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Title: Famous Houses and Literary Shrines of London
Author: Adcock, A. St. John
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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FAMOUS HOUSES AND LITERARY SHRINES OF LONDON



[Illustration: SAM. JOHNSON]



  FAMOUS HOUSES AND
  LITERARY SHRINES
  OF LONDON


  BY A. ST. JOHN ADCOCK


  WITH SEVENTY-FOUR ILLUSTRATIONS
  BY FREDERICK ADCOCK
  AND 16 PORTRAITS


  LONDON: J. M. DENT & SONS, LTD.
  NEW YORK: E. P. DUTTON & CO. 1912



  _All rights reserved_

  Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO.
  At the Ballantyne Press, Edinburgh



PREFATORY NOTE


Nothing could well be deader or emptier than an unoccupied house of whose
former inhabitants we have no knowledge; and it is impossible to take a
real interest in a house now occupied by strangers, even though it was
aforetime the residence of some famous man, unless we are acquainted with
that man's personality, and know what he thought and did and said whilst
he was living there. I have attempted to do little more than supply that
information here as the complement of my brother's drawings, and to this
end have been less concerned to give my own descriptions and opinions than
to bring together opinions and descriptions that were written by such
famous residents themselves or by guests and visitors who saw and knew
them. As far as possible I have quoted from contemporary Diaries and
Memoirs, especially from letters that were written in or to these houses,
or from Journals that their tenants kept whilst they dwelt there,
supplementing all this with a narrative of incidents and events that might
help to recreate the life and recapture the atmosphere that belonged to
such places in the days that have made them memorable. Whenever I have
adventured into any general biography, or expressed any personal opinion,
it has been merely with the object of adding so much of history and
character as would serve to fill in the outline of a man's portrait, give
it a sufficient fulness and colour of life, and throw into clear relief
the space of time that he passed in some particular house that can still
be seen in a London street.

I think I have throughout made due acknowledgment to the authors of
various volumes of _Recollections_ and _Table Talk_ from which I have
drawn anecdotes and pen-portraits, and I should like to mention at the
outset that for biographical facts and much else I have been particularly
indebted to such books as Elwin and Courthope's edition of the _Poems and
Letters of Pope_; Austin Dobson's _William Hogarth_, and H. B. Wheatley's
_Hogarth's London_; Boswell's _Johnson_, of course, and Forster's _Lives
of Goldsmith_ and of _Dickens_; Gilchrist's _Life of Blake_; Leslie's and
Holmes's _Lives of Constable_; Arthur B. Chamberlain's _George Romney_;
Lord Houghton's _Life and Letters of Keats_, and Buxton Forman's _Complete
Works of John Keats_; Leigh Hunt's _Autobiography_; De Quincey's _English
Opium Eater_; Hogg's and Peacock's _Memoirs of Shelley_; Carew Hazlitt's
_Memoirs of Hazlitt_; Blackman's _Life of Day_; Byron's _Journals and
Letters_, and Lewis Bettany's useful compilation from them, _The
Confessions of Lord Byron_; Lockhart's _Life of Scott_, and Scott's
_Journal_; Talfourd's and Ainger's _Lives of Lamb_, and Lamb's _Letters_;
Walter Jerrold's _Life of Thomas Hood_; Cross's _Life of George Eliot_;
Sir William Armstrong's _Life of Turner_, and Lewis Hind's _Turner's
Golden Visions_; Joseph Knight's _Rossetti_; Froude's _Thomas Carlyle_,
and W. H. Wylie's _Carlyle, The Man and His Books_; Allingham's _Diary_;
E. R. and J. Pennell's _Life of Whistler_; Trollope's _Thackeray_, and
Lady Thackeray Ritchie's prefaces to the Centenary Edition of Thackeray's
works.

A. ST. J. A.



CONTENTS


  CHAP.                                                     PAGE

     I. SOME CELEBRATED COCKNEYS                               1

    II. SHAKESPEARE IN LONDON                                 10

   III. WHERE POPE STAYED AT BATTERSEA                        26

    IV. HOGARTH                                               36

     V. GOLDSMITH, REYNOLDS, AND SOME OF THEIR CIRCLE         52

    VI. HOMES AND HAUNTS OF JOHNSON AND BOSWELL               89

   VII. BLAKE AND FLAXMAN                                    118

  VIII. A HAMPSTEAD GROUP                                    140

    IX. ROUND ABOUT SOHO AGAIN                               167

     X. A PHILOSOPHER, TWO POETS, AND A NOVELIST             187

    XI. CHARLES LAMB                                         207

   XII. ST. JOHN'S WOOD AND WIMBLEDON                        233

  XIII. CHELSEA MEMORIES                                     255

   XIV. THACKERAY                                            296

    XV. DICKENS                                              314

   XVI. CONCLUSION                                           328



PORTRAITS


  DR. JOHNSON                                         _Frontispiece_
    _From an engraving by T. TROTTER after a
    drawing from life_

  JOHN MILTON                                         _Facing p._ 4
    _From a miniature by FAITHORNE_

  WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE                                     "      16
    _From an engraving by SCRIVEN after the
    Chandos portrait_

  ALEXANDER POPE                                          "      33
    _From an engraving by J. POSSELWHITE after
    the picture by HUDSON_

  OLIVER GOLDSMITH                                        "      81
    _After a drawing by SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS_

  SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS                                     "      96
    _From an engraving after his own portrait_

  JAMES BOSWELL                                           "     102
    _From an engraving by W. HALL after a sketch
    by LAWRENCE_

  JOHN KEATS                                              "     144
    _From a drawing by W. HILTON_

  THOMAS DE QUINCEY                                       "     176
    _From an engraving by W. H. MOORE_

  LORD BYRON                                              "     193
    _From a painting by THOMAS PHILLIPS, R.A._

  CHARLES LAMB                                            "     224
    _From the painting by WILLIAM HAZLITT_

  THOMAS HOOD                                             "     241
    _From an engraving by W. H. SMITH_

  THOMAS CARLYLE                                          "     280
    _From a painting by SIR JOHN MILLAIS_

  W. M. THACKERAY                                         "     305
    _From a pencil sketch by COUNT D'ORSAY_

  CHARLES DICKENS                                         "     320
    _From a black and white drawing by BAUGHIET, 1858_

  ROBERT BROWNING                                         "     338
    _From a photograph_



ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                            PAGE

  St. Saviour's, Southwark Cathedral                         xvi

  The Gateway, Middle Temple                                   6

  Chaucer's Tomb, Westminster Abbey                            8

  Jerusalem Chamber, Westminster Abbey                        11

  St. Olave's Churchyard, Silver Street                       17

  Bartholomew Close, Smithfield                               21

  The Last Bulk Shop, Clare Market                            25

  Pope's House, Battersea                                     29

  Pope, Mawson's Row, Chiswick                                37

  Sir James Thornhill, 75 Dean Street                         42

  Hogarth's House, Chiswick                                   45

  The Bay Window, Hogarth's House                             49

  Sir Isaac Newton's House, St. Martin's Street, W.C.         53

  Sir Joshua Reynolds's House, Great Newport Street           57

  The Staircase, 47 Leicester Square                          59

  Sir Benjamin West's House, Newman Street                    61

  Gainsborough's House, Pall Mall                             65

  Sheridan's House, Savile Row                                69

  Pump Court, Temple                                          73

  Richardson's House, North End, Fulham                       75

  Goldsmith's House, Canonbury                                77

  2 Brick Court, The Temple                                   83

  Stairs up to Second Floor, 2 Brick Court                    85

  Goldsmith's Grave                                           87

  Entrance to Staple Inn                                      91

  Dr. Johnson's House, Gough Square                           99

  Johnson's Corner, "The Cheshire Cheese"                    107

  Where Boswell first met Johnson                            111

  Boswell's House, Great Queen Street                        115

  Blake's House, Soho                                        121

  Blake, 23 Hercules Road                                    125

  Blake's House, South Moulton Street                        127

  Flaxman's House, Buckingham Street, Euston Road            137

  Romney's House, Hampstead                                  141

  Constable, Charlotte Street                                145

  Joanna Baillie, Windmill Hill, Hampstead                   147

  Stanfield's House, Hampstead                               151

  "The Upper Flask," from the Bowling Green                  153

  Keats' House, Hampstead                                    157

  Constable's House, Hampstead                               161

  George du Maurier's Grave, Hampstead                       165

  De Quincey's House, Soho                                   171

  Shelley's House, Poland Street, W.                         175

  Shelley, Marchmont Street                                  179

  Hazlitt's House, Frith Street                              183

  Thomas Day, 36 Wellclose Square                            189

  Byron, 4 Bennet Street, St. James's                        195

  Coleridge, Addison Bridge Place                            201

  Will's Coffee House, Russell Street                        217

  Lamb, Colebrooke Row                                       219

  Lamb's Cottage, Edmonton                                   229

  Tom Hood's House, St. John's Wood                          237

  Charles Dibdin, 34 Arlington Road                          243

  George Eliot, Wimbledon Park                               247

  George Eliot's House, Chelsea                              251

  Queen's House, Cheyne Walk                                 257

  Whistler, 96 Cheyne Walk                                   263

  Turner's House, Cheyne Walk                                269

  Carlyle, Ampton Street                                     277

  Carlyle's House, Cheyne Row                                283

  Leigh Hunt's House, Chelsea                                289

  Leigh Hunt, 16 Rowan Road, Hammersmith                     295

  The Charterhouse, from the Square                          297

  Thackeray's House, Kensington                              301

  Lamb Building, Temple, from the Cloisters                  307

  Dickens, Johnson Street, Camden Town                       315

  Dickens's House, Doughty Street                            319

  Thurloe's Lodgings, 24 Old Square, Lincoln's Inn           329

  Captain Marryat, Duke Street, St. James's                  333

  Benjamin Franklin's House, Craven Street                   335

  Cruikshank, 263 Hampstead Road                             337

  George Morland, "The Bull Inn," Highgate                   339

  Rogers, St. James's Place, from Green Park                 341

  Borrow's House, Hereford Square                            345



[Illustration: ST. SAVIOUR'S. SOUTHWARK CATHEDRAL.]



FAMOUS LONDON HOUSES



CHAPTER I

SOME CELEBRATED COCKNEYS


You cannot stir the ground of London anywhere but straightway it flowers
into romance. Read the inscriptions on the crumbling tombs of our early
merchant princes and adventurers in some of the old City churches, and it
glimmers upon you that if ever the history of London's commercial rise and
progress gets adequately written it will read like a series of stories out
of the _Arabian Nights_. Think what dashing and magnificent figures, what
tales of dark plottings, fierce warfare, and glorious heroisms must
brighten and darken the pages of any political history of London; and even
more glamorous, more intensely and humanly alive, would be a social
history of London, beginning perhaps in those days of the fourteenth
century when Langland was living in Cornhill and writing his _Vision of
Piers Plowman_, or farther back still, in Richard the First's time, when
that fine spirit, the first of English demagogues, William Fitzosbert, was
haranguing the folkmoot in St. Paul's Churchyard, urging them to resist
the tyrannic taxations of the Lord Mayor and his Court of wealthy
Aldermen--a passion for justice that brought him into such danger that he
and certain of his friends had to seek sanctuary, and barricaded
themselves in Bow Church. The church was fired by order of a bishop who
had no sympathy with reformers, and Fitzosbert and his friends, breaking
out through the flames, were stabbed and struck down in Cheapside, hustled
to the Tower, hastily tried and sentenced, dragged out by the heels
through the streets, and hanged at Smithfield. I have always thought this
would make a good, live starting-point, and had I but world enough and
time I would sooner write that history than anything else.

No need to hunt after topics when you are writing about London; they come
to you. The air is full of them. The very names of the streets are
cabalistic words. Once you know London, myriads of great spirits may be
called from the vasty deep by sight or sound of such names as Fleet
Street, Strand, Whitehall, Drury Lane, The Temple, Newgate Street,
Aldersgate, Lombard Street, Cloth Fair, Paternoster Row, Holborn,
Bishopsgate, and a hundred others. You have only to walk into Whitefriars
Street and see "Hanging-sword Alley" inscribed on the wall of a court at
the top of a narrow flight of steps, and all Alsatia rises again around
you, as Ilion rose like a mist to the music of Apollo's playing. Loiter
along Cornhill in the right mood and Thomas Archer's house shall rebuild
itself for you at the corner of Pope's Head Alley, where he started the
first English newspaper in 1603, and you will wonder why nobody writes a
full history of London journalism.

As for literary London--every other street you traverse is haunted with
memories of poets, novelists, and men of letters, and it is some of the
obscurest of these associations that are the most curiously fascinating. I
have a vivid, youthful remembrance of a tumble-down, red-tiled shop near
the end of Leathersellers' Buildings which I satisfied myself was the
identical place in which Robert Bloomfield worked as a shoemaker's
assistant; Devereux Court still retains something of the Grecian
Coffee-house that used to be frequented by Addison and Steele, but I knew
the Court first, and am still drawn to it most, as the site of that
vanished Tom's Coffee-house where Akenside often spent his winter
evenings; and if I had my choice of bringing visibly back out of
nothingness one of the old Charing Cross houses, it would be the butcher's
shop that was kept by the uncle who adopted Prior in his boyhood.

Plenty of unpleasant things have been said about London, but never by her
own children, or such children of her adoption as Johnson and Dickens.
Says Hobbes, who was born at Malmesbury, "London has a great belly, but no
palate," and Bishop Stubbs (a native of Knaresborough) more recently
described it as "always the purse, seldom the head, and never the heart of
England." Later still an eminent speaker, quoting this fantastic dictum of
Stubbs's, went a step further and informed his audience that "not many men
eminent in literature have been born in London"; a statement so
demonstrably inaccurate that one may safely undertake to show that at
least as many men eminent in literature, to say nothing of art and
science, have been born in London as in any other half-dozen towns of the
kingdom put together.

To begin with, the morning star of our literature, Geoffrey Chaucer, was
born in Thames Street, not far from the wharf where, after he was married
and had leased a home for himself in Aldgate, he held office as a
Comptroller of Customs, and the pen that was presently to write the
_Canterbury Tales_ "moved over bills of lading." The "poets' poet,"
Spenser, was born in East Smithfield, by the Tower, and in his
_Prothalamion_ speaks of his birthplace affectionately as--

  "Merry London, my most kindly nurse,
   That to me gave this life's first native source,
   Though from another place I take my name."

Ben Jonson was born in Hartshorn Lane, Charing Cross; four of his
contemporary dramatists, Fletcher, Webster, Shirley and Middleton, were
also Londoners by birth; Sir Thomas Browne, author of the _Religio
Medici_, was born in the parish of St. Michael-le-Quern, in the very heart
of the city; and Bread Street, Cheapside, is hallowed by the fact that
Milton had his birth there.

Dr. Donne, the son of a London merchant, was also born within a stone's
throw of Cheapside; and his disciple, Cowley, came into the world in Fleet
Street, at the corner of Chancery Lane. But Cowley was a renegade; he
acquired an unnatural preference for the country, and not only held that
"God the first garden made, and the first city Cain," but ended a poem in
praise of nature and a quiet life with--

              "Methinks I see
  The monster London laugh at me;
    I should at thee too, foolish city,
  If it were fit to laugh at misery;
    But thy estate I pity.
  Let but thy wicked men from out thee go,
  And all the fools that crowd thee so,
    Even thou, who dost thy millions boast,
  A village less than Islington wilt grow,
    A solitude almost."

[Illustration: JOHN MILTON]

The daintiest of our lyrists, Herrick, was born over his father's shop in
Cheapside, and you may take it he was only playing with poetical fancies
when, in some lines to his friend Endymion Porter, he praised the country
with its "nut-brown mirth and russet wit," and again when, in a set of
verses on "The Country Life," he assured his brother he was "thrice and
above blest," because he could--

  "Leave the city, for exchange, to see
   The country's sweet simplicity."

If you want to find him in earnest, turn to that enraptured outburst of
his on "His Return to London"--

  "Ravished in spirit I come, nay more I fly
   To thee, blessed place of my nativity!...
   O place! O people! manners framed to please
   All nations, customs, kindreds, languages!
   I am a free-born Roman; suffer then
   That I amongst you live a citizen.
   London my home is, though by hard fate sent
   Into a long and irksome banishment;
   Yet since called back, henceforward let me be,
   O native country! repossessed by thee;
   For rather than I'll to the West return,
   I'll beg of thee first here to have mine urn."

There speaks the true Cockney; he would sooner be dead in London than
alive in the West of England. Even Lamb's love of London was scarcely
greater than that.

[Illustration: THE GATEWAY. MIDDLE TEMPLE.]

It was fitting that Pope, essentially a town poet, should be born in
Lombard Street. In the next thoroughfare, Cornhill, Gray was born; and,
son of a butcher, Defoe began life in the parish of St. Giles's,
Cripplegate. Shakespeare was an alien, but Bacon was born at York House,
in the Strand; which, to my thinking, is the strongest argument in favour
of the theory that he wrote the plays. Churchill was born at Vine Street,
Westminster; Keats in Moorfields; and, staunchest and one of the most
incorrigible Londoners of them all, Charles Lamb in Crown Office Row,
Temple. He refers, in one of his essays, to Hare Court, in the Temple, and
says: "It was a gloomy, churchyard-like court, with three trees and a
pump in it. I was born near it, and used to drink at that pump when I was
a Rechabite of six years old." The pump is no longer there, only one half
of Hare Court remains as it was in Lamb's day, and Crown Office Row has
been rebuilt. His homes in Mitre Court Buildings and Inner Temple Lane
have vanished also; but the Temple is still rich in reminiscences of him.
Paper Buildings, King's Bench Walk, Harcourt Buildings, the fountain near
Garden Court, the old Elizabethan Hall, in which tradition says
Shakespeare read one of his plays to Queen Elizabeth--these and the
church, the gardens, the winding lanes and quaint byways of the Temple,
made up, as he said, his earliest recollections. "I repeat to this day,"
he writes, "no verses to myself more frequently, or with kindlier emotion,
than those of Spenser, where he speaks of this spot--

  'There when they came whereas those bricky towers
   The which on Themmes broad aged back doth ride,
   Where now the studious lawyers have their bowers,
   There whylome wont the Templar knights to bide,
   Till they decayed through pride.'"

And, "indeed," he adds, "it is the most elegant spot in the metropolis."

[Illustration: CHAUCER'S TOMB. WESTMINSTER ABBEY.]

But his letters and essays are full of his love of London. "I don't care
much," he wrote to Wordsworth, "if I never see a mountain. I have passed
all my days in London, until I have formed as many and intense local
attachments as any of your mountaineers can have done with dead Nature....
I often shed tears in the motley Strand from fulness of joy in so much
life." Again, "Fleet Street and the Strand," he writes to Manning, "are
better places to live in for good and all than amidst Skiddaw." After he
had removed to Edmonton, on account of his sister's health, it was to
Wordsworth he wrote, saying how he pined to be back again in London: "In
dreams I am in Fleet Market, but I wake and cry to sleep again.... Oh,
never let the lying poets be believed who 'tice men from the cheerful
haunts of streets.... A garden was the primitive prison, till man, with
Promethean felicity and boldness, luckily sinned himself out of it. Thence
followed Babylon, Nineveh, Venice, London.... I would live in London
shirtless, bookless."

But to get back to our catalogue of birthplaces--Blake was born in Broad
Street, near Golden Square; Byron in Holles Street; Hood in the Poultry,
within sight of the Mansion House; Dante and Christina Rossetti were
Londoners born; so were Swinburne, Browning, Philip Bourke Marston, John
Stuart Mill, Ruskin, Turner, Holman Hunt, Sir Arthur Sullivan--but if we
go outside literary Londoners this chapter will end only with the book.
Moreover, my purpose is not so much to talk of authors and artists who
were born in London, as to give some record of the still surviving houses
in which many of them lived; whether they had their birth here or not, the
majority of them came here to live and work, for, so far as England is
concerned, there is more than a grain of truth in Lamb's enthusiastic
boast that "London is the only fostering soil of genius."



CHAPTER II

SHAKESPEARE IN LONDON


The London that Shakespeare knew has vanished like a dream. The Great Fire
swept most of it out of existence in a few days of 1666, and the two and a
half centuries of time since then have made away with nearly all the rest
of it. The Tower still remains; there are parts of the Temple; a stray
relic or so, such as the London Stone in Cannon Street, by which
Shakespeare lays one of the Jack Cade scenes of his _Henry VI._ There are
the stately water-gates along the Embankment, too; here and there an old
house or so, such as that above the Inner Temple gateway, those of Staple
Inn, those in Cloth Fair, and over in the Borough High Street; a few
ancient Inns, like the Mitre off Ely Place, the Dick Whittington in Cloth
Fair, the George in Southwark; some dozen of churches, including
Westminster Abbey (in whose Jerusalem Chamber the translators of the Bible
held their meetings), St. Saviour's, Southwark, St. Bartholomew the Great
in Smithfield, St. Andrew Undershaft, St. Ethelburga's and St. Helen's,
Bishopsgate, in which latter parish it seems probable that Shakespeare was
for a while a householder; otherwise Elizabethan London has dwindled to
little but remembered sites of once-famous buildings and streets that have
changed in everything but their names.

[Illustration: JERUSALEM CHAMBER. WESTMINSTER ABBEY.]

Until quite recently none of us knew of any address in London that had
ever been Shakespeare's; we knew of no house, of no street even, which had
once numbered him among its tenants, though we know that he passed at
least twenty of the busiest and most momentous years of his life in the
metropolis. There is a plausible but vague tradition that during some part
of that period he had lodgings in Southwark near the Globe Theatre, in
which he acted, for which he wrote plays, and of which he was one of the
proprietors. There used to be an inscription: "Here lived William
Shakespeare," on the face of an old gabled house in Aldersgate Street, but
there was never a rag of evidence to support the statement. We have no
letters of Shakespeare, but we have one or two that refer to him, and one
written to him by Richard Quiney, and I think we may infer from this
latter that Shakespeare occasionally visited Quiney, who was a vintner,
dwelling at the sign of the Bell in Carter Lane. Otherwise, except for a
handful of small-beer chronicles about him that were picked up in
theatrical circles two or three generations after his death, we had no
record of any incident in his London life that brought us into actual
personal touch with him until little more than two years ago. Then an
American professor, Mr. Charles William Wallace, came over and did what
our English students do not appear to have had the energy or enterprise to
do for themselves--he toiled carefully through the dusty piles of
documents preserved in the Record Office, and succeeded in unearthing one
of the most interesting Shakespearean discoveries that have ever been
made--a discovery that gives us vividly intimate glimpses of Shakespeare's
life in London, and establishes beyond question his place of residence
here in the years when he was writing some of the greatest of his dramas.

In 1587 the company of the "Queen's Players" made their first appearance
in Stratford-on-Avon, and it was about this date, so far as can be traced,
that Shakespeare ran away from home; so you may reasonably play with a
fancy that he joined this company in some very minor capacity and
travelled with them to London. At this time, Burbage, who was by
profession an actor and by trade a carpenter and joiner, was owner and
manager of "The Theatre," which stood in Shoreditch near the site of the
present Standard Theatre, and close by was a rival house, "The Curtain"
(commemorated nowadays by Curtain Road); and according to the legend,
which has developed into a legend of exact detail, yet rests on nothing
but the airiest rumour, it was outside one or both of these theatres
Shakespeare picked up a living on his arrival in London by minding horses
whilst their owners were inside witnessing a performance.

By 1593 Shakespeare had become known as an actor and as a dramatist. He
had revised and tinkered at various plays for Burbage's company, and as a
consequence had been charged with plagiarism by poor Greene, whose
_Groatsworth of Wit_ (published after he had died miserably in Dowgate)
pours scorn on the "upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that with
his _Tygers heart wrapt in a players hide_ supposes he is as well able to
bumbast out a blank verse as the best of you; and being an absolute
_Johannes fac totum_, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a
countrie." For his acting, Shakespeare appears for the first time in the
Lord Chamberlain's accounts of 1594 as having taken equal shares with
William Kemp and Richard Burbage in a sum of twenty pounds "for two
severall Comedies or Interludes shewed by them" before Queen Elizabeth at
Christmas 1593.

After the Theatre of Shoreditch was pulled down in 1598, Burbage built the
Globe Theatre on Bankside, Southwark, on the ground of which part of
Barclay & Perkins's brewery now stands; and Shakespeare, "being a
deserveing man," was taken as one of the partners and received a
"chief-actor's share" of the profits. And it is to this prosperous period
of his London career that Professor Wallace's recent discoveries belong.

In 1598 there lived in a shop at the corner of Silver Street and Monkwell
Street a certain Christopher Mountjoy, a maker of wigs and fashionable
headdresses. He was a Frenchman, born at Cressy, and probably a refugee
Huguenot. His household consisted of a wife and daughter, an apprentice
named Stephen Bellott, and one lodger, and this lodger was William
Shakespeare. Being out of his apprenticeship in 1604, Stephen had six
pounds from his master and, with this and his own savings, went travelling
into Spain, but returned towards the end of the year and resumed work
again at Mountjoy's shop. In his 'prentice days Stephen seems to have
formed some shy attachment to his master's daughter, Mary, but because of
his lack of means and prospects, or because he was naturally reticent, he
had made no attempt to press his suit, and Madame Mountjoy, seeing how the
young people were affected to each other, followed the fashion of the time
and persuaded Shakespeare, who had then been living under the same roof
with them for six years, to act as match-maker between her and the
hesitating lover. She one day laid the case before Shakespeare and asked
his good offices, as Professor Wallace has it; she told him that "if he
could bring the young man to make a proposal of marriage, a dower fitting
to their station should be settled upon them at marriage. This was the
sum of fifty pounds in money of that time, or approximately four hundred
pounds in money of to-day." Shakespeare consented to undertake this
delicate duty; he spoke with young Bellott, and the outcome of his
negotiations was that Stephen and Mary were married, as the entry in the
church register shows, at St. Olave, Silver Street, on the 19th November
1604.

On the death of Madame Mountjoy in 1606, Stephen and his wife went back to
live with the father and help him in his business, but they soon fell out
with him, and became on such bad terms that some six months later they
left him and took lodgings with George Wilkins, a victualler, who kept an
inn in the parish of St. Sepulchre's. The quarrel between them culminated
in Stephen Bellott bringing an action in the Court of Requests in 1612, to
recover from his father-in-law a promised dower of sixty pounds and to
ensure that Mountjoy carried out an alleged arrangement to bequeath a sum
of two hundred pounds to him by his will. At the Record Office Professor
Wallace found all the legal documents relating to these proceedings, and
amongst them are the depositions of Shakespeare setting forth to the best
of his recollection his own share in the arranging of the marriage. From
these depositions, and from those of other witnesses who make reference to
him, one gets the first clear and authentic revelation of Shakespeare's
home life in London.

He lived with the Mountjoys over that shop at the corner of Monkwell
Street for at least six years, down to the date of the wedding, and there
is little doubt that he stayed on with them after that. It is more than
likely, indeed, that he was still boarding there when he appeared as a
witness in the 1612 lawsuit and stated that he had been intimate with the
family some "ten years, more or less." Throughout the later of those years
he was absent on occasional visits to Stratford, and hitherto it has been
generally assumed (on the negative evidence that no trace of him could be
found after this date) that he returned and settled down in Stratford
permanently about 1609.

Taking only the six years we are certain of, however, he wrote between
1598 and 1604 _Henry V._, _The Merry Wives of Windsor_, _Much Ado About
Nothing_, _As You Like It_, _Twelfth Night_, _All's Well that Ends Well_,
_Julius Cæsar_, _Hamlet_, _Measure for Measure_, and _Othello_. In the two
years following, whilst it is pretty sure he was still dwelling with the
Mountjoys, he wrote _Macbeth_ and _King Lear_, and the fact that he had
his home here during the period in which he was writing ten of his
plays--three of them amongst the greatest he or any man ever wrote--makes
this corner of Monkwell Street the most glorious literary landmark in the
world.

[Illustration: WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE]

The house in which he lodged was destroyed by the Great Fire, and the site
is occupied now by an old tavern, "The Cooper's Arms." Almost facing it,
just the other side of Silver Street, is a fragment of the churchyard of
St. Olave's. The church, in which the apprentice Stephen was married to
Mary Mountjoy, vanished also in the Great Fire and was not rebuilt, and
this weedy remnant of the churchyard with its three or four crumbling
tombs is all that survives of the street as Shakespeare knew it; his
glance must have rested on that forlorn garden of the dead as often as
he looked from the windows opposite or came out at Mountjoy's door.

[Illustration: ST. OLAVE'S CHURCHYARD. SILVER STREET.]

Turning to the right when he came out at that door, half a minute's walk
up Falcon Street would have brought him into Aldersgate Street, so the
announcement on one of the shops there that he had lived in it may have
been nothing worse than a perfectly honest mistake; it was known as a fact
that he lived thereabouts, and tradition settled on the wrong house
instead of on the right one, that was a hundred yards or so away from it.
But when Shakespeare issued from Mountjoy's shop you may depend that his
feet more frequently trod the ground in the opposite direction; he would
go to the left, along Silver Street, into Wood Street, and down the length
of that to Cheapside, where, almost fronting the end of Wood Street,
stood the Mermaid Tavern, and he must needs pass to the right or left of
it, by way of Friday Street, or Bread Street, across Cannon Street and
then down Huggin Lane or Little Bread Street Hill to Thames Street,
whence, from Queenhithe, Puddle Wharf, or Paul's Wharf, he could take boat
over the Thames to the Globe Theatre on Bankside.

There has been no theatre on Bankside these many years; there is nothing
there or in that vicinity now that belongs to Shakespeare's age except
some scattered, ancient, inglorious houses that he may or may not have
known and the stately cathedral of St. Saviour. This holds still the span
of ground that has belonged to it since before Chaucer's day. You may
enter and see there the quaint effigy of Chaucer's contemporary, Gower,
sleeping on his five-century-old tomb; and here and there about the aisles
and in the nave are memorials of remembered or forgotten men and women who
died while Shakespeare was living, and somewhere in it were buried men,
too, who were intimate with him, though no evidence of their burial there
remains except in the parish register. In the "monthly accounts" of St.
Saviour's you come upon these entries concerning two of his contemporary
dramatists:--

    "1625. _August_ 29th, John Fletcher, a poet, in the church."

    "1638. _March_ 18th, Philip Massinger, stranger, in the church."

the inference being that Fletcher had resided in the parish, and
Massinger, the "stranger," had not. But earlier than either of these, it
is on record that on the 31st December 1607, Shakespeare's youngest
brother, Edmund, "a player," was buried here, and a fee of twenty
shillings was paid by some one for "a forenoon knell of the great bell."

St. Saviour's, then, the sites of the Globe Theatre and the Mermaid, and
that corner of Monkwell Street are London's chief Shakespearean shrines.
The discovery of the Monkwell Street residence emphasises that before Ben
Jonson founded his Apollo Club at the Devil Tavern by Temple Bar,
Cheapside and not Fleet Street was the heart of literary London. Whilst
Shakespeare made his home with the Mountjoys, Ben Jonson and Dekker were
living near him in Cripplegate, in which district also resided Johnson the
actor, Anthony Munday, and other of Shakespeare's intimates; nearer still,
in Aldermanbury, lived Heminges and Condell, his brother actors, who first
collected and published his plays after his death: and George Wilkins, at
whose inn near St. Sepulchre's Stephen Bellott and his wife lodged after
their quarrel with Mountjoy, was a minor dramatist who, besides
collaborating with Rowley, collaborated with Shakespeare himself in the
writing of _Pericles_. Coryat, the eccentric author of the _Crudities_,
lived in Bow Lane; Donne, who was born in Wood Street, wrote his early
poems there in the house of the good merchant, his father, and was a
frequenter of the Mermaid.

In 1608 Milton was born in Bread Street (Shakespeare must have passed his
door many a time in his goings to and fro), and grew up to live and work
within the City walls in Aldersgate Street, and in Bartholomew Close, and
just without them in Bunhill Row, and was brought back within them to be
buried in Cripplegate Church. These, and its earlier and many later
literary associations, help to halo Cheapside and its environs, and, in
spite of the sordid commercial aspect and history that have overtaken it,
to make it for ever a street in the kingdom of romance.

And the chief glory of Cheapside itself is, of course, the Mermaid. One of
these days a fitting sign will be placed above the spot where it stood,
and set forth in letters of gold the great names that are inseparable from
its story, and first among these will be the names of Shakespeare, Ben
Jonson, Beaumont, Fletcher, Selden, Donne, Carew, Fuller, Sir Walter
Raleigh.

The Mermaid rose on Cheapside with a side entrance in Friday Street, and
of evenings when no business took him to the theatre, or towards midnight
when he was on his way home from it, Shakespeare often turned aside into
this famous meeting-place of the immortals of his generation. Everybody is
familiar with those rapturous lines in Beaumont's letter to Ben Jonson,
"written before he and Master Fletcher came to London with two of the
precedent comedies, then not finished, which deferred their merry meetings
at the Mermaid;" but one cannot talk of the Mermaid without remembering
them and quoting from them once again:--

                      "In this warm shine
  I lie and dream of your full Mermaid wine....
  Methinks the little wit I had is lost
  Since I saw you: for wit is like a rest
  Held up at tennis, which men do the best
  With the best gamesters! What things have we seen
  Done at the Mermaid! heard words that have been
  So nimble and so full of subtile flame
  As if that every one from whence they came
  Had meant to put his whole wit in a jest,
  And had resolved to live a fool the rest
  Of his dull life; then when there hath been thrown
  Wit able enough to justify the town
  For three days past, wit that might warrant be
  For the whole city to talk foolishly
  Till that were cancelled; and when that was gone,
  We left an air behind us which alone
  Was able to make the next two companies
  Right witty; though but downright fools, mere wise."

[Illustration: BARTHOLOMEW CLOSE. SMITHFIELD.]

Well might Keats ask in a much later day (probably whilst he was tenanting
the Cheapside rooms over Bird-in-Hand Court in which he wrote the sonnet
on Chapman's Homer):

  "Souls of poets dead and gone,
   What Elysium have ye known,
   Happy field or mossy cavern
   Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?"

And in our own time, in _Christmas at the Mermaid_, Watts-Dunton has
recreated that glamorous hostelry and brought together again the fine
spirits who used to frequent it--brought them together in an imaginary
winter's night shortly after Shakespeare had departed from them and gone
back to Stratford for good. Jonson is of that visionary company, and
Raleigh, Lodge, Dekker, Chapman, Drayton and Heywood, and it is Heywood
who breaks in, after the tale-telling and reminiscent talk, with--

    "More than all the pictures, Ben,
      Winter weaves by wood or stream,
    Christmas loves our London, when
      Rise thy clouds of wassail-steam:
    Clouds like these that, curling, take
    Forms of faces gone, and wake
  Many a lay from lips we loved, and make
        London like a dream."

It is because of the memories that sleep within it, like music in a lute
until a hand that knows touches it, because of all it has been, and
because it is never more wonderful than when you can so make it like a
dream, that I give thanks for the fog that comes down upon London at
intervals, in the grey months, and with silent wizardries conjures it out
of sight. Look at this same Cheapside on a clear day, and it is simply a
plain, prosperous, common-place street, but when a fog steals quietly
through it and spiritualises it to something of the vagueness and grandeur
and mystery of poetry it is no longer a mere earthly thoroughfare under
the control of the Corporation; it becomes a dream-street in some
mist-built city of the clouds, and you feel that at any moment the
pavements might thin out and shred away and let you through into starry,
illimitable spaces. Where the brown fog warms to a misty, golden glow you
know there are shop windows. As you advance the street-lamps twinkle in
the thick air, as if they were kindled magically at your coming and
flickered out again directly you were past. The coiling darkness is loud
with noises of life, but you walk among them with a sense of aloofness and
solitude, for you can see nothing but flitting shadows all about you and
know that you are yourself only a shadow to them.

For me, three of the loveliest and most strangely touching sights of
London are the stars shining very high in the blue and very quietly when
you look up at them from the roaring depths of a crowded, naphtha-flaring,
poverty-stricken market street; a sunrise brightening over the Thames
below London Bridge, while the barges are still asleep with the gleam of
their lamps showing pale in the dawn; and the blurred lights and ghostly
buildings of a long city road that is clothed in mystery and transfigured
by a brooding, dream-haunted fog. Perhaps this is only because of the dim
feeling one has that the stars and the sunrise are of the things that the
wasting centuries have not changed; and the fog that blots out to-day
makes it easier to realise that yesterday and the life of yesterday are
close about us still, and that we might see them with our waking eyes,
even as we see them in our dreams, if the darkness would but lift.

[Illustration: THE LAST BULK SHOP. CLARE MARKET.]



CHAPTER III

WHERE POPE STAYED AT BATTERSEA


Coming from Chelsea by way of Battersea Bridge, you go a few yards along
the Battersea Bridge Road, then turn aside into Church Road, and presently
you pass a narrow, mean street of small houses, which is Bolingbroke Road,
and serves to remind you that the Bolingbrokes were once lords of the
manor of Battersea and proprietors of the ferry that crossed the river
hereabouts before the first Battersea Bridge was built. A little further
down Church Road, past squat and grimy houses on the one hand and gaunt
walls and yawning gateways of mills, distilleries, and miscellaneous
"works" on the other, and you come to a gloomy gateway that has "To
Bolingbroke House" painted up on one of its side-walls. Through this
opening you see a busy, littered yard; straw and scraps of paper and odds
and ends of waste blow about on its stones; stacks of packing-cases and
wooden boxes rise up against a drab background of brick buildings, and
deep in the yard, with a space before it in which men are at work and a
waggon is loading, you find the forlorn left wing--all that survives--of
what was once the family seat of Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke,
whose chief title to remembrance now is that he was the friend of
Alexander Pope.

Worn and dingy with age, its stone porch stained and crumbling, and some
of its windows broken, the place has a strange, neglected look, though it
is still used for business purposes, and you have glimpses of clerks
writing at their desks in the rooms from which Pope used to gaze out on
very different surroundings.

It is difficult, indeed, to associate such a house and such a
neighbourhood as this has now become with so fastidious, finicking, and
modish a poet as Pope. All the adjacent streets are squalid,
poverty-stricken, noisy; along the main road, almost within hearing, trams
and motor-buses shuttle continually to and fro: except for a quaint,
dirty, weary-looking cottage that still stands dreaming here and there
among its ugly, mid-Victorian neighbours, and for the river that laps
below the fence at the end of the yard, there is scarcely anything left of
the quiet, green, rural Battersea village with which he was familiar; even
the church whose steeple rises near by above the mills, and in which
Bolingbroke was buried, was rebuilt a few years after his death.

Nevertheless, this weatherbeaten, time-wasted old house down the yard is
the same house that, when it stood with Bolingbroke's lawn before it and
his pleasant gardens sloping to the Thames, was the occasional home of
Pope, and numbered Swift, Thomson, and other of the great men of letters
of Queen Anne's reign among its visitors. One of the rooms overlooking the
river, a room lined with cedar, beautifully inlaid, is still known as "Mr.
Pope's parlour"; it is said to have been used by Pope as his study, and
that he wrote his _Essay on Man_ in it.

It is therefore the more fitting that Pope should have dedicated _An Essay
on Man_ to Bolingbroke, whom he addresses in the opening lines with that
exhortation:--

  "Awake, my St. John, leave all meaner things
   To low ambition, and the pride of kings!"

He dedicated also one of his Imitations of Horace to--

  "St. John, whose love indulged my labours past,
   Matures my present, and shall bound my last."

A man of brilliant gifts, both as writer and statesman, Bolingbroke became
involved in the political intriguings of his day, and in 1715 had to flee
to Calais to escape arrest for high treason. Eight years later he was
allowed to return, and his forfeited estates were given back to him. On
the death of his father he took up his residence at Battersea, and it was
there that he died of cancer in 1751. "Pope used to speak of him," writes
Warton, "as a being of a superior order that had condescended to visit
this lower world;" and he, in his turn, said of Pope, "I never in my life
knew a man that had so tender a heart for his particular friends, or more
general friendship for mankind."

[Illustration: POPE'S HOUSE. BATTERSEA.]

And on the whole one feels that this character of Pope was truer than Lady
Mary Wortley Montagu's presentation of him as "the wicked asp of
Twickenham"; for if he was viciously cruel to Colley Cibber and the poor
Grub Street scribblers whom he satirises in _The Dunciad_, he was kindness
itself to Akenside and other of his younger rivals in reading their
manuscripts and recommending them to his publishers; and if he retorted
bitterly upon Addison after he had fallen out with him, he kept unbroken
to the last his close friendship with Swift, Gay, Garth, Atterbury,
Bolingbroke, and with Arbuthnot, for whose services in helping him through
"this long disease, my life" he expressed a touchingly affectionate
gratitude. If he had been the heartless little monster his enemies painted
him he could not have felt so tireless and beautiful a love for his father
and mother and, despite his own feebleness and shattered health, have
devoted himself so assiduously to the care of his mother in her declining
years. "O friend," he writes to Arbuthnot, in the Prologue to the
Satires:--

  "O friend, may each domestic bliss be thine!
   Be no unpleasing melancholy mine:
   Me let the tender office long engage
   To rock the cradle of reposing age,
   With lenient arts extend a mother's breath,
   Make languor smile, and smooth the bed of death,
   Explore the thought, explain the asking eye,
   And keep a while one parent from the sky."

All his life, Pope dwelt in London or on the skirts of it. He was
twenty-eight when, soon after the death of his father in 1715, he leased
the famous villa at Twickenham and took his mother to live with him there,
and it was from there when she died, a very old lady of ninety-three, that
on the 10th June 1783, he wrote to an artist friend the letter that
enshrines his sorrow:--

"As I know you and I naturally desire to see one another, I hoped that
this day our wishes would have met and brought you hither. And this for
the very reason which possibly might hinder your coming, that my poor
mother is dead. I thank God her death was easy, as her life was innocent,
and as it cost her not a groan or even a sigh, there is yet upon her
countenance such an expression of tranquillity, nay, almost of pleasure,
that, far from horrid, it is even amiable to behold it. It would form the
finest image of a saint expired that ever painter drew, and it would be
the greatest obligation art could ever bestow on a friend if you could
come and sketch it for me. I am sure if there be no prevalent obstacle you
will leave every common business to do this; and I hope to see you this
evening as late as you will, or to-morrow morning as early, before this
winter flower is faded. I will defer her interment till to-morrow night. I
know you love me or I would not have written this--I could not (at this
time) have written at all. Adieu. May you die as happily."

From Twickenham Pope made frequent visits to London, where he stayed in
lodgings, or at the houses of friends; and in the last four or five years
of his life, after Bolingbroke had settled down at Battersea, he put up as
often as not at Bolingbroke House. Of his personal appearance at this date
there are a good many records. One of his numerous lampooners, unkindly
enough but very graphically, pictures him as--

  "Meagre and wan, and steeple crowned,
   His visage long, his shoulders round;
   His crippled corse two spindle pegs
   Support, instead of human legs;
   His shrivelled skin's of dusty grain,
   A cricket's voice, and monkey's brain."

His old enemy, John Dennis, sneering at his hunched and drooping figure,
described him as "a young, short, squab gentleman, the very bow of the god
of love." He had to be laced up tightly in bodices made of stiff
canvas, so that he might hold himself erect, and, says Dr. Johnson, "his
stature was so low, that to bring him to a level with a common table it
was necessary to raise his seat. But his face was not displeasing, and his
eyes were animated and vivid." And here is Sir Joshua Reynolds's
word-picture of him: "He was about four feet six inches high, very
hump-backed and deformed. He wore a black coat, and, according to the
fashion of that time, had on a little sword. He had a large and very fine
eye, and a long, handsome nose; his mouth had those peculiar marks which
are always found in the mouths of crooked persons, and the muscles which
run across the cheek were so strongly marked that they seemed like small
cords."

[Illustration: ALEXANDER POPE]

This is the queer, misshapen, pathetic little shape that haunts that
old-world house in the yard at Battersea, and you may gather something of
the life he lived there, and of the writing with which he busied himself
in the cedar parlour, from these extracts out of two of his letters, both
of which were written to Warburton:--

    "_January 12, 1743-4._

    "Of the public I can tell you nothing worthy of the reflection of a
    reasonable man; and of myself only an account that would give you
    pain; for my asthma has increased every week since you last heard from
    me to the degree of confining me totally to the fireside; so that I
    have hardly seen any of my friends but two (Lord and Lady
    Bolingbroke), who happen to be divided from the world as much as
    myself, and are constantly retired at Battersea. There I have passed
    much of my time, and often wished you of the company, as the best I
    know to make me not regret the loss of others, and to prepare me for a
    nobler scene than any mortal greatness can open to us. I fear by the
    account you gave me of the time you design to come this way, one of
    them (Lord B.) whom I much wish you had a glimpse of (as a being
    _paullo minus ab angelio_), will be gone again, unless you pass some
    weeks in London before Mr. Allen arrives there in March. My present
    indisposition takes up almost all my hours to render a very few of
    them supportable; yet I go on softly to prepare the great edition of
    my things with your notes, and as fast as I receive any from you, I
    add others in order (determining to finish the Epistle to Dr.
    Arbuthnot and two or three of the best of Horace, particularly that of
    Augustus, first), which will fall into the same volume with the Essay
    on Man. I determined to publish a small number of the Essay, and of
    the other on Criticism, ere now, as a sample of the rest, but Bowyer
    advised delay, though I now see I was not in the wrong."


    _"February 21, 1743-4._

    "I own that the late encroachments on my constitution make me willing
    to see the end of all further care about me or my works. I would rest
    from the one in a full resignation of my being to be disposed of by
    the Father of all mercy, and for the other (though indeed a trifle,
    yet a trifle may be some example) I would commit them to the candour
    of a sensible and reflecting judge, rather than to the malice of every
    short-sighted and malevolent critic or inadvertent and censorious
    reader. And no hand can set them in so good a light, or so well turn
    them best side to the day, as your own. This obliges me to confess I
    have for some months thought myself going, and that not slowly, down
    the hill--the rather as every attempt of the physicians, and still the
    last medicines more forcible in their nature, have utterly failed to
    serve me. I was at last, about seven days ago, taken with so violent a
    fit at Battersea, that my friends, Lord Bolingbroke and Lord
    Marchmont, sent for present help to the surgeon, whose bleeding me, I
    am persuaded, saved my life by the instantaneous effect it had, and
    which has continued so much to amend me that I have passed five days
    without oppression, and recovered, what I have three days wanted, some
    degree of expectoration and some hours together of sleep. I can now go
    to Twickenham, to try if the air will not take some part in reviving
    me, if I can avoid colds, and between that place and Battersea, with
    my Lord Bolingbroke, I will pass what I have of life while he stays,
    which I can tell you, to my great satisfaction, will be this fortnight
    or three weeks yet."

In the year after writing this Pope came to the end of all further care
about himself and his works; he died at Twickenham, and lies buried under
the middle aisle of Twickenham Church.



CHAPTER IV

HOGARTH


Before he took up residence at the Twickenham villa, Pope lived for some
time with his father in one of the houses of Mawson's Buildings (now
Mawson Row), Chiswick. So far it has been impossible to decide which of
these five red-brick houses is the one that was theirs, for the only
evidence of their tenancy consists of certain letters preserved at the
British Museum, which are addressed to "Alexr. Pope, Esquire, Mawson's
Buildings, in Chiswick," and on the backs of these are written portions of
the original drafts of Pope's translation of the Iliad. James Ralph, the
unfortunate poetaster whom Pope satirised in his _Dunciad_, was also a
native of Chiswick, and lies buried in the parish churchyard. One other
link Pope has with Chiswick--he wrote a rather poor epigram on Thomas
Wood, who resided there, and who seems to have been connected with the
Church, for according to the poet--

  "Tom Wood of Chiswick, deep divine,
   To painter Kent gave all his coin;
   'Tis the first coin, I'm bold to say,
   That ever churchman gave away."

This Kent, I take it, was the man of the same name who likewise lived at
Chiswick in Pope's day, and was more notable as a landscape gardener than
as a painter.

[Illustration: POPE. MAWSON'S ROW CHISWICK.]

But, to say nothing of William Morris's more recent association with the
district, the most interesting house in Chiswick is Hogarth's. It is a
red-brick villa of the Queen Anne style, with a quaint, overhanging bay
window, and stands in a large, walled garden, not far from the parish
church. For many years this was Hogarth's summer residence--his
"villakin," as he called it. His workshop, or studio, that used to be at
the foot of the garden, has been demolished; otherwise the house remains
very much as it was when he occupied it.

Hogarth was essentially a town man; he was almost, if not quite, as good a
Londoner as Lamb. He was born in Bartholomew Close, West Smithfield, that
storied place where Milton had lived before, and Washington Irving went to
live after, him; and he spent nearly all his life in the neighbourhood of
Leicester Square. He was rarely absent from London at all, and never for
long; even when he was supposed to be passing his summers at his Chiswick
villa, he made frequent excursions into town, and would put up for a few
days at his house in Leicester Square--or Leicester Fields, as it then
was.

In 1712 Hogarth went to serve a six years' apprenticeship to Ellis Gamble,
a silver-plate engraver, in Cranbourne Alley (now Cranbourne Street), and,
on the death of his father in 1718, he started business for himself as an
engraver in what had been his father's house in Long Lane, West
Smithfield, and later removed to the corner of Cranbourne Alley, leaving
his mother with his two sisters, who had opened shop as mercers, at the
old Long Lane address. He engraved for them a shop card, duly setting
forth that "Mary and Ann Hogarth, from the old Frock Shop, the corner of
the Long Wall, facing the Cloysters, Removed to ye King's Arms joining to
ye Little Britain Gate, near Long Walk, Sells ye best and most Fashionable
Ready Made Frocks, Sutes of Fustian, Ticken, and Holland, Stript Dimity
and Flanel Waistcoats, blue and canvas Frocks, and bluecoat Boys'
Dra{rs.}, Likewise Fustians, Tickens, Hollands, white stript Dimitys,
white and stript Flanels in ye piece, by Wholesale or Retale at Reasonable
Rates."

Hogarth was very self-satisfied and rather illiterate; his spelling and
his grammar--as in this shop-card--were continually going wrong. But he
was kindly, good-hearted, high-minded, and had imagination and an original
genius that could laugh at the nice, mechanical accomplishments of the
schoolmaster. It was Nollekens, the sculptor, who said that he frequently
saw Hogarth sauntering round Leicester Square, playing the nurse, "with
his master's sickly child hanging its head over his shoulder." That was in
the early days, when he was still serving his time to Gamble, and not even
dreaming, I suppose, that he would one day own the big house at the
south-east corner of the Square, would enjoy some of his highest triumphs
and sharpest humiliations in it, and die in it at last, leaving behind him
work that would give him a place among the very first of English painters.

Even before so fastidious a critic as Whistler had declared that Hogarth
was "the greatest English artist who ever lived," Hazlitt had said much
the same thing, and paid a glowing tribute to the vitality and dramatic
life of his pictures; but perhaps no critic has written a finer, more
incisive criticism on him than Lamb did in his essay on "The Genius and
Character of Hogarth." Lamb had been familiar with two of Hogarth's series
of prints--"The Harlot's Progress," and "The Rake's Progress"--since his
boyhood; and though he was keenly alive to the humour of them, he denied
that their chief appeal was to the risible faculties. It was their
profound seriousness, their stern satire, the wonderful creative force
that underlay them, that most impressed him. "I was pleased," he says,
"with the reply of a gentleman who, being asked which book he most
esteemed in his library, answered 'Shakespeare'; being asked which he
esteemed next best, replied 'Hogarth.' His graphic representations are
indeed books; they have the teeming, fruitful, suggestive meaning of
words. Other pictures we look at; his prints we read." He protests against
confounding "the painting of subjects in common or vulgar life with the
being a vulgar artist. The quantity of thought which Hogarth crowds into
every picture would alone unvulgarise every subject he might choose. Let
us take the lowest of his subjects, the print called 'Gin Lane.' Here is
plenty of poverty and low stuff to disgust upon a superficial view; and
accordingly a cold spectator feels himself immediately disgusted and
repelled. I have seen many turn away from it, not being able to bear it.
The same persons would, perhaps, have looked with great complacency upon
Poussin's celebrated picture of the 'Plague of Athens.' Disease and death
and bewildering terror in Athenian garments are endurable, and come, as
the delicate critics express it, within the 'limits of pleasurable
sensation.' But the scenes of their own St. Giles's, delineated by their
own countryman, are too shocking to think of.... We are for ever deceiving
ourselves with names and theories. We call one man a great historical
painter because he has taken for his subjects kings or great men, or
transactions over which time has thrown a grandeur. We term another the
painter of common life, and set him down in our minds for an artist of an
inferior class, without reflecting whether the quantity of thought shown
by the latter may not much more than level the distinction which their
mere choice of subjects may seem to place between them; or whether, in
fact, from that very common life a great artist may not extract as deep an
interest as another man from that which we are pleased to call history."
He found that, though many of the pictures had much in them that is ugly
and repellent, "there is in most of them that sprinkling of the better
nature which, like holy water, chases away and disperses the contagion of
the bad. They have this in them besides, that they bring us acquainted
with the everyday human face." And because of this, of their truth to
contemporary life, and the vigorous realism of the stories they tell, he
ranked the work of Hogarth not only high among that of the world's great
painters, but with the best novels of such men as Smollett and Fielding.

According to a note in his fragmentary autobiography, Hogarth conceived an
early admiration for the paintings of Sir James Thornhill, and, somewhere
about 1727, he joined the painting school that Sir James established in
the Piazza, at the corner of James Street, Covent Garden. And Sir James
soon seems to have taken a particular interest in his pupil, and had him
as a frequent visitor to his house at 75 Dean Street, Soho; and on March
23rd, 1729, he eloped with his teacher's daughter, and they were married
at old Paddington Church. There are paintings and decorations still to be
seen on the walls of the Dean Street house, in some of which Hogarth is
believed to have had a hand.

After his marriage, Hogarth lived for a while at Lambeth; but it was not
long before he was reconciled to his father-in-law. In 1730 he was
engaged with Sir James Thornhill on their famous picture of "The House of
Commons"; and a year later, when he was engraving his series of prints
"The Harlot's Progress," he and his wife had apparently taken up quarters
with Sir James in the Piazza.

[Illustration: SIR JAMES THORNHILL. 75 DEAN STREET.]

"The Harlot's Progress," and the issue of "The Rake's Progress" shortly
afterwards, lifted Hogarth into fame. He began to move in better society,
and was to be met with at the fashionable as well as at the Bohemian clubs
of the day. He and Thornhill founded the Arts Club at the Turk's Head, in
Gerrard Street; and, after the latter's death, he took over Thornhill's
art school, and transferred it to Peter's Court, St. Martin's Lane.
Occasionally he visited Richardson, the novelist, in Salisbury Court; and
it was here he first made the acquaintance of Dr. Johnson. He struck up a
friendship with Garrick, too, and painted several portraits of him, for
one of which he received two hundred pounds; and with Fielding, of whom he
has given us the only portrait we possess.

By 1733 Hogarth was prosperous enough to take the house in Leicester
Square that was pulled down, in 1870, to furnish a site for the Archbishop
Tenison School that has replaced it; and in 1749, "having sacrificed
enough to his fame and fortune," he purchased the villa at Chiswick as a
summer holiday home, and became a familiar figure about the Chiswick lanes
from time to time--"a blue-eyed, intelligent little man, with a scar over
his right eye, and wearing a fur cap." Allan Cunningham furnishes a more
vivid description of his personal appearance in his _Lives of the
Painters_, where he says he was "rather below the middle height; his eye
was peculiarly bright and piercing; his look shrewd, sarcastic, and
intelligent; the forehead high and round. He was active in person,
bustling in manner, and fond of affecting a little state and importance.
He was of a temper cheerful, joyous, and companionable, fond of mirth and
good-fellowship." Benjamin West called him a strutting, consequential
little man; and, one way and another, we know that he was sturdy,
obstinate, pugnacious, and that once he thrashed a ruffian whom he found
maltreating the beautiful drummeress that he sketched in his picture of
Southwark Fair. Possibly that scar over his right eye was a record of this
chivalrous deed.

There are very few records of his home life, and these are of the
homeliest, most ordinary sort. He was fond of smoking, and the arm-chair,
in which he was wont to sit with his pipe, is still preserved at Chiswick.
He had a favourite dog, a pet cat, and a bullfinch, which he buried in his
Chiswick garden, commemorating them with tablets that have now vanished
from the wall, the bird's epitaph being "Alas, poor Dick!" and the dog's,
"Life to the last enjoyed, here Pompey lies"--which parodies a line in the
_Candidate_, by that dissipated, brilliant satirist, Charles Churchill:
"Life to the last enjoyed, here Churchill lies."

[Illustration: HOGARTH'S HOUSE. CHISWICK.]

The _Candidate_ was published at the beginning of 1764, and on the 25th
October of that year Hogarth died. Churchill had been a warm friend of
his, but before the end had become one of his bitterest enemies--that
enmity arising in this wise. In 1762 Hogarth published a political print
called the _Times_, in which he supported the policy of Lord Bute, and
ridiculed Pitt, Temple, and Wilkes. By way of retaliation, Wilkes wrote a
scathing attack upon Hogarth in his paper, the _North Briton_, in which he
made a sneering reference to Mrs. Hogarth. This stirred Hogarth to anger;
and when Wilkes was presently arrested on a charge of high treason, he sat
in court and sketched the prisoner, immortalising his villainous squint,
and accentuating all the worst qualities in his features. On this print
making its appearance, Churchill, a staunch friend and partisan of Wilkes,
took up the cudgels, and scarified Hogarth without mercy in _An Epistle to
William Hogarth_ (1763), praising his art, but pouring contempt upon his
envy and self-esteem, and affecting to believe that he was in his
dotage. He can laud the genius, he says, but not the man.

                          "Freely let him wear
  The wreath which Genius wove and planted there:
  Foe as I am, should envy tear it down,
  Myself would labour to replace the crown....
  Hogarth unrivalled stands, and shall engage
  Unrivalled praise to the most distant age."

But for the man--

  "Hogarth, stand forth--I dare thee to be tried
   In that great Court where Conscience must preside;
   At that most solemn bar hold up thy hand;
   Think before whom, on what account you stand;
   Speak, but consider well;--from first to last
   Review thy life, weigh every action past.
   Canst thou remember from thy earliest youth,
   And as thy God must judge thee, speak the truth,
   A single instance where, self laid aside,
   And Justice taking place of Fear and Pride,
   Thou with an equal eye didst Genius view,
   And give to Merit what was Merit's due?
   Genius and Merit are a sure offence,
   And thy soul sickens at the name of sense.
   Is any one so foolish to succeed?
   On Envy's altar he is doomed to bleed;
   Hogarth, a guilty pleasure in his eyes,
   The place of executioner supplies;
   See how he gloats, enjoys the sacred feast,
   And proves himself by cruelty a priest....
     Oft have I known thee, Hogarth, weak and vain,
   Thyself the idol of thy awkward strain,
   Through the dull measure of a summer's day,
   In phrase most vile, prate long, long hours away,
   Whilst friends with friends all gaping sit, and gaze,
   To hear a Hogarth babble Hogarth's praise....
     With all the symptoms of assured decay,
   With age and sickness pinched and worn away,
   Pale quivering lips, lank cheeks, and faltering tongue,
   The spirits out of tune, the nerves unstrung,
   The body shrivelled up, the dim eyes sunk
   Within their sockets deep, thy weak hams shrunk,
   The body's weight unable to sustain,
   The stream of life scarce trembling through the vein,
   More than half killed by honest truths which fell,
   Through thy own fault, from men who wished thee well--
   Canst thou, e'en thus, thy thoughts to vengeance give
   And, dead to all things else, to malice live?
   Hence, dotard, to thy closet; shut thee in;
   By deep repentance wash away thy sin;
   From haunts of men to shame and sorrow fly,
   And, on the verge of death, learn how to die!"

Hurt and deeply mortified, a month later Hogarth satirised Churchill's
former connection with the Church and present loose living in a caricature
which represented him as a bear wearing torn clerical bands, with ruffles
on his paws, in one hand a pot of porter, and in the other a bundle of
lies and copies of the _North Briton_. Garrick had heard that Churchill
was making ready to issue that vitriolic satire of his, and hastened to
beg him, "by the regard you profess to me, that you don't tilt at my
friend Hogarth before you see me. He is a great and original genius. I
love him as a man, and reverence him as an artist. I would not for all the
politics and politicians in the universe that you two should have the
least cause of ill-will to each other. I am sure you will not publish
against him if you think twice." One could honour Garrick if it were for
nothing else but that letter; but it was written in vain, and the
exasperation and humiliation that Hogarth suffered under Churchill's lash
are said to have hastened his death. He had been broken in health and
ailing all through the summer of 1764, but took several plates down to
his Chiswick villa with him for retouching, and--possibly with some
foreboding of his own approaching dissolution--drew for a new volume of
his prints a tailpiece depicting "the end of all things."

[Illustration: THE BAY WINDOW. HOGARTH'S HOUSE.]

But he could not be satisfied to keep away from London, and on 25th
October was conveyed from Chiswick to his house in Leicester Square, "very
weak," says Nichols, "but remarkably cheerful, and, receiving an agreeable
letter from Dr. Franklin" (Benjamin Franklin was, by the way, dwelling at
this time in Bartholomew Close; he did not remove to 7 Craven Street,
Strand, until three years later), "he drew up a rough draft of an answer
to it; but, going to bed, was seized with a vomiting, upon which he rang
the bell with such violence that he broke it, and expired about two hours
afterwards in the arms of Mrs. Mary Lewis, who was called up on his being
suddenly taken ill."

He was buried in Chiswick Churchyard; and in 1771 his friends erected a
monument over him, the epitaph on which was written by Garrick:--

  "Farewell, great Painter of Mankind,
     Who reached the noblest point of Art,
   Whose pictured morals charm the Mind,
     And through the eye correct the Heart.

   If Genius fire thee, Reader, stay;
     If Nature touch thee, drop a tear;
   If neither move thee, turn away,
     For Hogarth's honoured dust lies here."

Garrick sent his verses to Dr. Johnson, who frankly criticised them, and
offered him a revised version, the first lines of which were a distinct
improvement:--

  "The hand of Art here torpid lies
     That traced the essential form of Grace;
   Here Death has closed the curious eyes
     That saw the manners in the face."...

Garrick preferred his own composition, slightly altered, as it now
appears; but Johnson's was certainly the better effort of the two.

Mrs. Hogarth retained possession of the Leicester Square house until her
death in 1789, but she resided principally at Chiswick. Sir Richard
Phillips saw her there, when he was a boy, and had vivid recollections of
her as a stately old lady, wheeled to the parish church on Sundays in a
bath-chair, and sailing in up the nave with her raised head-dress, silk
sacque, black calash, and crutched cane, accompanied by a relative (the
Mary Lewis who was with Hogarth when he died), and preceded by her
grey-haired man-servant, Samuel, who carried her prayer-books, and, after
she was seated, shut the pew door on her.

From 1824 to 1826 the Hogarth villa was inhabited by the Rev. H. F. Cary,
the translator of Dante, who was one of Charles Lamb's many friends, and
wrote the feeble epitaph that is on his tomb at Edmonton.



CHAPTER V

GOLDSMITH, REYNOLDS, AND SOME OF THEIR CIRCLE


One of Sir James Thornhill's illustrious sitters was Sir Isaac Newton, who
lived within a stone's throw of Hogarth's London house, just round the
corner out of Leicester Square, at No. 35 St. Martin's Street. Here Sir
Isaac made his home from 1720 to 1725. The red brick walls have been
stuccoed over; and the observatory that the philosopher built for himself
on the roof, after being turned into a Sunday-school, was removed about
forty years ago, and helped to supply pews for the Orange Street Chapel
that stands next door.

The greatest of Newton's work was done before he set up in St. Martin's
Street, but he told a friend that the happiest years of his life had been
spent in the observatory there. Though he kept his carriage, lived in some
style, had half-a-dozen male and female servants, and was always
hospitable, he was not fond of society, and talked but little in it.
Johnson once remarked to Sir William Jones that if Newton had flourished
in ancient Greece, he would have been worshipped as a divinity, but there
was nothing godlike in his appearance. "He was a man of no very promising
aspect," says Herne; and Humphrey Newton describes his famous relative as
of a carriage "meek, sedate, and humble; never seeming angry, of
profound thought, his countenance mild, pleasant, and comely. He always
kept close to his studies.... I never knew him to take any recreation or
pastime, thinking all hours lost that were not spent in his studies."
There are a good many stories told of his eccentricities and
absent-mindedness. He would ride through London in his coach with one arm
out of the window on one side and one out on the other; he would sometimes
start to get up of a morning and sit down on his bed, absorbed in thought,
and so remain for hours without dressing himself; and, when his dinner was
laid, he would walk about the room, forgetting to eat it, and carelessly
eat it standing when his attention was called to it. On one occasion, when
he was leading his horse up a hill, he found, when he went to remount on
reaching the top, that the animal had slipped its bridle and stayed behind
without his perceiving it, and he had nothing in his hand but some of the
harness. "When he had friends to entertain," according to Dr. Stukeley,
"if he went into his study to fetch a bottle of wine, there was danger of
his forgetting them," and not coming back again. And it is told of this
same Dr. Stukeley that he called one day to see Newton, and was shown into
the dining-room, where Sir Isaac's dinner was in readiness. After a long
wait, feeling hungry as well as impatient, Stukeley ate the cold chicken
intended for his host, and left nothing but the bones. By-and-by Sir Isaac
entered, made his greetings and apologies, and, whilst they were talking,
drew a chair to the table, took off the dish-cover, and at sight of the
bones merely observed placidly, "How absent we philosophers are! I had
forgotten that I had dined!"

[Illustration: SIR ISAAC NEWTON'S HOUSE. ST. MARTIN'S STREET. W.C.]

Later, this same house in St. Martin's Street was occupied by Dr. Burney
and his daughter Fanny, who wrote _Evelina_ here.

Near by, in Leicester Square again, on the opposite side, and almost
exactly facing Hogarth's residence, was the house of Sir Joshua Reynolds.
From 1753 to 1761 Sir Joshua lived at 5 Great Newport Street, which was
built in Charles II.'s days, and is still standing. It is now and has for
a century past been occupied by a firm of art dealers; so that it happens
from time to time that a picture of Reynolds's is here put up for sale,
"on the very spot where it was painted." But in the crowning years of his
career--from 1761 till his death, in 1792--Sir Joshua dwelt at 42
Leicester Square, and what was formerly his studio there has been
transformed into one of Messrs. Puttick and Simpson's auction rooms. Here
is Allan Cunningham's description of it, and of the painter's method of
work: "His study was octagonal, some twenty feet long by sixteen broad,
and about fifteen feet high. The window was small and square, and the sill
nine feet from the floor. His sitters' chair moved on castors, and stood
above the floor about a foot and a half. He held his palette by the
handle, and the sticks of his brushes were eighteen inches long. He
wrought standing, and with great celerity. He rose early, breakfasted at
nine, entered his study at ten, examined designs or touched unfinished
portraits, till eleven brought him a sitter; painted till four, then
dressed, and gave the evenings to company."

[Illustration: SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS' HOUSE. GREAT NEWPORT STREET.]

[Illustration: THE STAIRCASE. 41 LEICESTER SQUARE.]

And to the best of good company too. By day, the chariot of a duke or a
marchioness might drive to his door, and return later to wait for his
lordship or her ladyship, who was occupying the sitter's chair, while Sir
Joshua was busy at his easel; but of an evening he would have such men as
Dr. Johnson, Boswell, Goldsmith, Garrick, Burke (who was living close at
hand, in Gerrard Street) gathered about his dinner-table; for in spite of
his deafness he was the very soul of sociability. He never got out of his
naturally careless, Bohemian habits. He was the favourite portrait-painter
of the fashionable world, but mixed with the aristocracy without apeing
any of their etiquette. "There was something singular in the style and
economy of Sir Joshua's table that contributed to pleasantry and
good-humour; a coarse, inelegant plenty, without any regard to order and
arrangement," according to Courtenay. "A table prepared for seven or
eight was often compelled to contain fifteen or sixteen. When this
pressing difficulty was got over, a deficiency of knives, plates, forks,
and glasses succeeded. The attendance was in the same style; and it was
absolutely necessary to call instantly for beer, bread, or wine, that you
might be supplied with them before the first course was over. He was once
prevailed on to furnish the table with decanters and glasses at dinner, to
save time and prevent the tardy manoeuvres of two or three occasional,
undisciplined domestics. As these accelerating utensils were demolished in
the course of service, Sir Joshua would never be persuaded to replace
them. But these trifling embarrassments only served to enhance the
hilarity and singular pleasure of the entertainment. The wines, cookery,
and dishes were but little attended to; nor was the fish or venison ever
talked of or recommended. Amidst this convivial, animated bustle among his
guests, our host sat perfectly composed; always attentive to what was
said, never minding what was ate or drunk, but left every one at perfect
liberty to scramble for himself. Temporal and spiritual peers, physicians,
lawyers, actors, and musicians composed the motley group, and played their
parts without dissonance or discord."

[Illustration: SIR BENJAMIN WEST'S HOUSE. NEWMAN STREET.]

He was so imperturbable and easy-natured that Dr. Johnson said if he ever
quarrelled with him he would find it most difficult to know how to abuse
him; and even the sharp-tongued Mrs. Thrale praised his peaceful temper,
and considered that of him "all good should be said, and no harm." He
shared Hogarth's contempt for the old masters; but, unlike Hogarth, he
was not loud and aggressive in his objections to them.

  "When they talked of their Raphaels, Correggios, and stuff,
   He shifted his trumpet, and only took snuff."

It was on Reynolds's suggestion that he and Johnson founded, in 1763, what
later became celebrated as the Literary Club. They held their first
meetings at the Turk's Head (where Hogarth and Thornhill had previously
established their Art Club), and among the original members were Burke,
Langton, Beauclerk, Goldsmith, and Sir John Hawkins. The latter, an arrant
snob, objected to Goldsmith's election on the ground that he was "a mere
literary drudge," but his protest carried no weight with the rest. Five
years later, when, under the patronage of the king, Reynolds inaugurated
the Royal Academy, Johnson was appointed its first Professor of Ancient
Literature, and Goldsmith its first Professor of History, Reynolds himself
being its first President--in which office, on his death in 1792, he was
succeeded by Benjamin West. West was an American, and had won a
considerable reputation in his own country before he came over and settled
down in England. He was introduced to Johnson and Reynolds, and was for
some time a neighbour of Sir Joshua's, in Castle Street, Leicester Square.
But he is more closely associated with the house that still stands at 14
Newman Street, Oxford Street, in which he lived and worked for forty-five
years, and in which he died.

A far greater contemporary painter, who moved on the fringes of Sir
Joshua's circle, was Gainsborough. That he did not come familiarly into
the circle, and sometimes make one of the memorable company that gathered
round Reynolds's dinner-table, was owing to some lack of geniality in
himself, that kept him from responding to Sir Joshua's friendly advances.
He came from Bath to London in 1774, when he was forty-seven years of age,
took a studio at Schonberg House, Pall Mall, and it was not long before
celebrities and leaders of fashion were flocking to it to sit for their
portraits, and he was recognised as a successful rival of Reynolds.
Reynolds was so far from feeling jealousy or resentment that he promptly
paid his popular rival a visit; but Gainsborough did not trouble himself
to return the call. No doubt it was to some extent owing to Reynolds, too,
that in the year of his appearance in London he was elected to the council
of management of the Royal Academy; but he ignored the honour, did not
attend any meetings, and sent nothing to the exhibition. Reynolds was
frankly outspoken in his admiration of Gainsborough's work, and was even
anxious to have his own portrait painted by him. After some delay
appointments were fixed, and Sir Joshua duly went to Schonberg House, and
the painting was commenced. But after the first sitting he was taken ill;
and when, on his recovery, he wrote to tell Gainsborough that he was ready
to come again, he received no reply, and the portrait had to remain an
unfinished sketch.

His coldness to Reynolds is inexplicable, for he was a kindly-disposed
man, and sociable. He kept almost open house in Pall Mall, and such jovial
spirits as the Sheridans, Colman, and Garrick were among the constant
guests at his table.

[Illustration: GAINSBOROUGH'S HOUSE. PALL MALL.]

The year after Gainsborough's coming to London, Sheridan's _Rivals_ was
produced at the Covent Garden Theatre, to be followed two years after by
_The School for Scandal_. Before he was out of his twenties Sheridan had
finished his career as a dramatist, turned to politics, and was one of the
most brilliant of Parliamentary orators, still remaining principal
proprietor of Drury Lane Theatre. All his life he was living beyond his
income, borrowing, getting into debt, and dodging duns and bailiffs with
the gayest imperturbability. Everybody liked him, and was susceptible to
his charm. Wherever the wits foregathered, he was the best drinker, the
best talker, and the wittiest among them. Byron writes of him in his
_Diary_: "What a wreck that man is! and all from bad pilotage; for no one
had ever better gales, though now and then a little too squally. Poor dear
Sherry! I shall never forget the day he and Rogers and Moore and I passed
together; when he talked and we listened, without one yawn, from six till
one in the morning." In a letter to Moore, Byron records a dinner at which
Sheridan, Colman, and a large party were present, and at the finish, when
they were all the worse for drink, "Kinnaird and I had to conduct Sheridan
down a damned corkscrew staircase, which had certainly been constructed
before the discovery of fermented liquors, and to which no legs, however
crooked, could possibly accommodate themselves. We deposited him safe at
home, where his man, evidently used to the business, waited to receive him
in the hall."

This was in October 1815, and 14 Savile Row is the house at which Sheridan
was thus deposited by his noble friend. He was then an old man of
sixty-four, and a year later he died there, five thousand pounds in debt,
and only saved, by the emphatic intervention of the doctor who was
attending him, from being arrested by bailiffs as he lay dying, and
carried off to a sponging-house in his blankets.

The year that brought Gainsborough to London (1774) was also the year of
Goldsmith's death; and I want to get back to Goldsmith for a little, in
this chapter, and to say something of Richardson. For it is curiously
interesting to note how the lives of all these famous men, though there
was little enough in common between some of them, met at certain points
and established certain connecting links between them; so that it is
possible, as Leigh Hunt has said somewhere, to trace a sort of genealogy
of such acquaintanceships, such notable meetings and touchings of "beamy
hands," coming down in an unbroken line from Shakespeare to our own day.

Thus, Hogarth first met Johnson in Richardson's parlour at Salisbury
Court; and, in 1757, Goldsmith was employed by Richardson, and worked on
his printing premises, in the same court, as reader and corrector to the
press; and these, and most of the other immortals named in this
chapter--including Sheridan, though he was then so young a man that he
outlived them all, and counts among the friends of Lord Byron--have a
common link in Dr. Johnson, who was so great a Londoner that he must needs
have a chapter presently to himself, or one that he shall share with none
but the inevitable Boswell.

Whilst Goldsmith was working as one of his employees, Richardson was
not only a prosperous printer, he was already the most popular novelist of
his day. _Pamela_, _Clarissa Harlowe_, and _Sir Charles Grandison_ had
carried his fame throughout the kingdom and beyond it, and were drawing
rapturous admiration and tears of sentiment from countless admirers in
France as well as in England; and, as befitted a man of his means and
eminence, he had supplemented his house off Fleet Street with a country
residence at Parson's Green, where he died in 1761. Down to 1754, however,
his country house was The Grange, at North End, Fulham, then a pretty,
old-world spot,--"the pleasantest village within ten miles of London." And
it was here that all his novels were written; for he took The Grange in
1738, and _Pamela_ appeared in 1740, and _Sir Charles Grandison_ in 1753.
Here, too, he used to give large literary parties, to which Johnson
occasionally went with Boswell. But whatever other authors were there, you
may safely depend that Fielding was never among the guests; for with all
his high morality Richardson was intolerably self-complacent and vain, and
never forgave Fielding for burlesquing Pamela as "Shamela," and parodying
her impossible virtues in _Joseph Andrews_.

[Illustration: SHERIDAN'S HOUSE. SAVILE ROW.]

Boswell gives two good anecdotes illustrative of Richardson's fretful
vanity and the limits of his conversational powers. "Richardson had little
conversation," he says Johnson once remarked to him, "except about his own
works, of which Sir Joshua Reynolds said he was always willing to talk,
and glad to have them introduced. Johnson, when he carried Mr. Langton to
see him, professed that he could bring him out in conversation, and used
this illusive expression: 'Sir, I can make him _rear_.' But he failed; for
in that interview Richardson said little else than that there lay in the
room a translation of his _Clarissa_ into German." And in a footnote to
this Boswell adds: "A literary lady has favoured me with a characteristic
anecdote of Richardson. One day at his country house at North End, where a
large company was assembled at dinner, a gentleman who was just returned
from Paris, willing to please Mr. Richardson, mentioned to him a very
flattering circumstance--that he had seen his _Clarissa_ lying on the
king's brother's table. Richardson, observing that part of the company
were engaged in talking to each other, affected not to attend to it. But
by-and-by, when there was a general silence, and he thought that the
flattery might be fully heard, he addressed himself to the gentleman, 'I
think, sir, you were saying something about--' pausing in a high flutter
of expectation. The gentleman, provoked at his inordinate vanity, resolved
not to indulge it, and with an exquisitely sly air of indifference
remarked, 'A mere trifle, sir, not worth repeating.' The mortification of
Richardson was visible, and he did not speak ten words more the whole day.
Dr. Johnson was present, and appeared to enjoy it much."

[Illustration: PUMP COURT. TEMPLE.]

While Fielding was roystering in the wild haunts of Bohemian London,
gambling at his club, reeling home to his chambers in Pump Court, and
writing his novels in odds and ends of soberer time, Richardson was
methodically composing his books at Fulham, getting up early of summer
mornings, working at his manuscript in the little summer-house that he
had built in his garden, then reading over breakfast to the worshipping
members of his family the results of his morning's labour. Wherever he
went, groups of adoring ladies were sure to gather about him, to chatter
fervently of their delight in his interminable stories; and he snuffed up
their incense with a solemn and self-satisfied joy, for he took himself as
seriously as he was taken by them, and never felt that he was ridiculous,
even when he looked it. Not infrequently he would sit in his drawing-room
at The Grange, or in the summer-house, surrounded by a rapt audience of
feminine believers, who wept as he read aloud to them of the sufferings
and heroic virtue of Pamela, or the persecutions of the gentle Clarissa.
You cannot think of it without imagining there, in one of the rooms, the
comfortable, obese, touchy, rather pompous, double-chinned little
gentleman, in his fair wig and dark coat, an ink-horn set in the arm of
his chair with a quill sticking out of it, one hand thrust into the front
of his waistcoat, the book or manuscript in his hand, reading gravely and
deliberately his long, minute dissections of character, his elaborate
descriptions of events and incidents, his formal dialogues, pleased when
his stilted sentiment or simple sentimentality brought tears to the eyes
of his listeners, and not ashamed to shed one or two with them.

He drew a word-portrait of himself for Lady Bradshaigh, which is fairly
well known but is worth repeating, and, judging by the portraits we have
of him, is a fairly true one. He paints himself as "short, rather plump,
about five feet five inches, fair wig, one hand generally in his bosom,
the other a cane in it, which he leans upon under the skirts of his coat
that it may imperceptibly serve him as a support when attacked by sudden
tremors or dizziness, which too frequently attack him, but, thank God! not
so often as formerly; looking directly forthright, as passers-by would
imagine, but observing all that stirs on either hand of him without moving
his short neck; hardly ever turning back; of a light-brown complexion,
teeth not yet failing him; smooth faced, and ruddy cheeked; at some times
looking to be about sixty-five, at other times much younger; a regular,
even pace, stealing away the ground rather than seeming to rid it; a grey
eye, too often overclouded by mistiness from the head; by chance
lively--very lively it will be, if he have hope of seeing a lady whom he
loves and honours."

[Illustration: RICHARDSON'S HOUSE. NORTH END FULHAM.]

Richardson's summer-house is long since gone from the garden, and long ago
now The Grange was divided in two, and in the half that has been
stucco-fronted Burne-Jones went to live in 1867, dying there in 1898.

Five years after Goldsmith had given up proofreading for Richardson, you
find him still drudging amid the squalor of Grub Street, still living from
hand to mouth, writing reviews and prefaces, revising and preparing new
editions of dull books on dull subjects, for a sum of twenty-one pounds
compiling a two-volume _History of England_ in the form of a series of
letters, and generally subduing his heart and mind to the doing of the
wretched hack-work to which the impecunious literary man in all ages has
usually been condemned.

His new taskmaster was Mr. Newbery the publisher, and he was living, in
those days of 1762, in Wine Office Court, Fleet Street; but the publisher
was not altogether ungenerous, and made arrangements that enabled his poor
hack to leave town at intervals and work in the fresh air and rural
environment of Islington. Newbery had chambers of his own there in
Canonbury Tower, and Goldsmith used to put up at a cottage near by that
was kept by an elderly Mrs. Fleming, a friend or relative of Newbery's,
his bills for board and lodging being periodically settled by his
employer, who deducted the amount of them from whatever fell due to
Goldsmith from time to time for work done. Fortunately Mrs. Fleming's
accounts have been preserved, and we get an idea of Goldsmith's wardrobe
from her washing-lists, and learn from the items she carefully details
that she now and then lent him small sums in cash--tenpence one day, and
one and twopence another; that occasionally, when he had a friend to
dinner, though she duly noted it, she ostentatiously made no charge;
but when four gentlemen came to take tea with him, she debited him with
eighteenpence.

[Illustration: GOLDSMITH'S HOUSE. CANONBURY.]

Probably one of those friends who had a free dinner was Hogarth, for he
travelled out to Islington occasionally on a visit to Goldsmith; and there
is a painting of his which is known as "Goldsmith's Hostess," and is
believed to be none other than Mrs. Fleming's portrait.

You remember Boswell's story of how _The Vicar of Wakefield_ saved
Goldsmith from imprisonment for debt. "I received one morning a letter
from poor Goldsmith that he was in great distress," Johnson told him,
"and, as it was not in his power to come to me, begging that I would come
to him as soon as possible. I sent him a guinea, 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 his 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 in 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 merit. I
told the landlady I should soon return; and, having gone to a bookseller,
sold it for sixty pounds. I brought Goldsmith the money, and he discharged
his rent, not without rating his landlady in a high tone for having used
him so ill." Everything points to Mrs. Fleming as that harsh landlady, and
the lodging in her cottage at Islington as the scene of that famous
interlude. The presumption is that Goldsmith had incurred a much heavier
liability to her than was covered by what was accruing to him for his
services to Newbery, as a result of his giving time to the writing of _The
Vicar of Wakefield_ that should have been devoted to his usual drudgery;
and the cautious Newbery declined to make further advances, and advised
his relative, the landlady, to adopt summary methods for the recovery of
her debt. Goldsmith never lodged with Mrs. Fleming after that date; but
later, when Newbery took a lease of Canonbury Tower, he was from time to
time a guest there, and occupied a room in the turret. During one of these
visits he wrote _The Traveller_; and in later years Charles Lamb often
walked across from his Islington home to the Tower to watch the sunset
from the summit, and to be entertained by the tenant of it in the panelled
chamber where Goldsmith's poem was written.

It was with the publication of _The Traveller_ that Goldsmith began to
emerge from Grub Street. Its success was considerable enough to lead to
the publisher's looking out the manuscript of _The Vicar of Wakefield_,
and issuing that also; and in 1768, having made five hundred pounds by the
production and publishing of _The Good-natured Man_, he removed from an
attic in the Staircase, Inner Temple, and purchased a lease of three rooms
on the second floor of 2 Brick Court, Temple. Blackstone, the lawyer, then
working on his _Commentaries_, had chambers immediately below him, and
complained angrily of the distracting noises--the singing, dancing, and
playing blind-man's-buff--that went on over his head when Goldsmith was
entertaining his friends.

[Illustration: OLIVER GOLDSMITH]

Pale, round-faced, plain-featured, with a bulging forehead and an ugly,
long upper lip, there was more of kindness and geniality than of dignity
or intellect in Goldsmith's appearance. "His person was short," says
Boswell, who was jealous of his friendship with Johnson, and never
realised how great he was, "his countenance was coarse and vulgar, his
deportment that of a scholar awkwardly affecting the easy gentleman. Those
who were in any way distinguished excited envy in him to so ridiculous an
excess that the instances of it are hardly credible." But Boswell
misjudged him because, conceited and petty himself, he easily read those
qualities into the behaviour of the other, and so misunderstood him.
Goldsmith may have had some harmless vanity in the matter of dress, when
he could afford to indulge it; but as for vanity of his achievements, that
speaking of poetry as

  "My shame in crowds, my solitary pride,"

is the spontaneous confession of a naturally shy and diffident spirit.
When a man has been buffeted as he had been, has had to slave so hard and
wait so long for his reward as he had slaved and waited, he accepts the
fame that comes to him merely as wages well earned, and is not likely to
grow swollen-headed concerning it. And for his envious character--here is
what Boswell gives as a specimen of it. Johnson had come from an
unexpected interview with the king, and a party of friends at Sir Joshua
Reynolds's house in Leicester Square were gathered about him pressing for
a full account of what had taken place. During all the time that Johnson
was employed in this narration, remarks Boswell, "Dr. Goldsmith remained
unmoved upon a sofa at some distance, affecting not to join in the least
in the eager curiosity of the company. He assigned as a reason for his
gloom and seeming inattention that he apprehended Johnson had relinquished
his purpose of furnishing him with a prologue to his play, with the hopes
of which he had been flattered; but it was strongly suspected that he was
fretting with chagrin and envy at the singular honour Dr. Johnson had
lately enjoyed. At length, the frankness and simplicity of his natural
character prevailed. He sprung from the sofa, advanced to Johnson, and in
a kind of flutter from imagining himself in the situation which he had
just been hearing described, exclaimed, 'Well, you acquitted yourself in
this conversation better than I should have done; for I should have bowed
and stammered through the whole of it.'" Naturally this talk with the king
would not seem such a breathlessly overwhelming honour to such a man as
Goldsmith as to such a snob as Boswell. It was in keeping with Goldsmith's
nature that he should sit quietly listening and imagining the whole thing
as he heard about it, instead of fussing round open-mouthed to pester the
narrator with trivial questions; but Boswell was incapable of realising
this.

[Illustration: 2 BRICK COURT. THE TEMPLE.]

When Boswell, in his toadying spirit, was saying that in any conversation
Johnson was entitled to the honour of unquestionable superiority, and
Goldsmith, with a truer conception of the art and pleasure of social
intercourse, replied, "Sir, you are for making a monarchy of what should
be a republic," Boswell took it as another proof of Goldsmith's envy, and
of his "incessant desire of being conspicuous in company." He goes on
to say: "He was still more mortified when, talking in a company with
fluent vivacity and, as he flattered himself, to the admiration of all who
were present, a German who sat next to him, and perceived Johnson rolling
himself as if about to speak, suddenly stopped him, saying, 'Stay, stay!
Toctor Shonson is going to say something!' This was no doubt very
provoking, especially to one so irritable as Goldsmith, who frequently
mentioned it with strong expressions of indignation." A vain man would
not have mentioned it frequently, but a man with Goldsmith's sense of fun
would be tickled by it, and rejoice to tell it as a joke against himself,
simulating indignation to heighten the jest. When he heard that jape at
Sir Joshua's table of taking peas to Hammersmith because that was the way
to Turn'am Green, and afterwards retelling it muddled the phrase and made
nonsense of it, Boswell offers it as further evidence that he was a
blundering fool. But it is more likely that he blundered on purpose,
merely to raise a laugh, that being his queer, freakish fashion of humour.
But the Laird of Auchinleck and some of the others were too staid and
heavy to follow his nimble wits in their grotesque and airy dancings.

[Illustration: STAIRS UP TO SECOND FLOOR. 2 BRICK COURT.]

Why, even the egregious Boswell has to admit that "Goldsmith, however, was
often very fortunate in his witty contests, even when he entered the lists
with Johnson himself." And once, when Johnson observed, "It is amazing how
little Goldsmith knows; he seldom comes where he is not more ignorant than
any one else," Reynolds put in quietly, "Yet there is no man whose company
is more liked"; and the Doctor promptly admitted that, saying, "When
people find a man of the most distinguished abilities as a writer their
inferior while he is with them, it must be highly gratifying to them." But
that did not fully explain why he was liked, of course; and what Johnson
added as to "what Goldsmith comically says of himself" shows that Goldie
knew his own weaknesses, and was amused by them. Lamb would have
understood him and laughed with him, for he loved to frivol and play the
fool in the same vein. When he was dead, Johnson said he was "a very
great man"; and don't you think there is some touch of remorse in that
later remark of his, that the partiality of Goldsmith's friends was always
against him, and "it was with difficulty we could give him a hearing"?

[Illustration: GOLDSMITH'S GRAVE.]

When he lay dead in his chambers at 2 Brick Court, as Forster relates, the
staircase was filled with mourners the reverse of domestic--"women without
a home, without domesticity of any kind, with no friend but him they had
come to weep for; outcasts of that great, solitary, wicked city, to whom
he had never forgotten to be kind and charitable. And he had domestic
mourners, too. His coffin was reopened at the request of Miss Horneck and
her sister (such was the regard he was known to have for them), that a
lock might be cut from his hair. It was in Mrs. Gwyn's possession when she
died, after nearly seventy years." When Burke was told that Goldsmith was
dead, he burst into tears; and when the news reached Reynolds in his
Leicester Square painting-room, he laid his brush aside--a thing he had
not been known to do even in times of great family distress--left his
study, and entered it no more that day. A vain and envious fool is not
mourned in that fashion.

"I have been many a time in the chambers in the Temple which were his,"
writes Thackeray, "and passed up the staircase which Johnson and Burke and
Reynolds trod to see their friend, their poet, their kind Goldsmith--the
stair on which the poor women sat weeping bitterly when they heard that
the greatest and most generous of all men was dead within the black oak
door."

No. 2 Brick Court would be memorable enough if it held no other memory;
but in 1839 Mackworth Praed died in the same house, and for a short time
in 1855 Thackeray too had chambers in it.



CHAPTER VI

HOMES AND HAUNTS OF JOHNSON AND BOSWELL


If we were not quite such a business people, and had not so fully
satisfied ourselves that the making of money is the chief end of
existence, we should put up a statue to Dr. Johnson in Fleet Street, even
if we had to knock down a house or two to find room for it. The statue by
Mr. Percy Fitzgerald that has been erected in St. Clement Danes
Churchyard, in the Strand, is better than nothing, but it is too
insignificant in appearance, and stands in the wrong place. Johnson is
still so far removed from death that he is more alive to-day than when he
was living, and Fleet Street, and the courts and alleys opening out of
Fleet Street, are his proper kingdom. Other great spirits haunt the same
ground, but he overshadows them all.

At one time or another during the later forty-seven years of his life
Johnson had sixteen different addresses in London, and six of them were in
Fleet Street byways. On his first visit to town, in 1737, he had lodgings
at Exeter Street, Strand, and made some short stay at Greenwich, whence he
wrote to Cave, the publisher, offering to contribute to his _Gentleman's
Magazine_. Next year he and his wife finally removed from Lichfield, and
lodged first in Woodstock Street, Hanover Square, and then in Castle
Street, Cavendish Square. Presently he flitted to the Strand; to Bow
Street; to Holborn; to Fetter Lane; to Holborn again; then to Gough
Square, at the top of Wine Office Court, where he lived for ten years;
then to Staple Inn; to Gray's Inn; to No. 1 Inner Temple Lane; to No. 7
Johnson's Court (so named before his time, as Boswell Court was before
Boswell's); and thence to Bolt Court, where, in 1784, he died.

Of all these homes of Johnson's, only two are now surviving--that in
Staple Inn, which cannot be identified (we know only that it was one of
the houses in the square); and that in Gough Square, which, next to the
Bolt Court house, was the most interesting of his sixteen residences--and
one is grateful that, mainly owing to the good offices of Mr. Cecil
Harmsworth, it has been saved from demolition, and is now opened as a
Johnson museum.

Johnson was still a bookseller's hack and a comparatively unknown man
when, in 1747, at the age of thirty-eight, he started work on his
_Dictionary_. He was then living in Holborn; but next year he moved into
Gough Square, and it was here that most of this colossal work was done.
And to-day, when you visit that house, you find that all the teeming life
of the last hundred and sixty years has drained out of it completely, and
nothing remains in the old rooms but memories of Johnson and his friends.
He works there for ever now in the study that used to be his, poring
short-sightedly over books and papers; and in the queer, sloping-ceilinged
garret above are his six assistants, copying, hunting out references for
the _Dictionary_, and busy with all the mechanical part of the
undertaking. You have only to stand there and think of it, and, if you
have read Boswell and Hawkins, the life of the household as it was in
those ten years long past refashions itself around you in the magic,
old-world atmosphere of the place.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO STAPLE INN.]

Five publishers joined in commissioning Johnson to compile the
_Dictionary_, and arranged to pay him a sum of £1575, out of which he had
to engage his assistants. "For the mechanical part," writes Boswell, "he
employed six amanuenses; and let it be remembered by the natives of North
Britain, to whom he is supposed to have been so hostile, that five of them
were of that country. There were two Messieurs Macbean; Mr. Shiels; Mr.
Stewart, son of Mr. George Stewart, bookseller at Edinburgh; and a Mr.
Maitland. The sixth of these humble assistants was Mr. Peyton, who, I
believe, taught French, and published some elementary tracts." That upper
room in Gough Square was fitted up like a counting-house, and each of the
six workers in it was allotted his separate task. Boswell goes on to
describe Johnson's method: "The words, partly taken from other
dictionaries and partly supplied by himself, having been first written
down with spaces left between them, he delivered in writing their
etymologies, definitions, and various significations. The authorities were
copied from the books themselves, in which he had marked the passages with
a black-lead pencil, the traces of which could easily be effaced. I have
seen several of them in which that trouble had not been taken, so that
they were just as when used by the copyists. It is remarkable that he was
so attentive in the choice of the passages in which words were authorised
that one may read page after page of his _Dictionary_ with improvement
and pleasure; and it should not pass unobserved that he has quoted no
author whose writings had a tendency to hurt sound religion and
morality.... He is now to be considered as 'tugging at his oar,' as
engaged in a steady, continued course of occupation, sufficient to employ
all his time for some years, and which was the best preventive of that
constitutional melancholy which was ever lurking about him, ready to
trouble his quiet."

In after years, with his natural, large kindness of disposition, Johnson
retained a sympathetic interest in those six assistants of his. The elder
of the two Macbeans fell at length into great poverty, and Johnson helped
him by writing a preface to his _System of Ancient Geography_, and
afterwards influenced Lord Thurlow in getting him admitted as a Poor
Brother of the Charterhouse. He had Shiel, who was dying of consumption,
to help him with his _Lives of the Poets_; and when Peyton died almost
destitute, it was Johnson who paid his funeral expenses.

Whilst he was "tugging at his oar" and making steady headway with the
_Dictionary_, Johnson sought recreation in founding one of his many
literary clubs--an informal little club that met of evenings in Ivy Lane,
Paternoster Row, and numbered among its members Hawkesworth, who succeeded
Johnson as compiler of Parliamentary debates for the _Gentleman's
Magazine_, and later edited and wrote most of a bi-weekly, _The
Adventurer_; Dr. Bathurst, who with Johnson and Warton contributed to that
_Adventurer_; and Hawkins, who in due course became one of Johnson's
executors and biographers. He had published his satire, _London_, eleven
years before this; but it was whilst he was living in Gough Square, with
the _Dictionary_ in full progress, that he wrote and published his only
other great satire, _The Vanity of Human Wishes_, with its references to
the hope deferred, the hardships of his own life, and the obscurity and
poverty from which he was but now gradually beginning to emerge:--

  "When first the college rolls receive his name,
   The young enthusiast quits his ease for fame;
   Resistless burns the fever of renown,
   Caught from the strong contagion of the gown:
   O'er Bodley's dome his future labours spread,
   And Bacon's mansion trembles o'er his head.
   Are these thy views? proceed, illustrious youth,
   And virtue guard thee to the throne of truth!
   Yet should thy soul indulge the generous heat,
   Till captive science yields her last retreat;
   Should reason guide thee with her brightest ray
   And pour on misty doubt resistless day;
   Should no false kindness lure to loose delight,
   Nor praise relax, nor difficulty fright;
   Should tempting novelty thy cell refrain,
   And sloth effuse her opiate fumes in vain;
   Should beauty blunt on fops her fatal dart,
   Nor claim the triumph of a lettered heart;
   Should no disease thy torpid veins invade
   Nor melancholy's phantom haunt thy shade;
   Yet hope not life from grief or danger free,
   Nor think the doom of man reversed for thee:
   Deign on the passing world to turn thine eyes,
   And pause awhile from learning to be wise:
   There mark what ills the scholar's life assail,
   Toil, envy, want, the patron, and the jail.
   See nations slowly wise, and meanly just,
   To buried merit raise the tardy bust.
   If dreams yet flatter, yet again attend,
   Hear Lydiat's life, and Galileo's end."

Had the Gough Square house been memorable only as the birthplace of the
_Dictionary_, it would have been enough to have given it immortality; for,
as Carlyle says (and Carlyle once went reverently over these rooms, and
wrote a record of his visit), "Had Johnson left nothing but his
_Dictionary_, one might have traced there a great intellect, a genuine
man. Looking to its clearness of definition, its general solidity,
honesty, insight, and successful method, it may be called the best of all
dictionaries. There is in it a kind of architectural nobleness; it stands
there like a great, solid, square-built edifice, finished, symmetrically
complete; you judge that a true builder did it." But, still while the
_Dictionary_ was going on, shortly after the publication of _The Vanity of
Human Wishes_, which yielded him £15, Garrick produced his tragedy of
_Irene_ at Drury Lane. It was a failure on the stage; the audience
shrieked "Murder! murder!" when the bowstring was placed round the
heroine's neck; but Johnson, feeling that a dramatic author should be more
gaily dressed than it was his wont to appear, sat in a box on the first
night in a scarlet waistcoat, with rich gold lace, and a gold-laced hat,
and accepted his failure with unruffled calmness; and Dodsley paid him
£100 for the right to publish the play as a book.

Still while he was in the thick of the _Dictionary_, he set himself, in
1750, to start _The Rambler_, and you may take it that he was sitting in
his Gough Square study one night when he wrote that prayer before
publishing his first number:--

"Almighty God, the giver of all good things, without whose help all labour
is ineffectual, and without whose grace all wisdom is folly; grant, I
beseech Thee, that in this undertaking Thy Holy Spirit may not be withheld
from me, but that I may promote Thy glory, and the salvation of myself and
others. Grant this, O Lord, for the sake of Thy Son Jesus Christ. Amen."

[Illustration: SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS]

His first number was printed on the 20th March 1750, and he issued it
every Saturday and Tuesday afterwards for two years. "This," as Boswell
has it, "is a strong confirmation of the truth of a remark of his, that 'a
man may write at any time, if he will set himself doggedly to it'; for,
notwithstanding his constitutional indolence, his depression of spirits,
and his labour in carrying on his _Dictionary_, he answered the stated
calls of the press twice a week, from the stores of his mind, during all
that time; having received no assistance, except four billets in No. 10,
by Miss Mulso, now Mrs. Chapone; No. 30, by Miss Catherine Talbot; No. 97,
by Mr. Samuel Richardson; and Nos. 44 and 100, by Mrs. Elizabeth Carter."
He was so pressed for time that he wrote a good many of the essays in such
haste that he had no opportunity even to read them through again before
they were printed. One thing that particularly gratified Johnson in
connection with the _Rambler_ was that his wife said to him, after she had
read a few numbers, "I thought very well of you before, but I did not
imagine you could have written anything equal to this."

Gough Square is hallowed, too, with sadder memories of Johnson's wife, for
she died here in March 1752; and to the end of his days he never forgot
her or ceased to sorrow for her. She was a plain-featured woman some
years older than himself, but he always spoke of her with a wonderful
tenderness and love, and as of one who had been beautiful to look upon.
How deeply he felt her loss is evident not merely from some of his
sayings, but from his letters, and from those _Prayers and Meditations_,
in which he set down his most intimate thoughts and feelings. After his
death, this written prayer was found among his papers, dated in the month
after her passing:--

    "_April 26th, 1752, being after 12 at night of the 25th._

    "O Lord! Governor of heaven and earth, in whose hands are embodied and
    departed spirits, if Thou hast ordained the souls of the dead to
    minister to the living, and appointed my departed wife to have care of
    me, grant that I may enjoy the good effects of her attention and
    ministration, whether exercised by appearance, impulses, dreams, or in
    any other manner agreeable to Thy government. Forgive my presumption,
    enlighten my ignorance, and however meaner agents are employed, grant
    me the blessed influences of Thy Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ our
    Lord. Amen."

[Illustration: DR. JOHNSON'S HOUSE. GOUGH SQUARE.]

You may stand in the Square to-night, after twelve at night, when all the
windows of all the other houses are dark, as they were in that night of
1752, and look up at the window in which the solitary light burned then,
whilst, within, the grief-stricken Johnson sat alone in his study writing
down that humble, mournful aspiration, and as you look the same light
kindles there and glimmers desolately again for all who have eyes to see
it. Nor was this the only record of his sorrow that was written in that
room, for you find these notes in his journal a year later:--

"_March 28, 1753._ I kept this day as the anniversary of my Tetty's death,
with prayers and tears in the morning. In the evening I prayed for her
conditionally, if it were lawful."

"_April 23, 1753._ I know not whether I do not too much indulge the vain
longings of affection; but I hope they intenerate my heart, and that when
I die like my Tetty, this affection will be acknowledged in a happy
interview, and that in the meantime I am incited by it to piety. I will,
however, not deviate too much from common and received methods of
devotion."

Boswell tells us that he preserved her wedding-ring reverently as long as
he lived, keeping it in "a little round wooden box, in the inside of which
he pasted a slip of paper, thus inscribed by him in fair characters, as
follows:--

  'Eheu!
  Eliz. Johnson,
  Nupta Jul. 9º, 1736,
  Mortua, eheu!
  Mart. 17º, 1752.'"

Some thought of her, indeed, rises again and again thereafter in those
_Prayers and Meditations_ of his, and so makes this house peculiarly
reminiscent of her. Before Mrs. Johnson's death, Mrs. Anna Williams had
become a constant visitor at the house here. She was a poetess in a small
way, daughter of a Welsh physician, and was in London having both her eyes
treated for cataract. After his wife's death, Johnson gave Mrs. Williams
accommodation in Gough Square whilst her eyes were operated upon; and,
the operation failing and complete blindness following it, with his usual
big-hearted humanity he allowed her an apartment in this and each of his
subsequent homes; and you remember Boswell's complaint of how his
fastidious susceptibilities were outraged by the way in which she felt
round the edges of the cups to see if they were full, when she presided
over the tea-table. In the same spirit, Johnson gave house-room here also,
and elsewhere, to that simplest and most kindly of medical practitioners,
Dr. Robert Levett, on whose death, several years later, he wrote the best
of his shorter poems.

You get a good idea of his general manner of life in Gough Square from the
note that Boswell obtained from Francis Barber, Johnson's black servant,
who wrote that on his wife's death Johnson was "in great affliction. Mrs.
Williams was then living in his house, which was in Gough Square. He was
busy with the _Dictionary_. Mr. Shiels and some others of the gentlemen
who had formerly written for him used to come about the house. He had then
little for himself, but frequently sent money to Mr. Shiels when in
distress. The friends who visited him at that time were chiefly Dr.
Bathurst, and Mr. Diamond, an apothecary in Cork Street, Burlington
Gardens, with whom he and Mrs. Williams generally dined every Sunday.
There were also Mr. Cave; Dr. Hawkesworth; Mr. Rydal, merchant on Tower
Hill; Mrs. Masters, the poetess, who lived with Mr. Cave; Mrs. Carter; and
sometimes Mrs. Macaulay; also Mrs. Gardiner, wife of a tallow-chandler on
Snow Hill, not in the learned way, but a worthy good woman; Mr. (now Sir
Joshua) Reynolds; Mr. Miller; Mr. Dodsley; Mr. Bouquet; Mr. Payne, of
Paternoster Row, bookseller; Mr. Strachan the printer; the Earl of Orrery;
Lord Southwell; Mr. Garrick."

[Illustration: JAMES BOSWELL]

It was shortly after the conclusion of _The Rambler_ that Johnson first
made the acquaintance of Bennet Langton. He had taken lodgings in a house
that was frequently visited by Dr. Levett; and, with Johnson's permission,
Levett one day brought Langton to Gough Square, and, says Boswell:--

"Mr. Langton was exceedingly surprised when the sage first appeared. He
had not received the smallest intimation of his figure, dress, or manner.
From perusing his writings, he fancied he should see a decent,
well-dressed--in short, a remarkably decorous philosopher. Instead of
which, down from his bed-chamber, about noon, came, as newly risen, a huge
uncouth figure, with a little dark wig which scarcely covered his head,
and his clothes hanging loose about him. But his conversation was so rich,
so animated, and so forcible, and his religious and political notions so
congenial with those in which Langton had been educated, that he conceived
for him that veneration and attachment which he ever preserved."

In 1753 Johnson "relieved the drudgery of his _Dictionary_" by writing
essays for Hawkesworth's _Adventurer_, and in this and the next two years
did a lot of reviewing and varied hack-work for the magazines and
miscellanies of his time; and in February 1775 he wrote that nobly
scathing and touching letter to Lord Chesterfield, that is too well known
to need reprinting, but must needs be reprinted here, because it was
written from Gough Square, and would make any house from which it was
written an honoured and sacred place to all who value the dignity of
literature and glory in the emancipation of the literary man from the
condescending benevolence of the private patron:--

    "MY LORD,--I have been lately informed, by the proprietor of _The
    World_, that two papers in which my _Dictionary_ is recommended to the
    public were written by your lordship. To be so distinguished is an
    honour which, being very little accustomed to favours from the great,
    I know not well how to receive, or in what terms to acknowledge.

    "When, upon some slight encouragement, I first visited your lordship,
    I was overpowered, like the rest of mankind, by the enchantment of
    your address, and could not forbear to wish that I might boast myself
    _Le vainqueur du vainqueur de la terre_--that I might obtain that
    regard for which I saw the whole world contending; but I found my
    attendance so little encouraged that neither pride nor modesty would
    suffer me to continue it. When I had once addressed your lordship in
    public, I had exhausted all the art of pleasing which a retired and
    uncourtly scholar can possess. I had done all that I could; and no man
    is well pleased to have his all neglected, be it ever so little.

    "Seven years, my lord, have now passed since I waited in your outward
    rooms, or was repulsed from your door; during which time I have been
    pushing on with my work through difficulties, of which it is useless
    to complain, and have brought it, at last, to the verge of
    publication, without one act of assistance, one word of
    encouragement, or one smile of favour. Such treatment I did not
    expect, for I never had a patron before.

    "The shepherd in _Virgil_ grew at last acquainted with Love, and found
    him a native of the rocks.

    "Is not a patron, my lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man
    struggling for life in the water, and, when he has reached ground,
    encumbers him with help? The notice which you have been pleased to
    take of my labours, had it been early, had been kind; but it has been
    delayed till I am indifferent, and cannot enjoy it; till I am
    solitary, and cannot impart it; till I am known, and do not want it. I
    hope it is no very cynical asperity not to confess obligations where
    no benefit has been received, or to be unwilling that the public
    should consider me as owing that to a patron which Providence has
    enabled me to do for myself.

    "Having carried on my work thus far with so little obligation to any
    favourer of learning, I shall not be disappointed though I shall
    conclude it, if less be possible, with less; for I have been long
    wakened from that dream of hope, in which I once boasted myself with
    so much exultation,

      "My lord, your lordship's most humble,
        "Most obedient servant,
          "SAM. JOHNSON."

A few months after this the _Dictionary_ was finished. There had been many
delays; it was long behind the stipulated time, and the patience of the
publishers was exhausted; but at last Johnson sent the last sheets of the
great work to Mr. Miller, the Strand bookseller, who was chiefly
concerned in the venture, and when the messenger returned from Miller's
shop Johnson asked him, "Well, what did he say?" "Sir," answered the
messenger, "he said, 'Thank God I have done with him.'" "I am glad,"
replied Johnson, with a smile, "that he thanks God for anything."

The publication of the _Dictionary_ made him at once the most famous man
of letters in London; but he had already spent the money that was paid for
his labour, and had still to work hard with his pen to make "provision for
the day that was passing over him." In 1757 he took up again a scheme for
an elaborate edition of Shakespeare with notes, and issued proposals and
invited subscriptions for it; but it was another nine years before his
Shakespeare made its appearance. Among his many visitors in 1758, Dr.
Charles Burney, the father of Fanny Burney, called and "had an interview
with him in Gough Square, where he dined and drank tea with him, and was
introduced to the acquaintance of Mrs. Williams. After dinner, Mr. Johnson
proposed to Mr. Burney to go up with him into his garret, which, being
accepted, he there found about five or six Greek folios, a deal
writing-desk, and a chair and a half. Johnson, giving his guest the entire
seat, tottered himself on one with only three legs and one arm. Here he
gave Mr. Burney Mrs. Williams's history, and showed him some volumes of
Shakespeare already printed, to prove that he was in earnest." They
proceeded to criticise Shakespeare's commentators up there, and to discuss
the controversy then raging between the friends of Pope and Bolingbroke in
connection with an unauthorised publication of certain of Bolingbroke's
letters to Pope, who was recently dead. And in the April of this same year
Johnson began to write his essays for _The Idler_.

[Illustration: JOHNSON'S CORNER. THE CHESHIRE CHEESE.]

Here, then, you have a varied and intimate series of pictures, a sort of
panoramic view of the life that Johnson lived in his Gough Square house,
and amid his old surroundings are able to recreate him for yourself in all
his varying circumstances and changing moods--working there at his
_Dictionary_ and his multifarious writings; sorrowing for his wife;
entertaining his friends; sallying forth morning and evening to walk along
Fleet Street to the church of St. Clement Danes, in the Strand, assuming
that he kept the resolution to do so that is entered at this date in his
journal; and, almost every Sunday afternoon, coming staidly down the steps
with Mrs. Williams, and setting out to dine with Mr. Diamond, the
apothecary of Cork Street; on many evenings strolling along Wine Office
Court, to forgather with friends in the parlour of the "Cheshire Cheese,"
where the seat traditionally occupied by him and Goldsmith is still to be
seen; or going farther to a meeting of his club in Ivy Lane. There is a
capital story told by Hawkins of how one night at that club a suggestion
was made that they should celebrate the publication of Mrs. Lennox's first
novel, _The Life of Harriet Stuart_, with a supper at the Devil Tavern, in
Fleet Street. Johnson threw himself heart and soul into the proposal, and
declared that they would honour the event by spending the whole night in
festivity. On the evening fixed, at about eight o'clock, Mrs. Lennox and
her husband, and some twenty friends and members of the club, gathered at
the Devil Tavern, Temple Bar, and, by Johnson's orders, a magnificent hot
apple-pie adorned with bay leaves formed a principal item of the menu. He
himself crowned Mrs. Lennox with laurel; and, true to his resolve, he kept
the feast going right through the night. "At 5 A.M.," says Hawkins,
"Johnson's face shone with meridian splendour, though his drink had been
only lemonade." The day was beginning to dawn when they all partook of a
"second refreshment of coffee," and it was broad daylight and eight
o'clock before the party broke up, and Johnson made his way back up Fleet
Street, round into Gough Square, and to the prosaic resumption of work on
the _Dictionary_.

Soon after starting _The Idler_, Johnson left Gough Square and took rooms
in Staple Inn, where he presently wrote _Rasselas_ in the evenings of one
week, and so raised £100, that "he might defray the expenses of his
mother's funeral, and pay some little debts which she had left."

All these things had happened, and Johnson had risen into fame and become
"the great Cham of letters," before Boswell had made his acquaintance. The
historic meeting between these two did not come about until 1763, and then
it took place at No. 8 Russell Street, Covent Garden--another famous house
that is fortunately still in existence. It was then occupied by Thomas
Davies, the actor, who had retired from the stage and opened a
bookseller's shop there. He knew Johnson, who frequently visited him, and
on his invitation Boswell was there several times in hopes of meeting the
great man; again and again it happened that on the days when he was in
waiting Johnson failed to appear, but in the end his patience was
rewarded, and this is his own account of the interview, taken from notes
he made of it on the very day of its occurrence:--

"At last, on Monday, the 16th of May, when I was sitting in Mr. Davies's
back parlour, after having drunk tea with him and Mrs. Davies, Johnson
unexpectedly came into the shop; and Mr. Davies, having perceived him
through the glass door in the room in which we were sitting, advancing
towards us, he announced his awful approach to me, somewhat in the manner
of an actor in the part of Horatio, when he addresses Hamlet on the
appearance of his father's ghost: 'Look, my lord, it comes!' I found that
I had a very perfect idea of Johnson's figure, from the portrait of him
painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds soon after he had published his
_Dictionary_, in the attitude of sitting in his easy-chair in deep
meditation. Mr. Davies mentioned my name, and respectfully introduced me
to him. I was much agitated; and recollecting his prejudice against the
Scotch, of which I had heard much, I said to Davies, 'Don't tell where I
come from.' 'From Scotland,' cried Davies roguishly. 'Mr. Johnson,' said
I, 'I do indeed come from Scotland, but I cannot help it.' He retorted,
'That, sir, I find, is what a very great many of your countrymen cannot
help.' This stroke stunned me a good deal; and when we had sat down, I
felt myself not a little embarrassed and apprehensive of what might come
next. He then addressed himself to Davies: 'What do you think of Garrick?
He has refused me an order for the play for Miss Williams, because he
knows the house will be full, and that an order would be worth three
shillings.' Eager to take any opening to get into conversation with him, I
ventured to say, 'O sir, I cannot think Mr. Garrick would grudge such a
trifle to you.' 'Sir,' said he, with a stern look, 'I have known David
Garrick longer than you have done, and I know no right you have to talk to
me on the subject.' Perhaps I deserved this check; for it was rather
presumptuous in me, an entire stranger, to express any doubt of the
justice of his animadversion upon his old acquaintance and pupil. I now
felt myself much mortified, and began to think that the hope which I had
long indulged of obtaining his acquaintance was blasted." But he sat on
resolutely, and was rewarded by hearing some of Johnson's conversation, of
which he kept notes, that are duly reproduced in the _Life_.

[Illustration: WHERE BOSWELL FIRST MET JOHNSON.]

"I was highly pleased with the extraordinary vigour of his conversation,"
he concludes his account of the meeting, "and regretted that I was drawn
away from it by an engagement at another place. I had for a part of the
evening been left alone with him, and had ventured to make an observation
now and then, which he received very civilly; so I was satisfied that,
though there was a roughness in his manner, there was no ill-nature in his
disposition. Davies followed me to the door; and when I complained to him
a little of the hard blows which the great man had given me, he kindly
took upon him to console me by saying, 'Don't be uneasy; I can see he
likes you very well.'"

Davies's shop is kept nowadays by a Covent Garden salesman. Instead of
being lined with books, it is filled with baskets of fruit and sacks of
potatoes, and the parlour wall and that glass-panelled parlour door are
thrown down, and parlour and shop are all one. But the upper part of the
house remains practically unaltered, and with a little imagining you can
restore the lower to what it was when these walls held the gruff rumbling
of the Doctor's voice, and looked down on the humiliation of Boswell under
the roguish eyes of Davies and his pretty wife.

Another house that has glamorous associations with Johnson is No. 5
Adelphi Terrace, where Garrick lived, and where he died, in a back room on
the first floor, in 1779. Two years later Johnson was one of a party that
dined there with Mrs. Garrick, and one cannot do better than repeat the
indispensable Boswell's report of the event:--

"On Friday, April 20, I spent with him one of the happiest days that I
remember to have enjoyed in the whole course of my life. Mrs. Garrick,
whose grief for the loss of her husband was, I believe, as sincere as
wounded affection and admiration could produce, had this day, for the
first time since his death, a select party of his friends to dine with
her. The company was: Mrs. Hannah More, who lived with her, and whom she
called her chaplain; Mrs. Boscawen, Mrs. Elizabeth Carter, Sir Joshua
Reynolds, Dr. Burney, Dr. Johnson, and myself. We found ourselves very
elegantly entertained at her house in the Adelphi, where I have passed
many a pleasing hour with him 'who gladdened life.' She looked well,
talked of her husband with complacency, and while she cast her eyes on his
portrait, which hung over the chimney-piece, said that 'death was now the
most agreeable object to her.'... We were all in fine spirits; and I
whispered to Mrs. Boscawen, 'I believe this is as much as can be made of
life.'" After recording the conversation of Johnson and divers of the
others, Boswell goes on: "He and I walked away together. We stopped a
little by the rails of the Adelphi, looking on the Thames, and I said to
him, with some emotion, that I was now thinking of two friends we had lost
who once lived in the buildings behind us, Beauclerk and Garrick. 'Ay,
sir,' said he tenderly, 'and two such friends as cannot be supplied.'"

[Illustration: BOSWELL'S HOUSE. GREAT QUEEN STREET.]

In the summer of 1784 Boswell was in London as usual, and saw Johnson,
then an old man of seventy-five, for the last time. On the 30th June, he
and Johnson dined with Sir Joshua Reynolds in Leicester Square, and when
Johnson went home Boswell accompanied him in Sir Joshua's coach to the
entry of Bolt Court, in Fleet Street, and was so affected at parting that
he would not accompany him to the house, and they bade each other an
affectionate adieu in the carriage. Johnson stepped out on to the
pavement, and, walking briskly, vanished into the yawn of Bolt Court, and,
for Boswell, into the jaws of death, for he never saw him again. He went
home to the north two days after, and in December Johnson died.

On his annual visits to London Boswell lived in various lodgings; but in
or about 1786 he rented the house, still standing, at 56 Great Queen
Street, and brought his wife to town with him. They occupied this place
for some two years; and it is evident from his letters to Bishop Percy and
the Rev. T. W. Temple that, whilst residing there, he wrote most of the
last seven years of his _Life of Johnson_. Boswell died in London, in
1795, at No. 122 (formerly 47) Great Portland Street.



CHAPTER VII

BLAKE AND FLAXMAN


Ten years before Boswell went to live at 56 Great Queen Street, William
Blake was serving an apprenticeship to James Basire, the well-known
engraver, whose house was close by at No. 31 in the same street. Basire's
residence has gone the way of all bricks and mortar; but happily Soho
still preserves the corner house at No. 28 Broad Street, in which Blake
was born. He was born there on the 28th November 1857, over his father's
hosiery shop, and it was there that the first of his strange visions came
to him; for he used to say that when he was only four years old he one day
saw the face of God at the window looking in upon him, and the sight set
him a-screaming. When he was four or five years older, you hear of him
taking long rambles into the country; and it was on Peckham Rye that other
visions came to him. Once he saw a tree there "filled with angels, bright
angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars"; and once, on a summer
morning, he saw "the haymakers at work, and amid them angelic figures
walking." In his matter-of-fact fashion he recounted the first of these
two visions on his return home, and his mother had to intervene to prevent
the honest hosier and conscientious Nonconformist, his father, from
thrashing him for telling a lie.

At the age of ten Blake was journeying to and from the house in Broad
Street to Mr. Paris's academy in the Strand, taking drawing lessons. He
was already writing poetry, too, and before he was fourteen had written
one of the most beautiful and glitteringly imaginative of his lyrics:--

  "How sweet I roamed from field to field,
     And tasted all the summer's pride,
   Till I the Prince of Love beheld
     Who in the sunny beams did glide.

   He showed me lilies for my hair,
     And blushing roses for my brow;
   He led me through his gardens fair
     Where all his golden pleasures grow.

   With sweet May-dews my wings were wet,
     And Phoebus fired my vocal rage;
   He caught me in his silken net,
     And shut me in his golden cage.

   He loves to sit and hear me sing,
     Then, laughing, sports and plays with me;
   Then stretches out my golden wing,
     And mocks my loss of liberty."

In a preface to his first published volume, the _Poetical Sketches_, which
contains this lyric, his Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter verses, "My
Silks and fine Array," and other lovely songs, he says that all the
contents were "commenced in his twelfth, and occasionally resumed by the
author till his twentieth year." From fourteen till he was twenty-one
Blake was living away from home with his master, Basire, the engraver;
then he went back to his father's, and commenced to study at the recently
formed Royal Academy, and in 1780 exhibited his first picture there, "The
Death of Earl Godwin." Marrying in 1782, he set up housekeeping for
himself at 23 Green Street, Leicester Square, and began to move abroad in
literary society. Flaxman, already his friend, introduced him to Mrs.
Mathew, a lady of blue-stocking tendencies, who held a sort of salon at 27
Rathbone Place; and here, in 1784, "Rainy Day" Smith made his
acquaintance. "At Mrs. Mathew's most agreeable conversaziones," he says,
"I first met the late William Blake, to whom she and Mr. Flaxman had been
truly kind. There I have often heard him read and sing several of his
poems. He was listened to by the company with profound silence, and
allowed by most of his listeners to possess original and extraordinary
merit." He knew nothing of musical technique, but sang some of his verses
to airs that Smith describes as "singularly beautiful." His republican
opinions and general unorthodoxy and daring outspokenness, however, did
not make for social amenity, and it was not long before he dropped out of
these elegant circles, and withdrew to his mystic dreamings and the
production of paintings and poetry that the majority could not understand.
A strangely beautiful and wonderful Bird of Paradise to break from the
nest over that hosier's shop at the corner of Broad Street, Soho!

[Illustration: BLAKE'S HOUSE. SOHO.]

When his father died, in 1784, Blake's brother James took over and
continued the business; and in the same year Blake himself opened the shop
next door (No. 27) as an engraver and printseller, in partnership with
James Parker, who had been one of his fellow-apprentices under Basire.
Here he had his younger brother, Robert, with him as a pupil; and he
used to say that when Robert died, in 1787, he saw his soul ascend through
the ceiling, "clapping its hands for joy." Falling out with Parker, Blake
removed, in this year of his brother's death, to 28 Poland Street, near
by, where he said Robert's spirit remained in communion with him, and
directed him, "in a nocturnal vision, how to proceed in bringing out poems
and designs in conjunction"; and the _Songs of Innocence_, published in
1789, was the result of this inspiration. The method, as Alexander
Gilchrist has it, "consisted in a species of engraving in relief both
words and designs. The verse was written, and the designs and marginal
embellishments outlined on the copper with an impervious liquid. Then all
the white parts, or lights (the remainder of the plate, that is), were
eaten away with aquafortis or other acid, so that the outline of letter
and design was left prominent, as in stereotype. From these plates he
printed off in any tint required to be the prevailing (or ground) colour
in his facsimiles; red he used for the letterpress. The page was then
coloured up by hand in imitation of the original drawing, with more or
less variety of detail in the local hues." A process of mixing his colours
with diluted glue was revealed to him by St. Joseph. Mrs. Blake often
helped him in tinting the designs, and it was her work to bind the books
in boards. In the same year (1789) he put forth the finest of his long
mystical poems, _The Book of Thel_.

Leaving Poland Street in 1793, Blake moved across London to Lambeth, and
made himself a new home at 13 Hercules Buildings. Gilchrist, one of his
earliest biographers, made a mistake in his identification of this house,
and until a year or two ago it was believed that Blake's residence in that
place had been pulled down. On a recent investigation of the Lambeth
rate-books by the County Council authorities, however, it became clear
that, instead of being on the west side of the street, as Gilchrist
supposed, No. 13 was on the east side, next door but one to Hercules Hall
Yard. Somewhere between 1830 and 1842 the whole road was renumbered, and
Blake's house had become No. 63, and was in 1890 renumbered again, and
became, and is still, No. 23 Hercules Road. Whilst he was living here, Mr.
Thomas Butts, of Fitzroy Square, became his most liberal and most constant
patron; and on calling at Hercules Buildings one day, Mr. Butts says he
found Blake and his wife sitting naked in their summer-house. "Come in!"
Blake greeted him. "It's only Adam and Eve, you know." But Mr. Butts never
took this as evidence of Blake's madness: he and his wife had simply been
reciting passages of _Paradise Lost_ in character.

[Illustration: BLAKE. 23 HERCULES ROAD.]

At Hercules Buildings Blake did a large number of paintings and
engravings, including the 537 coloured drawings for Young's _Night
Thoughts_, and some of the greatest of his designs, such as the "Job" and
"Ezekiel" prints; and here, too, he completed certain of his _Prophetic
Books_, with their incomprehensible imagery and allegory, and what
Swinburne has called their "sunless and sonorous gulfs." From Hercules
Buildings also came "Tiger, tiger, burning bright, in the forests of the
night," and the rest of the _Songs of Experience_. Then, in 1800, Hayley,
the poet of the dull and unreadable _Triumphs of Temper_, persuaded him
to move into the country and settle down in a cottage at Felpham; from
which, because he said "the visions were angry with me at Felpham," he
returned to London early in 1804, and took lodgings on the first floor of
17 South Moulton Street, Oxford Street.

[Illustration: BLAKE'S HOUSE. SOUTH MOULTON ST.]

Nevertheless, at Felpham he must have been working on his _Jerusalem_,
and on _Milton, A Poem in Two Books_, for these were issued shortly after
his arrival in South Moulton Street. He writes of _Jerusalem_ in one of
his letters: "I have written this poem from immediate dictation, twelve,
or sometimes twenty or thirty, lines at a time, without premeditation, and
even against my will"; and in a later letter, speaking of it as "the
grandest poem that this world contains," he excuses himself by remarking,
"I may praise it, since I dare not pretend to be any other than the
secretary--the authors are in eternity." Much of _Jerusalem_ is turgid,
obscure, chaotic, and so impossible to understand that Mr. Chesterton
declares that when Blake said "that its authors were in eternity, one can
only say that nobody is likely to go there to get any more of their work."
But it is in this poem that Blake introduces those verses "To the Jews,"
setting forth that Jerusalem once stood in--

  "The fields from Islington to Marybone,
     To Primrose Hill and Saint John's Wood,"

and that then--

  "The Divine Vision still was seen,
     Still was the human form divine;
   Weeping in weak and mortal clay,
     O Jesus! still the form was Thine.

   And Thine the human face; and Thine
     The human hands, and feet, and breath,
   Entering through the gates of birth,
     And passing through the gates of death";

and in _Jerusalem_ you have his lines "To the Deists," the first version
of his ballad of the Grey Monk, with its great ending:--

  "For a tear is an intellectual thing,
   And a sigh is the sword of an Angel King,
   And the bitter groan of a martyr's woe
   Is an arrow from the Almighty's bow."

For my part, I wish it were possible for some of our living poets to go
again to those authors in eternity and get some more of such stuff as
this, even if we had to have it embedded in drearier lumps of nonsense
than you find in _Jerusalem_.

Blake's wife, daughter of a market-gardener, a woman so uneducated that
she had to sign the marriage register with her mark, was not only an
excellent housekeeper and domestic drudge, but was in perfect sympathy
with him in his work, and had the greatest faith in his visions. Moses,
Julius Cæsar, the Builder of the Pyramids, David, Uriah, Bathsheba,
Solomon, Mahomet, Joseph, and Mary--these were among Blake's spiritual
visitants at South Moulton Street. They came and sat to him, and he worked
at their portraits, "looking up from time to time as though he had a real
sitter before him." Sometimes he would leave off abruptly, and observe in
matter-of-fact tones, "I can't go on. It is gone; I must wait till it
returns"; or, "It has moved; the mouth is gone"; or, "He frowns. He is
displeased with my portrait of him." If any one criticised and objected to
the likeness he would reply calmly, "It _must_ be right. I saw it so." In
all probability he meant no more than that he conjured up these sitters to
his mind's eye; but his friends took him literally, and he acquiesced in
their doing so, and has been dubbed a madman in consequence.

Many times his wife would get up in the nights "when he was under his
very fierce inspirations, which were as if they would tear him asunder,
while he was yielding himself to the Muse, or whatever else it could be
called, sketching and writing. And so terrible a task did this seem to be
that she had to sit motionless and silent, only to stay him mentally,
without moving hand or foot; this for hours, and night after night." It is
not easy to realise that this burning, fiery spirit did once live in these
South Moulton Street rooms, surrounded by his vivid and terrific
imaginings, and then could pass out of it and leave it looking so dull and
decorous, so ordinary, so entirely commonplace. But here he indubitably
lived, so discouraged by neglect and hampered by poverty that he could not
afford to issue any more large books like the _Jerusalem_, and in 1809
made a desperate attempt to appeal to the public by holding an exhibition
of his frescoes and drawings on the first floor of his brother's hosiery
shop in Broad Street. Very few visitors attended; but among the few was
Lamb's friend, Crabb Robinson, and when he went he had the room to
himself. He paid for admission, recognised that these pictures were the
work of no ordinary artist, and bought four of the catalogues, one of
which he sent to Lamb; and when, on leaving, he asked the custodian
whether he might come again free, James Blake, delighted at having a
visitor, and one, moreover, who had bought something, cried, "Oh yes--free
as long as you live!" But the exhibition was a failure. The popular
painters of Blake's day were Reynolds, Gainsborough, and men of their
schools. Blake was born out of his time, and contemporary society had
nothing in common with him--no comprehension of his aim or his
outlook--and dismissed him as an astonishing lunatic. When some drawings
of his were shown to George III., his Majesty could only gaze at them
helplessly and ejaculate a testy "Take them away! take them away!" The
noble designs for Blair's _Grave_, and the frescoes of _The Canterbury
Pilgrimage_, were among the important works done at South Moulton Street,
which Blake quitted in 1821, making his last change of residence to 3
Fountain Court, Strand--a house kept by his brother-in-law, Baines. Here
he occupied a room on the first floor for some six years, and when he was
nearing his seventieth year, died, after a short illness, on Sunday, the
12th August 1827. He lay dying in his plain back room, serene and
cheerful, singing songs to melodies that were the inspiration of the
moment; towards evening he fell silent, and passed quietly away, a poor
woman, a neighbour who had come in to sit with his wife, saying
afterwards, "I have been at the death, not of a man, but of a blessed
angel."

You have only to look at the portraits of Blake, at the broad
forehead--the forehead of a revolutionary, as he himself said--the
sensitive mouth, the large, intent, vision-haunted eyes, to know that his
outward appearance fairly adequately revealed the manner of man that he
really was. He was under five feet six in height and thick-set, but so
well proportioned that he did not strike people as short. "He had an
upright carriage," says Gilchrist, "and a good presence; he bore himself
with dignity, as not unconscious of his natural claims. The head and face
were strongly stamped with the power and character of the man. There was
a great volume of brain in that square, massive head, that piled-up brow,
very full and rounded at the temples, where, according to phrenologists,
ideality or imagination resides. His eyes were fine ('wonderful eyes,'
some one calls them), prominently set, but bright, spiritual,
visionary--not restless or wild, but with a look of clear, heavenly
exaltation. The eyes of some of the old men in his _Job_ recall his own to
surviving friends. His nose was insignificant as to size, but had that
peculiarity which gives to a face an expression of fiery energy, as of a
high-mettled steed--a little _clenched_ nostril, a nostril that opened as
far as it could, but was tied down at one end. His mouth was wide, the
lips not full, but tremulous, and expressive of the great sensibility
which characterised him. He was short-sighted, as the prominence of his
eyes indicated--a prominence in keeping with the faculty for languages,
according to phrenologists again. He wore glasses only occasionally." His
poverty forced him to study economy in the matter of dress. Indoors he was
not slovenly, but generally wore a threadbare old suit, the grey trousers
of which had been rubbed black and shiny in front like a mechanic's. When
he walked abroad he was more careful, and dressed plainly but well,
something in the style of an old-fashioned tradesman, in black
knee-breeches and buckles, black worsted stockings, shoes that tied, and a
broad-brimmed hat.

But for a memorable description of Blake in his habit as he lived, you
must read this letter that was written to Gilchrist by Samuel Palmer, who
knew him intimately in his latter years:--

"Blake, once known, could never be forgotten.... In him you saw at once
the maker, the inventor; one of the few in any age; a fitting companion
for Dante. He was a man 'without a mask'; his aim single, his path
straightforwards, and his wants few; so he was free, noble, and happy. His
voice and manner were quiet, yet all awake with intellect. Above the
tricks of littleness, or the least taint of affectation, with a natural
dignity which few would have dared to affront, he was gentle and
affectionate, loving to be with little children and talk about them. 'That
is heaven,' he said to a friend, leading him to a window and pointing to a
group of them at play.

"Declining, like Socrates, whom in many respects he resembled, the common
objects of ambition, and pitying the scuffle to obtain them, he thought no
one could be truly great who had not humbled himself 'even as a little
child.' This was a subject he loved to dwell upon and to illustrate. His
eye was the finest I ever saw; brilliant, but not roving, clear and
intent, yet susceptible; it flashed with genius, or melted in tenderness.
It could also be terrible.... Nor was the mouth less expressive, the lips
flexible and quivering with feeling. I can yet recall it when, on one
occasion, dwelling upon the exquisite beauty of the parable of the
Prodigal, he began to repeat a part of it; but at the words, 'When he was
yet a great way off his father saw him,' he could go no further; his voice
faltered, and he was in tears.

"He was one of the few to be met with in our passage through life who are
not in some way or other double-minded and inconsistent with themselves;
one of the very few who cannot be depressed by neglect, and to whose name
rank and station could add no lustre. Moving apart, in a sphere above the
attraction of worldly honours, he did not accept greatness, but conferred
it. He ennobled poverty, and, by his conversation and the influence of his
genius, made two small rooms in Fountain Court more attractive than the
threshold of princes."

One of Blake's warmest friends for many years was the great sculptor, John
Flaxman. With none of Blake's lawless, glowing imagination, Flaxman's
drawings in his illustrations to Homer, and his designs on some of the
Wedgwood pottery, have a classical correctness--a cold, exquisite beauty
of outline--that are more suggestive of the chisel than of the pencil or
the brush; and it is in the splendid sculptures with which he has
beautified Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's, and many other of our cathedrals
and churches that his genius found its highest expression. In his work as
an artist Blake was largely influenced by Flaxman. They and Stothard used
to meet at Mrs. Mathew's; but there came a day when the friendship between
these three was broken. Blake thought Flaxman had appropriated one of his
designs, and there seems no doubt that Stothard did so, on the prompting
of an unscrupulous picture-dealer; and you have Blake lampooning them
both, as well as Hayley, with whom he had also fallen out, in epigrams
that were not always just, and probably represented nothing worse than a
passing mood, as thus:--

  "My title as a genius thus is proved:
   Not praised by Hayley, nor by Flaxman loved."

  "I found them blind, I taught them how to see,
   And now they know neither themselves nor me."

_To Flaxman._

  "You call me mad; 'tis folly to do so,--
   To seek to turn a madman to a foe.
   If you think as you speak, you are an ass;
   If you do not, you are but what you was."

_To the same._

  "I mock thee not, though I by thee am mocked;
   Thou call'st me madman, but I call thee blockhead."

Flaxman was not, like Blake, a born Londoner, but his family came from
York, and settled down in London when he was six months old. His father
had a shop in New Street, Covent Garden, where he made and sold plaster
casts. Flaxman emerged from a sickly childhood, and developed into a
sufficiently wiry and energetic man, though he remained feeble in
appearance, so high-shouldered as to seem almost deformed, with a head too
large for his body, and a queer sidelong gait in walking. He married in
1782, and, after living for five years in a very small house at 27 Wardour
Street, Soho--where he was elected collector of the watch-rate for the
parish--he and his wife went to Italy, and spent seven years in Rome.
Whilst he was there he fulfilled a commission for Romney, and collected
and sent over to England a selection of casts from the antique, that
Romney required for the use of students in his Hampstead painting-room.

Returning from Italy in 1794, Flaxman took up residence at 17 Buckingham
Street, Euston Road, and lived here through all his most famous years,
till he died in 1826. Blake visited him here, and Haydon, and other of his
artistic circle; for though he went little into society, he was
unpretentiously hospitable, fond of entertaining his chosen friends,
greatly esteemed and beloved by his pupils, models, and servants, and the
poor of the neighbourhood, especially the children. He went about among
the latter habitually, filling his sketch-book with drawings of them, and
invariably carrying a pocketful of coppers to drop into the small grubby
hands that were ready to receive them.

[Illustration: FLAXMAN'S HOUSE. BUCKINGHAM STREET. EUSTON ROAD.]

The district hereabouts has degenerated since Flaxman's day. His house was
dull, insignificant, rather mean-looking, and now it looks more so than
ever, amid its grimy surroundings--a pinched, old, dreary little house,
that is yet transfigured when you remember the glorious visitors who have
crossed its threshold, and that it was at this same dead door the postman
knocked one day near the end of September 1800 and delivered this letter
from Blake, who was then newly gone out of London and had not had time to
begin to grow tired of his cottage at Felpham:--

    "DEAR SCULPTOR OF ETERNITY,--We are safe arrived at our cottage, which
    is more beautiful than I thought it, and more convenient.... Mr.
    Hayley received us with his usual brotherly affection. I have begun to
    work. Felpham is a sweet place for study, because it is more spiritual
    than London. Heaven opens here on all sides her golden gates; her
    windows are not obstructed by vapours; voices of celestial inhabitants
    are more distinctly heard, and their forms more distinctly seen; and
    my cottage is also a shadow of their houses. My wife and sister are
    both well, courting Neptune for an embrace....

    "And now begins a new life, because another covering of earth is
    shaken off. I am more famed in heaven for my works than I could well
    conceive. In my brain are studies and chambers filled with books and
    pictures of old, which I wrote and painted in ages of eternity before
    my mortal life; and these works are the delight and study of
    archangels. Why then should I be anxious about the riches and fame of
    mortality? The Lord our Father will do for us and with us according to
    His divine will, for our good.

    "You, O dear Flaxman, are a sublime archangel--my friend and companion
    from eternity. In the divine bosom is our dwelling-place. I look back
    into the regions of reminiscence, and behold our ancient days, before
    this earth appeared in its vegetable mortality to my mortal vegetated
    eyes. I see our houses of eternity, which can never be separated,
    though our mortal vehicles should stand at the remotest corners of
    heaven from each other.

    "Farewell, my best friend. Remember me and my wife in love and
    friendship to our dear Mrs. Flaxman, whom we ardently desire to
    entertain beneath our thatched roof of rusted gold."

Later, when they quarrelled, Flaxman was not an archangel, but a blockhead
and an ass; but that quarrel is not to be taken too seriously. Their
houses of eternity were not separated, though their mortal vehicles were
estranged; and it was on hearing Flaxman was dead that Blake said finely,
"I can never think of death but as a going out of one room into another."



CHAPTER VIII

A HAMPSTEAD GROUP


Out at Hampstead you may still visit what was once that studio of Romney's
to which Flaxman sent his collection of plaster casts from Italy. It had
been a favourite idea of Romney's, his son tells us, "to form a complete
Gallery of Casts, and to open it to any youths of respectability," and in
his closing years, after he had removed to Hampstead, he carried out his
wish, to some extent, with Flaxman's aid, and had three pupils working in
his studio there, copying the casts and studying under him. The house he
occupied from 1796 to 1799 is now the Holly Bush Inn; he bought a piece of
land at the back of it, and on this built himself a studio and gallery,
which now form part of the Hampstead Constitutional Club. "It was to
Hampstead that Hayley's friend Romney, the painter, retired in the decline
of his life," writes J. T. Smith, in _Nollekens and his Times_, "when he
built a dining-room close to his kitchen, with a buttery hatch opening
into it, so that he and his friends might enjoy beef-steaks, hot and hot,
upon the same plan as the members of the Beef-steak Club are supplied at
their room in the Lyceum."

[Illustration: ROMNEY'S HOUSE. HAMPSTEAD.]

Though Romney was then in the decline of his life, he was at the height of
his fame. He had married at the age of nineteen, and six years later set
out for London, leaving his wife behind at Kendal. He had no intention of
deserting her, but in London his genius soon won recognition, he began to
move in good society, and partly because Sir Joshua Reynolds had once said
that "marriage spoilt an artist," partly because he became infatuated with
Nelson's enchantress, Lady Hamilton, he neither brought his wife to
London, nor visited her, nor ever saw her again until he was dying. On
April 28, 1799, Hayley called on him for the last time at Hampstead, and
thought that "increasing weakness of body and mind afforded only a gloomy
prospect for the residue of his life." Then in July Flaxman saw him, and
says in one of his letters, "I and my father dined at Mr. Romney's at
Hampstead last Sunday, by particular invitation, and were received in the
most cordial manner; but, alas! I was grieved to see so noble a collection
in a state so confused, so mangled, and prepared, I fear, for worse, and
not better." Very soon after this Romney left London for ever, and
returned to Kendal and the wife he had neglected since the days of his
obscure youth, and early in 1801, by his directions, "the collection of
castes from the antique, a very fine skeleton, and other artistic
properties of George Romney, at his late residence, Hollybush Hill,
Hampstead," were sold by Messrs. Christie.

Meanwhile, his wife had pardoned him and was caring for him. "Old, nearly
mad, and quite desolate," writes Fitzgerald, "he went back to her, and she
received him and nursed him till he died. This quiet act of hers is worth
all Romney's pictures!--even as a matter of art, I am sure." It is this
beautiful devotion of hers that gave Tennyson a subject for one of his
later poems, _Romney's Remorse_; in which the dying painter, rousing out
of delirium, says:--

                            "There--you spill
  The drops upon my forehead. Your hand shakes.
  I am ashamed. I am a trouble to you,
  Could kneel for your forgiveness. Are they tears?
  For me--they do me too much grace--for me?...
  My curse upon the Master's apothegm,
  That wife and children drag an artist down!
  This seemed my lodestar in the Heaven of Art,
  And lured me from the household fire on earth....
                            This Art, that harlot-like,
  Seduced me from you, leaves me harlot-like,
  Who love her still, and whimper, impotent
  To win her back before I die--and then--
  Then in the loud world's bastard judgment day
  One truth will damn me with the mindless mob,
  Who feel no touch of my temptation, more
  Than all the myriad lies that blacken round
  The corpse of every man that gains a name:
  'This model husband, this fine artist!' Fool,
  What matters! Six feet deep of burial mould
  Will dull their comments! Ay, but when the shout
  Of His descending peals from Heaven, and throbs
  Thro' earth and all her graves, if _He_ should ask
  'Why left you wife and children? for My sake,
  According to My word?' and I replied,
  'Nay, Lord, for _Art_,' why, that would sound so mean
  That all the dead who wait the doom of Hell
  For bolder sins than mine, adulteries,
  Wife-murders--nay, the ruthless Mussulman
  Who flings his bowstrung Harem in the sea,
  Would turn and glare at me, and point and jeer
  And gibber at the worm who, living, made
  The wife of wives a widow-bride, and lost
  Salvation for a sketch....
  O let me lean my head upon your breast.
  'Beat, little heart,' on this fool brain of mine.
  I once had friends--and many--none like you.
  I love you more than when we married. Hope!
  O yes, I hope, or fancy that, perhaps,
  Human forgiveness touches heaven, and thence--
  For you forgive me, you are sure of that--
  Reflected, sends a light on the forgiven."

Another famous artist who is closely associated with Hampstead was John
Constable. In 1820, writing to his friend, the Rev. John Fisher
(afterwards Archdeacon Fisher), he says, "I have settled my wife and
children comfortably at Hampstead"; and a little later he writes, again to
Fisher, "My picture is getting on, and the frame will be here in three
weeks or a fortnight.... I now fear (for my family's sake) I shall never
make a popular artist, _a gentleman and ladies painter_. But I am spared
making a fool of myself, and your hand stretched forth teaches me to value
what I possess (if I may say so), and this is of more consequence than
gentlemen and ladies can well imagine." He was then living at No. 2 Lower
Terrace, a small house of two storeys, and writes from that address, again
to Fisher, on the 4th August 1821, "I am as much here as possible with my
family. My placid and contented companion and her three infants are well.
I have got a room at a glazier's where is my large picture, and at this
little place I have many small works going on, for which purpose I have
cleared a shed in the garden, which held sand, coals, mops and brooms, and
have made it a workshop. I have done a good deal here." Lower Terrace is
within a few minutes' walk of the Heath, the scenery of which appears in
so many of Constable's paintings. He removed presently to Charlotte
Street, Fitzroy Square; one of his pictures exhibited in the Louvre made
him famous in France, and his fame was spreading in England when he went
back to Hampstead in 1826, and after staying for a while at 25 Downshire
Hill (which has since been rebuilt) was "at length fixed," as he wrote to
Fisher, "in a comfortable little house at Well Walk, Hampstead.... So
hateful is moving about to me that I could gladly exclaim, 'Here let me
take my everlasting rest.' This house is to my wife's heart's content; it
is situated on an eminence at the back of the spot in which you saw us,
and our little drawing-room commands a view unsurpassed in Europe from
Westminster Abbey to Gravesend. The dome of St. Paul's in the air seems to
realise Michael Angelo's words on seeing the Pantheon--'I will build such
a thing in the sky.'" In Constable's time the house was not numbered, but
it has been identified as the present No. 40, and after his wife's death
he kept it as an occasional residence until he died in 1837. He is buried
not far from it, in the Hampstead Churchyard.

[Illustration: JOHN KEATS]

[Illustration: CONSTABLE. CHARLOTTE STREET.]

In the same churchyard is buried Joanna Baillie, who spent the last
forty-five years of her life at Bolton House, Windmill Hill, opposite the
Hollybush Inn, and here Wordsworth, Rogers, and Scott were among her
visitors. Other famous Hampstead residents buried in this churchyard are
Mrs. Barbauld, who lived in Church Row, then near the foot of Rosslyn
Hill, and died in John Street; Sir Walter Besant, who died at Frognal End,
near the top of Frognal Gardens; and George du Maurier, who lived for
twenty-five years in Church Row and at New Grove House, by Whitestone
Pond, and dying in 1896, a year after he left Hampstead, was brought back
here to be buried.

[Illustration: JOANNA BAILLIE. WINDMILL HILL. HAMPSTEAD.]

In the house at the corner of Prince Arthur Road and the High Street, that
is now occupied by the Hampstead Subscription Library, Clarkson Stanfield
made his home for many years. He did notable work as a landscape and sea
painter and became a Royal Academician, but was best known and most
successful as a scenic artist for the theatre, and brought the art of
scene-painting to a higher level than it had ever reached before. His more
ambitious pictures are in private collections, however, his stage scenery
has had its day, and I suppose most of us remember him better as one of
Dickens's most familiar friends. He painted the scenery for Wilkie
Collins's play, _The Lighthouse_, when Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Mark
Lemon, and others of their circle produced it at Tavistock House, and for
other of the plays that Dickens staged there in his "smallest theatre in
the world"; and Dickens's letters are sown with references to him. Writing
to an American friend describing the Christmas sports he had been holding
at his house, Dickens says he has purchased the entire stock-in-trade of a
conjuror, and that "in those tricks which require a confederate I am
assisted (by reason of his imperturbable good humour) by Stanfield, who
always does his part exactly the wrong way, to the unspeakable delight of
all beholders. We come out on a small scale to-night" (31st December 1842)
"at Forster's, where we see the old year out and the new one in." On the
16th January 1844 (putting _Martin Chuzzlewit_ aside) he is writing to
Forster, "I had written you a line pleading Jonas and Mrs. Gamp, but this
frosty day tempts me sorely. I am distractingly late; but I look at the
sky, think of Hampstead, and feel hideously tempted. Don't come with Mac
and fetch me. I couldn't resist if you did"; and a month later, on the
18th February, "Stanfield and Mac have come in, and we are going to
Hampstead to dinner. I leave Betsy Prig as you know, so don't you make a
scruple about leaving Mrs. Harris. We shall stroll leisurely up to give
you time to join us, and dinner will be on the table at Jack Straw's at
four"; and in less than a month, on the 5th March, "Sir, I
will--he--he--he--he--he--he--I will NOT eat with you, either at your own
house or the club. But the morning looks bright, and a walk to Hampstead
would suit me marvellously. If you should present yourself at my gate
(bringing the R.A.'s along with you) I shall not be sapparised. So no more
at this writing from poor MR. DICKENS." In June of the same year he sent
Forster the proof of a preface he had written to a book by a poor
carpenter named Overs, saying, "I wish you would read this, and give it me
again when we meet at Stanfield's to-day"; and, still in the same year,
"Stanny" is one of the friends he wishes Forster to invite to his chambers
in Lincoln's Inn Fields to hear a reading of _The Chimes_ before it is
published.

No part of London is richer in literary and artistic associations than
Hampstead. At the "Upper Flask" tavern, now known as the "Upper Heath,"
Pope, Addison, Steele, Congreve, Hogarth and the other members of the
Kit-Kat club used to meet in the eighteenth century, and Hogarth and
Addison and his friends frequently resorted to the "Bull and Bush" at
North End. Akenside lived for a while in Hampstead, and after he had left
it went to stay occasionally with his friend Mr. Dyson at Golder's Hill,
and was staying there in 1758 when he wrote his _Ode on recovering from a
fit of sickness in the Country_, beginning:--

  "Thy verdant scenes, O Goulder's Hill,
   Once more I seek, a languid guest."

Gay often went to Hampstead to drink the waters, at the Pump Room, in Well
Walk; Dr. Arbuthnot lived in Hampstead, where Swift and Pope were among
his visitors; Fuseli lodged in Church Row; Dr. Johnson's wife spent some
of her summer holidays at a cottage near the entrance to the Priory, and
the Doctor would tear himself away from his loved Fleet Street to pass an
occasional day or two there with her; and of recent years Robert Louis
Stevenson stayed with Sidney Colvin at Abernethy House, Mount Vernon, and
at that time Stevenson, who was then twenty-four, so far conformed to the
proprieties as to go about in "a frock coat and tall hat, which he had
once worn at a wedding."

[Illustration: STANFIELD'S HOUSE. HAMPSTEAD.]

Tennyson's mother had a house in Flask Walk; when Edward Fitzgerald was
in London, Tennyson introduced him to Dickens, and these three, taking
Thackeray with them, drove out together to Hampstead Heath. Relics of Dick
Turpin are preserved at the Spaniards Inn, a quaint, old-world hostelry
that has in different generations entertained Goldsmith, Gainsborough, Sir
Joshua Reynolds, Garrick and Constable, as well as Dickens and many of his
familiars.

[Illustration: THE UPPER FLASK. FROM THE BOWLING GREEN.]

But more intimately than with any other of the immortals Hampstead has
come to be associated with Keats and Leigh Hunt--with Keats in particular.
He was born, a good Cockney, in Moorfields, over his father's livery
stables, and in 1816 went to live with his brother Tom at No. 1 Well Walk,
next door to the "Green Man," which has been succeeded by the Wells
Tavern, and in his room here, on the 18th November 1816, when he was
one-and-twenty, wrote a sonnet _To My Brothers_:--

  "Small, busy flames play through the fresh-laid coals,
     And their faint cracklings o'er our silence creep
     Like whispers of the household gods that keep
   A gentle empire o'er fraternal souls.
   And while for rhymes I search around the poles,
     Your eyes are fixed, as in poetic sleep,
     Upon the lore so voluble and deep
   That aye at fall of night our care condoles.

   This is your birthday, Tom, and I rejoice
     That thus it passes smoothly, quietly:
   Many such eves of gently whispering noise
     May we together pass, and calmly try
   What are this world's true joys--ere the great Voice
     From its fair face shall bid our spirits fly."

In 1818 Keats moved to another part of Hampstead, and lodged with his
friend, Charles Armitage Brown, a retired merchant, at Wentworth Place,
now known as Lawn Bank, in John Street, which was the other day, for no
sufficient reason, renamed Keats Grove. At that date Wentworth Place was
divided into two houses, Brown renting one, and Wentworth Dilke occupying
the other; and when the Dilkes were away from home they left their house
in the possession of Mrs. Brawne, her son, and two daughters, the elder of
these daughters being the Fanny Brawne of Keats's piteous love romance.
Though he finished the writing of it, and wrote the preface to it, on a
holiday at Teignmouth, _Endymion_ was published, and most of it had been
written, whilst he was at Wentworth Place, and under this roof also he
wrote his _Eve of St. Agnes_, _Isabella_, _Hyperion_, and the _Ode to a
Nightingale_. As every one knows, the publication of _Endymion_ brought
him little but ridicule and abuse from the reviewers; but, much as this
must have wounded and mortified his sensitive nature, it was so far from
being the cause of his death, as some sentimentalists said it was, that,
as you may gather from his correspondence, it did not even discourage him.
The _Quarterly_ snubbed him as a copyist of Leigh Hunt, professed to find
_Endymion_ so tedious as to be almost unreadable, and saw nothing in it
but "calm, settled, imperturbable, drivelling idiocy"; _Blackwood's
Magazine_, referring to his having qualified as a surgeon, sneered "Back
to the shop, Mr. John, stick to plasters, pills, ointment-boxes;" and the
majority of critics were equally unappreciative. Byron dubbed him "a
tadpole of the Lakes," and in divers letters to John Murray says, "There
is such a trash of Keats and the like upon my tables that I am ashamed to
look at them. No more Keats, I entreat.... Of the praises of the little
dirty blackguard Keats in the _Edinburgh_ I shall observe, as Johnson did
when Sheridan the actor got a pension, 'What, has _he_ got a pension? Then
it is time that I should give up _mine_.' At present, all the men they
have ever praised are degraded by that insane article. Why don't they
review and praise _Solomon's Guide to Health_? It is better sense and as
much poetry as Johnny Keats." After Keats was dead, Byron changed his
opinions somewhat, and was anxious that his disparagements of him should
be suppressed. "You know very well," he writes to Murray, "that I did not
approve of Keats's poetry, or principles of poetry, or of his abuse of
Pope; but as he is dead, omit all that it said about him in any MSS. of
mine, or publication. His _Hyperion_ is a fine monument, and will keep his
name"; and he added later, "His fragment of _Hyperion_ seems actually
inspired by the Titans, and is as sublime as Æschylus. He is a loss to our
literature."

Keats was too fully occupied with the writing of other poems, with the
glowing raptures and black despairs of his passion for Fanny Brawne, and
the anxieties attendant upon the illness that was already wearing him
down, to give overmuch of his thoughts to the attacks of his critics;
moreover, he found consolation in the society and friendship of such men
as Cowden Clarke, Wentworth Dilke (who founded the _Athenæum_), John
Hamilton Reynolds, Haydon the painter, and Leigh Hunt, whom he frequently
visited at that cottage of his in the Vale of Health, which ought never to
have been demolished. For it was the meeting-place, too, of Keats and
Shelley, and within it on one occasion, according to Cowden Clarke, Leigh
Hunt challenged Keats, "then, and there, and to time," to write in
competition with him a sonnet on _The Grasshopper and the Cricket_, and
Keats finished his first. Passing a night there when he could not sleep,
Keats wrote his _Sleep and Poetry_; and the cottage was rich, too, in
rumours of such guests as Lamb, Hazlitt, and Coleridge.

[Illustration: KEATS' HOUSE. HAMPSTEAD.]

Keats was introduced to Coleridge by Leigh Hunt. In 1816, when he was
trying to cure himself of the opium habit, Coleridge went to live with Mr.
Gilman, a surgeon, in a house that still stands in The Grove, Highgate,
and walking with Hunt one day in Millfield Lane, which runs on the
Highgate side of the Heath, he chanced to meet Keats, and this is his own
account of the meeting: "A loose, slack, and not well-dressed youth met me
in a lane near Highgate. It was Keats. He was introduced to me, and stayed
a minute or so. After he had left us a little way, he ran back and said,
'Let me carry away the memory, Coleridge, of having pressed your hand.'
'There is death in that hand,' I said when Keats was gone; yet this was, I
believe, before the consumption showed itself distinctly." But another
four years were not past when Hone, the author of _The Table Book_, saw
"poor Keats, the poet of _The Pot of Basil_, sitting and sobbing his dying
breath into a handkerchief," on a bench at the end of Well Walk,
overlooking the Heath, "glancing parting looks towards the quiet landscape
he had delighted in so much."

Perhaps the best descriptions of Keats in the last four years of his life
are those given by Haydon, the painter, in his _Memoirs_, and by Leigh
Hunt in his _Autobiography_. "He was below the middle size," according to
Haydon, "with a low forehead and an eye that had an inward look perfectly
divine, like a Delphian priestess who saw visions.... Unable to bear the
sneers of ignorance or the attacks of envy, not having strength of mind
enough to buckle himself together like a porcupine, and present nothing
but his prickles to his enemies, he began to despond, flew to dissipation
as a relief which, after a temporary elevation of spirits, plunged him
into deeper despondency than ever. For six weeks he was scarcely sober,
and to show what a man does to gratify his habits, when once they get the
better of him, he once covered his tongue and throat as far as he could
reach with cayenne pepper, in order to appreciate the 'delicious coldness
of claret in all its glory'--his own expression." Leigh Hunt writes, "He
was under the middle height; and his lower limbs were small in comparison
with the upper, but neat and well turned. His shoulders were very broad
for his size: he had a face in which energy and sensibility were
remarkably mixed up; an eager power, checked and made patient by ill
health. Every feature was at once strongly cut and delicately alive. If
there was any faulty expression, it was in the mouth, which was not
without something of a character of pugnacity. His face was rather long
than otherwise; the upper lip projected a little over the under; the chin
was bold, the cheeks sunken; the eyes mellow and glowing, large, dark, and
sensitive. At the recital of a noble action, or a beautiful thought, they
would suffuse with tears and his mouth trembled. In this there was ill
health as well as imagination, for he did not like these betrayals of
emotion; and he had great personal as well as moral courage. He once
chastised a butcher, who had been insolent, by a regular stand-up fight."
(Tradition says this fight took place in one of the narrow courts out of
the High Street, Hampstead.) "His hair, of a brown colour, was fine, and
hung in natural ringlets. The head was a puzzle for the phrenologists,
being remarkably small in the skull; a singularity he had in common with
Byron and Shelley, whose hats I could not get on." Add to these a
description given by one who knew him to Lord Houghton: "His eyes were
large and blue, his hair auburn; he wore it divided down the centre, and
it fell in rich masses each side of his face; his mouth was full, and less
intellectual than his other features. His countenance lives in my mind as
one of singular beauty and brightness; it had the expression as if it had
been looking on some glorious sight."

The last two years of his life at Hampstead, with their quiet happiness,
fierce unrests, passionate hopes and despairs, are all wonderfully
reflected in his letters of this period. He writes from Wentworth Place to
John Taylor, the publisher, in 1818, setting forth his poetical creed and
saying, with a clear perception of its defects, "If _Endymion_ serves me
as a pioneer, perhaps I ought to be content.... I have, I am sure, many
friends who, if I fail, will attribute any change in my life and temper to
humbleness rather than pride--to a cowering under the wings of great
poets, rather than to a bitterness that I am not appreciated. I am anxious
to get _Endymion_ printed that I may forget it and proceed." There is a
long letter to his sister in 1819, telling her of the books he has been
reading, and describing his every-day life, beginning, "The candles are
burnt down and I am using the wax taper, which has a long snuff on it--the
fire is at its last click--I am sitting with my back to it, with one foot
rather askew upon the rug and the other with the heel a little elevated
from the carpet. I am writing this on _The Maid's Tragedy_, which I have
read since tea with great pleasure. Besides this volume of Beaumont and
Fletcher, there are on the table two volumes of Chaucer and a new work of
Tom Moore's called _Tom Cribb's Memorial to Congress_--nothing in it."
Reading this minute little sketch of himself, it is easy to picture him
sitting late that night in his quiet room in Keats Grove; but it is the
letters to Fanny Brawne that give this house, which was then two houses,
its deepest and most living interest.

[Illustration: CONSTABLE'S HOUSE. HAMPSTEAD.]

In 1819 he writes to her, whilst he is away holidaying in the Isle of
Wight and she at Wentworth Place, "I have never known any unalloyed
happiness for many days together; the death or sickness of some one has
always spoilt my hours--and now, when none such troubles oppress me, it
is, you must confess, very hard that another sort of pain should haunt me.
Ask yourself, my love, whether you are not very cruel to have so
entrammelled me, so destroyed my freedom." And again, "Your letter gave me
more delight than anything in the world but yourself could do.... I never
knew before what such love as you have made me feel was; I did not believe
in it; my fancy was afraid of it, lest it should burn me up." And again,
"I have been in so irritable a state of health these two or three last
days, that I did not think I should be able to write this week.... I have
been, I cannot tell why, in capital spirits this last hour. What reason?
When I have to take my candle and retire to a lonely room, without the
thought, as I fall asleep, of seeing you to-morrow morning? or the next
day, or the next--it takes on the appearance of impossibility and
eternity. I will say a month--I will say I will see you in a month at
most, though no one but yourself should see me; if it be but for an hour.
I should not like to be so near you as London without being continually
with you; after having once more kissed you, Sweet, I would rather be here
alone at my task than in the bustle and hateful literary chitchat.
Meantime you must write to me--as I will every week--for your letters keep
me alive."

Back in London, making a short stay with Leigh Hunt, then living at
College Street, Kentish Town, Keats sends to Wentworth Place a letter to
Fanny Brawne, in the course of which he tells her, "My love has made me
selfish. I cannot exist without you. I am forgetful of everything but
seeing you again--my Life seems to stop there--I see no further. You have
absorbed me.... My love is selfish. I cannot breathe without you." Even
when he is home again, in his own part of the Wentworth Place house, he is
writing in February 1820, "They say I must remain confined to this room
for some time. The consciousness that you love me will make a pleasant
prison of the house next to yours. You must come and see me frequently:
this evening without fail"; and again, in the same month, "You will have a
pleasant walk to-day. I shall see you pass. I shall follow you with my
eyes over the Heath. Will you come towards evening instead of before
dinner? When you are gone, 'tis past--if you do not come till the evening
I have something to look forward to all day. Come round to my window for a
moment when you have read this."

In September of that year he set out on that voyage to Italy from which he
was never to return, and whilst the ship was delayed off the Isle of
Wight, he wrote to his friend, Charles Armitage Brown, at the old
Hampstead address, "The very thing which I want to live most for will be a
great occasion of my death. I cannot help it. Who can help it?... I
daresay you will be able to guess on what subject I am harping--you know
what was my greatest pain during the first part of my illness at your
house. I wish for death every day and night to deliver me from these
pains, and then I wish death away, for death would destroy even those
pains which are better than nothing.... I think, without my mentioning it,
for my sake, you would be a friend to Miss Brawne when I am dead. You
think she has many faults--but, for my sake, think she has not one. If
there is anything you can do for her by word or deed I know you will do
it.... The thought of leaving Miss Brawne is beyond everything
horrible--the sense of darkness coming over me--I eternally see her figure
eternally vanishing. Some of the phrases she was in the habit of using
during my last nursing at Wentworth Place ring in my ears. Is there
another life? Shall I awake and find all this a dream? There must be; we
cannot be created for this sort of suffering."

[Illustration: GEORGE DUMAURIER'S GRAVE. HAMPSTEAD.]

Because of all this, and of the reiterated longings and the heartaches
that Keats poured out in other letters that he wrote from Italy, and that
were delivered here to Armitage Brown, I always feel that Wentworth Place
is the saddest and most sacred of London's literary shrines.



CHAPTER IX

ROUND ABOUT SOHO AGAIN


As a general thing the literary man is not to be found living in the
aristocratic quarters of the town until after he has done his best work
and has begun to make money out of his inferior books. I don't think any
man of letters has ever rented a house in Park Lane, except Disraeli, and
he went there as a successful politician; such glorious thoroughfares are
reserved to more respectable stock-brokers and company-promoters, whilst
those whom the gods love are driven to seek refuge in the cheap and shabby
houses of meaner streets. Half the squalid squares and byways of Soho are
in reality vestibules and aisles of the Temple of Fame. Blake, as we have
seen in a former chapter, lived in Poland Street; and in the same street
lived Flaxman, and, later, Shelley. Dryden lived in Gerrard Street, a
century before Burke made his home there; Hazlitt died in Frith Street;
Mulready the painter had his studio in Broad Street; and the sculptor,
James Northcote, resided for over thirty years in Argyll Place. When
Madame de Stael was in England she stayed at 30 (now 29) Argyll Street,
and Byron speaks of visiting her there. I have already referred to Sir
James Thornhill's house in Dean Street; near by, in Soho Square, lived the
actor, Kemble; and this square has pathetic memories of De Quincey, who
lodged for a time, under strange circumstances, at the Greek Street corner
of it.

Left an orphan to the care of guardians who seem to have treated him with
some harshness, De Quincey ran away from the Manchester Grammar School in
1802, when he was only seventeen, and after wandering through Wales made
his way to London. Here for two months he was houseless, and seldom slept
under a roof, and for upwards of sixteen weeks suffered "the physical
anguish of hunger in various degrees of intensity." He tells you in his
_Confessions_ how he used to pace "the never-ending terraces" of Oxford
Street, and at night sleep on some doorstep, and dream, "and wake to the
captivity of hunger." In Oxford Street he fell in with that most innocent
and tender-hearted of street-walkers, Ann, whose surname he never knew,
and to whose compassion and charity he always felt that he owed his life:
"For many weeks I had walked at nights with this poor friendless girl up
and down Oxford Street, or had rested with her on steps and under the
shelter of porticoes. She could not be so old as myself; she told me,
indeed, that she had not completed her sixteenth year.... One night when
we were pacing slowly along Oxford Street, and after a day when I had felt
more than usually 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 that unhappy girl, in memory of the noble
action which she there performed. Suddenly, as we sate, I grew much worse.
I had been leaning my head against her bosom, and all at once I sank from
her arms and fell backwards on the steps." He was so utterly exhausted
that he felt he must have died, but with a cry of terror she ran off into
Oxford Street and returned with port wine and spices which she had paid
for out of her own pocket, at a time when "she had scarcely the
wherewithal to purchase the bare necessaries of life;" and this timely
stimulant served to restore him.

By-and-by, meeting a friend who lent him ten pounds, he travelled down to
Windsor to see if he could get a certain friend of his family there to
assist him; but before going he paid Ann something of his debt to her, and
arranged that three nights from then, and every night after until they
should meet, she would be at the corner of Titchfield Street, Soho. On his
return to London he was at the appointed place night after night, but Ann
never appeared, and though he inquired everywhere and searched the
neighbourhood for her he was never able to see or hear of her again.

Earlier than this, however, and before he had succeeded in borrowing that
ten pounds, the coming on of a bitterly inclement winter drove him to seek
a wretched lodging at 61 (then 38) Greek Street, Soho Square. The house
was a dirty, neglected, cheerless place, tenanted by a disreputable
attorney named Brunell-Brown, who had a curious clerk named Pyment, and
only came and went to and from his office by stealth because he was deep
in debts and continually dodging the bailiffs. A few weeks of lodging
miserably here nearly exhausted the little cash De Quincey had brought to
London with him, and he had to give up his room. But he explained his
position frankly to Brunell-Brown, and this kindly, reckless rascal, who
had a genuine knowledge and love of literature, and was interested in the
young lodger who could talk to him intelligently on such matters, readily
gave him permission to come to the house nightly and sleep gratis in one
of its empty rooms, and allowed him, moreover, to eat the scraps from his
breakfast-table.

The house had an unoccupied look, especially of nights, when the lawyer
himself was usually absent. "There was no household or establishment in
it; nor any furniture, indeed, except a table and a few chairs. But I
found, on taking possession of my new quarters, that the house already
contained one single inmate, a poor friendless child, apparently ten years
old; but she seemed hunger-bitten, and sufferings of that sort often make
children look older than they are. From this forlorn child I learned that
she had lived and slept there for some time before I came; and great joy
the poor creature expressed when she found that I was in future to be her
companion through the hours of darkness. The house was large, and from the
want of furniture the noise of the rats made a prodigious echoing on the
spacious staircase and hall; and amidst the real fleshly ills of cold and,
I fear, hunger, the forsaken child had found leisure to suffer still more
(it appeared) from the self-created one of ghosts. I promised her
protection against all ghosts whatsoever, but, alas! I could offer her no
other assistance. We lay upon the floor, with a bundle of cursed law
papers for a pillow, but no other covering than a sort of large horseman's
cloak; afterwards, however, we discovered in a garret an old sofa-cover, a
small piece of rug, and some fragments of other articles, which added a
little to our warmth. The poor child crept close to me for warmth and for
security against her ghostly enemies. When I was not more than usually ill
I took her into my arms, so that in general she was tolerably warm, and
often slept when I could not....

[Illustration: DE QUINCEY'S HOUSE. SOHO.]

"Meantime, the master of the house sometimes came in upon us suddenly, and
very early; sometimes not till ten o'clock; sometimes not at all. He was
in constant fear of bailiffs. Improving on the plan of Cromwell, every
night he slept in a different quarter of London; and I observed that he
never failed to examine through a private window the appearance of those
who knocked at the door before he would allow it to be opened. He
breakfasted alone; indeed, his tea equipage would hardly have admitted of
his hazarding an invitation to a second person, any more than the quantity
of esculent _matériel_, which for the most part was little more than a
roll or a few biscuits which he had bought on his road from the place
where he had slept. During his breakfast I generally contrived a reason
for lounging in, and with an air of as much indifference as I could
assume, took up such fragments as he had left; sometimes, indeed, there
were none at all.... As to the poor child, she was never admitted into his
study (if I may give that name to his chief depository of parchments, law
writings, &c.); that room was to her the Bluebeard room of the house,
being regularly locked on his departure to dinner, about six o'clock,
which usually was his final departure for the night. Whether the child
were an illegitimate daughter of Mr. Brunell-Brown, or only a servant, I
could not ascertain; she did not herself know; but certainly she was
treated altogether as a menial servant. No sooner did Mr. Brunell-Brown
make his appearance than she went below stairs, brushed his shoes, coat,
&c.; and, except when she was summoned to run an errand, she never emerged
from the dismal Tartarus of the kitchen, &c. to the upper air until my
welcome knock at night called up her little trembling footsteps to the
front door. Of her life during the daytime, however, I knew little but
what I gathered from her own account at night, for as soon as the hours of
business commenced I saw that my absence would be acceptable, and in
general, therefore, I went off and sate in the parks or elsewhere until
nightfall."

[Illustration: SHELLEY'S HOUSE. POLAND STREET W.]

I have always thought that in all this there is something oddly
reminiscent of Dick Swiveller and the Marchioness; the poor, half-starved
little household drudge fits her part almost exactly, but De Quincey makes
but a depressed and dismal Dick Swiveller; and Mr. Brunell-Brown seems to
have been a lower type of the rascally lawyer than Sampson Brass was; but
rascal as he was, one warms to him because of his kindness to his forlorn
guest. "I must forget everything but that towards me," says De Quincey,
"he was obliging and, to the extent of his power, generous." He goes on to
say that in after years, whenever he was in London, he never failed to
visit that house in Greek Street, and "about ten o'clock this very night,
August 15, 1821--being my birthday--I turned aside from my evening walk
down Oxford Street, purposely to take a glance at it; it is now occupied
by a respectable family, and by the lights in the front drawing-room I
observed a domestic party assembled, perhaps at tea, and apparently
cheerful and gay. Marvellous contrast, in my eyes, to the darkness,
cold, silence and desolation of that same house eighteen years ago, when
its nightly occupants were one famishing scholar and a neglected child.
Her, by-the-by, in after years I vainly endeavoured to trace. Apart from
her situation, she was not what would be called an interesting child; she
was neither pretty nor quick in understanding, nor remarkably pleasing in
manners."

[Illustration: THOMAS DE QUINCEY]

His London privations ended with a reconciliation between himself and his
guardians, and he was sent to Oxford--his quarrel with them being that
they would not allow him to go there.

De Quincey quitted Soho to go to Oxford, and Shelley, when he was expelled
from Oxford in 1811, came to Soho. He travelled up to London on the coach
with his friend Hogg. His cousin and sometime schoolfellow, Medwin,
relates how before dawn on a March morning Shelley and Hogg knocked at his
door in Garden Court, Temple, and he heard Shelley's cracked voice cry, in
his well-known pipe, "Medwin, let me in. I am expelled," and after a loud
sort of half-hysterical laugh repeat, "I am expelled," and add "for
atheism." After breakfast they went out to look for lodgings, and, says
Hogg, "never was a young beauty so capricious, so hard to please" as
Shelley; but the name of Poland Street attracted him because it suggested
recollections of Thaddeus of Warsaw and freedom, and he declared "we must
lodge here, should we sleep on the step of a door." A bill advertising
lodgings to let hung in the window of No. 15, so they knocked and entered
and inspected them--"a quiet sitting-room, its walls papered with
trellised vine-leaves and clustering grapes," with a similarly decorated
bedroom opening out of it, and Shelley whispered, "We must stay here for
ever."

"For ever" dwindled to something less than a year; but here for that time
Shelley lived and resumed his interrupted studies, as far as might be, and
was secretly supported by his sisters, who sent their pocket-money round
to him by the hand of their schoolfellow, Harriett Westbrook, daughter of
the retired tavern-keeper, John Westbrook, who was living near Park Lane,
at 23 Chapel Street (now Aldford Street).

In April 1811 Shelley's father wrote insisting that he should break off
all relations with Hogg and place himself under a tutor of his father's
selection, and Shelley replied, from his Poland Street lodgings:--

    "MY DEAR FATHER,--As you do me the honour of requesting to hear the
    determination of my mind, as the basis of your future actions, I feel
    it my duty, although it gives me pain to wound 'the sense of duty to
    your own character, to that of your family, and feelings as a
    Christian,' decidedly to refuse my assent to both the proposals in
    your letter, and to affirm that similar refusals will always be the
    fate of similar requests. With many thanks for your great kindness,--I
    remain your affectionate, dutiful son,

      "PERCY B. SHELLEY."

His father presently relented so far as to make him an allowance of two
hundred pounds a year. One evening in August, having arranged a hasty
elopement with Harriett Westbrook, Shelley walked from Poland Street to a
small coffee-house in Mount Street, and as Dr. Dowden sets forth in his
Life of the poet, dispatched a letter thence to Harriett, her father's
house in Aldford Street being close handy, telling her at what hour he
would have a hackney coach waiting for her at the door of the
coffee-house. At the appointed time the coach was there in readiness, and
a little behind time "Harriett was seen tripping round the corner from
Chapel Street, and the coach wheels rattled towards the City inn from
which the northern mails departed."

[Illustration: SHELLEY. MARCHMONT STREET.]

They travelled post-haste to the North, and were married in Edinburgh; and
in another three years the deserted Harriett had ended her life in the
Serpentine, and Shelley had gone off with Mary Godwin. Meanwhile, however,
returning to London after his marriage to Harriett, Shelley stayed for a
few days at the house of his father-in-law, and then at Cooke's Hotel, in
Albemarle Street. On another occasion he lodged for a short time at a
house still standing in Marchmont Street (No. 26), a drab and dingy
thoroughfare in the neighbourhood of Russell Square.

Hazlitt was a Soho resident for no longer than about six months. In 1830
he came from his lodgings in Bouverie Street to occupy rooms at No. 6
Frith Street. He was then already failing in health, separated from his
wife, harassed financially through the failure of his publishers,
altogether broken and dispirited. Much disappointment, the thwarting of
many of his highest personal ambitions, had soured and embittered him.
Haydon calls him a "singular mixture of friend and fiend, radical and
critic, metaphysician, poet and painter, on whose word no one could rely,
on whose heart no one could calculate." A critic of genius, a brilliant
essayist; with not so great a heart as Lamb's but a finer intellect; he
has never to this day received his full meed of recognition. He moves in
spirit among the immortals as apart and unsociable as he moved among them
in the body. "We are told," wrote P. G. Patmore, "that on the summit of
one of those columns which form the magnificent ruins of Hadrian's Temple,
in the plain of Athens, there used to dwell a hermit who scarcely ever
descended from this strangely-chosen abode, owing his scanty food and
support to the mingled admiration and curiosity of the peasants who
inhabited the plain below. Something like this was the position of William
Hazlitt. Self-banished from the social world, no less by the violence of
his own passions than by those petty regards of custom and society which
could not or would not tolerate the trifling aberrations from external
form and usage engendered by a mind like his, ... he became, as regarded
himself, personally heedless of all things but the immediate gratification
of his momentary wishes, careless of personal character, indifferent to
literary fame, forgetful of the past, reckless of the future, and yet so
exquisitely alive to the claims and the virtues of all these that the
abandonment of his birthright in every one of them opened a separate
canker in his heart, and made his life a living emblem of the early death
which it foretokened."

Patmore, too, has given a good sketch of his personal appearance. "The
forehead," he says, "was magnificent; the nose precisely that which
physiognomists have assigned as evidence of a fine and highly cultivated
taste; though there was a peculiar character about the nostrils like
that observable in those of a fiery and unruly horse. His eyes were not
good. They were never brilliant, and there was a furtive and at times a
sinister look about them as they glanced suspiciously from under their
overhanging brows." Other contemporaries have described him as a grave
man, diffident, almost awkward in manner, of middle size, and with eager,
expressive eyes. S. C. Hall considered him mean-looking and
unprepossessing; but though Talfourd speaks of him as slouching, awkward,
and neglectful in his dress, he credits him with "a handsome, eager
countenance, worn by sickness and thought."

[Illustration: HAZLITT'S HOUSE. FRITH STREET.]

But he was nearing the end of it all when he came to Frith Street. In
August he was attacked with a violent sort of cholera, and never rallied
from it. What was probably his last essay, one on "The Sick Chamber,"
appeared that same month in the _New Monthly_, picturing his own invalid
condition and touching gratefully on the consolation and enjoyment he
could still derive from books. Nearing the close, he begged that his
mother might be sent for, but she was an old lady of eighty-four living in
Devonshire and was unable to go to him. "He died so quietly," in the words
of his grandson, "that his son, who was sitting by his bedside, did not
know that he was gone till the vital breath had been extinct a moment or
two. His last words were, 'Well, I've had a happy life.'" The same
authority adds that he found the following memorandum, in the handwriting
of his grandmother: "Saturday, 18th September 1830, at about half-past
four in the afternoon, died at his lodgings, No. 6 Frith Street, Soho,
William Hazlitt, aged fifty-two years five months and eight days. Mr.
Lamb, Mr. White, Mr. Hersey, and his own son were with him at the time."

He was buried within a minute's walk of his house, in the churchyard of
St. Anne's, Soho, and his tombstone removed from its first position,
stands back against the wall of the church: the stone originally bore a
curious, somewhat militant inscription, but this has recently been
obliterated, and replaced by one that offers nothing but his name and a
record of the dates of his birth and death.



CHAPTER X

A PHILOSOPHER, TWO POETS, AND A NOVELIST


Everybody has heard of _Sandford and Merton_, and hardly anybody nowadays
has read it. I confess with shame that I am one who has not. But I have
come across so many parodies of it and so many references to it in various
books and articles that I am finding it more and more difficult to believe
that I have not actually read the story itself. Mr. Barlow, the boy's
tutor, lives in my mind as a large and solemn bore, but he was a bore of
real knowledge; he was heavy with learning; and the boys themselves were
dreadful little prigs, but underneath their priggishness they were manly
boys, and there was something fine in their ideals of honour. No doubt
they were largely modelled on their author, Thomas Day, who when he was a
schoolboy started a fight with another boy on quite justifiable grounds,
and soon finding that he completely outmatched his opponent, stopped the
fight, and insisted on shaking hands with the other and making peace.

That incident, and the queer originality of his whole outlook on life, has
made me more interested in Day himself than in his one famous book, and
has made me number 36 Wellclose Square, the house where he was born,
among the London literary shrines that must not be overlooked.

Wellclose Square is in Shadwell, on the skirts of Whitechapel, and is one
of those melancholy places that have obviously seen better days. Dreary
and drab and squalid as you see it now, when Day was born there on the
22nd June 1748 it must have been a fairly select and superior residential
quarter. Day's father was a collector of Customs who died a year after his
son's birth, leaving him a very comfortable fortune of twelve hundred a
year. The boy was educated at Charterhouse and at Oxford, and one way and
another acquired lofty Stoic principles and a somewhat original philosophy
that he lived up to obstinately all his life through, in spite of many
rebuffs and a good deal of ridicule. He dressed carelessly, was
indifferent to appearances, and scorned the "admiration of splendour which
dazzles and enslaves mankind." He preferred the society of his inferiors
because they were more unconventional, less artificial than the ladies and
gentlemen of his own rank; he was awkward in the company of women, and
regarded the sex with doubt as well as with diffidence. As you would
expect of the man who wrote _Sandford and Merton_, he had no sense of
humour; and his smallpox-pitted face and unattractive air and manner told
so much against him that he was rejected emphatically by the first one or
two women he proposed to. Withal, as was also fitting in the author of
that fearsomely moral schoolboy-book, he was, in the words of his friend
Edgeworth, "the most virtuous human being I have ever known."

[Illustration: THOMAS DAY. 36 WELLCLOSE SQUARE.]

I suppose he was a pioneer of the "simple life" theory; anyhow, he
persistently advocated simplicity in dress and living, and was determined
to find a wife who shared these tastes, who should, moreover, be fond of
literature and moral philosophy, "simple as a mountain girl in her dress,
diet, and manners, and fearless and intrepid as the Spartan wives and
Roman heroines." He was careful to state these requirements to the lady
before proposing to her, and this seems to have spoilt his chances. The
difficulty of discovering his ideal wife led to his making an odd
experiment. He adopted two young girls, one from the Foundling Hospital,
the other from the Shrewsbury Orphanage, and in deference to the
proprieties formally bound them apprentice to his friend Edgeworth, and
gave guarantees to the authorities that within one year he would make a
decision between the two and pay a premium of a hundred pounds to
apprentice one to a suitable trade, and send the other to be properly
educated with the ultimate object of marrying her. The girls were about
twelve years old. In order that they should not be influenced with wrong
ideas by the people about them, he took them into France, where, as they
only understood English, they could talk with nobody but himself; and
there he proceeded to teach them reading and writing, and by ridicule,
explanation, and reasoning sought "to imbue them with a deep hatred for
dress, for luxury, for fine people, for fashion and titles, all of which
inspired his own mind with such an unconquerable horror." In a letter
which he wrote home about them he says, "I am not disappointed in one
respect. I am more attached to and more convinced of the truth of my
principles than ever. I have made them, in respect of temper, two such
girls as, I may perhaps say without vanity, you have never seen at the
same age. They have never given me a moment's trouble throughout the
voyage, are always contented, and think nothing so agreeable as waiting
upon me (no moderate convenience for a lazy man)." Nevertheless, in
France, the girls proved very quarrelsome; he had to nurse them through a
severe attack of smallpox, and once when they were out boating they both
fell into the Rhone, and he risked his life to save them.

Within the year, he brought them back to England and had made his choice.
He apprenticed one, who was "invincibly stupid," to a milliner; and the
other, Sabrina Sidney, he carried with him to a house he had taken near
Lichfield and there "resumed his preparations for implanting in her young
mind the characteristic virtues of Arria, Portia and Cornelia." But she
disappointed him; he endeavoured in vain to steel her against shrinking
from pain and the fear of danger. "When he dropped melting sealing-wax on
her arms she did not endure it heroically; nor when he fired pistols at
her petticoats which she believed to be charged with balls could she help
starting aside or suppress her screams." She was not fond of science, and
was unable to keep a secret satisfactorily; so after a year's trial Day
sent her away to a boarding-school, and proceeded to pay his addresses to
a young lady living in the neighbourhood, who first put him on a period of
probation, and then, after he had made himself ridiculous in trying to
dress and behave as she wished, rejected him.

[Illustration: LORD BYRON]

Whereupon his thoughts turned again to Sabrina, who had a real affection
for him; but her failure to obey him in certain small details of dress
again displeased him, and finally deciding against her, he in the long run
married a Miss Milnes. His one objection to this lady was that she
possessed a considerable fortune, and would therefore probably refuse to
live the simple life; but when he had categorically put his requirements
to her, and she had consented to dispense with all luxuries, to cut
herself off from social gaieties, and reside in the country with him,
restricted in every way to the bare necessaries of existence, working and
spending for the behoof of the poor and needy, he ventured to make her
Mrs. Day, and never had occasion to regret it. Sabrina eventually married
a barrister, but refused to do so until she had Day's consent; and when,
after writing divers political, economic, and philosophical works that
nobody hears of now, and _Sandford and Merton_, which nobody reads any
longer, Day died of a fall from an unmanageable horse which he insisted
could be controlled by kindness, his wife was inconsolable, and died soon
after him of a broken heart.

So he must have been a man worth knowing, and, in spite of his
peculiarities and his oppressive earnestness, more likeable than most of
us, when you knew him. Anyhow, he thought for himself, and had opinions of
his own, and was not afraid to act upon them. And such men are so
uncommonly rare that I think the County Council should put a tablet on the
face of his birthplace at once, for the encouragement of all men who are
something more than cheap copies of their neighbours.

Across the other side of London, at 24 (then 16) Holles Street, Cavendish
Square, Lord Byron was born, on 22nd January 1788--a very different man,
but also unconventional, though in more conventional ways. But the house
here has been considerably altered to suit the requirements of the big
drapery establishment that at present occupies it, and of Byron's various
residences in London I believe the only one that survives in its original
condition is that at No. 4 Bennet Street, St. James's. Here he had rooms
on the first floor in 1813 and the early months of 1814, and it was in
those rooms that he wrote _The Giaour_, _The Bride of Abydos_, and _The
Corsair_. Writing to Moore from here on the 28th July 1813, he says, "I am
training to dine with Sheridan and Rogers this evening"; and in the Diary
he was keeping at this time he notes, on 16th November 1813, "Read Burns
to-day. What would he have been, if a patrician? We should have had more
polish--less force--just as much verse but no immortality--a divorce and
duel or two, the which had he survived, as his potations must have been
less spirituous, he might have lived as long as Sheridan, and outlived as
much as poor Brinsley."

From Bennet Street Byron carried on a correspondence with the lady he was
destined to marry, Miss Anna Isabella Milbanke. "I look upon myself," he
tells her in one of his letters, "as a very facetious personage, and may
appeal to most of my acquaintance in proof of my assertion. Nobody laughs
more, and though your friend Joanna Baillie says somewhere that 'Laughter
is the child of misery,' I do not believe her (unless indeed a hysteric),
though I think it is sometimes the parent." In another of the same
September 1813, evidently replying to one of hers, he protests: "'Gay'
but not 'content'--very true.... You have detected a laughter 'false to
the heart'--allowed--yet I have been tolerably sincere with you, and I
fear sometimes troublesome." In November he writes to her, "I perceive by
part of your last letter that you are still inclined to believe me a
gloomy personage. Those who pass so much of their time entirely alone
can't be always in very high spirits; yet I don't know--though I certainly
do enjoy society to a certain extent, I never passed two hours in mixed
company without wishing myself out of it again. Still, I look upon myself
as a facetious companion, well reputed by all the wits at whose jests I
readily laugh, and whose repartees I take care never to incur by any kind
of contest--for which I feel as little qualified as I do for the more
solid pursuits of demonstration."

[Illustration: BYRON. 4 BENNET STREET. ST. JAMES'S.]

As for his gloom or gaiety, Sir Walter Scott, who lunched with him and
Charles Mathews at Long's Hotel, in Old Bond Street, in 1815, said, "I
never saw Byron so full of fun, frolic, wit, and whim: he was as playful
as a kitten." Again, writing in his Journal, after Byron's death, Sir
Walter observes, "What I liked about Byron, besides his boundless genius,
was his generosity of spirit as well as purse, and his utter contempt of
all affectations of literature, from the school-magisterial style to the
lackadaisical"; and he relates an anecdote in illustration of Byron's
extreme sensitiveness: "Like Rousseau, he was apt to be very suspicious,
and a plain, downright steadiness of manner was the true mode to maintain
his good opinion. Will Rose told me that once, while sitting with Byron,
he fixed insensibly his eyes on his feet, one of which, it must be
remembered, was deformed. Looking up suddenly, he saw Byron regarding him
with a look of concentrated and deep displeasure, which wore off when he
observed no consciousness or embarrassment in the countenance of Rose.
Murray afterwards explained this by telling Rose that Lord Byron was very
jealous of having this personal imperfection noticed or attended to." He
goes on to say that Byron was a mischief-maker; he would tell one man the
unpleasant things that had been privately said of him by another; and he
loved to mystify people, "to be thought awful, mysterious and gloomy, and
sometimes hinted at strange causes."

So that if he had no literary affectations he clearly cultivated a pose of
mysterious misery both in his life and his poetry, and this it was that
exasperated Carlyle into calling him "the teeth-grinding, glass-eyed, lone
Caloyer." And the pose was helped out by his handsome and romantic
appearance. "Byron's countenance is a thing to dream of," Scott told
Lockhart. "A certain fair lady whose name has been too often mentioned in
connection with his told a friend of mine that when she first saw Byron it
was in a crowded room, and she did not know who it was, but her eyes were
instantly nailed, and she said to herself, 'That pale face is my fate.'
And, poor soul, if a god-like face and god-like powers could have made
excuse for devilry, to be sure she had one." He said on the same occasion,
"As for poets, I have seen, I believe, all the best of our own time and
country--and, though Burns had the most glorious eyes imaginable, I never
thought any of them would come up to an artist's notion of the character
except Byron." Mrs. Opie said, "His voice was such a voice as the devil
tempted Eve with"; and Charles Mathews once remarked that "he was the only
man I ever contemplated to whom I felt disposed to apply the word
beautiful."

Nevertheless, for a while Miss Milbanke was proof against his
fascinations. In November 1813, about the date of that last letter of his
to her from which I have quoted, he offered her his hand and was rejected.
He proposed to another lady in the following September, and was rejected
again, and almost immediately afterwards he called on Miss Milbanke at her
father's house, 29 Portland Place, and in the library there passionately
renewed his suit, and this time was successful. They were married in
January 1815, and went to live at 13 Piccadilly, and in January of the
next year, after twelve months of little happiness and much wretchedness,
separated for good, a month after the birth of their child.

This Piccadilly house has been pulled down. The Albany to which Byron
removed in 1814, and which he left on his marriage, still remains; and so,
too, does No. 8 St. James's Street, where he lived in 1809, when his
_English Bards and Scotch Reviewers_ took the town by storm, but it has
undergone so much alteration that it no longer seems so intimately
reminiscent of Byron as Bennet Street does.

Whilst Byron was residing in St. James's Street, publishing the _English
Bards_ and writing the first canto of _Childe Harold_, Coleridge was
living in a house at Portland Place, Hammersmith, that is now known as No.
7 Addison Bridge Place. Somehow, one does not readily connect Coleridge
with London, even though he had lodged for many years at Highgate before
he died there. But one time and another he spent quite a large part of his
life in the metropolis. He was at school with Lamb, of course, at Christ's
Hospital; and are not Lamb's letters strewn with yearning remembrances of
the glorious evenings he and Coleridge and Hazlitt and others passed, in
later years, in the smoky parlour of "The Salutation and Cat," in Newgate
Street? At various dates, he lived at Buckingham Street, and at Norfolk
Street, Strand, in Pall Mall, and in King Street, Covent Garden, when he
was working on the staff of the _Morning Post_; to say nothing of visits
to London when he put up at one or another of Lamb's many homes in the
City; and there is still in one of the courts of Fetter Lane that Newton
Hall where he delivered a series of lectures in 1818.

By 1810, when he came to London and settled for a period at 7 Addison
Bridge Place, Coleridge had done all his great work as a poet, and under
stress of financial difficulties was turning more and more from poetry to
lecturing and journalism as sources of income. There is a letter of Lamb's
to Hazlitt, dated 28th November 1810, when Hazlitt was holidaying and
working at Winterslow, in which he mentions towards the close--"Coleridge
is in town, or at least at Hammersmith. He is writing or going to write in
the _Courier_ against Cobbett and in favour of paper money." Byron wrote
to a friend in the succeeding year, "Coleridge is lecturing. 'Many an old
fool,' said Hannibal to some such lecturer, 'but such as this, never'";
and to the same friend two days later, "Coleridge has been lecturing
against Campbell. Rogers was present, and from him I derive the
information. We are going to make a party to hear this Manichean of
poesy"; and on the same day to another friend, "Coleridge has attacked the
_Pleasures of Hope_, and all other pleasures whatsoever. Mr. Rogers was
present, and heard himself indirectly _rowed_ by the lecturer"; and next
week, "To-morrow I dine with Rogers, and am to hear Coleridge, who is a
kind of rage at present."

[Illustration: COLERIDGE. ADDISON BRIDGE PLACE.]

Coleridge was then only thirty-eight, and had another twenty-four years of
life before him. He was already, and had for long past, been struggling in
the toils of the opium habit, and his poetical inspiration was leaving
him, for though _Christabel_ and _Kubla Khan_ were not published until
1816 they were written nearly ten years before. There are a number of
minor poems bearing later dates; several in 1809, many long after that,
but only one dated 1810, which may be supposed to have been written in
that Hammersmith house, and this is nothing but a respectable translation
of a passage in Ottfried's metrical paraphrase of the Gospels. But his
lectures were a wonder and a delight, Byron's disapproval notwithstanding.
He was always an eloquent preacher, and became a chief among lecturers as
he did among poets. "Have you ever heard me preach?" he asked Lamb, and
Lamb replied with his whimsical stammer, "I never heard you do anything
else!" But you remember that fine essay of Hazlitt's in which he recounts
his first acquaintance with Coleridge?--how he rose before daylight and
walked ten miles in the mud to hear him preach. "When I got there, the
organ was playing the hundredth psalm, and when it was done Mr. Coleridge
rose and gave out his text, 'And he went up into the mountain to pray,
HIMSELF, ALONE.' As he gave out his text his voice 'rose like a steam of
rich distilled perfumes,' and when he came to the two last words, which he
pronounced loud, deep, and distinct, it seemed to me, who was then young,
as if the sounds had echoed from the bottom of the human heart, and as if
that prayer might have floated in solemn silence through the universe." He
describes the sermon, and goes on, "I could not have been more delighted
if I had heard the music of the spheres. Poetry and Philosophy had met
together.... I returned home well satisfied." Then Coleridge called to see
his father, a dissenting minister in the neighbourhood, and for two hours
he talked and Hazlitt listened spellbound, and when he went, Hazlitt
walked with him six miles on the road. "It was a fine morning," he says,
"in the middle of winter, and he talked the whole way." And with what a
fine generosity he acknowledges what that meeting and this talk of
Coleridge's had meant to him. "I was stunned, startled with it as from a
deep sleep.... I was at that time dumb, inarticulate, helpless, like a
worm by the wayside, crushed, bleeding, lifeless; but now, bursting the
deadly bands that bound them--

  'With Styx nine times round them,'

my ideas float on winged words, and as they expand their plumes catch the
golden light of other years. My soul has indeed remained in its original
bondage, dark, obscure, with longings infinite and unsatisfied; my heart,
shut up in the prison-house of this rude clay, has never found nor will it
ever find a heart to speak to; but that my understanding also did not
remain dumb and brutish, or at length found a language to express itself,
I owe to Coleridge." That was when Coleridge was twenty-six and Hazlitt
twenty. These twelve years after that, when Coleridge was lecturing in
London, his fancy and imagination were as dazzling and as powerful as
ever, and his voice and language had lost none of their magic. But his
thoughts were perhaps tending towards that transcendental obscurity that
reached its worst when he was established in his closing days at Highgate,
with his little group of worshipping disciples around him, and when
Carlyle went to hear and to ridicule him. Anyhow, here is an account
Rogers gives of a visit he paid to him when he had transferred himself
from Hammersmith to Pall Mall:--

"Coleridge was a marvellous talker. One morning when Hookham Frere also
breakfasted with me, Coleridge talked for three hours without
intermission, about poetry, and so admirably that I wish every word he
uttered had been written down. But sometimes his harangues were quite
unintelligible, not only to myself, but to others. Wordsworth and I called
upon him one afternoon, when he was in a lodging off Pall Mall. He talked
uninterruptedly for about two hours, during which Wordsworth listened to
him with profound attention, every now and then nodding his head, as if in
assent. On quitting the lodgings I said to Wordsworth, 'Well, for my part,
I could not make head or tail of Coleridge's oration; pray did you
understand it?' 'Not one syllable of it,' was Wordsworth's reply."

He talked like one inspired, but his looks, except whilst he was talking,
belied him. "My face," he said justly of himself, "unless when animated by
immediate eloquence, expresses great sloth and great, indeed almost
idiotic, good nature. 'Tis a mere carcase of a face, flat, flabby, and
expressive chiefly of unexpression. Yet I am told that my eye, eyebrows,
and forehead are physiognomically good." De Quincey says there was a
peculiar haze or dimness mixed with the light of his eyes; and when he was
roused to animation Lamb thought he looked like "an archangel a little
damaged." But whether that haze of his eyes got into his talk, whether his
thoughts were obscurely uttered, or whether it was they were too high and
great for his auditors to take in so easily as a listener expects to grasp
what is said to him is, at least, an open question. It may well be that
Shelley hit the truth in the _Letter to Maria Gisborne_ that he wrote from
Leghorn, in 1820:--

  "You will see Coleridge; he who sits obscure
   In the exceeding lustre and the pure
   Intense irradiation of a mind
   Which, with its own internal lightnings blind,
   Flags wearily through darkness and despair--
   A cloud-encircled meteor of the air,
   A hooded eagle among blinking owls."



CHAPTER XI

CHARLES LAMB


At one of those free-and-easy sociable gatherings in Lamb's rooms, in the
Temple, which Hazlitt has so happily immortalised, Lamb provoked some
discussion by asking which of all the English literary men of the past one
would most wish to have seen and known. Ayrton, who was of the company,
said he would choose the two greatest names in English literature--Sir
Isaac Newton and John Locke. "Every one burst out laughing," writes
Hazlitt, "at the expression of Lamb's face, in which impatience was
restrained by courtesy. 'Yes, the greatest names,' he stammered out
hastily, 'but they were not persons--not persons.... There is nothing
personally interesting in the men.'" It is Lamb's glory that he is both a
great name and a great and interesting personality; and if his question
were put again to-day in any company of book-lovers I should not be alone
in saying at once that the writer of the past I would soonest have seen
and known is Charles Lamb.

It is difficult to write of him without letting your enthusiasm run away
with you. Except for a few reviewers of his own day (and the reviewers of
one's own day count for little or nothing the day after), nobody who knew
Lamb in his life or has come to know him through his books and the books
that tell of him has been able to write of him except with warmest
admiration and affection. Even so testy and difficult a man as Landor, who
only saw Lamb once, could not touch on his memory without profound
emotion, and says in some memorial verses:--

  "Of all that ever wore man's form, 'tis thee
   I first would spring to at the gates of heaven."

And you remember Wordsworth's--

  "O, he was good, if e'er a good man lived!"

There is, too, that well-known anecdote of how Thackeray lifted a volume
of _Elia_ and held it against his forehead and murmured "St. Charles!" All
which, and many other utterances of love and reverence for his personal
character, particularly Wordsworth's reference to him as "Lamb, the frolic
and the gentle," would have exasperated Lamb himself and moved him to
angry protest. "I have had the _Anthology_," he wrote to Coleridge in
1800, "and like only one thing in it, 'Lewti'; but of that the last stanza
is detestable, the rest most exquisite: the epithet 'enviable' would dash
the finest poem. For God's sake (I never was more serious) don't make me
ridiculous any more by terming me gentle-hearted in print, or do it in
better verses. It did well enough five years ago when I came to see you,
and was moral coxcomb enough at the time you wrote the lines to feed upon
such epithets; but besides that the meaning of 'gentle' is equivocal at
best, and almost always means poor-spirited, the very quality of
gentleness is abhorrent to such vile trumpetings. My sentiment has long
since vanished. I hope my virtues have done sucking. I can scarce think
but you meant it in joke. I hope you did, for I should be ashamed to
believe that you could think to gratify me by such praise, fit only to be
a cordial to some green-sick sonneteer." The epithet so rankled in his
recollection that a week later he returned to the topic. "In the next
edition of the _Anthology_ (which Phoebus avert, and those nine other
wandering maids also!) please to blot out 'gentle-hearted,' and substitute
'drunken dog, ragged head, seld-shaven, odd-eyed, stuttering,' or any
other epithet which truly and properly belongs to the gentleman in
question. And for Charles read Tom, or Bob, or Richard for mere delicacy."

Gentle Lamb certainly was, but the word is not large enough or robustly
human enough to cover all his character. He wins your regard by his faults
as well as by his virtues. If he drank a little too much at times, and
sometimes talked and wrote foolishly and too flippantly to please the
serious-minded, he far more often talked and wrote wisely, wittily,
exquisitely, and for thirty-eight years of his life he readily sacrificed
himself to his sister's well-being, giving up all thought of marriage that
he might be her constant guardian and attendant, watching dreadfully for
signs of her recurring fits of insanity, and when they were coming upon
her going with her to the melancholy gate of the asylum, and directly her
mind was cleared, returning eagerly to fetch her home again.

He was never in the habit of laying himself out to create a good
impression on strangers; if they were unsympathetic, or he did not take to
them, in his freakish fashion he would deliberately say and do things to
shock and antagonise them, and so it came about that those who did not
know him or could not appreciate him frequently set him down as "something
between an imbecile, a brute, and a buffoon." Carlyle formed that sort of
impression of him; and one can believe there was scarcely any point of
contact between Carlyle's sombre, deadly earnest, man-with-a-message
outlook and the tricksy, elvish, quaintly humorous spirit of Lamb, who
wrote with a delicate fancy and tenderness that are more lasting than
Carlyle's solid preachings are likely to prove, and who "stuttered his
quaintness in snatches," says Haydon, "like the fool in _Lear_, and with
equal beauty."

That is a fine and wonderful glimpse of one side of Lamb given by Leigh
Hunt when he says he could have imagined him "cracking a joke in the teeth
of a ghost, and then melting into thin air himself out of sympathy with
the awful." In describing him, most of his friends emphasise "the bland,
sweet smile, with a touch of sadness in it." "A light frame, so fragile
that it seemed as if a breath would overthrow it," is Talfourd's picture
of him, "clad in clerk-like black, and surmounted by a head of form and
expression the most noble and sweet. His black hair curled crisply about
an expanded forehead; his eyes, softly brown, twinkled with varying
expression, though the prevalent feeling was sad; and the nose slightly
curved, and delicately carved at the nostril, with the lower outline of
the face regularly oval, completed a head which was finely placed on the
shoulders, and gave importance and even dignity to a diminutive and
shadowy stem. Who shall describe his countenance, catch its quivering
sweetness, and fix it for ever in words? There are none, alas, to answer
the vain desire of friendship. Deep thought, striving with humour; the
lines of suffering wreathed into cordial mirth; and a smile of painful
sweetness, present an image to the mind it can as little describe as lose.
His personal appearance and manner are not unfitly characterised by what
he himself says in one of his letters to Manning of Braham--'a compound of
the Jew, the gentleman, and the angel.'" Add to this the sketch that
Patmore has left of him: "In point of intellectual character and
expression, a finer face was never seen, nor one more fully, however
vaguely, corresponding with the mind whose features it interpreted. There
was the gravity usually engendered by a life passed in book-learning,
without the slightest tinge of that assumption and affectation which
almost always attend the gravity so engendered; the intensity and
elevation of general expression that mark high genius, without any of its
pretension and its oddity; the sadness waiting on fruitless thoughts and
baffled aspirations, but no evidence of that spirit of scorning and
contempt which these are apt to engender. Above all, there was a pervading
sweetness and gentleness which went straight to the heart of every one who
looked on it; and not the less so, perhaps, that it bore about it an air,
a something, seeming to tell that it was not _put on_--for nothing could
be more unjust than to tax Lamb with assuming anything, even a virtue,
which he did not possess--but preserved and persevered in, spite of
opposing and contradictory feelings within that struggled in vain for
mastery. It was a thing to remind you of that painful smile which bodily
disease and agony will sometimes put on, to conceal their sufferings from
the observation of those they love."

It was a look--this look of patient endurance, of smiling resignation, of
painful cheerfulness--that you could not understand unless you were aware
of the appalling tragedy that lay in the background of his life, and of
the haunting dread, the anxious, daily anticipation of disaster, and the
need of concealing this anxiety from her, that were involved in the
matter-of-course self-sacrifice with which he devoted himself to the care
and guardianship of his sister, Mary.

It was in 1796, when Lamb was living with his father and mother and sister
in lodgings in Little Queen Street, that the tragedy happened which was to
overshadow all his after years. The father was drifting into second
childhood, the mother an invalid. Mary Lamb had to attend upon them both,
with the help of a small servant and, in addition, took in plain sewing;
Charles was a junior clerk at the India House. Only a little while before
Lamb had himself suffered a mental breakdown and had been placed under
temporary restraint ("the six weeks that finished last year," he writes to
Coleridge, in May 1796, "your very humble servant spent very agreeably in
a madhouse, at Hoxton. I am got somewhat rational now, and don't bite any
one. But mad I was"); then, in September 1796, his sister suddenly went
out of her mind, stabbed her mother to the heart, and in her frenzy threw
knives at others in the room, and wounded her father before Lamb could
seize her and get her under control. There are no letters more terrible or
more pathetic than those he wrote to Coleridge, when the horror and
heartbreak of this event was fresh upon him.

    "My dearest Friend," he writes on the 27th September 1796, "White, or
    some of my friends, or the public papers, by this time have informed
    you of the terrible calamities that have fallen on our family. I will
    only give you the outlines. My poor dear, dearest sister, in a fit of
    insanity, has been the death of her own mother. I was at hand only
    time enough to snatch the knife out of her grasp. She is at present in
    a madhouse, from whence I fear she must be moved to an hospital. God
    has preserved to me my senses: I eat, and drink, and sleep, and have
    my judgment, I believe, very sound. My poor father was slightly
    wounded, and I am left to take care of him and my aunt. Mr. Norris, of
    the Bluecoat School, has been very kind to us, and we have no other
    friend; but thank God I am very calm and composed, and able to do the
    best that remains to do. Write as religious a letter as possible, but
    no mention of what is gone and done with. With me 'the former things
    are passed away,' and I have something more to do than to feel. God
    Almighty have us all in His keeping!

      "C. LAMB.

    "Mention nothing of poetry. I have destroyed every vestige of past
    vanities of that kind. Do as you please, but if you publish, publish
    mine (I give free leave) without name or initial, and never send me a
    book, I charge you.

    "Your own judgment will convince you not to take any notice of this
    yet to your dear wife. You look after your family; I have my reason
    and strength left to take care of mine. I charge you, don't think of
    coming to see me. Write. I will not see you if you come. God Almighty
    love you and all of us!

      "C. LAMB."

The book he mentions is one that he and Coleridge and Lloyd were arranging
to publish together. In October there is another letter, replying to one
from Coleridge, and saying his sister is restored to her senses--a long
letter from which I shall quote only one or two memorable passages: "God
be praised, Coleridge! wonderful as it is to tell, I have never once been
otherwise than collected and calm; even on that dreadful day, and in the
midst of the terrible scene, I preserved a tranquillity which bystanders
may have construed into indifference--a tranquillity not of despair. Is it
folly or sin in me to say that it was a religious principle that _most_
supported me? I allow much to other favourable circumstances. I felt that
I had something else to do than to regret. On that first evening my aunt
was lying insensible--to all appearance like one dying; my father, with
his poor forehead plaistered over from a wound he had received from a
daughter, dearly loved by him, and who loved him no less dearly; my mother
a dead and murdered corpse in the next room; yet was I wonderfully
supported. I closed not my eyes in sleep that night, but lay without
terrors and without despair. I have lost no sleep since.... One little
incident may serve to make you understand my way of managing my mind.
Within a day or two after the fatal one, we dressed for dinner a tongue,
which we had had salted for some weeks in the house. As I sat down, a
feeling like remorse struck me: this tongue poor Mary got for me; and can
I partake of it now, when she is far away? A thought occurred and relieved
me: if I give in to this way of feeling, there is not a chair, a room, an
object in our rooms, that will not awaken the keenest griefs. I must rise
above such weaknesses. I hope this was not want of true feeling. I did not
let this carry me, though, too far. On the very second day (I date from
the day of horrors), as is usual in such cases, there were a matter of
twenty people, I do think, supping in our room: they prevailed on me to
eat _with them_ (for to eat I never refused). They were all making merry
in the room! Some had come from friendship, some from busy curiosity, and
some from interest. I was going to partake with them, when my recollection
came that my poor dead mother was lying in the next room--the very next
room--a mother who, through life, wished nothing but her children's
welfare. Indignation, the rage of grief, something like remorse, rushed
upon my mind. In an agony of emotion I found my way mechanically to the
adjoining room, and fell on my knees by the side of her coffin, asking
forgiveness of Heaven, and sometimes of her, for forgetting her so soon.
Tranquillity returned, and it was the only violent emotion that mastered
me. I think it did me good."

Through all his subsequent letters from time to time there are touching
little references to his sister's illnesses: she is away, again and again,
in the asylum, or in charge of nurses, and he is alone and miserable, but
looking forward to her recovering presently and returning home. Once when
they are away from London on a visit, she is suddenly taken with one of
these frenzies, and on the way back to town he has to borrow a waistcoat
to restrain her violence in the coach. But his love and loyalty were proof
against it all; nothing would induce him to separate from her or let her
go out of his charge, except during those intervals when she was so
deranged as to be a danger to others and to herself.

About the end of 1799 Lamb moved into the Temple and, first at Mitre Court
Buildings, then in Middle Temple Lane, he resided there, near the house of
his birth, for some seventeen years in all. In these two places he and his
sister kept open house every Wednesday evening, and Hazlitt and Talfourd,
Barry Cornwall, Holcroft, Godwin, and, when they were in town, Wordsworth
and Coleridge were among their guests. Hazlitt and Talfourd and others
have told us something of those joyous evenings in the small, dingy rooms,
comfortable with books and old prints, where cold beef and porter stood
ready on the sideboard for the visitors to help themselves, and whilst
whoever chose sat and played at whist the rest fleeted the golden hours in
jest and conversation.

[Illustration: WILL'S COFFEE HOUSE. RUSSELL STREET.]

Towards the end of 1817 the Lambs took lodgings at 20 Russell Street,
Covent Garden, a house which was formerly part of Will's famous Coffee
House, which Dryden used to frequent, having his summer seat by the
fireside and his winter seat in the balcony, as chief of the wits and men
of letters who made it their place of resort. In a letter to Dorothy
Wordsworth, Mary Lamb reports their change of address: "We have left the
Temple. I think you will be sorry to hear this. I know I have never been
so well satisfied with thinking of you at Rydal Mount as when I could
connect the idea of you with your own Grasmere Cottage. Our rooms were
dirty and out of repair, and the inconvenience of living in chambers
became every year more irksome, and so, at last, we mustered up resolution
enough to leave the good old place that so long had sheltered us, and here
we are living at a brazier's shop, No. 20 Russell Street, Covent Garden, a
place all alive with noise and bustle; Drury Lane Theatre in sight from
our front, and Covent Garden from our back windows. The hubbub of the
carriages returning from the play does not annoy me in the least; strange
that it does not, for it is quite tremendous. I quite enjoy looking out of
the window, and listening to the calling up of the carriages, and the
squabbles of the coachmen and linkboys. It is the oddest scene to look
down upon; I am sure you would be amused with it. It is well I am in a
cheerful place, or I should have many misgivings about leaving the
Temple." And on the 21st November 1817, Lamb also writes to Dorothy
Wordsworth: "Here we are, transplanted from our native soil. I thought we
never could be torn up from the Temple. Indeed it was an ugly wrench, but
like a tooth, now 'tis out, and I am easy. We never can strike root so
deep in any other ground. This, where we are, is a light bit of gardener's
mould, and if they take us up from it, it will cost no blood and groans,
like mandrakes pulled up. We are in the individual spot I like best in all
this great city. The theatres, with all their noises. Covent Garden,
dearer to me than any gardens of Alcinous, where we are morally sure of
the earliest peas and 'sparagus. Bow Street, where the thieves are
examined, within a few yards of us. Mary had not been here four-and-twenty
hours before she saw a thief. She sits at the window working; and casually
throwing out her eyes, she sees a concourse of people coming this way,
with a constable to conduct the solemnity. These little incidents
agreeably diversify a female life."

During his residence in Russell Street, from 1817 till 1823, Lamb
published in two volumes a collection of his miscellaneous writings, and
contributed the _Essays of Elia_ to the _London Magazine_, which makes
this Russell Street house, in a sense, the most notable of his various
London homes. Here he continued his social gatherings, but had no regular
evening for them, sending forth announcements periodically, such as that
he sent to Ayrton in 1823: "Cards and cold mutton in Russell Street on
Friday at 8 & 9. Gin and jokes from 1/2 past that time to 12. Pass this on
to Mr. Payne, and apprize Martin thereof"--Martin being Martin Burney.

[Illustration: LAMB. COLEBROOKE ROW.]

By the autumn of this year he has flitted from Covent Garden, and on the
2nd September writes to Bernard Barton: "When you come London-ward you
will find me no longer in Covent Garden. I have a cottage in Colebrooke
Row, Islington. A cottage, for it is detached; a white house, with six
good rooms, the New River (rather elderly by this time) runs (if a
moderate walking pace can be so termed) close to the foot of the house;
and behind is a spacious garden, with vines (I assure you), pears,
strawberries, parsnips, leeks, carrots, cabbages, to delight the heart of
old Alcinous. You enter without passage into a cheerful dining-room, all
studded over and rough with old books, and above is a lightsome
drawing-room, three windows, full of choice prints. I feel like a great
lord, never having had a house before"; and writing at the end of that
week to invite Allsop to dinner on Sunday he supplies him with these
directions: "Colebrook Cottage, left hand side, end of Colebrook Row, on
the western brink of the New River, a detached whitish house." To Barton,
when he has been nearly three weeks at Islington, he says, "I continue to
estimate my own roof-comforts highly. How could I remain all my life a
lodger! My garden thrives (I am told), though I have yet reaped nothing
but some tiny salad and withered carrots. But a garden's a garden
anywhere, and twice a garden in London."

Here, in November of that year, happened the accident to George Dyer that
supplied Lamb with the subject of his whimsical Elian essay, _Amicus
Redivivus_. Dyer was an odd, eccentric, very absent-minded old bookworm
who lived in Clifford's Inn; Lamb delighted in his absurdities, and loved
him, and loved to make merry over his quaint sayings and doings. "You have
seen our house," he writes to Mrs. Hazlitt, in the week after Dyer's
adventure. "What I now tell you is literally true. Yesterday week George
Dyer called upon us at one o'clock (_bright noonday_) on his way to dine
with Mrs. Barbauld at Newington. He sat with Mary about half-an-hour, and
took leave. The maid saw him go out, from her kitchen window, but suddenly
losing sight of him, ran up in a fright to Mary. G. D., instead of keeping
the slip that leads to the gate, had deliberately, staff in hand, in broad
open day, marched into the New River. He had not his spectacles on, and
you know his absence. Who helped him out they can hardly tell, but between
'em they got him out, drenched through and through. A mob collected by
that time, and accompanied him in. 'Send for the Doctor,' they said: and a
one-eyed fellow, dirty and drunk, was fetched from the public-house at the
end, where it seems he lurks for the sake of picking up water practice;
having formerly had a medal from the Humane Society for some rescue. By
his advice the patient was put between blankets; and when I came home at
four to dinner, I found G. D. abed and raving, light-headed with the
brandy and water which the doctor had administered. He sang, laughed,
whimpered, screamed, babbled of guardian angels, would get up and go home;
but we kept him there by force; and by next morning he departed sober, and
seems to have received no injury."

Before he left Islington the India Company bestowed upon Lamb the pension
that at last emancipated him from his "dry drudgery at the desk's dead
wood," and he communicates the great news exultantly to Wordsworth in a
letter dated "Colebrook Cottage," 6th April 1825: "Here I am, then, after
thirty-three years' slavery, sitting in my own room at eleven o'clock this
finest of all April mornings, a freed man, with £441 a year for the
remainder of my life, live I as long as John Dennis, who outlived his
annuity and starved at ninety: £441, _i.e._ £450, with a deduction of £9
for a provision secured to my sister, she being survivor, the pension
guaranteed by Act Georgii Tertii, &c. I came home FOR EVER on Tuesday in
last week. The incomprehensibleness of my condition overwhelmed me. It was
like passing from life into eternity. Every year to be as long as three,
_i.e._ to have three times as much real time (time that is my own) in it!
I wandered about thinking I was happy, but feeling I was not. But the
tumultuousness is passing off, and I begin to understand the nature of the
gift. Holydays, even the annual month, were always uneasy joys; their
conscious fugitiveness; the craving after making the most of them. Now,
when all is holyday, there are no holydays. I can sit at home in rain or
shine without a restless impulse for walkings. I am daily steadying, and
shall soon find it as natural to me to be my own master as it has been
irksome to have had a master. Mary wakes every morning with an obscure
feeling that some good has happened to us."

He made use of these experiences in one of the best of his essays, that on
_The Superannuated Man_, in which also you find echoes of a letter he
wrote to Bernard Barton just after he had written to Wordsworth:

"I am free, B. B.--free as air.

  'The little bird that wings the sky
   Knows no such liberty!'

"I was set free on Tuesday in last week at four o'clock.

  'I came home for ever!'

"I have been describing my feelings as well as I can to Wordsworth in a
long letter and don't care to repeat. Take it briefly that for a few days
I was painfully oppressed by so mighty a change, but it is becoming daily
more natural to me. I went and sat among 'em all at my old thirty-three
years' desk yester morning; and deuce take me if I had not yearnings at
leaving all my old pen-and-ink fellows, merry, sociable lads, at leaving
them in the lurch, fag, fag, fag! The comparison of my own superior
felicity gave me anything but pleasure. B. B. I would not serve another
seven years for seven hundred thousand pounds."

From Islington Lamb journeyed over to Highgate every now and then to visit
Coleridge at Mr. Gilman's; and a-visiting him at Colebrooke Cottage came
Coleridge, Southey, William Hone, and among many another, Hood, to whom he
took an especial liking. Coleridge thought he was the author of certain
Odes that were then appearing in the _London Magazine_, but writing in
reply Lamb assured him he was mistaken: "The Odes are four-fifths done by
Hood, a silentish young man you met at Islington one day, an invalid. The
rest are Reynolds's, whose sister H. has recently married."

During the two years or more after his release from the India House, Lamb
and his sister spent two or three short holidays lodging with a Mrs.
Leishman at The Chase, Enfield; in 1827 they rented the house of her, and
Lamb wrote from that address on the 18th September to Hood, who was then
living at 2 Robert Street, Adelphi: "Give our kind loves to all at
Highgate, and tell them we have finally torn ourselves outright away from
Colebrooke, where I had _no_ health, and are about to domicilate for good
at Enfield, where I have experienced good.

  'Lord, what good hours do we keep!
   How quietly we sleep!'...

We have got our books into our new house. I am a dray-horse if I was not
ashamed of the undigested dirty lumber, as I toppled 'em out of the cart,
and blest Becky that came with 'em for her having an unstuffed brain with
such rubbish.... 'Twas with some pain we were evulsed from Colebrook. You
may find some of our flesh sticking to the doorposts. To change
habitations is to die to them; and in my time I have died seven deaths.
But I don't know whether every such change does not bring with it a
rejuvenescence. 'Tis an enterprise; and shoves back the sense of death's
approximating which, though not terrible to me, is at all times
particularly distasteful. My house-deaths have generally been periodical,
recurring after seven years; but this last is premature by half that time.
Cut off in the flower of Colebrook!" He mentions that the rent is 10s.
less than he paid at Islington; that he pays, in fact, £35 a year,
exclusive of moderate taxes, and thinks himself lucky.

But the worry of moving brought on one of Mary Lamb's "sad, long
illnesses"; and whilst she was absent, Lamb fled from the loneliness of
his country home to spend ten days in town. "But Town," he writes to
Barton, "with all my native hankering after it, is not what it was. The
streets, the shops are left, but all old friends are gone. And in London I
was frightfully convinced of this as I past houses and places--empty
caskets now. I have ceased to care almost about anybody. The bodies I
cared for are in graves or dispersed. My old Clubs, that lived so long and
flourished so steadily, are crumbled away. When I took leave of our
adopted young friend at Charing Cross, 'twas heavy unfeeling rain and I
had nowhere to go. Home have I none--and not a sympathising house to
turn to in the great city. Never did the waters of the heaven pour down on
a forlorner head. Yet I tried ten days at a sort of friend's house, but it
was large and straggling--one of the individuals of my long knot of
friends, card-players, pleasant companions--that have tumbled to pieces
into dust and other things--and I got home on Thursday convinced that I
was better to get home to my hole at Enfield, and hide like a sick cat in
my corner. Less than a month, I hope, will bring home Mary. She is at
Fulham, looking better in her health than ever, but sadly rambling, and
scarce showing any pleasure in seeing me, or curiosity when I should come
again. But the old feelings will come back again, and we shall drown old
sorrows over a game of Picquet again. But 'tis a tedious cut out of a life
of sixty-four, to lose twelve or thirteen weeks every year or two."

[Illustration: CHARLES LAMB]

The cares of housekeeping, however, sat too heavily on them, and in
October 1829 they abandoned those responsibilities, gave up their cottage
on Chase Side, and went to lodge and board with their next-door
neighbours, an old Mr. and Mrs. Westwood, and in this easier way of living
their spirits and their health revived. Nevertheless, by January 1830 Lamb
had lost all his contentment with rural life, and was yearning desperately
for the remembered joys of London. "And is it a year since we parted from
you at the steps of Edmonton stage?" he writes to Wordsworth. "There are
not now the years that there used to be." He frets, he says, like a lion
in a net, and then goes on to utter that yearning to be back in London
that I have quoted already in my opening chapter. "Back-looking
ambition," he continues, "tells me I might still be a Londoner! Well, if
we ever do move, we have incumbrances the less to impede us; all our
furniture has faded under the auctioneer's hammer, going for nothing, like
the tarnished frippery of the prodigal, and we have only a spoon or two
left to bless us. Clothed we came into Enfield, and naked we must go out
of it. I would live in London shirtless, bookless." And to Bernard Barton
he says, "With fire and candle-light I can dream myself in Holborn....
Give me old London at Fire and Plague times, rather than these tepid
gales, healthy country air, and purposeless exercise."

Early in 1833 he removed from Enfield, and his reasons for doing so he
explains in a letter to Mrs. Hazlitt, on the 31st May of that year: "I am
driven from house to house by Mary's illness. I took a sudden resolution
to take my sister to Edmonton, where she was under medical treatment last
time, and have arranged to board and lodge with the people. Thank God I
have repudiated Enfield. I have got out of hell, despair of heaven, and
must sit down contented in a half-way purgatory. Thus ends this strange
eventful history. But I am nearer to town, and will get up to you somehow
before long." About the same date he wrote to Wordsworth: "Mary is ill
again. Her illnesses encroach yearly. The last was three months, followed
by two of depression most dreadful. I look back upon her earlier attacks
with longing--nice little durations of six weeks or so, followed by
complete restoration--shocking as they were to me then. In short, half her
life she is dead to me, and the other half is made anxious with fears and
lookings forward to the next shock. With such prospects it seemed to me
necessary that she should no longer live with me, and be fluttered with
continual removals; so I am come to live with her, at a Mr. Walden's, and
his wife, who take in patients, and have arranged to lodge and board us
only. They have had the care of her before. I see little of her: alas! I
too often hear her. _Sunt lachrymæ rerum!_ and you and I must bear it....
I am about to lose my old and only walk-companion, whose mirthful spirits
were the 'youth of our house,' Emma Isola. I have her here now for a
little while, but she is too nervous properly to be under such a roof, so
she will make short visits--be no more an inmate. With my perfect approval
and more than concurrence she is to be wedded to Moxon at the end of
August--so 'perish the roses and the flowers'--how is it? Now to the
brighter side. I am emancipated from the Westwoods, and I am with
attentive people and younger. I am three or four miles nearer the great
city; coaches half-price less and going always, of which I will avail
myself. I have few friends left there; one or two though, most beloved.
But London streets and faces cheer me inexpressibly, though not one known
of the latter were remaining."

Emma Isola is "the adopted young friend" referred to by Lamb in a letter
quoted a few pages back. She was the granddaughter of an Italian refugee;
her mother was dead; her father was an "Esquire Bedell" of Cambridge, and
the Lambs met her at the house of a friend when they were visiting that
town in 1823. She was a charming, brown-faced little girl, and they were
so taken with her that she was invited to visit them in London during her
holidays, and they ended by adopting her and calling her their niece. She
brought a great deal of happiness into their lives; Lamb gives whimsical
accounts in some of his letters of how he is teaching her Latin, and his
sister is prompting her in her French lessons. When she was old enough she
became governess in the family of a Mr. and Mrs. Williams at Bury; fell
ill and was kindly nursed there; and Lamb tells in one of his most
delightful letters how he went to fetch her home to Enfield, when she was
convalescent, and it is good to glimpse how sympathetically amused he is
at Emma's covert admonitions and anxiety lest he should drink too much, at
dinner with the Williamses, and so bring disgrace upon himself and her.

His beautiful affection for their young ward shines through all the
drollery of his several notes to Edward Moxon (the publisher) in which he
speaks of their engagement; and it has always seemed to me it is this same
underlying affection for her and wistfulness to see her happy that help to
make the following letter, written just after the wedding, one of the
finest and most pathetic things in literature:--

    "_August 1833._

    "DEAR MR. AND MRS. MOXON,--Time very short. I wrote to Miss Fryer, and
    had the sweetest letter about you, Emma, that ever friendship
    dictated. 'I am full of good wishes, I am crying with good wishes,'
    she says; but you shall see it.

    "Dear Moxon, I take your writing most kindly, and shall most kindly
    your writing from Paris. I want to crowd another letter to Miss Fryer
    into the little time after dinner, before post time. So with twenty
    thousand congratulations,--Yours,

      C. L.

    "I am calm, sober, happy. Turn over for the reason. I got home from
    Dover Street, by Evans, _half as sober as a judge_. I am turning over
    a new leaf, as I hope you will now."

[Illustration: LAMB'S COTTAGE. EDMONTON.]

[_The turn of the leaf presents the following_:--]

    "MY DEAR EMMA AND EDWARD MOXON,--Accept my sincere congratulations,
    and imagine more good wishes than my weak nerves will let me put into
    good set words. The dreary blank of _unanswered questions_ which I
    ventured to ask in vain was cleared up on the wedding day by Mrs. W.
    taking a glass of wine and, with a total change of countenance,
    begging leave to drink Mr. and Mrs. Moxon's health. It restored me
    from that moment, as if by an electrical stroke, to the entire
    possession of my senses. I never felt so calm and quiet after a
    similar illness as I do now. I feel as if all tears were wiped from my
    eyes, and all care from my heart.

      MARY LAMB."


    "_Wednesday._

    "DEARS AGAIN,--Your letter interrupted a seventh game at picquet which
    _we_ were having, after walking to Wright's and purchasing shoes. We
    pass our time in cards, walks, and reading. We attack Tasso soon.

      "C. L.

    "Never was such a calm, or such a recovery. 'Tis her own words
    undictated."

And it was in this plain, commonplace little cottage in Church Street,
Edmonton, that Mary Lamb was thus suddenly awakened out of her
derangement; that Charles Lamb and she wrote, by turns, that letter to the
Moxons; that the Lambs sat contentedly playing picquet when the letter of
the bride and bridegroom came to them from Paris. These are the very rooms
in which these things happened; the stage remains, but the actors are
departed. Within a stone's throw of the house, in Edmonton Churchyard,
Lamb and his sister lie buried. His death was the result of an accident.
He had gone on his accustomed walk along the London Road, one day in
December, when he stumbled and fell over a stone, slightly injuring his
face. So trivial did the wound seem that writing to George Dyer's wife on
the 22nd December 1834, about a book he had lost when he was in
London--"it was the book I went to fetch from Miss Buffham's while the
tripe was frying"--he says nothing of anything being the matter with him.
But erysipelas supervened, and he grew rapidly worse, and died on the
27th. His sister, who had lapsed into one of her illnesses and was
unconscious, at the time, of her loss, outlived him by nearly thirteen
years, and reached the great age of eighty-two.



CHAPTER XII

ST. JOHN'S WOOD AND WIMBLEDON


Mary Lamb passed the later years of her life in a sort of nursing home at
St. John's Wood, and in her happier intervals kept up a pleasant
acquaintance with some of the notable circle of friends who had gathered
about her and her brother aforetime; among others, with the Hoods, who
were then living in the same locality. Crabb Robinson mentions in his
Diary how he made a call on Mary Lamb, and finding her well over one of
her periodical attacks, "quite in possession of her faculties and
recollecting nearly everything," he accompanied her on a visit to the
Hoods, who were lodging at 17 Elm Tree Road.

Perhaps one of the most graphic pictures we have of Hood's home life, and
incidentally of Hood himself and his wife and of Charles and Mary Lamb, is
contained in the account that has been left by Miss Mary Balmanno of an
evening she spent with the Hoods when they were making their home in
Robert Street, Adelphi: "Bound in the closest ties of friendship with the
Hoods, with whom we also were in the habit of continually associating, we
had the pleasure of meeting Charles Lamb at their house one evening,
together with his sister, and several other friends.... In outward
appearance Hood conveyed the idea of a clergyman. His figure slight, and
invariably dressed in black; his face pallid; the complexion delicate,
and features regular: his countenance bespeaking sympathy by its sweet
expression of melancholy and suffering.

"Lamb was of a different mould and aspect. Of middle height, with brown
and rather ruddy complexion, grey eyes expressive of sense and shrewdness,
but neither large nor brilliant; his head and features well shaped, and
the general expression of his countenance quiet, kind, and observant,
undergoing rapid changes in conversation, as did his manner, variable as
an April day, particularly to his sister, whose saint-like good humour and
patience were as remarkable as his strange and whimsical modes of trying
them. But the brother and sister perfectly understood each other, and
'Charles,' as she always called him, would not have been the Charles of
her loving heart without the pranks and oddities which he was continually
playing off upon her, and which were only outnumbered by the instances of
affection and evidences of ever-watchful solicitude with which he
surrounded her.

"Miss Lamb, although many years older than her brother, by no means looked
so, but presented the pleasant appearance of a mild, rather stout and
comely lady of middle age. Dressed with Quaker-like simplicity in
dove-coloured silk, with a transparent kerchief of snow-white muslin
folded across her bosom, she at once prepossessed the beholder in her
favour by an aspect of serenity and peace. Her manners were very quiet and
gentle, and her voice low. She smiled frequently, and seldom laughed,
partaking of the courtesies and hospitalities of her merry host and
hostess with all the cheerfulness and grace of a most mild and kindly
nature. Her behaviour to her brother was like that of an admiring
disciple; her eyes seldom absent from his face. And when apparently
engrossed in conversation with others, she would, by supplying some word
for which he was at a loss, even when talking in a distant part of the
room, show how closely her mind waited upon his. Mr. Lamb was in high
spirits, sauntering about the room with his hands crossed behind his back,
conversing by fits and starts with those most familiarly known to him...."

She goes on to describe how Miss Kelly, the actress, amused them by
impersonating a character she was taking in a new play, and "Mrs. Hood's
eyes sparkled with joy, as she saw the effect it had produced upon her
husband, whose pale face, like an illuminated comic mask, shone with fun
and good humour. Never was a happier couple than the Hoods; 'mutual
reliance and fond faith' seemed to be their motto. Mrs. Hood was a most
amiable woman--of excellent manners, and full of sincerity and goodness.
She perfectly adored her husband, tending him like a child, whilst he,
with unbounded affection, seemed to delight to yield himself to her
guidance. Nevertheless, true to his humorous nature, he loved to tease her
with jokes and whimsical accusations, which were only responded to by,
'Hood, Hood, how can you run on so?'

"The evening was concluded by a supper, one of those elegant social
repasts which Flemish artists delight to paint.... Mr. Lamb oddly walked
round the table, looking closely at any dish that struck his fancy before
he would decide where to sit, telling Mrs. Hood that he should by that
means know how to select some dish that was difficult to carve and take
the trouble off her hands; accordingly, having jested in this manner, he
placed himself with great deliberation before a lobster salad, observing
_that_ was the thing.

"Mr. Hood, with inexpressible gravity in the upper part of his face and
his mouth twitching with smiles, sang his own comic song of 'If you go to
France be sure you learn the lingo'; his pensive manner and feeble voice
making it doubly ludicrous. Mr. Lamb, on being pressed to sing, excused
himself in his own peculiar manner, but offered to pronounce a Latin
eulogium instead. This was accepted, and he accordingly stammered forth a
long stream of Latin words; among which, as the name of Mrs. Hood
frequently occurred, we ladies thought it in praise of her. The delivery
of this speech occupied about five minutes. On inquiring of a gentleman
who sat next me whether Mr. Lamb was praising Mrs. Hood, he informed me
that was by no means the case, the eulogium being on the lobster salad!
Thus, in the gayest of moods, progressed and concluded a truly merry
little social supper, worthy in all respects of the author of _Whims and
Oddities_."

But all this, when the Hoods came to St. John's Wood, lay thirteen years
behind them, and Lamb had been eight years dead. Quitting the Adelphi in
1829, Hood went to Winchmore Hill, then to Wanstead; then, after some five
years of residence in Germany and Belgium, he returned to England, and
made his home for a short time at Camberwell, and thence in 1842 removed
to St. John's Wood--at first to rooms at 17 Elm Tree Road, and in 1844 to
a house of his own, "Devonshire Lodge," in the Finchley Road--a house
that the guide-books all tell us was demolished, but since I started to
write this chapter the London County Council has identified as "Devonshire
Lodge" the house that still stands in Finchley Road, immediately adjoining
the Marlborough Road station of the Metropolitan Railway; and here it was
that Hood died on the 3rd of May 1845.

[Illustration: TOM HOOD'S HOUSE. ST JOHN'S WOOD.]

The room in which he worked at 17 Elm Tree Road gave him a view of Lord's
Cricket Ground, and he complained that this was a drawback, because "when
he was at work he could often see others at play." He caricatured the
landlady of the house, who had "a large and personal love of flowers," and
made her the heroine of his _Mrs. Gardiner, A Horticultural Romance_. From
Elm Tree Road he went to attend the dinner at Greenwich that was given to
Dickens on his second return from America; and describing this dissipation
in a letter to a friend he says, "You will be pleased to hear that, in
spite of my warnings and forebodings, I got better and betterer, till by
dining, as the physicians did, on turtle soup, white-bait, and champagne,
I seemed quite well." He was to have been chairman at the dinner, but
excused himself on the score of ill-health, and Captain Marryat took his
place. The diners included, in addition to Dickens himself, Moncton
Milnes, Forster, Clarkson Stanfield, Ainsworth, Landseer (another St.
John's Wood resident), Cruikshank, Cattermole, "Ingoldsby" Barham, and
Barry Cornwall. Being called upon for a speech, Hood said he supposed they
drank his health because he was a notorious invalid, but assured the
company that the trembling of his hand was neither from palsy nor ague,
but that their wishes had already so improved his circulation and filled
him with genial warmth that his hand had a natural inclination to shake
itself with every one present. Whereupon everybody within reach, and some
who were not, insisted upon shaking hands with him. "_Very_ gratifying,
wasn't it?" he finishes his letter. "Though I cannot go quite so far as
Jane, who wants me to have that hand chopped off, bottled, and preserved
in spirits. She was sitting up for me, very anxiously, as usual when I go
out, because I am so domestic and steady, and was down at the door before
I could ring at the gate, to which Boz kindly sent me in his own carriage.
Poor girl! what _would_ she do if she had a wild husband instead of a tame
one."

Dickens, at that date, lived at 1 Devonshire Terrace, Marylebone Road;
they had probably driven up together from Greenwich, and the carriage had
come the mile or so further on with Hood after leaving Dickens at his own
door. Dickens was one of the many visitors who have helped to make Hood's
St. John's Wood residence memorable; there is a record of his being there,
with his wife and sister and Daniel Maclise, in December 1842. At Elm Tree
Road, for all his broken health, Hood worked hard at editing and writing
for the _New Monthly Magazine_, and, after resigning from that, for
_Hood's Monthly Magazine_. One letter of his, dated from 17 Elm Tree Road,
on the 18th July 1843, is headed "From my bed"; for he was frequently
bedridden for days and weeks at a stretch, but sat propped up with
pillows, writing and sketching with unabated industry. He was contributing
also in these days to _Punch_, and to Douglas Jerrold's _Illuminated
Magazine_. In November 1843 he wrote here, for _Punch_, his grim _Drop of
Gin_:

  "Gin! Gin! a drop of Gin!
   What magnified monsters circle therein!
     Ragged, and stained with filth and mud,
     Some plague-spotted, and some with blood!
   Shapes of misery, shame, and sin!
     Figures that make us loathe and tremble,
     Creatures scarce human, that more resemble
   Broods of diabolical kin,
   Ghost and vampyre, demon and Jin!..."

But a far greater poem than this, _The Song of the Shirt_, was also
written at Elm Tree Road. "Now mind, Hood, mark my words," said Mrs. Hood,
when he was putting up the manuscript for the post, "this will tell
wonderfully. It is one of the best things you ever did." And the results
justified her. The verses appeared in the Christmas Number of _Punch_ for
1843, and not only trebled the circulation of that paper, but within a
very short time had at least doubled Hood's reputation, though _Eugene
Aram_, _The Plea of the Midsummer Fairies_, and _Lycus the Centaur_, had
long preceded it. Probably no poem ever stirred the national conscience
more deeply or created a profounder sensation. Shortly after its
appearance Cowden Clarke met Hood, and has left a vivid description of his
personal appearance in those last months of his life. His worn, pallid
look, he says, "strangely belied the effect of jocularity and high spirits
conveyed by his writings. He punned incessantly, but languidly, almost as
if unable to think in any other way than in play upon words. His smile was
attractively sweet; it bespoke the affectionate-natured man which his
serious verses--those especially addressed to his wife or his
children--show him to be, and it also revealed the depth of pathos in his
soul that inspired his _Bridge of Sighs_, _Song of the Shirt_, and _Eugene
Aram_."

[Illustration: THOMAS HOOD]

There are many interesting points of resemblance between Hood and Lamb.
Both were inveterate punsters; each had known poverty, and had come
through hard experiences that had left their marks upon them, yet had
never soured them or warped their sympathies. You may use the same
epithets for both: they were homely, kindly, gentle, given to freakish
moods and whimsical jesting; the one was as unselfishly devoted to his
sister as the other was to his wife and children; and in descriptions of
Hood, as of Lamb, stress is laid on the peculiar wistfulness and sweetness
of his smile. But after the East India Company had handsomely pensioned
him off, Lamb had no further financial anxieties; whilst Hood had to
suppress his finer gifts, and to the end of his days turn his hand to all
manner of inferior but more popular work, that would enable him to keep
the family pot boiling. And he was all the while fighting against disease
as well as poverty. He could not afford to go into exile, like Stevenson,
and lengthen his days and foster his wasting strength in a healthfuller
climate. He was never rich enough to have any choice but to die in the
place where he had to earn his living, and no man ever worked more
manfully, or died at his post bravelier or with a more cheery philosophy.

Read the humorous preface he wrote for the volume of _Hood's Own_, whilst
he lay ill abed there in his St. John's Wood house: it is the sort of
humour that makes your heart ache, for you cannot forget that he was
racked with pain and slowly dying whilst he wrote it. He jests about the
aristocratic, ghastly slenderness of his fingers; his body, he says, may
cry craven, but luckily his mind has no mind to give in. "'Things may take
a turn,' as the pig said on the spit.... As to health? it's the weather of
the body--it rains, it hails, it blows, it snows at present, but it may
clear up by-and-by"; and in conclusion he mentions that the doctor tells
him, "anatomically my heart is lower hung than usual, but what of that?
_The more need to keep it up!_" Raised up in bed, with an improvised desk
across his knees, he was hard at work, writing prose and verse and
knocking off grotesque little drawings, and remained, as he said, "a
lively Hood to get a livelihood," almost to his last hour. When, towards
the end, his wife was trying to relieve his sufferings by putting a
poultice on his emaciated body, he laughed up at her quizzically, and
asked if she didn't think "it seemed a deal of mustard for such a little
meat." He had moved into Devonshire Lodge, and was within sixteen months
of his death when he wrote _The Haunted House_, and _The Bridge of Sighs_.
"I fear that so far as I myself am concerned," he writes to Thackeray in
August 1844, "King Death will claim me ere many months elapse. However,
there's a good time coming, if not in this world, most assuredly in the
next." When he was invited next month to attend a soirée at the Manchester
Athenæum, he had to decline, and added, "For me all long journeys are over
save one"; but a couple of months later he had written the _Lay of the
Labourer_, for his magazine, and writing to Lord Lytton remarked that
though the doctor had ordered him not to work he was compelled to do so,
and "so it will be to the end. I must die in harness, like a hero--or a
horse."

[Illustration: CHARLES DIBDIN. 34 ARLINGTON ROAD.]

His dying hours were made easy by the pension of a hundred pounds that Sir
Robert Peel kindly and tactfully settled on Mrs. Hood, and one of the last
things he wrote on his lingering deathbed was a valediction that
breathed all of resignation and hope:

  "Farewell, Life! My senses swim
   And the world is growing dim;
   Thronging shadows cloud the light,
   Like the advent of the night,--
   Colder, colder, colder still
   Upwards steals a vapour chill--
   Strong the earthy odour grows--
   I smell the Mould above the Rose!

   Welcome, Life! The Spirit strives!
   Strength returns, and hope revives;
   Cloudy fears and shapes forlorn
   Fly like shadows at the morn,--
   O'er the earth there comes a bloom--
   Sunny light for sullen gloom,
   Warm perfume for vapour cold--
   I smell the Rose above the Mould!"

Herbert Spencer lived in St. John's Wood for many years, at 7 Marlborough
Gardens, 13 Loudon Road, and 64 Avenue Road successively. Within an easy
walk of Avenue Road, at 34 Arlington Road, Camden Town, Charles Dibdin,
whose memory survives in _Tom Bowling_, passed the last years of his life.
And, back in St. John's Wood, at the Priory, 21 North Bank, in one of the
numerous houses that were swept away when the Great Central Railway came
to Marylebone, George Eliot lived from 1864 until 1880, when she removed
to Chelsea. Before that, from 1860 till 1863, lived in a house in
Blandford Square, which has also been demolished; but for nearly two years
before going there she resided at Holly Lodge, which still survives, in
the Wimbledon Park Road.

There is an entry in her Diary dated 6th February 1859: "Yesterday we went
to take possession of Holly Lodge, which is to be our dwelling, we expect,
for years to come. It was a deliciously fresh, bright day. I will accept
the omen. A letter came from Blackwood telling me the result of the
subscription to _Adam Bede_, which was published on the 1st: 730 copies,
Mudie having taken 500 on the publisher's terms--10 per cent. off the sale
price. At first he had stood out for a larger reduction, and would only
take 50, but at last he came round. In this letter Blackwood tells me the
first _ab extra_ opinion of the book, which happened to be precisely what
I most desired. A cabinetmaker (brother to Blackwood's managing clerk) had
read the sheets, and declared the writer must have been brought up to the
business, or at least had listened to the workmen in their workshop." She
wrote that month to Miss Sara Hennell, "We are tolerably settled now,
except that we have only a temporary servant; and I shall not be quite at
ease until I have a trustworthy woman who will manage without incessant
dogging. Our home is very comfortable, with far more vulgar indulgences in
it than I ever expected to have again; but you must not imagine it a snug
place, just peeping above the holly bushes. Imagine it rather as a tall
cake, with a low garnish of holly and laurel. As it is, we are very well
off, with glorious breezy walks, and wide horizons, well-ventilated rooms,
and abundant water. If I allowed myself to have any longings beyond what
is given, they would be for a nook quite in the country, far away from
palaces--Crystal or otherwise--with an orchard behind me full of old
trees, and rough grass and hedgerow paths among the endless fields
where you meet nobody. We talk of such things sometimes, along with old
age and dim faculties, and a small independence to save us from writing
drivel for dishonest money."

[Illustration: GEORGE ELIOT. WIMBLEDON PARK.]

The "we" in these entries means, of course, herself and George Henry
Lewes; they formed an irregular union in 1854, and lived as husband and
wife until his death in 1878. In George Eliot's Journal and letters are a
good many other references to her life at Holly Lodge, of which the most
interesting are perhaps the following:

_April 29th, 1859_ (from the Journal): "Finished a story, _The Lifted
Veil_, which I began one morning at Richmond as a resource when my head
was too stupid for more important work. Resumed my new novel" (this was
_The Mill on the Floss_), "of which I am going to rewrite the two first
chapters. I shall call it provisionally _The Tullivers_, or perhaps _St.
Ogg's on the Floss_."

_May 6th_ (from a letter to Major Blackwood): "Yes I _am_ assured now that
_Adam Bede_ was worth writing--worth living through long years to write.
But now it seems impossible to me that I shall ever write anything so good
and true again. I have arrived at faith in the past but not faith in the
future."

_May 19th_ (from Journal): "A letter from Blackwood, in which he proposes
to give me another £400 at the end of the year, making in all £1200, as an
acknowledgment of _Adam Bede's_ success."

_June 8th_ (from a letter to Mrs. Congreve): "I want to get rid of this
house--cut cable and drift about. I dislike Wandsworth, and should think
with unmitigated regret of our coming here if it were not for you."

_July 21st_ (from the Journal, on returning after a holiday in
Switzerland): "Found a charming letter from Dickens, and pleasant letters
from Blackwood--nothing to annoy us."

_November 10th_ (from the Journal): "Dickens dined with us to-day for the
first time."

_December 15th_ (from the Journal): "Blackwood proposes to give me for
_The Mill on the Floss_, £2000 for 4000 copies of an edition at 31s. 6d.,
and afterwards the same rate for any more copies printed at the same
price; £150 for 1000 at 12s.; and £60 for 1000 at 6s. I have accepted."

_January 3rd, 1860_ (from a letter to John Blackwood): "We are demurring
about the title. Mr. Lewes is beginning to prefer _The House of Tulliver,
or Life on the Floss_, to our old notion of _Sister Maggie_. _The
Tullivers, or Life on the Floss_ has the advantage of slipping easily off
the lazy English tongue, but it is after too common a fashion (_The
Newcomes_, _The Bertrams_, &c., &c.). Then there is _The Tulliver Family,
or Life on the Floss_. Pray meditate and give us your opinion."

_January 16th, 1860_ (from the Journal): "Finished my second volume this
morning, and am going to send off the MS. of the first volume to-morrow.
We have decided that the title shall be _The Mill on the Floss_."

_February 23rd_ (from a letter to John Blackwood): "Sir Edward Lytton
called on us yesterday. The conversation lapsed chiefly into monologue,
from the difficulty I found in making him hear, but under all
disadvantages I had an agreeable impression of his kindness and
sincerity. He thinks the two defects of _Adam Bede_ are the dialect and
Adam's marriage with Dinah, but of course I would have my teeth drawn
rather than give up either."

[Illustration: GEORGE ELIOT'S HOUSE. CHELSEA.]

_July 1st_ (from a letter to Madame Bodichon, on returning to Holly Lodge
after a two months' holiday in Italy): "We are preparing to renounce the
delights of roving, and to settle down quietly, as old folks should do....
We have let our present house."

One interesting memorial of the life at Holly Lodge is the MS. of _The
Mill on the Floss_, on which is inscribed in George Eliot's handwriting:
"To my beloved husband, George Henry Lewes, I give this MS. of my third
book, written in the sixth year of our life together, at Holly Lodge,
South Field, Wandsworth, and finished 21st March 1860."

The publication of _The Mill on the Floss_, and, in the three succeeding
years, of _Silas Marner_ and _Romola_, carried George Eliot to the height
of her fame, and by the time she was living in North Bank, St. John's
Wood, she had her little circle of adoring worshippers, who, like George
Henry Lewes, took her very seriously indeed. That sort of hero-worship was
customary in those days, unless the worshipped one had too strong a sense
of humour to put up with it. There is a passage in the Autobiography of
Mr. Alfred Austin giving a brief account of a visit he paid to George
Eliot. "We took the first opportunity," he says, "of going to call on her
at her request in St. John's Wood. But there I found pervading her house
an attitude of adoration, not to say an atmosphere almost of awe,
thoroughly alien to my idea that persons of genius, save in their works,
should resemble other people as much as possible, and not allow any
special fuss to be made about them. I do not say the fault lay with her."
But you find the same circumstance spoken to elsewhere, and the general
notion you gather is that George Eliot rather enjoyed this being
pedestalled, and accepted the incense of her reverent little circle with a
good deal of complacency.

In 1878 Lewes died, and in March 1880 George Eliot was married to John
Cross. They left St. John's Wood on the 3rd of the following December and
went to 4 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, where George Eliot died on the 22nd of the
same month.



CHAPTER XIII

CHELSEA MEMORIES


Coming to close quarters with it, I am not sure that, after all, Chelsea
has not more to offer the literary pilgrim than even Hampstead has.
Addison, Locke, Smollett, Horace Walpole, are among the illustrious names
whose local habitations were once there but are no longer to be seen.
Charles and Henry Kingsley spent their boyhood at their father's rectory
in Sidney Street; Daniel Maclise lived for ten years at 4 Cheyne Walk,
where George Eliot died; and "Queen's House," No. 16 Cheyne Walk, is the
house that, in 1862, Rossetti, Swinburne, William Michael Rossetti, and
Meredith took as joint-tenants. Meredith soon paid a quarter's rent in
lieu of notice and withdrew from the arrangement, but Swinburne and
Rossetti lived on there together for some years, and did much of their
greatest work there. Swinburne was next to go, and he presently set up
house with Mr. Watts-Dunton at "The Pines," near the foot of Putney Hill,
where he lived till his death in 1909. In the early seventies Mr. W. M.
Rossetti married and removed elsewhere, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti stayed
on in the Chelsea house alone.

Later, in the gloomy days before he went away to Birchington to die,
Rossetti suffered terribly from insomnia, was ill and depressed, and a
prey to morbid imaginings, but in the earlier years of his tenancy of 16
Cheyne Walk he was absorbed in his art, his house was lively with many
visitors, and in his lazy, sociable fashion he seems to have been almost
as happy as a man of his sensitive temperament could be. "Here," writes
Mr. Joseph Knight, "were held those meetings, prolonged often until the
early hours of the morning, which to those privileged to be present were
veritable nights and feasts of gods. Here in the dimly-lighted studio,
around the blazing fire, used to assemble the men of distinction or
promise in literature and art whom the magnetism of Rossetti's
individuality collected around him. Here Rossetti himself used, though
rarely, to read aloud, with his voice of indescribable power and
clearness, and with a bell-like utterance that still dwells in the mind,
passages from the poems he admired; and here, more frequently, some young
poet, encouraged by his sympathy, which to all earnest effort in art was
overflowing and inexhaustible, would recite his latest sonnet." He crowded
his rooms with quaintly-carved oak furniture, and beautiful ornaments; he
had a wonderful collection of blue china that he sometimes put on the
table and recklessly used at his dinner-parties. In his garden he had "a
motley collection of animals, peacocks, armadilloes, the wombat,
woodchuck, or Canadian marmot, and other outlandish creatures, including
the famous zebu." This zebu was kept fastened to a tree, and Rossetti
loved to exhibit it and point out its beauties with his maulstick. Mr.
Knight goes on to repeat the story that was told concerning this animal by
Whistler, who was at that time living at what is now 101 Cheyne Walk, and
was then 7 Lindsey Row. According to Whistler, one day when he and
Rossetti were alone in the garden, "and Rossetti was contemplating once
more the admired possession, and pointing out with the objectionable stick
the points of special beauty, resentment blazed into indignation. By a
super-bovine exertion the zebu tore up the roots of the tree to which it
was attached, and chased its tormentor round the garden, which was
extensive enough to admit of an exciting chase round the trees." The zebu
was fortunately hampered by the uprooted tree, and Rossetti made good his
escape, but he would harbour the animal no longer, and as nobody would buy
it he gave it away.

[Illustration: QUEEN'S HOUSE. CHEYNE WALK.]

You get an illuminating glimpse of Rossetti's home life in these days from
that useful literary chronicle, Allingham's Diary (Monday, June 27, 1864):
"Got down to Chelsea by half-past eight to D. G. R.'s. Breakfasted in a
small, lofty room on first floor with window looking on the garden. Fanny
in white. Then we went into the garden, and lay on the grass, eating
strawberries and looking at the peacock. F. went to look at the
'chicking,' her plural of chicken. Then Swinburne came in and soon began
to recite--a parody on Browning was one thing; and after him Whistler, who
talked about his own pictures--Royal Academy--the Chinese painter girl,
Millais, &c."

Rossetti's wife had died shortly before he went to Cheyne Walk, and it was
during his residence here that her grave in Highgate Cemetery was opened,
that the manuscript volume of poems he had buried with her might be
recovered, and most of its contents included in his first published book
of original work.

One time and another Whistler occupied four different houses in Cheyne
Walk, and No. 101 was the first of these. He had been living in lodgings,
or with his brother-in-law, since he came over from America, but in 1863
he took the Cheyne Walk house, and his mother went to live there with him.
It is a three-storey house, and the back room on the first floor was his
studio; the river lies before it, just across the road, and he could see
from his front windows old Battersea Bridge, Battersea Church on the other
side of the Thames, and at night the twinkling lights of boats and barges
at anchor and the flare and many-coloured glitter of Cremorne Gardens in
the distance. At the end of Cheyne Walk lived the boatbuilder Greaves. "He
had worked in Chelsea for years," write Mr. and Mrs. Pennell, in their
_Life of Whistler_. "He had rowed Turner about on the river, and his two
sons were to row Whistler. One of the sons, Mr. Walter Greaves, has told
us that Mrs. Booth, a big, hard, coarse Scotchwoman, was always with
Turner when he came for a boat. Turner would ask Greaves what kind of a
day it was going to be, and if Greaves answered 'Fine,' he would get
Greaves to row them across to Battersea Church, or to the fields, now
Battersea Park. If Greaves was doubtful, Turner would say, 'Well, Mrs.
Booth, we won't go far'; and afterwards for the sons--boys at the
time--Turner in their memory was overshadowed by her." Whistler and the
Greaves boys were up and down the river at all hours of the day and night
and in all weathers, painting and sketching, they under his tuition, or
gathering impressions and studying effects of light and shadow. He was
frequently in at the Rossettis' house, and they and their friends were as
frequently visiting him.

In 1867 Whistler moved to what is now 96 Cheyne Walk, and had a
housewarming on the 5th of February at which the two Rossettis were
present. Describing the decoration of the walls here, Mr. and Mrs. Pennell
say its beauty was its simplicity. "Rossetti's house was a museum, an
antiquity shop, in comparison. The simplicity seemed the more bewildering
because it was the growth, not of weeks but of years. The drawing-room was
not painted till the day of Whistler's first dinner-party. In the morning
he sent for the brothers Greaves to help him. 'It will never be dry in
time,' they feared. 'What matter?' said Whistler; 'it will be
beautiful!'... and by evening the walls were flushed with flesh-colour,
pale yellow and white spread over doors and woodwork, and we have heard
that gowns and coats too were touched with flesh-colour and yellow before
the evening was at an end. One Sunday morning Whistler, after he had taken
his mother to Chelsea Church, as he always did, again sent for his pupils
and painted a great ship with spreading sails in each of the two panels at
the end of the hall; the ships are said to be still on the wall, covered
up. His mother was not so pleased when, on her return, she saw the blue
and white harmony, for she would have had him put away his brushes on
Sunday as once she put away his toys."

Solitude was irksome to him, and he welcomed the motley crowd of artists
and students who came in at all hours to chat with him whilst he worked.
The Pennells tell a capital story of a man named Barthe, of whom Whistler
had bought tapestries, and who, not being able to get his account settled,
called one evening for the money. He was told that Whistler was not in;
but there was a cab waiting at the door, and he could hear his debtor's
voice, so he pushed past the maid and, as he afterwards related, "Upstairs
I find him, before a little picture, painting, and behind him ze bruzzers
Greaves holding candles. And Vistlaire he say, 'You ze very man I vant:
hold a candle!' And I hold a candle. And Vistlaire he paint, and he paint,
and zen he take ze picture, and he go downstairs, and he get in ze cab,
and he drive off, and we hold ze candle, and I see him no more. Mon Dieu,
il est terrible, ce Vistlaire!"

His studio here was a back room on the second floor, and up to that
studio, on many days of 1873, Carlyle climbed to give sittings for the
portrait which ranks now with the greatest of Whistler's works. The
portrait of his mother had already been painted in that same small room,
and hung on the wall there whilst Carlyle was coming to life on the
canvas. Carlyle was not a patient sitter. Directly he sat down he urged
Whistler to "fire away," and was evidently anxious to get through with his
part of the business as quickly as possible. "One day," says Whistler, "he
told me of others who had painted his portrait. There was Mr. Watts, a mon
of note. And I went to his studio, and there was much meestification, and
screens were drawn, and I was not allowed to see anything. And then, at
last, the screens were put aside and there I was. And I looked. And Mr.
Watts, a great mon, he said to me, 'How do you like it?' And then I turned
to Mr. Watts, and I said, 'Mon, I would have ye know I am in the hobit of
wurin' clean lunen!'" There is a note in Allingham's Diary, dated July 29,
1873: "Carlyle tells me he is 'sitting' to Whistler. If C. makes signs
of changing his position W. screams out in an agonised tone, 'For God's
sake, don't move!' C. afterwards said that all W.'s anxiety seemed to be
to get the _coat_ painted to ideal perfection; the face went for little.
He had begun by asking two or three sittings, but managed to get a great
many. At last C. flatly rebelled. He used to define W. as the most absurd
creature on the face of the earth."

[Illustration: WHISTLER. 96 CHEYNE WALK.]

Whilst he was at 96 Cheyne Walk, Whistler brought his famous libel action
against Ruskin, won it, but was awarded only a farthing damages, and had
to pay his own costs. During the progress of the suit he was having the
White House built for him in Tite Street, Chelsea, but the payment of his
law costs so crippled him that he had to sell it before it was ready for
occupation, and to sell off also the furniture and effects of his Cheyne
Walk home.

None of these things seem, however, to have affected Whistler with worse
than a temporary irritation. He wrote jestingly over his door: "Except the
Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. E. W. Godwin,
F.S.A., built this one;" turned his back upon the scenes of his recent
disasters, and went to Venice. After rather more than a year of absence,
he returned to London in the winter of 1880, stayed with his brother in
Wimpole Street, put up at divers lodgings, had an exhibition in Bond
Street, and in May 1881 took a studio at 13 Tite Street, Chelsea, and
began to be the most talked-of man of the day. "He filled the papers with
letters," write Mr. and Mrs. Pennell. "London echoed with his laugh. His
white lock stood up defiantly above his curls; his cane lengthened; a
series of collars sprang from his long overcoat; his hat had a curlier
brim, a lower tilt over his eyes; he invented amazing costumes.... He was
known to pay calls with the long bamboo stick in his hand and pink bows on
his shoes. He allowed no break in the gossip. The carriages brought
crowds, but not sitters. Few would sit to him before the trial; after it
there were fewer. In the seventies it needed courage to be painted by
Whistler; now it was to risk notoriety and ridicule." When Mr. Pennell
first saw him at 13 Tite Street, in July 1884, "he was all in white, his
waistcoat had long sleeves, and every minute it seemed as if he must begin
to juggle with glasses. For, to be honest, my first impression was of a
bar-keeper strayed from a Philadelphia saloon into a Chelsea studio. Never
had I seen such thick, black, curling hair. But in the midst was the white
lock, and keen, brilliant eyes flashed at me from under the thick, bushy
eyebrows."

From Tite Street, Whistler presently removed to 454 Fulham Road; thence to
The Vale, Chelsea, a pleasant quarter which was a year or two ago wiped
off the face of the earth; and in 1890 he was back again in Cheyne Walk,
at No. 21. "I remember a striking remark of Whistler's at a garden-party
in his Chelsea house," says M. Gerard Harry, who was one of Whistler's
guests at No. 21. "As he caught me observing some incompletely furnished
rooms and questioning within myself whether he had occupied the house more
than a fortnight or so: 'You see,' he said, with his short laugh, 'I do
not care for definitely settling down anywhere. Where there is no more
space for improvement, or dreaming about improvement, where mystery is in
perfect shape, it is _finis_--the end--death. There is no hope nor outlook
left.' I do not vouch for the words, but that was certainly the sense of a
remark which struck me as offering a key to much of Whistler's philosophy,
and to one aspect of his original art."

By 1892, in spite of himself and his fantastic and silly posings and
posturings, the world had learned to take his art seriously instead of
taking him so, and when he went away that year to live in Paris his
greatness as a painter had become pretty generally recognised. In 1894 he
came back to London with his wife, who was dying of cancer, and after her
death in 1896 he lived with friends or in lodgings, and had no settled
home, until in 1902 he once again took a house in Cheyne Walk, this time
No. 74, a house which stands below the street level; its front windows
overlook the Thames, and it had a large studio at the back. Here Mrs. and
Miss Birnie Philip went to share house with him, for his health was
breaking, and he was in need of companionship and attention. But there
were good intervals, when he was able to work with all his old eagerness
and energy. "We knew on seeing him when he was not so well," say Mr. and
Mrs. Pennell, "for his costume of invalid remained original. He clung to a
fur-lined overcoat worn into shabbiness. In his younger years he had
objected to a dressing-gown as an unmanly concession; apparently he had
not outgrown the objection, and on his bad days this shabby, worn-out
overcoat was its substitute. Nor did the studio seem the most comfortable
place for a man so ill as he was. It was bare, with little furniture, as
his studios always were, and he had not used it enough to give it the air
of a workshop. The whole house showed that illness was reigning there."
Trays and odds and ends of the sickroom lay about the hall; papers, books,
and miscellaneous litter made the drawing-room and dining-room look
disorderly. "When we saw Whistler in his big, shabby overcoat shuffling
about the huge studio, he struck us as so old, so feeble and fragile, that
we could imagine no sadder or more tragic figure. It was the more tragic
because he had always been such a dandy, a word he would have been the
first to use in reference to himself.... No one would have suspected the
dandy in this forlorn little old man, wrapped in a worn overcoat, hardly
able to walk."

He lingered thus for about a year; then the end came suddenly. On the 14th
July 1903, Mrs. Pennell found him dressed and in his studio. "He seemed
better, though his face was sunken, and in his eyes was that terrible
vagueness. Now he talked, and a touch of gallantry was in his greeting, 'I
wish I felt as well as you look.' He asked about Henley, the news of whose
death had come a day or two before.... There was a return of vigour in his
voice when Miss Birnie Philip brought him a cup of chicken broth, and he
cried, 'Take the damned thing away,' and his old charm was in the apology
that followed, but, he said, if he ate every half-hour or so, as the
doctor wanted, how could he be expected to have an appetite for dinner? He
dozed a little, but woke up quickly with a show of interest in
everything." But on the evening of the 17th, he suddenly collapsed, and
was dead before the doctor could be fetched to him.

[Illustration: TURNER'S HOUSE. CHEYNE WALK.]

Turner's last days in this same Cheyne Walk were almost as sad, almost
as piteous as Whistler's, but there is a haze of mystery about them, as
there is about some of his paintings, and he had no butterfly past of
dandyism to contrast painfully with the squalor of his ending. Born over
the barber's shop kept by his father in Maiden Lane, Strand, he mounted to
the seats of the immortals without acquiring by the way any taste for
personal adornment, or for the elegancies or little prettinesses so
beloved by little artists in his home surroundings. His soul was like a
star, and could not make its heaven among the dainty chairs and tables and
nice wall and mantelpiece ornaments of the drawing-room. On Stothard's
advice (Stothard being one of the customers at the shaving shop) Turner's
father made him an artist; he studied under Sir Joshua Reynolds, and
later, Blake was one of his pupils. Growing in reputation, he lived by
turns in Harley Street, at Hammersmith, at Twickenham, and is described in
middle age as bluff and rough-mannered, and looking "the very moral of a
master carpenter, with lobster-red face, twinkling staring grey eyes,
white tie, blue coat with brass buttons, crab-shell turned-up boots, large
fluffy hat, and enormous umbrella." From about 1815 onwards, he had a
house that is no longer standing at 47 Queen Anne Street, Harley Street,
and here, in 1843, when Turner was sixty-eight, a Mr. Hammersley called on
him and has described (I quote from Mr. Lewis Hind's _Turner's Golden
Visions_) how he "heard the shambling, slippered footstep coming down the
stairs, the cold, cheerless room, the gallery, even less tidy and more
forlorn, all confusion, mouldiness, and wretched litter; most of the
pictures covered with uncleanly sheets, and the man! his loose dress, his
ragged hair, his indifferent quiet--all, indeed, that went to make his
physique and some of his mind; but above all I saw, felt (and feel still)
his penetrating grey eye."

Somewhere between 1847 and 1848 Turner strangely disappeared from his
customary haunts; his Queen Anne Street house was closed, the door kept
locked, and his old housekeeper, Hannah Danby, could only assure anybody
who came that he was not there, and that she simply did not know where he
had gone. For the next four years or so, until he was dying, no one
succeeded in discovering his hiding-place. Now and then, in the meantime,
he would appear in a friend's studio, or would be met with at one of the
Galleries, but he offered no explanation of his curious behaviour, and
allowed no one to obtain any clue to his whereabouts. He went in 1850 to a
dinner given by David Roberts, and was in good spirits, and bubbling over
with laborious jokes. "Turner afterwards, in Roberts's absence, took the
chair, and, at Stanfield's request, proposed Roberts's health, which he
did, speaking hurriedly, but soon ran short of words and breath, and
dropped down on his chair with a hearty laugh, starting up again and
finishing with a 'Hip, hip, hurrah!'... Turner was the last who left, and
Roberts accompanied him along the street to hail a cab. When the cab drove
up, he assisted Turner to his seat, shut the door, and asked where he
should tell cabby to take him; but Turner was not to be caught, and, with
a knowing wink, replied, 'Tell him to drive to Oxford Street, and then
I'll direct him where to go.'"

The fact is he was living at Cremorne Cottage, 119 Cheyne Walk. He was
living there anonymously; a Mrs. Booth, whom he had known many years
before when he stayed at her Margate boarding-house, was keeping house for
him, and he was known in the neighbourhood as Admiral Booth, a rumour
having got about that he was a retired naval officer fallen on evil days.
This was the time of which the father of the Greaves boys had spoken to
Whistler--the days when Mrs. Booth used to come with Turner to the
waterside and he would row them over to Battersea. Though all his greatest
work was finished, Turner painted several pictures here; he frequently
rose at daybreak, and, wrapped in a blanket or a dressing-gown, stood out
on the roof, leaning over the railing to watch the sunrise and the play of
light on the river opposite. He used the room on the second floor as his
studio, and in that room, on the 19th December 1851, he died. Some months
before his death, he was seen at the Royal Academy's private view; then,
tardily responding to a letter of friendly reproach that David Roberts had
addressed to him at Queen Anne Street, he came to Roberts's studio in
Fitzroy Square. He was "broken and ailing," and had been touched by
Roberts's appeal, but as for disclosing his residence--"You must not ask
me," he said; "but whenever I come to town I will always come to see you."
When Roberts tried to cheer him, he laid his hand on his heart and
murmured, "No, no! There is something here that is all wrong."

His illness increasing on him, he wrote to Margate for Dr. Price, an old
acquaintance of his and Mrs. Booth's, and Price, coming up, examined him
and told him there was no hope of his recovery. "Go downstairs," he urged
the doctor, "take a glass of sherry, and then look at me again." But a
second examination only confirmed Dr. Price in his opinion.

It must have been at this juncture that Turner's hiding-place was
discovered. His Queen Anne Street housekeeper, Hannah Danby, found a
letter left in the pocket of one of his old coats, and this gave the
Chelsea address. She went with another woman and made inquiries round
about Cheyne Walk till it was clear enough to her that the Mr. Booth to
whom that letter was directed was none other than Turner, and acting on
her information Mr. Harpur, Turner's executor, journeyed at once to
Chelsea, and arrived at 119 Cheyne Walk to find Turner sinking fast.
Towards sunset, on that wintry day of his dying, he asked Mrs. Booth to
wheel him to the window, and so gazing out on the wonder of the darkening
sky he passed quietly away with his head on her shoulder.

A certain John Pye, a Chelsea engraver, afterwards interviewed the owner
of No. 119, and learned from him that Turner and Mrs. Booth had, some four
or five years before, called and taken the house of him, paying their rent
in advance because they objected to giving any names or references. Pye
also saw Mrs. Booth, and says she was a woman of fifty, illiterate, but
"good-looking and kindly-mannered." Turner had used to call her "old 'un,"
she said, and she called him "dear"; and she explained that she had first
got acquainted with him when, more than twenty years ago, "he became her
lodger near the Custom House at Margate." So small was the shabby little
house in Cheyne Walk that the undertakers were unable to carry the coffin
up the narrow staircase, and had to carry the body down to it. Nowadays,
the house has been enlarged; it and the house next door have been thrown
into one, otherwise it has undergone little change since Turner knew it.

Whilst Turner was thus passing out of life in Cheyne Walk, Carlyle was
dwelling near by at No. 24 (then No. 5) Cheyne Row, and had been resident
there for seventeen years. On first coming to London in 1830, he and his
wife lodged at 33 Ampton Street, Gray's Inn Road. They spent, he says, "an
interesting, cheery, and, in spite of poor arrangements, really pleasant
winter" there; they had a "clean and decent pair of rooms," and their
landlord's family consisted of "quiet, decent people." He wrote his essay
on Dr. Johnson whilst he was here, and was making a fruitless search for a
publisher who would accept _Sartor Resartus_, which he had recently
completed. Jeffrey called there several times to pass an afternoon with
him, and John Stuart Mill was one other of the many visitors who found
their way to the drab, unlovely, rather shabby street to chat with the
dour, middle-aged Scotch philosopher, who was only just beginning to be
heard of.

He fixed on the Cheyne Row house in 1834, and, except for occasional
holidays, never left it until his death forty-seven years afterwards. As
soon as he was settled here Carlyle wrote to Sir William Hamilton, giving
him his new address: "Our upholsterers, with all their rubbish and
clippings, are at length swept handsomely out of doors. I have got my
little book-press set up, my table fixed firm in its place, and sit here
awaiting what Time and I, in our questionable wrestle, shall make out
between us." In another letter of about the same date he writes of it:
"The street is flag-paved, sunk-storied, iron-railed, all old-fashioned
and tightly done up, looks out on a rank of sturdy old pollarded (that is,
beheaded) lime trees standing there like giants in tawtie wigs (for the
new boughs are still young); beyond this a high brick wall; backwards a
garden, the size of our back one at Comely Bank, with trees, &c., in bad
culture; beyond this green hayfields and tree avenues, once a bishop's
pleasure grounds, an unpicturesque but rather cheerful outlook. The house
itself is eminent, antique, wainscoted to the very ceiling, and has been
all new painted and repaired; broadish stair, with massive balustrade (in
the old style), corniced and as thick as one's thigh; floors thick as
rock, wood of them here and there worm-eaten, yet capable of cleanliness,
and still with thrice the strength of a modern floor. Chelsea is a
singular heterogeneous kind of spot, very dirty and confused in some
places, quite beautiful in others, abounding in antiquities and the traces
of great men--Sir Thomas More, Steele, Smollett, &c. Our Row, which for
the last three doors or so is a street and none of the noblest, runs out
upon a Parade (perhaps they call it) running along the shore of the river,
a broad highway with huge shady trees, boats lying moored, and a smell of
shipping and tar."

A note in Allingham's Diary (1860) offers you a very clear little picture
of Carlyle's garden here, as he saw it: "In Carlyle's garden, some twenty
yards by six; ivy at the end. Three or four lilac bushes; an ash stands on
your left; a little copper beech on your right gives just an umbrella to
sit under when the sun is hot; a vine or two on one wall, neighboured
by a jasmine--one pear tree."

[Illustration: CARLYLE. AMPTON STREET.]

In this Cheyne Row house Carlyle wrote all his books, except _Sartor_ and
some of the miscellaneous essays; here he entertained, not always very
willingly or very graciously, most of the great men of his day; quarrelled
with his neighbours furiously over the crowing of their cocks; was
pestered by uninvited, admiring callers from all over the world; and had
his room on the top floor furnished with double-windows that were supposed
to render it sound-proof, but did not. Charles Boner, visiting 24 Cheyne
Row in 1862, disturbed Carlyle as he sat in his dressing-gown and slippers
correcting the proofs of his _Frederick the Great_, whilst Mrs. Carlyle
remained in attendance, seated on a sofa by the fire.

In 1866 Mrs. Carlyle died suddenly of heart failure, and left him burdened
with remorse that he had not been kinder to her and made her life happier;
and after two years of lonely living without her, he writes: "I am very
idle here, very solitary, which I find to be oftenest less miserable to me
than the common society that offers. Except Froude almost alone, whom I
see once a week, there is hardly anybody whose talk, always polite, clear,
sharp, and sincere, does me any considerable good.... I am too weak, too
languid, too sad of heart, too unfit for any work, in fact, to care
sufficiently for any object left me in the world to think of grappling
round it and coercing it by work. A most sorry dog-kennel it oftenest all
seems to me, and wise words, if one ever had them, to be only thrown away
on it. Basta-basta, I for most part say of it, and look with longings
towards the still country where at last we and our loved ones shall be
together again."

You will get no better or more intimate glimpses into Carlyle's home life
than Allingham gives in his Diary. Sometimes they are merely casual and
scrappy notes, at others fairly full records of his walks and talks with
him, such as this: "_1873, April 28._--At Carlyle's house about three. He
spent about fifteen minutes in trying to clear the stem of a long clay
pipe with a brass wire, and in the end did not succeed. The pipe was new,
but somehow obstructed. At last he sent for another one and smoked, and we
got out at last. (I never saw him smoke in public.) He said Emerson had
called on him on Sunday, and he meant to visit E. to-day at his lodging in
Down Street. We walked to Hyde Park by Queen's Gate, and westward along
the broad walk, next to the ride, with the Serpentine a field distant on
the left hand. This was a favourite route of his. I was well content to
have the expectation of seeing Emerson again, and, moreover, Emerson and
Carlyle together. We spoke of Masson's _Life of Milton_, a volume of which
was on C.'s table. He said Masson's praise of Milton was exaggerated.
'Milton had a gift in poetry--of a particular kind. _Paradise Lost_ is
absurd; I never could take to it all--though now and again clouds of
splendour rolled in upon the scene.'... At Hyde Park Corner, C. stopped
and looked at the clock. 'You are going to Down Street, sir?' 'No, it's
too late.' 'The place is close at hand.' 'No, no, it's half-past five.' So
he headed for Knightsbridge, and soon after I helped him into a Chelsea
omnibus, banning internally the clay pipe (value a halfpenny farthing)
through which this chance (perhaps the last, for Emerson is going away
soon) was lost."

[Illustration: THOMAS CARLYLE]

There are numerous entries in the Diary of visits and conversations of
this sort. On October 18, 1879, Allingham called at Cheyne Row with his
little son, and they met Carlyle coming out of the door to his carriage.
On December 4, of the same year: "Helen and I to Cheyne Row. Carlyle's
eighty-fourth birthday. Mrs. Lecky there. Browning and Ruskin are gone. C.
on his sofa by the window, warm and quiet, wearing a new purple and gold
cap. Gifts of flowers on the table...." Some of the swift little
word-sketches of Carlyle at this date, when he was very old, very feeble,
and apt to be oppressed with gloom, are piteous and pathetic enough. On
his eighty-fifth birthday (December 4, 1880) Allingham found him easier
and more himself; but on Friday, December 24, you read: "To Carlyle's at
two. He was lying on the sofa in the drawing-room. When I spoke to him he
held out his hand and shook hands with me, but said nothing. I was not
sure that he knew me. A stout Scotch servant girl and I lifted him to his
feet to go to the carriage. In the hall his heavy sealskin coat was put on
with difficulty, and he was got into the carriage. Alick and I with him.
We drove twice round Hyde Park. The old man dozed much."

Earlier that year, the two sons of Alexander Munro called at Cheyne Row,
and in a letter home the elder of them gave a wonderfully poignant and
living account of their visit. Munro, who was dead, had been one of
Carlyle's old friends, and the two boys were now at school at the
Charterhouse. They were conducted upstairs, says the letter, to a
well-lighted, cheerful apartment, and here "the maid went forward and said
something to Carlyle, and left the room. He was sitting before a fire in
an arm-chair, propped up with pillows, with his feet on a stool, and
looked much older than I had expected. The lower part of his face was
covered with a rather shaggy beard, almost quite white. His eyes were
bright blue, but looked filmy from age. He had on a sort of coloured
nightcap, and a long gown reaching to his ankles, and slippers on his
feet. A rest attached to the arm of his chair supported a book before him.
I could not quite see the name, but I think it was Channing's works.
Leaning against the fireplace was a long clay pipe, and there was a slight
smell of tobacco in the room. We advanced and shook hands, and he invited
us to sit down, and began, I think, by asking where we were living. He
talked of our father affectionately, speaking in a low tone as if to
himself, and stopping now and then for a moment and sighing.... He went
on, 'I am near the end of my course, and the sooner the better is my own
feeling.' He said he still reads a little, but has not many books he cares
to read now, and is 'continually disturbed by foolish interruptions from
people who do not know the value of an old man's leisure.' His hands were
very thin and wasted; he showed us how they shook and trembled unless he
rested them on something, and said they were failing him from weakness."
And, at length, closing the interview, "'Well, I'll just bid you
good-bye.' We shook hands. He asked our names. He could not quite hear
Henry's at first. 'I am a little deaf, but I can hear well enough
talking,' or words to that effect. 'I wish you God's blessing;
good-bye.' We shook hands once more and went away. I was not at all shy.
He seemed such a venerable old man, and so worn and old-looking, that I
was very much affected. Our visit was on Tuesday, May 18, 1880, at about 2
P.M."

[Illustration: CARLYLE'S HOUSE. CHEYNE ROW.]

He died in the following February; after lying motionless and seemingly
unconscious for hours, he passed quietly soon after eight on the morning
of February 5, 1881. His bed, says Allingham, had been brought down to the
drawing-room (the front room on the first floor), and he rarely spoke in
the last two or three weeks, not so much because he could not as because
he did not seem to wish to say anything. Newspaper reporters were so
continually ringing at the door, day and night, that bulletins had to be
posted outside to prevent this. Now and then he appeared to wander in his
mind, and when the Scotch maid, Mary, was attending upon him he would
sometimes murmur, "Poor little woman," as if he mistook her for his
long-dead Jenny; and once, says Allingham, "he supposed the female hands
that tended him, lifting his head, perhaps, to be those of his good old
mother--'Ah, mother, is it you?' he murmured, or some such words. I think
it was on the day before the last day that Mary heard him saying to
himself, 'So this is Death: well----'"

But the Cheyne Row house has many happy memories too, and I always think
one of the happiest is that of how Leigh Hunt called once after a long
absence, and brought with him word of some unexpected good news that so
delighted Mrs. Carlyle that she impulsively ran to him and kissed him,
and he went away to write that charming little rondeau that bids fair to
outlive all his more ambitious poetry:

  "Jenny kissed me when we met,
     Jumping from the chair she sat in;
   Time, you thief, who love to get
     Sweets into your list, put that in:
   Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,
     Say that health and wealth have missed me,
   Say I'm growing old--but add,
     Jenny kissed me."

Leigh Hunt was turned fifty then, and was Carlyle's neighbour, living at
No. 10 (then No. 4) Upper Cheyne Row. I have seen it said that Leigh Hunt
went there in order to be near Carlyle, but his occupancy of that house
dates from 1833--the year before Carlyle established himself in
Chelsea--and he remained there until 1840, seven years of poverty and
worry, when it was literal truth that he was weary and sad, in indifferent
health, harassed for want of money, and growing old, yet you find him
never losing hope, and always ready on the smallest excuse to rejoice and
make light of his troubles. I am afraid Dickens's caricature of Hunt as
Harold Skimpole, and Byron's contemptuous references to his vanity and
vulgarity and the squalor of his easy-going home life (his children, said
Byron, "are dirtier and more mischievous than Yahoos," and writing of
their arrival in Italy as Shelley's guests he observes, "Poor Hunt, with
his six little blackguards, are coming slowly up; as usual he turned back
once--was there ever such a kraal out of the Hottentot country?")--I am
rather afraid these things have tended to wrong Hunt in our imagination of
him, for you learn on other evidence that there is just enough truth in
those representations of him to make them seem quite true, and they linger
in your mind, and affect your regard and admiration of the man in spite of
yourself. But Dickens, with his keen sense of the absurd, had a habit of
exaggeration; there was no ill-nature in his laughter--he merely seized on
certain of Hunt's weaknesses and gave them to a character who has none of
Hunt's finer qualities, and it is ridiculous in us and unfair to both men
to take that caricature as a portrait. As for Byron--he could not justly
appraise Hunt, for he had no means of understanding him. His own way of
life was made too easy for him from the first; he was not born to Hunt's
difficulties and disadvantages; his experiences of the world, and
therefore his sympathies, were too limited. There is no merit in living
elegantly and playing the gentleman when you simply inherit, as the fruits
of an ancestor's abilities, all the conveniences and the money that enable
you to do so. On the whole, if you compare their lives, you will realise
that Leigh Hunt was by far the greater man of the two, even if Byron was
the greater poet, and I am more than a little inclined to agree with
Charles Lamb that even as a poet Byron was "great in so little a way. To
be a poet is to be the man, not a petty portion of occasional low passion
worked up in a permanent form of humanity. Shakespeare has thrust such
rubbishy feelings into a corner--the dark, dusty heart of Don John, in the
_Much Ado about Nothing_."

Shelley never speaks of Leigh Hunt but in the kindliest terms. He was
"gentle, honourable, innocent, and brave," writes Shelley; "one of more
exalted toleration for all who do and think evil, and yet himself more
free from evil; one of simpler and, in the highest sense of the word,
purer life and manners, I never knew." He is, he says in the _Letter to
Maria Gisborne_:

                      "One of those happy souls
  Which are the salt of the earth, and without whom
  This earth would smell like what it is--a tomb."

Hunt tells in his _Autobiography_ how he came to Chelsea, and gives a
glowing description of his house there. He left St. John's Wood, and then
his home in the New Road (now Marylebone Road), because he found the clay
soil of the one and the lack of quiet around the other affected his
health, or "perhaps it was only the melancholy state of our fortune" that
was answerable for that result; anyhow, from the noise and dust of the New
Road he removed to Upper Cheyne Row--"to a corner in Chelsea," as he says,
"where the air of the neighbouring river was so refreshing and the quiet
of the 'no-thoroughfare' so full of repose, that although our fortunes
were at their worst, and my health almost at a piece with them, I felt for
some weeks as if I could sit still for ever, embalmed in silence. I got to
like the very cries in the street, for making me the more aware of it by
the contrast. I fancied they were unlike the cries in other quarters of
the suburbs, and that they retained something of the old quaintness and
melodiousness which procured them the reputation of having been composed
by Purcell and others.... There was an old seller of fish, in particular,
whose cry of 'Shrimps as large as prawns' was such a regular, long-drawn,
and truly pleasing melody that, in spite of his hoarse and, I am
afraid, drunken voice, I used to wish for it of an evening, and hail it
when it came....

[Illustration: LEIGH HUNT'S HOUSE. CHELSEA.]

"I know not whether the corner I speak of remains as quiet as it was. I am
afraid not; for steamboats have carried vicissitude into Chelsea, and
Belgravia threatens it with her mighty advent. But to complete my sense of
repose and distance, the house was of that old-fashioned sort which I have
always loved best, familiar to the eyes of my parents, and associated with
childhood. It had seats in the windows, a small third room on the first
floor, of which I made a sanctum, into which no perturbation was to enter,
except to calm itself with religious and cheerful thoughts; and there were
a few limes in front which, in their due season, diffused a fragrance. In
this house we remained seven years; in the course of which, besides
contributing some articles to the _Edinburgh_ and _Westminster Reviews_,
and producing a good deal of the book since called _The Town_, I set up
(in 1834) the _London Journal_, endeavoured to continue the _Monthly
Repository_, and wrote the poem entitled _Captain Sword and Captain Pen_,
the _Legend of Florence_, and three other plays. Here also I became
acquainted with Thomas Carlyle, one of the kindest and best, as well as
most eloquent of men.... I believe that what Mr. Carlyle loves better than
his fault-finding, with all its eloquence, is the face of any human
creature that looks suffering, and loving, and sincere; and I believe
further that if the fellow-creature were suffering only, and neither
loving nor sincere, but had come to a pass of agony in this life which put
him at the mercies of some good man for some last help and consolation
towards his grave, even at the risk of loss to repute and a sure amount
of pain and vexation, that man, if the groan reached him in its
forlornness, would be Thomas Carlyle."

He wrote that from his personal experience of Carlyle, for whilst they
were neighbours at Chelsea they frequently visited each other; and
Carlyle, on his part, saw the worst as well as the best of him, from the
inside, and was too large-minded and too big a man to judge him by his
faults and follies only. He saw how Hunt worked, all the while haunted by
pecuniary distresses; unpaid tradesmen knocking at his door and worrying
for their debts; once an execution in the house; now and then faced with
the humiliation of having to ask for loans of a few shillings to buy the
family dinner; his children almost in rags, and himself, as he said
bitterly, slighted and neglected by editors and the public, and
"carelessly, over-familiarly, or even superciliously treated, pitied or
patronised by his inferiors." Carlyle had known poverty and neglect
himself; he was fitted to judge Hunt understandingly, and he judged him
justly. "Leigh Hunt was a fine kind of man," he told Allingham in 1868.
"Some used to talk of him as a frivolous fellow, but when I saw him I
found he had a face as serious as death." In his Diary he noted, "Hunt is
always ready to go and walk with me, or sit and talk with me to all
lengths if I want him. He comes in once a week (when invited, for he is
very modest), takes a cup of tea, and sits discoursing in his brisk,
fanciful way till supper time, and then cheerfully eats a cup of porridge
(to sugar only), which he praises to the skies, and vows he will make his
supper of it at home."

It was Mrs. Carlyle who was severe about the Hunts' untidy and uncleanly
household, and complained of the domestic utensils they borrowed and
failed to return, but Carlyle took the position in a more genial spirit,
and saw the pity of it and the humour of it also. "Hunt's house," he wrote
after one of his visits to No. 10 Upper Cheyne Row, "excels all you have
ever read of--a poetical Tinkerdom without parallel even in literature. In
his family room, where are a sickly, large wife and a whole school of
well-conditioned wild children, you will find half-a-dozen old rickety
chairs gathered from half-a-dozen different hucksters, and all seemingly
engaged, and just pausing, in a violent hornpipe. On these and around them
and over the dusty table and ragged carpet lie all kinds of litter--books,
papers, egg-shells, scissors, and last night when I was there the torn
heart of a quartern loaf. His own room above stairs, into which alone I
strive to enter, he keeps cleaner. It has only two chairs, a bookcase, and
a writing-table; yet the noble Hunt receives you in his Tinkerdom in the
spirit of a king, apologises for nothing, places you in the best seat,
takes a window-sill himself if there is no other, and then folding closer
his loose-flowing 'muslin cloud' of a printed nightgown in which he always
writes, commences the liveliest dialogue on philosophy and the prospects
of man (who is to be beyond measure 'happy' yet); which again he will
courteously terminate the moment you are bound to go. A most interesting,
pitiable, lovable man, to be used kindly, but with discretion."

Hunt departed from Chelsea, with all his anxieties, in 1840, and took up
residence at 32 Edwardes Square, Kensington, where he got through with a
great deal of work, and one way and another was secured at last above his
financial embarrassments. Dickens, Jerrold, Forster and some other friends
raised £900 for him by a benefit performance of _Every Man in his Humour_;
the Government granted him two sums of £200, and then a Civil List Pension
of £200 a year, to the obtaining of which Carlyle readily lent all his
influence. Moreover, the Shelley family settled an annuity of £120 upon
him. But, with all these material advantages, came the death of his wife
and one of his sons. "She was as uncomplaining during the worst storms of
our adversity," Hunt wrote of his wife, reminiscently, "as she was during
those at sea in our Italian voyage."

He was an old and rather solitary man when he moved from Kensington in
1853 and went to 7 Cornwall Road, now known as 16 Rowan Road, Hammersmith
Road, but he had an ample and sure income, and was no longer haunted by
duns, if he could not indulge in much in the way of luxury. When Nathaniel
Hawthorne was in England he went to see him at Hammersmith, and found the
house in Rowan Road plain, small, shabby, Hunt's little study cheaply
papered, sparely carpeted, and furnished meanly, and Hunt himself "a
beautiful and venerable old man, buttoned to the chin in a black dress
coat, tall and slender, with a countenance quietly alive all over, and the
gentlest and most naturally courteous manner." At Rowan Road he wrote most
of his _Old Court Suburb_, in the preface to a recent edition of which Mr.
Austin Dobson says of the Leigh Hunt of those closing days, "He was still
the old sensitive, luminous-eyed Leigh Hunt of the wide collar and
floating printed nightgown, delighted with a flower or a bird or a
butterfly; but Time had snowed upon his pericranium, and to his breezy
_robe de chambre_ he had added, or was about to add, a protective cape,
more or less ample, of faded black silk, which gave him the air (says John
Forster) of an old French Abbé." He died away from home in 1859, whilst he
was on a short visit to a relative at Putney.

[Illustration: LEIGH HUNT. 16 ROWAN ROAD. HAMMERSMITH.]



CHAPTER XIV

THACKERAY


No other literary Londoner has taken root as Carlyle did in Cheyne Row and
remained for nearly half a century without once changing his address.
Thackeray shifted about from place to place nearly as much as most of
them. He went to school at the Charterhouse, and for a year or two had
lodgings over a shop in Wilderness Row, Clerkenwell; in the first years
after his marriage he lived in Albion Street; he had chambers in the
Temple, at Hare Court, in Crown Office Row, and at Brick Court. _The Paris
Sketch Book_ was written whilst he was living at 13 Great Coram Street, in
1840, and it was there that his wife began to suffer from the sad mental
disorder that was presently to take her from him for the rest of his days.
In August 1846 he gave up his lodgings in St. James's Chambers, and drew
his broken home life together again at 16 Young Street, Kensington. "I am
beginning to count the days now till you come," he wrote to his mother,
with whom his two little daughters were staying in Paris; "and I have got
the rooms all ready in the rough, all but a couple of bedsteads, and a few
etceteras, which fall into their place in a day or two. As usual, I am
full of business and racket, working every day, and yet not advancing
somehow." He was industriously turning out drawings and jokes and
articles and verses for _Punch_ and _Fraser's Magazine_, and hard at work
on the great novel that was to make him famous--_Vanity Fair_.

[Illustration: THE CHARTERHOUSE. FROM THE SQUARE.]

"It was not till late in the autumn that we came to live with my father in
Kensington," writes Lady Ritchie, in one of her delightful prefaces to the
Centenary Edition of Thackeray's works. "We had been at Paris with our
grandparents--while he was at work in London. It was a dark, wintry
evening. The fires were lighted, the servants were engaged, Eliza--what
family would be complete without its Eliza?--was in waiting to show us our
rooms. He was away; he had not expected us so early. We saw the
drawing-room, the empty study; there was the feeling of London--London
smelt of tobacco, we thought; we stared out through the uncurtained
windows at the dark garden behind; and then, climbing the stairs, we
looked in at his bedroom door, and came to our own rooms above it.... Once
more, after his first happy married years, my father had a home and a
family--if a house, two young children, three servants, and a little black
cat can be called a family. My grandmother, who had brought us over to
England, returned to her husband in Paris; but her mother, an old lady
wrapped in Indian shawls, presently came to live with us, and divided her
time between Kensington and the Champs Elysees until 1848, when she died
at Paris."

Thackeray's first name for _Vanity Fair_ was _Pencil Sketches of English
Society_. He offered the opening chapters of it under that title to
Colburn for his _New Monthly Magazine_. Thereafter he seems to have
reshaped the novel and renamed it, and even then had difficulty to find a
publisher. At length, Messrs. Bradbury & Evans accepted it, and it was
arranged that it should be published after the manner that Dickens had
already rendered popular--in monthly parts; and the first part duly
appeared on the 1st January 1847, in the familiar yellow wrappers that
served to distinguish Thackeray's serials from the green-covered serials
of Dickens. But the sales of the first half-dozen numbers were by no means
satisfactory.

"I still remember," writes Lady Ritchie, "going along Kensington Gardens
with my sister and our nursemaid, carrying a parcel of yellow numbers
which had been given us to take to some friend who lived across the Park;
and as we walked along, somewhere near the gates of the gardens we met my
father, who asked us what we were carrying. Then somehow he seemed vexed
and troubled, told us not to go on, and to take the parcel home. Then he
changed his mind, saying that if his grandmother wished it, the books had
best be conveyed; but we guessed, as children do, that something was
seriously amiss. The sale of _Vanity Fair_ was so small that it was a
question at the time whether its publication should not be discontinued
altogether."

[Illustration: THACKERAY'S HOUSE. KENSINGTON.]

At that critical juncture he published _Mrs. Perkins's Ball_, which caught
on at once, and this and a favourable review in the _Edinburgh_ are
supposed to have sent the public after the novel, for the sales of _Vanity
Fair_ rapidly increased, and the monthly numbers were soon selling briskly
enough to satisfy even the publishers, and so in his thirty-seventh year
Thackeray found himself famous. James Hannay first saw him when the
book was still unfinished but its success assured. He says that Thackeray
pointed out to him the house in Russell Square "where the imaginary
Sedleys lived," and that when he congratulated him on that scene in
_Vanity Fair_ in which Becky Sharp cannot help feeling proud of her
husband whilst he is giving Lord Steyne the thrashing that must ruin all
her own chances, Thackeray answered frankly, "Well, when I wrote that
sentence I slapped my fist on the table and said, 'That is a touch of
genius!'" Which reminds one of the story told by Ticknor Fields of how,
when he was making a pilgrimage around London with Thackeray in later
years, and they paused outside 16 Young Street, which was no longer his
home, the novelist cried with a melodramatic gesture, "Go down on your
knees, you rogue, for here _Vanity Fair_ was penned, and I will go down
with you, for I have a high opinion of that little production myself!"

His letters of 1847 and the early half of 1848 are full of references to
the strenuous toil with which he is writing his monthly instalments of
_Vanity Fair_, and in one of them, to Edward Fitzgerald, he mentions that
he is giving a party: "Mrs. Dickens and Miss Hogarth made me give it, and
I am in a great fright." Perhaps that was the famous party to which
Charlotte Brontë, Carlyle and his wife, and other of his great
contemporaries came, and things went wrong, and he became so uncomfortable
that he fairly bolted from his guests, and went to spend the rest of the
evening at the Garrick Club.

_Pendennis_ was written at the Young Street house, and Thackeray put a
good deal of himself into that hero of his. Pen had chambers at Lamb
Building, in the Temple, and there is some likeness between his early
journalistic experiences and Thackeray's own. The opening chapters of
_Pendennis_, though, were written at Spa. Thackeray had wanted to get away
to some seaside place where he could set to work on his new book, and had
asked his mother, who was going to Brighton, if she could not get a house
for £60 that would have three spare rooms in it for him. "As for the
dignity, I don't believe it matters a pinch of snuff. Tom Carlyle lives in
perfect dignity in a little £40 house at Chelsea, with a snuffy Scotch
maid to open the door, and the best company in England ringing at it. It
is only the second or third chop great folks who care about show."

In _Pendennis_ there is an allusion to Catherine Hayes, the dreadful
heroine of Thackeray's _Catherine_, that had been published a few years
before, and a hot-tempered young Irishman, believing the reference was to
Miss Catherine Hayes, the Irish vocalist, chivalrously came over to
England, took lodgings opposite Thackeray's house in Young Street, and
sent him a warning letter that he was on the watch for him to come out of
doors, and intended to administer public chastisement by way of avenging
Miss Hayes's injured honour. After getting through his morning's work,
Thackeray felt the position was intolerable, so he walked straightway out
across the road, knocked at the opposite door, and boldly bearded the lion
in his den. The young Irishman was disposed to bluster and be obstinate,
but Thackeray explained matters, calmed him, convinced him that he had
made a mistake, parted from him amicably, and had the satisfaction of
seeing the young fire-eater come forth on his way back home that evening.

[Illustration: W. M. THACKERAY]

Writing of _Pendennis_, Lady Ritchie says, "I can remember the morning
Helen died. My father was in his study in Young Street, sitting at the
table at which he wrote. It stood in the middle of the room, and he used
to sit facing the door. I was going into the room, but he motioned me
away. An hour afterwards he came into our schoolroom, half laughing and
half ashamed, and said to us, 'I do not know what James can have thought
of me when he came in with the tax-gatherer just after you left and found
me blubbering over Helen Pendennis's death.'"

At Young Street, Thackeray wrote also his _Lectures on the English
Humorists_, and having delivered them with gratifying success at Willis's
Rooms, he journeyed to America in 1852, and was even more successful with
them there. Meanwhile, he had written _Esmond_, and it was published in
three volumes just before he left England. "Thackeray I saw for ten
minutes," Fitzgerald wrote to Frederick Tennyson concerning a flying visit
he had paid to London; "he was just in the agony of finishing a novel,
which has arisen out of the reading necessary for his lectures, and
relates to those times--of Queen Anne, I mean. He will get £1000 for his
novel; he was wanting to finish it and rush off to the Continent to shake
off the fumes of it." His two daughters, both now in their teens, were
sent out to join their grandparents before he sailed for the States, and
in a letter to Anne (Lady Ritchie) he explains his motive in crossing the
Atlantic: "I must and will go to America, not because I want to, but
because it is right I should secure some money against my death for your
poor mother and you two girls."

There are several drawings made by Thackeray in those Young Street days of
his daughters and himself, and one of his study at breakfast time, and
here is a word-picture of the study given by Lady Ritchie in her preface
to _Esmond_: "The vine shaded the two windows, which looked out upon the
bit of garden and the medlar-tree, and the Spanish jasmines, of which the
yellow flowers scented our old brick walls. I can remember the tortoise
belonging to the boys next door crawling along the top of the wall where
they had set it, and making its way between the jasmine sprigs.... Our
garden was not tidy (though on one grand occasion a man came to mow the
grass), but it was full of sweet things.... Lady Duff Gordon came to stay
with us once (it was on that occasion that the grass was mowed), and she
afterwards sent us some doves, which used to hang high up in a wicker cage
from the windows of the schoolroom. The schoolroom was over my father's
bedroom, and his bedroom was over the study where he used to write, and
they all looked to the garden and the sunsets."

On his return from the American lecturing, in 1853, when he had already
made a beginning of _The Newcomes_, he gave up the Young Street house and
moved to 36 Onslow Square, South Kensington (or Brompton, as it was called
at that period); and during the seven years of his residence there he
finished _The Newcomes_, wrote _The Four Georges_, _The Virginians_, many
of the _Roundabout Papers_, began the writing of _Philip_, and founded and
entered upon his duties as editor of the _Cornhill Magazine_. The front
room on the second floor was his study.

[Illustration: LAMB BUILDING. TEMPLE. FROM THE CLOISTERS.]

It was whilst Thackeray was living here that the quarrel occurred between
him and Edmund Yates, who had contributed a smart personal article to
_Town Talk_, on the 12th June 1858, in the course of which he wrote: "Mr.
Thackeray is forty-six years old, though from the silvery whiteness of his
hair he appears somewhat older. He is very tall, standing upwards of six
feet two inches; and as he walks erect his height makes him conspicuous in
every assembly. His face is bloodless, and not particularly expressive,
but remarkable for the fracture of the bridge of the nose, the result of
an accident in youth. He wears a small grey whisker, but otherwise is
clean shaven. No one meeting him could fail to recognise in him a
gentleman; his bearing is cold and uninviting, his style of conversation
either openly cynical, or affectedly good-natured and benevolent; his
_bonhomie_ is forced, his wit biting, his pride easily touched--but his
appearance is invariably that of the cool, suave, well-bred gentleman who,
whatever may be rankling within, suffers no surface display of his
emotion." He went on to discuss Thackeray's work, and said unjustly of his
lectures that in this country he flattered the aristocracy and in America
he attacked it, the attacks being contained in _The Four Georges_, which
"have been dead failures in England, though as literary compositions they
are most excellent. Our own opinion is that his success is on the wane;
his writings never were understood or appreciated even by the middle
classes; the aristocracy have been alienated by his American onslaught on
their body, and the educated and refined are not sufficiently numerous to
constitute an audience; moreover, there is a want of heart in all he
writes which is not to be balanced by the most brilliant sarcasm."

The description of Thackeray's personal appearance here is perhaps rather
impertinently frank, but it is clever and pictorially good; for the
rest--we who know now what a generous, kindly, almost too sentimentally
tender heart throbbed within that husk of cynicism and sarcasm in which he
protectively enfolded it, know that Yates was writing of what he did not
understand. Unfortunately, however, Thackeray took him seriously, and
wrote a letter of dignified but angry protest to him, especially against
the imputation of insincerity when he spoke good-naturedly in private.
"Had your remarks been written by a person unknown to me, I should have
noticed them no more than other calumnies; but as we have shaken hands
more than once and met hitherto on friendly terms, I am obliged to take
notice of articles which I consider to be not offensive and unfriendly
merely, but slanderous and untrue. We meet at a club where, before you
were born, I believe, I and other gentlemen have been in the habit of
talking without any idea that our conversation would supply paragraphs for
professional vendors of 'Literary Talk'; and I don't remember that out of
the club I have ever exchanged six words with you."

Yates replied, and "rather than have further correspondence with a writer
of that character," Thackeray put the letters before the committee of the
Garrick Club, asking them to decide whether the publication of such an
article as Yates had written was not intolerable in a society of gentlemen
and fatal to the comfort of the club. The committee resolved that Yates
must either apologise or resign his membership. Then Dickens, thinking the
committee were exceeding their powers, intervened on Yates's behalf; wrote
to Thackeray in a conciliatory strain, and asked if any conference could
be held between himself, as representing Yates, and some friend who should
represent Thackeray, with a view to arriving at a friendly settlement of
the unpleasantness. This apparently well-intentioned interference annoyed
Thackeray; he curtly replied that he preferred to leave his interests in
the hands of the club committee, and as a result he and Dickens were
bitterly estranged. That the friendship between two such men should have
been broken by such a petty incident was deplorable enough, but happily,
only a few days before Thackeray's death, they chanced to meet in the
lobby of the Athenæum, and by a mutual impulse each offered his hand to
the other, and the breach was healed.

In 1862 Thackeray made his last change of address, and went to No. 2
Palace Green, Kensington, a large and handsome house that he had built for
himself. Some of his friends thought that in building it he had spent his
money recklessly, but he did it in pursuance of the desire, that crops up
so frequently in his correspondence, to make some provision for the future
of his children; and when, after his death, it was sold for £2000 more
than it had cost him, he was sufficiently justified. It was in this house
that he finished _Philip_, and, having retired from the editing of the
_Cornhill_, began to write _Denis Duval_, but died on Christmas Eve 1863,
leaving it little more than well begun. When he was writing _Pendennis_ he
had been near death's door, and ever since he had suffered from attacks of
sickness almost every month. He was not well when his valet left him at
eleven on the night of the 23rd December; about midnight his mother, whose
bedroom was immediately over his, heard him walking about his room; at
nine next morning, when his valet went in with his coffee, he saw him
"lying on his back quite still, with his arms spread over the coverlet,
but he took no notice, as he was accustomed to see his master thus after
one of his attacks." Returning later, and finding the coffee untouched on
the table beside the bed, he felt a sudden apprehension, and was horrified
to discover that Thackeray was dead.

Yates has told how the rumour of his death ran through the clubs and was
soon all about the town, and of how, wherever it went, it left a cloud
over everything that Christmas Eve; and I have just turned up one of my
old _Cornhill_ volumes to read again what Dickens and Trollope wrote of
him in the number for February 1864. "I saw him first," says Dickens,
"nearly twenty-eight years ago, when he proposed to be the illustrator of
my earliest book. I saw him last, shortly before Christmas, at the
Athenæum Club, when he told me that he had been in bed three days--that
after these attacks he was troubled with cold shiverings, 'which quite
took the power of work out of him'--and that he had it in his mind to try
a new remedy, which he laughingly described. He was very cheerful, and
looked very bright. In the night of that day week, he died." Dickens goes
on to give little instances of his kindness, of his great and good nature;
and then describes how he was found lying dead. "He was only in his
fifty-third year; so young a man that the mother who blessed him in his
first sleep blessed him in his last." And says Trollope, no one is
thinking just then of the greatness of his work--"The fine grey head, the
dear face with its gentle smile, the sweet, manly voice which we knew so
well, with its few words of kindest greeting; the gait and manner, the
personal presence of him whom it so delighted us to encounter in our
casual comings and goings about the town--it is of these things, and of
these things lost for ever, that we are now thinking. We think of them as
treasures which are not only lost, but which can never be replaced. He who
knew Thackeray will have a vacancy in his heart's inmost casket which must
remain vacant till he dies. One loved him almost as one loves a woman,
tenderly and with thoughtfulness--thinking of him when away from him as a
source of joy which cannot be analysed, but is full of comfort. One who
loved him, loved him thus because his heart was tender, as is the heart of
a woman."



CHAPTER XV

DICKENS


Thackeray's London was practically bounded on the east by the Temple, or
perhaps by the Fleet Prison, which lay a little beyond the _Punch_ office;
it took in the Strand, Pall Mall, Piccadilly, and stretched out westward
round Belgravia, Mayfair, Chiswick, and such selecter quarters of the
town. But Dickens made the whole of London his province; you cannot go
into any part of it but he has been there before you; if he did not at one
time live there himself, some of his characters did. Go north through
Somers Town and Camden Town: the homes of his boyhood were there in Bayham
Street, in Little College Street, in the house that still stands at 13
Johnson Street, from which he walked daily to school at the Wellington
House Academy in Hampstead Road. He lived in Cleveland Street, Fitzroy
Square, and in Fitzroy Street, and whilst his father was a prisoner in the
Marshalsea for debt and he himself was labelling bottles at the blacking
factory in Hungerford Market, he had lodgings south of London Bridge in
Lant Street, which were the originals of the lodgings he gave to Bob
Sawyer in later years when he came to write _Pickwick_. When he was turned
twenty, and working as a Parliamentary reporter in the House of Commons,
and beginning to contribute his _Sketches by Boz_ to the _Monthly
Magazine_, he lived at 18 Bentinck Street, Cavendish Square. For a time he
had lodgings in Buckingham Street, Strand, and afterwards lodged David
Copperfield in the same rooms; he put up for a short time at Fulham before
his marriage at St. Luke's Church, Chelsea, in April 1836, and after a
brief honeymoon returned with his wife to the chambers in Furnival's Inn
that he had rented since the previous year. He had three other London
houses during his more prosperous days; then he quitted the town and went
to live at Gad's Hill Place, where he died in 1870. But even after he was
thus settled in Kent, he was continually up and down to the office of
_Household Words_, in Wellington Street, Strand, and for some part of
almost every year he occupied a succession of furnished houses round about
Hyde Park.

[Illustration: DICKENS. JOHNSON STREET. CAMDEN TOWN.]

A few months before his marriage he had started to write _Pickwick_, the
first monthly part of which appeared in March 1836. Before the end of next
month, Seymour, the artist who was illustrating that serial, having
committed suicide, Thackeray went up to the Furnival's Inn chambers with
specimens of his drawings in the hope of becoming his successor, but
Dickens rejected him in favour of Hablot K. Browne ("Phiz"), who also
illustrated most of his subsequent books. He had published the _Sketches
by Boz_ in two volumes, illustrated by Cruikshank, had written two
dramatic pieces that were very successfully produced at the St. James's
Theatre, had begun to edit _Bentley's Miscellany_, and was writing _Oliver
Twist_ for it, before he left Furnival's Inn and established his small
household of his wife and their first son and his wife's sister, Mary
Hogarth, at 48 Doughty Street, Mecklenburgh Square.

In later years Sala, who became one of Dickens's principal contributors to
_Household Words_, used to live in Mecklenburgh Square, and at different
times Sidney Smith, Shirley Brooks, and Edmund Yates all lived in Doughty
Street (Shirley Brooks was born there, at No. 52), but Doughty Street's
chief glory is that for the greater part of three years Dickens was the
tenant of No. 48. George Henry Lewes called to see him there, and was
perturbed to find that he had nothing on his bookshelves but three-volume
novels and presentation copies of books of travel; clearly he was not much
of a reader, and had never been a haunter of old bookstalls. But presently
Dickens came in, says Lewes, "and his sunny presence quickly dispelled all
misgivings. He was then, as to the last, a delightful companion, full of
sagacity as well as animal spirits; but I came away more impressed with
the fulness of life and energy than with any sense of distinction."

Mrs. Cowden Clarke, who saw him in his Doughty Street days, speaks of him
as "genial, bright, lively-spirited, pleasant-toned," and says he "entered
into conversation with a grace and charm that made it feel perfectly
natural to be chatting and laughing as if we had known each other from
childhood." His eyes she describes as "large, dark blue, exquisitely
shaped, fringed with magnificently long and thick lashes--they now swam in
liquid, limpid suffusion, when tears started into them from a sense of
humour or a sense of pathos, and now darted quick flashes of fire when
some generous indignation at injustice, or some high-wrought feeling of
admiration at magnanimity, or some sudden emotion of interest and
excitement touched him. Swift-glancing, appreciative, rapidly observant,
truly superb orbits they were, worthy of the other features in his manly,
handsome face. The mouth was singularly mobile, full-lipped, well-shaped,
and expressive; sensitive, nay restless, in its susceptibility to
impressions that swayed him, or sentiment that moved him." Which tallies
sufficiently with Carlyle's well-known description of him a few months
later: "A fine little fellow, Boz, I think. Clear, blue, intelligent eyes,
eyebrows that he arches amazingly; large, protrusive, rather loose mouth,
a face of most extreme mobility which he shuttles about--eyebrows, eyes,
mouth and all--in a very singular manner while speaking. Surmount this
with a loose coil of common-coloured hair, and set it on a small, compact
figure, very small, and dressed _â la_ D'Orsay rather than well--this is
Pickwick. For the rest, a quiet, shrewd-looking little fellow, who seems
to guess pretty well what he is and what others are." Forster sketches
his face at this same period with "the quickness, keenness, and practical
power, the eager, restless, energetic outlook on each several feature,
that seemed to tell so little of a student and writer of books, and so
much of a man of action and business in the world. Light and motion
flashed from every part of it." "It was as if made of steel," said Mrs.
Carlyle; and "What a face is his to meet in a drawing-room," wrote Leigh
Hunt. "It has the life and soul in it of fifty human beings."

Dickens's weakness, then and all his life through, was for something too
dazzling and ornate in the way of personal adornment. We hear of a green
overcoat with red cuffs. "His dress was florid," says one who met him: "a
satin cravat of the deepest blue relieved by embroideries, a green
waistcoat with gold flowers, a dress coat with a velvet collar and satin
facings, opulence of white cuff, rings in excess, made up a rather
striking whole." And there is a story of how, when an artist friend of
both was presented by somebody with a too gaudy length of material, Wilkie
Collins advised him to "Give it to Dickens--he'll make a waistcoat out of
it!"

[Illustration: DICKENS' HOUSE. DOUGHTY STREET.]

That jest belongs to a later year, but here you have a sufficiently vivid
presentment of the man as he was when he could be seen passing in and out
of the house in Doughty Street. He may have been dandified in appearance,
but in all his other habits he was a hard and severely methodical worker.
"His hours and days were spent by rule," we are told. "He rose at a
certain time, he retired at another, and though no precisian, it was not
often that his arrangements varied. His hours of writing were between
breakfast and luncheon, and when there was any work to be done no
temptation was sufficiently strong to cause it to be neglected. This order
and regularity followed him through the day. His mind was essentially
methodical, and in his long walks, in his recreations, in his labour, he
was governed by rules laid down by himself, rules well studied beforehand
and rarely departed from."

[Illustration: CHARLES DICKENS]

His rise out of poverty and obscurity into affluence and fame makes a more
wonderful story than that of how Byron woke one morning and found himself
famous. For Dickens had everything against him. He was indifferently
educated, had no social advantages, and no influential friends behind him.
In 1835 he was an unknown young author, writing miscellaneous stories and
sketches for the papers; by the end of 1836 everybody was reading and
raving of and laughing over _Pickwick_, and he was the most talked-of
novelist of the hour. "It sprang into a popularity that each part carried
higher and higher," says Forster, "until people at this time talked of
nothing else, tradesmen recommended their goods by using its name, and its
sale, outstripping at a bound that of all the most famous books of the
century, had reached an almost fabulous number." Judges, street boys, old
and young in every class of life, devoured each month's number directly it
appeared, and looked forward impatiently to the next one. Carlyle told
Forster that "an archdeacon, with his own venerable lips, repeated to me
the other night a strange, profane story of a solemn clergyman who had
been administering ghostly consolation to a sick person; having finished,
satisfactorily as he thought, and got out of the room, he heard the sick
person ejaculate: 'Well, thank God, _Pickwick_ will be out in ten days,
any way!'"

Dickens's favourite recreation in those early years was riding, and
frequently he would set out with Forster "at eleven in the morning for 'a
fifteen mile ride out, ditto in, and lunch on the road,' with a wind-up of
six o'clock dinner in Doughty Street." Other times he would send a note
round to Forster, who lived at 58 Lincoln's Inn Fields, and if he could be
persuaded to come, as generally he could, they would set out for a brisk
walk to Hampstead and over the Heath, and have "a red-hot chop for dinner
and a glass of good wine" at Jack Straw's Castle.

His daughter Mamie was born in Doughty Street, and there the first great
grief of his life completely overwhelmed him for a time, when his wife's
young sister, Mary Hogarth, died at the age of seventeen. There are
several letters from that address in 1838 concerning his progress with
_Oliver Twist_. In one, when he could not work, he says he is "sitting
patiently at home waiting for Oliver Twist, who has not yet arrived." In
another he writes, "I worked pretty well last night--very well indeed; but
although I did eleven close slips before half-past twelve I have four to
write to close the chapter; and as I foolishly left them till this
morning, have the steam to get up afresh." "Hard at work still," he writes
to Forster in August 1838. "Nancy is no more. I showed what I had done to
Kate last night, who is in an unspeakable '_state_'; from which and my own
impression I augur well. When I have sent Sykes to the devil I must have
yours." And "No, no," he wrote again to Forster next month, "don't, don't
let us ride till to-morrow, not having yet disposed of the Jew, who is
such an out-and-outer that I don't know what to make of him." Then one
evening Forster went to Doughty Street and sat in Dickens's study and
talked over the last chapter of _Oliver Twist_ with him, and remained
reading there whilst he wrote it.

From Doughty Street Dickens and "Phiz" set out together on that journey
into Yorkshire to see the notorious school that was to become famous as
Squeers's, and in due course there are letters from that street telling of
the progress of _Nicholas Nickleby_. Early in 1839 the letters tell of how
he is house-hunting, and in the intervals working "at racehorse speed" on
_Barnaby Rudge_, and near the end of the year he moved to 1 Devonshire
Terrace, at the corner of Marylebone Road.

The Doughty Street house remains as he left it, but 1 Devonshire Terrace
has been rather considerably altered. The new residence was such a much
more imposing one than the other that absurd rumours got about that he was
lapsing into extravagance and living beyond his income, and "I perfectly
remember," writes Sala, "when he moved from his modest residence in
Doughty Street to a much grander but still not very palatial house in
Devonshire Terrace, an old gentleman calling one day upon my mother and
telling her, with a grave countenance, that Dickens had pawned his plate,
and had been waited upon for the last fortnight by bailiffs in livery." It
was about this time, too, that the _Quarterly_ made its famous prediction
that in the case of work such as Dickens was doing "an ephemeral
popularity will be followed by an early oblivion." But there was no ground
for any of these fears. His life was a triumphal procession; he went
forward from victory to victory. At Devonshire Terrace he wrote most of
_Barnaby Rudge_: and the prototype of Grip, Barnaby's raven, the special
playmate of Dickens's children, died there; from here he went on his first
visit to America, and on his return, with intervals of holiday at
Broadstairs, in Cornwall, and in Italy, wrote the _American Notes_,
_Martin Chuzzlewit_, _The Chimes_, _The Cricket on the Hearth_, _Pictures
from Italy_, _Dombey and Son_, and commenced the writing of _David
Copperfield_. Whilst he was here, too, he was for a brief space the first
editor of the _Daily News_, and in March 1850 opened his Wellington Street
office and started _Household Words_. Incidentally, he was taking an
active share in a dozen or more public movements; acting as chairman at
meetings and dinners, managing and playing in private theatricals, writing
miscellaneous articles for his new magazine, and attending closely to its
business organisation. Never was a more strenuous literary worker, or one
who brought more enthusiasm to whatever he undertook.

In the autumn of 1851, in the flowing and rising tide of his prosperity,
he removed to the now vanished Tavistock House, in Tavistock Square, and
in the next six years, before his removal to Gad's Hill, wrote _Bleak
House_, _Hard Times_, and _Little Dorrit_, to say nothing of the numerous
short stories and articles he contributed to _Household Words_, and began
to give those public readings from his books that were in his last decade
to occupy so much of his time, add so enormously to his income and his
personal popularity, and play so sinister a part in the breaking down of
his health and the shortening of his career.

Writing immediately after Dickens's death, Sala said that twenty years ago
the face and form of Sir Robert Peel were familiar to almost everybody who
passed him in the street, and "there were as few last week who would have
been unable to point out the famous novelist, with his thought-lined face,
his grizzled beard, his wondrous searching eyes, his bluff presence and
swinging gait as, head aloft, he strode, now through crowded streets,
looking seemingly neither to the right nor the left, but of a surety
looking at and into everything--now at the myriad aspects of London life,
the ever-changing raree-show, the endless roundabout, the infinite
kaleidoscope of wealth and pauperism, of happiness and misery, of good and
evil in this Babylon--now over the pleasant meads and breezy downs which
stretched round his modest Kentish demesne hard by the hoary tower of
Rochester.... Who had not heard him read, and who had not seen his
photographs in the shop windows? The omnibus conductors knew him, the
street boys knew him; and perhaps the locality where his recognition would
have been least frequent--for all that he was a member of the Athenæum
Club--was Pall Mall. Elsewhere he would make his appearance in the oddest
places, and in the most inclement weather: in Ratcliff Highway, on
Haverstock Hill, on Camberwell Green, in Gray's Inn Lane, in the
Wandsworth Road, at Hammersmith Broadway, in Norton Folgate, and at Kensal
New Town.... His carriage was remarkably upright, his mien almost
aggressive in its confidence--a bronzed, weatherworn, hardy man, with
somewhat of a seaman's air about him." London folks would draw aside, he
continues, "as the great writer--who seemed always to be walking a match
against Thought--strode on, and, looking after him, say, 'There goes
Charles Dickens!' The towering stature, the snowy locks, the glistening
spectacles, the listless, slouching port, as that of a tired giant, of
William Makepeace Thackeray were familiar enough likewise but,
comparatively speaking, only to a select few. He belonged to Clubland, and
was only to be seen sauntering there or in West End squares, or on his
road to his beloved Kensington.... Thackeray in Houndsditch, Thackeray in
Bethnal Green or at Camden Town, would have appeared anomalous ... but
Charles Dickens, when in town, was ubiquitous."

There are statues in London of many smaller men, of many who mean little
or nothing in particular to London, but there is none to Dickens, and
perhaps he needs none. Little critics may decry him, but it makes no
difference, it takes nothing from his immortality. "It is fatuous," as
Trollope said of his work, "to condemn that as deficient in art which has
been so full of art as to captivate all men." And to the thousands of us
who know the people and the world that he created he is still ubiquitous
in London here, even though he has his place for ever, as Swinburne says,
among the stars and suns that we behold not:

  "Where stars and suns that we behold not burn,
     Higher even than here, though highest was here thy place,
       Love sees thy spirit laugh and speak and shine
   With Shakespeare and the soft bright soul of Sterne,
     And Fielding's kindliest might and Goldsmith's grace;
       Scarce one more loved or worthier love than thine."



CHAPTER XVI

CONCLUSION


When I was writing of what remains to us of the London of Shakespeare, I
might have mentioned the four-century-old gateway of Lincoln's Inn, in
Chancery Lane, that Ben Jonson helped to build, and close by which, at 24
Old Buildings, Cromwell's secretary, John Thurloe, lived in 1654; and
although in my first chapter I gave a fairly lengthy list of famous
authors and artists who were Cockneys by birth, I by no means made it so
long as I could have done. Hablot K. Browne, otherwise "Phiz," the chief
of Dickens's artists, was born in Kennington, and lived for eight years,
towards the close of his career, at 99 Ladbroke Grove Road; Lord Lytton,
whom Tennyson unkindly described as "the padded man that wears the stays,"
and who was for a time a more popular novelist than either Dickens or
Thackeray, was born at 31 Baker Street, and lived in after years at 12
Grosvenor Square, and at 36 Hertford Street; Gibbon was born at Putney,
and lived for some years at 7 Bentinck Street, which he said was "the best
house in the world"; John Leech was born over his father's coffee-shop in
Ludgate Hill, and lived when he had risen to fame at 32 Brunswick Square,
and passed the last years of his life at 6 The Terrace, Kensington; and
one who I confess interests me at least as much as any of these,
Douglas Jerrold, was born in Greek Street, Soho, lived as a boy at Broad
Court, in the same neighbourhood, and afterwards shifted about into
half-a-dozen different parts of London, and died in 1857 at Kilburn
Priory, on the skirts of St. John's Wood. West Lodge, his house at Lower
Putney Common, still stands much as it was when he occupied it, with his
mulberry tree still growing in that garden round which, one memorable
summer afternoon, he and Dickens, Forster, Maclise, and Macready gave each
other "backs," and played a joyously undignified game of leapfrog. I don't
know whether anybody reads _Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures_ now, but
everybody read them and laughed over them when they were new, and
Jerrold's best jokes and witticisms are much too well known to leave me an
excuse for repeating any of them here. For all his bitter tongue, he was
kind, generous, sensitive, afire with a fine scorn of wrong, injustice,
and every variety of social humbug and snobbery. "A small
delicately-formed, bent man," is Edmund Yates's recollection of him, "with
long grey hair combed back from his forehead, with grey eyes deep-set
under penthouse brows, and a way, just as the inspiration seized him, of
dangling a double-eyeglass which hung round his neck by a broad black
ribbon."

[Illustration: THURLOE'S LODGINGS. 24 OLD SQUARE. LINCOLN'S INN.]

Browning, who was born at Hanover Cottage, Southampton Street, Camberwell,
in 1812, lived at De Vere Gardens, and at 19 Warwick Crescent. Removing
from 74 Gloucester Place in 1842, Elizabeth Barrett and her autocratic
father went to 50 Wimpole Street, and calling there with a friend in 1845,
Robert Browning was introduced to her. It was from and to this house that
so many of those wonderful love-letters of theirs were written, and little
more than a year after their first meeting, her father stubbornly refusing
his consent to their union, she stole out by this sedate and sombre door
one autumn morning to join her waiting lover, and they were quietly and
clandestinely married at the old church round the corner in Marylebone
Road--the same church in which, in the same year, Dickens, then living at
Devonshire House and within sight of it, married Mr. Dombey, with Captain
Cuttle looking on at the ceremony from the gallery.

At 82 Wimpole Street Wilkie Collins died; and at 67, lived Henry Hallam,
the historian, and his son Arthur, the friend of Tennyson, who often
visited him there, and has enshrined his memory for ever in his _In
Memoriam_; where, too, he pictures this house and this street:

  "Dark house, by which once more I stand
     Here in the long unlovely street,
     Doors, where my heart was used to beat
   So quickly, waiting for a hand.

   A hand that can be clasped no more--
     Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
     And like a guilty thing I creep
   At earliest morning to the door.

   He is not here; but far away
     The noise of life begins again,
     And ghastly thro' the drizzling rain
   On the bald street breaks the blank day."

Theodore Hook, another Cockney, was born in Charlotte Street, Bedford
Square; Captain Marryat, another, in Great George Street, Westminster,
and whilst he was writing the most famous of his books he lived at 8 Duke
Street, St. James's, and at Sussex Lodge, in the Fulham Road. Ruskin, who,
like Browning, is included in my earlier list of Cockneys, was born at 54
Hunter Street, and made his home for many years at 163 Denmark Hill, both
of which houses still survive him.

[Illustration: CAPTAIN MARRYAT. DUKE STREET. ST. JAMES.]

Benjamin Franklin lived at 7 Craven Street, Strand; before he rented a
house in London after Johnson's death, Boswell had lodgings, on his annual
visits to town, in Half Moon Street, Piccadilly, in Conduit Street, Regent
Street, and in Old Bond Street; where Sterne dwelt before him and Gibbon
after him, and at 27A, Harrison Ainsworth, later than them all; but
Ainsworth's more notable residence, where he lived when he was in the full
glory of his enormous popularity, is Kensal House, out in the
no-longer-rural district of Kensal Green.

[Illustration: BENJAMIN FRANKLIN'S HOUSE. CRAVEN STREET.]

At 19 Albert Gate, Sloane Street, lived Charles Reade, who was nearly all
his life quarrelling with his critics and fighting against legal
injustices with an almost ungovernable fury, and yet David Christie Murray
said he was one of the four men he had met who were "distinguished by that
splendid urbanity of manner which was once thought to express the acme of
high breeding.... A beautiful, stately cordiality commonly marked his
social manner, but he could be moved to a towering rage by an act of
meanness, treachery, or oppression; and in his public correspondence he
was sometimes downright vitriolic." Anthony Trollope died at 34 Welbeck
Street; and Lord Macaulay at Holly Lodge on Campden Hill. George
Cruikshank lived in the queer, dull-looking little house that still
remains at 263 Hampstead Road, and from that address put forth his
groundless claims to being the originator of Ainsworth's novels, _Jack
Sheppard_ and _The Miser's Daughter_, and Dickens's _Oliver Twist_.
Ainsworth was still living, and strenuously denied his assertions; Dickens
was dead, but there existed a letter of his about the illustrations to his
book that sufficiently proved that the story was not written round
Cruickshank's drawings, as the aged artist seemed to have persuaded
himself it was. A greater artist than Cruickshank (and another Cockney, by
the way) was born in Cumberland Market, near Regent's Park, and died in a
sponging-house in Eyre Street Hill, Clerkenwell Road, in 1804. That was
George Morland. Two years before his death he went with his wife and put
up at the Bull Inn, at Highgate, which was kept by a former acquaintance
of his. He is supposed to have utilised as a studio the large room with
three bay windows that runs above the bar the full width of the building.
He entertained Gainsborough and Romney and other contemporary artists
there, but within a few months had had a fierce quarrel with the landlord
and returned to lodge with his brother in Dean Street, Soho. He was by
then showing the effects of his reckless dissipations, and looked
"besotted and squalid and cadaverous; hanging cheeks and pinched nose,
contracted nostrils, bleared and bloodshot eyes, swelled legs, a palsied
hand, and tremulous voice bespeaking the ruin of what had once been the
soundest of frames." Drunk or sober, he worked rapidly and with unfailing
mastery, but he was generally cheated by those around him of the due
reward of his labours. Going on a short holiday to Brighton, he wrote
giving his brother this list of what he had drunk in a single day:
"Hollands gin, rum and milk--before breakfast. Coffee--for breakfast.
Hollands, porter, shrub, ale, Hollands, port wine and ginger, bottled
ale--these before dinner. Port wine at dinner. Porter, bottled porter,
punch, porter, ale, opium and water. Port wine at supper. Gin, shrub, and
rum on going to bed." At the bottom of the list he sketched a tombstone
bearing a skull and crossbones, and by way of epitaph: "Here lies a
drunken dog." And debts and duns and death in the sponging-house were the
inevitable end of it.

[Illustration: CRUIKSHANK. 263 HAMPSTEAD ROAD.]

Lady Blessington held her brilliant salon at 8 Seamore Place, Mayfair,
before in 1836 she removed to the more noted Gore House, Kensington, and
welcomed to her splendid drawing-rooms Byron, Lytton, Disraeli, Landor,
Marryat, Dickens, Thackeray, Sydney Smith, Maclise, Hook, and all the
greatest men of the day in literature, art, politics, and society, till in
1849 she was overwhelmed with financial embarrassments and fled to Paris,
where she died the year after. Gore House has vanished from its place
long since, and the Albert Hall more than covers the site of it. But
Holland House, which was equally or more celebrated for its magnificent
social gatherings in the first half of last century and earlier, still
holds its ground. Addison lived there after his marriage to the Countess
of Warwick in 1716, and from his bedroom there, in his last hours, sent
for his dissipated stepson in order that he might see "how a Christian can
die."

[Illustration: ROBERT BROWNING]

[Illustration: GEORGE MORLAND. THE "BULL INN" HIGHGATE.]

Perhaps more interesting than either of these, from a literary standpoint,
is the house of Samuel Rogers, 22 St. James's Place, overlooking the Green
Park. You can scarcely open the memoirs of any man of letters of his time,
but you may read some account of a breakfast or a dinner at Rogers's.
"What a delightful house it is!" says Macaulay. "It looks out on the Green
Park just at the most pleasant point. The furniture has been selected with
a delicacy of taste quite unique.... In the drawing-room the
chimney-pieces are carved by Flaxman into the most beautiful Grecian
forms. The bookcase is painted by Stothard, in his very best manner, with
groups from Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Boccaccio. The pictures are not
numerous, but every one is excellent. The most remarkable objects in the
dining-room are, I think, a cast of Pope, taken after death by Roubiliac;
a noble model in terra-cotta by Michael Angelo, from which he afterwards
made one of his finest statues, that of Lorenzo de Medici; and, lastly, a
mahogany table on which stands an antique vase. When Chantrey dined with
Rogers some time ago he took particular notice of the vase and the table
on which it stands, and asked Rogers who made the table. 'A common
carpenter,' said Rogers. 'Do you remember the making of it?' said
Chantrey. 'Certainly,' said Rogers, in some surprise; 'I was in the room
while it was finished with the chisel, and gave the workman directions
about placing it.' 'Yes,' said Chantrey, 'I was the carpenter.'" Byron,
who was a guest at Holland House and at Lady Blessington's, was a frequent
guest at Rogers's table also. It was Rogers who introduced him to Miss
Milbanke, the unfortunate lady who was to become his wife; and Byron seems
by turns to have admired him, disliked him, and looked upon him with a
sort of laughing contempt. "When Sheridan was on his deathbed," he writes,
"Rogers aided him with purse and person: this was particularly kind in
Rogers, who always spoke ill of Sheridan (to me, at least); but indeed he
does that of everybody. Rogers is the reverse of the line 'The best good
man with the worst-natured Muse,' being 'The worst good man with the
best-natured Muse.' His Muse being all sentiment and sago, while he
himself is a venomous talker. I say 'worst good man,' because he is
(perhaps) a good man--at least he does good now and then, as well he may,
to purchase himself a shilling's worth of Salvation for his Slanders. They
are so _little_, too--small talk, and old womanny; and he is malignant
too, and envious."

[Illustration: ROGERS. ST. JAMES'S PLACE. FROM GREEN PARK.]

Rogers had a fine head, a distinguished manner, a bland, silky way of
saying the most cutting and cynical things. He was not so much a poet as a
banker of a poetical temperament. His poetry will presently be forgotten,
but his breakfasts and his dinners will be remembered because he lived to
be well over ninety, was a very wealthy man of taste, and had the will and
the means to play the generous host to some three generations of the
wisest, wittiest, greatest men of his era, and several of them said
brighter and better things in his dining and drawing-rooms than he ever
wrote in his books. He covered such a long span of time that he could
entertain Sheridan, who was born in 1751, and Dickens, who died in 1870.
Many of the same glorious company had a meeting-place also until a more
recent day at Bath House, Mayfair, where Lady Ashburton, the great friend
of the Carlyles, held famous receptions, of which Carlyle himself and the
Brookfields have left us reminiscences. And the invaluable Allingham has
one or two notes about her in his _Diary_; one dated 5th November 1875, in
which he says Carlyle passed his house "about four to-day. I overtook him
in the Fulham Road, and walked with him to Lady Ashburton's door at
Knightsbridge. He said, 'Browning in his young days wore a turn-down shirt
collar with a ribbon for a necktie, and a green coat. I first met him one
evening at Leigh Hunt's, a modest youth, with a good strong face and a
head of dark hair. He said little, but what he said was good.'" Possibly
the talk fell upon him because Browning was among the guests he was to
meet that day at Lady Ashburton's.

[Illustration: BORROW'S HOUSE. HEREFORD SQUARE.]

William Morris and Burne Jones lived and worked together at 17 Red Lion
Square; Steele used to live in Bloomsbury Square, where later Disraeli and
his father lived, at No. 5. George Borrow lived at 23 Hereford Square,
South Kensington. Berkeley Square has a peculiar attraction for me, less
because Horace Walpole had his home at 42, than because Colley Cibber
dwelt as a very old man at No. 20. In the same way I am not so much drawn
to Gower Street by the fact that in a greatly altered house there Darwin
used to live, as I am to that shabby Percy Street, Tottenham Court Road,
where Albert Smith had a house at which Sala once visited him. Walpole and
Darwin are, of course, incomparably greater men than Cibber and Albert
Smith, but these last two have a curious fascination for me. I read
Smith's _Christopher Tadpole_ and _The Scattergood Family_ when I was a
boy, and his figure flits elusively in the background of Dickens's
reputation, wrapped in a very characteristic mid-Victorian bohemianism,
and, without precisely knowing why, I have taken a sort of liking to him.
Sala says he was a kind, cheery little man, who when he was at work at
home wore a blue blouse. "I recall him," he says, "as a sturdy-looking,
broad-shouldered, short-necked man, with grey eyes and flowing locks of
light brown, and large side-whiskers; later in life he wore a beard. His
voice was a high treble." His study in Percy Street was littered always
with French novels, dolls, pipes, cheap jewellery, cakes of soap made in
the image of fruit, minature Swiss châlets, fancy costumes, and such a
miscellany of odds and ends that it had the appearance of an old curiosity
shop. As for Cibber, I began by feeling contempt for him, because of the
scorn Pope pours on him in _The Dunciad_, and the character for dulness
that was imposed upon him by that savage satirist and his host of
imitators. But when I read some of Cibber's comedies (such as _The
Careless Husband_, and _Love Makes a Man_) I found them amusing and clever
in their fashion, certainly not dull, and when I dropped one day into the
National Portrait Gallery and saw that coloured bust of him under a glass
case and leering through the glass eyes that have been fitted into his
head--I succumbed, and acquired a sneaking regard for the gay old coxcomb
that is not yet beginning to cool. You cannot read his plays and his
delightful _Apology_ for his Life without getting interested in him; and
then if you go and look at that bust you will feel that you know the sly,
witty, shrewd, ruddy-visaged, not over clean, furtive, leery old rascal as
intimately as if you had been acquainted with him in the flesh.

But if one set out to write of the homes and haunts of these minor
celebrities this book would be endless; moreover, many amongst them that
have some peculiar attraction for me might have no interest for any one
else; and many that for special reasons mean a great deal to you might
mean nothing at all to me. So, as the wiser course, I have, in the main,
limited my survey to the houses of men and women who are considerable
enough to be known, more or less, by every one who has even a nodding
acquaintance with literature, and to that extent my chronicle is at an
end.



INDEX


  Addison, Joseph, 3, 28, 150, 339

  Addison Bridge Place, 199, 203

  Adelphi Terrace, 114, 223, 233

  Ainsworth, W. Harrison, 238, 334, 337

  Akenside, Mark, 3, 28, 150

  Albany, The, 199

  Albemarle Street, 181

  Albert Gate, Sloane Street, 334

  Albion Street, 296

  Aldermanbury, 19

  Aldersgate Street, 12, 17, 19

  Aldford Street, 178, 181

  Aldgate, 4

  Allingham, William, 259, 262, 276, 280, 281, 285, 343, 344

  Ampton Street, 275

  Arbuthnot, John, 31, 150

  Archer, Thomas, 2

  Argyll Place, 167

  ---- Street, 167

  Arlington Road, 245

  Ashburton, Lady, 343, 344

  Atterbury, Francis, 31

  Austin, Alfred, 253

  Avenue Road, 245

  Ayrton, William, 207


  Bacon, Francis (Lord Verulam), 6

  Baillie, Joanna, 145, 194

  Baker Street, 328

  Balmanno, Mary, 233

  Barbauld, Mrs., 146, 220

  Barber, Francis, 102

  Barham, R. H., 238

  Barrett, Elizabeth, 331, 332

  Bartholomew Close, 19, 38, 50

  Barton, Bernard, 219, 222, 226

  Basire, James, 118, 120

  Bath House, Mayfair, 343

  Bathurst, Dr., 94

  Battersea, 26-35, 260

  Bayham Street, 314

  Beauclerk, Topham, 63, 114

  Beaumont, Francis, 20

  Bellott, Stephen, 14, 15, 16

  Bennet Street, 194

  Bentinck Street, 315, 328

  Berkeley Square, 344

  Besant, Sir Walter, 146

  Bird-in-Hand Court, Cheapside, 23

  Bishopsgate, 10

  Blackstone, Sir William, 80

  Blake, William, 9, 118-139, 271

  Blandford Square, 245

  Blessington, Lady, 338

  Bloomfield, Robert, 3

  Bloomsbury Square, 344

  Bolingbroke, Henry St. John, Viscount, 26-35, 106

  Bolingbroke House, 26-35

  Bolt Court, 90, 117

  Bond Street, 265

  Boner, Charles, 279

  Borrow, George, 344

  Boswell, James, 59, 71, 79, 81, 82, 85, 86, 93-117, 118, 334

  Bouverie Street, 181

  Bow Lane, 19

  ---- Street, 90

  Brawne, Fanny, 154, 156, 160, 163, 164, 165

  Bread Street, Cheapside, 4, 19

  Broad Street, Soho, 9, 118, 119, 130, 167

  Brontë, Charlotte, 303

  Brooks, Shirley, 316

  Brown, Charles Armitage, 154, 164, 166

  Browne, Hablot K. ("Phiz"), 316, 323, 328

  Browne, Sir Thomas, 4

  Browning, Robert, 9, 259, 281, 331, 332, 344

  Brunswick Square, 328

  Buckingham Street, Euston Road, 135

  ---- ---- Strand, 200, 315

  Bunhill Row, 19

  Burbage, Richard, 13

  Burke, Edmund, 59, 88

  Burne-Jones, Sir Edward, 76, 344

  Burney, Dr. Charles, 56, 106, 114

  ---- Fanny, 56

  Burns, Robert, 194, 198

  Butts, Thomas, 124

  Byron, Lord, 9, 67, 68, 155, 167, 193-199, 200, 203, 286, 287, 321, 338,
        340


  Cade, Jack, 10

  Camberwell, 236

  Campbell, Thomas, 200

  Campden Hill, 334

  Cannon Street, 10, 18

  Canonbury Tower, 76

  Carew, Thomas, 20

  Carlyle, Mrs., 279, 285, 286, 292, 318

  ---- Thomas, 96, 198, 205, 210, 262, 263, 275-286, 291, 292, 293, 294,
        296, 303, 304, 317, 321, 343, 344

  Carter Lane, 12

  Cary, Rev. H. F., 51

  Castle Street, Cavendish Square, 89

  ---- ---- Leicester Square, 63

  Cattermole, George, 238

  Cave, Edward, 88, 102

  Chancery Lane, 4, 328

  Charing Cross, 3, 4, 224

  Charlotte Street, 144, 332

  Charterhouse, 94, 188, 281, 296

  Chaucer, Geoffrey, 4

  Cheapside, 2, 4, 5, 17, 19, 20, 23, 24

  Chelsea, 254, 255-293

  Cheshire Cheese, the, 108

  Chesterfield, Lord, 103-105

  Chesterton, G. K., 128

  Cheyne Row, 275-286

  Cheyne Walk, 254, 255, 256-265, 273-275

  Chiswick, 36-51

  Christ's Hospital, 200

  Churchill, Charles, 6, 44, 47, 48

  Cibber, Colley, 28, 344, 347

  Clarke, Cowden, 156, 240

  ---- Mrs. Cowden, 317

  Cleveland Street, 314

  Clifford's Inn, 220

  Cloth Fair, 10

  Cobbett, William, 200

  Colebrook Row, 219, 220, 221, 223, 224

  Coleridge, S. T., 156, 199-206, 208, 212, 213, 214, 215, 216, 223

  College Street, Kentish Town, 163

  Collins, Wilkie, 146, 318, 332

  Colman, George, 67

  Colvin, Sir Sidney, 150

  Condell, Henry, 19

  Conduit Street, Regent Street, 334

  Congreve, William, 150

  Constable, John, 143-145, 153

  Cornhill, 1, 2, 6

  Cornwall, Barry, 216, 238

  Coryat, Thomas, 19

  Covent Garden, 41, 109, 135, 200, 216, 217, 218

  Cowley, Abraham, 4

  Cranbourne Street, 38

  Craven Street, Strand, 50, 334

  Cripplegate, 6, 19

  Cross, John, 254

  Cruikshank, George, 238, 316, 334, 337

  Cumberland Market, 337

  Cunningham, Allan, 43, 59


  Darwin, Charles, 344

  Davies, Thomas, 109, 110, 113

  Day, Thomas, 187-193

  Dean Street, 41, 167, 338

  Defoe, Daniel, 6

  Dekker, Thomas, 19

  Denmark Hill, 334

  Dennis, John, 32, 220

  De Quincey, Thomas, 168-177, 206

  De Stael, Madame, 167

  De Vere Gardens, 331

  Devereux Court, 3

  Devil Tavern, 19, 108

  Devonshire Terrace, 239, 323, 332

  Dibdin, Charles, 245

  Dickens, Charles, 3, 146, 149, 153, 238, 239, 250, 286, 287, 294, 300,
        311, 312, 313, 314-327, 328, 331, 332, 334, 337, 338, 343, 344

  ---- Mrs., 303, 322

  Dilke, Wentworth, 154, 156

  Disraeli, Benjamin (Lord Beaconsfield), 167, 338, 344

  ---- Isaac, 344

  Dobson, Austin, 294

  Dodsley, Robert, 96

  Donne, Dr. John, 4, 19

  Doughty Street, 316, 317, 318, 322, 323

  Dowden, Dr., 181

  Down Street, 280

  Dryden, John, 167

  Duke Street, 333

  Du Maurier, George, 146

  Dyer, George, 220, 232


  East Smithfield, 4

  Edmonton, 8, 225, 226-232

  Edwardes Square, 293

  Eliot, George, 245-254, 255

  Elm Tree Road, 233, 236, 238, 239, 240

  Ely Place, 10

  Emerson, R. W., 280, 281

  Enfield, 223, 225, 226

  Exeter Street, 89


  Felpham, 127, 136

  Fetter Lane, 90

  Fielding, Henry, 43, 71, 72

  Fields, Ticknor, 303

  Finchley Road, 237, 242

  Fitzgerald, Edward, 142, 153, 303, 305

  ---- Percy, 89

  Fitzosbert, William, 1

  Fitzroy Square, 273

  ---- Street, 314

  Flaxman, John, 120-139, 140, 167

  Fleet Street, 4, 8, 89, 108, 109, 181

  Fleming, Mrs., 76, 79

  Fletcher, John, 4, 18, 20

  Forster, John, 87, 149, 238, 294, 295, 318, 321, 322, 323, 331

  Fountain Court, 131, 134

  Franklin, Benjamin, 49, 334

  Friday Street, 18, 20

  Frith Street, 167, 181, 185

  Froude, J. A., 279

  Fulham Road, 266, 333

  Fuller, Thomas, 20

  Furnival's Inn, 315, 316


  Gad's Hill Place, 315, 324

  Gainsborough, Thomas, 64, 67, 130, 153, 337

  Gamble, Ellis, 38, 39

  Garrick, David, 43, 48, 50, 59, 96, 103, 110, 114, 153

  ---- Mrs., 114

  Garth, Sir Samuel, 31

  Gay, John, 31, 150

  Gerrard Street, 42, 59, 167

  Gibbon, Edward, 328

  Gilchrist, Alexander, 123, 124, 131

  Gilman, Mr., 156, 223

  Globe Theatre, 12, 13, 18, 19

  Gloucester Place, 331

  Godwin, Mary, 181

  ---- William, 216

  Goldsmith, Oliver, 59, 63, 68, 71, 76, 79, 80, 81, 82, 85, 86, 87, 88,
        153

  Gore House, Kensington, 338

  Gough Square, 90, 95-109

  Gower, John, 18

  Gower Street, 344

  Gray, Thomas, 6

  Gray's Inn, 90

  Great Coram Street, 296

  ---- George Street, 333

  ---- Newport Street, 56

  ---- Portland Street, 117

  ---- Queen Street, 117, 118

  Greaves, Walter, 260, 262, 273

  Greek Street, 168-177

  Green Street, 120

  Greene, Robert, 13

  Grosvenor Square, 328


  Half Moon Street, 334

  Hall, S. C., 185

  Hallam, Arthur, 332

  ---- Henry, 332

  Hamilton, Lady, 142

  ---- Sir William, 275

  Hammersmith, 200, 271, 294

  Hampstead, 140-166

  Hampstead Road, 314, 334

  Hannay, James, 300

  Harley Street, 271

  Harmsworth, Cecil, 90

  Harry, M. Gerard, 266

  Hawkesworth, Dr. John, 94, 102, 103

  Hawkins, Sir John, 63, 93, 94, 108

  Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 294

  Haydon, Benjamin, 135, 156, 158, 181, 210

  Hayley, William, 124, 134, 140, 142

  Hazlitt, Mrs., 220

  ---- William, 39, 156, 167, 181-186, 200, 203, 204, 205, 207, 216

  Heminge, John, 19

  Hercules Buildings, Lambeth, 123-124

  Hereford Square, 344

  Herrick, Robert, 5

  Hertford Street, 328

  Highgate, 156, 157, 199, 223, 259, 337

  Hind, Lewis, 271

  Hobbes, Thomas, 3

  Hogarth, Mary, 322

  ---- Mrs., 50-51

  ---- William, 36-51, 56, 63, 68, 79, 150

  Hogg, T. J., 177

  Holborn, 90, 226

  Holcroft, Thomas, 216

  Holland House, 339

  Holles Street, 9, 193

  Hone, William, 158, 223

  Hood, Thomas, 9, 223, 233, 235-245

  Hook, Theodore, 332, 338

  Hungerford Market, 314

  Hunt, Holman, 9

  ---- Leigh, 68, 153, 155, 156, 158, 210, 285, 286-295, 318, 344

  Hunter Street, 334


  Irving, Washington, 38

  Islington, 76, 79, 219-221

  Isola, Emma, 227, 228, 231

  Ivy Lane, 94, 108


  Jeffrey, Francis, 275

  Jerrold, Douglas, 239, 294, 331

  Johnson, Mrs., 97, 98, 101

  ---- Samuel, 3, 33, 43, 50, 52, 59, 60, 63, 68, 71, 72, 79, 81, 82, 86,
        88, 89-117, 275

  Johnson Street, 314

  Johnson's Court, 90

  Jonson, Ben, 4, 19, 20


  Keats, John, 6, 23, 153-166

  Kemble, John, 167

  Kemp, William, 13

  Kensal Green, 334

  Kensington, 293, 296, 299, 303-306, 311, 328, 338, 339

  ---- Gardens, 300

  Kilburn Priory, 331

  King Street, Covent Garden, 200

  Kingsley, Charles, 255

  ---- Henry, 255

  Kit-Kat Club, 150

  Knight, Joseph, 256


  Ladbroke Grove Road, 328

  Lamb, Charles, 6, 9, 39, 40, 51, 80, 86, 130, 156, 186, 200, 206,
        207-232, 233, 234, 235, 236, 240, 241, 287

  ---- Mary, 209, 213, 215, 216, 220, 222, 223, 224, 225, 226, 231, 233,
        234

  Landor, Walter Savage, 208, 338

  Landseer, Sir Edwin, 238

  Langland, John, 1

  Langton, Bennet, 63, 72, 103

  Lant Street, 314

  Leathersellers' Buildings, 3

  Lecky, Mrs., 281

  Leech, John, 328

  Leicester Square, 38, 39, 49, 52, 59, 60, 63, 81, 86, 88, 117, 120

  Lennox, Mrs., 108

  Levett, Robert, 102, 103

  Lewes, George Henry, 249, 253, 316

  Lincoln's Inn Fields, 149, 322

  Little College Street, 314

  ---- Queen Street, 212

  Lloyd, Charles, 215

  Locke, John, 207

  Lombard Street, 6

  London Bridge, 24

  ---- Stone, 10

  Loudon Road, 245

  Ludgate Hill, 328

  Lytton, Lord, 242, 250, 328, 338


  Macaulay, Lord, 334, 340

  Maclise, Daniel, 149, 239, 255, 331, 338

  Macready, W. C., 331

  Maiden Lane, 271

  Manning, Thomas, 211

  Marchmont Street, 181

  Marryat, Captain, 238, 333, 338

  Marston, Philip Bourke, 9

  Marylebone Road, 288, 323, 332

  Massinger, Philip, 18

  Mathews, Charles, 197

  Matthew, Mrs., 120, 134

  Mawson Row, Chiswick, 36

  Mecklenburgh Square, 316

  Medwin, 177

  Meredith, George, 255

  Mermaid Tavern, 18, 19, 20

  Middleton, Thomas, 4

  Milbanke, Anna Isabella, 194, 197, 199, 340

  Mill, John Stuart, 9, 275

  Milnes, Moncton (Lord Houghton), 238

  Milton, John, 4, 19

  Monkwell Street, 14, 15, 16, 19

  Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley, 28

  Moore, Thomas, 67, 194

  Moorfields, 6, 153

  More, Hannah, 114

  Morland, George, 337, 338

  Morris, William, 37, 344

  Mount Street, 178

  Mountjoy, Christopher, 14, 15, 16, 17

  Moxon, Edward, 227, 228, 231

  Mulready, William, 167

  Munday, Anthony, 19

  Munro, Alexander, 281

  Murray, David Christie, 334

  ---- John, 198


  New Street, 135

  Newgate Street, 200

  Newman Street, Oxford Street, 63

  Newton, Sir Isaac, 52-56, 207

  Nollekens, Joseph, 39, 140

  Norfolk Street, Strand, 200

  North Bank, 245

  ---- End, Fulham, 71, 72, 73

  Northcote, James, 167


  Old Bond Street, 197, 334

  Old Buildings, Lincoln's Inn, 328

  Onslow Square, 306

  Opie, Mrs., 198

  Oxford Street, 168, 169, 174


  Palace Green, Kensington, 311

  Pall Mall, 64, 200, 205

  Parson's Green, 71

  Patmore, P. G., 185, 211

  Peckham Rye, 118

  Peel, Sir Robert, 242, 325

  Pennell, Mr. and Mrs. J., 260, 261, 265, 266, 267, 268

  Percy, Bishop, 117

  ---- Street, Tottenham Court Road, 344, 347

  Philip, Mrs. and Miss Birnie, 267, 268

  Phillips, Sir Richard, 51

  Piccadilly, 199, 334

  Poland Street, 123, 167, 177, 178

  Pope, Alexander, 6, 26-35, 36, 106, 150, 155, 347

  Pope's Head Alley, 2

  Poultry, the, 9

  Praed, W. Mackworth, 88

  Prior, Matthew, 3

  Putney, 255, 295, 328, 331


  Queen Anne Street, 271, 272, 273, 274

  Quiney, Richard, 12


  Raleigh, Sir Walter, 20

  Ralph, James, 36

  Reade, Charles, 334

  Red Lion Square, 344

  Reynolds, John Hamilton, 156, 223

  ---- Sir Joshua, 33, 56, 59, 60, 63, 64, 67, 81, 86, 88, 103, 110, 114,
        117, 130, 141, 153, 271

  Richardson, Samuel, 42, 68, 71-75, 97

  Ritchie, Lady Thackeray, 299, 300, 305, 306

  Robert Street, Adelphi, 223, 233

  Roberts, David, 272, 273

  Robinson, Crabb, 130, 233

  Rogers, Samuel, 67, 145, 194, 200, 203, 205, 339-343

  Romney, George, 135, 140-143, 337

  Rossetti, Christina, 9

  ---- Dante Gabriel, 9, 255, 259, 260, 261

  ---- W. M., 255

  Rowan Road, 294

  Rowley, William, 19

  Ruskin, John, 9, 265, 281, 334

  Russell Square, 303

  Russell Street, Covent Garden, 109, 216, 217, 218, 219


  St. Andrew Undershaft, 10

  St. Anne's, Soho, 186

  St. Bartholomew the Great, 10

  St. Clement Danes, 89, 108

  St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, 10

  St. James's Place, 339

  ---- Street, 199

  St. John's Wood, 233, 236-245, 253, 254, 288, 331

  St. Martin's Street, 52

  St. Olave, Silver Street, 15, 16

  St. Saviour's, Southwark, 10, 19

  Sala, George Augustus, 316, 323, 325, 326, 344, 347

  Salisbury Court, 42

  Savile Row, 68

  Scott, Sir Walter, 145, 197

  Seamore Place, 338

  Selden, John, 20

  Shakespeare, Edmund, 18

  ---- William, 6, 10-24, 106, 328

  Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 156, 167, 177-181, 206, 287, 288, 294

  Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, 67, 68, 194, 340, 343

  Shirley, James, 4

  Silver Street, 14, 16, 17

  Smith, Albert, 344, 347

  Smith, J. T. ("Rainy Day"), 120, 140

  Smith, Sidney, 316, 338

  Smollett, Tobias, 255

  Soho, 41, 42, 56, 59, 118-123, 130, 167-186, 338

  Soho Square, 167, 168

  Southampton Street, Camberwell, 331

  South Moulton Street, 127, 129, 131

  Southey, Robert, 223

  Southwark, 10, 11

  Spencer, Herbert, 245

  Spenser, Edmund, 4

  Stanfield, Clarkson, 146, 149, 238, 272

  Staple Inn, 10, 90, 109

  Steele, Richard, 3, 150, 344

  Sterne, Laurence, 334

  Stevenson, Robert Louis, 150, 241

  Stothard, Thomas, 134, 271

  Strand, 6, 7, 8, 90, 105, 131, 315

  Stubbs, Bishop, 3

  Sullivan, Sir Arthur, 9

  Swift, Jonathan, 27, 31, 150

  Swinburne, A. C., 9, 255, 327


  Talfourd, T. N., 210, 216

  Tavistock Square, 324

  Taylor, John, 160

  Temple Bar, 19

  Temple, Rev. T. W., 117

  Temple, the, 6, 7, 10, 72, 80, 87, 177, 207, 216, 218, 296, 304

  Tennyson, Alfred, Lord, 142, 150, 328, 332

  Terrace, the, Kensington, 328

  Thackeray, W. M., 88, 153, 208, 242, 296-313, 314, 315, 326, 328, 338

  Thames Street, 4, 18

  Thomson, James, 27

  Thornhill, Sir James, 41, 42, 52, 167

  Thrale, Mrs., 63

  Thurloe, John, 328

  Tite Street, 265, 266

  Tower, the, 10

  Trollope, Anthony, 312, 313, 326, 334

  Turk's Head, 42

  Turner, J. M. W., 9, 260, 268-275

  Turpin, Dick, 153

  Twickenham, 31, 32, 35, 271


  Upper Cheyne Row, 286, 288, 291-293


  Vale, the, Chelsea, 266

  Vine Street, Westminster, 6


  Wallace, Charles William, 12, 14, 15

  Walpole, Horace, 255, 344

  Wanstead, 236

  Warburton, William, 33

  Wardour Street, 135

  Warton, Joseph, 28, 94

  Warwick Crescent, 331

  Watts, G. F., 262

  Watts-Dunton, Theodore, 23, 255

  Webster, John, 4

  Welbeck Street, 334

  Wellclose Square, 187

  Wellington Street, Strand, 315, 324

  West, Benjamin, 43, 63

  Westbrook, Harriett, 178, 181

  Westminster, 6, 333

  ---- Abbey, 10, 134

  Whistler, James McNeill, 39, 256, 259-268, 271

  Whitefriars Street, 2

  Wilderness Row, Clerkenwell, 296

  Wilkes, John, 44

  Wilkins, George, 15, 19

  Williams, Anna, 101, 102, 106

  Will's Coffee House, 216

  Wimbledon Park Road, 245-253

  Wimpole Street, 265, 331, 332

  Winchmore Hill, 236

  Wine Office Court, 76, 108

  Wood Street, Cheapside, 17, 19

  Woodstock Street, 89

  Wordsworth, William, 7, 8, 145, 205, 208, 216, 220, 222, 225, 226


  Yates, Edmund, 309, 310, 311, 312, 316, 331

  Young Street, Kensington, 296, 299, 303, 304, 305, 306


  Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO.
  Edinburgh & London.



Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _italics_.

Superscripted characters are indicated by {superscript}.





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