his
latest years, could not in the same sense be called _un_lucky, inasmuch as
it was owing to no particular act or chance circumstance that he continued
poor. The kind of cases that I consider would more properly illustrate
this phase of the subject would be those of persons who, from, say,
missing an appointment with some patron of eminence owing to being hard
up, lost an opportunity of advancement, which never occurred again; or by
not having some small amount of ready money were unable to avail
themselves of an advantageous offer, which would have resulted in a
fortune. That such mishaps have occurred in the long list of unrecorded
lives there is little doubt; but I cannot call any to remembrance at the
present time. The only instances I have met with in my research being
those of unfortunate persons, whose histories of hardship would be more
fittingly recounted as the sad side of impecuniosity.

The individual just referred to, John Stow, the antiquary, is a most
melancholy case in point. A profound scholar in every sense, he devoted
his life and substance to the study of English antiquities; oftentimes
travelling tremendous distances on foot to save monuments, and rescue rare
works from the dispersed libraries of monasteries. His enthusiasm for
study was unbounded, and at his death he left stupendous excerpts in his
own handwriting. At an advanced age, when worn out by study and travel,
and the cares and anxieties of poverty--for he was utterly neglected by
the pretended patrons of learning--his other troubles were increased by
most acute pains in the feet, which he good-humouredly referred to by
saying "his affliction lay in that part which formerly he had made so much
use of." At last he became so necessitous that he petitioned James the
First for a licence to collect alms for himself, "as a recompense for his
labour and travel of forty-five years, in setting forth the Chronicles of
England, and eight years taken up in the Survey of the Cities of London
and Westminster, towards his relief now in his old age: having left his
former means of living, and only employing himself for the service and
good of his country"--which petition was granted by letters patent under
the Great Seal, permitting him to seek assistance from all well-disposed
people within this realm of England. The terms in which this permit was
set forth ("to ask, gather, and take the alms of all our loving subjects")
were scarcely correct; that is to say, "to ask, gather, and take the alms
of all our loving subjects--who will give" would have been more complete;
for though the letters patent were published by the clergy from their
pulpits, the result was so trifling that they had to be renewed for
another twelvemonth; one entire parish in the city subscribing but seven
and sixpence to the poor scholar's appeal.

Learning in Stow's time, and for a long time after, was evidently but
poorly patronised, for his is by no means an isolated experience. Myles
Davies, author of 'Athenæ Britannicæ,' &c., published in 1716, suffered
similar neglect; his mind, it is alleged, becoming quite confused amidst
the loud cries of penury and despair.

Alluding to those who were supposed to support such as himself, he
scathingly says, "Some parsons would halloo enough to raise the whole
house and home of the domestics to raise a poor crown; at last all that
flutter ends in sending Jack or Tom out to change a guinea, and then 'tis
reckoned over half-a-dozen times before the fatal crown can be picked out,
which must be taken as it is given, with all the parade of almsgiving
[Davies, be it remembered, was a Welsh divine], and so to be received with
all the active and passive ceremonial of mendication and alms-receiving,
as if the books, printing, and paper were worth nothing at all, and as if
it were the greatest charity for them to touch them, or let them be in the
house. 'For I shall never read them,' says one of the five-shilling chaps.
'I have no time to look into them,' says a third. ''Tis so much money
lost,' says a grave dean. 'My eyes being so bad,' said a bishop, 'that I
can scarce read at all.' 'What do you want with me?' said another. 'Sir, I
presented you the other day with my 'Athenæ Britannicæ,' being the last
part published.' 'I don't want books, take them again; I don't understand
what they mean.' 'The title is very plain,' said I, 'and they are writ
mostly in English.' 'I'll give you a crown for both the volumes.' 'They
stand me, sir, in more than that, and 'tis for a bare subsistence I
present or sell them; how shall I live?' 'I care not a farthing for
that--live or die, 'tis all one to me.' 'Damn my master,' said Jack,
''twas but last night he was commending your books and your learning to
the skies, and now he would not care if you were starving before his eyes;
nay, he often makes game at your clothes, though he thinks you the
greatest scholar in England.'"

So much for the way literature was encouraged in the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, and that it was little better in the eighteenth
century is only too well-known a fact; for "in those days, a large
proportion of working literary men were little better than
outcasts;--persons exiled from decent society, partly by their own vices,
partly by the fact of their following a profession which had hardly
acquired a recognised standing in the world, or found for itself a
definite and indisputable sphere of usefulness. The reading public was not
sufficient to maintain an extensive fraternity of writers, and the writers
consequently often starved, and broke their hearts in wretched garrets, or
earned a despicable living by flattering the great."

These animadversions are especially meant to apply to that class of
_littérateurs_ known as "Grub Street pamphleteers," but not a few notable
names in the world of letters can be found to verify the gloomy picture.
Nathaniel, or "Nat" Lee, as he is more often called, was one of those who
failed to find fortune, but it must be admitted his "own vices" are
answerable for his indigence. The son of a clergyman, he was educated at
Westminster School, and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he took his
B.A.; and, at a very early age, manifested conspicuous ability for
dramatic writing; his first effort, 'Nero, Emperor of Rome,' produced in
1675, being received with marked success. From that time until his death,
which occurred fifteen years later, he brought out eleven plays, not one
of which was a failure, but he was so rakishly extravagant as to be
frequently plunged into the lowest depths of misery. In November 1684, his
excesses, coupled with a naturally excitable temperament, succeeded in
fitting him to be an inmate of Bedlam, where he was confined for four
years. On his release in April 1688, he resumed his occupation of
dramatist, producing 'The Princess of Cleve' in 1689, and 'The Massacre
of Paris' the following year. Notwithstanding the considerable profits
arising from these performances he was reduced to so low an ebb, that a
weekly stipend of 10_s._ from the Theatre Royal was his chief dependence.
He died the same year, 1690, the result of a drunken frolic in the street;
and although the author of eleven plays, all acted with applause, and
dedicated, when printed, to the Earls of Dorset, Mulgrave, and Pembroke,
and the Duchesses of Portsmouth and Richmond, who were numbered among his
patrons, _he was buried by the Parish_ of St. Clement Danes, Strand.

The vicissitudes of Spenser, in contrast to those of the author just
referred to, were undoubtedly due to a want of appreciation on the part of
those in power; for none of his biographers even hint at want of rectitude
in his past life. Created Poet Laureate by Queen Elizabeth, he, for some
time, only wore the barren laurel, and possessed the place without the
pension; for Lord Treasurer Burleigh, for some motive or other,
intercepted the Queen's intended bounty to him. It is said that Her
Majesty, upon Spenser presenting some poems to her, ordered him £100, but
that her Lord Treasurer, objecting to it, said with considerable scorn,
"What! all this for a song?" Whereupon the Queen replied, "Then give him
what is reason." Some time after, the poet, not having received the
promised gift, penned the following poetic petition--

  "I was promised on a time,
  To have reason for my rime; (_sic_)
  From that time unto this season
  I received nor rime nor reason"--

which, when sent to his sovereign, had the desired effect of producing the
monetary reward, and also obtained for Lord Burleigh the reprimand he so
well deserved. That Spenser felt keenly the neglect to which he was
subsequently subjected is pretty clearly shown in the following lines--

  "Full little knowest thou, that hast not try'd
  What hell it is in suing long to bide:
  To lose good days that might be better spent,
  To wast long nights in pensive discontent:
  To speed to-day, to be put back to-morrow,
  To feed on hope, to pine with fear and sorrow:
  To have thy Prince's grace, yet want her peers,
  To have thy asking, yet wait many years:
  To fret thy soul with crosses and with cares,
  To eat thy heart with comfortless despairs:
  To fawn, to crouch, to wait, to ride, to run,
  To spend, to give, to want, to be undone"--

which is but one of many bemoanings of hard and undeserved treatment; and
though there be some who have accused him of lacking philosophy in thus
making known his poverty, I should think it very much too literally _poor_
philosophy that would suffer in silence when it comes to a matter of bread
and cheese. There were times, of course, in Spenser's history, when his
genius was fully acknowledged, both before and after the neglect recorded,
when, for instance, he made the acquaintance of that chivalrous poet
soldier, Sir Philip Sidney--the historically self-denying Sir Philip, who
when mortally wounded at the battle of Zutphen, and about to revel in a
draught of water that he had called for, denied himself the coveted drink,
and gave it away to a poor comrade. He it was who was the first to
recognise Spenser's great claim as a poet. It is stated that when a
perfect stranger to Sir Philip, Spenser went to Leicester House, and
introduced himself by sending in the ninth canto of 'The Fairy Queen,'
which he had just completed.

The young nobleman was much surprised with the description of "Despair" in
that canto, and betrayed an unusual kind of transport on the discovery of
so new and uncommon a genius. After he had read some verses he called his
steward, and bade him give the person who brought those verses £50; but
upon reading the next stanza, he ordered the sum to be doubled. The
steward was as much surprised as his master, and thought it his duty to
make some delay in executing so sudden and lavish a bounty; but upon
reading one stanza more, Sir Philip raised his gratuity to £200, and
commanded the steward to give it immediately, lest, as he read farther, he
might be tempted to give away his whole estate. Unfortunately this
generous patron was killed at the early age of thirty-two, and it was
after his decease that Spenser for a time was under a cloud. Subsequently
he was befriended by the Earl of Leicester, and upon the appointment of
Lord Grey of Wilton to be Lord Deputy of Ireland, the poet became his
secretary, and was rewarded by a grant from the Queen of three thousand
acres. This he was not destined to enjoy very long, for in the rebellion
of Tyrone he was plundered, and deprived of his estate, and when he
arrived in England he was heart-broken by his misfortunes. He died in the
greatest distress on the 16th January, 1599, and though interred in
Westminster Abbey at the expense of the Earl of Essex, his death according
to Ben Jonson was actually occasioned by "lack of bread."

It is difficult to determine which is the more pitiable, the want and
misery produced by the neglect of others, or the destitution resulting
from evil courses; both demand our commiseration, though some of the stern
moralists affect to have "no pity" for those whose troubles are the
outcome of self-indulgence and dissipation. "A fellow-feeling makes us
wondrous kind," and only those who have been the victims of that enslaving
mania for drink, which has blasted so many bright lives will have
compassion for such a man as Samuel Boyce. This misguided mortal, the son
of a dissenting minister, was born at Dublin in the year 1708, and when
eighteen was sent to the Glasgow University, his father having designed
him for the ministry. He married when he had been at college little more
than a year, and soon developed habits of indulgence and extravagance,
which effectually ruined him, in spite of much assistance received from
the nobility and others. In the year 1731 he published a volume of poems,
to which is subjoined the "Tablature of Cebes," and a letter upon liberty,
which appeared originally in the _Dublin Journal_ five years previously.
These productions gained him considerable reputation and substantial
patronage from the Countess of Eglinton, to whom they were dedicated.

His next successful effort was an elegy upon the death of the Viscountess
Stormont (a woman of the most refined taste, well versed in science, and a
great admirer of poetry), entitled, 'The Tears of the Muses,' which so
pleased Lord Stormont, the deceased lady's husband, that he advertised for
the author in one of the weekly papers, and caused his attorney to make
him a very handsome present. In addition to the favour of Lady Eglinton
and Lord Stormont, he was also befriended by the Duchess of Gordon, who
gave him most material assistance while he continued in Scotland; and when
he went to London, gave him a letter of introduction to Pope, and obtained
another for him to Sir Peter King, Lord Chancellor of England. He had many
other most valuable recommendations when he arrived in the metropolis,
and possessing as he did ability of no common order, his opportunities
were exceptionally fine; but nothing can withstand the devastating
influences of the demon of drink; and at the age of thirty-two he is
described as reduced to such an extremity of human wretchedness that he
had not a shirt, a coat, or any kind of apparel to put on. The sheets in
which he lay were carried to the pawnbroker's, and he was obliged to be
confined to his bed with no other covering than a blanket, and in this
condition, thrusting his arm through a hole, he scribbled a quantity of
verse for the _Gentleman's Magazine_.

His genius was not confined to poetry, for he was skilled in painting,
music, and heraldry; but by his pen alone, had he chosen to live decently,
he could have commanded a very good living. His translations from the
French were admittedly excellent; but the drawback to employing him at
this work was that when he had copied a page or two he would pawn the
original and re-pawn it as often he could induce his acquaintances to "get
it out" for him. On one occasion Dr. Johnson managed to get up a sixpenny
subscription for him in order to redeem his clothes, but the effort to
help him was useless, for within two days he pawned them again, and the
last state was at any rate no better than the first. He seems to have been
so demoralised by drink that he was dead to every sense of honour and
humanity; for, whenever he obtained half-a-guinea, whether by writing
poetry or a begging letter, he would sit squandering it in a tavern while
his wife and child starved at home. He got from bad to worse, and in 1742,
when locked up in a spunging-house, sent the following appeal to Cave:

"I am every moment threatened to be turned out here, because I have not
money to pay for my bed two nights past, which is usually paid beforehand;
and I am loth to go into the Compter, till I can see if my affairs can
possibly be made up. I hope, therefore, you will have the humanity to send
me half-a-guinea for support till I finish your papers in my hands. I
humbly entreat your answer, not having tasted anything since Tuesday
evening I came here; and my coat will be taken off my back for the charge
of the bed, so that I must go into prison naked, which is too shocking for
me to think of."

There are several accounts given of his death, which occurred when he was
but forty-one years of age; and, though they vary as to the precise nature
of his end, there is no doubt that it was accelerated by the habit he
indulged in--of drinking hot beer to excess, which at last obscured and
confused his intellectual faculties.

The sad side of impecuniosity is, unfortunately, so vast a subject that it
would require an entire volume, instead of part of a chapter, to properly
record the miseries of mind and body endured by those in past ages, who,
not unknown to fame, have been permitted to pine and die in despair. The
poets alone, so prolific are they in this respect, would furnish material
sufficient; but the neglect of genius is anything but an uncommon thing,
and therefore commonplace sufferings might not be regarded as
"_Curiosities_ of impecuniosity," though in one sense it certainly is
curious that their wants should not have been recognised. Men like Henry
Carey or Cary, the author of 'Sally in our Alley,' and said by some to be
the composer of the National Anthem, who was considered by all authorities
to be a true son of the Muses, have been driven to desperation through
want. It is said, "At the time that this poet could neither walk the
streets nor be seated at the convivial board without listening to his own
songs and his own music--for in truth the whole nation was echoing his
verse, and crowded theatres were applauding his wit and humour; while this
very man himself, urged by his strong humanity, founded a 'Fund for
Decayed Musicians'--he was so broken-hearted, and his own common comforts
so utterly neglected, that in despair, not waiting for nature to relieve
him from the burden of existence, he laid violent hands on himself; and
when found dead _had only a halfpenny in his pocket_."

The following lines written some time before his melancholy end show that
he was no stranger to the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune," and
that his self-destruction was not the result of momentary madness, but
rather induced by the humiliating torture of ills long borne.

  "Far, far away then chase the harlot Muse,
  Nor let her thus thy noon of life abuse;
  Mix with the common crowd, unheard, unseen,
  And if again thou tempt'st the vulgar praise,
  May'st thou be crown'd with birch instead of bays!"

The untimely end of Chatterton is a companion picture to that of Cary,
but the circumstances of his early death, his being without food for two
days, and his poisoning himself with arsenic and water, when lodging at
Mrs. Angel's, a sack-maker in Brook Street, Holborn, are so well known
that it is only necessary to mention his melancholy fate, which if it
stood alone in the history of literature would be sufficient to show there
is a very pathetic side to impecuniosity. Although this rash act is
attributed to the state of starvation to which the poet was reduced, there
is little doubt that Horace Walpole by his unsympathising, though strictly
correct, reproof had much to do with the disordered condition of the poor
fellow's mind. When living at Bristol, Chatterton became possessed of some
parchments which had been extracted from the coffin of a Mr. Canynge, and
upon these he produced some poetry, which he described as a production of
Thomas Canynge, and of his friend, one Thomas Rowley, a priest; sent them
to Walpole and asked for assistance to enable him to quit his uncongenial
occupation, and pursue one more poetic. The poems were submitted to
competent antiquaries, and pronounced forgeries, whereupon Horace Walpole
refused the boy's application for help, at the same time reproving the
attempted fraud in the most cold and cutting terms. For this treatment the
great wit and prince of letter-writers has been severely censured; one
writer remarking, "Just or unjust, the world has never forgiven Horace
Walpole for Chatterton's misery. His indifference has been contrasted with
the generosity of Edmund Burke to Crabbe, a generosity to which we owe
'The Village,' 'The Borough,' and to which Crabbe owed his peaceful old
age, and almost his existance. The cases were different, but Crabbe had
his faults, and Chatterton was worth saving. It is well for genius that
there are souls in the world more sympathising, less worldly, and more
indulgent, than those of such men as Horace Walpole."

Another most melancholy, and equally tragical record connected with
impecuniosity is furnished in the life of Dr. Dodd, a literary divine, and
one of the most popular preachers of the last century; though _his_
troubles were not the outcome of actual want, but rather the result of
want of self-control and principle. He commenced as a writer for the
press, published 'The Beauties of Shakespeare,' obtained several
lectureships, which he held with great success, and subsequently became
Chaplain to the King. The list of his different appointments is most
numerous, and most of them not only important, but highly remunerative,
but his extravagance was such that no income would have been sufficient to
keep him out of debt. Owing to his excesses he lost the royal favour, and
though he was in the receipt of a large income from his preaching, it was
not enough to satisfy his expensive habits, and he foolishly sent an
anonymous letter to Lady Apsley offering her £3000 if she would prevail on
her husband, the Lord Chancellor, to appoint him to the rectory of St.
George's, Hanover Square. The letter was traced to the doctor, and in
consequence his name was struck off the list of royal chaplains. After a
sojourn abroad he returned to this country, obtained from Lord
Chesterfield a living in Buckinghamshire, but could not forsake his old
habits; he still plunged into debt, and _from being pressed for money_
forged the name of his patron to a bill for £4200, was tried, found
guilty, and executed at the Old Bailey, in 1777.

The career of Thomas Otway, the dramatist, though short, for he was but
thirty-four years of age when he died, was one continued course of
monetary difficulty, the result of irregular living. The son of a Sussex
rector and educated at Winchester and Christ Church, Oxford, he betrayed
no anxiety to follow his father's footsteps, but at the age of
twenty-three manifested a most practical preference for Thespis rather
than theology, though he does not seem to have possessed any great genius
for acting. He subsequently became a cornet in a regiment, which was sent
to Flanders, but distinguished himself most as a dramatic writer, for
which profession he was eminently suited, many of his plays meeting with
exceptional success, particularly 'Venice Preserved,' which has held
possession of the stage for about two hundred years. His circumstances,
never good, gradually went from bad to worse, owing to his dissolute
proclivities, and he died at last on the 14th April, 1685, in a wretched
state of penury, at a public-house called 'The Bull,' on Tower Hill,
whither he had gone to avoid the too pressing attention of his creditors.
It is generally believed that the actual cause of his death was choking,
which occurred through his having been without food for some time, and
then too eagerly devouring a piece of bread which, through the generosity
of a friend, he had been able to purchase. That Otway should have excelled
in tragedy is not surprising, the power that he displayed in depicting
domestic suffering being easily accounted for by the fact that he must
have been constantly experiencing distress in private life, for when his
tragic end was brought about he was hiding from sheriff's officers, his
misery terminating only with death.

It is terribly sad to see such men as these, blessed with natural gifts
far beyond the common, yet in spite of these endowments sinking to a lower
level than their inferiors in intellect; and unfortunately the literary
list of these erring ones is a long one, for since the days of Robert
Greene, said to be the first Englishman who wrote for a living, and who
died in the house of a poor shoemaker, who took pity upon him when he was
destitute, there have always been men unable to withstand the seductions
of vicious courses, and who have consequently paid the penalty of
intemperance, and immorality, by death-beds of misery, and remorse, to say
nothing of the life-long inconveniences of impecuniosity. Lamentable as is
the contemplation of these lost lives, there is yet a sadder picture
still, for pitiable as it is to think of men, indifferent alike to their
well-being in this world and in that which is to come, the sadness is
intensified when the object of pity is a woman, one who has been referred
to as "a sort of female Otway, without his genius."

The individual in question was Colley Cibber's younger daughter,
Charlotte, whose education from her earliest years was eminently
masculine, which resulted in the girl becoming proficient in manly sports
and pastimes, such as shooting, hunting, riding, &c. When very young she
married Mr. Richard Clarke, a celebrated violinist, with whom she soon
disagreed, and from whom she speedily separated, and she then devoted
herself to the stage, and commenced a career, which for strange and
harrowing vicissitudes is unequalled in the annals of British
biography--one day courted, admired and affluent; the next an outcast,
uncared for, and despised. Singularly enough, the first character she
assumed on the stage after the quarrel with her husband was Mademoiselle
in 'The Provoked Wife,' in which character, and several subsequent
assumptions at the Haymarket Theatre, she was highly successful, and
obtained an uncommonly good salary. Her temper however, like herself, was
eccentric, and it was not long before she quarrelled with Fleetwood, the
manager, and left the theatre at a moment's notice. From being a regular
performer, she then took to travelling about the country with strollers,
and shared with them the starvation fate that is so often associated with
their nomadic existence. Tiring of this, she set up as a grocer, in Long
Acre, but failed in that business, as well as at puppet-show keeping, at
which she tried her hand in a street near the Haymarket. On the death of
her husband, she was thrown into prison for debt, but released by the
subscriptions of ladies of questionable repute, whose charity is
proverbially more conspicuous than their virtue. After remarrying, and
again becoming a widow, Charlotte Clarke (for by that name she has always
been known) assumed male attire, and obtained occasional engagements at
the theatres, and, though she suffered most distressing deprivations was
able to present so good an appearance, that an heiress became madly
attached to her, and was inconsolable when the wretched woman revealed her
sex. The next adventure she claims to have participated in is her becoming
valet to an Irish nobleman, which situation she did not retain for any
length of time; and then she attempted to earn her living as a
sausage-maker, but was unsuccessful. Twice she became a tavern proprietor,
and for a time was in the most flourishing circumstances, but her
prosperity was excessively ephemeral, and amongst the other occupations
that she is credited with having undertaken are those of waiter at the
King's Head, Marylebone; worker of a set of puppets, and authoress of her
extraordinary biography, which she published in 1755. It was with the
proceeds of this book that she was enabled to open one of the
public-houses mentioned; but the amount realised by its sale was not of
much benefit to the poor misguided creature, for within five years (she
died in 1760), she was discovered in a more wretched, forlorn condition
than ever, according to the account of two gentlemen who visited her. The
widow, who, petted and pampered by her parents, had, as a child been
brought up in luxury, was then domiciled in a wretched, thatched hovel in
the purlieus of Clerkenwell Bridewell, at that time a wild suburb, where
the scavengers used to throw the cleansings of the streets. The house and
its scanty furniture sufficiently indicated the extreme poverty of the

"Mrs. Clarke sat on a broken chair by a little scrap of fire, and the
visitors were accommodated with a rickety deal board. A half-starved dog
lay at the authoress's feet; a cat sat on one hob, and a monkey on the
other; while a magpie perched on the back of its mistress's chair. A
worn-out pair of bellows served for a writing-desk, and a broken cup for
an inkstand; these were matched by the pen, which was worn down to the
stump, and was the only one on the premises. The lady asked thirty
guineas for the copyright. The bookseller offered five, but was at length
induced by his friend to give ten, on condition that Mr. Whyte (the
friend) would pay a moiety and take half the risk of the novel."

In the year 1759 she played Marplot, in 'The Busybody,' for her own
benefit at the Haymarket, when the following advertisement appeared.

"As I am entirely dependent on chance for a subsistence, and am desirous
of getting into business, I hope the town will favour me on the occasion,
which, added to the rest of their indulgence, will ever be gratefully
acknowledged by their truly obliged, and obedient servant, CHARLOTTE

This was shortly before her death, which took place on the 6th April,

It would be extremely difficult to find a more sorrowful story in
connection with impecuniosity than that of Colley Cibber's daughter; and
though the degraded character of the greater part of her life has robbed
her misfortunes of much of the sympathy that would otherwise have been
freely accorded, it would have been well if some who have animadverted so
severely upon her shortcomings had remembered that much in her life that
was so unwomanly was undoubtedly due to her masculine and defective

The celebrated actress Mrs. Jordan--whose acting, according to
Hazlitt--"gave more pleasure than that of any other actress, because she
had the greatest spirit of enjoyment in herself"--was so unfortunate in
her last days, that she is fully entitled to a place with those whose
monetary embarrassments have been particularly sad. For years she had
lived in uninterrupted domestic harmony with the Duke of Clarence,
afterwards William the Fourth; but when the connection was suddenly
severed in 1811, a yearly allowance of £4400, was settled upon her for the
maintenance of herself and daughters; with a provision that, if Mrs.
Jordan should resume her profession, the care of the duke's daughters,
together with £1500 per annum allowed for them, should revert to his Royal
Highness. Within a few months of this arrangement she did return to the
stage, but through having incautiously given blank notes of hand to a
friend in difficulties on the understanding that the amounts to be filled
in were but small, she awoke one morning to find herself called upon to
pay amounts utterly beyond her power. In her terror and dismay she fled
to France, but her peace of mind was gone. Separated from her children,
and racked by the torturing thought of the liability she was unable to
discharge, she gradually pined away, and died in terrible distress of mind
at St. Cloud in June 1816.

Contrasted with its brilliant beginning the close of Mrs. Jordan's life is
painfully sad, and it might be urged that the sorrowful end was but an
instance of retributive justice on account of the fair and frail one's
social sin. Experience, however, proves that the breaking of the moral law
does not always involve punishment in this life, and even if this were not
so, many instances could be cited of misfortunes as heavy, and far
heavier, falling to the lot of those who to all intents and purposes have
led blameless lives.

Foremost among such cases would be the crushing blow that befell the noble
and greatly gifted novelist and poet, Sir Walter Scott, at the age of
fifty-five years, when, having given to the world the greater part of
those glorious works that have placed his name pre-eminent in the world of
literature, and being, as was supposed, the happy enjoyer of a handsome
fortune and splendid estate, it transpired that he was a ruined man. So
successful had been his literary labours for thirty years that it was
generally and naturally supposed that the enormous sums spent on
Abbotsford were the proceeds of his novels and poems, but it seems he had
for a long time been a partner in the printing firm of Ballantyne & Co.,
who were closely connected with Messrs. Constable, the publishers. These
firms had engaged in transactions of a speculative character, and in the
commercial crisis of 1825 both failed, Sir Walter's immense private
fortune being swallowed up in the crash, while as a partner in the house
of Ballantyne he was responsible for the enormous amount of £147,000. At
the time of this calamity his health had already been considerably
shattered, the slightly grey hair had in the year 1819 been turned to
snowy white by an attack of jaundice, and his frame further enfeebled four
years later by an attack of apoplexy, so that it would not have been
surprising if this frightful crash had proved his death-blow. Far from it;
with a heroism unparalleled, and a high sense of honour, that adds more
lustre to his name than the most brilliant effusion of his pen, he
determined manfully to face this overwhelming catastrophe, refusing all
proffered aid, and merely asking for time. "Gentlemen," said he to the
creditors, "time and I against any two. Let me take this good ally into
my company, and I believe I shall be able to pay you every farthing. It is
very hard thus to lose all the labours of a lifetime and to be made a poor
man at last when I ought to have been otherwise, but, if God grant me life
and strength for a few years longer, I have no doubt I shall redeem it
all." The redemption referred to his property, all of which he gave up,
retiring into modest lodgings, where he zealously set to work to
accomplish the Herculean task of writing off the gigantic sum named.
'Woodstock,' which realised £8228, was the first novel after his
misfortune, and that occupied him only three months; but it was as, he
said, "very hard" at his time of life to every day perform the allotted
task of producing thirty pages of printed matter, for the work on which he
was then occupied was not that fiction which he wrote with such facility,
but a voluminous 'Life of Napoleon Buonaparte,' necessitating reference to
no end of books and papers; and day after day for many a month might he
have been seen, slowly and sorrowfully, wading through work after work in
order to verify each date and fact. The nine volumes were finished in
1827, and these were followed by 'The Chronicles of the Canongate,' 'Tales
of a Grandfather,' 'The Fair Maid of Perth,' 'Count Robert,' and 'Castle
Dangerous'--the last named published in 1831--a year before his death,
which may be fairly attributed to the undue strain of mind and body; the
_raison-d'être_ of this overtaxing of his strength being simply and solely

The picture of this truly great man being obliged to wear out the last
years of his life by unceasing labour when he should have been enjoying a
well-earned rest, is excessively sad and touching--but the sadness is to
some extent relieved by the heroic nature of the act. The melancholy end
of the man is swallowed up in the imperishable name he has left behind,
which name, for generations to come, will serve as the synonym of honour.
Sad, far more sad, were the closing days of Sheridan, whose last moments
were also darkened by impecuniosity, but utterly unrelieved by any acts of
self-sacrifice; and made far more melancholy by the fact that the monetary
misery was caused by unnecessary extravagance.

Alas, poor Sheridan! If ever man in his declining days had good reason to
say with the preacher, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity," thou hadst!
for thou wert bitterly punished at the last, by the desertion and neglect
of those who should have succoured and solaced thee. True thy
shortcomings were many, but only one blessed with such brilliant gifts
could possibly realise thy temptation; and the sorrow thou didst endure
must silence detraction. Says one of his biographers, "For six years after
the burning of the old theatre, he continued to go down and down. Disease
now attacked him fiercely. In the spring of 1816 he was fast waning
towards extinction. His day was past, he had outlived his fame as a wit
and social light; he was forgotten by many, if not by most, of his old
associates. He wrote to Rogers, 'I am absolutely undone and
broken-hearted.' Poor Sheridan! in spite of all thy faults, who is he
whose morality is so stern that he cannot shed one tear over thy latter
days! God forgive us, we are all sinners; and if we weep not for this
man's deficiency, how shall we ask tears when our day comes? Even as I
write, I feel my hand tremble and my eyes moisten over the sad end of one
whom I love, though he died before I was born. 'They are going to put the
carpets out of window,' he wrote to Rogers, 'and break into Mrs. S.'s room
and _take me_. For God's sake let me see you!' See him! see one friend who
could and would help him in his misery! Oh, happy man may that man count
himself who has never wanted that one friend, and felt the utter
helplessness of that want. Poor Sheridan! had he ever asked, or hoped, or
looked for that Friend out of _this_ world it had been better; for 'the
Lord thy God is a jealous God,' and we go on seeking human friendship and
neglecting the divine till it is too late. He found one hearty friend in
his physician, Dr. Bain, when all others had forsaken him. The spirit of
White's and Brookes', the companion of a prince and a score of noblemen,
the enlivener of every fashionable table, was forgotten by all but this
one doctor. Let us read Moore's description. 'A sheriff's officer at
length arrested the dying man _in his bed_, and was about to carry him off
in his blankets to a spunging-house, when Dr. Bain interfered?' Who would
live the life of revelry that Sheridan lived to have such an end? A few
days after, on the 7th July, 1816, in his sixty-fifth year, he died. Of
his last hours the late Professor Smythe wrote an admirable and most
touching account, a copy of which was circulated in manuscript. The
professor, hearing of Sheridan's condition asked to see him, with a view
not only of alleviating present distress, but of calling the dying man to
repentance. From his hands the unhappy Sheridan received the Holy
Communion; his face during that solemn rite--doubly solemn when it is
performed in the chamber of death--'expressed,' Smythe relates, '_the
deepest awe_.' That phrase conveys to the mind impressions not easy to be
defined, not easy to be forgotten.

"Peace! There was not peace even in death, and the creditor pursued him
even into the 'waste wide,' even to the coffin. He was lying in state,
when a gentleman in the deepest mourning called, it is said, at the house,
and introducing himself as an old and much-attached friend of the
deceased, begged to be allowed to look upon his face. The tears which rose
in his eyes, the tremulousness of his quiet voice, the pallor of his
mournful face, deceived the unsuspecting servant, who accompanied him to
the chamber of death, removed the lid of the coffin, turned down the
shroud, and revealed features which had once been handsome, but long since
rendered almost hideous by drinking. The stranger gazed with profound
emotion, while he quietly drew from his pocket a bailiff's wand, and
touching the corpse's face with it, suddenly altered his manner to one of
considerable glee, and informed the servant that he had arrested the
corpse in the King's name for a debt of £500. It was the morning of the
funeral, which was to be attended by half the grandees of England, and in
a few minutes the mourners began to arrive. But the corpse was the
bailiff's property till his claim was paid, and nought but the money would
soften the iron capturer. Canning and Lord Sidmouth agreed to settle the
matter, and over the coffin the debt was paid."

The pall-bearers were the Duke of Bedford, the Earl of Lauderdale, Earl
Mulgrave, Lord Holland, Lord Spencer, and the Bishop of London, and the
body was followed by two Royal Highnesses--the Dukes of York and
Sussex--by two Marquises, seven Earls, three Viscounts, five Lords, and a
perfect army of honourables and right honourables. This _show_ of respect
and homage after death, when nothing had been done to assuage his last
sufferings in life, was regarded by those who loved him as a bitter
mockery, and Moore's lines justly denounced it.

  "Oh, it sickens the heart to see bosoms so hollow,
    And friendship so false in the great and high-born,
  To think what a long line of titles may follow,
    The relics of him who died friendless and lorn!
  How proud they can press to the funeral array
    Of him whom they shunned in his sickness and sorrow,
  How bailiffs may seize his last blanket to-day,
    Whose pall shall be held up by nobles to-morrow!"



In the opening chapter, several instances of considerable ingenuity were
referred to; but as the conduct of the individuals in question was not
_sans peur et sans reproche_, the cases came under the head of the immoral
effects of the want of money, and were necessarily not illustrations of
ingenuity proper, but ingenuity slightly improper.

In the present chapter, the majority of the reminiscences related are
innocent of the unscrupulous characteristics, and are intended to be
examples of the theory that "nothing sharpens a man's wits like poverty,"
which assertion can be supported by the accepted axiom "necessity is the
mother of invention;" for it stands to reason that people are more or less
stimulated to exercise their faculties of contrivance in proportion to
their need. Hence it is that the very needy become exceptionally sharp in
more senses than one.

The men who have made their mark in any department of knowledge, or have
achieved positions of eminence, are for the most part, those who have
wanted to be clever, or those who have wanted to attain certain celebrity.
It is the _want_ of the thing that has enabled them to devote their whole
lives to study, or given them the power to persevere; and so it is with
regard to impecuniosity. The want of money--that is an anxious desire for
it on account of its being needed--has caused men to cudgel their brains
to extricate themselves from their difficulties, has made them plot and
plan, scheme and contrive, or, in other words, has greatly developed the
gift of ingenuity.

Charles Phillips, the barrister, who, when first he practised at the Old
Bailey bar, was remarkably hard up, was wont to relate, with great glee,
how he succeeded with one of his early briefs, which he had from an
Israelite attorney, in what might be termed "Jewing" the Jew. The case
involved an indictment brought by one omnibus company against another
for "nursing" (that is, too closely following one another for the purpose
of driving the rival off the road), and the trial lasted over three days.
For this brief, which was an important one, he had received a
disgracefully small fee, which he could not decline on account of his
necessitous condition; but he determined, if he could get a chance, to be
equal with his parsimonious employer, and on the last day of the trial the
opportunity came. The attorney was most anxious that Phillips himself
should examine a noted Paddington driver, who was a most important
witness, and early on the morning he accosted the barrister, saying: "What
an interesting day this will be in Court. You have to examine the
Paddington coachman. The Court is crowded with conductors and drivers from
all parts."

"Indeed," said Phillips, "I feel no interest in it. The trial has lasted
three days, and look at my miserable fee. Now you _must_ give me ten
guineas, or I won't examine him."

The Jew was thunderstruck, and white with fear for the issue of his cause,
declared he had not such a sum with him, but said he would leave the
amount at Phillips' chambers after the trial. The counsel knowing his man,
and what his promise was worth, declined the proposition, whereupon the
other produced his cheque-book, and forthwith wrote out a cheque for the
sum demanded. As soon as the barrister received it, he asked to be excused
for a few moments, on the plea that he would have to hand over another
brief which he had to a brother counsel. He then privately gave the cheque
to one of the attendants, telling him to run as hard as he could, or take
a cab, and get the cheque cashed as quickly as possible. On his return, he
managed to keep his victim engaged in conversation till he thought the
messenger had obtained a sufficient start, feeling sure that the Jew,
although so much interested in the trial, would rush off to the bank and
stop payment. It was as Phillips anticipated; but the attorney was not
quite quick enough, for, as he rushed into the bank, the man with the
money came out, and the state of perspiration and cursing in which the
baffled Israelite regained the Old Bailey can be understood without

There is no doubt in Phillips' case that impecuniosity sharpened his wits;
for the transaction was nothing more nor less than a piece of _sharp
practice_, indefensible on strictly moral grounds, but hardly blameable
when the character and conduct of the grinding attorney are remembered.

The name of Phillips is associated with another record of ingenuity; but
in the second instance it was Harlequin Phillips--no relation whatever of
the legal luminary, though from his aptitude in taking advantage of an
adversary he was worthy to be related, or at any rate his anecdote is.

This celebrated pantomimist, who was contemporaneous with Garrick, and was
regarded as one of the cleverest men in his profession at that time, was
not clever enough to keep himself out of debt and the spunging-house,
though he proved himself equal to making his escape from custody by an
admirably-conceived plan. After treating the bailiff very freely, he
pretended that he had a dozen of particularly choice wine at home, already
packed, which he begged permission to send for, to drink while he was
detained, offering to pay sixpence a bottle for the privilege.

His custodian acceded to the request, and Phillips wrote a letter giving
particulars of what he wanted, which letter was duly despatched to his
residence. Some time after, a sturdy porter presented himself with the
load, and the turnkey called to his master that a porter with a hamper for
Mr. Phillips had come. "All right," replied the bailiff; "then let nothing
but the porter and hamper out." The messenger, who was an actor thoroughly
accustomed to "heavy business," came in, apparently loaded with a weighty
hamper, and went out as lightly as if he were carrying an empty package,
though in reality it contained Mr. Phillips inside.

This was indeed _carrying out the character of harlequin_ (who is always
supposed to be invisible) "to the letter;" and shows that the pantomimist
of the past was an inventive genius, in addition to being an agile
acrobat, and more or less up to tricks. _A propos_ of tricks, the life of
Philippe, the conjuror, introduces a legitimate illustration of a man poor
in pocket, but rich in resource. Though he appeared at the St. James' and
Strand Theatres in 1845, under the name of Philippe, his real cognomen was
Talon-Philippe Talon.

Born at Alais, near Nismes, where he carried on the trade of confectioner,
he came to London, and subsequently went to Aberdeen, in the hope of
succeeding as a manufacturer of Scotch sweets; but found himself unable to
compete with the native makers, and in possession at last of nothing but a
quantity of unsaleable confectionery. In utter despair of being ever able
to get rid of his stock, he bethought him of turning conjuror, having
always had a great _penchant_ for sleight-of-hand performances, and being,
he believed, equal to giving an exhibition in public. Certain apparatus,
was, however, necessary, which, of course, in his insolvent condition, he
was unable to purchase. He made a visit to the theatre, and found
that--fortunately for him--the entertainment being given was anything but
successful; the bill, theatrically speaking, was "a frost," and the
manager consequently open to discuss any scheme for pulling up the
business. In a moment Philippe saw his opportunity, and suggested that two
or three special performances should be given, at which every person
paying for admission should have with his check a packet of confectionery
given to him, and a ticket entitling the holder to a chance in a prize of
the value of £15. The suggestion was acted upon, the bait took, and the
result was a succession of crowded houses, whereby Talon cleared off all
his stock of sweets, netting a sufficient sum to enable him to purchase
conjuring apparatus, which enabled him to give a series of entertainments
with great success; the same that were subsequently represented with such
profit in England, France, Austria, and elsewhere. Talon, or Philippe, as
he was known to the entertaining public, was the first to perform with
bare arms, and was one of the first to introduce the "globes of fish"
trick in this country.

Another of the "legitimate" description of examples is found connected
with the theatrical experience of Mr. C. W. Montague, who for years was a
very well-known circus-manager, having been connected at one time or
another with the equestrian establishments of Messrs. Sanger, Bell, F.
Ginnetts, Myers, Newsome, and George Ginnett. Some years ago, when he
joined the circus owned by the last-named at Greenwich, he found that
business was in a most melancholy condition; the show, although a very
good one, failed to fetch the people in, and the receipts, not sufficient
to pay expenses, were getting worse and worse. This dismal state of things
was most disheartening to Montague, who was at his wits' end to know what
to do, when one day, while he was being shaved, the barber noticing some
one who had just passed the shop, said: "There goes poor Townsend." "And
who might he be?" asked the manager; being told in reply that the
gentleman referred to had originally represented Greenwich in Parliament,
but owing to great pecuniary difficulties had been obliged to resign. It
also transpired that the late M.P. was a most excellent actor, the barber
having seen him enact Richard III. "quite as good as any right down
reg'ler perfeshional." In addition, Mr. Townsend had been deservedly
popular in the district, and especially in Deptford; for he had been the
means, when in the House of Commons, of getting dockyard labourers' wages
considerably advanced. These two facts, combined with the broken-down
appearance of the gentleman spoken of, immediately presented themselves to
Mr. Montague in a business light. What a capital idea it would be if he
could manage to get the ex-M.P. to appear in the circus! So popular a man
would be a tremendous draw! With this object in view, he waited upon Mr.
Townsend the next morning, and put the proposition to him, but without
success. The unfortunate gentleman admitted that his circumstances were
such that the prospect of making money by the venture was most tempting;
but his pride would not admit of his accepting the offer. The idea of
appearing as a paid performer in a circus in the very place where he had
been regarded with such respect was repugnant to his feelings, and he felt
that he could not consent to the sacrifice of dignity. Away from Greenwich
he would not have minded; but this arrangement of course would have been
no good to Mr. Montague. Nothing daunted by the refusal, the theatrical
man of business determined not to give up the idea, but on several
subsequent occasions pressed him hard, using such powerful arguments in
favour of the scheme that at last Mr. Townsend consented to appear as
Richard "for twelve nights only," on sharing terms. As soon as this was
arranged, another and by no means unimportant difficulty presented itself.
With the exception of Mr. Ginnett and his manager, there was no one in the
company capable of supporting the tragedian; but stimulated by the
seriousness of the situation, Mr. Montague set to work, cut down the
tragedy with unsparing energy, and so arranged a version that enabled Mr.
Ginnett and himself to double the parts of Richmond, Catesby, Norfolk,
Ratcliffe, Stanley, and the ghosts. Notwithstanding these drawbacks, the
production (which would never have been thought of or undertaken but for
the impecunious state of affairs) proved a palpable hit, Townsend's share
being so considerable that he insisted on treating the company to a
supper, shortly after which he went to America.

The mention of America, and connected with circus managing, naturally
suggests to the mind the name of that arch-humbug, but most successful
showman, P. T. Barnum, who was not always the wealthy caterer he now is.
On the contrary, his early life was associated with such poverty-stricken
surroundings, that the want of money had undoubtedly much to do with that
smartness for which his name has become famous. His father died leaving
the family very badly off, the mother being put to all sorts of straits to
keep the home together; and when Barnum--who was first of all a farmer's
boy--commenced his career, he, according to his own account, "began the
world with nothing, and was barefooted at that." His first berth of any
consequence was a clerkship in a general store, at which time he was
"dreadfully poor;" but, says he, "I determined to have some money."
Consequently, impelled by impecuniosity, he speedily became ingenious. One
day, when left in charge of the business, a pedlar called with a waggon
full of common green glass bottles, varying in size from half a pint to
half a gallon. The store was what was called a barter store. A number of
hat manufacturers traded there, paying in hats, and giving store orders to
many of their _employés_, and other firms did likewise, so that the
business boasted an immense number of small customers. The pedlar was
anxious to do business, and Barnum knew that his employers had a quantity
of goods that were regarded as unsaleable stock. Upon these he put
inordinately high prices, and then expressed his willingness to barter
some goods for the whole lot of bottles. The pedlar was only too glad,
never dreaming of disposing of all his load, and the exchange was
effected. Shortly after, Mr. Keeler, one of the firm, returned, and, on
beholding the place crowded with the bottles, asked in amazement, "What
_have_ you been doing?" "Trading goods for bottles," replied Barnum; to
which his employer made the unpalatable rejoinder, "You are a fool;"
adding, "You have bottles enough for twenty years."

Barnum took the reproof very meekly, only saying that he hoped to get rid
of them in less than three months, and then explained what goods he had
given in exchange. The master was very pleased when he found that his
assistant had got rid of what was regarded as little better than lumber,
but still was dubious as to how on earth he would be able to find
customers for the glass, more especially as there was a quantity of old
tinware, dirty and flyblown, about which Barnum was equally sanguine. In a
few days the secret was out. His _modus operandi_ was this: a gigantic
lottery--1000 tickets at 50 cents each. The highest prize 25 dollars,
payable in goods; any that the customers desired to that amount. Fifty
prizes of five dollars each, the goods to that amount being mentioned, and
consisting as a rule of one pair cotton hose, one cotton handkerchief,
two tin cups, four pint glass bottles, three tin skimmers, one quart glass
bottle, six nutmeg graters, and eleven half-pint glass bottles. There were
100 prizes of one dollar each, and 100 prizes of fifty cents each, and 300
prizes of twenty-five cents each, glass and tinware forming the greater
part of each prize. Headed in glaring capitals "Twenty-five dollars for
fifty cents; over 500 prizes." The thousand tickets sold like wild-fire,
the customers never stopping to consider the nature of the prizes.
Journeyman hatters, boss hatters, apprentice boys, hat-trimmers, people of
every class and kind bought chances in the lottery, and in less than ten
days all the tickets were sold.

This was Barnum's first stroke of business, the success of it no doubt
having much to do with his subsequent enterprises; and as, according to
his own showing, the scheme was the result of needy circumstances, and a
determination to have money, it is impossible to say how much his present
prosperity is due to that early expedient.

To give a less modern instance of the power of impecuniosity to render
people ingenious, there is an anecdote of this nature recorded of Captain
William Winde, a celebrated architect, the dates of some of whose designs
are 1663-1665. Amongst many other of his achievements is included
Buckingham House, in St. James's Park, which he designed for the Duke of
Buckingham, but the money for which he could not obtain. The edifice was
nearly finished when the arrears of payment were so considerable that the
architect felt he could not continue unless he obtained a settlement; but
how to do it? That was the thing. Asking was perfectly useless, and
writing to his grace was equally ineffectual. At last a brilliant idea
occurred to him. He requested the duke to mount the leads, to behold the
wonderful view that could be obtained therefrom, and when the noble owner
complied, he locked the trap-door, and threw the key away.

"Now," said Winde, "I am a ruined man, and unless I have your word of
honour that the debts shall be paid, I will instantly throw myself over."

"What is to become of me?" asked the duke.

"_You shall come along with me!_" replied Winde; whereat his grace
immediately promised to pay, and the trap was opened at a given signal by
a workman who was in the plot.

There is a similar kind of story told of Sir Richard Steele and a
carpenter who had built a theatre for him, but who was unable to get his
money. Finding all ordinary means of no avail, the carpenter took the
opportunity when Sir Richard had some friends present, who had assembled
for the purpose of testing the capabilities of the building, of going to
the other end of the theatre; and when told to speak out something pretty
loudly, to test the acoustic properties, roared as loud as ever he could
that he wished to goodness Sir Richard Steele would settle his account.
This is the same individual who gave a splendid entertainment to all the
leading people of the time, and had them waited upon by a number of
liveried servants. After dinner Steele was asked how such an expensive
retinue could be kept upon his fortune, when he replied he should be only
too glad to dispense with his servants' services, but he found it
impossible to get rid of them.

"Impossible to get rid of them?" asked his friends. "What do you mean?"

"Why, simply that these lordly retainers are bailiffs with an execution,"
replied Steele, adding that "he thought it but right that while they
remained they should do him credit."

It is said that his friends were so amused by the humorous ingenuity
displayed, that they paid the debt, which is not unlikely, considering how
popular he was. As a literary man, Steele was always regarded with the
highest esteem, and his personal merits were equally recognised, since his
want of economy was considered his only sin, it having been said of him
that "he was the most innocent rake that ever entered the rounds of

The same could not be said of Sheridan unfortunately, whose ingenuity
under monetary pressure (and when wasn't he pressed for money?) was
remarkable. One of the least harmless of the many incidents recorded of
this character is the circumstance of his obtaining a handsome watch from
Harris the proprietor of Covent Garden Theatre. He had made innumerable
appointments with Harris, none of which had ever been kept, and at last
the manager sent word through a friend that if Sherry failed to be with
him at one o'clock as arranged, he would positively have nothing more to
do with him. Notwithstanding the importance of the interview, at three
o'clock Sheridan was at Tregent's, a famous watchmaker's, and in course of
conversation he told Tregent that he was on his way to see Harris.

"Ah!" said the watchmaker, "I was at the theatre a little while ago, and
he was in a terrible rage with you--said he had been waiting for you since

"Indeed," said Sheridan; "and what took you to Covent Garden?"

"Harris is going to present Bate Dudley with a gold watch," was the reply;
"and I took him a dozen to choose from."

Sheridan left on hearing this, and went straight to the theatre, where he
found Harris exceedingly wroth at having, as he said "had to wait over two

"My dear Harris," began the incorrigible one, "these things occur more
from my misfortune than my faults, I assure you. I thought it was but one
o'clock. It happens I have no watch, and am too poor to buy one. When I
have one, I shall be as punctual as any one else."

"Well," replied the manager, "you shall not want one long. Here are
half-a-dozen of Tregent's best--choose whichever you like."

Sheridan did not hesitate to avail himself of the offer; nor did he, as it
will be understood, select the least expensive one of the number.

_A propos_ of watchmakers, there is the story of Theodore Hook dining with
one with whom he was utterly unacquainted save by name, which ingenious
plan was evolved through lack of funds. Driving out one afternoon with a
friend in the neighbourhood of Uxbridge, Hook remembered that he had not
the means wherewith to procure dinner, and turning to his companion said,
"By the way, I suppose you have some money with you?" But he had reckoned
without his host. "Not a sixpence--not a sou," was the reply, the last
turnpike having taken his friend's last coin. Both were considerably
crestfallen, for it was getting late, and the drive had made them
remarkably hungry. What was to be done? Presently they passed an
exceedingly pretty residence. "Stay," said Hook, "do you see that
house--pretty villa, isn't it? Cool and comfortable--lawn like a
billiard-table. Suppose we dine there?" "Do you know the owner?" asked the
friend. "Not the least in the world," laughed Hook. "I know his name. He
is the celebrated chronometer-maker. The man who got £10,000 premium from
Government, and then wound up his affairs and his watches." Without
another word they drove up to the door, asked for the proprietor, and were
ushered into the worthy tradesman's presence. "Oh, sir," said Hook,
"happening to pass through your neighbourhood, I could not deny myself the
pleasure and honour of paying my respects to you. I am conscious it may
seem impertinent, but your celebrity overcame my regard for the common
forms of society, and I, and my friend here, were resolved, come what
might, to have it in our power to say that we had seen you, and enjoyed
for a few minutes, the company of an individual famous throughout the
civilised world." The old man blushed, shook hands, and after conversing
for a few minutes, asked them if they would remain to dinner, and partake
of his hospitality? Hook gravely consulted with his friend, and then
replied that he feared it would be impossible for them to remain. This
only increased the watchmaker's desire for their society, and made him
invite them more pressingly, till, at length the pretended scruples were
overcome, the pair sitting down to a most excellent repast, to which they
both did more than justice.

On another occasion, when Hook was very much worried for money, he went as
a _dernier ressort_ to a publisher who knew him, in the hope that he would
help him; but unfortunately the man knew him "too well," and refused,
unless he had something to show that he would get his money's worth, or at
any rate a portion of it. Thereupon Hook went home, sat up all night,
wrote an introduction to a novel "on a new plan," appended a hurried
chapter, which he took the next day to the publisher, asserting that he
had had a most liberal offer for it elsewhere, and so persuaded the man to
advance the required sum.

Amusing as are many of the anecdotes quoted, there is one which may be
called "divinely" funny, being connected with a once well-known
theologian--Dr. John Brown of Haddington. This famous Biblical
commentator, who flourished from 1784 to 1858, was anything but rich in
this world's goods; and so poor when staying at Dunse, that he went into a
shop and asked to be accommodated with a halfpennyworth of cheese. The
shopman, awfully disgusted with the meanness of the order, remarked
haughtily, that "they did not make" such small quantities; upon which the
doctor asked, "Then what's the least you can sell?" "A penn'orth," was the
reply. On the divine saying "Very well," the man proceeded to weigh that
quantity, and then placed it on the counter, anticipating to be paid for
it. "Now," said Dr. Brown, "I will show you how to sell a halfpennyworth
of cheese;" upon which, in the coolest manner conceivable, he cut the
modicum into two pieces, and appropriating one half, put down his coin and

Impecuniosity in addition to sharpening men's wits, by which expression
is understood the sharpening of the inventive faculties, has also the
power of making sharp man's wit, as instanced in the case of the beggar
who accosted Marivaux, the well-known French writer of romance. This
mendicant, who appears to have been what we were wont to call a "sturdy
rogue," looked so unlike what one soliciting alms should, that the man of
letters said to him, "My good friend, strong and stout as you are, it is a
great shame that you do not go to work;" when he was met with the reply,
"Ah, master, if you did but know how lazy I am!" for which amazing
audacity, he was rewarded by Marivaux, who said, "Well, I see thou are an
honest fellow. Here's a piece of money for you."

Though, perhaps not strictly witty, the man's remark was excessively
comic, and for aught I know, it may have been his conduct that gave rise
to the now well-known expression--"funny beggar."

For impromptu wit connected with impecuniosity, there is the case of Ben
Jonson, who was invited to dinner at the Falcon Tavern, by a vintner, to
whom he was much in debt, and then told that if he could give an immediate
answer to four questions, his debt should be forgiven him. The
interrogatories put to him by the vintner were these, "What is God best
pleased with? What is the Devil best pleased with? What is the World best
pleased with? and what am I best pleased with?" To which Ben replied:

  "God is best pleased when men forsake their sin.
  The devil is best pleased when they persist therein.
  The world's best pleased when thou dost sell good wine,
  And thou'rt best pleased when I do pay for mine."

To return to the instances of ingenuity, the late Charles Mathews must be
remembered; for he claims the credit of having been successful in
extracting money from Jew bailiffs, which, incredible as it may seem at
first, would really appear to have been the case. He says, "I might relate
a thousand stories of my hair-breadth 'scapes and adventures, with a class
of persons wholly unknown, happily, to a large portion of the population,
and whose names inspire terror to those who do not know them;--officers of
the Jewish persuasion, who are supposed to represent the majesty of the
law in its most forbidding aspect, but to whom I have been indebted for so
many acts of kindness, that I have frequently blessed my stars that they
were interposed between me and the tomahawking Christians by whom they
were employed, and from whom no mercy could have been extracted. I have
had two of those functionaries in adjacent rooms, and _have borrowed the
money from one to pay out the other_, with many such like incidents."

There is no doubt that on the subject of bailiffs this most popular light
comedian was an authority; for his experience of them was considerable,
and it is therefore gratifying to find him bearing testimony to the good
qualities of the much-maligned individual, who, as "the man in
possession," is so often provocative of anger, malice, and all
uncharitableness in the breasts of those who have to entertain him. It
would be unwise, however, for any one to be so led away by the eulogistic
remarks of Charles Mathews as to expect to be able to go and do likewise,
in the matter of borrowing money from them; for it must be remembered,
that without exception he was the most entertaining man in existence, and
blest with persuasive powers unparalleled. At the same time, it is
perfectly true that they are nothing like as formidable as they are
supposed to be (this is reliable--for a distant relation of mine once knew
a person, who had a friend that was sold up--Ahem!), and if it were not
for their partiality for wearing an extra number of coats and waistcoats,
and invariably carrying a stout stick, which characteristics render them
unmistakable to the practised eye, they would not be so objectionable, as
they are by no means devoid of sympathy, and are always open to reason in
the shape of gin and water.

Though not of so pronounced a type as some that have been quoted, there is
an anecdote illustrative of ingenuity, recorded of Samuel Foote, who, in
the days of his youth, and hard-upishness, wrote 'The Genuine Memoirs of
the Life of Sir John Dinely Goodere, Bart., who was murdered by the
contrivance of his own brother.' The author was nephew to the murdered
man, and the assassin; but so poor was he, that on the day he took his MS.
to the publishers he was actually without stockings. On receiving his pay
for the book (£10), he stopped at a hosier's in Fleet Street, to replenish
his wardrobe, but just as he issued from the shop, he met two old Oxford
associates, lately arrived in London for a frolic, and they bore him off
to a dinner at the "Bedford:" where, as the wine began to take effect, his
unclad condition began to be perceivable, and he was questioned as to
"what the deuce had become of his stockings?" "Why," said Foote--the
stockingless Foote--"I never wear any at this time of the year, till I am
going to dress for the evening, and you see"--pulling his purchase out of
his pocket, and silencing the laugh and suspicion of his friends--"I am
always provided with a pair for the occasion."

Equally humorous is the story told of the Honourable George Talbot, the
brother of the Earl of Shrewsbury, a man well known about town during the
time of the Peninsular War. He was a reckless spendthrift, and in Paris,
where he had spent thousands, he was reduced to absolute want. Though a
man of decidedly bad principles, he was what is termed a good Roman
Catholic; that is to say, a regular attendant at Mass, and when he found
it impossible to raise money anywhere else he bethought him of the clergy,
and repaired to confession. He revealed everything to the priest, at least
with regard to his penniless condition, and after much interrogation, and
deliberation, was told to "trust in Providence." Seemingly much struck by
the advice, he said he would come again, and on his second visit, retold
his story, with the addition that nothing at the time of the interview had
turned up; when he was met with the same counsel as before, and enjoined
to "trust in Providence." Somewhat chapfallen at the failure of his visit,
he went away, but after a few days again presented himself to the abbé,
whom he thanked effusively for his good advice on the two previous
occasions, and then begged the pleasure of his company to dinner at a
well-known fashionable restaurant. The invitation was accepted, and the
two sat down to a most sumptuous repast, the delicacy of the viands being
only surpassed by the choiceness of the wine. When the meal was concluded
the bill was handed to Talbot, who said that his purse was quite empty,
and had been so for a long time, but that he thought he could not do
better than follow his confessor's advice and "trust in Providence." The
Abbé Pecheron (the confessor) saw the joke, paid for the dinner, and so
interested himself in Talbot's case, that he obtained from the
spendthrift's friends in England sufficient to enable him to return to
this country.

Not the least ingenious of the many instances to be met with, however, is
one attributed to a widow, who, in the days of Whitecross Street and the
Bench, was arrested for debt. This lady, who is described as of fair and
dashing appearance, with great powers of fascination, soon began to pine
for her liberty, and petitioned for leave "to live within the rules,"
which request was granted. She then took a house in Nelson Square, and
became a reigning queen of pleasure, her Thursday evening _réunions_ being
deemed so delightful, that invitations for them were most eagerly sought
for. Her admirers were legion (that is of the male sex), one at last
being successful in obtaining her coveted hand, and the marriage took
place in due course. When the happy pair returned to Nelson Square after
the ceremony, the tipstaves, who had become acquainted with the affair,
put in an appearance as the newly married couple were about to start on
their honeymoon, informing the lady that they would arrest her, and take
her to the Bench, if she attempted to leave "the rules." Nothing
disconcerted by this apparent stopper to her happiness, she calmly, but
majestically exclaimed, "Indeed! You forget there is no such person as the
lady named in your warrant. I am no longer Mrs. A., but Mrs. B. There is
my husband, and he is responsible for my debts."

"Then, sir," said the tipstaff, "I must arrest you."

The lady smiled sarcastically, saying, "I think it will be time enough to
arrest my husband when you have served him with a writ. If you have one,
produce it; if not, kindly stand aside, and allow us to enter the coach."
The officers could but comply, for they saw they had been outwitted, and
were compelled to stand meekly by, while the clever widow, observing "Now,
my love, let us be off," jumped into the carriage, and drove away with her



There is a letter extant, written to Sir Francis Walsingham in 1586, in
which the writer speaks "with pious indignation of overcrowded playhouses
and deserted churches;" and says "it was a wofull sight to see two hundred
proude players jett in their silks where fyve hundred pore people sterve
in the streetes." From this and many similar allusions we glean that
actors were not in the infancy of our English dramatic art the shabby
impecunious class they afterwards became. They were on the whole well to
do, and highly respectable men of college education, who were in most
cases poets as well as players, patronised and encouraged by all classes,
except those who were so bitterly jealous of their extraordinary
influence--the clergy. A special Act of Parliament was passed in the reign
of Queen Elizabeth for their encouragement and protection, and they had
that which many of the well-born and wealthy envied them--the right of
wearing the badges of royal and noble families, ensuring them respect,
hospitality, and protection, wherever they went. The profession of the
player was not then open to all comers, and those who dared to adopt it
without licence from "any baron, or person of high rank, or two justices
of the peace," were "deemed and treated as rogues and vagabonds;" prison
and the whipping-post, or cart-tail, stocks, and the pillory, being but
the milder forms of that treatment promised them in the often quoted,
commonly misrepresented, Act of "good Queen Bess."

Some of the dramatic poets and players, plunging headlong into dissipation
and debauchery, were at length abandoned by their fellows, and sank into
the depths of misery and extreme poverty; but the majority prospered, and
went about in their silks and velvets, with roses in their shoes, and
swords by their sides, no longer the poor scholars they had been in their
college days--the licensed beggars, who, when they came into a town, set
all the dogs barking--but prosperous gentlemen of fair repute, such as
were Shakespeare, and Edward Alleyn, the founder of the Hospital and
College at Dulwich.

But a great change was at hand when the rebellion broke out, and civil war
gave the Puritans dominant power. Their stage-plays and interludes were
abolished, and the players' occupation was gone. Worse still, the very Act
of Parliament which had been created for their protection was turned
against them, and they were classed with the rogues and vagabonds against
whom it had formerly protected them. Then the whipping and imprisonment,
and even selling into slavery, became the poor players' miserable
ill-fortune, and the reign of impecuniosity began in all its rigorous
severity and terror. The London playhouses, which, between the years 1570
and 1629, had grown from one (the Theatre in Shoreditch) to seventeen,
were shut up, and had all their stages, chambers (boxes, we call them),
and galleries pulled down. Small wonder was it, therefore, that the
players, almost to a man, drew their swords for the King, and fought
stoutly under the royal banner. In the 'Historia Histrionica,' printed in
1699, we read the following dialogue:

"Lovewit. 'Prythee, Trueman, what became of these players when the stage
was put down, and the rebellion raised?'

"Trueman. 'Most of 'em, except Lown, Taylor, and Pollard, who were
superannuated, went into the King's army, and, like good men and true,
served their old master, though in a different, yet more honourable,
capacity. Robinson was killed at the taking of a place (I think Basing
House) by Harrison (he that was after hanged at Charing Cross), who
refused him quarter, and shot him in the head after he had laid down his
arms, abusing Scripture at the same time in saying, "Cursed is he that
doeth the work of the Lord negligently." Mohun was a captain (and after
the wars were ended here served in Flanders, where he received pay as a
major); Hart was a lieutenant of horse under Sir Thomas Dathson, in Prince
Rupert's regiment; Burt was cornet in the same troop, and Shatterd,
quarter-master. Allen, of the Cockpit, was a major, and
quarter-master-general at Oxford. I have not heard of one of these players
of note who sided with the other party, but only Swanston, and he
professed himself a Presbyterian, took up the trade of a jeweller, and
lived in Aldermanbury, within the territory of Father Calamy: the rest
either lost, or exposed, their lives for their King. When the wars were
over, and the Royalists wholly subdued, most of 'em who were left alive
gathered to London, and for a subsistence endeavoured to revive their old
trade privately. They made up one company out of all the scattered members
of several; and in the winter before the King's murder, 1648, they
ventured to act some plays, with as much caution and privity as could be,
at the Cockpit (now Drury Lane Theatre). They continued undisturbed for
three or four days; but at last, as they were representing the tragedy of
'The Bloody Brother' (in which Lowin acted Aubrey; Taylor, Rolla; Pollard,
the cook; Burt, Latorch; and, I think, Hart, Otto), a party of
foot-soldiers beset the house, surprised 'em about the middle of the play,
and carried them away in their habits, not permitting them to shift, to
Hatton House, then a prison, where, having detained them some time, they
plundered them of their clothes and let 'em loose again. Afterwards, in
Oliver's time, they used to act privately, three or four miles, or more,
out of town, now here, now there, sometimes in noblemen's houses, in
particular Holland House, at Kensington, where the nobility and gentry who
met--but in no great numbers--used to make up a sum for them--each giving
a broad piece, or the like--and Alexander Goffe (the woman-actor at
Blackfriars) used to be jackall, and give notice of the time and place. At
Christmas and Bartholomew Fair they used to bribe the officer who
commanded at Whitehall, and were thereupon connived at, to act, for a few
days, at the "Red Bull," but were sometimes, notwithstanding, disturbed by
soldiers. Some picked up a little money by publishing the copies of plays
never before printed, but kept up in MS.; for instance, in the year 1652,
Beaumont and Fletcher's 'Wild Goose Chase' was printed in folio, for the
public use of all the ingenious, as the title-page says, and the private
benefit of Jown Lowin and Joseph Taylor, servants to his late Majesty; and
by them dedicated to the honoured few lovers of dramatic poetry: wherein
they modestly intimate their wants, and with sufficient cause; whatever
they were before the wars, they were afterwards reduced to a necessitous

Hard times these for the poor wandering players.

It is curious to note that a reputed natural son of Oliver Cromwell
became an actor. This was Joe Trefusis, nicknamed "Honest Joe," described
as a person of "infinite humour and shrewd conceits." On one occasion,
driven, we presume, by impecuniosity, Joe volunteered as a seaman, and
served under the Duke of York. This was just before the memorable
sea-fight between the duke and the Dutch admiral, Van Tromp, in which Joe
took part, as he confessed, with great fear, which was not, you may be
sure, decreased when one of the sailors, grimly preparing for the strife,
said to him "Now, master play-actor, you're a-going to take part in one of
the deepest and bloodiest tragedies you ever heard of."

Another player of Puritan descent was the famous American actress,
Charlotte Cushman, the name of her ancestor, Robert Cushman, being one
that figures honourably and prominently as a leader amongst the Pilgrim
Fathers. She tells us many anecdotes of the impecuniosity which afflicted
her in the early days of her career. It was decided that she should
abandon singing, and commence acting, and her first essay was to be in--of
all parts--"Lady Macbeth"! She was then a tall, thin, fair-skinned,
country girl, and being unable to procure a suitable costume, Madame
Closel, a short, fat, dark-complexioned French woman, was applied to, and
laughed heartily at the ludicrous idea of her clothes being worn by Miss
Cushman, who says,--

"By dint of piecing out the skirt of one dress it was made to answer for
an under-skirt, and then another dress was taken in in every direction to
do duty as an over-dress, and so make up the costume. And thus I essayed
for the first time the part of Lady Macbeth."

At that time her only place for study was an empty garret in the house in
which she lodged, and her practice was to shut herself up in it alone, and
sitting on the floor commit her "lines" to memory.

Miss Cushman was not the only actress whom impecuniosity and consequent
vocal efforts led to the stage. The famous Kitty Clive, whose maiden name
was Rafter, was originally maid-of-all-work to Miss Knowles, who lodged at
Mrs. Snells, a well-known fan-painter, in Church Row, Hounsditch. The Bell
Tavern immediately opposite this house, was kept by a Drury Lane
box-keeper, named Watson, at which house an actor's beef-steak club was
held. One morning, when Harry Woodward, Dunstall, and other well-known
London actors were in their club-room, they heard a girl singing very
sweetly and prettily in the street outside, and going to the window found
that the cheerful notes emanated from the throat of a charming little
maid-servant, who was scrubbing the street-door step at Mrs. Snell's
house. The actors looked at each other and smiled, as they crowded the
open window to listen, and the final result was, in 1728, the introduction
of the poor singer to the stage. She afterwards married Counsellor Clive,
and being not a little of the shrew, it is said, quarrelled with him so
seriously, that before the honeymoon was fairly out, the "happy pair"
agreed to separate. It must not, however, be supposed that Kitty Clive was
born to a menial position: she was the daughter of an Irish gentleman,
ruined, as so many Irish gentlemen were, by their adherence to the cause
of James II.

Amongst those so ruined was the father of the illustrious actor and
dramatic author, Charles Macklin, who on one occasion, when about to
insure some property, was asked, "How the clerk should designate him?"

"Call me," replied the actor, "Charles Macklin, a vagabond by Act of
Parliament"--the old law of Queen Elizabeth, which the Puritans had
extended to all players, being then unrepealed.

There was doubtless a tinge of bitterness in the joke; for Macklin's early
experience had been a severe and trying one, in the gaunt school of
poverty and hardship.

When in his twenty-sixth year, being ashamed of depending upon his poor
old mother for his living, he left home, and travelling as a steerage
passenger from Dublin to Bristol, arrived in that opulent city when a
third-class company of players were performing there. He took lodgings
over a mean little snuff and tobacco shop, next door but one to the
theatre, and there became acquainted with a couple of the players, a man
and a woman, who introduced him behind the scenes. To this he owed his
introduction to the stage; for the manager detecting signs of histrionic
taste and ambition in the young Irishman, engaged him, despite his
strongly pronounced brogue, to play Richmond in Shakespeare's 'Richard

James Kirkman, said to have been a natural son of Macklin's, writing of
his _début_, said, "Considering the strong vernacular accent with which
Mr. Macklin (then MacLaughlin) spoke, the reader would be at a loss to
account for the applause which he met with on his first appearance, if he
was not told that Bristol has always been so much inhabited by the Irish
that their tones in speaking have become familiar there."

The young Irish enthusiast afterwards travelled with this little company,
making himself generally useful, by writing the playbills and distributing
them--printing was too costly for poor strollers in those days--by
carpentery when the stage had to be set up in some barn or inn-yard, by
writing on occasions prologue or epilogue, without which no play was then
considered complete, by composing and singing topical songs,
"complimentary and adulatory to the village in which they happen to play,"
to use his fist, which he did with great skill and strength, when the
vulgar rustic audiences were disturbed by the quarrelsome, or were rude
and coarsely offensive to his professional sisters and brethren. Kirkman
says, "His circle of acting was more enlarged than Garrick's; for in one
night he played Antonia, and Belvidera in 'Venice Preserved,' harlequin in
the interlude, or entertainment, sang three comic songs between the acts,
and between the play and the entertainment indulged the audience with an
Irish jig"; often doing this when his share of the profits (for the
original sharing system of Shakespeare's day then prevailed among
strollers) was not more than four or five pence per night, to which was
usually added a share of the candle-ends, candles being in use for
lighting the stage, affixed round hoops to form chandeliers for the
auditorium, in the making of which Macklin displayed peculiar skill.

There is a good story told by Kirkman of a time when Macklin was with a
company of strollers in Wales. One night they had the misfortune to arrive
in Llangadoc, a little place in Carmarthenshire, so late that neither
shelter, beds, nor food enough for all could be obtained, and Macklin,
who, "from the high rank he held in the company was entitled to the first
choice," resigned his claim in favour of a member of the corps who was too
sick and weak to pass the night in the open air.

Kirkman, telling the story, says: "After supping with 'Lady Hawley,'
Macklin made his bow and retired to the room where the luggage was stored.
Here he undressed himself and adopted the following humorous expedient: He
instantly arrayed himself in the dress of Emilia in the 'Moor of Venice'
(a part he occasionally played), tied up a small bundle in a handkerchief
and slipped out of the house unperceived. In about a quarter of an hour he
returned, apparently much fatigued, and addressing the landlady in the
most piteous terms, recounted a variety of misfortunes that had befallen
'her,' and concluded the speech with a heart-moving request that 'she'
might have shelter for the night, as 'she' was a total stranger in that
part of the country. The supposed young woman was informed by the
unsuspecting landlady that all her beds were full, but that in pity for
her distressed condition some contrivance would be made to let her have
part of a bed. Charles now hugged himself at the success of his scheme,
and, after he had partaken of some refreshment, was, to his great
astonishment, conducted by the servant to the bedroom of the landlady
herself, where he was left alone to undress. In this dilemma he scarcely
knew how to act. To retreat he knew not how without risking discovery.
However, into bed he went, convulsed with silent laughter. He had not been
in bed many minutes before Mrs. 'Boniface,' who was upwards of sixty
years, but completely the character in size and shape, made her
appearance. Charles struggled hard with himself for some moments, but the
comic scene had such an effect on him at last that he could contain
himself no longer, and at the instant the old lady got into bed burst into
a fit of laughter."

Mrs. Boniface, believing "the poor young girl was in a fit," got up as
fast as she could, and roared out so loudly and effectually for help that
everybody in the house was alarmed, and the itinerant actresses coming
into the chamber discovered, to their intense astonishment, who it was
that the landlady had given half of her bed to. The laughter spread, was
taken up on the stairs, and echoed from room to room, until the whole
house rang with it. The anger of the landlady was appeased. This occurred
in 1730 or 1731.

An old friend of mine, who in his time has been actor, artist, journalist,
dramatist, and novelist, and is now a well-known London editor, once told
me the following story of his first connection with the stage.

He was a feeble, consumptive lad of sixteen, when the drunkenness and
cruelty of a worthless step-father drove him penniless from home. All
through one long, wretched, and utterly hopeless day he had been wandering
through the streets of London seeking employment. Naturally shy,
reserved, and timid, his awkward mode of addressing a stranger while
perplexed what account to give of himself, together with the hesitation,
stammering, and blushing which accompanied it, had brought upon him
nothing but scornful treatment, insulting suspicions, and failure after
failure. He found himself at the close of a long, hot day, with burning
feet and aching limbs, hungry, faint, and plunged into the very lowest
depths of despair, on the banks of the New River, where he had often been
before to fish. His desire was to escape observation, and he dragged
himself along, passed fishermen and boys, until, finding their line
stretched out from one to another still far ahead, he sat down in the long
grass completely exhausted, and turning on his face, wept silently.

Now it so happened that a tall, lank, sallow-faced young fisherman, with a
beard of a fortnight's growth, and clothes of a once fashionable cut, but
then threadbare, discoloured, ill-fitting, and very greasy at the cuffs
and collar, particularly noted the tall, thin boy, and presently strolled
up to, and sat down beside him.

"Hallo, guv'nor," said he; "what's up?"

The poor boy had no voice and no heart to reply, so he pretended to be

"Wat's yer been a doin' on? Run away from home?"

After a pause, and without moving, the poor lad said,--

"I've got no home now."

"Where do you come from?"

"Not very far."

"Where are you going to?"

"Don't know."

"Have you got any money?"


"Where's your father and mother?"

"Father's dead."

"And yer mother? Can't she keep yer? Ain't she got no home neither?"

The boy felt that any attempt to reply would betray his violent emotion.
He got up silently and walked away.

The stranger followed, overtook him, and walked beside him.

"You've come from a long way off, young un--ain't yer?"

The runaway nodded, although he was really within about a mile and a half
of his starting-point.

"Yer seems awfully tired. Why I do b'lieve as yer a crying. Wot's the

There was an expression of sincere sympathy in the man's face, and my
young friend answered in a low faint voice, broken with sobs,--

"I've no home, and no relatives or friends to go to; and I don't know what
to do."

The man eyed him very curiously before he replied,--

"My lodgin's in Clerkenwell, not so very far from here; the bed 'ull 'old
two. Come home and sleep with me; and we'll take in a couple of black
puddin's, or a faggot, or something nice an' 'ot for supper. Come along."

The stranger was a poor mender of shoes, who lived in a squalid garret, at
the top of an old house, overcrowded with lodgers; a foolish lazy fellow
enough, without a principle of honesty, or a care for respectability or
cleanliness in his entire composition, but withal a kindly one. Necessity
drives sternly. The boy looked at his companion's dirty linen and unwashed
face and neck, and with a glance at the river, a longing, despairing look,
which did not escape the stranger's quick observation, turned and
reluctantly went with him.

When they were in bed he began to tell his mournful story, and fell asleep
at the beginning of it. In the morning the dirty son of St. Crispin
explained that he was a supernumerary at the theatres, as well as a snob,
and that he was engaged for the Princess's Theatre, where Macready was
then playing.

"If you like," said he, "I'll take you to the super-master; he lives close
by in Hatton Garden, all amongst the Italians on the Hill."

He did so, and an engagement followed. This piece of luck filled the
unfortunate lad's heart with delight. The pay was only a shilling a night,
but he could live on it; and it was the first step in a profession of
which he had dreamed as the summit of human ambition and felicity ever
since he first saw a play performed "with real water" on the boards of old
Sadler's Wells. With what tremulous eagerness and delight he went to
rehearsal with his dirty friend and benefactor! With what wonder and
curiosity he inspected the stage-door, the wings and the dressing-room
under the stage, and with what awe he eyed the mighty magician who lorded
it above his fellows with such undemonstratively quiet and yet most
impressive dignity!

The play was Shakespeare's 'King Lear,' and in the combat scene the lists
were formed on the stage by short battle-axes and long spears, the former
being stuck upright in holes arranged for their reception, two of the
latter placed crossways, and one on the top of them horizontally between
each axe. Macready was particularly anxious that this should be done
rapidly, and without hesitation; and the efforts of the supers to carry
out his instructions were simply ludicrous. The men with the battle-axes
couldn't hit upon the holes, and some absolutely went down upon their
knees to feel for them, while the spearmen either were awfully slow and
nervously careful, or they missed the supports and created a clatter and
confusion, which appeared to plunge Macready into a furious state of anger
and disgust. The new super, all eyes and ears, shared the great
tragedian's feelings; he saw at once that the entire effect depended upon
the dash and spirit of the soldier's action in eagerly and readily
extemporising these warlike barriers; and he devised a plan by which his
axe was thrust as it were at once into the earth, with scarcely a downward
glance. He was pointing out how readily this was done, to his neighbours
on either side, and telling them to pass the hint along, when he was
startled by the deep strong voice of the tragedian, who had come up to
him, and said abruptly, "What's your name, my man?"

"My friend did, what I am not going to do (not having his permission), he
told Macready his name, and he, after a grunt, and a quick, keen glance
from under his knitted brows, repeated it aloud, saying,--

"I shall not forget it. It's the name of the first super I ever saw with

On the night of the first performance some few days after, my friend was
taken out of his ordinary soldier costume, and arrayed more carefully and
picturesquely in a more costly fashion to play the part of a knight in
special attendance upon the king, from whom he had the honour of receiving
a message. Alas! that honour cost him a friend--the jealousy of the
shoemaker broke out in spite and bitterness which accumulated and
intensified to such an extent that at the end of the week he was caught in
the act of hiding in the dark behind one of the beams of wood supporting
the stage, for the purpose of throwing a big stone at the poor fellow with
whom, under the influence of pity, he had shared his food and lodging. It
was impossible to conceive a more cowardly or malignant rascal than this
fellow had become under the influence of envy and jealousy.

The class of theatrical people employed as supernumeraries (commonly
called "supers") form the background figures of stage pictures, soldiers,
sailors, peasants, citizens, mobs, &c., playing the dumb accessory parts;
and they are as a rule neither too respectable nor too intelligent. To
train and teach them is a task which sorely tries the patience of the
super-master, and their lazy, poverty-stricken, and generally not too
cleanly aspect is provocative of contempt and dislike amongst the actors.
Their pay is not extravagant, being usually a shilling a night, but their
histrionic pride is great, and their reverence for the actors profound,
while for one to stand a little closer to the footlights than his fellows
do, and consequently nearer the audience, or to be selected to go on alone
to deliver a letter or receive a message, is the very summit of his
ambition; a dangerous elevation, too, for from the time that he is so
gloriously distinguished he is regarded with envy, spite, and malice, by
his fellows, who try their best to oust him and take his place. This, my
friend, above mentioned, soon experienced, for his life became a
succession of bitter annoyances and coarse insults, varied when necessity
compelled with an occasional fight, in which, despite his feeble health he
generally contrived to give a fair account of his adversary, inheriting
some of his father's skill as a boxer, and having been a constant student
of that art when at school. At the termination of the Macready
performances he was engaged at one of the old tavern theatres of those
days, now known as the Britannia Theatre, then as the Britannia Saloon,
where the stage-manager, a gentle and kindly old man (Mr. Wilton) was
particularly good to him, and at last, after hearing him read a
Shakespearian speech, entrusted him with small parts, contrary to the
conviction of Mrs. Lane, the clever wife of the then proprietor, in whose
place she now reigns. She, finding that the boy blushed and stammered when
she spoke to him, pronounced him unfit for the experiment.

"He has an impediment in his speech," said she.

Some years after, my friend having in the meantime abandoned the stage for
art (of which he was for years an ardent, indefatigable student), under
the pressure of severe impecuniosity, became a country scene-painter and
afterwards an actor, playing in the course of his theatrical career a wide
range of second and third-rate parts, sometimes doubling as many as three
or four in a single piece, and often both playing and painting scenery.
Once, while Miss Mary Glover was manageress of the Cheltenham and Bath
theatres, in consequence of the non-arrival of about half the expected
company, he doubled tremendously, playing four characters in the burlesque
and two in the farce, with the most rapid changes of "make up" and
costume, one being a comic nigger with songs. Miss Glover had taken the
theatre under the pressure of impecuniosity, trusting to the chance of
success for the payment of her company. At the end of the first week she
paid half salaries, at the end of the second and third weeks no salaries,
or, in the parlance of the initiated, "the ghost did not walk," and great
doubtless was the trouble and suffering consequently endured. My friend
was reduced to bread and butter for meals, and found even those materials
none too plentiful, when one evening he was summoned into the
dressing-room of Miss Glover. The lady was in tears, but they were tears
of indignant rage.

"Sir!" said she, "I was never so insulted in all my life!"

"What's wrong, madam? Who has insulted you?"

"Who has insulted me, sir! Why you have!" cried she, with a look of

"I, madam! How?" he exclaimed with a similar expression.

"Look at your gloves, sir!"

"Well, madam, they are clean, I washed them myself."

"But, sir! Berlin gloves! It's monstrous! I was never so treated before in
all my life! Paltry cotton. You ought to be ashamed of yourself--a leading
character too. I never played with a gentleman before in your part who did
not wear new white kids!"

"I laughed," said my friend. "It was rude, I know, but for the life of me
I couldn't help it. Here was my employer living in comparative luxury at
first-class lodgings in a fashionable town, abusing a poor devil whom she
had cheated and half-starved, because, in a back-street garret with
scarcely a penny in his pocket, he did not wear nightly, as he otherwise
would have done, a new pair of white kid gloves!"

The late Miss Oliver, who stood by at the time, called the fellow who
dared to laugh at a manageress in such dire distress, "a brute."

On another occasion Mr. Huntley May Macarthy, a once well-known and very
eccentric provincial manager, abruptly closed the theatre at Bury St.
Edmunds, after keeping it open a week or ten days, leaving the unfortunate
company to escape from the dilemma of debt and difficulty into which so
many of them were deeply plunged. Some had drawn a fortnight's salary in
advance, to pay their travelling expenses to Bury St. Edmunds, and they
had all been gathered from far and near by the London agent. In that case
my friend the editor found his ark of safety in falling back upon his old
profession. He painted the portrait of a local celebrity, which, being
exhibited in the town, soon brought him sitters enough to enable him to
help himself and spare something for one or two of his less happily
situated brothers and sisters in misfortune. I remember my friend remarked
as curious on each of these occasions the quietude with which the
histrionics submitted to be so unfairly treated. Neither in the case of
Miss Glover nor that of Mr. Macarthy were there any attacks made upon them
to the face, heartily as they were cursed and abused behind their backs.

In explanation of this I may recall what Mrs. Mathews said of her husband,
the elder Mathews, when he suffered under the same infliction, which in
the old days of "circuits" and "strolling companies" was a very common one
and is still by no means unknown. She said,--

"I have heard Mr. Mathews say that he has gone to the theatre at night
without having tasted anything since a meagre breakfast, determined to
refuse to go on the stage unless some portion of his arrears was first
paid. When, however, he entered the green-room his spirits were so cheered
by the attention of his brethren, and the _éclat_ of his reception that
his fainting resolution was restored, all his discontent utterly banished
for the time, and he was again reconciled to starvation: nay, he even felt
afraid of offending the unfeeling manager, and returned home silent upon
the subject of his claims."

No actor was ever better acquainted with poverty than that extraordinary
man Edmund Kean. Endowed with rare genius, and a potency of will, that
impelled him to surmount any obstacle lying in the pathway leading towards
fame, this player's fate was yet infelicitous. Maternal solicitude, moral
training, and those circumstantial influences which induce regular habits,
were alike denied him. All the regularities, vicissitudes, vexations,
disappointments, sorrows, trials and romance common to the lives of
strolling players, characterized the early career of Edmund Kean. Through
his mother he was related to George Saville, Marquis of Halifax. That
mother was Ann Carey, grand-daughter of Henry Carey, the reputed author of
our National Anthem. The father of Edmund Kean was Aaron Kean, generally
described as an architect, but described by some as a stage carpenter, and
by others as a tailor. In a melancholy and miserable chamber of a house,
situated at no great distance from Holborn, Edmund Kean first saw the
light, on November 4th, 1787. It is stated by Miss Tidswell, the actress,
that "about half-past three in the morning Aaron Kean, the father, came to
me, and said, 'Nance Carey is with child, and begs you to go to her at her
lodgings in Chancery Lane.' Accordingly my aunt and I went with him and
found Nance Carey near her time. We asked her if she had proper
necessaries, and she replied, 'No--nothing'; whereupon Mrs. Byrne begged
the loan of some baby-clothes, and Nance Carey was removed to the chambers
in Gray's Inn, which her father then occupied, and it was there that the
future tragedian was born." Ann Carey had been under the protection of
Aaron Kean, and he afterwards abandoned her. She came of an unfortunate
stock, for Henry Carey, as I have stated, notwithstanding his talents was
always in difficulties, which only forsook him when he committed
self-destruction; and his son, George Saville Carey--printer, mimic,
scientific lecturer, and occasional poetaster and dramatist--would have
been without a decent burial, but for the charity of a few friends. His
daughter when only fifteen years old, quitted her home and became a
strolling actress; but when out of an engagement she would return to
London, and pick up a scanty home in its streets as a hawker. It was in
such occupation that Aaron Kean first saw the woman.

In addition to her irregular habits, Edmund Kean's mother was selfish,
calculating, and cruel. It was not long after his birth that the child,
with his strangely beautiful dark eyes and winning ways, was actually
abandoned by his unnatural parent. Ann Carey quitted the metropolis to
join a wandering troupe of Thespians, and when she next saw her child, he
was three years old, and living under the protection of a poor man and
his wife, in Soho. It is said that these worthy people had found little
Edmund hungry and forlorn, and left in a doorway, one winter's night.

Of the boy's history, after the mother had abandoned him to the period
when he found succour from the kind couple in Soho, nothing is known. Ann
Carey demanded her child, and quickly turned her offspring to profit;
getting him engaged to appear as a reposing Cupid in one of the Opera
House ballets, and subsequently to appear in a Drury Lane pantomime--the
boy was little more than three years old. When in 1794 at Drury Lane, John
Kemble produced 'Macbeth' with exceedingly novel stage business, Edmund
Kean was one of the goblin troupe, introduced for the purpose of giving
additional impressiveness to the incantation scene. It was not long
afterwards that he played the part of a page in the 'Merry Wives of
Windsor.' His education was of the slightest, and intermittent; he was a
pupil at a small school in Orange Court, Leicester Square, and at another
place of instruction in Chapel Street, Soho; and the expenses for such
education were defrayed by a few generously disposed people, who were
impressed by the boy's beauty and intelligence. Ann Carey, almost
destitute, went away from Castle Street, Leicester Fields, and, with her
boy found a lodging in Ewer Street, Southwark. Young Edmund, restive and
adventurous, determined to run away from home, and with a few necessaries
tied up in a bundle slung on a stick, made his way to Portsmouth, and
engaged himself in the capacity of cabin boy for a ship bound to Madeira.
Not sufficiently robust to do some of the work incidental to his duties,
he resolved to be again free; which he accomplished by feigning deafness.
Discharged at the end of the return voyage, he walked from Portsmouth to
London, and hungry, footsore and heart-weary, made his way to the old
lodging in Southwark. He found that his mother had left her shabby
tenement for a place in Richardson's show troupe, then perambulating the

He bethought him that he might find a shelter under the roof of his uncle,
Moses Kean, who lived in Lisle Street, Leicester Square. This uncle, who
was a mimic, ventriloquist, and general entertainer, received young Edmund
Kean kindly, gave him a home, and became his preceptor in many of the
mysteries belonging to the histrionic art. Miss Tidswell, the
acquaintance of his mother, and an actress of respectable position at
Drury Lane, also showed great interest in the welfare of the boy. He made
progress in the arts of dancing, singing, declamation, and fencing, and
even in those days he became familiar with the creations of Shakespeare.
Through the influence of Miss Tidswell, he obtained an engagement for some
parts at Drury Lane, Prince Arthur in 'King John' being one. The boy
excited notice, as the following anecdote related by Mrs. Charles Kemble

"One morning before the rehearsal commenced, I was crossing the stage,
when my attention was attracted by the sounds of loud applause issuing
from the direction of the green-room. I enquired the cause, and was told
that it was only little Kean reciting 'Richard III.' My informant said
that he was very clever. I went into the green-room and saw the little
fellow facing an admiring group, and reciting lustily."

On the death of Moses Kean, his nephew's only real friend was Miss
Tidswell. Under her he studied Shakespearian characters, and while
residing with her joined the company of Saunders, Bartholomew Fair. There
he gave imitations of the nightingale and monkey, of the form and movement
of the snake; and at Bartholomew Fair he acted the part of Tom Thumb. Soon
afterwards, hearing that his mother was acting at Portsmouth, he set out
from London for the seaport named; but on reaching it discovered that the
information given him concerning Anna Carey was incorrect. His situation
was trying, for he was destitute and friendless. Young Kean, however, had
a bold heart, and a brain full of resources. He hired, on credit, a room
in one of the Portsmouth taverns, and announced an entertainment
consisting of "Selections from 'Hamlet,' 'Richard III.,' and 'Jane Shore,'
with a series of acrobatic performances, and some exquisite singing, and
all by Master Carey, of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane." The entertainment
was sufficiently successful for it to be repeated, and having paid all
expenses, the entertainer found himself three pounds in pocket. Edmund
Kean at this time was fourteen years old.

Reciting Rolla's "address to the Peruvians" one evening before an audience
at Sadler's Wells, a country manager, then present, was so much impressed
by the declamation of the lad, that young Kean received an offer to play
leading characters for twenty nights at the York Theatre. The offer was
accepted, he was highly successful, and for many years from the time of
that York engagement, the future tragedian of Drury Lane underwent the
vicissitudes peculiar to the life of the old-fashioned stroller. It was
not long ere he encountered the famous showman, Richardson, who speedily
made terms with the precocious and versatile youth. It turned out that
Anne Carey was in the company. She proposed that her son should join with
her in her labours, and that she should receive his earnings. But they did
not long labour together, and parted, not to meet again till Kean made his
great success in 1814 at Drury Lane. While with a manager named Butler, at
Northampton, Kean played walking gentlemen, Harlequin, and sang comic
songs for a salary of fifteen shillings a week. While attached to Butler's
company, he enacted the character of Octavian, in the 'Mountaineers' with
such ability, that a gentleman connected with the Haymarket, who saw the
performance, undertook to procure the young tragedian an engagement,
provided that he could reach London to appear at a specified time. Kean,
being without money, could only have travelled on foot, and the journey to
London by such means would have taken up so much time, that he
despairingly saw that the engagement must remain unfulfilled. Butler, with
the greatest good nature, said "that he would defray the expenses of a
stage-coach journey." Kean, overcome with emotion, exclaimed, "If ever
fortune smiles upon my efforts, I will not forget you."

The Haymarket engagement proved humiliating, the young actor being cast
for very insignificant parts. However, in one character, Ganem, in the
'Mountaineers,' by the admirable manner in which he spoke certain words,
he drew forth such unmistakable applause, that he availed himself of a
recommendation addressed to John Kemble. In an interview with that
celebrity, Kean found the eminent tragedian so chilling and unsympathetic
in manner, that the poor fellow hurried from the theatre stung to the
quick by his inauspicious reception. He again visited the provinces, and
again experienced many privations, disappointments, humiliations, and
rebuffs. Fate appeared to frown upon him; but it must be remembered that
Kean was young, exceedingly small of stature, unconventional in his style
of acting, and thoroughly original in every assumption that he undertook.
Moreover, his temper was violent, haughty, and sensitive.

It was during those days, when Edmund Kean, as a strolling player, was
learning his art, and was making acquaintance with poverty in its most
bitter forms, that he acquired those habits of intemperance which
afterwards effected his ruin. After the engagement at the Haymarket, he
acted at Tunbridge Wells, Portsmouth, Haddesden, Birmingham, and
Edinburgh. More than once in these journeyings he exhibited at fairs and
public houses; and for a short time he earned a scanty income in the
capacity of usher at a school in Hertfordshire. In 1807 at Belfast, he
played with Mrs. Siddons; and as Jaffier in 'Venice Preserved' made a
strong impression. But the tragedienne's opinion of him was not
flattering; for on first seeing him, she remarked, "he was a horrid little
man," and criticising his enaction in Otway's pathetic drama said, "He
plays the part very, very well, but there is too little of him wherewith
to make a great actor." Notwithstanding taunts, impecuniosity,
heart-burnings, and neglect, the young aspirant studied laboriously, and
allowed no opportunity to slip by which he might gain increased knowledge
of stage art, and of human nature; but during his hard apprenticeship, he
was forced to have recourse to many shifts, and to endure much suffering.
After playing an engagement in Kent, he accepted another for a single
night at Braintree, in Essex.

On the day that the performance was to take place at Braintree, the actor
stood, without a farthing in his pocket, on the Kent bank of the Thames.
Bound to fulfil his engagement, it was necessary for him to cross the
river; and his impecunious condition precluded all possibility of hiring a
boat. The strong-willed stroller was not to be daunted. He threw off his
clothes, tied them into a bundle, which he held in his teeth, plunged into
the river, and speedily reached the shore. With his clothes saturated with
water, half-famished, and tired in every limb, he yet went on for "Rolla,"
before the Braintree audience. While performing he fainted, and an illness
of fever and ague was the consequence of his swimming expedition. On
recovering he tramped all the way to Swansea, and played in that town. He
was then in his twentieth year. Proceeding to Gloucester, he became a
member of Beverley's company, and was advertised to play Young Rapid. The
usual means had been taken to attract an audience, but at the time for
the rising of the curtain there were only two persons in the auditorium;
so the eighteenpence taken at the doors were returned to the couple of
playgoers, and the theatre lights extinguished. A few nights Kean
performed with a lady who had left the scholastic profession for that of
the stage, and this lady, Miss Chambers, afterwards became Mrs. Kean. When
at Stroud, Master Betty was announced to perform Hamlet and Norval; Kean
found himself cast for Laertes and Glenalvon. The actor could not brook
what he deemed an indignity,--that of playing secondary characters to a
mere boy; and for three days and three nights, he was away from the
theatre, every individual connected with it being ignorant of his
whereabouts. On reappearing he said, "I have been in the fields, in the
woods, I am starved; I have eaten nothing but turnips and cabbages since
I've been out; but I'll go again, and as often as I see myself put in such
characters. I won't play second to any man living, except to John Kemble."
In the summer of 1808, Kean married Mary Chambers, the wife being nine
years older than the husband. Soon after the marriage, Beverley told them
that he intended dispensing with their services, and they soon had to
drain the cup of poverty to its dregs. To the honour of the woman he had
taken to his heart, she cheered and soothed him in his tremendous
struggle. He suffered not only the pangs of poverty, but too often the
stings of hostile criticisms from provincial scribes, utterly unable to
appreciate his passionate and original renderings of dramatic
characterization. At Birmingham he thought himself and his wife well paid,
when during an engagement they each received a pound for their weekly
services. So ably did he act that Stephen Kemble made proposals to
negotiate a London engagement; but Kean deemed that further experience was
necessary before he should attempt a metropolitan appearance in leading
characters. Terrible toil and terrible suffering had to be undergone ere
he was to reach the pinnacle of success.

Closing his performances at Birmingham, he made terms with Andrew Cherry
to appear at Swansea. So indigent was the actor, that he was necessitated
to undertake the journey on foot, a journey of 200 miles; and his wife,
who accompanied him, was likely soon to become a mother. Mr. and Mrs. Kean
owed money in Birmingham, or possibly the wife might have remained in the
town; and from it--early one summer morning--they departed on their long
and wearisome way, adding to their miserable store of money some additions
as they proceeded, by giving recitations at the residences of the gentry.
In a fortnight they reached Bristol, were ferried over to Newport, and at
last reached Swansea, where they obtained lodgings. Kean's acting was not
warmly received; and referring to one of his impersonations in the town,
he remarked, "I played the part finely, and yet they would not applaud
me!" The actor grew moody, splenetic, and gave way to insobriety. A son
born to him at this period he named Howard; and it was soon after the
birth of the child that the Keans left Swansea, with Cherry, for other
towns in the principality, and subsequently they crossed over to Ireland.
At Waterford, Kean played tragedy, and in addition for his benefit, gave
an exhibition of pugilism, tight-rope dancing, singing, and wound up by
playing the Chimpanzee in the piece called 'La Perouse.' It was at
Waterford that Edmund Kean's second son, Charles, was born. Beaching
Scotland, so exhausted were the funds of the actor, that at Dumfries he
got up an entertainment at a tavern, and the only patron was a shoe-maker,
who paid sixpence for admission. At Carlisle Kean appealed to the
barristers on Assize, asking for their presence, when he would deliver a
series of recitations, his reward to be at their discretion; but the
appeal was made in vain. In the autumn of 1811, the family in the most
miserable condition arrived in York, and from the ball-room, Minster Yard,
Kean issued a circular announcing, "for one night only," an entertainment
comprising recitals, dramatic selections, imitations of actors, and
singing by himself, assisted by his wife; but the scheme ended with
anything but a prosperous result. Under their struggles, husband and wife
broke into a wail of grief, as they contemplated their innocent and
unfortunate babes. The mother on her knees, supplicated for spiritual
influence to annihilate their sufferings by death, but the fiery-willed
player still kept courage, "I will go on, I will hope against hope!!" They
got to London, where, at Sadler's Wells, Kean had a short engagement at
two pounds a week, and then he had engagements at Weymouth and Exeter; in
which latter place he played for a salary of one pound a week. Through the
influence of an old friend, Dr. Drury, Kean at length obtained an
engagement at Drury Lane. But ere his triumph on the London boards was
effected, the child, Howard, died, an event to which the actor never
alluded without feelings of grief. While Kean was concluding his Exeter
performances, his wife and child were desolate in the garret of a house in
Cecil Street, Strand; and they would have starved, but that the liberality
of Dr. Drury succoured them. Even on the eve of his Drury Lane success,
Kean underwent many trials and sufferings. Save Dr. Drury he was without a
friend. On his _début_, that memorable evening at Drury Lane, 26th
January, 1814, the directors of the establishment denied him everything
calculated to awaken hope and courage. Kean went to the dressing-room, and
from the dressing-room to the stage, conscious that he had been treated
with superciliousness, apathy, and injustice. Under such treatment, and
with all his previous trials, it was only a perfect knowledge of his own
transcendent powers, that carried him through the ordeal. The effect of
his triumph in Shylock, may best be described in the words of his late
biographer. "In an almost phrenzied ecstasy he rushed through the wet to
his humble lodging, sprang up the stairs, and threw open the door. His
wife ran to meet him; no words were required, his radiant countenance told
all--and they mingled together the first tears of true happiness they had
as yet experienced. He told her of his proud achievement, and in a burst
of exultation exclaimed, 'Mary, you shall ride in your carriage, and,
Charley my boy,' taking the child from the cradle and kissing him, 'you
shall go to Eton, and'--a sad reminiscence crossed his mind, his joy was
overshadowed, and he murmured in broken accents, 'Oh that Howard had lived
to see it! But he is better where he is.'" Pity that so fine a nature as
Edmund Kean's, with his genius, and generous sympathies, should have
struck on the rock of self-indulgence. But in any estimate of his moral
shortcomings, the evil influence around his early life, and the effect of
his early privation, should be steadfastly, and charitably, borne in mind.
When we remember the conditions under which the actor pursues his calling,
it is scarcely surprising that the term "poor players," should have become
proverbial. The victims of a social ban, originating in the bigotry of
church and conventicle; following a profession, perhaps of all professions
the most scouted by smooth, smug respectability, and certainly of all
professions the most liable to fluctuations of success from the caprices,
whims and "breeches-pocket" condition of its patrons; it seems but
natural that the history of the stage should yield numerous illustrations
of man impecunious.

Then, too, it must be borne in mind, that the greater number of men and
women who have recruited the ranks of the histrionics have been people of
romantic and "happy-go-lucky" temperament; light-hearted, generous to a
fault, unworldly in the money-making sense, and frequently of the most
irregular and unbusiness-like habits. Such characteristics had Theophilus
Cibber, Shuter, George Frederick Cooke, Edmund Kean, Ward, and John Reeve;
and though the precarious nature of the profession, the necessarily
unsettled habits of its followers, and the unreality of the life, may be
conducive in a degree to impecuniosity, it seems to me--and I have
strutted several fretful hours--the only real cause of players being
poorer than other people is due to extravagance and irregularity. Frugal,
steady, trustworthy habits invariably increase a man's well-being, in any
calling; and the theatrical profession is no exception to the rule.

Richardson, the showman, was born in a workhouse, and was in his early
years a mere little social arab, cast upon the world without friends or
education; and he began his social career by exhibiting a little child
with spotted skin, calling him the "spotted boy." The first venture was
profitable, and the showman went on making money, and saved it. He then
set up a show theatre, succeeded so well that year after year he had to
enlarge it, and at last it became the largest in the kingdom. Richardson
likewise established a character for honesty, and all that is summed up in
the words "manly conduct."

John Quick--George the Third's favourite comedian--had, too, in his time
been poor enough. He was the son of a Whitechapel brewer, and when only
fourteen years old ran away from home, with the idea of taking to the
stage for a profession. Without any money in his pocket he started on his
romantic journey, and managed to find a booth company at Fulham, where he
was allowed to enact Altamont in the 'Fair Penitent.'

Having played to the satisfaction of the manager, that worthy commanded
his wife to set the _débutant_ down for a whole share of the night's
receipts, which at the close of the last piece amounted to three
shillings. Quick rose in his profession, and by forethought and prudence
amassed a fortune of £10,000.

Braham's boyhood was surrounded with hardships and privations. Early left
an orphan, he was obliged to walk the streets of London as a vendor of
pencils. In that situation he was befriended by Leoni, a vocalist at the
synagogue in Duke's Place, Covent Garden, who trained the lad's voice, so
remarkable for its peculiar sweetness of tone and expression. For Leoni's
benefit, in 1787, at the Royalty Theatre, Wellclose Square, young Braham
made his _début_. His genius, of its kind, was unsurpassable; but it was
the prudence added to it which laid the foundation of his fortune, which
would have remained in the possessor's hands but that the vocalist entered
unwittingly on theatrical management.

Even in the more humble departments of theatrical life may be found
thrifty examples of people, who, versed in the somewhat difficult part of
making both ends meet, at length found themselves in a reputable and
flourishing position. Such an instance is that of Bennett, a theatrical
manager once well known in the Midlands. Bennett possessed a gift for
doing things himself--his only assistant being an old lady, one Mrs.
Gamage. He began his career with a puppet-show, was thrifty on its poor
proceeds, and eventually became proprietor of a theatre. Bennett was
successful as an actor at Worcester, Coventry, Shrewsbury, and towns
adjacent. His travelling-cases, boxes, and chests, had their surfaces
touched up by the scenic artist, and in the theatre did duty for castle
walls, palace terraces, and palatial furniture; his helmets, and other
stage properties, were of canvas, easy to fold up for packing, and many of
his properties combined several utilities. He would arrange with his
friends to take money at the doors, and Mrs. Gamage combined the offices
of candle-snuffer and constable, and during the day she cooked and cleaned
up at home. Bennett has been known to seek out musical young men in a
town, and allow them the privilege of singing on his stage; or, if they
were at all proficient on an instrument, allow them to play in his
orchestra. He dressed as a fine gentleman by day, and like a mechanic in
the evening. He died prosperous, and, above all, a churchwarden.

Old Philip Astley, Davidge, John Douglas, and Samuel Phelps, all poor men
at the outset of life, entered on theatrical management, carried it on
with care, tact and probity, and all of them died reputable, and in
comfort. Garrick, the Kembles, Charles Mayne Young, Munden, Richard
Jones, William Farren, Liston, Macready, and a host of other gifted
actors, died rich, having lived amidst the respect of the highest social
circles; but it will be found in each particular case, that they were men
of high character, and prudent habits.

In some other instances the impecuniosity of actors has resulted from
short-sightedness to their own interests, imprudence, and utter
incompetence in business matters, but unfortunately extravagance, and
other irregular habits of life, have been the frequent cause of poverty.

Nicholson, once lessee of the Newcastle Theatre, by want of business
habits gradually became a poor man, so poor that he became money-taker at
Drury Lane, and subsequently died in the workhouse of the town where he
had been theatrical manager; and Faucit-Saville, formerly lessee and
manager at Gravesend, Margate, Deal and other theatres, died while engaged
as money-taker at the City of London Theatre.

Some who saw 'Manfred,' when revived at Drury Lane by Mr. Chatterton, with
Phelps as the hero of Byron's sombre, but impressive, dramatic poem, may
possibly, when leaving the house between the acts, have noticed one of the
checktakers, an old gentleman of stagy deportment, enveloped in an old,
faded cloak. That individual was no other than the once famous tragedian,
Mr. Denvil, who was the original Manfred when Bunn produced the tragedy at
Covent Garden, long ere Mr. Phelps made his _début_ at the Haymarket. In
the character of Manfred, Denvil made an intense and abiding impression,
became lessee of theatres in town and country, but from want of _nous_,
and from want of prudence, dwindled in the social scale, and sank to the
menial capacity in which he was to be seen at Drury Lane.

Another specimen of an unsuccessful manager was Huntley May, who had been
lessee of nearly all the small provincial theatres in the kingdom. This
man had but a very imperfect sense of honour, part of his business being
to issue as large bills as he could possibly get printed, announcing the
most splendid dramatic productions, which, when the evening arrived, were
never presented. Often his audience grew riotous and pugnacious. One
night, an assemblage threatened to pull up his benches; but Mr. May, not
unaccustomed to such scenes, appeared before the footlights and

"What's up now, boys?"

"Money, money. It's a swindle!"

"Hark at 'em now. Murder and Moses! there's broths of boys for yer.
Money's just what I want myself. Think of your Cathedral ground; who lies
in it? My sainted wife, Norah; poor soul! she loved Exeter so that she
would come here to be buried among ye. We all love ye! myself and little
Pat. Aisy now, I'll give you a thrate. To-morrow night's my benefit, make
me a thumping house; Norah won't forget you in heaven. Behave like
gentlemen, come early to-morrow night. Good luck to ye!" which audacious
address seems by all accounts to have satisfied his easily satisfied

But even when the old country managers, and there were many, got their
living honestly, and by fair means, the profession frequently had the
hardest of lots. The strolling players were a merry-headed and easily
contented race; but it would be difficult to name any class of people that
have known greater oppression. Regarded by a large section of English
people as rogues and vagabonds, they were often at the mercy of common
informers and petty-minded magistrates.

A circumstance in the career of Moss, a clever actor, and respectable
manager, well illustrates such petty persecution. He opened the Whitehaven
Theatre for a night or two with some success, but in less than a week the
manager and his troupe were put in "durance vile." Arrested on a Saturday
night, they had to remain in the "lock-up" throughout Sunday. On Monday
morning they were taken up before the magistrates, and arraigned upon a
somewhat extraordinary charge. An inhabitant of Whitehaven, a person to
whom credit was given by his acquaintances for sanity and truthfulness,
appeared in open court to denounce the strollers, not only as a curse to
society generally, but to his town in particular. It was declared by this
individual that "before the theatre opened there was an immense haul of
herrings; but since the players had entered the place, the fish had all
fled, and that in consequence the fishermen were suffering. Misfortune
always followed the wake of actors; wherever they appeared, they carried a
curse." In spite of reference to sundry tomes of jurisprudence, and
notwithstanding consultation with the town-clerk, the magistrates could
not pronounce a verdict. However they prohibited the reopening of the
theatre, and the sons of the "wicked one" had to pack about their
business in the best way they could.

Edward Stirling applying to a local magistrate at Romford in Essex, for
permission to perform for a few nights in the Town Hall, received but
sorry treatment from the bigoted official.

"What, sir! Bring your beggarly actors into this town to demoralize the
people? No, sir. I'll have no such profligacy in Romford; poor people
shall not be wheedled out of their money by your tomfooleries. The first
player that comes here I'll clap in the stocks as a rogue and a vagabond.
Good morning, sir."

Even in fair seasons the pay of the strollers was wretched in the extreme.
In 1826, Mrs. John Noel, desirous of getting her two daughters into
practical training for the stage, applied to a wandering manager--Black
Beverley--as to whether he could find room for the young ladies in his
company. Mrs. Noel was informed that his troupe was about visiting
Highgate, and that her daughters could join, on condition that they would
put up with the sharing system, and find their own costumes. The
engagement was accepted, the elder of the two girls (afterwards Mrs.
George Hodson) being cast for Juliana, and the younger (afterwards Mrs.
Henry Marston) for Volante in Tobin's comedy of 'The Honeymoon.' Black
Beverley was to be the Duke Aranza, and the performance was to take place
at the White Lion Tavern. The young ladies _débuted_, and their
remuneration was one shilling and sixpence each. The men and women were
homely, respectable people, and the leading actors eagerly accepted Mrs.
John Noel's invitation to a substantial supper she had packed in a hamper,
and of which the poor players gratefully partook, eating as if they had
been without food for days.

A well-known actor remembers playing the Stranger, Philip, in 'Luke the
Labourer,' and a farce character at a small theatre in Chelsea, and
receiving twopence for his services, and then having to walk to the Mile
End Road!

Phelps, when attached to Huggins' company, has tramped with his bag on his
shoulders, more than once a distance of five-and-twenty miles, being
without coach-money; and his wife and child at Preston had, in the early
time of Phelps' career, for nearly a week to subsist on a rather small
meat-pie. It was a terrible thing some fifty years ago, for some
stage-stricken swain, or maiden, to depart hundreds of miles, perchance so
far as Scotland, and find themselves in some poorly-paid company. Twenty
shillings a week would be considered a fair salary. There would be scores
of miles to travel, certain dresses to find, and upon the residue of the
scant income the player had to live. When things failed it was sometimes
literally tragic; for the tyros had little chance of escape, railways and
cheap steamers being unknown.

What a _bizarre_ picture is that drawn by Edmund Stirling of Ben
Smithson's Agency for Actors, at the "White Hart" in Drury Lane!

"Kind-hearted considerate Ben," writes his remembrancer, "a real
Samaritan, ever ready with food and kindly words to cheer and encourage
the poor stroller. Ben, strongly impregnated with the 'Mysteries of
Udolpho' school, was wont to use grandiloquent words for every day
purposes. His hostel became a 'castle'; back parlours, smelling strongly
of 'baccy,' tapestry chambers; dilapidated staircases, lumber closets, and
dark landings, 'galleries, crow's-nests, and eagle towers;' his
beer-cellars were known as 'dungeon keeps;' 'Barclay's entire' at
fourpence per pot became 'nectar,' like Mr. Dick Swiveller's 'rosy wine;'
and his two serving-men, plain Bob and Dick, were transformed into
'Robarto' and 'Ricardo.' Every poor player that arrived, footsore and
hungered, was styled according to his robe, Kemble, Kean, Munden, or
Siddons; Smithson knowing full well how pleasantly a little flattery would
tickle the palate. There was always a bed, supper, and breakfast, money or
not, in that Mecca for wanderers. Such liberality brought failure in its
train, and the 'White Hart's' doors speedily closed on Ben and his 'good

Not less amusing, too, is Mr. Stirling's description of the Brothers
Strickland and their lesseeship of the Oddfellows' lodge-room, at the
Chiswick "Red Cow," where they announced "A London company for two nights,
with 'Pizarro,' as played at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane; elaborate
scenery and heart-rending effects. Pit, one shilling; boxes, two; and
standing room, sixpence. Seats booked at the 'Red Cow' daily from 10 till
4. Schools and children half-price."

Stirling tried to get employment under the Stricklands, and having wended
his way to the tavern, was shown into the kitchen, and there found the
company dressed for the evening's performance of 'Pizarro.' At a table,
superintending the tea, Elvira sat in faded black robes, wielding a
tea-pot, and ever and anon scowling at her base destroyer, Pizarro. He sat
aloof, encased in rusty tin armour, a ferocious wig and locks to match, in
his hand a long pipe, and by his side an empty glass. Cora, the lovely
Peruvian maid, employed her soft hands in toasting muffins, assisted by
her husband, the Spanish Alonzo. Such was the heat of the climate,
combined with the effects of something short, that Peruvians and Spaniards
sat socially together, doing their pipes and beer. Strickland engaged
Stirling to play Richmond on the following Monday, but he wasn't to have
anything for it.

Perhaps there is no more pertinent illustration of a chequered career--a
career with indigence at one end and splendid wealth at the other--than
that furnished by the life of Harriet Mellon, afterwards Mrs. Coutts, and
subsequently Duchess of St. Alban's. She was not the only actress who made
a fortunate marriage. Anastasia Robinson married the Earl of Peterborough;
Lavinia Fenton, the original Polly Peachem, in the 'Beggar's Opera,' gave
her hand to the Duke of Bolton; Louisa Brunton became Countess of Craven,
and Elizabeth Farren exchanged her name for that of Countess of Derby. But
not one of those enumerated had known the privations and hardships
suffered by Harriet Mellon. When raised to affluence as Mrs. Coutts, and
when coroneted as a duchess, she sometimes with mirth and sometimes with
pathos referred to those old days of her life, when she was downcast by
harsh treatment and impecuniosity, and was never ashamed of the time when
she was nothing more than a poor strolling actress.

In 1789 Harriet Mellon, with her mother and Entwisle, her step-father,
joined the theatrical company of Stanton. In the city of Lichfield the
tenement is still pointed out where the Entwisles lodged in a couple of
rooms, each ten feet by four and three-quarters across, with windows two
feet square; the rent for the lodgings being two shillings a week. Stanton
on one occasion obtained a bespeak from a squire, who requested a
performance of the 'Country Girl.' The manager was only too glad to play
anything, so low had been the ebb of his fortunes. No copy of the comedy
being in the manager's possession, an actor was despatched to a town not
many miles distant for the necessary volume. Extra delay took place, the
needy _commissionnaire_ having gone on foot, putting the coach-money in
his pocket. When he returned the play-book was cut up leaf by leaf and
distributed to the company to transcribe; at least to those acquainted
with the art of penmanship. It is stated that the copyists were few.
Harriet Mellon, though of junior rank in the company, was cast for Peggy.
She had the part given her in virtue of her ready and trustworthy memory.
The girl's heart filled with enthusiasm when she learned that she was to
perform the title _rôle_. But her heart filled with sorrow an hour or two
afterwards when she inspected the square-cut and dingy, snuff-coloured
coat, held aloft by the manager, as the garment in which Peggy should
appear as the boy, the character assumed in the park scene by the country
girl. Being made acquainted with Harriet's disgust at the costume
furnished by the manager, Mrs. Entwisle bethought her of acquaintances who
might help her daughter out of the trouble. A lady housekeeper to whom the
mother applied, suggested the loan of a fashionable suit from one of her
young masters. The proposition was declined. The housekeeper then stated
that an idea crossed her: she might be enabled to procure a small and
well-cut suit of clothes elsewhere.

Mother and daughter spent an anxious afternoon, and about four o'clock, at
their lodgings, a lad made his appearance with a parcel, and not long
afterwards the friendly housekeeper appeared too. The old lady said she
had called on another old lady in a similar capacity to herself, and by
her kind offices had procured not the clothes of any young gentleman, but
the wedding-dress of her old master, and as he was only a "dwarfy" when
young, probably the clothes would fit Harriet. A pang smote the breast of
Miss Mellon as she thought the garments must be at least thirty years old;
but the parcel was unfastened, and it was found to contain a light
amber-coloured silk coat, silver trimmed white satin waistcoat and smalls;
pale blue silk stockings, shoes laced, stock buckles, and ruffles.

Harriet Mellon was in raptures. Half-past six o'clock came, the barn was
crowded, and the one musician, Entwisle, led off with 'Rule Britannia,'
'Britons, strike Home,' and 'The Bonny Pitman.' Up went the curtain, and
the comedy began. The family whose bespeak proved so attractive were
delighted with the performance, and especially with the acting of Miss
Harriet. In the park scene the baronet and lady grew particularly grave of
countenance as they surveyed Peggy in the boy's clothes, which gravity
continued during the remaining part of the entertainment.

Next morning as Harriet was at breakfast, a groom rode up to the door of
the house where she lodged, and a letter was left for Miss Mellon, which
proved a formal and frigid communication, requesting information
respecting the means by which she had acquired the male attire worn by her
on the previous evening.

The truth soon afterwards came out. The housekeeper to whom Mrs. Entwisle
applied, not knowing when or for what the dress was wanted, went to the
housekeeper of the very gentleman who bespoke the play; and his servant
lent his wedding-dress that had been stowed away since the occasion of his
nuptials. The young actress was cleared of all imputation, and on leaving
the neighbourhood received from the baronet's lady a present in the shape
of a handsome frock. Before that time, Harriet's mother would not allow,
on account of shabby attire, the girl's attendance at Stafford church, but
used to send her to Ingestre for Sunday morning worship, because at that
place she was unknown.

Harriet's salary for some years was only fifteen shillings a week.
Sheridan and the Hon. Mr. Monckton were appointed stewards of the Stafford
races in 1794, and at the theatre in the town those gentlemen witnessed
the acting of Miss Mellon as Letitia Hardy and Priscilla Tomboy. On
Sheridan, the arbiter of London theatricals, affording hope to her that
she might obtain an engagement at Drury Lane, the Entwisles with their
daughter left for the metropolis. At a humble lodging in Walworth the
family subsisted by means of a small sum of money, the proceeds from
Harriet's farewell benefit in the country. Sheridan, a careless and
procrastinating man, kept Mrs. Entwisle in cruel suspense concerning her
daughter's _début_ at Drury Lane, mother and daughter being continually
put off by the manager with excuses; but at last the opportunity came.

Drury Lane opened for the season 1795-1796 on the evening of September
16th, and on that occasion Miss Mellon went on as one of the vocalists, to
join in the National Anthem. On September 17th the bill of the night
announced a performance of 'The Rivals,' "Lydia Languish by a young lady,
her first appearance." The young lady was the daughter of Mrs. Entwisle.
She was very nervous at her _début_, and Sheridan thought it desirable
that some time should elapse for her to become acquainted with the size
and extent of the house, by joining in choruses before she again tried a
prominent character. She remained in the background till October. The
Michaelmas day before the family were exceedingly depressed, the girl's
prospects being uncertain, and her salary only thirty shillings a week.
Old-fashioned people, and exceedingly superstitious, the Entwisles and
Harriet bewailed the absence of the luck-bringing goose on the 29th
September. Through a gift, or by pinching, when strollers, they had
usually managed to get Christmas mince pies, Shrove Tuesday pancakes,
Easter tansy pudding, and the Michaelmas goose. It was a matter of sorrow
to poor Harriet, that her finances would not allow her to purchase a
goose, for the sake of tasting a bit for good-luck. When informed that she
could at a Drury Lane cook-shop buy a quarter of the much-honoured bird
the girl's delight knew no bounds. The purchase was made, and she was

It came to pass that her fortunes brightened at Drury Lane, where she
remained twenty years. When Tobin's comedy of 'The Honeymoon' was
produced, Harriet Mellon made a great hit in the character of Volante.
Through drawing a prize in the Lottery she was enabled to purchase Holly
Lodge, Highgate. The _Times_ of March the 2nd announced the marriage of
"Thomas Coutts, Esq., to Miss Harriet Mellon, of Holly Lodge, Highgate."
Her husband was a man of enormous wealth. Mrs. Coutts subsequently married
the Duke of St. Albans, and at her death, in addition to other magnificent
bequests, left to the lady now known as the Baroness Burdett Coutts, a
fortune of £1,800,000.

One of the most gifted men that ever trod the stage was George Frederick
Cooke. Indeed the splendour of his genius is said to have been almost as
exceptional as the fierceness of his passions, and the recklessness of his
habits. Drink, gambling, licentiousness, and prodigality, ruined his
fortunes, and cut short his life. It may be urged in mitigation of his
excesses, that like Kean he had indifferent home training, and that at a
very early age he was left to the exercise of his own wilful and sensual
nature. His father had been a soldier who left his widow in unprosperous
circumstances. She quitted London, and settled at Berwick-upon-Tweed,
where her son received an indifferent education, and where on several
occasions he saw part of the Edinburgh Company perform. Cooke states,
"that from that time plays and playing were never absent from his
thoughts, that he pinched his belly to procure play-books, and actually
studied one particular character,--Horatio, in the 'Fair Penitent.'" His
mania to get into the play-house has amusing proof in a story, which, in
after years, Cooke used to relate with gusto, and comicality. He much
wished to see 'Douglas,' as did some companions, but all of them were
without a farthing. They contrived to get into the theatre by a private
entrance, and secreted themselves under the stage. Hope told them the
flattering tale that they might steal out during the performance, and join
the audience, by means of an aperture they had discovered in a passage
leading to the pit. In carrying out the enterprise they were discovered by
one of the company, and after a trying interrogatory shamefully turned out
at the stage-door. Young Cooke, reckless, and persistent, urged his
companions to go in and conquer notwithstanding an ignominious defeat; so
they were constantly on the alert, and found by observation that a back
door was left unguarded, which one evening they entered unperceived.
Fairly in, the next consideration was, how they could conceal themselves
until the rising of the curtain; their hope being that amidst the
confusion and preparation behind the scenes, they might escape notice, and
enjoy the magic show. Cooke saw a barrel, took advantage of the safe and
snug retreat, creeping in like the hero of the famous melodrama
'Tekeli,'--in those days the admiration of the polished playgoing populace
of the British metropolis. Unfortunately however there was danger in the
lurking place; he had for companions two large cannon-balls, but the youth
not being initiated into the mysteries of the scene, did not suspect that
cannon-balls helped to make thunder in a barrel as well as in a
twenty-four pounder, and little did poor George Frederick imagine where he
was. The play was 'Macbeth,' and in the first scene the thunder was
required to give due effect to the situation of the crouching witches, as
the ascending baize revealed those beldames about to depart on their
mission to meet Macbeth.

It was not long ere the Jupiter Tonans of the theatre, _alias_ the
property-man, approached and seized the barrel, and the horror of the
concealed boy may be imagined as the man proceeded to cover the open end
with a piece of old carpet, and tie it carefully, to prevent the thunder
from being spilt. Cooke was profoundly and heroically silent. The machine
was lifted by the brawny stage servitor and carried carefully to the
side-scene, lest in rolling, the thunder should rumble before its cue. All
was made ready, the witches took their places amidst flames of resin, the
thunder-bell rang, the barrel received its impetus with young Cooke and
the cannon-balls,--the stage-stricken lad roaring lustily to the amazement
of the thunderer, who neglected to stop the rolling machine, which entered
on the stage, and Cooke, bursting off the carpet head of the barrel,
appeared before the audience to the horror of the weird sisters, and to
the hilarity of the spectators.

In Stukely, Sir Pertinax, Kitely, Iago, and Richard III., George Frederick
Cooke was allowed to be unrivalled. But his social position was lowered
and his fine talents deteriorated by intemperance and debauchery. He was
in constant debt and difficulties, in spite of excellent emoluments. After
much trouble, he on one occasion obtained a suit of clothes from a tailor
indisposed to give credit. Cooke explained to him that there would be no
doubt about the price being ready on his benefit, which was at hand. The
tailor, a stage-struck swain, said that if he were allowed to appear on
the benefit night, in addition to stage tuition from Cooke, the garments
should be forthcoming. The tragedian agreed to give the instruction, and
cast him for the post of Catesby, Cooke of course playing Richard. The
night came, and the "snip" ranted and strutted, and in the tent scene,
after, "Richard's himself again," on the entrance of Catesby, the tailor
in answer to Richard's "Who's there?" halted, and stuttered "'Tis I, my
lord, the early village cock." The audience roared; but after silence
came, the tailor merely repeated the words just as before; upon which
Cooke unable to keep his gravity or restrain his temper, roared out, "Then
why the devil don't you crow?"

Another good story in connection with impecuniosity and a stage
performance, is that told of Mossop, who, when at the Smock Alley Theatre,
Dublin, found himself in a peculiar predicament (the result of irregular
payments) one night when he was playing Lear. His Kent was a creditor,
who, as he personated the faithful nobleman supporting his aged master,
whispered, "If you don't give me your honour, sir, that you'll pay me the
arrears this night before I go home, I'll let you drop about the boards."
Mossop alarmed said, "Don't talk to me now." "I will," said Kent, "I
will;" adding, "Down you go." The manager was obliged to give the
promise, and the actor before leaving the theatre received his wages.

John O'Keefe the author of 'Wild Oats,' relates a similar curious, and
humorous anecdote concerning the "silver tongued" Spranger Barry. "The
first character I saw Barry in was Jaffier, Mossop Pierre, and Mrs. Dancer
the Belvidera. According to the usual compliment of assisting a dead
tragic hero to get upon his legs, after the dropping of the curtain, two
very curt persons walked on the stage to where Barry (the Jaffier) lay
dead, and, stooping over him with great politeness and attention, helped
him to rise. All three thus standing one of them said: 'I have an action,
sir, against you,' and touched him on the shoulder. 'Indeed' replied
Barry. 'This is rather a piece of treachery; at whose suit?' The plaintiff
was named and Barry had no alternative but to walk off the stage, and was
going out of the theatre in their custody. At that moment some
scene-shifters and carpenters who had been observing the proceedings, and
knew the situation of Barry, went off and returned almost immediately,
dragging with them a huge piece of wood, in the rear of which was a bold
and ferocious looking property-man who grasped a hatchet. Barry said,
'What are you about?' 'Sir,' said one, 'we are only preparing the altar of
Merope, for we are going to make a sacrifice.' The speaker having
concluded, grasped his hatchet and sternly eyed the bailiffs. 'Be quiet,
you foolish fellows,' remonstrated the tragedian, who began to think the
business serious. The minions of the law also grew apprehensive as the
sacrificators looked on with fixed and stony eyes. Barry noticing the
bailiffs beckon, went to them, and drawing him aside they said they would
quit him if he would give his word of honour that the debt should be
settled next day." The actor was gratefully complimentary to his
supporters, not forgetting the altar of Merope. The circumstance occurred
at the Dublin Theatre in 1778.

The narrator of this story has one equally amusing of Mahon and Macklin.
"Bob," on one occasion said Macklin, "I intend to have you arrested for
the debt you owe me, but I am considering whether I shall arrest you
before or after your benefit." "Oh," said Mahon, "don't arrest me at all."
"Yes, yes, Bob, you know I must; to prison you will have to go." "There's
no occasion." "Oh yes, there is." "Well then, sir, if you must, wait till
my benefit is over." "No! Bob, then you take the money and knock it about
no one knows how nor where, and I shall never get a shilling of it; but if
I arrest you before your benefit, some of those lords that you sing for in
clubs and taverns and jovial bouts may come forward and pay this money for
you. No, no, I'll have you touched on the shoulder before your benefit."

King, one of the finest comedians of the eighteenth century, and the
original Sir Peter Teazle, made a large fortune; but lost it at the
gambling-table. On one occasion he borrowed five guineas for a last stake,
and he then won two hundred pounds. Escaping from the chamber, he fell on
his knees, and in answer to a request from a companion, made oath on a
Bible that he would relinquish his gamester's mania. But he became a
member of the Miles Club, in St. James', and at the tables soon lost
everything, and died in extreme poverty.

Bayle Bernard's father--John Bernard, a clever comedian, and, in his after
years, a well-known manager of American theatres, went through many
adventures during the period of his novitiate. After playing at Poole in
Dorsetshire, and having spent the money he had earned, he thought he
should return home, according to a promise made to his mother; but his
success at Poole in playing the character of Major Oakley in the comedy of
'The Jealous Wife,' suppressed the dramatic tyro's notion about duty. A
mania for the stage again seized him, and hearing that his old manager,
Taylor, was playing at Shaftesbury, Bernard actually determined to join
him in defiance of any privations that might arise from his being without
a shilling in his pocket. Having given his mother assurance that he would
not act again upon closing his engagement at Poole, writing home for
supplies was out of the question; and though on paying his bill at an inn,
he discovered that all his coppers at command did not amount to six,
Bernard persisted in going on to Shaftesbury, a distance of thirty-six
miles. Entrusting his trunk to a waggoner, he ate his breakfast, scribbled
a note to his mother, making apology for his delay; tied up his linen in a
bundle, and took a path across the fields to the high road, in order to
escape notice from acquaintances who had known him in seemingly dashing
circumstances. After having proceeded a few miles, he heard the horn of
the guard from the stage-coach, and fearing it might contain some of his
old companions, he jumped over a hedge for concealment, and in so doing
alighted in a ditch, and sank up to his knees. On extricating his legs, a
shoe was left behind, and its loser was compelled to take off his coat,
roll up his shirt sleeves, and thrust his arm down the deep aperture, to
recover what had been lost. But it was necessary to support himself by
planting one foot against the hedge, and by grasping the roots of a holly
bush, and while so doing his hold gave way at the most critical moment,
and he was precipitated headlong into the mire. In consequence of the
disaster he had to delay his journey two hours on the sunny side of a
hayrick, for the purpose of putting his apparel in something like decent
order. Arriving at Blandford, fear, fatigue, and vexation, continued to
exhaust him, and he considered in what way he could most effectually lay
out the threepence in his pocket. He determined on a glass of brandy, and
going into an inn, called for the first that he had ever tasted. About to
depart, having thrown down his coppers, the landlady informed him that two
of them were bad. Bernard states that a feather might have felled him to
the ground, and that he seemed to be without sense or motion, while the
brandy seemed to congeal within him. The landlady looked in his face, and
noticing his agitation, surmised doubtless the cause; for she
good-naturedly told him not to mind it, but that should he ever again get
within easy distance of the place not to forget her. Nearly twenty years
afterwards, Bernard in company with Incledon, the vocalist, put up at the
identical place, and related the adventure. Incledon thought on hearing
the story, that it was Bernard's duty to give the house a good turn, and
so he very generously assisted Bernard to run up a bill in five days to
twenty pounds.

Ben Webster possessed a budget of amusing stories, involving ludicrous and
startling incidents, connected with his ups and downs as a poor player. He
began his professional career as a teacher of music and dancing, and
having a passion for the stage, was undaunted in his fight with fortune,
notwithstanding defeats and even humiliation. Hearing that Beverley, of
the old Tottenham Street theatre, was about opening the Croydon theatre
for a short season, Webster applied to that manager for the situation of
walking gentleman.

"Full," said Beverley.

"Can I get in for 'little business,' and utility?" pleaded Webster.


"Is there any chance for harlequin, and dancing?"

"I don't do pantomime or ballets; besides, I don't like male dancers;
their legs are no draw."

"Could you give me a berth in the orchestra?"

"Well," said Beverley, in his peculiar manner, and with a strong word,
which need not be repeated, "Why, just now you were a walking gentleman!"

"So I am, sir; but I have had a musical education, and necessity sometimes
compels me to turn it to account."

"Well! what's your instrument?"

"Violin, tenor, violoncello, double bass, and double drum."

"Well! by Nero! (he played the fiddle you know) here, Harry (calling his
son), bring the double--no, I mean a violin out of the orchestra."

Harry Beverley appeared with the instrument, and Webster was requested to
give a taste of his quality. He began Tartini's 'Devil's Solo,' and had
not gone far when the manager said that the specimen was sufficient,
offering the soloist an engagement for the orchestral leadership at a
guinea a week. Webster affirms, "That had a storm of gold fallen on him it
could not have delighted Semele more than it did himself. He felt himself
plucked out of the slough of despond." Webster had others to support, had
to board himself, and in addition he resolved to get out of debt. To
successfully carry out such arrangements the young professional had to
practise considerable self-denial, walking to Croydon, ten miles every
day, for rehearsal, and back to Shoreditch, on twopence--one penny for
oatmeal, and the other for milk; and he did it for six weeks, Sundays
excepted, when he luxuriated on shin of beef and cheek. While Webster was
at Croydon, the gallery used to pelt the gentlemen of the orchestra with
mutton pies. Indignation at first was uppermost, but on reflection, the
assailed musicians made a virtue of necessity, collecting the fragments of
not over-light pastry, ate them under the stage, and whatever might have
been their composition, considered them as "ambrosia."

To be glad to eat the mutton pies with which the gods pelted the orchestra
is undoubtedly a realisation of "out of evil cometh good," and is a
curiosity of impecuniosity; but of all the curious curiosities commend me
to an arithmetical calculation made by a modern actor, who entered on a
five nights' engagement at Swansea, at the termination of which he had
from the treasurer the sum of twenty-five shillings. Mr. Edward Atkins,
who had to find his own wardrobe, upon entering into an arithmetical
calculation, discovered that after deducting six shillings for coach
fares, and five shillings for lodgings, there remained fourteen for
professional work, being within a fraction of two shillings and ninepence
halfpenny per evening's labour. The following is the list of parts played
by the comedian, and the amount received for each:--

"Monday: 'Widow of Palermo'--Jeremy (with a handful of snuff and a glass
of water thrown in his face), 10-1/2_d._; 'Is he Jealous?'--Belmour,
9-1/2_d._; 'Young Widow'--Splash, 1_s._ 1-1/2_d._ Tuesday: 'Englishman in
France; or, Why Didn't I Kill Myself Yesterday?'--James, 9-1/2_d._; 'Mrs.
White'--Peter White (with a medley duet, and mock gavotte, that caused a
stiffness in the joints for three days), 1_s._ 1-1/2_d._; 'Secret'
(without a panel in the scene)--Thomas, 10-1/2_d._ Wednesday: 'Carlitz and
Christine'--Carlitz, very cheap, 7-1/2_d._; 'Two Gregories'--Gregory,
without goose or ship, 10_d._; song, 'What's a Woman like?' 1-3/4_d._;
'Fortune's Frolic'--Robin, the talk of the town, 1_s._ 2-1/4_d._ Thursday:
fully prepared with tools and syllables for three pieces, but the theatre
was closed, 2_s._ 9-1/2_d._ Friday: 'Review'--Caleb Quotem, with two
songs, 10-3/4_d._; 'Our Mary Ann'--Jonathan Junks, 9-1/2_d._; 'Loan Me a
Crown'--Lightfoot, fifteen lengths, 7-1/4_d._; 'Captain's not Amiss'--John
Stock, with clean shirt, the part requiring the actor to take off coat and
waistcoat, 6_d._; walking over to next town on managerial business,
1/2_d._ Total, 14_s._"

For years the name of Charles Mathews was continually bandied about in
connection with the subject of impecuniosity. Yet the harassing and
unpleasant circumstances in which the comedian too often found himself
through want of money were not produced by causes which in many instances
have brought players into straits, insolvency, and sometimes even
destitution. The parentage of Mathews was most reputable, his moral and
intellectual training was all that could be desired, while his business
habits must have been respectable, holding as he did for some time, with
credit and capability, an appointment as a district surveyor. His social
position too was excellent. But he married a very extravagant lady, and in
conjunction with her entered on theatrical speculations, which his tastes
and nature ill-fitted him to successfully promote; and not possessing
adequate capital to legitimately advance his various theatrical schemes,
he became the prey of money-lenders, and bill-discounters. Charles Mathews
married Madame Vestris on July 18th, 1838, the lady being at that period
the lessee of the Olympic Theatre, where her management had been
characterised by exceptional taste and enterprise. But her expenditure,
whether in relation to her theatre, or private life, had been lavish even
to recklessness. After playing the seasons in the metropolis and making a
provincial tour, Mr. and Mrs. Mathews accepted an offer from Stephen
Price, manager of the Park Theatre, New York, to perform upon secured
engagements of £20,000, with power at option to prolong their stay.
However, Price's speculation proved a failure, Mathews' scheme of making a
speedy fortune "melted into thin air," and then, affirms the disappointed
comedian, "began the series of troubles which were destined to clog a
great portion of my life." During the absence of Mr. and Mrs. Mathews for
their American engagement the Olympic was kept open under the direction of
a manager appointed by them, and on their return they found the finances
in a very crippled state; a large amount of debt having been incurred,
despite the large sums of money Mathews had transmitted across the
Atlantic. In the hope of extricating himself from his great liabilities he
took Covent Garden, never calculating the dangers of the perilous and
uncertain sea on which he was about floating the bark of his fortunes.
"Money," he says, "had to be procured at all hazards, and by every means,
to prop up the concern till this new mine could be worked; and I was
initiated for the first time in my life into all the mysteries of the
money-lending art, and the concoction of those fatal instruments of
destruction called Bills of Exchange.... Brokers and sheriff's officers
soon entered on the scene, and I, who had never known what pecuniary
difficulty meant, and had never had a debt in my life before, was
gradually drawn into the inextricable vortex of involvement, a web which
once thrown over a man can seldom be thrown off again. The consequence was
not conceived at the time. It was a great speculation, and great
difficulties appeared the legitimate consequences. Every Saturday was
looked forward to with terror, for on every Saturday I had to pay,
including the company, authors, band, carpenters, and workmen, employed
before and behind the curtain, six hundred and eighty-four souls, with
their wives and families all dependent upon my exertions." His liabilities
were so numerous and heavy, that Mathews conceived that the best plan for
him to pursue was without delay to wind up the speculation. Pity for him
that he did not carry out the resolution. But the great success attending
revivals of the 'Beggar's Opera,' the 'Merry Wives of Windsor,' and other
pieces, added to the subsequent still greater success of Boucicault's
'London Assurance,' induced the lessee to continue the management.

Everything looked brilliant and prosperous, but he found his position more
intolerable as the sun of prosperity rose higher over his theatre. He
states that when he paid no one, no one seemed to care, but the moment
Jenkins got his money Jones became rampant.

"Why pay Jenkins? Why not pay me? You've used me shamefully, and you must
take the consequences."

Writs and executions poured in, and in every direction Mathews beheld the
harpies of the law waiting to spring upon him, and the thousands he paid
were partially swallowed up in legal expenses and interest. The
hydra-headed monster, sixty per cent. was always about his legs. His
shifts and escapades during this period read like passages from one of
those comedies to which he used to impart such amusement by his animal
spirits and humours. Some of the stories told by Mathews of his
impecunious day, smack of a grim humour. Borrowing money at sixty per
cent., he informs us, is not the facile operation some imagine, and, he
adds, is attended by risk and worry even worse than the fearful
percentage. He well remembered, after a fortnight of very hot weather and
thinly attended seats at his theatre, having occasion to borrow two
hundred pounds to patch up the Saturday's treasury, and making application
to a bill-discounter three days before wanting the money.

"Ah, Mr. Mathews! how d'ye do? Glad to see you. Have a glass of sherry."

"No, thank you. I want a couple of hundred pounds to-morrow."

"Certainly, with pleasure. How long do you want it for? Have a glass of

"Say three months."

"What security?"


"Very good--I must have a warrant of attorney."

"Of course."

"All right, Mr. Mathews; look in at twelve o'clock to-morrow, and I'll
have it ready. Do have a glass of sherry!"

Mathews had no belief that the money would be ready at the time named,
though the impecunious actor kept the appointment. He knew that the
money-lender was gratified by the frequent appearance of a brougham at the

"Well, Mr. Mathews, I find I can't manage the £200. I can only let you
have £150. I had no idea I was so short at my bankers. Amount actually
overdrawn. But I've got a friend to do it for you; it's all the same.
He'll be here directly. Bless me, how long he is. Have a glass of sherry?
Are you going back to the theatre? I'll bring him with me in

Neither money-lender nor his friend appeared at the theatre. On Friday
Mathews again made application for the money.

"Didn't come till too late; but all right--you don't want it till
to-morrow, you know. What's your treasury hour?"


"Be here at twelve and it shall be ready."

The actor was there, punctual to the moment.

"All right. Have a glass of sherry? My nephew Dick has gone to the city
for the cheque."

"But the time is getting on."

"Never mind. I'll be with you as the clock strikes two."

Four o'clock arrived, and neither usurer nor money was forthcoming, the
salaries of the company of course remaining unpaid. A note forwarded
announced that the money-lender would be with Mathews at six to the
moment. At seven the long-expected gentleman rushed in breathless.

"Such a job Dick's had for you, Mr. Matthews! But here I am with the
money. My friend disappointed me, but I managed without him. My nephew
will read over the warrant of attorney."

"But I'm just going on the stage; there's no time now."

"Won't take five minutes. Dick, read the warrant. Now, here is the money.
Let's see, £15 left off the old account."

"Oh, pray don't deduct that now."

"Better, Mr. Mathews, keeps all square. That's £15, then the interest
three months, £17 10_s._, and £15, £32 10_s._ Warrant of Attorney £7
10_s._, that's £40. Then my nephew's fee, £1 1_s._, and my trouble, say
£1, £42 10_s._ Here's 15_s._, that's £42 16_s._ Dick, have you got 4_s._?"

"I've got 3_s._ 6_d._"

"That will do; I've got 6_d._, that's £43; and £7 cash makes the £50."

"Yes; but I only get £7 odd."

"Never mind, keeps all square. Now the £100. Here is a cheque of Gribble
and Co. on Lloyd's for £25 10_s._"

"What's the use of a cheque at this time of night?"

"Good as the bank, good as the money; you can pay it as money. Fifty
sovereigns makes £75 10_s._, and a ten-pound note makes £85 10_s._--stay,
it ought to be £95 10_s._ Here's another ten pound note. I forgot--there
you are, £95 10_s._--only wants £4 10_s._ to make up the £100. You haven't
got £4 10_s._ about you, have you Mr. Mathews, you could lend me till the
morning, just to get it straight, you know."

"I believe I have; there are four sovereigns and ten shillings in silver."

"That's all right; £4 makes £99 10_s._ and 10_s._--stop, let's count
them--count after your own father, as the saying is--four and five's nine,
and three fourpenny pieces; all right. Stop--one's a threepenny. Got a
penny, or a post-office stamp? Never mind, I won't be hard upon you for
the penny. There you are, all comfortable. Good evening."

Mathews paid away the cheque "as money." Two days afterwards he got an
indignant note, stating that the cheque was dishonoured. Out of temper,
Mathews sent for the discounter, and he appeared with alacrity.

"Not paid! Gribble's cheque not paid--some mistake--it's as good as the
Bank. Here, give it to me, I'll get it for you in five minutes. How long
shall you be here?"

"An hour."

"I'll be back in twenty minutes."

Mathews saw no more of the discounter or the cheque, the scoundrel
entirely disappearing with the only proof in his pocket. But sometimes
biters were bit, for an entry in one of the actor's diaries, dated
January 1843, states, "called on Lawrence Levy to pay him £30, but
borrowed £20 of him instead."

On one occasion a very gentlemanly man waited on Mathews.

"I'm sorry to trouble you," he quietly said, "but I've a duty to perform,
and I am sure you are too much a man of the world to quarrel with me. I
have a writ against you for a hundred pounds, and must request immediate
payment, or the pleasure of your company elsewhere."

"Quite impossible," said Mathews, "at this moment to meet it; but I will
consult with my treasurer, and see what can be done."

"Excuse me," said the sheriff's officer, "but I cannot lose sight of you;
and whatever is to be done, must be done here. Come, pay the money, and
there's an end."

"It can't be done," said Mathews.

"Why didn't you get him to renew the bill?" replied the other.

"He wouldn't renew it; nothing would induce him."

"Nonsense," said he, "accept this bill for the same amount, and put your
own time for payment, and I undertake to get you his receipt."

"Agreed," answered the actor, accepting the bill, which, without another
word the sheriff's officer took up, threw down the receipt, and walked
towards the door.

"Stop," said Mathews, "you said you couldn't leave me without the money.
What does all this mean?"

"It means that I paid your debt as I knew you couldn't, and now you owe it
me instead. Be punctual, and I'll do as much again."

The sheriff's officer just described was not the only one who befriended
the luckless manager. A kindred functionary of the law, having been struck
by the cruel conduct of a vindictive tradesman, actually paying the bill
himself, and receiving the money back from Mathews in instalments of ten

Instances grave and gay might be multiplied of the actor's unfortunate
position and the financial entanglements that, like heavy fetters,
constrained him at every step. He said that the results of the Covent
Garden speculation were for the first season _sowing_, for the second
_hoeing_, and for the third _owing_. On his debts being called in, to his
dismay he found that including rent the responsibilities amounted to the
sum of £30,000. Mathews when he learned the fact was aghast, and his only
remedy was the Insolvent Debtors' Court. Things were made easy for him,
and he passed a week in an elegantly fitted chamber above the Porters'
Lodge of the Queen's Bench Prison. He was not unacquainted with that
prison, having had residence there soon after his first notorious American
trip, and during that imprisonment he took advantage of the old rules
pertaining to the liberties of the Bench, and played an engagement at the
Surrey Theatre. The theatre being a few yards beyond the boundaries of the
Queen's Bench liberties, Davidge, the Surrey lessee, and Cross, lessee of
the Surrey Zoological Gardens, gave extra bail to enable Charles Mathews
to have the day rule extended through the evening. A tipstaff was
stationed at his dressing-room door and at each wing of the stage, to
watch the actor, who, though out of the Bench, was in custody. When
absolutely free from his Covent Garden liabilities he with a sense of
honour that did him credit gave securities for what he considered purely
personal debts, making himself still liable to the amount of about £4000,
anticipating that the creditors would treat him with consideration and
thoughtfulness. He was mistaken, and for years he still had the millstone
round his neck. During his lesseeship of the Lyceum he was in the same
straits as he was in the Old Covent Garden days. Accumulated interest, law
expenses for raising money, grew year after year and Mathews was still in
his miserable plight of impecuniosity. At length in July 1856, while about
to play at the Preston Theatre, he was arrested and imprisoned in
Lancaster Gaol. He chafed under the incarceration, and he has left a
touching account of the misery he felt on being separated from his wife,
and of the melancholy influences of his prison-house. His imprisonment
created much gossip, and ere he left "durance vile" a somewhat singular
recognition of his circumstances took place. His fellow-prisoners in
Lancaster Gaol communicated with him as follows:

Letter addressed to Charles J. Mathews, in Lancaster Castle, July 1856:--


    "Permit us to address you as a brother-debtor surrounded by oppressive
    circumstances akin to our own, which are rendered the more striking to
    one who like yourself has acquired a world-wide reputation as an
    artist and elocutionist; and whose uniform kindness and manly conduct
    has excited the admiration of those who now respectfully, through this
    medium, tender you what they consider to be a just meed of

    "With the newspaper gossip relative to your alleged state of affairs,
    which has been extensively circulated we have nothing to do and we
    know not whether you are fiercely opposed or otherwise; we seek not to
    elicit any facts connected with your position, but we beg most
    earnestly and respectfully to compassionate you as one of the most
    ingenious amongst our common manhood; and having for the most part
    felt the pangs attendant upon the day and hour of tribulation, allow
    us to express the strength of our sympathetic feeling by stating that
    we heartily wish you a signal, complete, and honourable release from
    that load of embarrassment which so unhappily depresses us all, but
    which, by reason of your refined sensibility must necessarily press
    with great force upon your mental organization; and this feeling
    compels us to say, 'Go on and conquer.'

    "Signed on behalf of the members of the Long Room,


Mathews thought that there was an odd flavour of Mr. Micawber about the
foregoing epistle. Subsequently he did what he should have done years
before, sought freedom from his liabilities under legal protection. Many
droll scenes took place when the comedian was under Bankruptcy
examination. On one occasion Mr. Commissioner Law asked him why he had
kept a brougham, instead of taking a cab to and fro between his residence
and the theatre; and the lawyer was told thereupon by the debtor, that the
brougham was hired from the purest motives of economy.

"In a word," said Mathews, "I really could not afford the price of cabs."

"I should have thought that cabs were more economical than a private
carriage," replied Law.

"Not at all," said Mathews. "Cabs take ready money, a precious article, to
be carefully treasured and only parted with under absolute necessity, but
a brougham can always be hired on credit."

Mathews, free of his liabilities, became prosperous, and his latter days
were marked by success and happiness.

Of his attractiveness on the stage it is almost superfluous to speak; it
may be said with truth, "We shall not look upon his like again;" for
though not a great actor, he was unapproachable in those light comedy
parts that require dash and go. I remember seeing him play Dazzle in
'London Assurance,' at Melbourne, exactly thirty years, to the very day,
from the date of its first performance; and though he was the oldest
member of the company on the stage that night, he was in manner and
appearance by far the youngest.



If there be two things on earth that may be said to have a more direct
affinity for each other than aught else, those two things are Painting and
Poverty. The artistic records of the past literally teem with sorrowful
instances of their close relationship; and unfortunately the alliterative
connection is by no means unknown in the present day.

Ruskin, who upholds contempt for poverty as a characteristic of our age
which is both "just and wholesome," complains that we starve our great men
for the first half of their lives by way of revenge, because they quarrel
with us, and adds,--

    "Precisely in the degree in which any painter possesses original
    genius, is at present the increase of moral certainty that during his
    early years he will have a hard battle to fight: and that just at the
    time when his conceptions ought to be full and happy, his temper
    gentle, and his hopes enthusiastic--just at that most critical period,
    his heart is full of anxieties and household cares: he is chilled by
    disappointments, and vexed by injustice, he becomes obstinate in his
    errors, no less than in his virtues, and the arrows of his aim are
    blunted, as the reeds of his trust are broken.... You may be fed with
    the fruit and fulness of his old age, but you were as the nipping
    blight in his blossoming, and your praise is only as the warm winds of
    autumn to the dying branches.... You feed him in his tender youth with
    ashes and dishonour: and then you come to him, obsequious but too
    late, with your sharp laurel crown, the dew all dried from off its
    leaves: and you thrust it into his languid hand, and he looks at you
    wistfully. What shall he do with it? What can he do, but go and lay it
    on his mother's grave."

In another part of the same work from which I have quoted, he says, with
exquisite pathos,--

    "You cannot consider, for you cannot conceive, the sickness of heart
    with which a young painter of deep feeling toils through his first
    obscurity--his sense of the strong voice within him which you will
    not hear, his vain, fond, wondering witness to the things you will not
    see--his far-away perception of things that he could accomplish if he
    had but peace and time, all unapproachable and vanishing from him,
    because no one will leave him peace or grant him time: all his friends
    falling back from him: those whom he would most reverently obey
    rebuking and paralyzing him: and last and worst of all, those who
    believe in him most faithfully, suffering by him the most bitterly.
    The wife's eyes, in their sweet ambition, shining brighter as the
    cheek wastes away: and the little lips at his side parched and pale,
    which one day, he knows, although he may never see it, will quiver so
    proudly when they name his name, calling him 'Our father.'"

But if these pictures are now drawn from artist life, what must that life
have been fifty or a hundred years ago? Art was always a plant of slow
growth in England, and the great masters who were cherished in the Old
World trade guilds, and flourished so grandly in Italy, Flanders, and
Holland, had not a single native representative in this country. And when
at last the land that had so long since produced a Shakespeare, could
boast its Hogarth, native artists were still few and far between, and
their chief means of living was found in painting signs. Neglected and
scornfully humiliated by all classes, isolated from refined society--such
as it was--they suffered the extremes of poverty, with cheerful bravery,
endured with a light heart, paid back scorn with scorn, and were linked
together by sympathy and pity in such a bond of brotherly fellowship as is
now utterly unknown. The taverns were their clubs, bread and cheese their
fare: and if the rent of their garret homes were not forthcoming, they
slept in the streets, and, careless Bohemians that they were, laughed
together over the strangeness, or the dangers, of their nocturnal
exposures. That their lives often found tragic endings may readily be
known. Many a terrible story is extant of their heart-sickness and
despair, of last awful struggles silently, heroically continued against
overwhelming odds, and of lingering sufferings endured with martyr-like

The earliest exhibitions of pictures--they were mainly street signs and
portraits--were organized by the artists themselves for charitable
purposes, as may be seen by the catalogue of one opened in Spring Gardens,
in 1761; which contained a design by Samuel Wale, one of the founders of
the Royal Academy, engraved by Charles Grignion, representing "The genius
of painting, sculpture, and architecture relieving the distressed;" and
these exhibitions were first established in the reign of George II.

The Samuel Wale here mentioned, afterwards R.A., was himself a
sign-painter; and for many years a whole-length figure of Shakespeare,
painted by him in the zenith of his powers, figured as the sign of a
public-house at the north-west corner of Little Russell Street, in Drury
Lane: while Charles Grignion, when an old man, suffered the then usual
fate of artists old and young; and an appeal made for him by his brethren
in 1808, now before me, speaks of him in his ninetieth year in the deepest
distress, unable to work, with a wife entirely, and a nearly blind
daughter partially, dependent upon him for support, saying, "Behold,
reader, the united claims of virtue, old age, and professional merit, and
filial and parental suffering." It also expressed a not unreasonable hope
that "the claims of, a man who had done so much, and done so well, would
be speedily attended to." Grignion died four years afterwards, his latest
days made smooth by the personal contributions of a few artists and some
of their patrons, so that the general appeal quoted from above seems to
have fallen flatly; as well it might when the public regarded English
artists with contempt, and their brethren were so meanly, miserably poor.

The first native artist whose fame extended beyond his birthplace was
William Hogarth; but poverty, the bitter badge of all his tribe, he too
wore. His father, a north-country schoolmaster, settled in London as an
author and press-reader in the Old Bailey, where on the 10th November,
1697, the great painter to be was born. Everybody knows how the child's
taste for art found its earliest expression in the eagerness with which he
watched some poor artist at his work, and not less well known is the fact
that he was the apprentice of a "silver plate engraver," and afterwards
devoted himself to engraving on copper coats of arms and ornamental
headings for shop bills, creeping upwards from such "small beginnings" to
more ambitious efforts, until at last he made a hit by illustrating
'Hudibras,' the commission for which, it is said, he owed to that
successful caricature of his landlady to which I have previously referred.
There were then in all London but two print-shops, and they dealt
principally in foreign productions; so that it can be easily understood
how, to eke out the shortcomings of his graver, Hogarth taught himself
painting. Speaking long afterwards of this portion of his career, he said,
"I could do little more than maintain myself till I was near thirty;" and
added, "I remember the time when I have gone moping into the city with
scarce a shilling, but as soon as I had obtained ten guineas there for a
plate, I have returned home, put on my sword, and sallied forth again,
with all the confidence of a man who had thousands in his pocket."

At another time he sold to the print-seller, W. Bowles, some plates he had
just finished, by weight at half-a-crown a pound avoirdupois; but even
when Hogarth was a famous man, and, compared with his former state, a
prosperous one, we find such pictures as "The Harlot's Progress" and "The
Rake's Progress" selling at from fourteen to twenty-two guineas each
picture, and "The Strolling Players" bought by Francis Beckford, Esq., for
£27 6_s._: but as he afterwards complained of that price as much too high,
Hogarth took it back, and resold it for the same amount. "Marriage à la
Mode," after the artist had published engravings from the set of six
paintings so called, realised £19 6_s._ In 1797 they were sold for £1381,
and now form part of our national collection through the bequest of Mr.
Angerstein. Another of his famous works, "March of the Guards to
Finchley," was more satisfactorily disposed of by lottery, and it was this
fact that Hogarth referred to when he said, "A lottery is the only chance
a living painter has of being paid for his time." From that lottery sprang
our modern art unions. It was of this picture, in a spirit of bitterness
provoked by the poverty of his dear friend, its painter, that David
Garrick wrote in a letter to Henry Fielding:--

    "Its first and great fault is its being too new, and having too great
    a resemblance to the objects it represents; if this appears a paradox,
    you ought to take particular care in confessing it. This picture has
    too much of the lustre, of that despicable freshness which we discover
    in nature, and which is never seen in the cabinets of the curious.
    Time has not obscured it with that venerable smoke, that sacred cloud
    which will one day conceal it from the profane eye of the vulgar, so
    that its beauties may only be seen by those who are initiated into the
    mysteries of art: these are almost its only faults."

To the last Hogarth seems to have been a needy, struggling man. That
unfrocked clergyman and satirical poet, Churchill, after quarrelling with
the painter "over a rubber of shilling whist," at the Bedford Arms, near
Covent Garden, attacked him with the bitterest scorn and hatred. Hogarth
was then growing old and feeble, his health was bad, and he was
melancholy and depressed by the fact that Sir Robert Grosvenor, having
commissioned him to paint a picture ("Sigismunda"), had refused to pay for
it when finished. At this juncture the mistress of Churchill told the poet
that he had given Hogarth his death-blow; whereupon he unfeelingly
remarked, "How sweet is flattery from the woman we love," adding, "He has
broken into the pale of my private life, and has set the example of
illiberality, _which I wanted_, and as he is dying from the effects of my
former chastisement I will hasten his death by writing his elegy." The
painter's death followed soon after, and all he had to leave his wife were
his unsold plates, the copyrights of which were secured to her for twenty
years by an Act of Parliament.

Amongst Hogarth's foreign predecessors John Mabuse, or Mabegius, an
historical and portrait painter, born in 1499, may be mentioned, for the
sake of telling a story about an ingenious way in which he contrived to
avoid what might have been the very serious consequences of his
impecuniosity. While he was in the service of the Emperor Charles V. (many
of his finest works were painted in this country, he was employed by Henry
VIII. to paint some of the royal children, and he had among his admirers
no less a judge of art than Albert Durer), a lord of the court making
special preparations to receive the Emperor, commanded the whole of the
royal household to be dressed in rich damask brocade. When the painter was
measured for his suit he persuaded the tailor to let him have the
material, and wanting money for a drinking-bout sold it to a
tavern-keeper, having first made a suit of white paper, which he painted
in imitation of the damask, and appeared in it before the Emperor, who
afterwards said the painter's costume was of all he saw the handsomest and
richest. The trick was discovered, but as the Emperor enjoyed the joke and
laughed heartily, no ill came of it. Some similar freak, however, soon
after threw him into prison, where he continued to paint.

The mention of art work done in a prison recalls the name of William
Ryland, an English artist, who was born in London in 1732, studied under
Francis Boucher in Paris, and soon after his return was appointed engraver
to the King. He was the first who engraved in the dotted style, and his
works won him more fame than money. Angelo, the fencing-master, who knew
Ryland from his boyhood, says he lived in a house in which John Gwynn,
the painter, whose 'Essay on Design,' published in 1749, is still known
amongst students, also occupied apartments. Ryland had a wife and children
to support, and in the year 1783, to relieve the pressure of his creditors
(he was then in receipt of a small pension from the King), he forged a
bond for three thousand pounds, to escape probably by its aid from his
pecuniary difficulties and his country. The document forged was a most
extraordinary specimen of imitative art, having thirty or more distinctive
signatures in every variety of handwriting; some bold and large, some
cramped, some small, written in various kinds of inks. When it was
presented for payment at the India House, the cashier after carefully
examining it and referring to the ledger said, "Here is a mistake, sir;
the bond as entered does not become due until to-morrow." Ryland begged
permission to look at the book, and after leisurely and coolly inspecting
it, said, "There must be an error in your entry of one day," and quietly
offered to leave the bond. The cashier, however, believing the entry to be
an erroneous one, paid the money, with which Ryland departed. On the
following day the true bond was presented, and the crime detected; large
placards were soon posted all over London, offering a reward of £500 for
his apprehension.

Ryland's first hiding-place was in the Minories, where he remained
concealed for some days. One evening after dusk he stole out for a walk,
disguised in a seaman's dreadnaught. On Little Tower Hill, one of the
officers in search of him eyed him very earnestly, passed, repassed him,
and then advancing said abruptly and confidentially, "So you are the very
man I am seeking." The artist said so calmly, "I think you are mistaken, I
don't remember you," that the "runner" apologised and wished him "good

He was taken, however, tried and condemned to death, amidst universal
expressions of sorrow and regret. Interest was made to obtain mercy on the
ground of his previous excellent character, and his extraordinary talent
as an artist and engraver. The King's reply was: "No! a man with such
talent could not have been unable to provide amply for all his wants."
Angelo said, "Had a Shakespeare or a Milton committed a similar act of
fraud in those iron days of jurisprudence, their fate had doubtless been
the same." Ryland petitioned for a respite, on the ground that he was
then engraving the last of a series of plates from the paintings of
Signora Angelica Kauffman, and was anxious to complete it to enable his
wife after his execution to support herself and his children. His request
was granted, and it is stated, "he laboured incessantly at this his last
work, and when he received from his printer, Haddril, who was the first in
his line, the finished proof impression, he calmly said, 'Mr. Haddril, I
thank you; my task is now accomplished.'"

Having just mentioned Angelica Kauffman, I may pause to note that the
greatest misfortune of her life has been traced to the poverty of her
father, Johann Kauffman, for though the story, which is as follows, is
discredited by some, it has many believers. She was travelling with him in
her early girlhood through Switzerland, and being very poor they went on
foot, sleeping at night after each long day's journey in some humble
wayside tavern. On one occasion they were refused admission on the ground
that two grand English seigneurs had bespoken all the accommodation. The
poor artist, anxious not to overtax his young daughter's failing strength,
pleaded and protested in vain; and the dispute between him and the
landlord waxing loud and warm, the attention of one of the Englishmen was
attracted, and coming forward he politely invited them to become the
guests of himself and friend. Not quite concealed by the polished courtesy
of his manner lurked that which secretly alarmed and offended the
pale-faced, weary girl, and while her unsuspecting father was full of
grateful thanks, and glad to avail himself of the stranger's apparent
kindness, she whisperingly entreated him to come away. Too anxious on her
account to risk the chance of a night in the open air, her father accepted
the invitation, and at table the nobleman, forgetting the respect due to
her innocence and youth, attempted some liberty, which being repeated,
caused her to rise suddenly and leave the room. Her father followed, and
was induced to go with her out of the house. Some years after, when
Angelica Kauffman had become famous, and was living in England, welcomed
with pride and enthusiasm in the highest society, and sought after by the
noblest and most gifted, she met this peer in one of the most brilliant
circles of the fashionable world, who with great amazement recognised in
the elegant woman and famous artist the humble pedestrian of the Swiss
mountains. Seeking an opportunity he passionately entreated her to
forgive him, pleaded that he had never forgotten her, and never could, and
begged that she would at least accept his most respectful friendship. She
believed him, trusted him, was again insulted, and refused thenceforth to
admit him to her society. To induce her to restore him to her favour, he
offered her marriage, and was calmly and resolutely refused; and on his
rejection forced himself into her presence, and strove even to win by
violence that which no other means could give him, but was again baffled.
To humble and disgrace her he devised a plan, which most probably
suggested to Lord Lytton the story of his play, _The Lady of Lyons_. He
secured the aid of a low-born adventurer, who assumed the name of Count
Frederic de Horn, introduced him in some way to fashionable society,
where, approaching Angelica Kauffman, then twenty-six, and in the full
bloom of womanhood, he rendered the most flattering homage to her genius,
with an air of the most profound respect and admiration, and gradually
became familiar and dear to her; and at last told some strange romantic
story of a terrible misfortune from which she could save him by at once,
and secretly, becoming his wife. The snare caught her; the marriage was
performed by a Catholic priest without writings or witnesses. One day
while painting a portrait of the Queen at Buckingham Palace, in the course
of conversation the young artist confided to her royal friend the secret
of her recent mysterious wedding, which resulted in the Count de Horn
being invited to court. This invitation was, however, not accepted, the
impostor fearing detection. Her father's suspicions being aroused, and the
facts of the marriage explained to him, he made inquiries and induced
others to pursue them, which ended in the appearance of the real Count de
Horn, and the unmasking of the impostor, who only laughed at his dupe, and
commanded her to follow him, claiming that entire control over her person
and property to which the poor woman believed he was entitled, until
further inquiries brought to light the fact that the man had been
previously married, when the false marriage was formally declared null and

For my next anecdote I turn to Elizabeth le Brun, the favourite court
painter of the unfortunate Marie Antoinette, who, when her husband's
reckless and heartless extravagance had reduced her to comparative
poverty, found herself unable to terminate the once grand receptions at
which she had received the _crème de la crème_ of her contemporaries.
They crowded her smaller house as they had crowded her larger one, and for
lack of chairs seated themselves upon the floor, and she herself tells the
embarrassment of the Duc de Noailles, who was so old and so excessively
fat, that as he could neither get down so low, nor rise without
assistance, was therefore obliged to endure the terrible fatigue of

The early years of a more modern, but equally famous, lady-artist, Rosa
Bonheur, were embittered by her father's want of money. As a school-girl
she felt severely the contrast between the silk dresses, silver mugs,
spoons, and forks, with a plentiful supply of pocket-money, which her
companions possessed, and her calico frocks, iron spoon, tin mug, coarse
shoes, and empty pockets; and her earliest ideas of art, as a means of
escaping such humiliating conditions, were thereby developed,
strengthened, and intensified into a restless craving and feverish
anxiety. Hence she soon began to draw and model in imitation of her
father, with a passionate eagerness that kept her constantly at work from
early morning until late at night, and at last startling her father (who
had long and despairingly considered her too indolent, self-willed, and
stupid, ever to be in any way useful) by the progress she made, he took
her through a serious course of preparatory study, and so made her an
artist. The director of the Louvre, M. Jousselin, declared that while she
was there forming her judgment, and training eye and hand, he had never
before witnessed such untiring eagerness and ardour. In her case, the
impecuniosity which Ruskin regards as so often fatal to the aspirations of
young and ambitious artists, appears to have been the strongest incentive.
Surrounded and stimulated by the glorious creations of great artists, the
first to enter the gallery, and the last to leave it, her strongest desire
was to aid her artist father in his weary struggle for the support of his
family; to which she soon began to contribute by the sale of her copies,
making up for the extreme smallness of the sums they commanded by the
rapidity with which she produced them. In her seventeenth year she
achieved such success in making a study from a goat, that she determined
to turn her attention to the painting of animals from life. Too poor to
pay for models, she went out daily into the country to study them in the
fields and lanes. Laden with clay, or canvas, brushes, and colours, she
would set out in the grey dawn, with nothing but a piece of bread in her
pocket for the day's food, and finding a subject, work on it until the
light had faded, and then, soaked by rain, or struggling in the rude wind,
she would make her way, sometimes ten or a dozen miles, through the
darkness, a sun-browned, hardy, peasant-looking girl, to reach home
cheerful, and contented with the day's work, although hungry and exhausted
by fatigue. Another way in which she contrived to get models cheaply was
by passing days amongst the lowing and bleating victims of one of the
great Parisian slaughter-houses, the _Abattoir du Roule_, where, seated on
a bundle of hay, with her colour-box beside her, she painted on from
morning until dusk, frequently so absorbed that she forgot to eat the
piece of bread in her pocket. She also studied from the animals when they
were under the influence of terror and agony, just before they received
the death-stroke; forcing herself to endure a woman's natural repugnance
to such scenes of blood and torture, rendered doubly painful to her by the
loving sympathy with which she regarded all the brute creation. In the
evening she would return home from such studies with her face and clothes
thickly marked by the flies which in such places congregate so thickly.
With equal perseverance she also studied in the stables of the Veterinary
School of Alfort, in the _Jardin des Plantes_, and in all the horse and
cattle fairs held in the neighbourhood of Paris; always in the latter case
wearing male attire, to avoid certain dangers and annoyances to which a
woman would be subjected if dressed in the clothing of her sex. She was
regarded as a good-natured, merry boy, and a clever little fellow, by the
rough characters who visited the fairs, and sympathising with her apparent
poverty, the graziers and horse-dealers whose animals she drew constantly
insisted upon standing treat. Occasionally, too, a village dairy-maid
would make amorous overtures to the handsome "lad." So she gallantly
wrought, and fought, and paved her upward way to fame and prosperity, her
father and nature her only teachers, the former's impecuniosity her
constant incentive.

I am reminded here of Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A., for whom also the first
stimulants to activity in the pursuit of art were the poverty and
necessities of his father, an exciseman, actor, and innkeeper, who had
achieved no lasting success in either calling. At one time despairing of
pecuniary success in the profession he began to excel in when but five
years old, he resolved to take to the stage, despite the anxious
opposition of his father, who was then looking forward to his son's
artistic efforts for support, having failed as an actor, failed in
business at Devizes, where he kept "The Black Bear," and having previously
failed as landlord of "The White Lion," at Bath. Bernard in his
'Retrospections,' speaks of "Young Lawrence the painter," then about
seventeen, as "receiving professional instructions from Mr. Hoare of
Bath," and some little time after, with a view to his adopting the stage
as a profession, Tom Lawrence recited before Bernard and John Palmer the
actor, when the latter strove to enforce his father's opinion, and
convince him that his prospects as a painter were superior to those he
would have as an actor. It was some time before he could realize this, and
when he did he said with a sigh, "If I could go upon the stage, I thought
I might be able to help my family much sooner than I can in my present
employment." The earnestness and the regret he expressed in the tone of
these words deeply affected all who were present. It was many years before
Thomas Lawrence escaped from the fangs of impecuniosity, so absorbing were
the drafts made upon his purse by the wants of his parents. His father
used to hawk his son's crayon drawings about London at half a guinea each.
One of his contemporary biographers, says, "Sir Thomas, though he
sometimes confidentially accounted for his straitened circumstances
through life by referring to his early burdens, never regretted them, nor
murmured at their reminiscence."

But the early practice of a painter is seldom profitable, and Nicholas
Poussin asserts that at the commencement of _his_ career his landscapes
sold for less than the cost of canvas, oil, and pigments.

Still more remarkable as an instance of artistic success snatched from the
depths of impecuniosity, is that furnished by the early history of Isaac
Ware, the famous architect. One day while sitting to Roubillac for his
bust, he told him the story of himself as a thin, sickly child, who had
been apprenticed to a chimney-sweep, enduring a life of pain and hardship
at an age when happier children were in the nursery, and winter or summer,
in storm or darkness, out in the streets, wailing forth his pitiful
"s-w-eee-p," before the day broke; chalking on the walls wherever he went
drawings of the buildings he met with in his travels through the streets.
One day a gentleman passing Whitehall on horseback saw the feeble-looking,
sooty child tip-toeing to draw the outlines of the street front of that
building upon its own basement wall; now running into the middle of the
street to look up at the building, now back to continue his drawing. After
watching him some little time the gentleman rode up and called to him,
when the startled boy dropped his chalk in terror, and came forward with
downcast eyes full of fear. To restore confidence the equestrian threw him
a shilling, and after inquiring his name, and that of his master, &c., he
went instantly to the latter, who said the little fellow was of very
little use to him, being so weak, and, complaining of his chalking
propensity, showed his visitor what a state his walls were in through the
young sweep's having drawn upon them various views of St. Martin's Church.
The gentleman concluded his visit by purchasing the remainder of the boy's
time, and taking him away. It was to this noble benefactor that Ware owed
not only his education, which was an excellent one, but the means which
enabled him afterwards to pursue his art studies in Italy, and upon his
return his introduction to commissions as an architect. It is said that
Ware retained the stain of soot in his skin to the day of his death.

This story of Ware's boyhood we owe to Nathaniel Smith, the engraver, who
heard the architect tell it; and speaking of Smith reminds me of a story
told by his son, who was called in his time "Rainy-day Smith." It is a
tale of Alderman Boydell, who at twenty-one years of age walked to London,
because he had no money to come by the waggon, and apprenticed himself to
Mr. Thorns, an engraver and artist, attending whenever possible, an
academy opened in St. Martin's Lane for poor art students by a group of
well-known artists, whose subscriptions paid for its support, and to which
Hogarth contributed his father-in-law's casts and models, learning
perspective at the same time in his own humble lodging after his return at
night. Boydell being out of his time, and unable to obtain regular
employment, used to engrave small plates--views of London and
landscapes--print them himself, make them up into little books, and sell
them to keepers of toyshops to re-sell at sixpence a set of six, or a
penny each. These shops he visited regularly every Saturday to see if any
had been sold, and leave others to replace those that had happily been
disposed of. His best customer was found at the sign of "The Cricket Bat"
(all shops then had signs) in Duke's Court, St. Martin's Lane. On one
occasion his delight was so excessive on finding so many had been sold
there as realized five-and-sixpence, that in an outburst of gratitude to
the shopkeeper he laid out the entire amount with him in the purchase of a
silver pencil case, which he preserved as a memento of the great event all
through the rest of his life.

Of a kindred nature to Boydell's vicissitudes were the earliest
experiences of John Opie. As a lad in Cornwall he was so wretchedly poor
that Dr. Walcot, then practising as a physician at Foy, out of compassion
employed him to clean knives and forks, and to save him from the ill-usage
of his father took him into his own house. John going to the
slaughter-house for paunches to feed the doctor's dog with, made a
portrait of the butcher, which so delighted his employer that he also sat
for a portrait to the errand boy, which production was equally
astonishing. The portraits being shown amongst the doctor's friends and
neighbours, one named Phillips sent to London for a complete set of
artist's materials, which he presented to Opie, who painted with them the
portrait of a parrot so naturally that it spread his fame far and near,
and started him fairly in art as a portrait painter, his fee for a
likeness being seven-and-sixpence. The doctor once asked the lad how he
liked painting, to which question Opie replied enthusiastically, "Better
than my bread and meat." He was soon afterwards in London, where Sir
Joshua Reynolds befriended him, and he became known and popular as "the
wonderful Cornish genius."

George Morland must have found impecuniosity a sharp spur, when his
father, hopelessly weary of his indolence and bad conduct, turned him from
home, saying, "I am determined to no longer encourage your idleness; there
is a guinea, take it and go about your business." George succeeded in
supporting himself, and lived a life of the most degrading dissipation,
his favourite companions being jockeys, ostlers, carters, money-lenders,
gipsies, and women of abandoned character. He so cruelly ill-used his
wife--a sister of James Ward, R.A.--that although strongly attached to
him, she dared not live with him. "He died," as Smith says, "drunk, in a
sponging-house in Eyre Street Hill, near Hatton Garden." Such a career
could not but be fruitful of the troubles, cares, dangers, and
difficulties arising from impecuniosity. At one time, when on an
excursion to the coast of Kent with one of his favourite companions, a
brother artist, probably to escape duns, they spent their money so freely
on the road, that long before they reached their destination they were
penniless and hungry. When nearing Canterbury they espied a homely
roadside alehouse called "The Black Bull," and hailing it with delight
they entered, and soon made alarming havoc amongst the lowly edibles and
potables set before them; smuggled full-proof spirits being ordered and
disposed of in the most astonishing manner. When the bill was produced
Morland frankly confessed they were a couple of poor itinerant artists in
search of employment, and without a penny in the world. "But," said he,
"your sign is in a most shameful condition for so respectable a house; let
me repaint it in settlement of the bill"--which amounted to twelve
shillings and sixpence. The landlord had long wanted a new sign; he agreed
to the proposition. Morland began the work, and as it could not be
finished on that day, the host supplied him and his friend with lodging
for the night. On the following day the new sign was so much to the
satisfaction of the innkeeper that he furnished the friends with gin to
the amount of two guineas, together with some food, and when it was
finished added a few shillings to help them on their way. Many similar
stories are extant of this celebrated painter. "The Goat and Boots" in the
Fulham Road received a new sign from him in the same way; and to pay
another tavern score he did a like service for "The Cricketers" near

Mr. E. V. Rippingale, the painter, used to tell with what despondency,
when he was a tall, thin, pale, self-taught youth eagerly studying art, he
was taken one bright morning to see Sir David Wilkie, then residing in
Kensington. He had just previously been introduced to a Scotch landscape
painter of some eminence, who, when he asked him what materials were used
in landscape painting, had eyed him with grim suspicion, and grunted--

"Sur, there are sacreets in the art, whuch whun a mon hae foound oot, he
mun keep to himsel."

Consequently Sir David's kindly reception made a deep impression upon him.
After inquiring what subject the youth was painting, and what branch of
art his inclinations led him to adopt? if he had studied from the antique
and from life? whether he was instructed or self-taught? &c., the
talented Scotchman, then a tall, bony young man, with reddish hair, grey
eyes, high cheek bones, and a broad Scotch accent, said,--

"I shall be very happy to tell you anything I know. You need not fear to
ask me; the art of a painter is unlike that of a juggler, it does not
depend upon a trick. In art we have no secrets, and all painters are
always glad to tell what they know to young fellow-students."

The rest of the interview was devoted to the giving of sound practical
advice, the inspection of Wilkie's paintings and studies, and in the end
the lanky lad from the country was pressed to come again and bring his
drawings with him.

Rippingale's first visit to Wilkie was paid in 1815, and Haydon has told
how, after the closing of the Royal Academy Exhibition in 1805, he went to
breakfast with Wilkie, and reaching his apartment--he then had but one--a
little before the appointed time, found him stark naked on that chilly
autumnal morning, making a study from himself by the aid of a
looking-glass. On another occasion the enthusiastic young Scotchman was
found in a fireless room, shivering with cold, drawing from his own naked
leg. Wilkie's employment was of a very humble and precarious kind at that
time, and he was then copying the pictures of Barry, in the great room of
the Society of Arts, for an engraver.

When the painter of those world-famous productions was no more, and his
body lay in state in the very room which contained them, Wilkie was
anxious to be present at the funeral, but alas! he had not a black coat,
and could not afford to buy one. However Haydon had two, and was quite
willing to lend one, and did so; but unfortunately he was short and
slight, and Wilkie was tall and big-boned. The effect of the former's coat
upon the latter's figure was consequently intensely ludicrous; the sleeves
terminated far above his wrists, his broad shoulders stretched the seams
to the very verge of cracking, and the waist buttons had "gone aloft"
half-way up his back. When Haydon met him thus oddly attired, not even the
solemnity of the occasion could quite suppress his merriment, and the
piteous entreaty of the young Scotchman's looks, and significantly upheld
finger, increased rather than decreased the tendency, so that the English
painter afterwards said he once thought the desperate effort he made to
suppress his laughter would have killed him.

When Wilkie was hawking his pictures from one shop to another, and
returning home heart-sick, weary, and hungry, evening after evening, he
received in nearly every case but one reply, "We don't purchase modern
pictures." Happily this is altered now to some extent, though the
reception awarded a novice in the present day is not very encouraging if
all aspirants are treated in a like manner to an extremely clever young
friend of mine, who, I doubt not, will be heard of some day. When he
presented his canvas, or sketch, he was told, "We don't buy the paintings
of unknown men." One of Wilkie's pictures thus rejected was a little one
of a subject afterwards re-painted on a larger scale, "The Blind Fiddler."

Haydon tells how he first saw a notice of Wilkie in a newspaper, and
hurried to him with huge delight. "Wilkie," he says, "was breakfasting.
'Wilkie,' said I, 'here's your name in the paper.' 'Where, where?' said
Wilkie, ceasing to drink his tea. I then read it aloud to him. Wilkie
stood up and huzzaed, in which we joined. We then took hands, and danced
round the table, and sallying forth, spent the day in wandering about in a
sort of ecstasy in the fields. We supped with Wilkie on red herrings, and
he took down his little kit, and played us Scotch airs till the dreary
hour of separation--these were delightful feelings! The novelty of a thing
first felt, the freshness of youth, all contributed to render them intense
and exciting."

It was said by some one that Wilkie never painted better than when he used
to take his penny roll and moisten it at the pump. But this statement was
indignantly contradicted by his friend Haydon in his lectures, and he
certainly was an authority on the difficulty of painting under

Another illustration of success preceded by disappointment is to be found
in the case of Sontagg, who, according to Mr. Robert Kemp, before he found
his true vocation in landscape painting, aspired to the glory of
historical and high art. Environed by the bitter poverty of an art
student, he painted his ideal. It was a Madonna, and as he afterwards
said, "one of the worst ever painted." When it was finished, he pawned his
only decent coat to raise $7.50 for a frame in which it was sent to an art
mart. "Then he spent the day walking around, and calculating what he would
do with the thousand the great work would bring him in. Then he called at
the auction room to collect. 'Had the picture been sold?' 'It had,' said
the clerk. 'How much?' 'Five dollars and a half.'" Sontagg dined on a
"free lunch," and went to bed in the dark. I may remark for the benefit of
those uninitiated in Colonial and American drinking customs, the "free
lunch" here spoken of means a meal which is provided gratis by many
tavern-keepers in America, Australia, and elsewhere. It consists of bread
and meat, or bread and cheese, placed on the counter, and to which all
patronising the establishment are welcome. It is said that years after
this occurrence, when Sontagg became famous, he found this painting over
the chimney-piece of a little wayside inn in the Wabash County where it
was a standing jest, and valued as a source of the laughter which kept a
quarrelsome man and wife from desperate extremes. When their violence was
at its worst a glance at Sontagg's Madonna was sure to provoke such
merriment that after it they invariably became friendly.

The early life of John Philip, whose glorious pictures of Spanish life won
him such wide-spread fame, presents an instance of greatness won despite
extreme poverty, with its attendant drawbacks, and the friendlessness of
utter obscurity. He began his career as a painter when a mere boy; though
not upon canvas, millboard nor panel, but upon watering-cans. When
seventeen years of age he worked his passage from Scotland to London on
board a coasting-vessel, for the purpose of seeing the exhibition of the
Royal Academy, and on his return, with a mind richly stored by close
investigation of the pictures he saw there and in the National
Galleries--of which those by Wilkie were the most fascinating and
instructive--he painted a picture which attracted the attention of Lord
Panmure, who generously sent him to study in London, and supplied him with
the means of support while so engaged. Philip died, as so many sadly
remember, on Feb. 27th, 1867. One of his earliest attempts was long
visible outside an old tavern, in the village of Dyce, near his native
town Aberdeen, where he was born in 1817. At Dyce he was employed as
herd-boy, and a story is told of his having at that time but two shirts,
and when one of these was stolen, Johnny said cheerfully to his relative,
Mrs. Allardyce, "Never min, ye can mak a shift, wash the ane I hae on, and
I'll gang to my bed till it's dry. My puir mither hae often to do that."
Inconvenient as such circumstances must have been, John Philip in the days
of his prosperity often spoke of the happy days he knew when he was a
poor little herd-laddie in the pretty little village of Dyce.

Somewhat similar in its start was the life of Henry Dawson, who died in
1878. Born at Hull in 1811, he commenced the world as a factory-lad at
Nottingham, in which position he began to paint pictures, which he sold at
prices ranging from two to twenty shillings; but it was long before he
achieved the grand success the latter price implied, not indeed before
1835, and the munificent patron to whose liberality he owed the advance
was a hairdresser, who for many years remained his best customer. So
slowly came the fame and prosperity he sought so laboriously and
patiently, and at last so honourably won, that when he was in his fortieth
year he actually contemplated opening a small-ware shop to aid him in
bringing up and educating his family. Indeed had it not been for John
Ruskin, to whom he applied for advice as to whether he should reluctantly
abandon his beloved art or persevere in its practice, the profession would
have lost one of the most powerful of our modern masters in landscape.

He was for many years known only to dealers, who made a glorious harvest
by reaping where he sowed amidst the cares, anxieties, and inconveniences
of impecuniosity.

A further proof of what genius and industry can accomplish, be the
difficulties never so great, is shown by the ultimate success of G. M.
Kemp, the architect who designed the Scott monument at Edinburgh. He was
originally a journeyman millwright, and while working at his trade
contrived, not only to teach himself to draw, but to visit and make
studies from all the principal ecclesiastical edifices in Scotland, and
afterwards in England. His plan was to find work in the different places
he desired to visit; and by this means he acquired such a knowledge of
architecture that when a prize was offered in open competition for the
Scott monument, his design was the one unanimously selected,
notwithstanding the fact that amongst his rivals were many of the leading
professional architects.

Success unfortunately does not always attend those who work hard and
deserve substantial recognition; for when some one congratulated William
Behnes, the sculptor, on his triumphs, and the prosperity that was
presumed to have followed in their wake, he replied, "When I die, be that
event when it may, there will not be two penny pieces left to close my
eyes." He died in the Middlesex Hospital, in January, 1864, realising his
prediction to the very letter, so few were his sitters, so small the sums
they paid.

While Behnes began life as a pianoforte-maker, the great sculptor Chantrey
commenced his career as a journeyman carpenter, in connection with which
fact there is an odd story told. One day while inspecting a costly vase in
the house of the wealthy poet Rogers, he asked with a smile who made the
table on which the curio stood. "Curiously enough," said Rogers, "it was
not made by a cabinet-maker, but by a common carpenter." Chantrey asked,
"Did you see it made?" and Rogers, supposing the query to be one of
incredulity, replied positively, "Certainly! I was in the room while the
man finished it with the chisel, and I gave him instructions in placing
it." Chantrey laughed, and said, "You did. I remember that, and all the
circumstances perfectly well." "You!" exclaimed the poet. "Yes," said
Chantrey quietly. "I was the carpenter."

When speaking of signs I omitted to mention George Henry Harlow, an artist
of considerable eminence, who, like Morland and others, was glad on
occasions to paint signs to liquidate liquor scores. Harlow, who was born
in 1787, and died in 1819, quarrelled in the plenitude of his conceit with
his master, Sir Thomas Lawrence, left his house, and went to live at "The
Queen's Head," in Epsom, where, living extravagantly, his expenses outran
his means, and he was glad to escape the penalty of his folly by
repainting the landlord's sign. In doing so, with a view to the annoyance
of Sir Thomas, who had found in Queen Caroline a kind friend and patron,
he very cleverly caricatured at once Her Majesty, and his late master's
style of portraiture, even putting underneath it his initials and
address--T. L., Greek St., Soho. One of the funny ideas of this sign was
that of painting on one side the face of the Queen, and on the other Her
Majesty's royal back.

There was a sign long displayed at Mole, in North Wales, which was painted
in the same way by Richard Wilson, "The English Claude." It belonged to a
tavern called "The Three Loggerheads;" only two appeared on the sign, the
third was to be he who read the sign, as many did, aloud.

This same Richard Wilson, R.A., was a Welshman, the son of the Rector of
Pineges, where he was born in 1714; and after unsuccessfully working for a
long time as a painter of portraits, landscapes, and historical subjects,
he at last achieved eminence, and forthwith enjoyed, with so many of his
talented _confrères_, glory and--poverty. The incident of his first
commission from the King will illustrate the kind of remuneration even
royalty gave for the works of men who had attained the highest rank in
their arduous profession.

Dalton, the artist, having been appointed keeper of the King's pictures,
suggested that a landscape by Richard Wilson should be included in His
Majesty's collection; and the monarch reposing great faith in his
judgment, sent poor Dick a commission for a landscape of a given size to
fit a vacant space in the gallery. In due time the work was finished and
placed before the King, who exclaimed indignantly,--

"Hey! what! Do _you_ call this painting, Dalton? Take it away! I call it
daubing, hey! What! It's a mere daub."

Poor Dalton, who was one of Wilson's friends and admirers, bowed, looked
sheepish, and was silent.

Presently his, on this occasion, not over gracious Majesty peevishly
inquired, "What does he ask for this daub?" And when Dalton replied "One
hundred guineas," the King's astonishment was immense.

"One hundred guineas! Hey! What, Dalton! Then you may tell Mr. Wilson it's
the dearest picture I ever saw. Too much--too much--tell him I say so."

A few days after, the artist, being as usual in need of cash, called upon
Dalton, and in his bluff manner said,--

"Well, Dicky Dalton, what says his Majesty?"

Dalton replied hesitatingly, and with confusion, "Why--a--with--a--regard
to the picture--a--As for my--a--own opinion--why--a--you know, Mr.
Wilson, that--a--indeed----"

Wilson interrupted him with an oath. He saw his friend's perplexity, and
said at once, "His Majesty don't approve--but I know your friendly
zeal--go on."

"Why in truth, my dear friend, I venture to think the a--the finishing
is--not altogether answerable to His Majesty's anticipations."

"Humph! Not every leaf made out, hey?--not every blade of grass? What
else? Out with it, man."

"Why then--a--His--His Majesty thinks--a--that the price is--is--is a
great deal of money."

Wilson took him by the button-hole, looked cautiously round, and in a
comical whisper said,--

"Tell His Majesty I do not wish to distress him, I will take it by
instalments--say a guinea a week."

Neglect and disappointment soured Wilson's temper, and made him a very
surly, irritable man, sometimes quite misanthropical; as well they might,
considering his great talents and his extreme poverty. It is said that one
of his most famous historical paintings, on which he had expended many
months of thought and labour, was sold under the influence of absolute
necessity for a pot of beer, and the remains of a Stilton cheese!

Mortimer, an artist who used to sometimes occupy an armchair by Wilson's
fireside, and there hear him in splenetic humour moralise like another
melancholy Jaques, making cynical strictures upon that scoundrel man,
would say, "Come, come, my old Trojan--come, old boy--I wish I could set
you purring like old puss there."

Angelo tells how a friend of Dr. Johnson's, hearing of Wilson's distress,
said to Mr. Taylor, the artist, "I wish I knew how to send him ten pounds
in some delicate way which could not give him offence. Do you think he has
some very trifling sketch I could buy for that sum? I have no taste for
pictures, but I would give him a commission if my income were not too
slender. I am so distressed that so great a genius should be entirely
without means." Taylor told this story delicately to Wilson, who was much
touched by it, and said, "I have no scrap such as your friend desires to
have, but if the thing were not bruited about I would be happy to send him
one of my easel pictures, which you know I never sell for less than
sixteen guineas." The result was that Wilson received the ten pounds, Dr.
Johnson's friend the sixteen-guinea picture, which it is said he gave away
the same evening to one of the waiters at Vauxhall.

At the close of his life, when worn out by indifference and neglect, he
was reduced to solicit the office of librarian to the Royal Academy, of
which he was acknowledged to be one of the brightest ornaments. He died in
May 1782, his death accelerated, if not produced, by want; and, sad to
state, just previous to his decease, help came to him, when it was, alas,
too late!

As is well known, William Hazlitt, the critic, began life as an artist,
and was indeed an artist in taste, judgment, and knowledge, all his life.
He speaks of his painter's experience with enthusiasm in one of his
papers, saying, "One of the most delightful parts of my life was one fine
summer, when I used to walk out of an evening to catch the last light of
the sun, gemming the green slopes of the russet lawns, and gilding tower
or tree, while the blue sky, gradually turning to purple and gold, or
skirted with dusky grey, flung its broad mantle over all, as we see it in
the great master of Italian landscape." Hazlitt abandoned the brush for
the pen when he found that he could not realize his own conceptions, nor
satisfy his own critical judgment; but it is evident from the following
extract that his early art-life was not free from the imputation of being
impecunious. He says, after receiving the money for a portrait he had
finished in great haste for the sake of getting the cash, "I went to
market myself and dined on sausages and mashed potatoes; and, while they
were getting ready, and I could hear them frying in the pan, read a volume
of 'Gil Blas' containing the account of the fair Aurora. This was in the
days of my youth. Do not smile, gentle reader. Neither M. de Verry nor
Louis XVIII. over an oyster _pâte_, nor Apicius himself, ever understood
the meaning of the word luxury better than I did at that moment."

Daniel Maclise--the son of a Scotch cobbler, who had been a soldier and
had settled in Ireland--was sent adrift in the world at a very early age,
and became a bank clerk. In 1828 he came to London, where he succeeded in
getting a studentship in the Royal Academy. The money which enabled him to
do this was earned by a portrait-sketch he made stealthily from Sir Walter
Scott, while the great Wizard of the North was in the shop of a
bookseller, named Bolster. Bolster afterwards saw the sketch, and showed
it to Sir Walter, who, pleased with the lad's talent, attached his
autograph to it. The drawing was lithographed, sold in Bolster's shop, and
with his share of the profit Maclise started himself in his art career.

Poor Benjamin Haydon--odd compound of greatness and littleness, bravery
and cowardice, genius and folly, now patient, now despairing, now bitterly
envious and jealous, and anon sympathetically gleeful over a brother's
triumph--sipped many a cup of bitterness through his constant state of
impecuniosity; which chronic condition, he sorrowfully admits in his
diary, was the result of borrowing, as shown by this extract. "Here began
debt and obligation, out of which I have never been, and never shall be,
extricated as long as I live." Haydon, as I said, was a strange mixture,
and though possessed of a nature truly poetical, he was in some things
wondrously practical; for the bailiffs put into his house he utilized as
models. One sat, he tells us in his diary, "for Cassandra's head, and put
on a Persian bracelet. When the broker came for his money, he burst out
laughing. There was the fellow, an old soldier, pointing in the attitude
of Cassandra, upright, and steady as if on guard. Lazarus's head was
painted just after an arrest: Eucles finished from a man in possession:
the beautiful face in Xenophon in the afternoon after a morning spent in
begging mercy of lawyers: and Cassandra's head was finished in agony not
to be described, and her hand completed from a broker's man."

Sculptors, like artists, have frequently found art a very hard school; and
amongst others of whom this is true may be mentioned Peter Scheemakers,
the master Nollekens studied under. When a youth, so fervent was his
desire to study in Rome, that he actually endured the fatigue of
travelling from Antwerp into Italy on foot. Unfortunately in Denmark he
fell sick, and when again fit for the road, he was compelled to sell his
shirts from his knapsack to procure food; but he was none the less joyous
when, footsore, haggard, and hungry, he at last entered the Eternal City.
This was in 1700. The fine figure of King Edward VI., which used to stand
in the courtyard of St. Thomas's Hospital, was the production of

Another sculptor whose history furnishes something curious in connection
with impecuniosity is John Bacon, who, born in 1740, commenced life as an
ordinary workman in a Lambeth pottery, where he taught himself to paint on
china. Afterwards he went as modeller to Mrs. Coade's artificial stone
manufactory, and when he began to display remarkable talent as a sculptor,
Johnson, who built Berners Street, was very kind to him. He took premises
for him in Newman Street, and told him to start at once in business for
himself. Young Bacon was astonished, and frightened. "How could you do
so?" he exclaimed. "I am not fit for anything of the kind. How can I ever
hope to pay you the money back?" Johnson, however, insisted upon the trial
being made, and said he was quite willing to lose the money if Bacon were
never able to repay him. The result was that Bacon flourished so well
that when his first great benefactor had become a banker in Bond Street,
and feared a serious run upon his house, the sculptor came forward eagerly
to his aid with a loan of forty thousand pounds!

This was truly a freak of fortune, and as a companion picture may be
mentioned a freak of misfortune, which is attributed to Capitsoldi, a
talented sculptor, who came from Italy to this country in the last
century. It is asserted that when he was living in a garret in Warwick
Street, Golden Square, he had no furniture beyond a table and two chairs;
but he painted on the walls a suite of furniture with window curtains,
pictures, and statuary in such excellent perspective, and with such an
aspect of relief and solidity, that the mean apartment actually appeared
to be most handsomely and completely furnished.

To return to our subject--the impecuniosity of artists. The experience of
John Zoffany, R.A., may be cited. He came to England from Frankfort in
1735, and about that time there was a celebrated maker of musical clocks,
named Rimbault, living in Great St. Andrew's Street, who was asked one day
by some one he employed if he could find work for a poor starving artist
who occupied a garret in the same house. Rimbault desired the man to send
him, and Zoffany was ultimately engaged to paint clock faces. A portrait
he painted of Rimbault won him a better engagement of £40 a year as
assistant to a portrait painter named Benjamin Wilson, who was employed by
Garrick, the actor. Garrick, being struck by the sudden and remarkable
improvement which immediately ensued, suspected the truth, and, causing
enquiries to be made, discovered Zoffany, employed him direct, introduced
him to his wealthy friends, and gave him that new start in life which
brought him fame and honour, and made Sir Joshua Reynolds his friend.
Zoffany is now chiefly known in connection with his excellent
character-portraits of famous old actors and actresses.

The last, but by no means the least celebrated of the artists I shall
mention, whose fortunes, or the reverse, have been curiously associated
with lack of means, is James Barry--at whose state funeral in St. Paul's
Churchyard poor Wilkie cut such a queer figure in Haydon's coat. Barry was
as eccentric as he was poor. Unlike Richard Wilson, to display his poverty
was a matter of pride rather than pain; open reproach to those who
neglected his talent, and embittered his life, rather than shame to him.
His house at 36, Castle Street, Oxford Market, was a standing disgrace to
the thoroughfare, every window in it was either cracked or broken, and
part of the roof had fallen in. The iron railing before it was rusty for
want of paint, broken, and sloping partly inward and partly outward; the
doorsteps were cracked and broken, the door thickly coated with mud and
dirt. The room in which he painted had been a carpenter's shop, and the
dust-covered shavings were still in it, while cobwebs hung like thick
dust-coloured drapery from beams and rafter, and were suspended in
festoons from every corner, while here and there the daylight shot long
rays into its dingy, dust-laden atmosphere, through holes where the tiles
had been broken, or had slipped aside. It had a small fireplace just large
enough for the glue-pot it was constructed for, and boasted one
three-legged old deal table, hardly large enough to eat a meal from. Here
he painted, and etched, and printed his own proofs from a little old
printing press; and here he received the Right Honourable Edmund Burke on
that memorable occasion when he was, at his own particular request,
invited to dine with the painter, and take "pot luck."

Barry owed much to the generosity of Burke, who had been one of his
earliest friends and patrons. It is said that he once quarrelled with the
great statesman for attacking the then anonymous work 'An Essay on the
Sublime and Beautiful,' every line of which the young Irish painter, being
unable to buy the book, had copied, and he would entirely have lost
control of his temper if Burke had not with a laugh transformed his rage
into a whirlwind of delight and passionate admiration, by confessing
himself its author.

When Burke arrived, on the evening appointed, at the ruinous, dirty,
shabby house in Castle Street, Barry had altogether forgotten the
appointment. However he ushered him into his studio-wilderness of dust and
cobwebs, gave him a seat, made up the fire, which was smoking, and while
it burnt up, went out to purchase some steak, and brought it in wrapped in
a cabbage leaf. Placing the meat on a gridiron, he spread a towel over the
little round table, and on it placed a couple of plates, a salt-cellar, a
little roll of bread, and a dish, which nearly filled it; then, putting
the tongs into his visitor's hands, bade him turn the steak while he went
out to fetch the beer. He came back quickly, swearing and grumbling at
the wind because it had blown off the frothy head of the stout as he was
crossing Titchfield Street, and produced from his pocket a couple of
bottles of port. The meal was enjoyed, the evening passed merrily; and
Burke afterwards confessed that he had never enjoyed himself more, nor
eaten more heartily, even at the most sumptuous feast.

Owing to his impecunious circumstances, Barry had been accustomed to take
his meals in cookshops and coffee-houses of the cheaper kind; and Angelo
notes as one of his eccentricities his always insisting upon paying for
his meal at coffee or cookshop rate wherever he might chance to feed. On
one occasion he was invited to dine with Sir William Beechy and some noble
guests, and rose at nine o'clock to depart, having as usual placed two
shillings upon the table where he had been sitting. The lively knight, who
knew "his customer," followed him from the dining-room into the hall,
leaving the door of the former open that his friends might hear.

"What are these for?" asked Sir William, presenting the coins.

"How can you put so preposterous a question? For my dinner to be sure,

"But two shillings is not fair compensation, Barry. Surely it was worth a

"Baw-baw, man! You know I never pay more."

"But you have not paid for your wine."

"Shu-shu! If you can't afford it, why do you give it? Painters have no
business with wine."

"Barry," says Angelo, "who boasted of making his dinner on a biscuit and
an apple, had no mercy for those who lessened their means by
self-indulgence. He was once highly indignant with a lord, who when dining
at 'Old Slaughter's' in St. Martin's Lane--a famous resort of artists and
their patrons--had straw laid down before the house to deaden the noise of
passing vehicles."

He used to say, as he may have said on the memorable evening with Burke,
"Half the common dishes would supersede turtle and venison, if your old,
pampered peers and mighty patricians were to peep and peer into their own
cook's pot."



That memory of William Makepeace Thackeray upon which I care least to
dwell is the low estimate he had of men of genius in his own profession.
It may be that this was with him, as it was with Doctor Johnson, a species
of mock modesty; but it is none the less unpleasant for one to remember
who so enthusiastically admires his great works. Men of letters have never
lacked more than enough to slander them and magnify their peccadilloes, to
sneer at their pride, and lower their social status, without finding such
enemies in their own camp. You may remember how, in his lectures on the
English humourists of the last century, Thackeray denied that there was
any lack of goodwill and kindness towards men of genius in this country,
or that they often failed to meet with generous and helping hands in the
time of their necessity. Ignoring all but men of one class (whose follies
and vices were after all those of their age), and painting these in his
darkest colours and most repulsive forms, he asked,--

    "What claim had one of these of whom I have been speaking but genius?
    What return of gratitude, fame, affection, did it not bring to all?
    What punishment befell those who were unfortunate among them but that
    which follows reckless habits and careless lives? For these faults a
    wit must suffer like the dullest prodigal that ever ran in debt. He
    must pay the tailor if he wears the coat; his children must go in rags
    if he spends his money at the tavern; he can't come to London and be
    made Lord Chancellor if he stops on the road and gambles away his last
    shilling at Dublin, and he must pay the social penalty of these
    follies, too, and expect that the world will shun the man of bad
    habits; that women will avoid the man of loose life; that prudent
    folks will close their doors as a precaution, and before a demand
    should be made on their pockets by the needy prodigal."

There is no gainsaying all this, it is so highly respectable, and I would
endorse its application as heartily as those did who once so loudly
applauded it, if (and there is, you know, _much_ virtue in an "if") the
discouragement spoken of had really been awarded to the vices and follies
and not to the genius; whereas it must be patent to all who have studied
the social life of the last century, as Thackeray did, that the direct
reverse of this was the case--that such bad habits and such loose lives
were absolutely the chief conditions upon which the wits of society were
patronised and encouraged. Therefore a degree of hardness and cruelty in
the rigid and virtuous superiority of this great writer, who, happily,
born in a more refined and purer time, so magnifies the vices of the
unfortunate dead, in order to lessen the pity and respect which their
greatness won for them. It is this which I do not like to associate with
the memory of our great novelist.

Poor, half-starved Robert Burns, chained to the oar of impecuniosity,
toiling like a galley-slave, as he said, for the means of supporting his
parents and seizing every spare moment for such intellectual improvement
as was within his reach, had written most of his finest works before the
patronage of the great introduced him to their bacchanalian revels, and
carried him as a wonder, and an extraordinary novelty (a peasant poet),
into the very best Edinburgh society for a season; during which, by dining
out with the noble and great, he ran a serious risk of dying at home
through starvation.

It can hardly be said that eighteenth-century patronage and appreciation
did much for him, or for us. It won him perhaps the dangerous and trying
occupation of exciseman, at a salary of £70 a year: it matured, if it did
not absolutely create, the bad habits which plunged him into pecuniary
cares and difficulties, weakened his intellectual stamina, and destroyed
his self-respect. He was witty, eloquent, amusing, a genius, and a wonder;
but when he ceased to be a novelty, the idol of society was ruthlessly
cast aside, to live or die, any how he could, and we find him copying
music to procure food for himself and those dear to him. Dissipation and
trouble carried him off in the prime of his manhood, and the full maturity
of his genius, when without such patronage as Thackeray believed in,
seemingly, he might have achieved triumphs loftier than those in the full
pride of which every patriot has a share.

An extract from a letter written by Burns to Thomson on the 19th of July,
1796, says:

    "After all my boasted independence, cursed necessity compels me to
    implore you for five pounds. A cruel scoundrel of a haberdasher, to
    whom I owe an account, taking it into his head that I am dying, has
    commenced a process and will infallibly put me in jail. Do for God's
    sake send me that sum, and by return of post. Forgive me this
    earnestness; but the horrors of a jail have made me half disheartened;
    I do not ask all this gratuitously; for upon returning health I
    promise, and engage to furnish you with five pounds' worth of the
    neatest song-genius you have seen."

Robert Bloomfield did not find those generous and helpful friends of
genius whom the imagination of Thackeray created to people the eighteenth
century. He, like Burns, was a farmer's boy, who afterward became a
shoemaker's errand-boy, living in a garret at 7, Fisher's Court, Coleman
Street, in which he and four others, one being his brother, worked, and
slept on "turn-up" beds. There he fetched the dinners from the cookshop,
did the inferior part of the work, and ran errands; taught himself to read
by the aid of borrowed newspapers and a little dictionary, bought for him
at a second-hand stall, for fourpence, by one of his fellow-workers, and
by listening to an eloquent dissenting minister named Fawcett, acquired
the proper pronunciation of words. He began verse-writing at sixteen, and
at that age also began to instruct his brother and his partners in the
Fisher's Court garret (for which they paid five shillings a week), and in
another "parlour next the sky" in Blue Hart Court, Bell Alley, where a
fellow-lodger made him inexpressibly happy by the loan of Milton's
'Paradise Lost' and Thomson's 'Seasons.' When he fell in love with a young
woman named Church, daughter of a boat-builder in the Government Yard at
Woolwich, he sold his most precious possession (to purchase which he had
practised much self-denial), his fiddle, on which he had taught himself to
play. Writing to his brother, he said, "I have sold my fiddle and got a

His brother says, "Like most poor men, he got a wife first, and had to get
household stuff afterwards." It took him some years to get out of ready
furnished lodgings. At length, by hard working, etc., he acquired a bed of
his own, and hired the room up one pair of stairs at 14, Bell Alley,
Coleman Street; and there, as he worked unaided by costly writing
materials, amongst the noise and bustle of seven other workmen who,
conjointly with himself, had hired a garret in the same house as their
work-room, he composed his famous poem 'The Farmer's Boy,' the latter
portion of his 'Autumn,' and the whole of his 'Winter.' Not a line of
either was committed to paper before each was corrected, altered,
improved, and finally completed.

The poet Crabbe was another eighteenth-century genius who failed to find
the generous, ever-ready patronage and friendship, whereof Thackeray said,
"It would hardly be grateful to alter my old opinion that we (men of
letters) do meet with good will and kindness, with generous and helping
hands, in the time of our necessity; with cordial and friendly
recognition." Having failed in his medical practice at Aldborough, in
Suffolk, where, in 1789 he was born, Crabbe borrowed five pounds, and with
that sum came to London. Taking lodgings near the Exchange, he began his
literary career full of hope and vigour. But the booksellers, Dodsley and
Becket, civilly declined his productions; and when he published some poems
cheaply at his own expense his publisher failed; and the poor poet's
little, carefully husbanded money being exhausted, he applied to Lord
North for assistance,--in vain. Then he addressed verses to Lord
Chancellor Thurlow, who said in reply, "his avocations did not leave him
leisure to read verse." For a time he lived by selling his clothes, and
pawning his watch and surgical instruments; then his books were
reluctantly sold, and then debt came, and he was threatened with
imprisonment. In the midst of these anxious cares, fears, and sufferings,
with starvation staring him in the face, he bade the muse a sorrowful
adieu, and sought work as a druggist's assistant. He had but eightpence in
the world when he wrote to Edmund Burke, and himself left the letter at
that eminent statesman's house in Charles Street. Begging letters from
starving poets and literary men were familiar enough in those days, and
Burke received more than his fair share of them. Crabbe has himself told
us how, weary, penniless, and hungry, being afraid to go back to his
lodging, he traversed Westminster Bridge all throughout the night
following the delivery of that letter until daybreak. The letter itself, a
memorable curiosity of impecuniosity, I here append:

    "_To Edmund Burke, Esq._

    "SIR,--I am sensible that I need even your talents to apologize for
    the freedom I now take, but I have a plea which, however simply urged,
    will with a mind like yours, sir, procure me pardon. I am one of those
    outcasts on the world who are without a friend, without employment,
    without bread.

    "Pardon me a short preface. I had a partial father who gave me a
    better education than his broken fortune would have allowed, and a
    better than was necessary, as he could give me that only. I was
    designed for the profession of Physic; but not having the wherewithal
    to complete the necessary studies, the design but served to convince
    me of a parent's affection and the error it had occasioned. In April
    last I came to London with three pounds, and flattered myself this
    would be sufficient to supply me with the common necessaries of life
    till my abilities should procure me more; of these I had the highest
    opinion, and a poetical vanity contributed to my delusion. I knew
    little of the world and had read books only. I wrote, and fancied
    perfection in my compositions; when I wanted bread they promised me
    affluence and soothed me with dreams of reputation, whilst my
    appearance subjected me to contempt. In time reflection and want have
    shown me my mistake. I see my trifles in that which I think the true
    light, and whilst I deem them such have yet the opinion that holds
    them superior to the common run of poetical publications.

    "I had some knowledge of the late Mr. Nassau, the brother of Lord
    Rochford; in consequence of which I asked his lordship's permission to
    inscribe my little work to him, knowing it to be free from all
    political allusions and personal abuse. It was no material point to me
    to whom it was dedicated, his lordship thought it none to him, and
    obligingly consented to my request.

    "I was told a subscription would be the more profitable method for me,
    and therefore endeavoured to circulate copies of the enclosed

    "I am afraid, sir, I disgust you with this very drill narration, but
    believe me punished in the misery that occasions it. You will conclude
    that during this time I must have been at more expense than I could
    afford--indeed, the most parsimonious could not have avoided it. The
    printer deceived me, and my little business has had every delay. The
    people with whom I live perceive my situation and find me to be
    indigent and without friends. About ten days since I was compelled to
    give a note for seven pounds to avoid an arrest for about double that
    sum which I owe. I wrote to every friend I had, but my friends are
    poor likewise; the time of payment approached, and I ventured to
    represent my case to Lord Rochford. I begged to be credited for this
    sum till I received it of my subscribers, which I believe will be
    within one month: but to this letter I had no reply, and I have
    probably offended by my importunity. Having used every honest means in
    vain, I yesterday confessed my inability, and obtained with much
    entreaty and as the greatest favour a week's forbearance, when I am
    positively told that I must pay the money or prepare for a prison.

    "You will guess the purpose of so long an introduction. I appeal to
    you, sir, as a good, and let me add, a great man. I have no other
    pretensions to your favour than that I am an unhappy one. It is not
    easy to support the thought of confinement, and I am coward enough to
    dread such an end to my suspense.

    "Can you, sir, in any degree aid me with propriety?

    "Will you ask any demonstration of my veracity?

    "I have imposed upon myself, but I have been guilty of no other
    imposition. Let me, if possible, interest your compassion. I know
    those of rank and fashion are teased with frequent petitions, and are
    compelled to refuse the requests even of those whom they know to be in
    distress; it is therefore with a distant hope I ventured to solicit
    such favour, but you will forgive me, sir, if you do not think proper
    to relieve. It is impossible that sentiments like yours can proceed
    from any but a humane and generous heart.

    "I will call upon you, sir, to-morrow, and if I have not the happiness
    to obtain credit with you I must submit to my fate. My existence is a
    pain to myself, and every one near and dear to me are distressed in my
    distress. My connections, once the source of happiness, embitter the
    reverse of my fortune, and I have only to hope a speedy end to a life
    so unpromisingly begun, in which (though it ought not to be boasted
    of) I can reap some consolation from looking to the end of it.

        "I am, sir, with the greatest respect,
          "Your obedient and most humble servant,
            "GEORGE CRABBE."

Burke replied immediately, appointing an interview, from which dated the
change in Crabbe's fortune. Money was given to him, apartments provided
for him at Beaconsfield, where he was treated as if he belonged to the
generous statesman's own family,--the very publisher who had refused his
poems was ready enough to publish them when Edmund Burke suggested his
doing so, and even Lord Thurlow gave him a hundred-pound note. Through his
patron's influence the surgeon afterwards became a clergyman and chaplain
to the Duke of Rutland. In 1807 the copyright of Crabbe's poems was sold
for three thousand pounds.

Another article in Thackeray's belief was, that "without necessity," as he
said in _Fraser's Magazine_ (1846), "men of genius would not work at all,
or very little. It does not follow," said he, "that a man would produce a
great work even if he had leisure. Squire Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon
with his land, and his rents, and his arms over the porch, was not the
working Shakespeare; and indolence, or contemplation if you like, is no
unusual quality in literary men."

The reader will find, in my chapter on the "Impecuniosity of Artists," a
curious contrast to this opinion in that expressed by Ruskin, in his
'Political Economy of Art.' Our great art critic draws a touching picture
of the man of genius, toiling painfully through his early years of
obscurity and neglect, yearning vainly for the peace and time requisite
for producing great works. And Sir Bulwer Lytton, writing pathetically of
poor Leman Blanchard, whom Thackeray knew personally, said,--

    "Few men had experienced more to sour them, or had gone through the
    author's hardening ordeal of narrow circumstances, of daily labour,
    and of that disappointment in the higher aims of ambition, which must
    almost inevitably befall those who retain ideal standards of
    excellence _to be reached but by time and leisure_, and who are yet
    compelled to draw hourly upon immatured resources for the practical
    wants of life."

Blanchard's father was a painter and glazier in Southwark, who doubtless
practised no little self-denial to give his son a good education, which
could not but, as Sir Bulwer Lytton said, with a faint tinge of an
old-world prejudice in his words, "unfit young Leman for the calling of
his father;" "for it developed the abilities and bestowed the learning
which may be said to lift a youth morally out of trade, and to refine him
at once into a gentleman." He began life at the desk as a clerk in the
office of Mr. Charles Pearson, a proctor in Doctors' Commons, and soon
began to contribute some promising characteristic sketches to a
publication called _The Drama_. As a clerk, he was not satisfactory nor
satisfied; and his father was about to take him from it, and teach him his
own trade, to avoid which Blanchard tried through the influence of the
actor, Mr. Henry Johnston, to find an opening on the stage. The histrionic
friend, however, painted the miseries and uncertainties of his profession
in such gloomy and terrible colours, that the poor boy's heart sank within
him, and he had turned with despair to obscurity and trade when the
manager of the Margate Theatre offered him an engagement, which he
accepted. "A week," says Mr. Buckstone, who was then on intimate terms
with him, "was sufficient to disgust him with the beggary and drudgery of
the country player's life, and as there was no 'Harlequin' steaming it
from Margate to London Bridge at that day, he performed his journey back
on foot, having on reaching Rochester but his last shilling--the poet's
veritable last shilling--in his pocket."

Buckstone also wrote:

    "At that time a circumstance occurred which my poor friend's fate has
    naturally brought to my recollection. He came to me late one evening
    in a state of great excitement, informed me that his father had turned
    him out of doors, that he was utterly hopeless and wretched, and was
    resolved to destroy himself. I used my best endeavours to console him,
    to lead his thoughts to the future, and hope in what chance and
    perseverance might effect for him. Our discourse took a livelier turn,
    and after making up a bed on a sofa in my own room I retired to rest.
    I soon slept soundly, but was awakened by hearing a footstep
    descending the stairs. I looked towards the sofa and discovered he had
    left it. I heard the street-door close. I instantly hurried on my
    clothes and followed him. I called to him, but received no answer. I
    ran till I saw him in the distance, also running. I again called his
    name, I implored him to stop, but he would not answer me. Still
    continuing his pace, I became alarmed, and doubled my speed. I came up
    to him near Westminster Bridge; he was hurrying to the steps leading
    to the river. I seized him, he threatened to strike me if I did not
    release him. I called for the watch, I entreated him to return; he
    became more pacified, but still seemed anxious to escape from me. By
    entreaties, by every means of persuasion I could think of, by threats
    to call for help, I succeeded in taking him back."

After that desperate attempt, Blanchard obtained work as a printer's
reader with Messrs. Bayliss, of Fleet Street.

Thackeray summed up his poor friend's condition at this time thus briefly:

    "The young fellow, forced to the proctor's desk, quite angry with the
    drudgery, theatre-stricken, poetry-stricken, writing dramatic sketches
    in Barry Cornwall's manner, spouting 'Leonidas' before a manager,
    driven away starving from home, penniless and full of romance,
    courting his beautiful young wife.... Then there comes that pathetic
    little outbreak of despair, when the poor young fellow is nearly
    giving up, his father banishes him, no one will buy his poetry, he has
    no chance on his darling theatre, no chance of the wife that he is
    longing for. Why not finish life at once? He has read 'Werter,' and
    can understand suicide. 'None,' he says in a sonnet,

        'None, not the hoariest sage, may tell of all
        The strong heart struggles, wills, before it fall.'

    If respectability wanted to point a moral, isn't there one here?
    Eschew poetry--avoid the theatre--stick to your business--do not read
    German novels--do not marry at twenty: and yet the young poet marries
    at twenty in the teeth of poverty and experience, labours away not
    unsuccessfully, puts Pegasus into harness, rises in social rank and
    public estimation, brings up happily an affectionate family, gets for
    himself a circle of the warmest friends, and thus carries on for
    twenty years, when a providential calamity visits him and the poor
    wife almost together, and removes them both."

The "providential calamity" came in the beginning of 1844, when Mrs.
Blanchard, the most tenderly-loving of wives, and a devoted mother, was
attacked by paralysis, which affected the brain, and terminated in
madness, speedily followed by death. Partial paralysis seized her husband,
and in a burst of delirium, "having his little boy in bed by his side, and
having said the Lord's prayer but a short time before, he sprang out of
bed in the absence of his nurse (whom he had besought not to leave him),
and made away with himself with a razor.... At the very moment of his
death his friends were making the kindest and most generous exertions on
his behalf." Thackeray, whom I have quoted, adds: "Such a noble, loving,
and generous creature is never without such. The world, it is pleasant to
think, is always a good and gentle world to the gentle and good, and
reflects the benevolence with which they regard it." This is comfortable
doctrine, and I would I were sure of its truthfulness. I wonder what poor
Gerald Griffin would have said of it in the year 1825, when he was
residing at 15, Paddington Street, Regent's Park, London, and, writing to
his mother in Ireland, said:

    "Until within a short time back I have not had, since I left Ireland,
    a single moment's peace of mind; constantly running backwards and
    forwards, and trying a thousand expedients, only to meet
    disappointments everywhere I turned.... I never will think or talk
    upon the subject again. It was such a year that I did not think it
    possible I could have outlived, and the very recollection of it puts
    me into the horrors.... When I first came to London my own
    self-conceit, backed by the opinion of one of the most original
    geniuses of the age, induced me to set about revolutionising the
    dramatic taste of the time by writing for the stage. Indeed, the
    design was formed and the first step taken (a couple of pieces
    written) in Ireland. I cannot with my present experience conceive
    anything more comical than my own views and measures at that time. A
    young gentleman totally unknown even to a single family in London
    coming into town with a few pounds in one pocket, and a brace of
    tragedies in the other, supposing that the one will set him up before
    the others are exhausted, is not a very novel, but a very laughable
    delusion. I would weary you, or I would carry you through a number of
    curious scenes into which it led me. Only imagine the model young
    Munsterman spouting his tragedy to a roomful of literary ladies and
    gentlemen; some of high consideration. The applause, however, of that
    circle on that night was sweeter, far sweeter, to me then than would
    be the bravos of a whole theatre at present, being united at the time
    to the confident anticipation of it."

The result was his introduction to a manager--all the actors were eager to
introduce him to their managers, and to one he went.

    "He," continues poor Griffin, "let down the pegs that made my
    music.... He was very polite, talked, and chatted about himself, and
    Shiel, and my excellent friend Banim. He kept my play four months,
    wrote me some nonsensical apologies about keeping it so long, and cut
    off to Ireland, leaving orders to have it sent to my lodgings without
    any opinion. I was quite surprised at this, and the more so that
    Banim, who is one of the most successful dramatic writers, at the same
    time saying, what indeed I found every person who had the least
    theatric knowledge join in, that I acted most unwisely in putting a
    play into an actor's hands. It was then that I set about writing for
    those weekly publications, all of which, except the _Literary
    Gazette_, cheated me most abominably. Then finding this to be the
    case, I wrote for the great magazines. My articles were generally
    inserted, but on calling for payment, seeing that I was but a poor
    inexperienced devil, there was so much shuffling and shabby work, that
    it disgusted me, and I gave up the idea of making money that way. I
    now lost heart for everything, got into the cheapest lodging I could
    make out, and there worked on, rather to divert my mind from the
    horrible gloom that I felt growing on me, in spite of myself, than
    with any hope of being remunerated. This, and the recollection of the
    expense I had put William to, and the fears that every moment became
    conviction that I should never be able to fulfil his hopes, or my own
    expectations, all came pressing together upon my mind and made me
    miserable. A thousand and a thousand times I wished that I could lie
    down quietly and die at once, and be forgotten for ever. I can
    describe to you my state of mind at this time. It was not an indolent
    despondency, for I was working hard as I am now, and it is only
    receiving money for the labour of those dreadful hours. I used not to
    see a face that I knew, and after sitting writing all day, when I
    walked in the streets in the evening, it actually seemed to me as if I
    was a different species altogether from the people about me. The fact
    was, from pure anxiety alone, I was more than half dead, and would
    most certainly have given up the ghost, I believe, were it not that by
    the merest accident on earth the library friend (Mr. Forster), who had
    procured me the unfortunate introduction a year before, dropped in one
    evening to have a talk with me. I had not seen him, nor anybody else
    that I knew, for some months, and he frightened me by saying I looked
    like a ghost. In a few days, however, a publisher of his acquaintance
    had got me some things to do, works to arrange, regulate, and revise,
    so he asked me if I would devote a few hours in the middle of every
    day to the purpose for £50 a year. I did so, and among other things
    which I got to revise was a weekly fashionable journal."

In this letter to his mother he said nothing of being without the
commonest necessaries of life, of being ashamed to go out by daylight
because his clothes were so shabby, of passing entire days without
food--on one occasion no less than three.

There was in poor old Gerald Griffin no signs of that "indolence, or
contemplation if you like," which Thackeray considered "no unusual quality
in the literary man." With despair in his heart he still wrote on, simply
because the labour in which he had delight physicked the pains of
impecuniosity. But it was not under such conditions that even Griffin did
his best work.

Mr. R. P. Gillies, in his 'Memoirs of a Literary Veteran,' tells how, when
he was contemplating work of a higher and more ambitious character than he
had then attempted, "in consequence of domestic anxieties little or
nothing was accomplished." He merely built some grand literary castles in
the air (for which he was ridiculed in the 'Noctes Ambrosianæ,' under the
name of "Kempferhausen"); but he says: "There were some awkward conditions
attached to the basis of my aerial structures; for example, I must have
unbroken tranquillity like that of an anchoret. There must be no shadow on
the mind of worldly cares and perturbation, otherwise the spells would be
broken." Bread was his incentive to work, but it was the hack work of
which Scott so bitterly complained, not the great work he yearned to
accomplish, and could not for want of "peace and time."

The above allusion is to Sir Walter in the zenith of his fame when,
through "long-winded" publishers' money being in immediate demand, he
contemplated abandoning original fiction for the more rapid work of
compilation. He wanted that to secure not only bread, but the peace and
time which in common with Ruskin he thought essential to the production of
great work; and he wrote in his diary, under the date December 18th, 1825:
"The general knowledge that an author must write for bread, at least for
improving his pittance, degrades him and his productions in the public
eye. He falls into the second rank of estimation,

  "'When the harness sore galls, and the spurs his sides goad,
  And the high-mettled racer's a hack on the road.'

It is a bitter thought, but, if tears start, let them flow."

Thackeray, despite his self-satisfying opinion about the world's being
always "so good and gentle" to the "gentle and good," here held Sir
Walter's opinion, for under the signature of Michael Angelo Titmarsh,
Esq., he wrote:

    "Our calling is only sneered at because it is not well paid. The world
    has no other criterion for respectability. In Heaven's name, what made
    the people talk of setting up a statue to Sir William Follet? What had
    he done? He had made thirty thousand pounds!... Directly the men of
    letters get rich they will come in for their share of honour too; and
    a future writer in this miscellany (Fraser's) may be getting his
    guineas where we get one, and dining at Buckingham Palace while you
    and your humble servant, dear Padre Francisco, are glad to smoke our
    pipes over the sanded floor of the little D----."

Sir Walter Scott's opinion of writing under peaceful and under troublous
circumstances was also shown in the following entry, under the same date
as the above. It runs as follows:

    "Poor T. S. called again yesterday. Through his incoherent miserable
    tale I could see that he had exhausted each access to credit, and yet
    fondly imagines that, bereft of all his accustomed indulgences, he can
    work with a literary zeal unknown to his happier days. I hope he may
    labour enough to gain the mere support of his family."

Poverty is not, however, always fatal to the highest efforts of genius,
even if it be not essential as an incentive to work; and there is often
found in "the labour we delight in" that which "physics pain" (as
Shakespeare said), even the pains of impecuniosity. Goldoni, speaking of
his dramatic writings and consequent poverty, says, "Though in any other
situation I might have been in easier circumstances, I should never have
been so happy;" and who can doubt the happiness of the illustrious Linnæus
when he was wandering a-foot with his stylus, magnifying-glass and baskets
of plants, sharing the peasants' rustic meals and homely shelter, when he
gave his own name to the little Lapland flower now called the Linnæus
Borealis, because it reminded him of his own position, being "a little
northern plant, flowering early, depressed, abject, and long overlooked"?

Rousseau, writing of his works and life, says:

    "It was in a small garret in the new street of St. Etienne du Mont,
    where I resided four years in the midst of physical suffering and
    domestic trouble, that I enjoyed the most exquisite pleasure of my
    life, that of writing and publishing my 'Studies of Nature.'"

The _Quarterly Review_ (vol. viii.), comparing the writer who goes to his
work in a spirit of love for it, and pride in it, with him who labours at
it merely for the money it produces, says: "The one is like a thirsty hart
that comes joyously to refresh itself at the water-brooks, and the other
to the same beast panting and jaded with the dogs of hunger and necessity

When Olivet presented his elaborate edition of Cicero to the public, he
said the glory and pleasure he had received in producing it were all he
required by way of remuneration; money he refused. Pieresc, one of the
most liberal and generous of men, although his fortune was a small one,
loved learning only for its own sweet sake, and was never so happy as he
was when shut up in his study amongst his books and MSS. "A literary man's
true wealth," said he, "consists in works of art, the treasures of a
library, and the affections of his fellow-students." Lord Wodehouse, when
re-writing his 'Lectures on History,' said: "The task rewarded him with
that peculiar delight which has often been observed in the latter years of
literary men, the delight of returning again to the studies of their youth
and of feeling under the snows of age the cheerful memories of their
spring." Petrarch, writing of himself to a friend, said, "I read, I write,
I think; such is my life and my pleasures as they were in my youth."

Beranger, when he was living on the fifth story in the Boulevard St.
Martin, "without money and with no certain prospect for the future," as he
himself said, had installed himself in his garret "with inexpressible
satisfaction" because, as he wrote, "To live alone and to compose verses
at my leisure appeared to me the very summit of felicity." Speaking in the
spirit of his "sky parlour," he said: "What a beautiful prospect I enjoyed
from its window! What delight I had to sit there in the evening hovering
as it were over the immense city, from which a loud, hoarse murmur
incessantly ascended, especially when there blended with it the noise and
tumult of some great storm." But there were two sides to this life, and
time revealed both. With peace and time, bread and cheese and dreams of
glory, the poet was content and happy, even when thin and pale; he grew
every day so weak that his father used to say frequently, "I shall soon
bury you." But he was not dismayed, but starved and wrote on placidly
enough until the fear of the conscription fell upon him. But even then, as
he tells us, Providence befriended him and out of evil brought good. He
says: "I was bald at twenty-three in consequence, as I suppose, of
continuous headaches. When the gendarmes came in search for conscripts I
removed my hat. They looked at my bald head and were satisfied. They went
away without me."

Again he writes in his fragmentary autobiography:

    "Fortune at last suffered herself to be touched by my sorrows. Three
    years had I been vainly seeking some humble form of employment, when,
    urged by a terrible necessity in the beginning of 1804, I sent a
    letter and verses to M. Lucien Bonaparte. My gold watch had been long
    where I left it pledged at the Mont de Piété. My wardrobe had dwindled
    to three old patched and often mended shirts, a threadbare overcoat
    also carefully adorned with patches, with one pair of trousers with a
    newly discovered hole in the knee, and a pair of boots which filled me
    with despair whenever I cleaned them, they grew so rapidly worse. I
    had posted to M. Bonaparte four or five hundred verses, and had told
    no one that I had done so, so many applications had been fruitless."

One day, while sitting in his garret, needle in hand, eyeing lugubriously
the rent in his trousers, and thinking over some bitter misanthropical
verses which he was then writing, a letter was brought to him. It seemed a
letter of consequence--the handwriting was strange. Trembling with
excitement, he broke the seal. Joy! joy! joy! The Senator Bonaparte
desired to see him!

"It was not," he wrote, "my fortune that I first thought of, but Glory! My
eyes were full of tears, and I thanked God, whom in my moments of
prosperity I never forgot."

And yet of such men as these Thackeray wrote: "Bread is the main
incentive. Do not let us try to blink this fact or imagine that the men of
the press are working for their honour and glory or go onward impelled by
the inevitable afflatus of genius."

The elder Disraeli, who said, "Great authors sustain their own genius by a
sense of their own glory," when Dr. Johnson expressed views on this
subject according to some extent with Thackeray's, called them
"commercial, agricultural, and manufacturing views of human nature," and
complained that they lowered genius to the level of a machine, only to be
set in action by a force exterior to itself.

But doctors disagree, and opinions on every subject always differ. As
mentioned by me elsewhere, one of the first poets who tried to live by his
pen was Robert Greene, whose melancholy story is one of the most degrading
and painful passages in literary biography. He lived in the days of good
Queen Bess, and has left his own records of forlorn and miserable
experience. Isaac Disraeli calls him "the great patriarch and primeval
dealer in English literature, the most facetious, profligate, and
indefatigable of the Scribleri family." Quaint Anthony Wood, sneering at
him and his entire fraternity, as he often did, said, "He wrote to
maintain his wife and that high, loose course of living which poets
generally follow;" one accusation being about as true as the other, for so
far from maintaining his wife, he shamefully deserted both her and her
child, leaving her foodless; and the Elizabethan poets are said on the
whole to have been thrifty, god-fearing men, leading sober and steady
lives. Charles Knight wrote of him as one who was made desperate and
reckless by wrongs and neglect, but the pamphlet he wrote called 'The
Repentance of Robert Greene, Master of Arts,' taken with his other
confession, shows him to have been, as Mr. A. H. Wall said (in his 'Poets
and Players of Shakespeare's Time'), "an entirely bad and worthless
fellow, who disgusted his fellow-poets of the Bankside, and plunged into
such disgraceful excesses that he became shunned and contemned by them,
finding a welcome nowhere but in the lowest haunts of vice and
profligacy." This was the man who fell foul of his fellow-players and the
player-poets, calling them "apes," "rude grooms," "buckram gentlemen," and
"painted monsters," who attacked young Shakespeare when he was dressing
up, improving, and re-writing old plays, "as an upstart crow, beautified
with our feathers," and aroused our great bard's many friends to anger and
indignation by saying he had "a tiger's heart wrapped in a player's hide,
and was a bad actor, conceited enough to suppose himself as well able to
bombast out a blank verse as the best, one who was vain enough to imagine
himself an absolute Johannes Factotum, the only Shakespeare in the
country:" accusations which even Henry Cheetle, who was concerned in their
publication, afterwards denounced as slanderous and spiteful, saying, "I
am as sorry as if the original fault had been my fault, because myself
hath seen his (Shakespeare's) demeanour no less civil than he is excellent
in the quality he professes, besides divers of worship have reported his
uprightness of dealing, which argues his honesty, and his facetious grace
in writing that approves his art."

Greene spent his time now in debauchery and drunkenness, now homeless,
penniless, and starving, one extreme following the other with fearful
frequency and rapidity. A contemporary poet, Gabriel Harvey, wrote of him
as follows:

    "Who in London hath not heard of his (Greene's) dissolute and
    licentious living, his fond disguisinge of a Master of Arts with
    ruffianly hair, unseemly apparel, and more unseemly company, of his
    vaine glorious and Thrasonicall brassinge; his piperly extemporising
    and Tarletonizing; his apeish counterfeiting of every ridiculous and
    absurd toy ... hys villainous cogging and foisting, his monstrous
    swearinge and horrible forswearing, his impious profaning of sacred
    textes; his other scandalous and blasphemous ravinge: his riotous and
    outrageous surfeitinge: his continual shifting of lodgings; his
    plausable musteringe and banquettynge of roysterly acquaintance at his
    first comminge; his beggarly departing in every hostesses debt; his
    infamous resorting to the Banckside, Shoreditch, Southwarke, and other
    filthy haunts; his obscure lurkinge in basest corners; his pawning of
    his sword, cloake, and what not, when money came short?" etc.

a catalogue of monstrous crimes, vices, and follies (which fills page
after page) fully borne out by Greene's own confessions.

He wrote of himself,

  "In prime of youth a rose, in age a weed,
  That for a minute's joy payes endless meed."

His last letter to the poor Lincolnshire lady whom he married, ill-used,
and cruelly abandoned, was dated from a squalid lodging in Dowgate, where
he died of want and disease. It ran as follows:

    "Doll, I charge thee by the love of our youth and by my soules rest
    that thou wilt see this man (the shoemaker) paide; for if hee and his
    wife had not succoured me I had died in the streetes.

        "ROBERT GREENE."

Doll was the amiable and worthy woman to whom he had previously written:

    "The remembrance of many wrongs offered thee and thy unreproved
    virtues add greater sorrow to my miserable state than I can utter or
    thou conceive, neither is it lessened by consideration of thy absence
    (though shame would hardly let me behold thy face) but exceedingly

Akin in character to Greene was John Skelton, a popular poet in the reign
of the seventh Henry, and King Henry the Eighth's poet laureate, who wrote
of himself:

  "A King to me mine habit gave
  At Oxford the University,
  Advanced I was to that degree:
  By whole consent of their Senate,
  I was made Poet Laureate."

The title being then a university degree, and the habit a robe of white
and green, embroidered in silk and gold. He took holy orders in 1498, and,
as old Anthony Wood said, "having been guilty of many crimes, as most
poets are," Bishop Wykke suspended him from his benefice. In 1501 he was
in prison for marrying and keeping a mistress, "a crime amongst the clergy
of the Romish persuasion both in those days and these," says Cibber, "more
subjected to punishment than adultery." He was a fierce and bitter
assailant of the clergy, the Dominicans, and Cardinal Wolsey. Many of his
productions were never printed, but were chanted at markets and fairs, in
village ale-houses, and in the streets by itinerant ballad-singers, who
learned them by heart and sent them abroad like floating seeds borne
hither and thither by the vagrant winds. The author of the 'Lives of the
Laureates' said of this poet: "The brief glance we have of him, the
scholar and the buffoon, a priest with his married concubine and
bastardized children, mocking, half in anger half in jest, or it might be
in the wantonness of sorrow, at the falsehoods by which he was surrounded,
may justly awaken our sympathy nor fail to suggest a moral."

The misfortunes of poor Spenser I have referred to in dealing with the sad
side of the subject, but another of the laureates who tasted the full
bitterness of poverty was Ben Jonson, who began life as a bricklayer,
became a soldier, and a brave one too, abandoned arms to tread the stage,
and strolled about the country, trudging beside the waggon containing the
players' scenes, and "properties," many a weary mile. From acting plays he
took to writing plays, the two arts being then more intimately and nobly
associated than they ever have been since, for the stage has fallen out of
the hands of poets and players into those of showmen and buffoons. He was
married and had a son, to whom some of the players stood sponsors.
Shakespeare, it is traditionally said, was one of them, and what his
necessities were may be readily guessed from the entry in Henslowe's diary
preserved at Dulwich College, in which small sums are entered as advanced
to Ben Jonson for work he was then doing. A story is related of how he
came, after many other vain efforts, to the Globe Theatre on the Bankside
with his play of _Every Man in His Humour_, which after the manager had
superficially glanced at he coldly returned as unsuitable. Shakespeare, it
is said, stood by, and noting, we presume, the melancholy and despairing
way in which his future dear friend and rival turned to leave the theatre,
spoke to him, begging leave to read his play, with which he was so well
pleased that he brought about its acceptance. Poverty haunted Ben with
more or less closeness all through his career (often it must be confessed
through the extravagance of his hospitality to brother poets) and was, it
is said, sadly too intimate with him when he died. When sick in 1629,
Charles I., who had been generous to him, being supplicated in his favour,
sent him ten guineas, of which mean gift Smollett says, Jonson spoke as
follows to the messenger of whom he received it:

"His Majesty has sent me ten guineas because I am poor and live in an
alley. Go and tell him his soul lives in an alley."

Jonson died on the 6th August, 1637, having long outlived his wife and all
his children.

It is curious still to note how many of our literary lions began to make
their way in the world, as Jonson did, on the stage. It was so with
William Leman Rede, who, starting as an actor at Margate (the Margate
boards formed indeed the porch through which a very large number of
histrionic aspirants entered the theatrical profession), became an
itinerant actor, at one time playing Hamlet in a barn and at another Rover
on a billiard-table; sometimes foodless and hungry, travelling on foot and
sometimes luxuriating in a waggon, but always light-hearted and gay. Once
when he was laughing merrily at the plight he was in on a "treasury day,"
when, in the phraseology of the profession, "the ghost didn't walk," that
is to say when there was no money in hand to pay the actors' salaries,
some one asked how he continued to be jolly under such miserably
depressing circumstances. He replied, "I drink spring water and dance."
Rede was always a sober, abstemious man. Coming to London in 1825, he
published his first novel, 'The Wedded Wanderer,' which was followed by a
second, 'The White Tower,' each in three volumes. This was followed by
his 'Crimes and Criminals in Yorkshire,' and his connection with a weekly
publication belonging to his brother Thomas, called _Oxberry's Dramatic
Biography_--Thomas having married the widow of Oxberry the comedian, by
whom the serial had been started.

As actor, magazine writer, dramatist, journalist and novelist Rede
acquired fame but not wealth. One evening he was arrested for debt while
acting on the stage, by a sheriff's officer, who sprang from the pit over
the orchestra and footlights to secure his prisoner. Rede originated the
Dramatic Authors' Society.

Sheridan, to whom I have previously alluded, was another famous literary
man familiar with the boards and--need I say?--with impecuniosity. He was,
according to Haydon, "in debt all round to milkman, grocer, baker, and
butcher. Sometimes his wife would be kept waiting for an hour or more
while the servants were beating up the neighbourhood for coffee, butter,
eggs and rolls. While Sheridan was Paymaster of the Navy, a butcher one
day brought a leg of mutton; the cook took it and clapped it in the pot to
boil and went upstairs for the money, but the cook not returning, the
butcher removed the pot-lid, took out the mutton, and walked away with
it." On another occasion Michael Kelly, the musical celebrity, was
complaining to him of a wine merchant at Hochheim who instead of six dozen
of wine had sent him sixteen. Sheridan said he would take some off his
hands if he were not quite able to pay for it, but, said he, "you can get
rid of it easily, put up a sign over your door and write on it, 'Michael
Kelly, Composer of Wines and Importer of Music;'" a sly rub which the
composer received with a laugh, wittily retorting that there was one wine
so poisonous and intoxicating that he would neither compose nor import,
and that was "Old Sherry" (Sheridan's nickname).

One night when Sheridan was at home in a cottage he had about a mile from
Hounslow Heath, his son Tom asked him for some cash. "Money, I have none,"
was the reply.

"But let the consequences be what they may, money I must have," said Tom

"In that case, my dear Tom," said the father, "you will find a case of
loaded pistols upstairs and a horse ready saddled in the stable, the night
is dark and you are within half a mile of Hounslow Heath"--a place of
terrible repute for highway robbers.

"I understand," said Tom, "but I tried that before I came to you.
Unluckily the man I stopped was Peake, your treasurer, and he told me that
you had been beforehand with him and robbed him of every sixpence he had
in the world."

Kelly saw many instances of Sheridan raising money, but one instance in
particular astonished him. Sheridan was £3000 in arrear with the Italian
Opera performance; there were continual postponements, and at last the
singers resolved to strike. Kelly, as manager, received a note that on the
evening of a certain day they would not sing unless paid, and hurried off
to Morlands, the bankers in Pall Mall, for advances. The bankers were
inexorable; like the singers, they were worn out. The manager then flew
off to Sheridan at his residence in Hertford Street, Mayfair, where he was
kept waiting two hours. Sheridan was told that if he could not raise £3000
the theatre must be closed. "£3000, Kelly," he said; "there is no such sum
in nature. Are you an admirer of Shakespeare?"

"To be sure I am," said Kelly, "but what has Shakespeare to do with £3000
or the Italian singers?"

"There is one passage in Shakespeare," said Sherry, "which I have always
admired particularly, and it is where Falstaff says, 'Master Robert
Shallow, I owe you £1000.' 'Yes, Sir John,' says Shallow, 'which I beg you
will let me take home with me.' 'That may not so easily be, Master Robert
Shallow,' replies Falstaff. And so say I unto thee, Master Michael Kelly,
to get £3000 may not so easy be."

Kelly answered that there was no alternative then but to close the
theatre. Sheridan made Kelly ring the bell and have a Hackney coach
called, then sat down quite at his ease and read the newspaper. Kelly was
in an agony. The coach arrived, Sheridan requested Kelly to get into it,
and went with him. The coach was driven to Morlands' banking-house--Kelly
remained in the coach bewildered. In a quarter of an hour Sherry came out
of the bank with the required sum in bank notes. Kelly never knew how it
was obtained. Sherry told Kelly to take the money to the theatre, but to
save enough out of it for a barrel of oysters, which he, Sheridan, would
partake of that night at Kelly's lodgings in Suffolk Street.

On another occasion Kelly and Sheridan were one day in conversation close
to the gate of the path which was then open to the public, leading across
the churchyard of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, from King Street to Henrietta
Street. Holloway, a creditor of Sherry's, went by on horseback. He spoke
to Sherry in loud and angry tones, complaining that he could never get
admittance at Sheridan's house, and vowed vengeance on François, Sherry's
valet, if he did not let him in next time he called in Hertford Street.
Holloway was in a passion; Sherry, who knew he was vain of his judgment of
horseflesh, took no notice of the angry boast of Holloway, and burst into
exclamations of rapture on Holloway's steed. Holloway was softened, and
said his horse was one of the prettiest of creatures. Would not Mrs.
Sheridan like to have one like it?

"She would if he could canter well," said Sheridan.

"Beautifully," said Holloway.

"Perhaps I should not mind stretching a point for such a one. Will you
have the kindness to let me see his paces?"

"To be sure," said the lawyer.

The action was suited to the word, and Sherry cut off through the
churchyard, where no horse could follow. In spite of his many faults, his
utter unscrupulousness in money-matters being not the least, it is
particularly pleasant to refer to one of the incidents at the close of his
career which reveals a delightful little bit of sentiment and good
feeling, of which many of his detractors would have us think he was
incapable. When his goods were taken in execution in Hertford Street,
Mayfair, Paston, the sheriff's officer, said that if there was any
particular article upon which he set affectionate value, he might secrete
or carry it off from the premises.

"Thank you, my generous fellow," said Sheridan. "No, let all go--affection
and sentiment in my situation are quite out of the question. But," said
he, recollecting himself, "there is one thing which I wish to have."

"What is it?" said Paston, expecting him to name some cabinet or piece of

"Don't be alarmed," said Sheridan, "it is only this old book, worth all
others in the world, and to me of special value, because it belonged to my
father, and was the favourite of my first wife."

Paston looked into it, and it was a dogs'-eared edition of Shakespeare.

Another great man in the literary and histrionic professions, the
novelist, Fielding, although of an aristocratic stock, and liberally
educated, began life almost without pecuniary resources. He came before
the public first in 1725, and in succession was a showman at Bartholomew
and other fairs, the owner of a booth for theatrical performances, at one
time set up in George Yard, from which he found his way to the regular
boards. In spite of being the son of a general, and the great grandson of
an earl, his impecuniosity was often great, although he met his
difficulties with the light-hearted gaiety of a Sheridan, and the careless
imprudence of a Goldsmith.

Once, when in Ireland, he got into disgrace through giving a dancing-party
at his rooms; sold his books the next day, ran away from college, loafed
about Dublin till only a shilling was left, and then went to Cork. There
he lived three days on the shilling, and said afterwards the most
delicious meal he ever tasted was a handful of grey peas, given him by a
girl at a wake, after twenty-four hours' fasting.

Poor Oliver Goldsmith must, of course, have his place in this chapter, for
from the time when he wrote street ballads to save himself from starving,
and was delighted to hear them sung, to when he started on "the grand
tour," alone and friendless, with one spare shirt, a flute, and a guinea
in his pocket, to the last scene of hopeless insolvency in which he died,
his life was one long, hard struggle against pecuniary difficulties. When
his relatives raised £50 to send him to London to study, he spent and
gambled all away, and got no farther than Dublin. The result of his wildly
rash act of going abroad so ill provided he has himself described. In a
foreign land, when without money, he turned to his flute as a last
resource, and whenever he approached a peasant's cottage towards
nightfall, he played one of his merriest tunes, and so generally contrived
to win a shelter for the night, and some food for his next day's journey.
In this way he passed through Flanders, parts of France, Germany and
Switzerland, reaching Padua at last; remaining there six months to secure
his medical degree. Returning in 1756, and failing to find employment, he
was at last taken in by a chemist by way of charity, and to preserve him
from starvation. His friend, Dr. Sleigh, next befriended him, and then he
became usher to Dr. Milner's school in Peckham. Soon after he found
literary employment, and took a lodging at No. 12, Green Arbour Court, in
the Old Bailey--a miserable, dirty room, with but one chair. He did not
emerge from this squalid, dismal abode until 1760, when improved
circumstances enabled him to lodge in Wine Office Court, Fleet Street,
where he received his friends with a freedom and hospitality which soon
reduced his means to the level of impecuniosity. Here he first met Dr.
Johnson, who became his dearest friend and best adviser.

Johnson has described how he received one morning a message from poor
Goldsmith, to the effect that he was in great distress, and as it was not
in his power to go to the Doctor, begging that the Doctor would come to
him as soon as possible.

    "I sent him a guinea," says Johnson, "and promised to come to him
    directly. I accordingly went as soon as I was dressed, and found that
    his landlady had arrested him for rent, at which he was in a violent
    passion. I perceived that he had already changed my guinea, and had
    got a bottle of Madeira and a glass before him. I put the cork into
    the bottle, desired he would be calm, and began to talk to him of the
    means by which he might be extricated. He then told me that he had a
    novel ready for the press, which he produced to me. I looked into it
    and saw its merits, and told the landlady I should soon return, and,
    having gone to a bookseller, sold it for £60. I brought Goldsmith the
    money, and he discharged his rent, not without rating his landlady for
    having used him so ill."

The novel thus sold was the 'Vicar of Wakefield,' and its purchaser,
Francis Newberry, the bookseller, who kept it unprinted for two years,
when its author's 'Traveller,' having appeared and proved successful, the
novel was published (in March 1766) and in a month reached a second

In Forster's 'Life of Goldsmith,' the following account of his earliest
state of penury has no little romantic interest:--

    "It was," says the author of that famous work, "a year and a half
    after he had entered college, at the commencement of 1747, his father
    suddenly died. The scanty sums required for his support had often been
    intercepted; but this stopped them altogether. It may have been the
    least and most trifling loss connected with that sorrow; but 'squalid
    poverty,' relieved by occasional gifts, according to his small means,
    from Uncle Contarine, by petty loans from Bryanton or Beatty, or by
    desperate pawning of his books of study, was Goldsmith's lot
    henceforward. Yet even in the depths of that despair arose the
    consciousness of faculties reserved for better fortune than continual
    contempt and failure. He would write street ballads to save himself
    from actual starving; sell them at the Reindeer repository in
    Mountrath Court for five shillings apiece, and steal out of the
    college at night to hear them sung.

    "Happy night, to him worth all the dreary days! Hidden by some dusky
    wall, or creeping within darkling shadows of the ill-lighted streets,
    this poor neglected sizar watched, waited, lingered, listened there,
    for the only effort of his life which had not wholly failed. Few and
    dull perhaps the beggar's audience at first, but more thronging,
    eager, and delighted as he shouted forth his newly-gotten ware;
    cracked enough, I doubt not, were those ballad singing tunes; nay,
    harsh, extremely discordant, and passing from loud to low without
    meaning or melody; but not the less did the sweetest music which this
    earth affords fall with them on the ear of Goldsmith. Gentle faces,
    pleased old men, stopping by the way; young lads, venturing a purchase
    with their last remaining farthing; why here was a world in little
    with its fame at the sizar's feet! 'The greater world will be
    listening one day,' perhaps he muttered as he turned with a lighter
    heart to his dull home."

Johnson's sympathy with Goldsmith was, no doubt, warmed and quickened by
the remembrance of his own early struggles with the foul fiend
impecuniosity. He remembered well enough his first London lodging in
Exeter Street, Strand, when, as he said, "I dined very well for
eightpence, with very good company, at the Pine Apple in New Street fast
by. Several of them had travelled, they expected to meet every day; but
they did not know one another's names. It used to cost the rest a
shilling, for they drank wine; but I had a cut of meat for sixpence, and
bread for a penny, so that I was quite well served, nay, better than the
rest, for they gave the waiter nothing."

Johnson used to relate of an Irish painter, that he, the painter,
practically realised a theory that £30 a year was enough to enable a man
to live there without being contemptible. He allowed £10 for clothes and
linen. He said, "A man might live in a garret at eighteen pence a week.
Few people would inquire where he lodged; and if they did it was easy to
say, 'Sir, I am to be found at such a place.' By spending threepence in a
coffee-house, he might be for some hours in very good company; he might
dine for sixpence, breakfast on bread and milk for a penny, and do without
supper. On clean shirt day he could go abroad and pay visits."

I have already quoted the Doctor's views on the subject of impecuniosity,
and this reminds me of a very suggestive incident of his life, which
perhaps will prove better than anything else the non-desirability of want
of means. It is unquestionable that in his marvellous dictionary, there
are parts that are much superior to others, which has been accounted for
by the fact that he was paid for the work as it progressed--the publisher
paying him as his "copy" was delivered. Consequently, when his purse was
full, he worked away _con amore_, and produced the best result; but on the
purse growing empty, as those mercenary creditors will do, the Doctor
worked hurriedly, aiming at making as much "copy" as possible, so as to
replenish his failing treasury.

Thomas Cooper, author of the 'Purgatory of Suicides,' who also found out
by severe experience the cheapest way of living in London, tells in his
autobiography how, after having been at Lincoln as reporter, journalist,
and miscellaneous literary man, he with his wife left that city for
London. He says:

    "On the 1st of June, 1839, we got on the stage-coach with our boxes of
    books at Stamford, and away I went to make my first venture in London.
    We lodged in Elliott's Row, Southwark; I earned five pounds by
    contributing reviews and prose sketches to some papers having but an
    ephemeral existence. I had other ventures and adventures in a small
    way; but it would weary any mortal man to recite; and the recital
    would only be one which has been often told already, by poor literary
    adventurers. The very little I could bring to London was soon gone,
    and then I had to sell my books. I happily turned into Chancery Lane
    and asked Mr. Lumley to buy my beautifully-bound 'Tasso' and 'Don
    Belleanis of Greece,' a small quarto black-letter romance, which I had
    bought of an auctioneer in Gainsboro', who knew nothing of its value.
    Mr. Lumley gave me liberal prices, wished I could bring him more such
    books, and conversed with me very kindly. We were often at 'low-water
    mark' now in our fortunes; but my dear wife and I never suffered
    ourselves to sink into low spirits. Our experience, we cheerily said,
    was a part of London adventure, and who did not know that adventurers
    in London often underwent great trials before success was reached? We
    strolled out together in the evenings all over London, making
    ourselves acquainted with its highways and byways, and always finding
    something to interest us in its streets and shop-windows. Every book I
    brought from Lincolnshire, and I had had about 500 volumes great and
    small, had been sold by degrees, and at last I was obliged to enter a
    pawnshop. Spare articles of clothing, and my father's old silver
    watch, 'went up the spout,' as the experience goes of those who most
    sorrowfully know what it means. Travelling-cloak, large box, hat-box,
    and every box or movable that could be spared in any possible way, had
    'gone to our uncle's,' and we saw ourselves on the very verge of
    being reduced to threadbare suits when deliverance came. I had been in
    London from the evening of 11th June, 1839, until near the end of
    March, 1840, when I answered an advertisement respecting the
    editorship of a country paper printed in London. I went to the
    printing office in Great Windmill Street, Haymarket, and was engaged
    at a salary of £3 per week; the paper was the _Kentish Mercury_."

Very similar was the experience of Robert Southey, who, disowned by
friends, and without money, came to London seeking literary employment, in
which alone he found content and happiness.

    "For it," say his biographers, Messrs. Austin and Ralph, "he
    sacrificed proffered rank and power; and joyfully devoted to its
    service a toiling life of unexampled industry. Yet this man so wedded
    to his absorbing vocation, in the social capacity of husband, father,
    relative, and friend, stands above reproach.

    "His life is one emphatic denial of the daring falsehood, that genius
    and virtue are incompatible.

    "England knew not a happier circle than that which for years assembled
    by the humble hearthstone at Greta Hall. It is refreshing to turn
    aside from the world and contemplate that peaceful home, nestling amid
    the Cumberland Mountains."

Such an opinion again hardly fits in with that of Thackeray already

    "On Friday, October 18th, 1794, his aunt, Miss Tyler, turned him out
    of doors on a stormy night, and without a penny in his pocket. He made
    his way on foot, through wind and driving rain, along the dark country
    roads to Bath. Without any visible resource he was thrown upon the
    world, and as he paced the streets, weary, footsore, and sick at
    heart, he dreamed of the lofty things in literature he would strive to
    accomplish, now that he was his own master, with a will unfettered by
    a care for wishes other than his own, and of the pride that would glow
    within the swelling bosom of the fair Edith of his love, for whose
    dear sake he had submitted to be thus cast adrift. An uncle from
    Portugal wished to take him back with him to that country. 'My Edith
    persuades me to go,' said he, 'and yet weeps at my going.' And we are
    told how sadly after their secret marriage in Redcliffe Church, his
    maiden wife watched his departure with the wedding-ring she was afraid
    to wear suspended round her neck."

In Southey's life by his son, we read that he had recourse under the
pressure of impecuniosity to delivering lectures at Bristol, and the
following prospectus is quoted:--

    "Robert Southey, of Balliol College, Oxford, proposes to read a course
    of Historical Lectures in the following order:--1st. Introductory on
    the Origin and Progress of Society; 2nd. Legislation of Solon and
    Lycurgus; 3rd. State of Greece from the Persian War to the Dissolution
    of the Achaian League; 4th. Rise, Progress, and Decay of the Roman
    Empire; 5th. Progress of Christianity; 6th. Manners and Irruptions of
    the Northern Nations; Growth of the European States; Feudal System,
    and other equally abstruse subjects."

The lectures were given in 1795, tickets for the course, 10_s._ 6_d._,
sold at Cottle's, bookseller, High Street.

Southey stated about this time that if he and Coleridge could get £150 a
year between them, they would marry and retire into the country.

Another of these friendless dreamers who came to London, seeking literary
employment and reputation, was George Borrow, the famous author of 'Romany
Rye,' 'The Bible in Spain,' 'Wild Wales,' etc., the son of a military
officer. He was born in Norfolk, early in the present century, and began
life at the desk of a solicitor at Norwich. Becoming disgusted with that
life, he started off with his stick and bundle to walk to London, where
with his knowledge of languages he hoped to have no difficulty in earning
a living. Reaching the great metropolis, he found out Sir Richard
Phillips, editor and proprietor of the _Monthly Magazine_, who suggested
that the young literary adventurer should devote himself to the writing of
Newgate lives and trials. Having spent his loose cash in buying books on
the subject, he went carefully to work. Sir Richard Phillips wanted less
care and more expedition.

Borrow sent in his copy too slowly to please his exacting and overbearing
employer, whose parsimony was only equalled by his greediness. He was paid
in bills subject to discount, and led altogether a very wretched life. One
morning he awoke with the disagreeable conviction that his plight had
grown desperate, only half-a-crown remaining in his purse. Wandering out
disconsolately, he saw a bill in the shop window of a bookseller, giving
notice that a "novel or tale was much wanted," went to his garret, and
after a meal of bread and water, began to write a fictitious biography of
'Joseph Tell.' At this he continued to work unceasingly, day after day,
eating nothing but bread, drinking only water, until on the fifth day the
story was finished. And none too soon, for after he had laid aside the
pen, want of rest and nourishment had so exhausted him that he swooned
away. He had threepence left, and to reinvigorate him after he had left
his MS., he spent the whole of that sum at one fell swoop on bread and
milk, and went to bed penniless. When he called, the bookseller was
willing to buy the novel, and after some haggling over the price, gave him
twenty pounds for it, a sum which was as veritable a godsend to him as the
price of the 'Vicar of Wakefield' was to Oliver Goldsmith.

Borrow's incessant writing reminds me of the incessant reading of the
poet, Gerald Massey, who was born in 1828, near Tring, in Herts, in a
little stone hovel, the rent of which was one shilling per week. His
father was a poor canal boatman, who supported himself and family on ten
shillings per week, and could not of course afford to give Gerald any
opportunities of educating himself. As soon as he had attained his eighth
year, he was set to work at a silk-mill, beginning work at five in the
morning, and quitting it at half-past six in the evening, for a weekly
wage of 1_s._ 9_d._ He was fifteen years of age when he came to London and
obtained employment as an errand-boy, and having taught himself to read,
eagerly devoured every book, paper, and magazine that was within his

Says Massey himself:

    "Now I began to think that the course of all desire and the sum of all
    existence was to read and get knowledge. Read, read, read. I used to
    read at all possible times and all possible places; up in bed till two
    or three in the morning, nothing daunted by once setting the bed on
    fire. Greatly indebted was I to the bookstalls, where I have read a
    great deal, often folding a leaf in a book, and returning the next day
    to continue the subject; but sometimes the book was gone, and then
    great was my grief. When out of a situation I have often gone without
    a meal to purchase a book."

Another English poet who sprang from as low an origin, and who as a boy
was as uneducated as Massey, was John Clare, known as the Northamptonshire
poet. He was born at Helpston, a village near Peterboro', in 1793. His
father was a poverty-stricken farm labourer, a cripple, unable to exist
without occasional help from the parish, and whose struggle to keep the
most wretched of homes, and supply potatoes and water gruel for food, was
a ceaseless and desperate one. For all that, when the sickly little fellow
Jack was old enough for school, the few pence requisite for sending him
there were squeezed out of the poor father's weekly pittance, and when the
boy's own paltry earnings in the fields began to come in, merely a few
pence a week, he was sent to an evening school, the master of which
allowed him the run of his little library, a privilege of which John
enthusiastically and gratefully availed himself.

Often his parents returning from work found the boy, after being at school
till late, crouching down by the fire, and tracing in the faint glimmer of
a burning log, incomprehensible signs upon bits of paper and even wood,
too poor to buy paper of the coarsest kind. John was in the habit of
picking up shreds of the same material, such as used by grocers and other
tradesmen, and of scratching thereon signs and figures, sometimes with
pencil, oftener with charcoal. Never were there more ungracious and
unfavourable conditions for the study of arithmetic and algebra.

A maternal uncle, footman to a lawyer at Wisbech, called one day at
Helpston, and told the family there was a vacancy for a clerk in his
master's office. John was to apply. The mother ransacked her scanty
wardrobe, to try and give her son a decent appearance, made him a pair of
breeches out of an old dress, and a waistcoat out of a shawl, and begged
from village crones an old white necktie and a pair of old black woollen
gloves. What he wore was very large and also ancient. His costume excited
amazement as he went his way. He reached Wisbech by canal boat, saw his
uncle, was taken to Mr. Councillor Bellamy, who, after inspecting the
nephew, said, "Well, I may see him again." John, after staying a day or
two with his uncle, then went back home and became serving lad at the Blue
Bell, where he was treated well, and was able to pursue his beloved
studies. There, too, he fell in love with Mary Joyce, daughter of a
farmer, who forbade his daughter to have anything to do with the beggar
boy, so he carved her name on every tree.

At this time occurred a great event in the poet's life, one ever to be
remembered with a quickening pulse and a sense of mighty triumph. He had
read Thomson's 'Seasons,' which had been described to him as only a
trumpery book which could be bought for 1_s._ 6_d._ at Stamford. John had
only sixpence, and his wages were not due. He went to his father for a
shilling. Hopeless chance! His mother was also tried for that amount, and
by superhuman exertion she raised sevenpence; the fraction remaining and
required was raised at the Blue Bell. The day of the purchase came. Unable
to sleep through excitement, he was up before daybreak, and started off
for Stamford in hot haste. A six or seven mile walk was as nothing to the
ardent lad, and he arrived before the bookseller's shop he was seeking had
its shutters down. He waited and waited, and you can imagine his dismay
when at last he found that the shop never opened at all that day. So he
went back to Helpston. By the way a bright thought occurred. By making a
tremendous effort he obtained twopence more--proposed to a cowherd boy
that for one penny he should look after the cattle, and for another penny
keep the secret that he was going away for a few hours. Monday morning
arrived, and his confederate. John soon walked the eight miles to
Stamford. Bookseller's shop closed. John sat on the doorstep and waited.
Directly the door opened, the poor, thin, haggard country boy, with wild
gleaming eyes, rushed to him for a copy of the 'Seasons.' The tradesman
asked questions. John told his story in hurried words, and the bookseller
said that he would let him have a copy for a shilling. "Keep the sixpence,
my boy," said the man, and away went John. In Barnack Park, amidst some
thick shrubs, John Clare read the book. He did not know how to give vent
to his happiness, but he had a pencil and a piece of coarse crumpled paper
in his pocket, and on that he wrote his poem the 'Morning Walk.'

The remainder of Clare's life presents nothing specially remarkable beyond
the fact that he was throughout it curiously unlucky; and though from time
to time he met with good friends, misfortune had marked him for her own,
and eventually, through brooding over some unsuccessful commercial
enterprises, his mind gave way.

From John Clare to George Gordon Noel, Lord Byron, is a far cry; the
former being purely a small pastoral poet, the latter impurely a great
genius. _A propos_ of being involved and being indebted to the children of
Israel for supplies, his lordship wrote:

  "In my young days they lent me cash that way,
  Which I found very troublesome to pay."

Tom Moore says that Byron's marriage with the daughter of Sir Ralph
Milbank was contracted in the hope that her dowry would extricate him from
his monetary difficulties, but it apparently only increased his misery,
and, notwithstanding the serious reason for their separation, as given by
Mrs. Beecher Stowe, there is no doubt debt had a considerable share in
bringing it about, for "during the first year of his marriage his house
was nine times in the possession of bailiffs, his door almost daily beset
by duns, and he was only saved from gaol by the privileges of his rank."

Coming down to the more modern school of writers, it is especially
noticeable that the circumstances connected with their impecuniosity are
much less sombre in character than those of the like previous age. Douglas
Jerrold, the novelist, dramatist and essayist, contributes an amusing
reminiscence in connection with the first money he earned, a story which
he himself was wont to relate with great delight in after years. At the
time of the incident the young fellow's home was far from cheerful; his
mother and sister were away (in all probability acting in the provinces),
and he and his father were the sole occupants of the lodgings. Old Mr.
Jerrold was weak and ailing, and anything but good company for the
high-spirited, happy-natured boy, who eventually developed into one of the
most witty and satirical authors of his time. The picture of the poor old
gentleman sitting helplessly in the corner, when the wants of the family
so needed a strong arm to work for them, was undoubtedly depressing; but
the dreary monotony was broken on the day when Douglas Jerrold returned
home excitedly jubilant with his first earnings as an apprentice. A
thorough Englishman, he naturally thought the occasion must be celebrated
by a dinner and at once proceeded to purchase the ingredients of a
beef-steak pie. When he returned, amply repaid for the money he had
expended by the proud satisfaction visible on his father's face, he was
met by rather a serious difficulty. It was true the materials for the dish
were all there, but who was to make the delicacy? Mr. Jerrold, senior, was
incapable, and there was, therefore, nothing for it but for the boy to
turn to and try his hand at a crust. He did so, and amidst much merriment
the pie was made, taken to the baker's, and eaten by the happy pair (at
any rate, happy on that occasion), with a relish and pleasure no doubt far
in excess of that experienced at many of those grander banquets which he
afterwards graced by his presence. It is said by his son that "the memory
of this day always remained vivid to him. There was an odd kind of humour
about it that tickled him. It so thoroughly illustrated his notions on
independence that he could not forbear from dwelling again and again on
it among his friends."

There is no doubt that Douglas Jerrold cherished the memory of this
honourable impecuniosity as he did everything else that was noble and
pure, for in his slashing satire levelled against those meaningless
decorations or orders of the wealthy he clearly shows his lasting sympathy
for poverty with honour. He says: "The Order of Poverty--how many
sub-orders might it embrace! As the spirit of Gothic chivalry has its
fraternities, so might the Order of Poverty have its distinct devices." He
then goes on to enumerate the nobility and dignity of labour exemplified
in the cases of the peasant, the shepherd, the weaver, the potter, and
other callings, not neglecting even the pauper, of whom he writes:--

    "And here is a pauper, missioned from the workhouse to break stones at
    the roadside. How he strikes and strikes at that unyielding bit of
    flint! Is it not the stony heart of the world's injustice knocked at
    by poverty? What haggardness is in his face! What a blight hangs about
    him! There are more years in his looks than in his bones. Time has
    marked him with an iron pen. He wailed as a babe for bread his father
    was not allowed to earn. He can recollect every dinner--they were so
    few--of his childhood. He grew up, and want was with him, even as his
    shadow. He has shivered with cold, fainted with hunger. His every-day
    life has been set about by goading wretchedness.

    "Around him, too, were the stores of plenty. Food, raiment, and money
    mocked the man half-mad--mad with destitution. Yet, with a valorous
    heart, a proud conquest of the shuddering spirit, he walked with
    honesty and starved. His long journey of life has been through stormy
    places, and now he sits upon a pile of stones on the wayside, breaking
    them for workhouse bread. Could loftiest chivalry show greater
    heroism, nobler self-control, than this old man--this weary breaker of
    flints? Shall he not be of the Order of Poverty? Is not penury to him
    even as a robe of honour? His grey workhouse coat braver than purple
    and miniver? He shall be Knight of the Granite if you will. A
    workhouse gem, indeed--a wretched highway jewel--yet, to the eye of
    truth, finer than many a ducal diamond.... And so, indeed, in the mind
    of wisdom, is poverty ennobled. And for the Knights of the Golden
    Calf, how are they outnumbered! Let us then revive the Order of
    Poverty. Ponder, reader, on its antiquity! For was not Christ Himself
    Chancellor of the Order, and the Apostles Knight Companions?"

Although Douglas Jerrold may be best remembered by the many for his
felicitous epigrams and wondrous wit, it should be borne in mind that he
contributed materially to the high tone that now prevails in our
literature. The fine spirit was touched to fine issues, and the influences
which he aided by his life will be his enduring bequest to the future. He
was, like Dickens, constantly at war with abuses, ever writing with a
purpose, and always aiming to crush tyranny, injustice, or some kindred
social monster. Like Dickens, he delighted in assisting the cause of the
poor and weak, which characteristic, so conspicuous in both, may be
accounted for by the impecunious surroundings in which they were both

With regard to Charles Dickens, undeniably the most popular novelist of
this century, and generally considered to be one of the greatest
humourists we have ever had, it would seem as if we had to thank
impecuniosity for much of his marvellous characterisation; and though he
bitterly deplored the want of early education and proper home-training, it
is possible that but for the hardness of his youthful lot he might never
have developed the faculty of observation to the extent he did. From the
needy circumstances of his parents he was compelled from very early years
to think for himself; and this is, according to John Forster, what he
thought of his father:--

    "He was proud of me in his way, and had a great admiration of the
    comic singing. But in the ease of his temper and the straitness of his
    means he appeared to have utterly lost at this time the idea of
    educating me at all, and to have put from him the notion that I had
    any claim upon him in that regard whatever. So I degenerated into
    cleaning his boots of a morning and my own, and making myself useful
    in the work of the little house, and looking after my younger brothers
    and sisters (we were now six in all), and going on such poor errands
    as arose out of our poor way of living."

After his father's arrest for debt and his incarceration in the Marshalsea
(particulars of which are so graphically described in 'David
Copperfield'), Charles Dickens, when little more than ten years of age,
was placed at a blacking manufactory, where he earned the sum of six
shillings per week, and which is thus described by him:--

    "The blacking warehouse was the last house on the left hand side of
    the way, at old Hungerford Stairs. It was a crazy tumble-down old
    house abutting, of course, on the river, and literally overrun with
    rats. The wainscotted rooms and its rotten floors and staircase and
    the old grey rats swarming down in the cellars, and the sound of their
    squeaking and scuffling coming up the stairs at all times, and the
    dirt and decay of the place, rise up visibly before me as if I were
    there again. My work was to cover the pots of paste blacking first
    with a piece of oil paper and then with a piece of blue paper, to tie
    them round with a string, and then to clip the paper close and neat
    all round, until it looked as smart as a pot of ointment from an
    apothecary's shop. When a certain number of grosses of pots had
    attained this pitch of perfection, I was to paste on each a printed
    label, and then go on again with more pots."

With regard to the way he lived at this time, he says:

    "Usually I either carried my dinner with me or went and bought it at
    some neighbouring shop. In the latter case it was commonly a saveloy
    and a penny loaf, and sometimes a fourpenny plate of beef from a
    cookshop, sometimes a plate of bread and cheese and a glass of beer
    from a miserable old public-house over the way--the 'Swan,' if I
    remember right, or the Swan and something else that I have forgotten.
    Once I remember tucking my own bread (which I had brought from home in
    the morning) under my arm, wrapped up in a piece of paper like a book,
    and going into the best dining-room in Johnson's Alamode Beef House in
    Charles' Court, Drury Lane, and magnificently ordering a small plate
    of Alamode beef to eat with it. What the waiter thought of such a
    strange little apparition coming in all alone, I don't know, but I can
    see him now staring at me as I ate my dinner, and bringing up the
    other waiter to look. I gave him a halfpenny, and I wish now that he
    had not taken it."

Soon after Dickens entered upon his engagement at the uncongenial blacking
establishment, his mother's home was broken up and she joined his father
in the debtors' prison, and Master Charles was then placed with a Mrs.
Roylance at Camden Town, with whom he lodged for some time, boarding
himself on his six shillings a week, which he apparently found by no means
an easy job, as his appetite seems to have troubled him considerably by

    "I was so young and childish and so little qualified--how could I be
    otherwise?--to undertake the whole charge of my own existence, that in
    going to Hungerford Stairs of a morning I could not resist the stale
    pastry put out at half price on trays at the confectioner's doors in
    Tottenham Court Road. I often spent in that the money I should have
    kept for my dinner. Then I went without my dinner, or bought a roll or
    a slice of pudding. There were two pudding shops between which I was
    divided according to my finances. One was in a court close to St.
    Martin's Church (at the back of the church), which is now removed
    altogether. The pudding at that shop was made with currants, and was
    rather a special pudding, but was dear: two penn'orth not being larger
    than a penn'orth of more ordinary pudding. A good shop for the latter
    was in the Strand, somewhere near where the Lowther Arcade is now. It
    was a stout, hale pudding, heavy and flabby, with great raisins in it
    stuck in whole, at great distances apart. It came up hot, at about
    noon every day, and many and many a day did I dine off it. I know I do
    not exaggerate, unconsciously and unintentionally, the scantiness of
    my resources and the difficulties of my life. I know that if a
    shilling or so were given me by any one I spent it in a dinner or a
    tea. I know that I worked from morning to night with common men and
    boys, a shabby child. I know that I tried, but ineffectually, not to
    anticipate my money, and to make it last the week through, by putting
    it away in a drawer I had in the counting-house, wrapped into six
    little parcels, each parcel containing the same amount, and labelled
    with a different day. I know that I have lounged about the streets
    insufficiently and unsatisfactorily fed. I know that, but for the
    mercy of God, I might easily have been, for any care that was taken of
    me, a little robber or a little vagabond."

Contemporary with Dickens figured another popular writer of light fiction,
who, though perhaps a trifle jollier and more genial in his fun, cannot
claim to be placed in the same category with the immortal author of
'Nicholas Nickleby,' 'A Tale of Two Cities,' etc. etc. I allude to Albert
Smith, who whether detailing on paper "The Adventures of Mr. Ledbury" or
recounting to an audience at the Egyptian Hall his "Ascent of Mont Blanc,"
was always extremely amusing.

Owing to a slight similarity in the style of their writing it sometimes
happened that unfortunate comparisons were made between the two men, when
naturally poor Albert Smith suffered. For instance, when a friend speaking
of the two authors to Douglas Jerrold said, that as humourists Charles
Dickens and Albert Smith "rowed in the same boat," Jerrold replied with
more or less warmth, "True, they do row in the same boat, but with very
different skulls." Unlike Dickens, Albert Smith was not practically
acquainted with absolute poverty, though at times as a student there is no
doubt he was familiar with that condition known as "rather short of
funds," and his account of an Alpine journey made on the most economical
principles may be cited as curious and not unconnected with impecuniosity.

In September 1838 he started from Paris for Chamounix with another equally
humbly appointed traveller, who like himself intended to do the grand
Alpine tour with £12, which was to pay for travelling expenses and board
and lodging for five weeks. They carried their money in five-franc pieces,
stuffed in leathern belts round their waists, bought two old military
knapsacks at three francs each, and two pairs of hobnailed shoes at five
and a half francs each. Before starting they made a good breakfast at a
_café_ and obtained from the cook a dozen hard-boiled eggs for the
journey, supplying themselves also with a _litre_ of _vin ordinaire_, a
flat bottle of brandy, and a leathern cup that folded up. Opposition
_diligences_ were running on the road from Paris to Geneva, and for two
pounds they secured seats on one which took seventy-eight successive
hours--_i.e._, from 8 o'clock on Friday morning till 2 P.M. on the
following Monday. On arriving at the place where the other passengers
lunched at a cost of three francs, Smith and his friend regaled themselves
on their eggs, with the addition of some bread and pears bought in the
town, which place they inspected while their fellow-travellers were
luxuriating over their _déjeûner_. When dinner-time came, instead of
patronising the hotel, they repaired to a more humble restaurant, and for
24 sous each obtained all that they required. At night they crept under
the tarpaulin roof of the _diligence_, stacked all the luggage on each
side, and collecting some straw, on which they reclined, slept tolerably
well. In the morning they walked on before the conveyance started, bathed
in the river, and after breakfast (managed in the same inexpensive way),
were picked up by the diligence. In this manner they travelled for the
three days, observing pretty much the same routine (except on the Sunday,
when they washed at the fountain in the market-place at Dole, to the great
delight and amusement of a party of girls, who lent them towels and a huge
piece of soap), their expenses for the journey to Geneva being £2 12_s._
6_d._ each. As a specimen of how they managed to do and see so much on so
very little: at Arpenay, where a cannon is fired to produce a certain
marvellous echo, they simply waited until a party more capable of paying
for such a luxury arrived, and then availed themselves of the opportunity.

On the same principle, when starting for the Mer de Glace they followed a
party at some little distance, and by this means dispensed with the
services of a guide. They bathed on the top of the Foxlay, and there in
the springs, washed their linen, spreading their things on the stones
afterwards to dry; and in such way the Alpine tour was made by the two
friends completely, safely, and without exceeding the amount of funds they

Scarcely so honourable, though a trifle more exciting, is a reminiscence
related of the late Robert Brough, more generally known to those who were
acquainted with him and loved him dearly as Bob Brough. Unfortunately he
was a man who was unable to make his income and expenditure balance:
whether it was that the former was too small, or the latter too large, it
matters not; but as a natural consequence, debt and difficulty were his
constant companions. At one time when things had been going very badly
(that is, in all probability to mine uncle's) he found it necessary to
seek a more congenial clime. England was found to be unpleasantly hot,
owing to the warm attention of a money-lending creditor, and foreign
travel was known to be absolutely imperative. The proprietor of the
_Sunday Times_ being made acquainted with the circumstances commissioned
him to write a series of articles, to be entitled "Brussels Sprouts."
Desirous of executing the commission, and longing for a dip in the sea, he
started off to Ostend, and on arriving there, was not long in going
through the preliminaries of taking "a header." He took it, but to his
horror on coming to the surface he met with what is slangily termed a
"facer," for he found himself face to face with the identical creditor
from whom he was fleeing. "Oh, this is the way my money goes, is it! I'll
lock you up, you----" began the money-lender, but before the sentence was
finished Brough dived again, swam to shore, secured his luggage, started
for Paris, and left the "Brussels Sprouts" to take care of themselves.

As I commenced this chapter by quoting the somewhat ungenerous strictures
of Thackeray on his unhappy brethren, it will be a fitting termination to
close with an incident of impecuniosity connected with his life, which
circumstance, by the way, was caused by no fault of his. How could it have
been? He was so terribly correct and proper! However, when sojourning on
one occasion in France, he had the misfortune to be robbed of his purse,
and immediately wrote off to a relative for fresh supplies. In the
meantime he borrowed a ten-pound note, which he spent in little more than
a week, thinking he should by that time be in possession of a remittance
from his aunt. But no remittance came. He then humorously describes the
horrors that arose in his mind as day after day passed on and there was no
response from England. His intense desire for a frothy pot of beer,
ungratified of course from his impecunious state, his alarm lest the
landlord should present his bill, and his forebodings when passing a
prison-house, with his elation of spirits when the long-delayed cheque at
length arrived, are presented with all the charm of comedy and the
interest of romance, and playfully alluded to in these four lines:--

  "My heart is weary, my peace is gone,
    How shall I e'er my woes reveal?
  I have no money, I lie in pawn,
    A stranger in the town of Lille."



Although at first sight the condition of impecuniosity seems more
calculated to produce practicality, and render persons matter-of-fact, in
the foregoing chapters there have not been wanting illustrations to prove
that impecuniosity has been responsible for some romance. The case of
Angelica Kauffman may be taken as an example. Owing to the poverty of her
father she was compelled to accept the hospitality of an English peer in
Switzerland, who insulted her, and afterwards, when unable to obtain a
favourable reception of his suit, in revenge induced a married adventurer
to make love to and marry her. This was romantic, without question, and
undoubtedly attributable to want of money, as but for that she would never
have been brought in contact with the disgraceful nobleman in question.

When we remember, however, how impecuniosity has been produced, how that
it has been brought about by misfortune, extravagance, heroism, want of
principle, want of foresight, inadequacies of justice, eccentricity of
character, extreme benevolence of disposition, and by other equally varied
causes, it is not surprising that there should be found considerable
connection between it and romance, more especially as the consequences of
the condition have been crime of every description, from comparatively
venial offences against society to the universally reprobated sins of
forgery and murder. Again, the strange and unexpected means by which
people have been delivered from their impecuniosity savours strongly of
the unreal, of the world of fiction rather than of the world of fact. But
that real life is prolific of romance has long been acknowledged by all
but those whose knowledge of human life is small, and whose ignorance of
history is entire. As the poet pithily puts it--

        "Truth is always strange,
  Stranger than fiction: if it could be told,
  How much would novels gain by the exchange."

Admitting this, and judging from the facts that we are possessed of, what
marvellously romantic deeds must impecuniosity have been connected with
that will never be recorded!--devoted deeds of self-sacrifice that will
never be known to any save the sufferers! Not long since I read in a
popular periodical of something suggestively similar. A girl on the way to
join her husband, to whom she has been only married by the Scotch law,
learns by accident that her marriage alone stands between her husband and
a fortune. Circumstances so happening that she can make it appear credible
that she was on board a vessel that was lost, she does so, believing that
by her renunciation she is giving up "all for him." "Truth is stranger
than fiction," and it follows, therefore, that such instances of
self-abnegation induced by impecuniosity have been and will be found. But
to facts.

I have included in the list of the causes of impecuniosity the want of
foresight, and this is painfully instanced by the story of a poor old
woman at Plymouth, who did not like the formality, or could not afford the
expense, of having a will prepared. Being exceedingly ill, she thought she
would like to leave her little property--furniture, a small amount of
money, and household movables--to her neighbours and acquaintances. This
wish _vivâ voce_ she practically carried out. Of her own proper authority
she gave and willed away chairs and tables to one, her bed to this friend,
her cloak to that, money, utensils, nicknacks, to others. Crones,
housewives, and young women gathered sympathetically around her, and soon
carried away the various things bequeathed to them. It was not long after
they had departed that she unexpectedly recovered from her illness, and
sent to have her things back again, but not one of them could she get, and
she was left without a rag to cover her or a friend to give her a kind

Strange as was this circumstance, here is something surpassing strange,
being the romantic record of one who was literally "a funny beggar."

Less than half a century since there used to be seen on the Quai des
Celestines in Paris a mendicant holding in one hand some lucifer-matches.
Wan, self-possessed, scantily but neatly attired, there were in the
beggar's visage traces of refinement and good breeding. Round his neck was
a loop of black silk ribbon, to which was suspended a piece of pasteboard
having an inscription to the effect that the wearer was a poor man, and
craved relief on the plea that "_he had lived longer than he should_."

The petitioner's history was a singular one. Jules André Gueret, when
twenty-five years old, became the possessor of a large fortune. He
remained a bachelor, and turned his estate into hard cash. An epicurean, a
man of some taste, and a bit of a philosopher, he began a calculation to
ascertain how he could best enjoy himself. Making no investments, he kept
his cash at home. Gueret came to the conclusion that a sober man's life
averaged seventy years, but that a pleasure-seeking, gay man's life might
only last fifty-five or sixty years. He then divided his finances into so
many equal portions. Each portion was to be an annual allowance, the
pleasure-seeker arranging that the money should last five-and-thirty
years. Gueret, in conclusion, made a compact with himself that if he lived
beyond sixty years of age, suicide would prevent his suffering ills at the
hands of poverty. But when turned sixty years of age, and when his money
was exhausted, either love of life or fear of death prevented the once gay
and opulent Gueret from committing self-destruction. It will be seen that
it was a terribly true inscription on the bit of pasteboard hanging from
the neck of the beggar haunting the Quai des Celestines.

The vicissitudes of Gueret were obviously self-created, and _à propos_ of
a man's idiosyncrasy impelling him on to impecuniosity, there is hardly a
more curious illustration to be found than that contained in the biography
of Combe, the author of the 'Adventures of Dr. Syntax.' This man was a
born eccentric, perverse, whimsical, and humorous. Possessing natural
gifts, and the heir to a large fortune, he frittered away his mental
resources, wasted his patrimony, and often committed acts worthy of the
simpleton or lunatic. He went through the curriculum of Eton and Oxford,
and by the refinements of his taste and the elegance of his manners won
the title of "Duke Combe." In a comparatively short period, by his
prodigality and reckless expenditure he was reduced to penury, and finding
no means of subsistence, enlisted as a private in the army. While in the
ranks he was reading one day, when an officer passing him managed to see
the book, which was a copy of Horace. "My friend," said the officer, "is
it possible that you can read Horace in the original?" "If I cannot," said
Combe, "a great deal of money has been thrown away on my education."

Escaping from the English army, he joined the French service, and again
fleeing, he entered a French monastery, remaining there until he had
passed his noviciate. He subsequently left the Continent and became a
waiter in South Wales. On several occasions, while in that capacity, he
met with acquaintances whom he had known in college days, but he was never
embarrassed even when seen tripping along with a napkin under his arm.

Combe afterwards married an amiable and devoted woman, and settled down
for a time as an author. Some of his writings contained questionable
morality, and others were of scurrilous and venal character. 'Letters from
a Nobleman to his Son,' said to be by Lord Lyttelton, and 'Letters from an
Italian Nun to an English Nobleman,' said to be by Rousseau, were both
from the pen of "Duke Combe." At last he became an inmate of the King's
Bench Prison, and he remained there several years. When a friend offered
to make an arrangement with his creditors, he replied: "If I compounded
with those to whom I owe money I should be obliged to give up the little I
possess, and on which I can manage to live in prison. These rooms in the
Bench are mine at a very few shillings a week in right of my seniority as
a prisoner. My habits have become so sedentary, that if I lived in the
airiest square of West-End London, I should not walk round it once a
month. I am quite content with my cheap quarters."

It was in the King's Bench Prison that Combe wrote for the publisher
Ackerman, 'The Adventures of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque,'
'The Dance of Life,' and 'The Dance of Death.'

At one period of Combe's career Roger Kemble gave him a theatrical
benefit, and Combe promised to speak an address on the occasion. There had
been much gossip and many conjectures concerning his real name, history,
and condition. To such gossip and conjectures he referred when he stood
before the curtain, and in the presence of a crowded auditory. Then he
added, "But now, ladies and gentlemen, I shall tell you who and what I
am." There was an eager and expectant expression on the countenances
before him. Combe paused--all present leaning forward to hear
him--gathered himself up, as if for a great effort, and then said, "I am,
ladies and gentlemen--your most obedient, humble servant."

It is evident Combe's peculiar disposition was the cause of his peculiar
circumstances. He was a perverse, whimsical man, rather than an
unfortunate one, and it was much the same with the son of Lady Mary
Wortley Montague, the Hon. Mr. Wortley Montague, notorious for his roving
and adventurous disposition. When a boy he ran away from home, and became
a chimney sweep. It is true that young Montague's father was cold in his
manners and severe in his discipline to the lad, who in addition chafed
under the somewhat stringent arrangements of the Westminster masters, for
enforcing law and order amongst their pupils. At Westminster School,
however, where the lad was placed in 1729, he at once showed himself
brilliant and precocious, but vain, impatient of control, and of truant
disposition. Reckless and petulant, he resolved to see the world, and
without a single confidant, one day quitted the seminary, roamed the
streets, and at night made his way into the fields about Chelsea, and
there slept till morning. After a few days his stock of money became low,
and while reading the newspapers over his tavern breakfast, he noticed in
an advertisement an accurate description of his face, figure, and costume,
with the notification that a handsome reward would be paid by his parents
to recover their lost child. Hastily paying his bill, he made his way from
the tavern, perambulated the streets, utterly at a loss how to act in
order to shun the humiliation of meeting his father and mother, and of
again having to undergo the restrictions of domestic and scholastic
routine. Meeting a chimney-sweeper's apprentice, Montague entered into
conversation with him and agreed to exchange clothes, which transformation
was accomplished in an empty house. The truant was not satisfied yet, and
actually accompanied the apprentice to his master's house for the purpose
of trying to become a chimney-sweep himself. From motives of benevolence
or cupidity the master sweep agreed to induct young Montague into the
mysteries of cleansing flues, and the lad remained in his employment for
some months.

During the period of his connection with the "sooty trade" the
aristocratic young truant went through many adventures and played many
pranks. His roaming disposition, however, caused him to run away from his
master, which he did without warning, and he soon found himself again
walking about the streets of the metropolis, his money exhausted. He had
but one thing left, a carefully-preserved watch, by which he could obtain
the necessaries of life; driven to desperation, he walked into a
jeweller's shop and offered the watch for sale. The proprietor was
courteous but wary, and being suspicious that the lad had become possessed
of the valuable article in a dishonest manner, took the opportunity of
sending for a constable. Montague was arrested and conveyed to Bow Street,
where the magistrate closely questioned the culprit. Young Montague, with
the utmost frankness, gave an account of his strange and romantic
adventures from the moment when he had quitted Westminster School. It was
not long ere his parents were made acquainted with the particulars of
their son's flight and safety, and the foolish wanderer was speedily taken
back with caresses and delight. All was forgotten and forgiven, and in a
few weeks Montague was reinstated in his old place at Westminster.

It is said that what is bred in the bone comes out in the flesh, and it
was not long before the crack-brained scholar again became unsettled.
Through an older companion, young Montague sought the good offices of a
knavish money-lender, who, making himself acquainted with the lad's
position and prospects, advanced him a sum of money. With the loan he felt
free to make another flight, and away he went to Newmarket. He was amused
and delighted with the spectacle of horses, jockeys, and bruisers.
Enjoying himself at an inn, he fell into the company of card-sharpers, who
soon eased him of the guineas he had brought down from London. His
position was unfortunate and perilous, but wandering out through the town,
he encountered a friend of the family, who resolutely conveyed him back to
his parents, who, as before, after due admonition, forgave him. The debt
to the money-lender was paid, and the youngster again found himself
surrounded by all the luxuries of an aristocratic home. But his restless
spirit could not endure the harness of conventional life.

Once more he sought the office of the usurer, who made the required
advances, and he then made up his mind to taste the joys of sea voyages
and the novelties of foreign travel. Making his way to Wapping, he struck
up a friendship with the captain of a trading-vessel bound for Cadiz.
Montague agreed to visit Cadiz with him, making the commander acquainted
with the particulars of his history. The youth prepared for the journey,
and thought that his last night in England should be a convivial one, and
consequently ordered at one of the Wapping taverns a sumptuous supper. The
landlord during the evening introduced some card-sharping rogues who
proposed play, and in the course of an hour or two the son of Lady Mary
had lost heavily. He was made drunk and taken away senseless to bed.

When he came to himself in the morning he found that he had been robbed of
everything, including his watch, and that he was utterly impotent to pay
the heavy bill for the previous night's banquet. The landlord affected
much indignation, and went out of the house under the pretence of
procuring a constable. Young Montague was at his wit's end, when the
hostess advised him to quit the tavern. Taking the hint, he hurried to the
captain and told his story, and the captain intimated that he would seek
the landlord. Captain James being a rogue, came to an understanding with
the Wapping host, who agreed to hand over part of the spoil. James
returned to the young dupe, and informed him that no redress could be
afforded, but that if he liked he might work his way out to Cadiz. So
Montague was the victim of both landlord and captain. During the voyage to
Cadiz the youth underwent numerous trials and hardships. On landing at
Cadiz he at once left Captain James and found himself in a foreign town
without money and without friends. However, he found the Wapping
card-sharpers had left him a pair of Mocoa sleeve-buttons set in gold, and
having sold them he lived on the money for a few weeks. When that money
was exhausted he happened to make the acquaintance of a muleteer, who,
wanting a helper, found a ready and active one in the adventurous youth.
All his subsequent adventures were of like irrational character, and he
died of a fever contracted during foreign travel when a comparatively
young man.

I now turn to a pathetic story of poverty, in which the victim, but for
the cruel deeds of a crafty and malignant woman, might have been
surrounded by the auxiliaries of wealth and feudal splendour. Fortune
occasionally plays strange pranks, and in the instance I am about to quote
it will be seen that her caprices sometimes fall on unoffending and worthy
men with pitiless and tremendous severity. More than two hundred and
fifty years since a miserable bowed man might have been seen working about
the fields and roads outside Leicester, doing that slavish and drudging
work which falls to the lot of the English peasant. But for an unhappy
episode connected with his ancestors he might have been summoned to dinner
by sound of horn and taken his food from burnished silver. He was the heir
of the famous Sir Robert Scott of Thirlestane, a cadet of the House of
Buccleuch. Sir Robert Scott lived in the time of the sixth James of
Scotland, and was a man of noble character, though of iron will and fiery
blood, and little knew the awful cloud that gathered over his house when
he married his second wife. Scott of Thirlestane had a son by his first
marriage, and the heir was loved by the father with all the intensity and
tenderness of a strong man's nature.

From the time the second wife bore children to Sir Robert, she hated the
stepson with unceasing and sleepless malignity. She saw that as long as he
lived the future possessions of her own children would be but little. She
was cruel, crafty, and unscrupulous: and her worst feelings were excited
when she learned that Sir Robert proposed building a tower at Gamescleugh
in honour of the young laird's majority. The father had also arranged a
marriage for his son. The stepmother then entered upon plans to murder him
on the occasion of the opening of the new castle, when a great festival
was to take place. Her agent in the crime was John Lally, the family
piper, who obtained three adders, from which he abstracted poison, and
conveyed it to Lady Thirlestane, who mixed it with a bottle of wine. On
the day of festivity the young laird inspected the tower and received from
Lally's hand the poisoned wine in a silver flagon, and drank a hearty
draught. In an hour the heir of the house of Thirlestane was dead, and
Lally had fled no one knew whither. News of the heir's death soon reached
the ears of the father, who had the alarm bugle sounded to call together
his retainers. On the earl calling out to his assemblage, "Are we all
here?" a voice answered, "Yes, all but John Lally, the piper." It was
ominous, for the husband knew the confidence his wife placed in that
retainer, and Sir Robert swooned. Strange was it that Sir Robert could not
be induced to make a public example of his wife; but he announced to his
friends that the estate belonged to his murdered son, who, if he could not
enjoy it living, should enjoy it dead. The body of the heir was embalmed
with drugs and spices, and laid out in state for a year and a day. For
twelve months the unhappy father kept up one continuous round of costly
and magnificent revels. Wine flowed like a river, and the scenes of
carousal were of unprecedented extravagance. Soon after the funeral Sir
Robert was borne to the grave and the family reduced to utter beggary. The
stepmother wandered about an outcast and pauper, and in after years the
heir of the Thirlestane family worked as a common ditcher, as I have

A similar strange and pathetic story, in which it is shown that the
innocent suffered for the guilty, is that of Sir John Dinely, who, at the
beginning of the century, was one of the Poor Knights of Windsor. Dinely
was a singularly eccentric and unfortunate man. He was often to be seen
mysteriously creeping by the first light of a winter's morning through the
great gate of the lower ward of Windsor Castle into the narrow back
streets of the town. He used to wear a roquelaure, beneath which appeared
a pair of thin legs encased in dirty silk stockings. In wet weather he
carried a large umbrella and walked on pattens. He lived in one of the
houses of the military knights, then called Poor Knights, to which body he
belonged. Except the eccentric possessor, no human being entered his
abode, and he dispensed with all domestic service. Dinely in the morning
went forth to make his frugal purchases for the day--a faggot, a candle, a
small loaf, and perhaps a herring. The Poor Knight of Windsor might have
fared better, but every penny except those laid out for absolute
necessaries of life was capitalised in the promotion of an absorbing and
quixotic scheme. Regular attendance at St. George's Chapel was Dinely's
duty; and the long blue mantle which the Poor Knights wore covered his
shabby habiliments, as the dingy morning cloak hid red herrings and
farthing candles.

Such were some of the phases--sombre, squalid phases--of Sir John's
existence. But there were periods when the Poor Knight assumed the
externals of aristocratic opulence. The poor hunchback lover in the
introduction to the pantomime, who, by the enchanter's wand in the
transformation-scene, becomes the gay and spangled harlequin, typifies
Dinely dressed for his marketing, and Dinely dressed for the promenade.
Any circumstances drawing together a crowd at Windsor, whether the
presence of royalty, the attractions of the military parade, or of the
promenade, did not fail to draw forth Dinely from his poverty-stricken
home. When he appeared on festive occasions, his cloak was cast aside, and
he might have sat to any painter desiring to reproduce on canvas a
gentleman of the time of George II. An embroidered coat, silk flowered
waistcoat, nether garments of velvet, carefully meeting silk stockings,
which surmounted shoes and silver buckles, in addition to a lace-edged
cocked hat, and powdered wig, set off the attenuated figure of the Poor
Knight of Windsor. His object in so presenting himself was to attract the
notice of some rich lady for matrimonial ends, matrimony being the medium
through which he imagined he could transform his splendid dreams into no
less splendid realities--the reason for his eccentric economy being
explained by his history.

In January, 1741, there were two brothers living at Bristol who had become
enemies on account of an entail of property. The elder of these brothers
was Sir John Dinely Goodyere, Baronet, the other Samuel Dinely Goodyere, a
captain in the navy. Estrangement had taken place, but a common friend, at
Samuel's request, brought them together. They dined, had pleasant hours,
and fraternal words were exchanged. On parting Sir John went his way
across College Green, and while there was met by his brother and six other
sailors. Sir John was brutally treated, carried away to a ship, and on it
he was strangled. Retribution followed swiftly, and in two months Samuel
Dinely Goodyere had expiated his crime on the gallows.

The Poor Knight of Windsor was the son of the murderer, and it is
generally believed that the family estates which might have come to
Captain Goodyere were forfeited to the Crown. To recover the family
estates was the day dream of Sir John. Not having sufficient money to
obtain the requisite legal help to regain the lost inheritance, the poor
old man resorted to the matrimonial scheme. His proceedings were perfectly
serious, dignified, and earnest. Frequently has he been seen on the
terrace at Windsor presenting to some county widow or elegantly attired
gentlewoman a printed paper which with the utmost gravity he would take
from his pocket. Should the lady accept the paper, Sir John Dinely would
make her the most profound of bows, and then withdraw.

The following is an extract from one of the documents:--

    "_For a Wife._"

    "As the prospect of my marriage has much increased lately, I am
    determined to take the best means to discover the lady most liberal in
    her esteem by giving her fourteen days more to make her quickest steps
    towards matrimony: from the date of this paper until eleven o'clock
    the next morning: and as the contest evidently will be superb,
    honourable, sacred, and lawfully affectionate, pray do not let false
    delicacy interrupt you. An eminent attorney here is lately returned
    from a view of my superb gates, built in the form of the Queen's
    house. I have ordered him, as the next attorney here, who can satisfy
    you of my possession in my estate, and every desirable particular
    concerning it, to make you the most liberal settlement you can desire,
    to the vast extent of three thousand pounds."

Some verses conclude, the words being--

  "A beautiful page shall hold,
  Your ladyship's train surrounded with gold."

The advertiser alludes to the forfeiture of the estates in another paper:
"Pray, my young charmers, give me a fair hearing; do not let your
avaricious guardians unjustly fright you into a false account of a
forfeiture." Sir John did not scatter his papers broadcast. It was only to
those whom he deemed suitable ladies that he distributed his precious and
grandiloquent invitations. Notwithstanding the seeming allurements of his
circulars, Sir John Dinely found no nibblers for his bait. One morning the
accustomed seat in St. George's Chapel knew him no more. He was missing.
The door of his lodging was forced, and in his room he was found ill and
helpless. Everything about him was of the poorest and most squalid
character. There was little furniture--a table and a chair or two. The
room was strewed with printing type, for he printed his own bills; and in
a few days Sir John Dinely was borne to the grave.

"Wise judges are we of each other," said Claude Melnotte contemptuously to
Colonel Damar when that officer remarked that he "envied" the pretended
Prince of Como, and it would be well for many of us were we to remember
the rebuke in forming our judgment of our fellows in connection with their
pecuniary position. A very pitiful story illustrating the argument is
narrated by Charles Lamb in his essay, "Christ's Hospital Five and Thirty
Years Ago." Referring to some cartoons connected with his old school, the
author writes:--

    "L---- has recorded his repugnance of the school to 'gags,' or the fat
    of fresh boiled beef, and sets it down to some superstition; but these
    unctuous morsels are never grateful to young palates (children are
    universal fat-haters), and in strong, coarse, boiled meats, unsalted,
    are detestable. A gag-eater in our time was equivalent to a ghoul, and
    held in equal detestation. There was a lad who suffered under this

      'It was said
      He ate strange flesh.'

    "He was observed, after dinner, carefully to gather up the remnants
    left at the table (not many nor very choice fragments, you may credit
    me), and in an especial manner these disreputable morsels he would
    convey, and secretly stow, in the settle that stood at his bedside.
    None saw when he ate them. It was rumoured that he privately devoured
    them in the night. He was watched, but no traces of them, of such
    midnight practices were discoverable. Some reported that on leave-days
    he had been seen to carry out of the bounds a large blue check
    handkerchief, full of something. This, then, must be the accursed
    thing. Conjecture next was at work to imagine how he could dispose of
    it. Some said he sold it to the beggars. This belief generally
    prevailed. He went about moping--none spake to him. No one would play
    with him. He was excommunicated--put out of the pale of the school. He
    was too powerful a boy to be beaten, but he underwent every mode of
    that negative punishment which is more grievous than many stripes.
    Still he persevered. At length he was observed by two of his
    schoolfellows, who were determined to get at the secret, and had
    traced him one leave day for the purpose, to enter a large worn-out
    building, such as there exists specimens of in Chancery Lane, which
    are let out to various scales of pauperism, with open door and a
    common staircase. After him they silently slunk in, and followed by
    stealth up four flights of stairs, and saw him tap at a poor wicket,
    which was opened by a poor woman meanly clad. Suspicion was now
    ripened into certainty. The informers had secured their victim.
    Accusation was formally preferred, and retribution most signal was
    looked for. Mr. Hatherway investigated the matter. The supposed
    mendicants, the receivers of the mysterious scraps, turned out to be
    the parents of the boy. This young stork, at the expense of his own
    good name, had all this while been feeding the old birds."

A striking story of the unknown resources and trials of the
poverty-stricken is the following, a favourite one with that capital
_raconteur_, the late Julian Young.

A certain diplomatist was many years ago despatched by the English
Government on an embassy extraordinary to one of the continental courts,
where his handsome person and the urbanity of his manners made him a
general favourite. On his departure the sovereign to whom he was
accredited presented him with a small box of unusual value as a mark of
his esteem. It had on its lid a miniature of the king set in brilliants of
great beauty. When he had retired from public life and happened to give a
dinner to any of his friends, he was fond of producing it at the dessert,
as it afforded him an opportunity of descanting on the king's appreciation
of his services. On one of these occasions the box was brought forth,
handed by the butler to the master, and passed round. The last person into
whose hands it went was an old general, who, from some failure in
investments, was known to be in embarrassed circumstances.

In due course all rose to join the ladies, and in so doing the owner of
the snuff-box looked round for it in order that it might be replaced in
the cabinet. Not seeing the box, the owner immediately made inquiries
concerning it, and asked the gentlemen to make search for it, suggesting
that it was possible that some one in a fit of absence might have placed
it in his pocket. Everybody denied having any knowledge of it, though one
or two present declared that the old general was the last person in whose
hands they remembered to have seen it. "Having seen it before," the old
general said, "he had but bestowed a cursory glance upon it and then
placed it in the centre." The strictest search about the room was then
made, but only with fruitless results. The owner of the box assumed much
gravity of manner, and having referred to the seriousness of the loss,
said, "I suspect no one, and that I may have no cause to do so, I must ask
you to let me search you all without distinction." Two or three rose to
depart, but they were anticipated by their entertainer, who put his back
against the door and refused egress to any one. The old general stepped
forward and said, "Sir, do you mean to insult us because we have drunk
your wine? If any one dares to oppose my exit from this room, I shall call
him to account." The old grizzled warrior strode out with a firm and
defiant air. Known to be poor, and from his determined departure on the
occasion of the proposed search, the general was coldly and shyly regarded
by those who knew the circumstances, and by those who afterwards heard of

Some time later, at the same host's table, the butler, hearing the story
of the lost snuff-box, informed his master that on the occasion alluded to
be had taken it up and deposited it in a little drawer at the end of a
sideboard, where it had been occasionally kept, and the butler went to the
drawer and found the lost treasure.

As quickly as possible the next morning the owner of the snuff-box sought
the old general, told him everything, and made him an ample apology. They
were at once friendly as of old. After some conversation, the owner of the
snuff-box said, "But may I ask you why you so resolutely refused to be
searched?" "Alas!" said the soldier, "I refused to be searched because,
though I had not stolen your snuff-box, I had stolen your food. I blush to
own, sir, that the greater part of every morsel put upon my plate was
transferred to a pocket-handkerchief (spread upon my knee beneath the
table), and taken home to a starving wife and family."

Equally, if not more romantic is another military story, also related by
Julian Young, which, were it not for the unquestionable _bona fides_ of
that gentleman, might well be questioned, so suggestive is it of a page
from a novel.

An aristocratic lady residing on the family estate in Ireland advertised
for a governess for her daughters. The successful candidate was a young
French lady of talent and fascinating manners. She had not long taken up
her residence with the lady and her daughters when she inspired the nephew
of her mistress with a tender passion. A gentleman of principle, and only
possessing slender means, he resolved to control his sentiment and in no
way reveal it.

Some months elapsed, and one morning while the family were at breakfast,
they were surprised by the entrance of a servant, who inquired of the lady
of the house if she could see visitors. Asking who they were, she was
informed that the party consisted of two gentlemen, who had travelled
there in a coach-and-four, attended by a livery servant, evidently a
foreigner. Thinking that visitors at such an early hour must have
important business, the servant was told by his mistress that she would at
once see them. She remained with the visitors some little time, and then
returned, informing the governess that her presence was immediately
required by the two gentlemen, who had come on important business.

The governess was absent more than half an hour, and on her return to the
breakfast-room appeared to be labouring under strong excitement. She then
begged Lady E---- to be kind enough to step into the library to speak to
two friends of hers, who had something of great importance to communicate.
The mistress of the establishment complied, and the governess, left with
her pupils, was interrogated with much amusing curiosity by them on the
strange visit of two gentlemen at such an early hour in the day. The
governess, in a tremor of nervousness, answered nothing, left her pupils,
and going to her own apartment, locked herself in.

The interview between Lady E---- and the strangers was exceedingly
interesting. One of the visitors spoke to her in French, and at great
length. Having prefaced what he had to say by apologising for the seeming
intrusion, Lady E---- was informed that he was delegated by the governess
to perform a duty which rightly devolved upon herself, but which she had
not the moral courage to discharge. It was also stated by the speaker that
Mademoiselle H---- acknowledged gratefully the extraordinary kindness with
which she had been treated. Lady E---- was then told that in pretending to
be dependent on her own exertions for bread, the governess had imposed on
her mistress. She was, it was said, as well born as Lady E----, and almost
as opulent. It was at the request of the visitors that Mademoiselle
H---- had answered the advertisement, for the reason that perhaps under
such a roof as Lady E----'s the young lady would be spared the persecution
of an unscrupulous kinsman, who conceived that his cousin was endeavouring
to supplant him in the good graces of a relative whose favours he had
forfeited solely by misconduct. The older kinsman alluded to had just
died, and had bequeathed his sole possessions to the governess. She was
mistress of a château in Southern France, in addition to an unencumbered
rent-roll of £7000 a year. In conclusion, the gentleman in his own name
and that of his fellow trustee begged to state that in a month's time the
presence of Mademoiselle H---- would be imperative, for the purpose of
hearing the will read, and to meet the avocat, the executors, and certain
other persons interested. Complimenting the mistress of the Irish mansion
upon her urbanity, the visitors withdrew, jumped into their carriage, and
were driven away as rapidly as they came.

The daughters of Lady E---- and her nephew were made acquainted with the
good fortune of the French governess. She had won the affections of her
pupils, and they regretted parting with her. However, they rejoiced at her
prosperity. The nephew's heart glowed with hope and affection. Had he been
richer he would before have declared his passion. On hearing his aunt's
recital of the governess's actual position he at once resolved to press
his suit. When Mademoiselle H---- had listened to his declaration of love,
she met it with haughty demeanour and frigid words, stating that she
suspected her money had more attraction for him than her person, assigning
as her reason for such impression that he had shunned her while he thought
her poor, but had sought her as soon as he had found her to be rich. He
assured her that he had loved her at first sight, but had been deterred by
honourable motives and the smallness of his fortune from thinking of
matrimony; that he had purposely kept out of danger's way, but that as to
wishing to marry her for the sake of her money, it was a cruel imputation,
and stung him to the quick. He then quitted her soon afterwards, mounted a
horse, rode away and found a notary public. When he again saw Mademoiselle
H---- he put into her hands a document by which he conveyed to her
unconditionally and absolutely every farthing he had in the world. In
return for it he asked for the lady's hand and heart. He added that if he
proved unworthy of her, her money would be in her own power, and that if
he lived to deserve her love, he was sure she would never let him want.
She yielded to his solicitations, and they eloped.

Scarcely had the honeymoon run its course when the husband discovered that
he was united to a penniless woman. In spite of his reserve the governess
had detected his passion, and by the aid of confederates and her own
adroitness had made herself possessor of his patrimony. The victim sought
to repair his fortune at the sword's point in the Crimean war, where he
obtained considerable distinction.

Incredible as this narrative may seem, there is a yet more marvellous one
which must be true, since "it was in the papers."

In the autumn of 1827 two men were examined at the Marylebone police-court
under circumstances of a peculiar and suspicious nature. The night
previously a patrol in the New Road watched the men, and subsequently saw
them deep in conversation by a lamp-post, and soon afterwards one man
deliberately began to tie his companion up to the lamp-post, the suspended
man offering no resistance to the labours of the improvised Jack Ketch.
The patrol interfered, and both men proceeded to beat him with great
violence. Some watchmen of the district hearing the cries of the assailed
constable hastened to the spot, and the constable's assailants were
secured. While being examined before the magistrate, the men stated that
they had been gambling by the light from the lamp, and that one of them
had lost all his money to the other, and had then staked his clothes. The
winner demurred to continue playing for the reason that if he again won he
should not care to strip the loser of his habiliments. His enthusiastic
companion rejoined that should he again lose, life would be worthless to
him. A bargain was made to again play, it being understood that the
unsuccessful gambler if again unlucky should be hung by his companion, who
should strip him when dead. The fellow lost, and informed the magistrate
that he was only submitting to the terms of the treaty when the patrol
came up and interfered with himself and his companion. The magistrate
concluding they had been intoxicated, discharged them with a caution.

A remarkably grim passage this in a gambler's life, and unfortunately most
of the selections in this section of the subject are more or less sombre,
for romance is naturally more associated with tragedy than comedy.
"Pitiful, wondrous pitiful," is my next illustration, which is related by
Sir Walter Scott, who when attending Dugald Stewart's lectures on Moral
Philosophy used to sit by the side of an amiable youth, in whose society
he afterwards took great interest. They became companions, and frequently
used to stroll out beyond the city, enjoying the charms of road and
stream. One day during the perambulation they met a singularly venerable
"Blue Gown," a beggar of the Edie Ochiltree stamp, clean and ruddy. The
beggar had three or four times previously encountered Scott, who with his
usual good-heartedness had relieved him in answer to solicitation. When
Mr. Scott and his fellow-student passed the old man, the companion of
Scott exhibited peculiar restlessness and confusion. The beggar again had
something dropped into his hand by Scott, who said soon afterwards to his
companion, "Do you know anything to the dishonour of the old beggar?"
"God forbid!" said the youth, and bursting into tears added, "I am ashamed
to speak to him; he is my father! He has laid by for himself, but he
stands bleaching his head in the wind, that he may get means to pay for my
education." Scott spoke words of tenderness and sympathy to the
mendicant's son, and kept his secret.

Some time afterwards he again met the hale "Blue Gown." "God bless you!"
said the old man; "you have been kind to Willie. He has often spoken of
it. Come to our roof, for my boy has been ill. It will strengthen him, if
you will go and see him." At 2 o'clock on the following Saturday, Willie's
old fellow-student found the old man and his son waiting to receive him at
their little cottage outside the city. It was a modest little tenement,
and Willie sat on a bench before the door to enjoy the sunshine. The son
of the voluntary mendicant looked wan and emaciated. He had been very ill.
There was a dinner of mutton, potatoes and whisky. They all enjoyed
themselves, and during their conversation the old man said, "Please God I
may live to see my bairn wag his head in a pulpit yet." Scott left them
with tokens of good will and friendship. He communicated the story to his
mother, who informed her husband, and it was at no distant time that Dr.
Erskine's influence (through the good offices of Mr. and Mrs. Scott)
obtained the old man's son a tutorship in the north of Scotland.

To quit the pathetic for a moment, it would scarcely be thought likely
that that necessary but extremely practical article--blacking--has ever
been associated with romance; but Mr. Smiles tells the story of a poor
soldier having one day called at the shop of a hairdresser who was busy
with his customers and asked relief, stating that he had stayed beyond his
leave of absence, and unless he could get a lift on the coach, fatigue and
severe punishment awaited him. The hairdresser listened to his story
respectfully, and gave him a guinea. "God bless you, sir!" exclaimed the
soldier, astonished at the amount. "How can I repay you? I have nothing in
the world but this," pulling out a dirty piece of paper from his pocket;
"it is a receipt for making blacking--it is the best that was ever seen;
many a half-guinea I have had for it from the officers, and many bottles I
have sold. May you be able to get something for it to repay you for your
kindness to the poor soldier!" Oddly enough that dirty piece of paper
proved worth half a million of money to the hairdresser. It was no less
than a receipt for the famous Day and Martin's blacking, the hairdresser
being the late Mr. Day.

The picture of little ones asking for bread and the parents finding none
in the cupboard is a very old story. Domestic affection, struggling amidst
difficulties and distress, has produced heroes and martyrs innumerable,
but few more interesting than Peter Stokes, famous in years gone by as the
"Flying Pieman." Every day at the beginning of the present century
(excepting when it rained) the familiar figure of that now historic
personage might have been seen in the steep thoroughfare between Staple's
Inn and Field Lane. Peter obtained the _sobriquet_ of "Flying Pieman" from
the celerity of his movements. There was some slight mistake concerning
his nickname, for Peter Stokes sold baked plum pudding, not pies. Stokes
was one of the celebrated old-fashioned London characters, as well known
to cockneys of that period as Billy Waters or the negro crossing-sweeper
at the foot of Ludgate Hill.

Soon after the clock of St. Andrew's Church struck twelve, Stokes used to
turn out of Fetter Lane with a tray of smoking hot plum pudding, the
pudding cut into twelve slices, the price of each being a penny. Peter
carried his tray in one hand and a bright silver scapula in the other. The
customer received his slice of pudding from the scapula after a penny had
been deposited upon the tray (Peter never gave change), the "Flying
Pieman," as he perambulated or as he stopped, never being known to utter
any other word than "Buy, buy, buy." He always wore a black vest,
swallow-tailed coat, stout silk stockings, and shoes with bright silver
buckles, while a snowy white apron and faultlessly frilled shirt completed
a modish and impressive costume. No hat or cap adorned his head, the hair
of which was close cropped and powdered.

Peter Stokes was sometimes known to have disposed of fifty rounds of
pudding _per diem_. His customers have often included aldermen, ladies of
quality, and blue blood bucks, but they received no more attention than
did rougher and humbler patrons. The "Flying Pieman" was attentive to
everybody, but he never turned back for anybody. Making his way deftly
through crowds of pedestrians, hackney coaches or waggons, the "Flying
Pieman" went straight on, calling out "Buy," and only stopped for the
proffered penny; but his real history was indeed a curious one.
Contemporary with him was a portrait painter in Rathbone Place. The artist
painted with great assiduity in the morning, and his evening parties
though homely, were pleasant and refined. A devoted wife and affectionate
children cheered the life of the amiable and industrious artist. He was a
genial-faced man, with dark brown hair. This artist and Peter Stokes were
identical. When young, Stokes made a love-match, married upon next to
nothing, and in a few years found himself the father of several children.
A modest, industrious, painstaking artist, he found but few to sit to him
for a portrait. Things grew exceedingly bad with him.

One day he heard one of his boys crying for something to eat, and the
artist found that his wife had no bread to give the hungry child. Peter
Stokes hurried from his home with an almost wet picture, which he
deposited at a neighbouring pawnbroker's. Returning, the needy artist saw
at a street-corner a boy selling baked potatoes, and moreover the artist
observed that the boy was doing a busy trade. Crushing pride, and taking
his faithful and devoted wife into close confidence, Peter unfolded a plan
by which he too might sell something profitable in the street. Mrs. Stokes
seconded the suggestion, and Peter soon commenced his career as a vendor
of baked plum pudding. He threw a desperate card, but it turned up trumps.
Stokes's portraits have gone to the limbo of oblivion, but the peculiar
method by which he impressed the crowd with his tray of baked plum pudding
shows at any rate that its vendor had a good eye for artistic effect.

If it were, as some will doubtless say, "a sin and shame" that an artist
of Peter Stokes's ability should have to turn itinerant vendor of
pennyworths of pudding, the old adage "Be sure your sin will find you out"
was at fault for once; but to make up for the omission in his case, how
wonderfully true was the proverb in the romantic history of Lord Chief
Justice Holt, whose impecuniosity caused him to commit an act that
resulted in a truly tragic _finale_.

Sir John Holt, famous for his integrity, firmness, and great legal
knowledge, who filled the office of Recorder of London for a year and a
half, losing it in consequence of his uncompromising opposition to the
abolition of the "Test" Act, and whose upright discharge of the important
duties of Lord Chief Justice gained him the highest honour and esteem,
was as a youth wilful and dissipated. In some respects his deeds at that
period bore likeness to those of the madcap Prince Hal, when that
personage was the associate of Falstaff. He was a roysterer, gambler and,
according to some, highwayman. To use Lord Campbell's words, "They even
relate, many years after that, when he was going the circuit as Chief
Justice, he recognised a man convicted capitally before him as one of his
own accomplices in a robbery, and that having visited him in gaol, and
inquired after the rest of the gang, he received this answer: 'Ah! my
lord, they are all hanged but myself and your lordship.'"

On one occasion, Holt, with a band of dissolute and reckless companions,
found himself participator in the perplexing results of a common
bankruptcy. They were without the prospect of obtaining a supper. It was
then agreed that they should make their way singly, each individual to do
the best he could for himself. The band of roysterers separated, Holt
finding himself on a lonely and cheerless road. He was intrepid, nimble
witted, and full of self-possession. Spurring his horse, he set off at a
gallop. Arriving in front of a little hostelry, he alighted from his
steed, handed it over to the care of an ostler, and without more ado went
into the house and ordered the best entertainment that it could afford.

Whatever hardships he had undergone, Holt had now the pleasing expectation
of a savoury supper and comfortable lodgment. Waiting for a smoking dish,
the odour from which pleasantly saluted his nostrils, he carelessly
strolled from the chamber where he had been sitting into the kitchen.
There the hostess was busy in her culinary labours, while near the blazing
fire sat a girl about thirteen years old, pale, haggard, and shivering in
an ague fit. John Holt, though a "ne'er do weel," and a wild impetuous
fellow was not without the instinct of a compassionate heart. He asked
many questions concerning the malady of the young girl as she moaned and
rocked herself in the warmth of the ruddy embers. The mother replied that
for a year her daughter had been stricken by the ague, that the labour of
the doctors trying to cure her had been in vain, and that their charges
had nearly brought the fortunes of the house to ruin.

The young student having listened to the story of the mother's misfortune,
then spoke in contemptuous terms of doctors all round, bade her take
courage and be of good cheer, for he was acquainted with a specific that
would speedily take away her daughter's ague. "Indeed," said Holt, "you
need be under no further concern, for you may assure yourself the girl
shall never have another fit." Taking a piece of parchment from his breast
pocket, he with much gravity and deliberation proceeded to inscribe some
Greek characters on the scrap, and having concluded his work, charged the
mother to bind the parchment upon her daughter's wrist, allowing it to
remain there until the ague departed. By some strange coincidence, or by
the effects wrought upon the sympathies of the girl at the appearance and
touch of the supposed charm, her ague did depart, and returned no more, at
least not during the week John Holt remained the guest of mine hostess.

When he deemed it prudent or convenient to depart, he asked for his bill
with that confidence so often masking the demeanour of the bold adventurer
reduced to impecuniosity. But the hostess, smiling and embarrassed, said
she could make no demand for payment, and further added that she rather
felt in the position of one owing something, than as one having something
to receive. Indeed, she expressed sorrowfully that she could in no way
compensate her guest for the miraculous cure which he had wrought, and
that had she but known him sooner the expense of forty pounds would not
have been swallowed up by the _posse_ of useless doctors. Overcome by the
profuse thanks and grateful acknowledgments of his hostess John Holt
condescended to waive paying his week's bill, and departed with much
hilarity on his journey.

As months and years rolled away, the incidents of a busy life and the
assiduous practice of his profession crowded out of John Holt's memory the
recollection of his strange and facetious adventure at the hostelry on the
Oxford road. Holt's habits changed. He became the wise and impartial
judge, so admirable and so competent, that even his stern Tory father
(spite of the son's Liberal politics) grew proud of the man who in his
youthful career at Oxford had been the wildest of the wild, and the most
erring of the erring. The years have gone on, and when we turn again to
John Holt, he is approaching his sixtieth year. The scene is still in the
county of Oxford, but this time in one of the principal towns. The Summer
Assizes are being held, and the judges are sitting in all wonted
solemnity and state. In the Criminal Court a cause of unusual interest is
being heard.

At the bar there stands a poor, miserable and decrepit old woman. As she
looks at the grave and dignified judge she shakes with terror. The causes
of her fear are solemn and significant, for she is about to be tried for
her life, on the charge of being a witch. In those days of which I am
writing, there existed a terrible superstition in the popular mind
concerning witchcraft, believed as it was to be the crime of all others
the most destructive to man and the most impious in the sight of God. The
comely, dignified and shrewd-eyed judge excites the keenest interest in
the crowded court, for he is one of the "men of mark" of his age, the
profound lawyer, the incorruptible dispenser of justice, and the champion
of truth and freedom.

Witnesses are called. They give their evidence in a plain unpretentious
manner, and it is certain that they possess a firm faith in what they
allege against the miserable prisoner. The principal accusation against
her is that she holds in her possession a potent and mysterious charm. It
enables her to spread disease, or to cure it, and it is further stated
that she has lately been detected using it. "Has anybody seen it?"
inquires the judge. "Yes, please you, my lord, and it is now here ready to
be produced." His lordship directs that it shall be handed to him, and his
order is obeyed. Behold! nothing but a dirty ball wrapped round with rag
and pack-thread. Removing these, he discovers a scrap of stained and
time-worn parchment inscribed with characters in his own handwriting.
Chief Justice Holt, after the lapse of forty years, recognises the Greek
letters which he had scrawled in the inn kitchen situate on the Oxford

Deep silence reigns in the crowded court-house, and every eye is turned on
the judge. Lifting his head from his hands, in which it had been buried
for a few moments, he says to the jury,--

"Gentlemen, I must now relate an incident of my life which ill-suits my
position. To conceal that incident would be to increase the awful folly
which I must atone. Did I conceal that folly of which I was guilty, I
should endanger innocence and countenance superstition. This so-called
charm which these poor ignorant people suppose to have the power of life
and death is a senseless piece of parchment, on which with my own hand I
wrote and gave the poor woman. This poor woman for no other reason stands
before me accused of witchcraft." Chief Justice Holt then narrated the
whole story of his adventure in his early years at the woman's hostelry on
the Oxford road, and the recital produced such an effect upon the minds of
the jury that his old hostess was not only acquitted, but was one of the
last persons tried for the crime of witchcraft in this country.

I turn to another country and to incidents enveloped in a brighter and
pleasanter atmosphere. Readers of the older French literature are familiar
with the notes, verses, and dramas of Alexis Piron. The Burgundian
_bon-vivant_ knew many adventures and much impecuniosity; but
notwithstanding Fortune's buffets he retained "a revenue of good spirits,"
and when turned fifty years of age he participated in a bit of romance.

One evening after supper he went to the shop of a grocer, Gallet, a
song-writer and boon companion. A female entered the shop and asked for
some coffee and matches. Gallet was away, so the poet undertook to serve
the lady, saying to her, "Is that all you want?" The grocer entering
added, "Mademoiselle ought to have a husband in the bargain." "Excellent,"
said Piron, "if the damsel will take up with any kind of wood for her
arrow." A blush suffused the lady's cheeks, and she departed without
making rejoinder.

Next morning she visited the poet. "Monsieur," said she with trepidation,
"we are two children of Burgundy. I have long wanted to see a man of so
much wit, and having learned yesterday that it was you with whom I had to
do in M. Gallet's shop, I have come to-day without ceremony to pay you a
visit. How weary you must grow here! I was very much afraid of finding
some handsome lady from the theatre, but, heaven be praised!"--with a
glance at the extreme poverty of his surroundings--"you live like a
Trappist. Have you never thought of making an end of this?" Said Piron: "I
leave the care of that to la Camarde; but if you please, what do you
mean?" "I wish to say, have you ever thought of marriage?" "Not much.
Mademoiselle, pray sit down while I light the fire." "You don't know,
Monsieur Piron! it will make you laugh." "So much the worse." "I shall
speak plainly. If your heart, has the same sentiment as mine"--the poet
was wonder-stricken, and looked at the lady in silence--"in a word,
Monsieur Piron, I come to offer you my hand and heart, not forgetting my
life-annuity of two thousand livres."

The poet controlled his merry temper, and was touched when he thought what
a compassionate friend had been vouchsafed to him. He saw the woman's eyes
moist with tears, and he embraced her. "I leave to you," said he, "all the
preparations for the wedding. Gallet will write the epithalamium." "You
will make me, Monsieur Piron, the happiest person in the world I did not
hope for so happy a conclusion, for--I do not wish to conceal anything
from you--I am _fifty-five_!" "Well," said Piron, with a slight shrug, "we
have over a hundred years between us. We would have done well to have met

This marriage took place amid festivity. The old maid had a good heart and
an amiable temper. She proved a faithful sister, friend, and servant to
Piron. He had aromatic coffee in the morning, the beverage being all the
more palatable, as it was accompanied by the maker's cheerful gossip in
the chimney-corner. Madame Piron expressed herself enthusiastically about
her husband's writings, and Piron felt no longer alone, was able to refuse
going out to dinner in bad weather, and had a crown in his pocket when he
sauntered in the sunshine. He was well off enough to occasionally give
alms, and at last he could receive friends at his hearth. This episode in
the life of Piron is one of the brightest romances of impecuniosity.

Scarcely less happy is an anecdote of Quin the actor, who, if he said many
spiteful things, was not incapable of a generous action. James Thomson,
another of the brotherhood of genius, found himself immured in a
sponging-house. In his dolorous and solitary condition he was one evening
surprised by a visit from Quin. They cracked a bottle, and as the night
wore away a choice supper was served by one of the attendants of the
prison. Thomson, a sensitive nervous man, partook of the dishes with
indifferent appetite, for his thoughts wandered to the payment of the
bill. Another bottle of claret was drunk, and the visitor rose to depart.
"Mr. Thomson," said Quin, "before I go, let me say that there is an
account between us." Thomson was alarmed, and stammered out that he was
unaware of any obligations. "They are mine," replied Quin. "I have
received so much delight from the writings of James Thomson, that I
consider myself his debtor at least for a hundred pounds." Saying this,
he placed a note for that amount on the table, shook the astonished poet
by the hand, and bowed himself out.

I will conclude the selections of romantic impecuniosity with the case of
Thomas De Quincey, who, according to some authorities, being afraid of an
oral examination at Oxford College, left the university by stealth and
wandered away, his stock of money being scant and his whereabouts quite
unknown to his friends. He wandered about Denbighshire, Merionethshire,
and Carnarvonshire. Lodging at some place, De Quincey took affront at
something said by a landlady, and abruptly left his quarters. In his
"Confessions of an Opium Eater" he says,--

    "This leaving the lodgings turned out a very unfortunate occurrence
    for me, because living henceforward at inns, I was drained of my money
    very rapidly. In a fortnight I was reduced to short allowance, that is
    I could allow myself only one meal a day. From the keen appetite
    produced by constant exercise and mountain air acting on a youthful
    stomach I soon began to suffer greatly on this slender regimen, for
    the single meal which I could venture to order was coffee or tea.
    This, however, was at length withdrawn, and afterwards so long as I
    remained in Wales I subsisted either on blackberries, hips, haws,
    etc., or on the usual hospitalities which I now and then received for
    such little services as I had an opportunity of rendering. Sometimes I
    wrote letters of business for cottagers who happened to have relations
    in Liverpool or London. More often I wrote love-letters to their
    sweethearts for young women who had lived as servants in Shrewsbury or
    any other towns on the English border. On all such occasions I gave
    great satisfaction to my humble friends, and was generally treated
    with hospitality; and once in particular near the village of
    Llan-y-styndw (or some such name), in a sequestered part of
    Merionethshire, I was entertained for upwards of three days by a
    family of young people with an affectionate and fraternal kindness
    that left an impression upon my heart not yet impaired. The family
    consisted at that time of four sisters and three brothers, all grown
    up, and all remarkable for elegance and delicacy of manners. So much
    beauty and so much native good breeding and refinement I do not
    remember to have seen before or since, in any cottage, except once or
    twice in Westmoreland and Devonshire. They spoke English, an
    accomplishment not often met with in so many members of one family,
    especially in villages remote from the high road. There I wrote, in my
    first introduction, a letter about prize-money for one of the
    brothers, who had served on board an English man-of-war, and more
    privately, two love-letters for two of the sisters. They were both
    interesting-looking girls, and one of uncommon loveliness. In the
    midst of their confusion and blushes whilst dictating, or rather
    giving me general instructions, it did not require any great
    penetration to discover that what they wished was "that their letters
    should be as kind as was consistent with proper maidenly pride." I
    continued so to temper my expressions as to reconcile the
    gratification of both feelings, and they were as much pleased with the
    way in which I expressed their thoughts as, in their simplicity, they
    were astonished at my having so readily discovered them. The reception
    one meets with from the women of a family generally determines the
    tenor of one's whole entertainment. In this case I had discharged my
    confidential duties as secretary so much to the general satisfaction,
    perhaps also amusing them with my conversation, that I was pressed to
    stay with a cordiality which I had little inclination to resist. I
    slept with the brothers, the only unoccupied bed standing in the
    apartment of the young women; but in all other points they treated me
    with a respect not usually paid to purses as light as mine, as if my
    scholarship were sufficient evidence that I was of gentle blood."

Farther on he says,--

    "The only friend I had in this strange poverty of mine on first coming
    to London was a young woman. She was one of that unhappy class who
    belong to the outcasts and pariahs of our female population. For many
    weeks I had walked at night with this poor friendless girl up and down
    Oxford Street, or had rested with her on steps, or under the shelter
    of porticoes. One night when we were pacing slowly along Oxford
    Street, and after a day when I had felt unusually ill and faint, I
    requested her to turn off with me into Soho Square. Thither we went,
    and we sat down on the steps of a house which to this hour I never
    pass without a pang of grief and an inner act of homage to the spirit
    of the unhappy girl in memory of the noble act she performed. Suddenly
    as we sat I grew much worse: I had been leaning my head against her
    bosom. I sank from her arms and fell backwards on the steps. Uttering
    a cry of terror, but without a moment's delay, she ran off into Oxford
    Street, and in less time than could be imagined returned to me with a
    glass of port wine and spices that acted upon my empty stomach, which
    at that time would have rejected all solid food, with an instantaneous
    power of restoration, and for this glass the generous girl without a
    murmur paid out of her own humble purse, at a time, be it remembered,
    when she had scarcely wherewithal to purchase the bare necessaries of
    life, and when she could have no reason to expect that I should ever
    be able to reimburse her."

I will conclude this chapter with two most truly remarkable stories. The
first is one which Sir Walter Scott used to relate with his own inimitable
powers of story-telling, and which, as the victim was his own cousin, the
narrative on the lips of the novelist ever excited profound interest in
the minds of listeners. It would seem that as a midshipman his cousin
Watty was extremely popular on ship-board and on shore. He was a bit of a
rip, but generous to a fault, handsome, merry and reckless. After one
memorable long voyage he put in with others at Portsmouth, and enjoyed
those roysterings, love passages, tavern pleasures, and adventures so
dear to the heart of "Jack ashore." With a couple of companions Watty
Scott was in the unenviable position of being left high and dry on the
strand of impecuniosity. Moreover the three jolly sailors had run up an
immense bill at a tavern on the Point, the settlement of which haunted
them by day and by night. In their recklessness, almost amounting to
despair, they still went on living high, and steeping recollection of
their liabilities in the fumes of baccy and the odours of the flowing

At last came the fatal and imperative orders from official quarters that
they must "ship off." Summoning up their best graces and most insinuating
powers of expression in the way of eloquence, they sought an interview
with their hostess, and acquainted her with their foolish but unfortunate
position; to which account she listened with attention and deep interest.
She was informed not only of their perfect inability to meet the bill, but
that in a short period they were bound to be on board ship. Their caterer
turned a deaf ear to the revelation of their poverty, and in the most
virago-like manner fiercely informed them "that they could not budge an
inch." The sailors pleaded in earnest tones for her mercy, but in the
course of an hour they found themselves guarded by bailiffs, and in one of
the parlours of the hostelry the three youths, for they were nothing more,
sat in moody contemplation of their impending disgrace.

Towards evening their creditor sought them with a less fierce aspect and
uttered words less bitter and explosive than those of which she had
delivered herself in the morning. She told her debtors she would give them
a chance, and proposed a plan by which her claim could be cancelled. The
sailors were told by her that she was a lone woman and had long wanted a
marriage certificate "to give her a respectable position in her calling,"
that one of them must marry her--which one she didn't care a curse--but by
all that was holy if she didn't marry one of them, all three should be
packed off to gaol, and the ship must go without them. Remonstrance,
promises to pay in a few months, the unreasonableness of the request, in
fact everything said by the discomfited sailors was in vain. It was
impossible to pacify her, and the victims of impecuniosity saw that the
woman's proposal was the only means of escaping from disgrace and
humiliation. After taking counsel among themselves, the three sailors drew
lots for the hymeneal martyrdom, and the ill-luck fell on Watty Scott.
Next morning the midshipman and the landlady were spliced, and returned to
the tavern, where a rich and liberal dinner awaited the newly married
couple and the two fortunate companions of the bridegroom; and in the
afternoon the three sailors were tumbled into a wherry, and were soon
aboard ship. The marriage was kept a secret, and the first to reveal it
was Watty Scott, who one day at a town in Jamaica, reading a newspaper,
saw an account of a trial for murder and robbery in connection with a
Portsmouth tavern, and having read all particulars, exclaimed, "Thank God,
my wife's hanged!"

The other anecdote is more appalling in detail than anything I can
remember, and is recorded of a German nobleman who was a contemporary of
the first Napoleon.

The story opens in the solitary chamber of a dilapidated château situated
on the skirts of the Black Forest in Germany. In a corner of the chamber
sits a young man of aristocratic mien and military garb, his face buried
in his hands, and his whole demeanour indicating the most intense
hopelessness and sorrow. The courtyard and gardens of the château, as they
may be seen from the windows of the room in which the young man has sunk
upon a seat, are everywhere pervaded by an air of desolation. Tokens of
past opulence and taste may be observed in dismantled and untended
flower-beds, fallen vases and statues, and in the unhinged and rusting
iron gates. Forlorn as is the appearance of the interior and exterior of
the once beautiful château, it is not more forlorn and desolate than the
heart of the young soldier, sole tenant of the silent and deserted
chamber. The young man's history had been most melancholy. His mother,
harshly used by the man who at the altar had sworn to love and cherish
her, had died when he was only nineteen years of age. Her death was caused
by a broken heart, and the son, finding that he held no place in the
esteem or affections of the surviving parent, gladly accepted the offer of
a commission in an Austrian company of hussars.

After five years of hard and active service, respite and tranquil leisure
fell to the lot of the young soldier, and with the instincts of a loyal
and affectionate heart, he set out in the direction of his father's
residence on horseback, attended by his ordinary military servant.

On the second day's journey while going in the direction of the parental
home he found himself benighted in the midst of the Black Forest. It was a
perilous and wearisome journey, which, however, found relief by the
appearance of lights in what seemed to be some kind of human habitation.

It proved to be a rough and isolated inn, where the officer and his
orderly were soon housed, after accommodation had been found for their
horses. Everything about the cabaret was rough, uncomfortable, and
unprepossessing. The only man in attendance was of ruffianly and sinister
aspect. The orderly after supper was requested by his master to sleep
(ready for call) near the horses under the manger in the stable, and
afterwards the officer (carefully concealing a pair of pistols under his
cloak) requested to be shown to his sleeping apartment, which proved to be
little better than a loft. He placed the oil lamp on a chair, laid his
sword by it, and threw himself down on the rude pallet-bed without taking
off his clothes. Not feeling sleepy he turned his pillow, and found that
it was stained with blood recently shed, and which strengthening the
apprehensions formed on his entrance into the house, at once impelled him
to cock his pistols and draw his sword.

For an hour or two the house seemed to be wrapped in profound silence, and
just as the wearied guest found that drowsiness was stealing over him he
cast his eyes across the room and noticed that a portion of the flooring
heaved and rose. The officer crept from the bed and stood sword in hand
watching a trap-door which had been quietly raised by a hand. With all the
strength he could command and with all the quickness he could exercise he
smote the hand, when the trap closed, and beneath it he heard a smothered
cry. Hurrying down stairs, he reached the front door, unbarred it, made
his way to the stable, and roused the servant. In a short time master and
man were galloping away on the road, and the rest of their journey was
secure and without adventure. On the third day he reached the château of
his father. It was the soldier's birthplace, and his heart filled with
grief when he saw that his once-loved home was deserted and seemingly
tenantless. Decay seemed to have invaded everything. No summons awaited
their thundering knocks at the hall-door, but at one of the windows could
be seen the pallid, ghastly visage of a man watching. Master and man made
a forcible entry into the house, and sought the room at the window of
which had peered the strange and repulsive face. On entering the room the
young soldier recognised his father, haggard and scowling, who when he saw
his son's extended hand held up a mutilated stump and said, "That's your
answer." The father, ruined by reckless living, had, owing to his
impecuniosity, joined a lawless gang frequenting the cabaret, and had
sought to rob and murder his own son.



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