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Title: Letters from England, Volume 1 (of 3)
Author: Espriella, Don Manuel Alvarez
Language: English
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                     DON MANUEL ALVAREZ ESPRIELLA.

                      TRANSLATED FROM THE SPANISH.


                           IN THREE VOLUMES.

                                VOL. I.


                             THIRD EDITION.



                        BROWN, PATERNOSTER-ROW.





                  Printed by James Ballantyne and Co.



                           BY THE TRANSLATOR.


The remarks of Foreign Travellers upon our own country have always been
so well received by the Public, that no apology can be necessary for
offering to it the present Translation, The Author of this work seems to
have enjoyed more advantages than most of his predecessors, and to have
availed himself of them with remarkable diligence. He boasts also of his
impartiality: to this praise, in general, he is entitled; but there are
some things which he has seen with a jaundiced eye. It is manifest that
he is bigotted to the deplorable superstitions of his country; and we
may well suppose that those parts of the work in which this bigotry is
most apparent, have not been improved by the aid for which he thanks his
Father Confessor. The Translator has seldom thought it necessary to
offer any comments upon the palpable errors and mis-statements which
this spirit has sometimes occasioned: the few notes which he has annexed
are distinguished by the letters TR.




A volume of Travels rarely or never, in our days, appears in Spain: in
England, on the contrary, scarcely any works are so numerous. If an
Englishman spends the summer in any of the mountainous provinces, or
runs over to Paris for six weeks, he publishes the history of his
travels; and if a work of this kind be announced in France, so great a
competition is excited among the London booksellers, that they import it
sheet by sheet as it comes from the press, and translate and print it
piece-meal. The greater number of such books must necessarily be of
little value: all, however, find readers, and the worst of them adds
something to the stock of general information.

We seldom travel; and they among us who do, never give their journals to
the public. Is it because literature can hardly be said to have become a
trade among us, or because vanity is no part of our national character?
The present work, therefore, is safe from comparison, and will have the
advantage of novelty. If it subject me to the charge of vanity myself, I
shall be sorry for the imputation, but not conscious of deserving it. I
went to England under circumstances unusually favourable, and remained
there eighteen months, during the greater part of which I was
domesticated in an English family. They knew that it was my intention to
publish an account of what I saw, and aided me in my enquiries with a
kindness which I must ever remember. My remarks were communicated, as
they occurred, in letters to my own family, and to my Father Confessor;
and they from time to time suggested to me such objects of observation
as might otherwise perhaps have been overlooked. I have thought it
better to revise these letters, inserting such matter as further
research and more knowledge enabled me to add, rather than to methodize
the whole; having observed in England, that works of this kind wherein
the subjects are presented in the order wherein they occurred, are
always better received than those of a more systematical arrangement:
indeed, they are less likely to be erroneous, and their errors are more
excusable, in those letters which relate to the state of religion, I
have availed myself of the remarks with which my Father Confessor
instructed me in his correspondence. He has forbidden me to mention his
name; but it is my duty to state, that the most valuable observations
upon this important subject, and, in particular, those passages in which
the Fathers are so successfully quoted, would not have enriched these
volumes, but for his assistance.

In thus delineating to my countrymen the domestic character and habits
of the English, and the real state of England, I have endeavoured to be
strictly impartial; and, if self-judgment may in such a case be trusted,
it is my belief that I have succeeded. Certainly, I am not conscious of
having either exaggerated or extenuated any thing in any the slightest
degree—of heightening the bright or the dark parts of the picture for
the sake of effect—of inventing what is false, nor of concealing what is
true, so as to lie by implication. Mistakes and misrepresentations there
may, and, perhaps, must be: I hope they will neither be found numerous
nor important, as I know they are not wilful; and I trust that whatever
may be the faults and errors of the work, nothing will appear in it
inconsistent with that love of my country, which I feel in common with
every Spaniard; and that submission, which, in common with every
Catholic, I owe to the Holy Church.



                                 OF THE

                             FIRST VOLUME.


                               LETTER I.


            Arrival at Falmouth.—Custom House.—Food       1
              of the English.—Noise and Bustle at
              the Inn

                               LETTER II.

            Mode of                                       8
              of the Country.—Bodmin.—Earth-Coal the
              common Fuel.—Launceston.—Excellence of
              the Inns and Roads.—Okehampton.—Exeter

                              LETTER III.

            Exeter Cathedral and public                  24
              Walk.—Libraries.— Honiton.—Dangers of
              English Travelling, and Cruelty with
              which it is

                               LETTER IV.

            Dorchester.—Gilbert Wakefield.—Inside of     37
              an English Church.—Attempt to rear
              Alteration of the Cathedral.—Instance
              of public Impiety

                               LETTER V.

            Old Sarum.—Country thinly                    54
              peopled.—Basingstoke.—Ruins of a
              Catholic Chapel.—Waste Land near
              London.—Staines.—Iron Bridges.—Custom
              of exposing the dead Bodies of
              Brentford.—Approach to London.—Arrival

                               LETTER VI.

            Watchmen.—Noise in London Night and          65
              Morning.—An English Family.—Advice to

                              LETTER VII.

            General Description of London.—Walk to       72
              the Palace.—Crowd in the
              Streets.—Shops.—Cathedral of St
              Paul.—Palace of the Prince of
              Wales.—Oddities in the Shop Windows

                              LETTER VIII.

            Proclamation of Peace.—The English do        85
              not understand
              Pageantry.—Illumination.—M. Otto’s
              House.—Illuminations better managed at

                               LETTER IX.

            Execution of Governor Wall                   97

                               LETTER X.

            Martial Laws of England.—Limited Service    109
              advised.—Hints for Military Reform

                               LETTER XI.

            Shopmen, why preferred to Women in          119
              England.—Division of London into the
              East and West Ends.—Low State of

                              LETTER XII.

            Causes of the Change of Ministry not        127
              generally understood.—Catholic
              Emancipation.—The Change acceptable to
              the Nation.—State of Parties.—Strength
              of the new Administration.—Its good
              Effects.—Popularity of Mr Addington

                              LETTER XIII.

            Dress of the English without Variety.—      137
              Coal-heavers.—Post-men.—Art of
              knocking at the Door.—Inscriptions
              over the Shops.—Exhibitions in the
              Sports originally religious

                              LETTER XIV.

            Description of the Inside, and of the       149
              Furniture, of an English House

                               LETTER XV.

            English Meals.—Clumsy Method of             164
              Butchery.—Lord Somerville.—Cruel
              Manner of killing certain
              Animals.—Luxuries of the

                              LETTER XVI.

            Informers.—System upon which they           173
              act.—Anecdotes of their
              Rascality.—Evil of encouraging
              them.—English Character a Compound of

                              LETTER XVII.

            The Word _Home_ said to be peculiar to      180
              the English.—Propriety of the
              Assertion questioned.—Comfort.—Curious

                             LETTER XVIII.

            Drury-Lane Theatre.—The Winter’s            187
              Tale.—Kemble.—Mrs Siddons.—Don Juan

                              LETTER XIX.

            English Church Service.—Banns of            200
              Marriage.—Inconvenience of having the
              Sermon a regular Part.—Sermons an
              Article of Trade.—Popular
              Preachers.—Private Chapels

                               LETTER XX.

            Irreverence of English towards the          215
              Virgin Mary and the Saints.—Want of
              Ceremonies in their Church.—Festival
              Dainties.—Traces of Catholicism in
              their Language and Oaths.—Disbelief of
              Purgatory.—Fatal Consequences of this
              Error.—Supposed Advantages of the
              Schism examined.—Clergy not so
              numerous as formerly

                              LETTER XXI.

            Show of Tulips.—Florists.—Passion for       228
              Rarities in England Queen Anne’s
              Farthings.—Male Tortoise-shell
              Cat.—Collectors.—The King of

                              LETTER XXII.

            English Coins.—Paper Currency.—Frequent     241
              Executions for Forgery.—Doctor
              Dodd.—Opinion that Prevention is the
              End of Punishment.—This End not
              answered by the Frequency of
              Executions.—Plan for the Prevention of
              Forgery rejected by the Bank

                             LETTER XXIII.

            Westminster Abbey.—Legend of its            256
              Consecration.—Its single Altar in bad
              Taste.—Gothic or English
              Architecture.—Monuments.—Banks the
              Sculptor.—Wax-work.—Henry the
              Seventh’s Chapel.—Mischievous
              Propensity of the People to mutilate
              the Monuments

                              LETTER XXIV.

            Complexion of the English contradictory     274
              to their historical
              Theories.—Christian Names, and their
              Diminutives.—System of Surnames.—Names
              of the Months and Days.—Friday the
              unlucky Day.—St Valentine.—Relics of

                              LETTER XXV.

            Vermin imported from all                    285
              Shooting.—Destruction of the
              Game.—Rural Sports

                              LETTER XXVI.

            Poor-Laws.—Work-Houses.—Sufferings of       294
              the Poor from the Climate.—Dangerous
              State of England during the
              Scarcity.—The Poor not bettered by the
              Progress of Civilization

                             LETTER XXVII.

            Saint Paul’s.—Anecdote of a female          307
              Esquimaux.—Defect of Grecian
              Architecture in cold
              Climates.—Nakedness of the
              Church.—Monuments.—Pictures offered by
              Sir Joshua Reynolds, &c. and
              refused.—Ascent.—View from the Summit

                             LETTER XXVIII.

            State of the English Catholics.—Their       322
              prudent Silence in the Days of
              Jacobitism.—The Church of England
              jealous of the Dissenters.—Riots in
              1780.—Effects of the French
              Revolution.—The Re-establishment of
              the Monastic Orders in England.—Number
              of Nunneries and Catholic
              Seminaries.—The Poor easily
              converted.—Catholic Writers.—Dr Geddes

                              LETTER XXIX.

            Number of Sects in England, all             333
              appealing to the
              of Socinianism, and its probable

                              LETTER XXX.

            Watering Places.—Taste for the              346

                              LETTER XXXI.

            Journey to Oxford.—Stage-Coach              354
              Travelling and Company



                         LETTERS FROM ENGLAND.


                               LETTER I.

_Arrival at Falmouth.—Custom House.—Food of the English.—Noise and
    Bustle at the Inn._

                                              Wednesday, April 21, 1802.

I write to you from English ground. On the twelfth morning after our
departure from Lisbon we came in sight of the Lizard, two light-houses
on the rocks near the Land’s End, which mark a dangerous shore. The day
was clear, and showed us the whole coast to advantage; but if these be
the white cliffs of England, they have been strangely magnified by
report: their forms are uninteresting, and their heights diminutive; if
a score such were piled under Cape Finisterre, they would look like a
flight of stairs to the Spanish mountains. I made this observation to
J—, who could not help acknowledging the truth, but he bade me look at
the green fields. The verdure was certainly very delightful, and that
not merely because our eyes were wearied with the gray sea: the
appearance was like green corn, though approaching nearer I perceived
that the colour never changed; for the herb, being kept short by cattle,
does not move with the wind.

We passed in sight of St Maurs, a little fishing-town on the east of the
bay, and anchored about noon at Falmouth. There is a man always on the
look-out for the packets; he makes a signal as soon as one is seen, and
every woman who has a husband on board gives him a shilling for the
intelligence. I went through some troublesome forms upon landing, in
consequence of the inhospitable laws enacted at the beginning of the
war. There were then the vexatious ceremonies of the custom-house to be
performed, where double fees were exacted for passing our baggage at
extraordinary hours. J— bade me not judge of his countrymen by their
sea-ports: it is a proverb, said he, “that the people at these places
are all either birds of passage, or birds of prey”; it is their business
to fleece us, and ours to be silent.—Patience where there is no
remedy!—our own aphorism, I find, is as needful abroad as at home. But
if ever some new Cervantes should arise to write a mock heroic, let him
make his hero pass through a custom-house on his descent to the infernal

The inn appeared magnificent to me; my friend complained that it was
dirty and uncomfortable. I cannot relish their food: they eat their meat
half raw; the vegetables are never boiled enough to be soft; and every
thing is insipid except the bread, which is salt, bitter, and
disagreeable. Their beer is far better in Spain, the voyage and the
climate ripen it. The cheese and butter were more to my taste; _manteca_
indeed is not butter, and the Englishman[1] who wanted to call it so at
Cadiz was as inaccurate in his palate as in his ideas. Generous wines
are inordinately dear, and no others are to be procured; about a dollar
a bottle is the price. What you find at the inns is in general miserably
bad; they know this, and yet drink that the host may be satisfied with
their expences: our custom of paying for the house-room is more
economical, and better.

Footnote 1:

  This blunder has been applied to the French word _eau_. Which ever may
  be original, it certainly ought not to be palmed upon an

Falmouth stands on the western side of the bay, and consists of one long
narrow street which exhibits no favourable specimen either of the
boasted cleanliness or wealth of the English towns. The wealthier
merchants dwell a little out of the town upon the shore, or on the
opposite side of the bay at a little place called Flushing. The harbour,
which is very fine, is commanded by the castle of Pendennis; near its
mouth there is a single rock, on which a pole is erected because it is
covered at high tide. A madman not many years ago carried his wife here
at low water, landed her on the rock, and rowed away in sport; nor did
he return till her danger as well as fear had become extreme.

Some time since the priest of this place was applied to to bury a
certain person from the adjoining country. “Why, John,” said he to the
sexton, “we buried this man a dozen years ago:” and in fact it appeared
on referring to the books of the church that his funeral had been
registered ten years back. He had been bed-ridden and in a state of
dotage during all that time; and his heirs had made a mock burial, to
avoid certain legal forms and expenses which would else have been
necessary to enable them to receive and dispose of his rents. I was also
told another anecdote of an inhabitant of this town, not unworthy of a
stoic:—His house was on fire; it contained his whole property; and when
he found it was in vain to attempt saving any thing, he went upon the
nearest hill and made a drawing of the conflagration:—an admirable
instance of English phlegm!

The perpetual stir and bustle in this inn is as surprising as it is
wearisome. Doors opening and shutting, bells ringing, voices calling to
the waiter from every quarter, while he cries “Coming,” to one room, and
hurries away to another. Every body is in a hurry here; either they are
going off in the packets, and are hastening their preparations to
embark; or they have just arrived, and are impatient to be on the road
homeward. Every now-and-then a carriage rattles up to the door with a
rapidity which makes the very house shake. The man who cleans the boots
is running in one direction, the barber with his powder-bag in another;
here goes the barber’s boy with his hot water and razors; there comes
the clean linen from the washer-woman; and the hall is full of porters
and sailors bringing in luggage, or bearing it away;—now you hear a horn
blow because the post is coming in, and in the middle of the night you
are awakened by another because it is going out. Nothing is done in
England without a noise, and yet noise is the only thing they forget in
the bill!


                               LETTER II.

_Mode of Travelling.—Penryn.—Truro.—Dreariness of the
    Country.—Bodmin.—Earth-Coal the common Fuel.—Launceston.—Excellence
    of the Inns and Roads.—Okehampton.—Exeter._

                                                     Thursday, April 22.

Early in the morning our chaise was at the door, a four-wheeled carriage
which conveniently carries three persons. It has glass in front and at
the sides, instead of being closed with curtains, so that you at once
see the country and are sheltered from the weather. Two horses drew us
at the rate of a league and a half in the hour;—such is the rapidity
with which the English travel. Half a league from Falmouth is the little
town of Penryn, whose ill-built and narrow streets seem to have been
contrived to make as many acute angles in the road, and take the
traveller up and down as many steep declivities as possible in a given
distance. In two hours we reached Truro, where we breakfasted: this meal
is completely spoilt by the abominable bitterness of the bread, to which
I shall not soon be able to reconcile myself. The town is clean and
opulent; its main street broad, with superb shops, and a little gutter
stream running through it. All the shops have windows to them; the
climate is so inclement that it would be impossible to live without
them. J— showed me where some traveller had left the expression of his
impatience written upon the wainscot with a pencil—“Thanks to the Gods
another stage is past”—for all travellers are in haste here, either on
their way home, or to be in time for the packet. When we proceeded the
day had become dark and overclouded;—quite English weather:—I could
scarcely keep myself warm in my cloak: the trees have hardly a tinge of
green, though it is now so late in April. Every thing has a coarse and
cold appearance: the heath looks nipt in its growth, and the
hedge-plants are all mean and insignificant: nettles, and thistles, and
thorns, instead of the aloe, and the acanthus, and the arbutus, and the
vine. We soon entered upon a track as dreary as any in Estremadura; mile
after mile the road lay straight before us; up and down long hills,
whose heights only served to show how extensive was the waste.

Mitchel-Dean, the next place to which we came, is as miserable as any of
our most decayed towns; it is what they call a rotten borough: that is,
it has the privilege of returning two members to parliament, who
purchase the votes of their constituents, and the place has no other
trade:—it has indeed a very rotten appearance. Even the poorest houses
in this country are glazed: this, however, proves rather the inclemency
of the climate than the wealth of the people. Our second stage was to a
single house called the Indian Queens, which is rather a post-house than
an inn. These places are not distinguished by a bush, though that was
once the custom here also, but by a large painting swung from a sort of
gallows before the door, or nailed above it, and the house takes its
name from the sign. Lambs, horses, bulls, and stags, are common;
sometimes they have red lions, green dragons, or blue boars, or the head
of the king or queen, or the arms of the nearest nobleman. One
inconvenience attends their mode of travelling, which is, that at every
stage the chaise is changed, and of course there is the trouble of
removing all the baggage.

The same dreary country still lay before us; on the right there was a
wild rock rising at once from the plain, with a ruin upon its summit.
Nothing can be more desolate than the appearance of this province, where
most part of the inhabitants live in the mines. “I never see the greater
part of my parishioners,” said a clergyman here, “till they come up to
be buried.” We dined at Bodmin, an old town which was once the chief
seat of religion in the district, but has materially suffered since the
schism; ill-built, yet not worse built than situated, being shadowed by
a hill to the south; and to complete the list of ill contrivances, their
water is brought through the common burial-place. They burn earth-coal
every where; it is a black shining stone, very brittle, which kindles
slowly, making much smoke, and much ashes: but as all the houses are
built with chimneys, it is neither unwholesome nor disagreeable. An
Englishman’s delight is to stir the fire; and I believe I shall soon
acquire this part of their manners, as a means of self-defence against
their raw and chilly atmosphere. The hearth is furnished with a round
bar to move the coals, a sort of forceps to arrange them, and a small
shovel for the cinders; all of iron, and so shaped and polished as to be
ornamental. Besides these, there is what they call the fender, which is
a little moveable barrier, either of brass or polished steel, or
sometimes of wire painted green and capt with brass, to prevent the live
embers from falling upon the floor. The grates which confine the fire
are often very costly and beautiful, every thing being designed to
display the wealth of the people; even the bars, though they are
necessarily blackened every day by the smoke, are regularly brightened
in the morning, and this work is performed by women. In good houses the
chimneys have a marble frontal, upon the top of which vases of alabaster
or spar, mandarins from China, flower-stands, or other ornaments, are

After dinner we proceeded to Launceston; the country improved upon us,
and the situation of the place as we approached, standing upon a hill,
with the ruins of the castle which had once commanded it, reminded me of
our Moorish towns. We arrived just as the evening was closing; our
chaise wheeled under the gateway with a clangor that made the roof ring;
the waiter was at the door in an instant; by the time we could let down
the glass, he had opened the door and let the steps down. We were shown
into a comfortable room; lights were brought, the twilight shut out, the
curtains let down, the fire replenished. Instead of oil, they burn
candles made of tallow, which in this climate is not offensive; wax is
so dear that it is used by only the highest ranks.

Here we have taken our tea; and in the interval between that and supper,
J— is reading the newspaper, and I am minuting down the recollections of
the day. What a country for travelling is this! such rapidity on the
road! such accommodations at the resting-places! We have advanced
fourteen leagues to-day without fatigue or exertion. When we arrive at
the inn there is no apprehension lest the apartments should be
pre-occupied; we are not liable to any unpleasant company; we have not
to send abroad to purchase wine and seek for provisions; every thing is
ready; the larder stored, the fire burning, the beds prepared; and the
people of the house, instead of idly looking on, or altogether
neglecting us, are asking our orders and solicitous to please. I no
longer wonder at the ill-humour and fastidiousness of Englishmen in

                  *       *       *       *       *

                                                       Friday, April 23.

Launceston castle was formerly used as a state prison. There were
lazar-houses here and at Bodmin when leprosy was common in England. They
attributed this disease to the habit of eating fish, and especially the
livers; the fresher they were the more unwholesome they were thought.
Whatever has been the cause, whether change of diet, or change of dress,
it has totally disappeared.

The Tamar, a clear shallow and rapid stream, flows by Launceston, and
divides Cornwall from Devonshire. The mountainous character of the
river, the situation of the town rising behind it, its ancient
appearance, and its castle towering above all, made so Spanish a scene,
that perhaps it pleased me the more for the resemblance; and I would
willingly for a while have exchanged the chaise for a mule, that I might
have loitered to enjoy it at leisure. The English mode of travelling is
excellently adapted for every thing, except for seeing the country.

We met a stage-waggon, the vehicle in which baggage is transported, for
sumpter-beasts are not in use. I could not imagine what this could be; a
huge carriage upon four wheels of prodigious breadth, very wide and very
long, and arched over with cloth, like a bower, at a considerable
height: this monstrous machine was drawn by eight large horses, whose
neck-bells were heard far off as they approached; the carrier walked
beside them, with a long whip upon his shoulder, as tall again as
himself, which he sometimes cracked in the air, seeming to have no
occasion to exercise it in any other manner; his dress was different
from any that I had yet seen, it was a sort of tunic of coarse linen,
and is peculiar to this class of men. Here would have been an adventure
for Don Quixote! Carrying is here a very considerable trade: these
waggons are day and night upon their way, and are oddly enough called
flying waggons, though of all machines they travel the slowest, slower
than even a travelling funeral. The breadth of the wheels is regulated
by law, on account of the roads, to which great attention is paid, and
which are deservedly esteemed objects of national importance. At certain
distances gates are erected and toll-houses beside them, where a regular
tax is paid for every kind of conveyance in proportion to the number of
horses and wheels; horsemen and cattle also are subject to this duty.
These gates are rented by auction; they are few or frequent, as the
nature of the soil occasions more or less expense in repairs: no tax can
be levied more fairly, and no public money is more fairly applied.
Another useful peculiarity here is, that where the roads cross or branch
off a directing post is set up, which might sometimes be mistaken for a
cross, were it in a Catholic country. The distances are measured by the
mile, which is the fourth of a league, and stones to mark them are set
by the way-side, though they are often too much defaced by time or by
mischievous travellers to be of any use.

The dresses of the peasantry are far less interesting than they are in
our own land; they are neither gay in colour, nor graceful in shape;
that of the men differs little in make from what the higher orders wear.
I have seen no goats; they are not common, for neither their flesh nor
their milk is in use; the people seem not to know how excellent the milk
is, and how excellent a cheese may be made from it. All the sheep are
white, and these also are never milked. Here are no aqueducts, no
fountains by the way-side.

Okehampton, which we next came to, stands in the county of Devonshire;
here also is a ruined castle on its hill, beautifully ivyed, and
standing above a delightful stream. There was in our room a series of
prints, which, as they represented a sport peculiar to England,
interested me much: it was the hunting the hare. The first displayed the
sportsmen assembled on horseback, and the dogs searching the cover: in
the second they were in chace, men and dogs full speed, horse and
horseman together leaping over a high gate,—a thing which I thought
impossible, but J— assured me that it was commonly practised in this
perilous amusement: in the third they were at fault, while the poor hare
was stealing away at a distance: the last was the death of the hare, the
huntsman holding her up and winding his horn, while the dogs are leaping
round him.

This province appears far more fertile than the one we have quitted; the
wealth of which lies under ground. The beauty of the country is much
injured by inclosures, which intercept the view, or cut it into patches;
it is not, however, quite fair to judge of them in their present
leafless state. The road was very hilly, a thick small rain came on, and
prevented us from seeing any thing. Wet as is the climate of the whole
island, these two western provinces are particularly subject to rain;
for they run out between the English and Bristol channels, like a
peninsula; in other respects their climate is better, the temperature
being considerably warmer; so that sickly persons are sent to winter
here upon the south coast. Much cyder is made here: it is a far
pleasanter liquor than their beer, and may indeed be considered as an
excellent beverage by a people to whom nature has denied the grape. I
ought, perhaps, to say, that it is even better than our country wines;
but what we drank was generous cyder, and at a price exceeding that
which generous wine bears with us; so that the advantage is still ours.

We only stopped to change chaises at our next stage; the inn was not
inviting in its appearance, and we had resolved to reach Exeter to a
late dinner. There were two busts in porcelain upon the chimney-piece,
one of Buonaparte, the other of John Wesley, the founder of a numerous
sect in this land of schismatics; and between them a whole-length figure
of Shakespeare, their famous dramatist. When J— had explained them to
me, I asked him which of the three worthies was the most popular.
“Perhaps,” said he, “the Corsican just at present; but his is a
transient popularity; he is only the first political actor of the day,
and, like all other stage-players, must one day give way to his
successors, as his predecessors have given way to him. Moreover, he is
rather notorious than popular; the king of Prussia was a favourite with
the people, and they hung up his picture as an alehouse sign, as they
had done prince Eugene before him, and many a fellow gets drunk under
them still; but no one will set up Buonaparte’s head as an invitation.
Wesley, on the contrary, is a saint with his followers, and indeed with
almost all the lower classes. As for Shakespeare, these people know
nothing of him but his name; he is famous in the strictest sense of the
word, and his fame will last as long as the English language; which by
God’s blessing will be as long as the habitable world itself.” “He is
your saint!” said I, smiling at the warmth with which he spake.

At length we crossed the river Exe by a respectable bridge, and
immediately entered the city of Exeter, and drove up a long street to an
inn as large as a large convent. Is it possible, I asked, that this
immense house can ever be filled by travellers? He told me in reply,
that there were two other inns in the city nearly as large, besides many
smaller ones; and yet, that the last time he passed through Exeter, they
were obliged to procure a bed for him in a private dwelling, not having
one unoccupied in the house.


                              LETTER III.

_Exeter Cathedral and Public Walk.—Libraries.—Honiton.—Dangers
    of English Travelling, and Cruelty with which it is

                                                     Saturday, April 24.

If the outside of this New London Inn, as it is called, surprised me, I
was far more surprised at the interior. Excellent as the houses appeared
at which we had already halted, they were mean and insignificant
compared with this. There was a sofa in our apartment, and the sideboard
was set forth with china and plate. Surely, however, these articles of
luxury are misplaced, as they are not in the slightest degree necessary
to the accommodation of a traveller, and must be considered in his bill.

Exeter is an ancient city, and has been so slow in adopting modern
improvements that it has the unsavoury odour of Lisbon. One great street
runs through the city from east to west; the rest consists of dirty
lanes. As you cross the bridge, you look down upon a part of the town
below, intersected by little channels of water. The cathedral is a fine
object from those situations where both towers are seen, and only half
the body of the building, rising above the city. It cannot be compared
with Seville, or Cordova, or Burgos; yet certainly it is a noble pile.
Even the heretics confess that the arches, and arched windows, and
avenues of columns, the old monuments, the painted altar, and the
coloured glass, impress them with a feeling favourable to religion. For
myself, I felt that I stood upon ground, which, desecrated as it was,
had once been holy.

Close to our inn is the entrance of the Norney or public walk. The trees
are elms, and have attained their full growth: indeed I have never seen
a finer walk; but every town has not its Norney[2] as with us its
_alameda_. I was shown a garden, unique in its kind, which has been made
in the old castle ditch. The banks rise steeply on each side; one of the
finest poplars in the country grows in the bottom, and scarcely overtops
the ruined wall. Jackson, one of the most accomplished men of his age,
directed these improvements; and never was accident more happily
improved. He was chiefly celebrated as a musician; but as a man of
letters, his reputation is considerable; and he was also a painter: few
men, if any, have succeeded so well in so many of the fine arts. Of the
castle itself there are but few remains; it was named Rougemont, from
the colour of the red sandy eminence on which it stands, and for the
same reason the city itself was called by the Britons The Red City.

Footnote 2:

  The author seems to have mistaken this for a general name.—TR.

In most of the English towns they have what they call circulating
libraries: the subscribers, for an annual or quarterly payment, have two
or more volumes at a time, according to the terms; and strangers may be
accommodated on depositing the value of the book they choose. There are
several of these in Exeter, one of which, I was told, was considered as
remarkably good, the bookseller being himself a man of considerable
learning and ability. Here was also a literary society of some
celebrity, till the French revolution, which seems to have disturbed
every town, village, and almost every family in the kingdom, broke it
up. The inhabitants in general are behindhand with their countrymen in
information and in refinement. The streets are not flagged, neither are
they regularly cleaned, as in other parts of the kingdom; the
corporation used to compel the townspeople to keep their doors clean, as
is usual in every English town; but some little while ago it was
discovered, that, by the laws of the city, they had no authority to
insist upon this; and now the people will not remove the dirt from their
own doors, because they say they cannot be forced to do it. Their
politics are as little progressive as their police: to this day, when
they speak of the Americans, they call them the rebels. Everywhere else,
this feeling is extinguished among the people, though it still remains
in another quarter. When Washington died, his will was published in the
newspapers; but in those which are immediately under ministerial
influence, it was suppressed by high authority. It was not thought
fitting that any respect should be paid to the memory of a man whom the
Sovereign considered as a rebel and a traitor.

The celebrated Priestley met with a singular instance of popular hatred
in this place. A barber who was shaving him heard his name in the midst
of the operation;—he dropt his razor immediately, and ran out of the
room exclaiming, “that he had seen his cloven foot.”

I bought here a map of England, folded for the pocket, with the roads
and distances all marked upon it. I purchased also a book of the roads,
in which not only the distance of every place in the kingdom from
London, and from each other, is set down, but also the best inn at each
place is pointed out, the name mentioned of every gentleman’s seat near
the road, and the objects which are most worthy a traveller’s notice.
Every thing that can possibly facilitate travelling seems to have been
produced by the commercial spirit of this people.

As the chief trade of Exeter lies with Spain, few places have suffered
so much by the late war. We departed about noon the next day; and as we
ascended the first hill, looked down upon the city and its cathedral
towers to great advantage. Our stage was four leagues, along a road
which, a century ago, when there was little travelling, and no care
taken of the public ways, was remarkable as the best in the West of
England. The vale of Honiton, which we overlooked on the way, is
considered as one of the richest landscapes in the kingdom: it is indeed
a prodigious extent of highly cultivated country, set thickly with
hedges and hedge-row trees; and had we seen it either in its full summer
green, or with the richer colouring of autumn, perhaps I might not have
been disappointed. Yet I should think the English landscape can never
appear rich to a southern eye: the verdure is indeed beautiful and
refreshing, but green fields and timber trees have neither the variety
nor the luxuriance of happier climates. England seems to be the paradise
of sheep and cattle; Valencia of the human race.

Honiton, the town where we changed chaises, has nothing either
interesting or remarkable in its appearance, except that here, as at
Truro, a little stream flows along the street, and little cisterns or
basons, for dipping places, are made before every door. Lace is
manufactured here in imitation of the Flanders lace, to which it is
inferior because it thickens in washing; the fault is in the thread. I
have reason to remember this town, as our lives were endangered here by
the misconduct of the innkeeper. There was a demur about procuring
horses for us; a pair were fetched from the field, as we afterwards
discovered, who had either never been in harness before, or so long out
of it as to have become completely unmanageable. As soon as we were shut
in, and the driver shook the reins, they ran off—a danger which had been
apprehended; for a number of persons had collected round the inn door to
see what would be the issue. The driver, who deserved whatever harm
could happen to him, for having exposed himself and us to so much
danger, had no command whatever over the frightened beasts; he lost his
seat presently, and was thrown upon the pole between the horses; still
he kept the reins, and almost miraculously prevented himself from
falling under the wheels, till the horses were stopped at a time when we
momently expected that he would be run over and the chaise overturned.
As I saw nothing but ill at this place, so have I heard nothing that is
good of it: the borough is notoriously venal; and since it has become so
the manners of the people have undergone a marked and correspondent

This adventure occasioned considerable delay. At length a chaise
arrived; and the poor horses, instead of being suffered to rest, weary
as they were, for they had just returned from Exeter, were immediately
put-to for another journey. One of them had been rubbed raw by the
harness. I was in pain the whole way, and could not but consider myself
as accessory to an act of cruelty: at every stroke of the whip my
conscience upbraided me, and the driver was not sparing of it. It was
luckily a short stage of only two leagues and a quarter. English
travelling, you see, has its evils and its dangers. The life of a
post-horse is truly wretched:—there will be cruel individuals in all
countries, but cruelty here is a matter of calculation: the post-masters
find it more profitable to overwork their beasts and kill them by hard
labour in two or three years, than to let them do half the work and live
out their natural length of life. In commerce, even more than in war,
both men and beasts are considered merely as machines, and sacrificed
with even less compunction.

There is a great fabric of carpets at Axminster, which are woven in one
entire piece. We were not detained here many minutes, and here we left
the county of Devonshire, which in climate and fertility and beauty is
said to exceed most parts of England: if it be indeed so, England has
little to boast of. Both their famous pirates, the Drake and the
Raleigh, were natives of this province; so also was Oxenham, another of
these early Buccaneers, of whose family it is still reported, that
before any one dies a bird with a white breast flutters about the bed of
the sick person, and vanishes when he expires.

We now entered upon Dorsetshire, a dreary country. Hitherto I had been
disposed to think that the English inclosures rather deformed than
beautified the landscape, but I now perceived how cheerless and naked
the cultivated country appears without them. The hills here are ribbed
with furrows, just as it is their fashion to score the skin of roast
pork. The soil is chalky and full of flints: night was setting-in, and
our horses struck fire at almost every step. This is one of the most
salubrious parts of the whole island: it has been ascertained by the
late census, that the proportion of deaths in the down-countries to the
other parts is as 65 to 80,—a certain proof that inclosures are
prejudicial to health.[3] After having travelled three leagues we
reached Bridport, a well-built and flourishing town. At one time all the
cordage for the English navy was manufactured here; and the
neighbourhood is so proverbially productive of hemp, that when a man is
hanged, they have a vulgar saying, that he has been stabbed with a
Bridport dagger. It is probable that both hemp and flax degenerate in
England, as seed is annually imported from Riga.

Footnote 3:

  The dryness of soil is a more probable cause.—TR.

Here ends our third day’s journey. The roads are better, the towns
nearer each other, more busy and more opulent as we advance into the
country; the inns more modern though perhaps not better, and travelling
more frequent. We are now in the track of the stage-coaches; one passed
us this morning, shaped like a trunk with a rounded lid placed
topsy-turvy. The passengers sit sideways; it carries sixteen persons
withinside, and as many on the roof as can find room; yet this
unmerciful weight, with the proportionate luggage of each person, is
dragged by four horses, at the rate of a league and a half within the
hour. The skill with which the driver guides them with long reins, and
directs these huge machines round the corners of the streets, where they
always go with increased velocity, and through the sharp turns of the
inn gateways, is truly surprising. Accidents, nevertheless, frequently
happen; and considering how little time this rapidity allows for
observing the country, and how cruelly it is purchased, I prefer the
slow and safe movements of the calessa.


                               LETTER IV.

_Dorchester.—Gilbert Wakefield.—Inside of an English Church.—Attempt to
    rear Silkworms.—Down-country.—Blandford.—Salisbury.—Execrable
    Alteration of the Cathedral.—Instance of public Impiety._

                                                       Sunday, April 25.

We started early, and hurried over four leagues of the same open and
uninteresting country, which brought us to Dorchester, the capital of
the province, or county town, as it is called, because the provincial
prison is here, and here the judges come twice a-year to decide all
causes civil and criminal. The prison is a modern building: the height
and strength of its walls, its iron-grated windows, and its strong
gateway, with fetters hanging over the entrance, sufficiently
characterise it as a place of punishment, and render it a good
representation of a giant’s castle in romance.

When J— passed through this town on his way to Spain, he visited Gilbert
Wakefield, a celebrated scholar, who was confined here as a favourer of
the French Revolution. One of the bishops had written a book upon the
state of public affairs, just at the time when the minister proposed to
take from every man the tithe of his income: this the bishop did not
think sufficient; so he suggested instead, that a tenth should be levied
of all the capital in the kingdom; arguing, that as every person would
be affected in the same proportion, all would remain relatively as
before, and in fact no person be affected at all. This curious argument
he enforced by as curious an illustration; he said, “That if the
foundation of a great building were to sink equally in every part at the
same time, the whole pile, instead of suffering any injury, would become
the firmer.”—“True,” said Wakefield in his reply, “and you, my lord
bishop, who dwell in the upper apartments, might still enjoy the
prospect from your window;—but what would become of me and the good
people who live upon the ground floor?”

Wakefield was particularly obnoxious to the government, because his
character stood very high among the Dissenters for learning and
integrity, and his opinions were proportionately of weight. They brought
him to trial for having in his answer to the bishop’s pamphlet applied
the fable of the Ass and his Panniers to existing circumstances. Had it
indeed been circulated among the poor, its tendency would certainly have
been mischievous; but in the form in which it appeared it was evidently
designed as a warning to the rulers, not as an address to the mob. He
was, however, condemned to two years confinement in this prison, this
place being chosen as out of reach of his friends, to make imprisonment
more painful. The public feeling upon this rigorous treatment of so
eminent a man was strongly expressed, and a subscription was publicly
raised for him which amounted to above fifteen hundred pieces-of-eight,
and which enabled his family to remove to Dorchester and settle there.
But the magistrates, whose business it was to oversee the prison, would
neither permit them to lodge with him in his confinement, nor even to
visit him daily. He was thus prevented from proceeding with the
education of his children, an occupation which he had ever regarded as a
duty, and which had been one of his highest enjoyments. But, in the
midst of vexations and insults, he steadily continued to pursue both his
literary and christian labours; affording to his fellow prisoners what
assistance was in his power, endeavouring to reclaim the vicious, and
preparing the condemned for death. His imprisonment eventually proved
fatal. He had been warned on its expiration to accustom himself slowly
to his former habits of exercise, or a fever would inevitably be the
consequence; a fact known by experience. In spite of all his precautions
it took place; and while his friends were rejoicing at his deliverance
he was cut off. As a polemical and political writer he indulged an
asperity of language which he had learnt from his favourite
philologists, but in private life no man was more generally or more
deservedly beloved, and he had a fearless and inflexible honesty which
made him utterly regardless of all danger, and would have enabled him to
exult in martyrdom. When J— had related this history to me, I could not
but observe how far more humane it was to prevent the publication of
obnoxious books than to permit them to be printed and then punish the
persons concerned. “This,” he said, “would be too open a violation of
the liberty of the press.”

By the time we had breakfasted the bells for divine service were
ringing, and I took the opportunity to step into one of their churches.
The office is performed in a desk immediately under the pulpit, not at
the altar: there were no lights burning, nor any church vessels, nor
ornaments to be seen. Monuments are fixed against the walls and pillars,
and I thought there was a damp and unwholesome smell, perhaps because I
involuntarily expected the frankincense. They have an abominable custom
of partitioning their churches into divisions which they call pews, and
which are private property; so that the wealthy sit at their ease, or
kneel upon cushions, while the poor stand during the whole service in
the aisle.

An attempt was made something more than a century ago to rear silkworms
in this neighbourhood by a Mr Newberry; a man of many whimsies he was
called, and whimsical indeed he must have been; for the different
buildings for his silkworms and his laboratories were so numerous that
his house looked like a village, and all his laundry and dairy work was
done by men, because he would suffer no women servants about him.

The road still lay over the downs; this is a great sheep country, above
150,000 are annually sold from Dorsetshire to other parts of England;
they are larger than ours, and I think less beautiful, the wool being
more curled and less soft in its appearance. It was once supposed that
the thyme in these pastures was so nourishing as to make the ewes
produce twins, a story which may be classed with the tale of the
Lusitanian foals of the wind; it is however true that the ewes are
purchased by the farmers near the metropolis, for the sake of fattening
their lambs for the London market, because they yean earlier than any
others. The day was very fine, and the sight of this open and naked
country, where nothing was to be seen but an extent of short green turf
under a sky of cloudless blue, was singular and beautiful. There are
upon the downs many sepulchral hillocks, here called barrows, of
antiquity beyond the reach of history. We past by a village church as
the people were assembling for service, men and women all in their clean
Sunday clothes; the men standing in groups by the church-yard stile, or
before the porch, or sitting upon the tombstones, a hale and ruddy race.
The dresses seem every where the same, without the slightest provincial
difference: all the men wear hats, the least graceful and least
convenient covering for the head that ever was devised. I have not yet
seen a cocked hat except upon the officers. They bury the dead both in
town and country round the churches, and the church-yards are full of
upright stones, on which the name and age of the deceased is inscribed,
usually with some account of his good qualities, and not unfrequently
some rude religious rhyme. I observe that the oldest churches are always
the most beautiful, here as well as every where else; for as we think
more of ourselves and less of religion, more of this world and less of
the next, we build better houses and worse churches. There are no storks
here: the jackdaw, a social and noisy bird, commonly builds in the
steeples. Little reverence is shown either to the church or the
cemetery; the boys play with a ball against the tower, and the priest’s
horse is permitted to graze upon the graves.

At Blandford we changed chaises; a wealthy and cheerful town. The
English cities have no open centre like our _plazas_; but, in amends for
this, the streets are far wider and more airy: indeed they have never
sun enough to make them desirous of shade. The prosperity of the kingdom
has been fatal to the antiquities, and consequently to the picturesque
beauty of the towns. Walls, gates, and castles have been demolished to
make room for the growth of streets. You are delighted with the
appearance of opulence in the houses, and the perfect cleanliness every
where when you are within the town; but without, there is nothing which
the painter would choose for his subject, nothing to call up the
recollections of old times, and those feelings with which we always
remember the age of the shield and the lance.

This town and Dorchester, but this in particular, has suffered much from
fire; a tremendous calamity which is every day occurring in England, and
against which daily and dreadful experience has not yet taught them to
adopt any general means of prevention. There are large plantations about
Blandford:—I do not like the English method of planting in what they
call belts about their estates; nothing can be more formal or less
beautiful, especially as the fir is the favourite tree, which precludes
all variety of shape and colour. By some absurdity which I cannot
explain, they set the young trees so thick that unless three-fourths be
weeded out, the remainder cannot grow at all; and when they are weeded,
those which are left, if they do not wither and perish in consequence of
the exposure, rarely attain to any size or strength.

Our next stage was to the episcopal city of Salisbury; here we left the
down-country, and once more entered upon cultivated fields and
inclosures. The trees in these hedge-rows, if they are at all lofty,
have all their boughs clipt to the very top; nothing can look more naked
and deplorable. When they grow by the way-side, this is enjoined by law,
because their droppings after rain injure the road, and their shade
prevents it from drying. The climate has so much rain and so little sun,
that over-hanging boughs have been found in like manner injurious to
pasture or arable lands, and the trees, therefore, are every where thus
deformed. The approach to Salisbury is very delightful;—little rivers or
rivulets are seen in every direction; houses extending into the country,
garden-trees within the city, and the spire of the cathedral
over-topping all; the highest and the most beautiful in the whole

We visited this magnificent building while our dinner was getting ready:
like all such buildings, it has its traditional tales of absurdity and
exaggeration—that it has as many private chapels as months in a year, as
many doors as weeks, as many pillars as days, as many windows as hours,
and as many partitions in the windows as minutes: they say also, that it
is founded upon wool-packs, because nothing else could resist the
humidity of the soil. It has lately undergone, or, I should rather say,
suffered a thorough repair in the true spirit of reformation. Every
thing has been cleared away to give it the appearance of one huge room.
The little chapels, which its pious founders and benefactors had erected
in the hope of exciting piety in others, and profiting by their prayers,
are all swept away! but you may easily conceive what wild work a
protestant architect must make with a cathedral, when he fits it to his
own notions of architecture, without the slightest feeling or knowledge
of the design with which such buildings were originally erected. The
naked monuments are now ranged in rows between the pillars, one opposite
another, like couples for a dance, so as never monuments were placed
before, and, it is to be hoped, never will be placed hereafter. Here is
the tomb of a nobleman, who, in the reign of our Philip and Mary, was
executed for murder, like a common malefactor, with this difference
only, that he had the privilege of being hanged in a silken halter; a
singularity which, instead of rendering his death less ignominious, has
made the ignominy more notorious. The cloisters and the chapter-house
have escaped alteration. I have seen more beautiful cloisters in our own
country, but never a finer chapterhouse; it is supported, as usual, by
one central pillar, whose top arches off on all sides, like the head of
a spreading palm. The bishop’s palace was bought during the reign of the
presbyterians by a rich tailor, who demolished it and sold the

The cemetery has suffered even more than the church, if more be
possible, from the abominable sacrilege, and abominable taste of the
late bishop and his chapter. They have destroyed all memorials of the
dead, for the sake of laying it down as a smooth well-shorn grass plat,
garnished with bright yellow gravel walks! This suits no feeling of the
mind connected with religious reverence, with death, or with the hope of
immortality; indeed it suits with nothing except a new painted window at
the altar, of truly English design, (for England is not the country of
the arts,) and an organ, bedecked with crocketed pinnacles, more than
ever was Gothic tower, and of stone colour, to imitate masonry! This,
however, it should be added, was given in a handsome manner by the King.
A subscription was raised through the diocese to repair the cathedral,
the King having enquired of the bishop how it succeeded, proceeded to
ask why he himself had not been applied to for a contribution. The
prelate, with courtly submission, disclaimed such presumption as highly
improper. I live at Windsor, said the King, in your diocese, and, though
I am not rich, can afford to give you an organ, which I know you want;
so order one in my name, and let it be suitable to so fine a cathedral.

The soil here abounds so much with water, that there are no vaults in
the churches, nor cellars in the city; a spring will sometimes gush up
when they are digging a grave. Little streams flow through several of
the streets, so that the city has been called the English Venice; but
whoever gave it this appellation, either had never seen Venice, or
grossly flattered Salisbury. Indeed, till the resemblance was invented,
these streamlets were rather thought inconvenient than beautiful; and
travellers complained that they made the streets not so clean and not so
easy of passage, as they would have been otherwise. The place is famous
for the manufactory of knives and scissars, which are here brought to
the greatest possible perfection. I am sorry it happened to be Sunday;
for the shops, which form so lively a feature in English towns, are all
fastened up with shutters, which give the city a melancholy and mourning
appearance. I saw, however, a priest walking in his cassock from the
church,—the only time when the priests are distinguished in their dress
from the laity.

A remarkable instance of insolent impiety occurred lately in a village
near this place. A man, in derision of religion, directed in his will,
that his horse should be caparisoned and led to his grave, and there
shot, and buried with him, that he might be ready to mount at the
resurrection, and start to advantage. To the disgrace of the country
this was actually performed; the executors and the legatees probably
thought themselves bound to obey the will; but it is unaccountable why
the clergyman did not interfere, and apply to the bishop.


                               LETTER V.

_Old Sarum.—Country thinly peopled,—Basingstoke.—Ruins of a Catholic
    Chapel.—Waste Land near London.—Staines.—Iron Bridges.—Custom of
    exposing the dead Bodies of Criminals.—Hounslow.—Brentford.—Approach
    to London.—Arrival._

                                                       Monday, April 26.

Half a league from Salisbury, close on the left of the London road, is
Old Sarum, the Sorbiodunum of the Romans, famous for many reasons. It
covered the top of a round hill, which is still surrounded with a mound
of earth and a deep fosse. Under the Norman kings it was a flourishing
town, but subject to two evils; the want of water, and the oppression of
the castle soldiers. The townsmen, therefore, with one consent, removed
to New Sarum, the present Salisbury, where the first of these evils is
more than remedied; and the garrison was no longer maintained at Old
Sarum when there was nobody to be pillaged. So was the original city
deserted, except by its right of representation in parliament; not a
soul remaining there. Seven burgage tenures, in a village westward of
it, produce two burgesses to serve in parliament for Old Sarum; four of
these tenures (the majority) were sold very lately for a sum little
short of 200,000 _peso-duros_.

From this place Salisbury Plain stretches to the north, but little of it
is visible from the road which we were travelling: much of this wide
waste has lately been inclosed and cultivated. I regretted that I could
not visit Stonehenge, the famous druidical monument, which was only a
league and a half distant: but as J— was on his way home, after so long
an absence, I could not even express a wish to delay him.

Stockbridge and Basingstoke were our next stages: the country is mostly
down, recently enclosed, and of wonderfully thin population in
comparison of the culture. Indeed harvest here depends upon a temporary
emigration of the western clothiers, who come and work during the
harvest months. The few trees in this district grow about the villages
which are scattered in the vallies—beautiful objects in an open and
naked country. You see flints and chalk in the fields, if the soil be
not covered with corn or turnips. Basingstoke is a town which stands at
the junction of five great roads, and is of course a thriving place. At
the north side is a small but beautiful ruin of a chapel once belonging
to a brotherhood of the Holy Ghost. J— led me to see it as a beautiful
object, in which light only all Englishmen regard such monuments of the
piety of their forefathers and of their own lamentable apostasy. The
roof had once been adorned with the history of the prophets and the holy
apostles; but the more beautiful and the more celebrated these
decorations, the more zealously were they destroyed in the schism. I
felt deeply the profanation, and said a prayer in silence upon the spot
where the altar should have stood. One relic of better times is still
preserved at Basingstoke: in all parishes it is the custom, at stated
periods, to walk round the boundaries; but here, and here only, is the
procession connected with religion: they begin and conclude the ceremony
by singing a psalm under a great elm which grows before the

Two leagues and a half of wooded country reach Hertford Bridge, a place
of nothing but inns for travellers: from hence, with short and casual
interruptions, Bagshot Heath extends to Egham, not less than fourteen
miles. We were within six leagues of London, a city twice during the
late war on the very brink of famine, and twice in hourly dread of
insurrection from that dreadful cause:—and yet so near it is this tract
of country utterly waste! Nothing but wild sheep, that run as fleet as
hounds, are scattered over this dreary desert: flesh there is none on
these wretched creatures; but those who are only half-starved on the
heath produce good meat when fatted: all the flesh and all the fat being
_laid on_, as graziers speak, anew, it is equivalent in tenderness to
lamb, and in flavour to mutton, and has fame accordingly in the

At Staines we crost the Thames,—not by a new bridge, now for the third
time built, but over a crazy wooden one above a century old. We enquired
the reason, and heard a curious history. The river here divides the
counties of Middlesex and Surrey; and the magistrates of both counties,
having agreed upon the necessity of building a bridge, did not agree
exactly as to its situation; neither party would give way, and
accordingly each collected materials for building a half-bridge from its
respective bank, but not opposite to the other. Time at length showed
the unfitness of this, and convinced them that two half bridges would
not make a whole one: they then built three arches close to the old
bridge; when weight was laid on the middle piers, they sunk considerably
into an unremembered and untried quicksand, and all the work was to be
undone. In the meanwhile, an adventurous iron bridge had been built at
Sunderland, one arch of monstrous span over a river with high rocky
banks, so that large ships could sail under. The architect of this work,
which was much talked of, offered his services to throw a similar but
smaller bridge over the Thames. But, alas! his rocky abutments were not
there, and he did not believe enough in mathematics to know the mighty
lateral pressure of a wide flat arch. Stone abutments, however, were to
be made; but, from prudential considerations, the Middlesex abutment, of
seeming solidity, was hollow, having been intended for the wine-cellar
of a large inn; so as soon as the wooden frame-work was removed, the
flat arch took the liberty of pushing away the abutment—alias the
wine-cellar—and after carriages had passed over about a week, the fated
bridge was once more closed against passage.

I know not how these iron bridges may appear to an English eye, but to a
Spaniard’s they are utterly detestable. The colour, where it is not
black, is rusty, and the hollow, open, spider work, which they so much
praise for its lightness, has no appearance of solidity. Of all the
works of man, there is not any one which unites so well with natural
scenery, and so heightens its beauty, as a bridge, if any taste, or
rather if no bad taste, be displayed in its structure. This is
exemplified in the rude as well as in the magnificent; by the stepping
stones or crossing plank of a village brook, as well as by the immortal
works of Trajan: but to look at these iron bridges which are bespoken at
the foundries, you would actually suppose that the architect had studied
at the confectioner’s, and borrowed his ornaments from the sugar temples
of a desert. It is curious that this execrable improvement, as every
novelty is called in England, should have been introduced by the
notorious politician, Paine, who came over from America, upon this
speculation, and exhibited one as a show upon dry ground in the

Footnote 4:

  The great Sunderland bridge has lately become liable to tremendous
  vibrations, and thereby established the unfitness of building any more

Staines was so called, because the boundary stone which marked the
extent of the city of London’s jurisdiction up the river formerly stood
here. The country on the London side had once been a forest; but has now
no other wood remaining than a few gibbets; on one of which, according
to the barbarous custom of this country, a criminal was hanging in
chains. Some five-and-twenty years ago, about a hundred such were
exposed upon the heath; so that from whatever quarter the wind blew, it
brought with it a cadaverous and pestilential odour. The nation is
becoming more civilized; they now take the bodies down after reasonable
exposure; and it will probably not be long before a practice so
offensive to public feeling, and public decency, will be altogether
discontinued. This heath is infamous for the robberies which are
committed upon it, at all hours of the day and night, though travellers
and stage-coaches are continually passing: the banditti are chiefly
horsemen, who strike across with their booty into one of the roads,
which intersect it in every direction, and easily escape pursuit; an
additional reason for inclosing the waste. We passed close to some
powder-mills, which are either so ill-contrived, or so carelessly
managed, that they are blown up about once a-year: then we entered the
great Western road at Hounslow; from thence to the metropolis is only
two leagues and a half.

Three miles further is Brentford, the county town of Middlesex, and of
all places the most famous in the electioneering history of England. It
was now almost one continued street to London. The number of travellers
perfectly astonished me, prepared as I had been by the gradual increase
along the road; horsemen and footmen, carriages of every description and
every shape, waggons and carts and covered carts, stage-coaches, long,
square, and double, coaches, chariots, chaises, gigs, buggies,
curricles, and phaetons; the sound of their wheels ploughing through the
wet gravel was as continuous and incessant as the roar of the waves on
the sea beach. Evening was now setting in, and it was dark before we
reached Hyde Park Corner, the entrance of the capital. We had travelled
for some time in silence; J—’s thoughts were upon his family, and I was
as naturally led to think on mine, from whom I was now separated by so
wide a tract of sea and land, among heretics and strangers, a people
notoriously inhospitable to foreigners, without a single friend or
acquaintance, except my companion. You will not wonder if my spirits
were depressed; in truth, I never felt more deeply dejected; and the
more I was surprised at the length of the streets, the lines of lamps,
and of illuminated shops, and the stream of population to which there
seemed to be no end,—the more I felt the solitariness of my own

The chaise at last stopped at J—’s door in ——. I was welcomed as kindly
as I could wish: my apartment had been made ready: I pleaded fatigue,
and soon retired.


                               LETTER VI.

_Watchmen.—Noise in London Night and Morning.—An English Family.—Advice
    to Travellers._

                                                Tuesday, April 27, 1802.

The first night in a strange bed is seldom a night of sound rest;—one is
not intimate enough with the pillow to be quite at ease upon it. A
traveller, like myself, indeed, might be supposed to sleep soundly any
where; but the very feeling that my journey was over was a disquieting
one, and I should have lain awake thinking of the friends and parents
whom I had left, and the strangers with whom I was now domesticated, had
there been nothing else to disturb me. To sleep in London, however, is
an art which a foreigner must acquire by time and habit. Here was the
watchman, whose business it is, not merely to guard the streets and take
charge of the public security, but to inform the good people of London
every half hour of the state of the weather. For the three first hours I
was told it was a moonlight night, then it became cloudy, and at half
past three o’clock was a rainy morning; so that I was as well acquainted
with every variation of the atmosphere as if I had been looking from the
window all night long. A strange custom this, to pay men for telling
them what the weather is, every hour during the night, till they get so
accustomed to the noise, that they sleep on and cannot hear what is

Besides this regular annoyance, there is another cause of disturbance.
The inhabitants of this great city seem to be divided into two distinct
casts,—the Solar and the Lunar races,—those who live by day, and those
who live by night, antipodes to each other, the one rising just as the
others go to bed. The clatter of the night coaches had scarcely ceased,
before that of the morning carts began. The dustman with his bell, and
his chaunt of dust ho! succeeded to the watchman; then came the
porter-house boy for the pewter-pots which had been sent out for supper
the preceding night; the milkman next, and so on, a succession of cries,
each in a different tune, so numerous, that I could no longer follow
them in my enquiries.

As the watchman had told me of the rain, I was neither surprised nor
sorry at finding it a wet morning: a day of rest after the voyage and so
long a journey is acceptable, and the leisure it allows for clearing my
memory, and settling accounts with my journal, is what I should have
chosen. More novelties will crowd upon me now than it will be easy to
keep pace with. Here I am in London, the most wonderful spot upon this
habitable earth.

The inns had given me a taste of English manners; still the domestic
accommodations and luxuries surprised me. Would you could see our
breakfast scene! every utensil so beautiful, such order, such curiosity!
the whole furniture of the room so choice, and of such excellent
workmanship, and a fire of earth-coal enlivening every thing. But I must
minutely describe all this hereafter. To paint the family group is out
of my power; words may convey an adequate idea of deformity, and
describe with vivid accuracy what is grotesque in manner or costume; but
for gracefulness and beauty we have only general terms. Thus much,
however, may be said; there is an elegance and a propriety in the
domestic dress of English women, which is quite perfect, and children
here and with us seem almost like beings of different species. Their
dress here bears no resemblance to that of their parents; I could not
but feel the unfitness of our own manners, and acknowledge that our
children in full dress look like colts in harness. J—’s are fine,
healthy, happy-looking children; their mother educates them, and was
telling her husband with delightful pride how they had profited, how
John could spell, and Harriet tell her letters. She has shown me their
books, for in this country they have books for every gradation of the
growing intellect, and authors of the greatest celebrity have not
thought it beneath them to employ their talents in this useful
department. Their very playthings are made subservient to the purposes
of education; they have ivory alphabets with which they arrange words
upon the table, and dissected maps which they combine into a whole so
much faster than I can do, that I shall not be ashamed to play with
them, and acquire the same readiness.

J— has a tolerable library; he has the best Spanish authors; but I must
not keep company here with my old friends. The advice which he has given
me, with respect to my studies, is very judicious. Of our best books, he
says, read none but such as are absolutely necessary to give you a
competent knowledge of the land you are in; you will take back with you
our great authors, and it is best to read them at leisure in your own
country, when you will more thoroughly understand them. Newspapers,
Reviews, and other temporary publications will make you best acquainted
with England in its present state; and we have bulky county histories,
not worth freight across the water, which you should consult for
information concerning what you have seen, and what you mean to see. But
reserve our classics for Spain, and read nothing which you buy.[5]

Footnote 5:

  Having taken his advice, I recommend it to future
  travellers.—_Author’s note._

The tailor and shoemaker have made their appearance. I fancied my figure
was quite English in my pantaloons of broad-striped fustian, and large
coat buttons of cut steel; but it seems that although they are certainly
of genuine English manufacture, they were manufactured only for foreign
sale. To-morrow my buttons will be covered, and my toes squared, and I
shall be in no danger of being called Frenchman in the streets.


                              LETTER VII.

_General Description of London.—Walk to the Palace.—Crowd in the
    Streets.—Shops.—Cathedral of St Paul.—Palace of the Prince of
    Wales.—Oddities in the Shop Windows._

                                                    Wednesday, April 28.

My first business was to acquire some knowledge of the place whereof I
am now become an inhabitant. I began to study the plan of London, though
dismayed at the sight of its prodigious extent,—a city a league and a
half from one extremity to the other, and about half as broad, standing
upon level ground. It is impossible ever to become thoroughly acquainted
with such an endless labyrinth of streets; and, as you may well suppose,
they who live at one end know little or nothing of the other. The river
is no assistance to a stranger in finding his way. There is no street
along its banks, and no eminence from whence you can look around and
take your bearings.

London, properly so called, makes but a small part of this immense
capital, though the focus of business is there. Westminster is about the
same size. To the east and the north is a great population included in
neither of these cities, and probably equal to both. On the western side
the royal parks have prevented the growth of houses, and form a gap
between the metropolis and its suburb. All this is on the north side of
the river. Southwark, or the Borough, is on the other shore, and a town
has grown at Lambeth by the Primate’s palace, which has now joined it.
The extent of ground covered with houses on this bank is greater than
the area of Madrid. The population is now ascertained to exceed nine
hundred thousand persons, nearly a twelfth of the inhabitants of the
whole island.

Having studied the way to the palace, I set off. The distance was
considerable: the way, after getting into the main streets, tolerably
straight. There were not many passers in the by-streets; but when I
reached Cheapside the crowd completely astonished me. On each side of
the way were two uninterrupted streams of people, one going east, the
other west. At first I thought some extraordinary occasion must have
collected such a concourse; but I soon perceived it was only the usual
course of business. They moved on in two regular counter currents, and
the rapidity with which they moved was as remarkable as their numbers.
It was easy to perceive that the English calculate the value of time.
Nobody was loitering to look at the beautiful things in the shop
windows; none were stopping to converse, every one was in haste, yet no
one in a hurry; the quickest possible step seemed to be the natural
pace. The carriages were numerous in proportion, and were driven with
answerable velocity.

If possible, I was still more astonished at the opulence and splendour
of the shops: drapers, stationers, confectioners, pastry-cooks,
seal-cutters, silver-smiths, booksellers, print-sellers, hosiers,
fruiterers, china-sellers,—one close to another, without intermission, a
shop to every house, street after street, and mile after mile; the
articles themselves so beautiful, and so beautifully arranged, that if
they who passed by me had had leisure to observe any thing, they might
have known me to be a foreigner by the frequent stands which I made to
admire them. Nothing which I had seen in the country had prepared me for
such a display of splendour.

My way lay by St Paul’s church. The sight of this truly noble building
rather provoked than pleased me. The English, after erecting so grand an
edifice, will not allow it an open space to stand in, and it is
impossible to get a full view of it in any situation. The value of
ground in this capital is too great to be sacrificed to beauty by a
commercial nation: unless, therefore, another conflagration should lay
London in ashes, the Londoners will never fairly see their own
cathedral. The street which leads to the grand front has just a
sufficient bend to destroy the effect which such a termination would
have given it, and to obstruct the view till you come too close to see
it. This is perfectly vexatious! Except St Peter’s, here is beyond
comparison the finest temple in Christendom, and it is even more
ridiculously misplaced than the bridge of Segovia appears, when the
mules have drank up the Manzanares. The houses come so close upon one
side, that carriages are not permitted to pass that way lest the
foot-passengers should be endangered. The site itself is well chosen on
a little rising near the river; and were it fairly opened as it ought to
be, no city could boast so magnificent a monument of modern times.

In a direct line from hence is Temple Bar, a modern, ugly, useless gate,
which divides the two cities of London and Westminster. There were iron
spikes upon the top, on which the heads of traitors were formerly
exposed: J— remembers to have seen some in his childhood. On both sides
of this gate I had a paper thrust into my hand, which proved to be a
quack doctor’s notice of some never-failing pills. Before I reached home
I had a dozen of these. Tradesmen here lose no possible opportunity of
forcing their notices upon the public. Wherever there was a dead wall, a
vacant house, or a temporary scaffolding erected for repairs, the space
was covered with printed bills. Two rival blacking-makers were standing
in one of the streets, each carried a boot, completely varnished with
black, hanging from a pole, and on the other arm a basket with the balls
for sale. On the top of their poles was a sort of standard, with a
printed paper explaining the virtue of the wares;—the one said that his
blacking was the best blacking in the world; the other, that his was so
good you might eat it.

The crowd in Westminster was not so great as in the busier city. From
Charing Cross, as it is still called, though an equestrian statue has
taken place of the cross, a great street opens toward Westminster Abbey,
and the Houses of Parliament. Most of the public buildings are here: it
is to be regretted that the end is not quite open to the abbey, for it
would then be one of the finest streets in Europe. Leaving this for my
return, I went on to the palaces of the Prince of Wales, and of the
King, which stand near each other in a street called Pall Mall. The game
from whence this name is derived is no longer known in England.

The Prince of Wales’s palace is no favourable specimen of English
architecture. Before the house are thirty columns planted in a row, two
and two, supporting nothing but a common entablature, which connects
them. As they serve for neither ornament nor use, a stranger might be
puzzled to know by what accident they came there; but the truth is, that
these people have more money than taste, and are satisfied with any
absurdity if it has but the merit of being new. The same architect was
employed[6] to build a palace, not far distant, for the second prince of
the blood, and in the front towards the street he constructed a large
oven-like room completely obscuring the house to which it was to serve
as an entrance-hall. These two buildings being described to the late
Lord North, who was blind in the latter part of his life, he facetiously
remarked, Then the Duke of York, it should seem, has been sent to the
round-house, and the Prince of Wales is put into the pillory.[7]

Footnote 6:

  The author must have been misinformed in this particular, for the Duke
  of York’s house at Whitehall, now Lord Melbourne’s, was not built by
  his Royal Highness; but altered, with some additions, of which the
  room alluded to made a part.—TR.

Footnote 7:

  There is an explanation of the jest in the text which the translator
  has thought proper to omit, as, however necessary to foreign readers,
  it must needs seem impertinent to an English one.—TR.

I had now passed the trading district, and found little to excite
attention in large brick houses without uniformity, and without either
beauty or magnificence. The royal palace itself is an old brick
building, remarkable for nothing, except that the sovereign of Great
Britain should have no better a court; but it seems that the king never
resides there. A passage through the court-yard leads into St James’s
Park, the Prado of London. Its trees are not so fine as might be
expected in a country where water never fails, and the sun never
scorches; here is also a spacious piece of water; but the best ornament
of the park are the two towers of Westminster Abbey. Having now reached
the proposed limits of my walk, I passed through a public building of
some magnitude and little beauty, called the Horse Guards, and again
entered the public streets. Here, where the pavement was broad, and the
passengers not so numerous as to form a crowd, a beggar had taken his
seat, and written his petition upon the stones with chalks of various
colours, the letters formed with great skill, and ornamented with some
taste. I stopped to admire his work, and gave him a trifle as a payment
for the sight, rather than as alms. Immediately opposite the Horse
Guards is the Banqueting House at Whitehall; so fine a building, that if
the later architects had had eyes to see, or understandings to
comprehend its merit, they would never have disgraced the opposite side
of the way with buildings so utterly devoid of beauty. This fragment of
a great design by Inigo Jones is remarkable for many accounts; here is
the window through which Charles I. came out upon the scaffold; here
also, in the back court, the statue of James II. remains undisturbed,
with so few excesses was that great revolution accompanied; and here is
the weathercock which was set up by his command, that he might know
every shifting of the wind when the invasion from Holland was expected,
and the east wind was called Protestant by the people, and the west

My way home from Charing Cross was varied, in as much as I took the
other side of the street for the sake of the shop windows, and the
variety was greater than I had expected. It took me through a place
called Exeter Change, which is precisely a _Bazar_, a sort of street
under cover, or large long room, with a row of shops on either hand, and
a thoroughfare between them; the shops being furnished with such
articles as might tempt an idler, or remind a passenger of his
wants,—walking-sticks, implements for shaving, knives, scissars,
watch-chains, purses, &c. At the further end was a man in splendid
costume, who proved to belong to a menagerie above stairs, to which he
invited me to ascend; but I declined this for the present, being without
a companion. A maccaw was swinging on a perch above him, and the outside
of the building hung with enormous pictures of the animals which were
there to be seen.

The oddest things which I saw in the whole walk were a pair of shoes in
one window floating in a vessel of water, to show that they were
water-proof; and a well-dressed leg in another, betokening that legs
were made there to the life. One purchase I ventured to make, that of a
travelling caissette; there were many at the shop-door, with the prices
marked upon them, so that I did not fear imposition. These things are
admirably made and exceedingly convenient. I was shown some which
contained the whole apparatus of a man’s toilet, but this seemed an ill
assortment, as when writing you do not want the shaving materials, and
when shaving as little do you want the writing desk.

In looking over the quack’s notices after my return, I found a fine
specimen of English hyperbole. The doctor says that his pills always
perform, and even exceed whatever he promises, as if they were impatient
of immortal and universal fame.


                              LETTER VIII.

_Proclamation of Peace.—The English do not understand
    Pageantry.—Illumination.—M. Otto’s House.—Illuminations better
    managed at Rome._

                                                       Friday, April 30.

The definitive treaty has arrived at last; peace was proclaimed
yesterday, with the usual ceremonies, and the customary rejoicings have
taken place. My expectations were raised to the highest pitch. I looked
for a pomp and pageantry far surpassing whatever I had seen in my own
country. Indeed every body expected a superb spectacle. The newspaper
writers had filled their columns with magnificent descriptions of what
was to be, and rooms or single windows in the streets through which the
procession was to pass, were advertised to be let for the sight, and
hired at prices so extravagant, that I should be suspected of
exaggeration were I to say how preposterous.

The theory of the ceremony, for this ceremony, like an English suit at
law, is founded upon a fiction, is, that the Lord Mayor of London, and
the people of London, good people! being wholly ignorant of what has
been going on, the king sends officially to acquaint them that he has
made peace: accordingly the gates at Temple Bar, which divide London and
Westminster, and which stand open day and night, are on this occasion
closed; and Garter king at arms, with all his heraldic peers, rides up
to them and knocks loudly for admittance. The Lord Mayor, mounted on a
charger, is ready on the other side to demand who is there. King Garter
then announces himself and his errand, and requires permission to pass
and proclaim the good news; upon which the gates are thrown open. This,
which is the main part of the ceremony, could be seen only by those
persons who were contiguous to the spot, and we were not among the
number. The apartment in which we were was on the Westminster side, and
we saw only the heraldic part of the procession. The heralds and the
trumpeters were certainly in splendid costume; but they were not above
twenty in number, nor was there any thing to precede or follow them. The
poorest brotherhood in Spain makes a better procession on its festival.
In fact, these functions are not understood in England.

The crowd was prodigious. The windows, the leads, or unrailed balconies
which project over many of the shops, the house tops, were full, and the
streets below thronged. A very remarkable accident took place in our
sight. A man on the top of a church was leaning against one of the stone
urns which ornament the balustrade; it fell, and crushed a person below.
On examination it appeared that the workmen, instead of cramping it with
iron to the stone, or securing it with masonry, had fitted it on a
wooden peg, which having become rotten through, yielded to the slightest
touch. A Turk might relate this story in proof of predestination.

If, however, the ceremony of the morning disappointed me, I was amply
rewarded by the illuminations at night. This token of national joy is
not, as with us, regulated by law; the people, or the mob, as they are
called, take the law into their own hands on these occasions, and when
they choose to have an illumination, the citizens must illuminate to
please them, or be content to have their windows broken; a violence
which is winked at by the police, as it falls only upon persons whose
politics are obnoxious. During many days, preparations had been making
for this festivity, so that it was already known what houses and what
public buildings would exhibit the most splendid appearance. M. Otto’s,
the French ambassador, surpassed all others, and the great object of
desire was to see this. Between eight and nine the lighting-up began,
and about ten we sallied out on our way to Portman Square, where M. Otto

In the private streets there was nothing to be remarked, except the
singular effect of walking at night in as broad a light as that of
noon-day, every window being filled with candles, arranged either in
straight lines, or in arches, at the fancy of the owner, which nobody
stopped to admire. None indeed were walking in these streets except
persons whose way lay through them; yet had there been a single house
unlighted, a mob would have been collected in five minutes, at the first
outcry. When we drew near Pall Mall, the crowd, both of carriages and of
people, thickened; still there was no inconvenience, and no difficulty
in walking, or in crossing the carriage road. Greater expense had been
bestowed here. The gaming-houses in St James’s street were magnificent,
as they always are on such occasions; in one place you saw the crown and
the G. R. in coloured lamps; in another the word Peace in letters of
light; in another some transparent picture, emblematical of peace and
plenty. Some score years ago, a woman in the country asked a higher
price than she had used to do for a basket of mushrooms, and when she
was asked the reason, said, it was because of the American war. As war
thus advances the price of every thing, peace and plenty are supposed to
be inseparably connected; and well may the poor think them so. There was
a transparency exhibited this night at a pot-house in the city, which
represented a loaf of bread saying to a pot of porter, I am coming down;
to which the porter-pot made answer, So am I.

The nearer we drew the greater was the throng. It was a sight truly
surprising to behold all the inhabitants of this immense city walking
abroad at midnight, and distinctly seen by the light of ten thousand
candles. This was particularly striking in Oxford-street, which is
nearly half a league in length;—as far as the eye could reach either way
the parallel lines of light were seen narrowing towards each other.
Here, however, we could still advance without difficulty, and the
carriages rattled along unobstructed. But in the immediate vicinity of
Portman square it was very different. Never before had I beheld such
multitudes assembled. The middle of the street was completely filled
with coaches, so immoveably locked together, that many persons who
wished to cross passed under the horses’ bellies without fear, and
without danger. The unfortunate persons within had no such means of
escape; they had no possible way of extricating themselves, unless they
could crawl out of the window of one coach into the window of another;
there was no room to open a door. There they were, and there they must
remain, patiently or impatiently; and there, in fact, they did remain
the greater part of the night, till the lights were burnt out, and the
crowd clearing away left them at liberty.

We who were on foot had better fortune, but we laboured hard for it.
There were two ranks of people, one returning from the square, the other
pressing on to it. Exertion was quite needless; man was wedged to man,
he who was behind you pressed you against him who was before; I had
nothing to do but to work out elbow room that I might not be squeezed to
death, and to float on with the tide. But this tide was frequently at a
stop; some obstacle at the further end of the street checked it, and
still the crowd behind was increasing in depth. We tried the first
entrance to the square in vain; it was utterly impossible to get in, and
finding this we crossed into the counter current, and were carried out
by the stream. A second and a third entrance we tried with no better
fortune; at the fourth, the only remaining avenue, we were more
successful. To this, which is at the outskirts of the town, there was
one way inaccessible by carriages, and it was not crowded by walkers,
because the road was bad, there were no lamps, and the way was not
known. By this route, however, we entered the avenue immediately
opposite to M. Otto’s, and raising ourselves by the help of a garden
wall, overlooked the crowd, and thus obtained a full and uninterrupted
sight, of what thousands and tens of thousands were vainly struggling to
see. To describe it, splendid as it was, is impossible; the whole
building presented a front of light. The inscription was Peace and
Amity; it had been Peace and Concord, but a party of sailors in the
morning, whose honest patriotism did not regard trifling differences of
orthography, insisted upon it that they were not _conquered_, and that
no Frenchman should say so; and so the word Amity, which can hardly be
regarded as English, was substituted in its stead.

Having effected our object, meaner sights had no temptation for us, and
we returned. It was three in the morning before we reached home; we
extinguished our lights and were retiring to bed, believing ourselves at
liberty so to do. But it did not please the mob to be of the same
opinion; they insisted that the house should be lit up again, and John
Bull was not to be disobeyed. Except a few such instances of
unreasonableness, it is surprising how peaceably the whole passed off.
The pickpockets have probably made a good harvest; but we saw no
quarrelling, no drunkenness, and, what is more extraordinary, prodigious
as the crowd was, have heard of no accident.

So famous is this illumination of M. Otto, that one of the minor
theatres has given notice to all such persons as were not fortunate
enough to obtain sight of it, that it will be exactly represented upon
the stage for their accommodation, and that the same number of lamps
will be arranged precisely in the same manner, the same person being
employed to suspend them. Hundreds will go to see this, not recollecting
that it is as impossible to do it upon a stage of that size, as it is to
put a quart of water into a pint cup.

Illuminations are better managed at Rome. Imagine the vast dome of St
Peter’s covered with large lamps so arranged as to display its fine
form; those lamps all kindled at the same minute, and the whole dome
emerging, as it were, from total darkness, in one blaze of light. After
this exhibition has lasted an hour, the dome as rapidly assumes the
shape of a huge tiara, a change produced by pots of fire so much more
powerful than the former light as at once to annihilate it. This, and
the fireworks from St Angelo, which, from the grandeur, admit of no
adequate description, as you may well conceive, effectually prevent
those persons who have beheld them from enjoying the twinkling light of
half-penny-candles scattered in the windows of London, or the crowns and
regal cyphers which here and there manifest the zeal, the interest, or
emulation of individuals.


                               LETTER IX.

                     _Execution of Governor Wall._

Nothing is now talked of in London but the fate of Governor Wall, who
has just been executed for a crime committed twenty years ago. He
commanded at that time the English settlement at Goree, an inactive and
unwholsome station, little reputable for the officers, and considered as
a place of degradation for the men. The garrison became discontented at
some real or supposed mal-practices in the distribution of stores; and
Wall seizing those whom he conceived to be the ringleaders of the
disaffected, ordered them, by his own authority, to be so dreadfully
flogged, that three of them died in consequence; he himself standing by
during the execution, and urging the executioner not to spare, in terms
of the most brutal cruelty. An indictment for murder was preferred
against him on his return to England; he was apprehended, but made his
escape from the officers of justice, and got over to the Continent,
where he remained many years. Naples was at one time the place of his
residence, and the countenance which he received there from some of his
countrymen of high rank perhaps induced him to believe that the public
indignation against him had subsided. Partly, perhaps, induced by this
confidence, by the supposition that the few witnesses who could have
testified against him were dead, or so scattered about the world as to
be out of reach, and still more compelled by the pressure of his
circumstances, he at length resolved to venture back.

It is said, that some years before his surrender he came to Calais with
this intent, and desired one of the king of England’s messengers to take
him into custody, as he wished to return and stand his trial. The
messenger replied, that he could not possibly take charge of him, but
advised him to signify his intention to the Secretary of State, and
offered to carry his letter to the office. Wall was still very
solicitous to go, though the sea was at that time so tempestuous that
the ordinary packets did not venture out; and the messenger, whose
dispatches would not admit of delay, had hired a vessel for himself:
finding, however, that this could not be, he wrote as had been
suggested; but when he came to subscribe his name, his heart failed him,
his countenance became pale and livid, and in an agony of fear or of
conscience he threw down the pen and rushed out of the room. The
messenger put to sea; the vessel was wrecked in clearing out of the
harbour, and not a soul on board escaped.

This extraordinary story has been confidently related with every
circumstantial evidence; yet it seems to imply a consciousness of guilt,
and a feeling of remorse, noways according with his after conduct. He
came over to England about twelve months ago, and lived in London under
a fictitious name: here also a circumstance look place which touched him
to the heart. Some masons were employed about his house, and he took
notice to one of them that the lad who worked with him appeared very
sickly and delicate, and unfit for so laborious an employment. The man
confessed that it was true, but said that he had no other means of
supporting him, and that the poor lad had no other friend in the world,
“For his father and mother,” said he, “are dead, and his only brother
was flogged to death at Goree, by that barbarous villain Governor Wall.”

It has never been ascertained what were his motives for surrendering
himself; the most probable cause which can be assigned is, that some
property had devolved to him, of which he stood greatly in need, but
which he could not claim till his outlawry had been reversed. He
therefore voluntarily gave himself up, and was brought to trial. One of
the persons whom he had summoned to give evidence in his favour dropped
down dead on the way to the court; it was, however, known that his
testimony would have borne against him. Witnesses appeared from the
remotest parts of the island whom he had supposed dead. One man who had
suffered under his barbarity and recovered, had been hanged for robbery
but six months before, and expressed his regret at going to the gallows
before Governor Wall, as the thing which most grieved him, “For,” said
he, “I know he will come to the gallows at last.”

The question turned upon the point of law, whether the fact, for that
was admitted, was to be considered as an execution, or as a murder. The
evidence of a woman who appeared in his behalf, was that which weighed
most heavily against him: his attempt to prove that a mutiny actually
existed failed; and the jury pronounced him guilty. For this he was
utterly unprepared; and, when he heard the verdict, clasped his hands in
astonishment and agony. The Bench, as it is called, had no doubt
whatever of his guilt, but they certainly thought it doubtful how the
jury might decide; and as the case was so singular, after passing
sentence in the customary form, they respited him, that the
circumstances might be more fully considered.

The Governor was well connected, and had powerful friends: it is said
also, that as the case turned upon a question of discipline, some
persons high in the military department exerted themselves warmly in his
favour. The length of time which had elapsed was no palliation, and it
was of consequence that it should not be considered as such; but his
self-surrender, it was urged, evidently implied that he believed himself
justifiable in what he had done. On the other hand, the circumstances
which had appeared on the trial were of the most aggravating nature;
they had been detailed in all the newspapers, and women were selling the
account about the streets at a half-penny each, vociferating aloud the
most shocking parts, the better to attract notice. Various editions of
the trial at length were published; and the publishers, most
unpardonably, while the question of his life or death was still under
the consideration of the privy council, stuck up their large notices all
over the walls of London, with prints of the transaction, and “Cut his
liver out,” the expression which he had used to the executioner, written
in large letters above. The popular indignation had never before been so
excited. On the days appointed for his execution (for he was repeatedly
respited) all the streets leading to the prison were crowded by soldiers
and sailors chiefly, every one of whom felt it as his own personal
cause: and as the execution of the mutineers in the fleet was so recent,
in which so little mercy had been shown, a feeling very generally
prevailed among the lower classes, that this case was to decide whether
or not there was law for the rich as well as for the poor. The
deliberations of the privy council continued for so many days that it
was evident great efforts were made to save his life; but there can be
little doubt, that had these efforts succeeded, either a riot would have
ensued, or a more dangerous and deeply-founded spirit of disaffection
would have gone through the people.

Wall, meantime, was lying in the dungeon appointed for persons condemned
to death, where, in strict observance of the letter of the law, he was
allowed no other food than bread and water. Whether he felt compunction
may be doubted:—we easily deceive ourselves:—form only was wanting to
have rendered that a legal punishment which was now called murder, and
he may have regarded himself as a disciplinarian, not a criminal; but as
his hopes of pardon failed him, he was known to sit up in his bed during
the greater part of the night, singing psalms. His offence was indeed
heavy, but never did human being suffer more heavily! The dread of
death, the sense of the popular hatred, for it was feared that the mob
might prevent his execution and pull him to pieces; and the tormenting
reflection that his own vain confidence had been the cause,—that he had
voluntarily placed himself in this dreadful situation,—these formed a
punishment sufficient, even if remorse were not superadded.

On the morning of his execution, the mob, as usual, assembled in
prodigious numbers, filling the whole space before the prison, and all
the wide avenues from whence the spot could be seen. Having repeatedly
been disappointed of their revenge, they were still apprehensive of
another respite, and their joy at seeing him appear upon the scaffold
was so great, that they set up three huzzas,—an instance of ferocity
which had never occurred before. The miserable man, quite overcome by
this, begged the hangman to hasten his work. When he was turned off they
began their huzzas again; but instead of proceeding to three distinct
shouts, as usual, they stopped at the first. This conduct of the mob has
been called inhuman and disgraceful; for my own part, I cannot but agree
with those who regard it in a very different light. The revengeful joy
which animated them, unchristian as that passion certainly is, and
whatever may have been its excess, was surely founded upon humanity; and
the sudden extinction of that joy, the feeling which at one moment
struck so many thousands, stopped their acclamations at once, and awed
them into a dead silence when they saw the object of their hatred in the
act and agony of death, is surely as honourable to the popular character
as any trait which I have seen recorded of any people in any age or

The body, according to custom, was suspended an hour: during this time
the Irish basket-women who sold fruit under the gallows were drinking
his damnation in mixture of gin and brimstone! The halter in which he
suffered was cut into the smallest pieces possible, which were sold to
the mob at a shilling each. According to the sentence, the body should
have been dissected; it was just opened as a matter of form, and then
given to his relations; for which indulgence they gave 100_l._ to one of
the public hospitals. One of the printed trials contains his portrait as
taken in the dungeon of the condemned; if it be true that an artist was
actually sent to take his likeness under such dreadful circumstances,
for the purpose of gain, this is the most disgraceful fact which has
taken place during the whole transaction.

A print has since been published called The Balance of Justice. It
represents the mutineers hanging on one arm of a gallows, and Governor
Wall on the other.


                               LETTER X.

_Martial Laws of England.—Limited Service advised.—Hints for Military

The execution of Governor Wall is considered as a great triumph of
justice. Nobody seems to recollect that he has been hanged, not for
having flogged three men to death, but for an informality in the mode of
doing it.—Yet this is the true state of the case. Had he called a
drum-head court-martial, the same sentence might have been inflicted,
and the same consequences have ensued, with perfect impunity to himself.

The martial laws of England are the most barbarous which at this day
exist in Europe. The offender is sometimes sentenced to receive a
thousand lashes;—a surgeon stands by to feel his pulse during the
execution, and determine how long the flogging can be continued without
killing him. When human nature can sustain no more, he is remanded to
prison; his wound, for from the shoulders to the loins it leaves him one
wound, is dressed, and as soon as it is sufficiently healed to be laid
open again in the same manner, he is brought out to undergo the
remainder of his sentence. And this is repeatedly and openly practised
in a country where they read in their churches, and in their houses,
that Bible, in their own language, which saith, “Forty stripes may the
judge inflict upon the offender, and not exceed.”

All savages are cruel, and nations become humane only as they become
civilized. Half a century ago, the most atrocious punishments were used
in every part of Christendom;—such were the executions under Pombal in
Portugal, the tortures inflicted upon Damiens in France; and the
practice of opening men alive in England. Our own history is full of
shocking examples, but our manners[8] softened sooner than those of our
neighbours. These barbarities originated in barbarous ages, and are
easily accounted for; but how so cruel a system of martial law, which
certainly cannot be traced back to any distant age of antiquity, could
ever have been established is unaccountable; for when barbarians
established barbarous laws, the soldiers were the only people who were
free; in fact, they were the legislators, and of course would never make
laws to enslave themselves.

Footnote 8:

  More truly it might be said, that the Spaniards had no traitors to
  punish. In the foreign instances here stated, the judges made their
  court to the crown by cruelty;—in our own case, the cruelty was of the
  law, not of the individuals. Don Manuel also forgets the

Another grievous evil in their military system is, that there is no
limited time of service. Hence arises the difficulty which the English
find in recruiting their armies. The bounty money offered for a recruit
during the war amounted sometimes to as much as twenty pieces of eight,
a sum, burthensome indeed to the nation when paid to whole regiments,
but little enough if it be considered as the price for which a man sells
his liberty for life. There would be no lack of soldiers were they
enlisted for seven years. Half the peasantry in the country would like
to wear a fine coat from the age of eighteen till five-and-twenty, and
to see the world at the king’s expense. At present, mechanics who have
been thrown out of employ by the war, and run-away apprentices, enlist
in their senses, but the far greater number of recruits enter under the
influence of liquor.

It has been inferred, that old Homer lived in an age when morality was
little understood, because he so often observes, that it is not right to
do wrong. Whether or not the same judgement is to be passed upon the
present age of England, posterity will decide; certain it is that her
legislators seem not unfrequently to have forgotten the commonest
truisms both of morals and politics. The love of a military life is so
general, that it may almost be considered as one of the animal passions;
yet such are the martial laws, and such the military system of England,
that this passion seems almost annihilated in the country. It is true,
that during the late war volunteer companies were raised in every part
of the kingdom; but, in raising these, the whole influence of the landed
and moneyed proprietors was exerted; it was considered as a test of
loyalty; and the greater part of these volunteers consisted of men who
had property at stake, and believed it to be in danger, and of their
dependants; and the very ease with which these companies were raised,
evinces how easy it would be to raise soldiers, if they who became
soldiers were still to be considered as men, and as freemen.

The difficulty would be lessened if men were enlisted for a limited term
of years instead of for life. Yet that this alteration alone is not
sufficient, is proved by the state of their provincial troops, or
militia as they are called. Here the men are bound to a seven-years
service, and are not to be sent out of the kingdom; yet, unexceptionable
as this may appear, the militia is not easily raised, nor without some
degree of oppression. The men are chosen by ballot, and permitted to
serve by substitute, or exempted upon paying a fine. On those who can
afford either, it operates, therefore, as a tax by lottery; the poor man
has no alternative, he must serve, and, in consequence, the poor man
upon whom the lot falls considers himself as ruined: and ruined he is;
for, upon the happiest termination of his term of service, if he return
to his former place of abode, still willing, and still able, to resume
his former occupation, he finds his place in society filled up. But
seven years of military idleness usually incapacitate him for any other
trade, and he who has once been a soldier is commonly for ever after
unfit for every thing else.

The evil consequences of the idle hours which hang upon the soldiers’
hands are sufficiently understood, and their dress seems to have been
made as liable to dirt as possible, that as much time as possible may be
employed in cleaning it. This is one cause of the contempt which the
sailors feel for them, who say that soldiers have nothing to do but to
whiten their breeches with pipe-clay, and to make strumpets for the use
of the navy. Would it not be well to follow the example of the Romans,
and employ them in public works? This was done in Scotland, where they
have cut roads through the wildest part of the country; and it is said
that the soldiery in Ireland are now to be employed in the same manner.
In England, where no such labour is necessary, they might be occupied in
digging canals, or more permanently in bringing the waste[9] lands into
cultivation, which might the more conveniently be effected, as it is
becoming the system to lodge the troops in barracks apart from the
people, instead of quartering them in the towns. Military villages might
be built in place of these huge and ugly buildings, and at far less
expense; the adjoining lands cultivated by the men, who should, in
consequence, receive higher pay, and the produce be appropriated to the
military chest. Each hut should have its garden, which the tenant should
cultivate for his own private amusement or profit. Under such a system
the soldier might rear a family in time of peace, the wives of the
soldiery would be neither less domestic nor less estimable than other
women in their own rank of life, and the infants, who now die in a
proportion which it is shocking to think of, would have the common
chance for life.

Footnote 9:

  In this and what follows, the author seems to be suggesting
  improvements for his own country, and to mean Spain when he speaks of

But the sure and certain way to secure any nation for ever from alarm,
as well as from danger, is to train every school-boy to the use of arms:
boys would desire no better amusement, and thus, in the course of the
next generation, every man would be a soldier. England might then defy,
not France alone, but the whole continent leagued with France, even if
the impassable gulph between this happy island and its enemy were filled
up. This will be done sooner or later, for England must become an armed
nation. How long it will be before her legislators will discover this,
and how long when they have discovered it, before they will dare to act
upon it, that is, before they will consent to part with the power of
alarming the people, which they have found so convenient, it would be
idle to conjecture. Individuals profit slowly by experience,
associations still more slowly, and governments the most slowly of all
associated bodies.


                               LETTER XI.

_Shopmen, why preferred to Women in England.—Division of
    London into the East and West Ends.—Low State of domestic

I have employed this morning in wandering about this huge metropolis
with an English gentleman, well acquainted with the manners and customs
of foreign countries, and therefore well qualified to point out to me
what is peculiar in his own. Of the imposing splendour of the shops I
have already spoken; but I have not told you that the finest gentlemen
to be seen in the streets of London are the men who serve at the
linen-drapers’ and mercers’. Early in the morning they are drest
cap-a-pied, the hair feathered and frosted with a delicacy which no hat
is to derange through the day; and as this is a leisure time with them,
they are to be seen after breakfast at their respective shop-doors,
paring their nails, and adjusting their cravats. That so many young men
should be employed in London to recommend laces and muslins to the
ladies, to assist them in the choice of a gown, to weigh out thread and
to measure ribbons, excited my surprise; but my friend soon explained
the reason. He told me, that in countries where women are the
shopkeepers, shops are only kept for the convenience of the people, and
not for their amusement. Persons there go into a shop because they want
the article which is sold there, and in that case a woman answers all
the purposes which are required; the shops themselves are mere
repositories of goods, and the time of year of little importance to the
receipts. But it is otherwise in London; luxury here fills every head
with caprice, from the servant-maid to the peeress, and shops are become
exhibitions of fashion. In the spring, when all persons of distinction
are in town, the usual morning employment of the ladies is to go
a-shopping, as it is called; that is, to see these curious exhibitions.
This they do without actually wanting to purchase any thing, and they
spend their money or not, according to the temptations which are held
out to gratify and amuse. Now female shopkeepers, it is said, have not
enough patience to indulge this idle and fastidious curiosity; whereas
young men are more assiduous, more engaging, and not at all querulous
about their loss of time.

It must be confessed, that these exhibitions are very entertaining, nor
is there any thing wanting to set them off to the greatest advantage.
Many of the windows are even glazed with large panes of plate glass, at
a great expense; but this, I am told, is a refinement of a very late
date; indeed glass windows were seldom used in shops before the present
reign, and they who deal in woollen cloth have not yet universally come
into the fashion.

London is more remarkable for the distribution of its inhabitants than
any city on the continent. It is at once the greatest port in the
kingdom, or in the world, a city of merchants and tradesmen, and the
seat of government, where the men of rank and fashion are to be found;
and though all these are united together by continuous streets, there is
an imaginary line of demarkation which divides them from each other. A
nobleman would not be found by any accident to live in that part which
is properly called the City, unless he should be confined for treason or
sedition in Newgate or the Tower. This is the Eastern side; and I
observe, whenever a person says that he lives at the West End of the
Town, there is some degree of consequence connected with the situation:
For instance, my tailor lives at the West End of the Town, and
consequently he is supposed to make my coat in a better style of
fashion: and this opinion is carried so far among the ladies, that, if a
cap was known to come from the City, it would be given to my lady’s
woman, who would give it to the cook, and she perhaps would think it
prudent not to enquire into its pedigree. A transit from the City to the
West End of the Town is the last step of the successful trader, when he
throws off his _exuviæ_ and emerges from his chrysalis state into the
butterfly world of high life. Here are the Hesperides whither the
commercial adventurers repair, not to gather but to enjoy their golden

Yet this metropolis of fashion, this capital of the capital itself, has
the most monotonous appearance imaginable.—The streets are perfectly
parallel and uniformly extended brick walls, about forty feet high, with
equally extended ranges of windows and doors, all precisely alike, and
without any appearance of being distinct houses. You would rather
suppose them to be hospitals, arsenals, or public granaries, were it not
for their great extent. Here is a fashion, lately introduced from better
climates, of making _varandas_;—_varandas_ in a country where physicians
recommend double doors and double windows as precautions against the
intolerable cold! I even saw several instances of green penthouses, to
protect the rooms from the heat or light of the sun, fixed against
houses in a northern aspect. At this I expressed some surprise to my
companion: he replied, that his countrymen were the most rational people
in the world when they thought proper to use their understandings, but
that when they lost sight of common sense they were more absurd than any
others, and less dexterous in giving plausibility to nonsense. In
confirmation of this opinion, he instanced another strange fashion which
happened to present itself on the opposite side of the street; a brick
wall up to the first story decorated with a range of Doric columns to
imitate the _façade_ of the Temple of Theseus at Athens, while the upper
part of the house remained as naked as it could be left by the mason’s

After walking a considerable time in these streets, I enquired for the
palaces of the nobility, and was told that their houses were such as I
had seen, with a few exceptions, which were shut up from public view by
high blank walls; but that none of them had any pretensions to
architecture, except one in Piccadilly, called Burlington-House, which
is inhabited by the Duke of Portland. Lord Burlington, who erected it,
was a man whose whole desire and fortune were devoted to improve the
national taste in architecture: and this building, though with many
defects, is considered by good judges to be one of the best specimens of
modern architecture in Europe, and even deserves to be ranked with the
works of Palladio, whom Lord Burlington made the particular object of
his imitation. W—— added, that this building, it is expected, will in a
few years be taken down, to make room for streets. From the very great
increase of ground-rent, it is supposed that the site of the house and
garden would produce 8,000_l._ a-year. Every thing here is reduced to
calculation. This sum will soon be considered as the actual rent; and
then, in the true commercial spirit of the country, it will be put to
sale. This has already been done in two or three instances; and in the
course of half a century, it is expected that the bank will be the only
building of consequence in this emporium of trade.

The merchants of this modern Tyre, are indeed princes in their wealth,
and in their luxury; but it is to be wished that they had something more
of the spirit of princely magnificence, and that when they build palaces
they would cease to use the warehouse as their model.


                              LETTER XII.

_Causes of the Change of Ministry not generally understood.—Catholic
    Emancipation.—The Change acceptable to the Nation.—State of
    Parties.—Strength of the new Administration.—Its good
    Effects.—Popularity of Mr Addington._

The change of ministry is considered as a national blessing. The system
of terror, of alarm, and of espionage, has been laid aside, the most
burthensome of the taxes repealed, and a sincere desire manifested on
the part of the new minister to meet the wishes of the nation.

It must nevertheless be admitted, that, however unfortunately for their
country, and for the general interests of Europe, the late
administration may have employed their power, the motives which induced
them to withdraw, and the manner in which they retired, are highly
honourable to their personal characters. The immediate cause was
this:—They had held out the promise of emancipation to the Irish
Catholics as a means of reconciling them to the Union. While the two
countries were governed by separate legislatures, it was very possible,
if the catholics were admitted to their rights, that a majority in the
Irish House might think proper to restore the old religion of the
people, to which it is well known with what exemplary fidelity the great
majority of the Irish nation still adhere. But when once the
representatives of both countries should be united in one parliament, no
such consequence could be apprehended; for, though all the Irish members
should be catholics, they would still be a minority. The old ministry
had thus represented the Union as a measure which would remove the
objection to catholic emancipation, and pledged themselves to grant that
emancipation, after it should have been effected—this act of justice
being the price which they were to pay for it to the people of Ireland.
But they had not calculated upon the king’s character, whose zeal, as
the Defender of the Faith, makes it greatly to be lamented that he has
not a better faith to defend. He, as head of the Church of England,
conceives himself bound by his coronation oath to suffer no innovation
in favour of popery, as these schismatics contemptuously call the
religion of the Fathers and of the Apostles, and this scruple it was
impossible to overcome. The bishops, who might have had some influence
over him, were all, as may well be imagined, decidedly hostile to any
measure of favour or justice to the true faith, and the ministry had no
alternative but to break their pledged promise or to resign their
offices. That this is the real state of the case, I have been assured on
such authority that I cannot entertain the slightest doubt: it is,
however, by no means generally believed to be so by the people; but I
cannot find that they have any other reason for their disbelief, than a
settled opinion that statesmen always consider their own private
interest in preference to every thing else; in plain language, that
there is no such virtue in existence as political honesty. And they
persist in supposing that there is more in this resignation than has yet
been made public, though the change is now of so long standing, and
though they perceive that the late ministers have not accepted either
titles or pensions, as has been usual on such occasions, and thus
sufficiently proved that disinterestedness of which they will not
believe them capable.

But it is commonly said, They went out because they could not decently
make peace with Buonaparte—Wait a little while and you will see them in
again. This is confuted by the conduct of the former cabinet, all the
leading members of which, except Mr Pitt, have violently declared
themselves against the peace. They cry out that it is the most foolish,
mischievous, and dishonourable treaty that ever was concluded: that it
cannot possibly be lasting, and that it will be the ruin of the nation.
The nation, however, is very well persuaded that no better was to be
had, very thankful for a respite from alarm, and a relief of taxation,
and very well convinced, by its own disposition to maintain the peace,
that it is in no danger of being broken.—And the nation is perfectly
right. Exhausted as France and England both are, it is equally necessary
to one country as to the other. France wants to make herself a
commercial country, to raise a navy, and to train up sailors; England
wants to recover from the expenses of a ten-years war, and they are
miserable politicians who suppose that any new grounds of dispute can
arise, important enough to overpower these considerations.

Pitt, on the other hand, defends the peace; and many persons suppose
that he will soon make his appearance again in administration. This is
not very likely, on account of the catholic question, to which he is as
strongly pledged as the Grenville party; but the present difference
between him and that party seems to show that the inflexibility of the
former cabinet is not to be imputed to him. Peace, upon as good terms as
the present, might, beyond all doubt, have been made at any time during
the war; and as he is satisfied with it, it is reasonable to suppose
that he would have made it sooner if he could. His opinion has all the
weight that you would expect; and as the old opposition members are
equally favourable to the measures of the new administration, the
ministry may look upon themselves as secure. The war-faction can muster
only a very small minority, and they are as thoroughly unpopular as the
friends of peace and good order could wish them to be.

I know not how I can give you a higher opinion of the present Premier
than by saying, that his enemies have nothing worse to object against
him than that his father was a physician. Even in Spain we have never
thought it necessary to examine the pedigree of a statesman, and in
England such a cause of complaint is indeed ridiculous. They call him
The Doctor on this account;—a minister of healing he has truly been; he
has poured balm and oil into the wounds of the country, and the country
is blessing him. The peace with France is regarded by the wiser persons
with whom I have conversed as a trifling good, compared to the internal
pacification which Mr Addington has effected. He immediately put a stop
to the system of irritation; there was an end of suspicion, and alarm,
and plots; conspiracies were no longer to be heard of, when spies were
no longer paid for forming them. The distinction of parties had been as
inveterately marked as that between new and old Christians a century ago
in Spain, and it was as effectually removed by this change of ministry,
as if an act of forgetfulness had been enforced by miracle. Parties are
completely dislocated by the peace; it has shaken things like an
earthquake, and they are not yet settled after the shock. I have heard
it called the great political thaw,—happily in Spain we do not know what
a great frost is sufficiently to understand the full force of the

Thus much, however, may plainly be perceived. The whig party regard it
as a triumph to have any other minister than Pitt, and their antagonists
are equally glad to have any other minister than Fox. A still larger
part of the people, connected with government by the numberless hooks
and eyes of patronage and influence, are ready to support any minister
whatsoever, in any measures whatsoever: and others more respectable,
neither few in number, nor feeble in weight, act with the same blind
acquiescence from a sense of duty. All these persons agree in supporting
Mr Addington, who is attacked by none but the violent enemies of the
popular cause, now, of course, the objects of popular hatred and obloquy
themselves. Some people expect to see him take Fox into the
administration, others think he will prefer Pitt; it is not very likely
that he should venture to trust either, for he must know that if either
should[10] enter at the sleeve, he would get out at the collar.

Footnote 10:

  Entraria por la manga, y saldria por el cabezon.

To the eloquence of his predecessor, the present Premier makes no
pretensions, and he is liked the better for it. The English say they
have paid quite enough for fine speeches; he tells them a plain story,
and gains credit by fair dealing. His enemies naturally depreciate his
talents: as far as experience goes, it confutes them. He has shown
talents enough to save the country from the Northern confederacy, the
most serious danger to which it was exposed during the whole war; to
make a peace which has satisfied all the reasonable part of the nation,
and to restore unanimity at home, and that freedom of opinion which was
almost abrogated. From all that I can learn, Mr Addington is likely long
to retain his situation; and sure I am that were he to retire from it,
he would take with him the regret and the blessings of the people.


                              LETTER XIII.

_Dress of the English without Variety.—Coal-heavers.—Post-men.—Art of
    knocking at the Door.—Inscriptions over the Shops.—Exhibitions in
    the Shop-windows.—Chimney-sweepers.—May-day.—These Sports originally

                                                   Tuesday, May 4, 1802.

The dress of Englishmen wants that variety which renders the figures of
our scenery so picturesque. You might think, from walking the streets of
London, that there were no ministers of religion in the country; J—
smiled at the remark, and told me that some of the dignified clergy wore
silk aprons; but these are rarely seen, and they are more generally
known by a huge and hideous wig, once considered to be as necessary a
covering for a learned head as an ivy bush is for an owl, but which even
physicians have now discarded, and left only to schoolmasters and
doctors in divinity. There is, too, this remarkable difference between
the costume of England and of Spain, that here the national dress is
altogether devoid of grace, and it is only modern fashions which have
improved it: in Spain, on the contrary, nothing can be more graceful
than the dresses both of the clergy and peasantry, which have from time
immemorial remained unchanged; while our better ranks clothe themselves
in a worse taste, because they imitate the apery of other nations. What
I say of their costume applies wholly to that of the men; the dress of
English women is perfect, as far as it goes; it leaves nothing to be
wished,—except that there should be a little more of it.

The most singular figures in the streets of this metropolis are the men
who are employed in carrying the earth-coal, which they remove from the
barge to the waggon, and again from the waggon to the house, upon their
backs. The back of the coat, therefore, is as well quilted as the cotton
breastplate of our soldiers in America in old times: and to protect it
still more, the broad flap of the hat lies flat upon the shoulders. The
head consequently seems to bend unusually forward, and the whole figure
has the appearance of having been bowed beneath habitual burthens. The
lower classes, with this exception, if they do not wear the cast clothes
of the higher ranks, have them in the same form. The post-men all wear
the royal livery, which is scarlet and gold; they hurry through the
streets, and cross from side to side with indefatigable rapidity. The
English doors have knockers instead of bells, and there is an advantage
in this which you would not immediately perceive. The bell, by
whomsoever it be pulled, must always give the same sound, but the
knocker may be so handled as to explain who plays upon it, and
accordingly it has its systematic set of signals. The post-man comes
with two loud and rapid raps, such as no person but himself ever gives.
One very loud one marks the news-man. A single knock of less vehemence
denotes a servant or other messenger. Visitors give three or four.
Footmen or coachmen always more than their masters; and the master of
every family has usually his particular touch, which is immediately

Every shop has an inscription above it expressing the name of its owner,
and that of his predecessor, if the business has been so long
established as to derive a certain degree of respectability from time.
Cheap Warehouse is sometimes added; and if the tradesman has the honour
to serve any one of the royal family, this is also mentioned, and the
royal arms in a style of expensive carving are affixed over the door.
These inscriptions in large gilt letters, shaped with the greatest
nicety, form a peculiar feature in the streets of London. In former
times all the shops had large signs suspended before them, such as are
still used at inns in the country; these have long since disappeared;
but in a few instances, where the shop is of such long standing that it
is still known by the name of its old insignia, a small picture still
preserves the sign, placed instead of one of the window panes.

If I were to pass the remainder of my life in London, I think the shops
would always continue to amuse me. Something extraordinary or beautiful
is for ever to be seen in them. I saw, the other day, a sturgeon, above
two _varas_ in length, hanging at a fishmonger’s. In one window you see
the most exquisite lamps of alabaster, to shed a pearly light in the
bedchamber; or formed of cut glass to glitter like diamonds in the
drawing-room; in another, a convex mirror reflects the whole picture of
the street, with all its moving swarms, or you start from your own face
magnified to the proportions of a giant’s. Here a painted piece of beef
swings in a roaster to exhibit the machine which turns it; here you have
a collection of worms from the human intestines, curiously bottled, and
every bottle with a label stating to whom the worm belonged, and
testifying that the party was relieved from it by virtue of the medicine
which is sold within. At one door stands a little Scotchman taking
snuff,—in one window a little gentleman with his coat puckered up in
folds, and the folds filled with water to show that it is proof against
wet. Here you have cages full of birds of every kind, and on the upper
story live peacocks are spreading their fans; another window displays
the rarest birds and beasts stuffed, and in glass cases; in another you
have every sort of artificial fly for the angler, and another is full of
busts painted to the life, with glass eyes, and dressed in full fashion
to exhibit the wigs which are made within, in the very newest and most
approved taste. And thus is there a perpetual exhibition of whatever is
curious in nature or art, exquisite in workmanship, or singular in
costume; and the display is perpetually varying as the ingenuity of
trade, and the absurdity of fashion, are ever producing something new.

Yesterday, I was amused by a spectacle which you will think better
adapted to wild African negroes than to so refined a people as the
English. Three or four boys of different ages were dancing in the
street; their clothes seemed as if they had been dragged through the
chimney, as indeed had been the case, and these sooty habiliments were
bedecked with pieces of foil, and with ribbons of all gay colours,
flying like streamers in every direction as they whisked round. Their
sooty faces were reddened with rose-pink, and in the middle of each
cheek was a patch of gold leaf, the hair was frizzed out, and as white
as powder could make it, and they wore an old hat cocked for the
occasion, and in like manner ornamented with ribbons, and foil, and
flowers. In this array were they dancing through the streets, clapping a
wooden plate, frightening the horses by their noise, and still more by
their strange appearance, and soliciting money from all whom they met.

The first days of May are the Saturnalia of these people,—a wretched
class of men, who exist in no other country than England, and it is
devoutly to be hoped, for the sake of humanity, will not long continue
to exist there. The soot of the earth-coal, which, though formerly used
by only the lower classes, is now the fuel of rich and poor alike,
accumulates rapidly in the chimneys: and instead of removing it by
firing a gun up, or dragging up a bush, as is sometimes practised in the
country, and must have been in former times the custom every where, they
send men up to sweep it away with a brush. These passages are not
unfrequently so crooked and so narrow, that none but little children can
crawl up them; and you may imagine that cruel threats and cruel usage
must both be employed before a child can be forced to ascend places so
dark, so frightful, and so dangerous.

No objects can be more deplorable than these poor children. You meet
them with a brush in the hand, a bag upon the shoulders, and a sort of
woollen cap, or rather bandage swathed round the head; their skin, and
all their accoutrements, equally ingrained with soot, every part being
black except the white of the eyes and the teeth, which the soot keeps
beautifully clean. Their way of life produces another more remarkable
and more melancholy effect; they are subject to a dangerous species of
hydrocele, which is peculiar to them, and is therefore called the
chimney-sweeper’s disease.

The festival of these poor people commences on May-day: it was perhaps
the day of their patron saint, in times of yore, before the whole
hierarchy of saints and angels were proscribed in England by the
levelling spirit of a diabolical heresy. They go about in parties of
four or five, in the grotesque manner which I have described. A more
extraordinary figure is sometimes in company, whom they call
_Jack-in-the-Bush_; as the name indicates, nothing but bush is to be
seen, except the feet which dance under it. The man stands in a
frame-work, which is supported upon his shoulders, and is completely
covered with the boughs of a thick and short-branched shrub: the heat
must be intolerable, but he gets paid for his day’s purgatory, and the
English will do any thing for money. The savages of Virginia had such a
personage in one of their religious dances, and indeed the custom is
quite in savage taste.

May-day is one of the most general holydays in England. High poles, as
tall as the mast of a merchant ship, are erected in every village, and
hung with garlands composed of all field flowers, but chiefly of one
which is called the cowslip: each has its King and Queen of the May
chosen from among the children of the peasantry, who are tricked out as
fantastically as the London chimney-sweepers; but health and cleanliness
give them a very different appearance. Their table is spread under the
May-pole; their playmates beg with a plate, as our children for the
little altar which they have drest for their saint upon his festival,
and all dance round the pole hand in hand.

Without doubt, these sports were once connected with religion. It is the
peculiar character of the true religion to sanctify what is innocent,
and make even merriment meritorious; and it is as peculiarly the
character of Calvinism to divest piety of all cheerfulness, and
cheerfulness of all piety, as if they could not co-exist; and to
introduce a graceless and joyless system of manners suitable to a faith
which makes the heresy of Manes appear reasonable. He admitted that the
Evil Principle was weaker than the Good one, but in the mythology of
Calvin there is no good one to be found.


                              LETTER XIV.

_Description of the Inside, and of the Furniture, of an English House._

One of the peculiarities in this country is, that every body lives upon
the ground floor, except the shopkeepers. The stable and coach-house
either adjoin the house, or more frequently are detached from it, and
the kitchen is either at the back of the house on the ground floor, or
underground, which is usually the case in large towns, but never, as
with us, above stairs. They wonder at our custom of living on the higher
floors, and call it troublesome: I, on my part, cannot be reconciled to
the inconvenience of living on a level with the street: the din is at
your very ear, the window cannot be thrown open for the dust which
showers in, and it is half darkened by blinds that the by-passers may
not look in upon your privacy.

One room on the first floor is reserved for company, the rest are
bed-rooms, for the beds, instead of standing in recesses, are placed in
rooms as large as those in which we dwell. This occasions a great waste
of space, the more remarkable, as ground is exceedingly valuable in the
towns, and is rented by the square foot of front at a prodigious price.
Nothing surprised me more at first, than the excellent workmanship of
the doors and windows; no jarring with the wind, no currents of air, and
the windows, which are all suspended by pulleys, rise with a touch. This
is not entirely and exclusively owing to the skill of the English
workmen, but in great measure also to the climate. When the wood has
once been seasoned, neither the heat nor humidity of the atmosphere is
ever sufficient to affect it materially. In good houses the doors have a
strip of open brass work above the handle, that the servants may not
soil them with their fingers.

An Englishman delights to show his wealth; every thing in his house,
therefore, is expensive: a whole dwelling in our country is furnished at
less cost than is bestowed here upon a single apartment. The description
of our common sitting-room may be considered as a fair specimen. The
whole floor is fitted with carpeting, not of the costliest kind, but
both in texture and design far superior to what is usually seen in
Spain. This remains down summer and winter, though in summer our matting
would be far more suitable, if the fashion were once introduced. Before
the fire is a small carpet of different fabric, and fleecy appearance,
about two _varas_ long, and not quite half as broad; a fashion of late
years, which has become universal, because it is at once ornamental,
comfortable, and useful, preserving the larger one, which would else
soon be worn out in that particular part. Of the fire-places I have
already spoken; here the frontal is marble, and above is a looking-glass
the whole length of the mantle-piece, divided into three compartments by
gilt pillars, which support a gilt architrave. On each side hang
bell-ropes of coloured worsted, about the thickness of a man’s wrist,
the work of Mrs J— and her sister, which suspend knobs of polished spar.
The fender is remarkable; it consists of a crescent basket work of wire
painted green, about a foot in height, topt with brass, and supporting
seven brazen pillars of nearly the same height, which also are
surmounted by a band of brass. This also is a late fashion, introduced
in consequence of the numberless accidents occasioned by fire. Almost
every newspaper contains an account that some woman has been burnt to
death, and they are at last beginning to take some means of precaution.

The chairs and tables are of a wood brought from Honduras, which is in
great request here, of a fine close grain, and a reddish brown colour,
which becomes more beautiful as it grows darker with age. The history of
this wood, of which all the finer articles of furniture exclusively are
made, is rather singular. A West Indian captain, about a century ago,
brought over some planks as ballast, and gave them to his brother, Dr
Gibbons, a physician of great eminence, who was then building a house.
The workmen, however, found the wood too hard for their tools, and it
was thrown aside. Some time afterwards his wife wanted a box to hold
candles, the doctor thought of the West Indian wood, and, in spite of
the difficulty which was still found in working it, had the box made. He
admired its colour and polish so much, that he had a bureau made of it
also; and this was thought so beautiful, that it was shown to all his
friends. Among others, the Duchess of Buckingham came to see it, and
begged enough of the wood to make her a bureau also. From that moment
the demand was so great, that it became a regular article of trade, and
as long as the woods of Honduras last it is likely to continue so. There
is reason to believe that the tree would grow in England, as there are
some flourishing plants in the neighbourhood of London which have been
raised from seed. Formerly the tables were made of the solid plank; but
English ingenuity has now contrived to give the same appearance at a far
less cost of materials, by facing common deal with a layer of the fine
wood not half a barley-corn in thickness. To give you an idea of the
curiosity with which all these things are executed, is impossible;
nothing can be more perfect.

Our breakfast table is oval, large enough for eight or nine persons, yet
supported upon one claw in the centre. This is the newest fashion, and
fashions change so often in these things, as well as in every thing
else, that it is easy to know how long it is since a house has been
fitted up, by the shape of the furniture. An upholder just now
advertises _Commodes_, _Console-tables_, _Ottomans_, _Chaiselongès_, and
_Chiffoniers_;—what are all these? you ask. I asked the same question,
and could find no person in the house who could answer me; but they are
all articles of the newest fashion, and no doubt all will soon be
thought indispensably necessary in every well-furnished house. Here is
also a nest of tables for the ladies, consisting of four, one less than
another, and each fitting into the one above it; you would take them for
play-things, from their slenderness and size, if you did not see how
useful they find them for their work. A harpsichord takes up the middle
of one side of the room, and in the corners are screens to protect the
face from the fire, of mahogany, with fans of green silk, which spread
like a flower, and may be raised or lowered at pleasure. A book-case,
standing on a chest of drawers, completes the heavy furniture; it has
glazed doors, and curtains of green silk within.

But I should give you a very inadequate idea of an English room were I
to stop here. Each window has blinds to prevent the by-passers from
looking in; the plan is taken from the Venetian blinds, but made more
expensive, as the bars are fitted into a frame and move in grooves. The
shutters fit back by day, and are rendered ornamental by the gilt ring
by which they are drawn open: at night you perceive that you are in a
land of housebreakers by the contrivances for barring them, and the
bells which are fixed on to alarm the family, in case the house should
be attacked. On one side of the window the curtains hang in festoons,
they are of rich printed cotton, lined with a plain colour and fringed,
the quantity they contain is very great. Add to this a sconce of the
most graceful form, with six prints in gilt frames, and you have the
whole scene before you. Two of these are Noel’s views of Cadiz and
Lisbon; the others are from English history, and represent the battles
of the Boyne and of La Hogue, the death of General Wolfe at Quebec, and
William Penn treating with the Indians for his province of Pennsylvania.

Let us proceed to the dining-room.—Here the table is circular, but
divides in half to receive a middle part which lengthens it, and this is
so contrived that it may be made to suit any number of persons from six
to twenty. The side-board is a massier piece of furniture; formerly a
single slab of marble was used for this purpose, but now this is become
one of the handsomest and most expensive articles. The glasses are
arranged on it ready for dinner, and the knives and forks in two little
chests or cabinets, the spoons are be tween them in a sort of urn; every
thing being made costly and ornamental.

The drawing-room differs chiefly from the breakfast parlour in having
every thing more expensive, a carpet of richer fabric, sconces and
mirrors more highly ornamented, and curtains of damask like the sofas
and chairs. Two chandeliers with glass drops stand on the mantle-piece;
but in these we excel the English; they have not the brilliancy of those
from the royal fabric at St Ildefonso. In this room are the portraits of
J— and his wife, by one of the best living artists, so admirably
executed as to make me blush for the present state of the arts in Spain.

Having proceeded thus far, I will go through the house. J— took me into
his kitchen one day to show me what is called the kitchen-range, which
has been constructed upon the philosophical principles of Count Rumford,
a German[11] philosopher, the first person who has applied scientific
discoveries to the ordinary purposes of life. The top of the fire is
covered with an iron plate, so that the flame and smoke, instead of
ascending, pass through bars on the one side, and there heat an iron
front, against the which food may be roasted as well as by the fire
itself; it passes on, heating stoves and boilers as it goes, and the
smoke is not suffered to pass up the chimney till it can no longer be of
any use. On the other side is an oven heated by the same fire, and
vessels for boiling may be placed on the plate over the fire. The smoke
finally sets a kind of wheel in motion in the chimney, which turns the
spit. I could not but admire the comfort and cleanliness of every thing
about the kitchen; a dresser as white as when the wood was new, the
copper and tin vessels bright and burnished, the chain in which the spit
plays, bright; the plates and dishes ranged in order along the shelves,
and I could not but wish our dirty Domingo were here to take a lesson of
English cleanliness. There is a back-kitchen in which all the dirty work
is done, into which water is conveyed by pipes. The order and
cleanliness of every thing made even this room cheerful, though
under-ground, where the light enters only from an area, and the face of
the sky is never seen.

Footnote 11:

  This is a mistake of the author’s. Count Rumford is an American.—TR.

And now for my own apartment, where I am now writing. It is on the
second floor, the more, therefore, to my liking, as it is less noisy,
and I breathe in a freer atmosphere. My bed, though neither covered with
silk nor satin, has as much ornament as is suitable; silk or satin would
not give that clean appearance which the English always require, and
which I have already learnt to delight in. Hence, the damask curtains
which were used in the last generation have given place to linens. These
are full enough to hang in folds; by day they are gathered round the
bed-posts, which are light pillars of mahogany supporting a frame-work,
covered with the same furniture as the curtains; and valances are
fastened round this frame, both withinside the curtains and without, and
again round the sides of the bedstead. The blankets are of the natural
colour of the wool, quite plain; the sheets plain also. I have never
seen them flounced nor laced, nor ever seen a striped or coloured
blanket. The counterpane is of all English manufactures the least
tasteful; it is of white cotton, ornamented with cotton knots, in shapes
as graceless as the cut box in a garden. My window-curtains are of the
same pattern as the bed; a mahogany press holds my clothes, an oval
looking-glass swung lengthways stands on the dressing-table. A compact
kind of chest holds the bason, the soap, the toothbrush, and
water-glass, each in a separate compartment; and a looking-glass, for
the purpose of shaving at (for Englishmen usually shave themselves,)
slips up and down behind, the water-jug and water-bottle stand below,
and the whole shuts down a-top, and closes in front, like a cabinet. The
room is carpeted; here I have my fire, my table, and my cassette; here I
study, and here minute down every thing which I see or learn—how
industriously you will perceive, and how faithfully, you who best know
me, will best know.

My honoured father will say to all this, How many things are there here
which I do not want?—But you, my dear mother,—I think I see you looking
round the room while you say, How will Manuel like to leave these
luxuries and return to Spain? How anxiously I wish to leave them, you
will not easily conceive, as you have never felt that longing love for
your own country, which absence from it renders a passion, and almost a
disease. Fortunate as I am in having such rare advantages of society and
friendship, and happy as I am in the satisfaction wherewith I reflect
every night that no opportunity of enquiry or observation has been lost
during the day, still my greatest pleasure is to think how fast the days
and weeks are passing on, and that every day I am one day nearer the
time of my return. I never longed half so earnestly to return from
Alcalá, as I now do to enter my native place, to see the shield over the
door-way, to hear the sound of our own water-wheel, of the bells of St
Claras, of Domingo’s viola at evening, to fondle my own dogs, to hear my
own language, to kneel at mass in the church where I was baptized, and
to see once more around me the faces of all whom I have known from
infancy, and of all whom I love best.

                        ¡Ay[12] Dios de mi alma!
                            ¡Saqueisme de aquí!
                        ¡Ay! que Inglaterra
                            Ya no es para mí.

Footnote 12:

  Ah God of my soul, take me from hence! alas! England is not a country
  for me.—TR.


                               LETTER XV.

_English Meals.—Clumsy Method of Butchery.—Lord Somerville.—Cruel Manner
    of killing certain Animals.—Luxuries of the Table.—Liquors._

The English do not eat beef-steaks for breakfast, as lying travellers
have told us, nor can I find that it has ever been the custom. The
breakfast-table is a cheerful sight in this country: porcelain of their
own manufactory, which excels the Chinese in elegance of form and
ornament, is ranged on a Japan waiter, also of the country fabric; for
here they imitate every thing. The mistress sits at the head of the
board, and opposite to her the boiling water smokes and sings in an urn
of Etruscan shape. The coffee is contained in a smaller vase of the same
shape, or in a larger kind of tea-pot, wherein the grain is suspended in
a bag; but nothing is so detestable as an Englishman’s coffee. The
washing of our after-dinner cups would make a mixture as good; the
infusion is just strong enough to make the water brown and bitter. This
is not occasioned by œconomy, though coffee is enormously dear, for the
people are extravagant in the expences of the table: they know no
better; and if you tell them how it ought to be made, they reply, that
it must be very disagreeable, and even that if they could drink it so
strong, it would prevent them from sleeping. There is besides an act of
parliament to prevent the English from drinking good coffee: they are
not permitted to roast it themselves, and of course all the fresh and
finer flavour evaporates in the warehouse. They make amends however by
the excellence of their tea, which is still very cheap, though the
ministry, in violation of an explicit bargain, increased the tax upon it
four fold, during the last war. This is made in a vessel of silver, or
of a fine black porcelain: they do not use boiled milk with it, but
cream in its fresh state, which renders it a very delightful beverage.
They eat their bitter bread in various ways, either in thin slices, or
toasted, or in small hot loaves, always with butter, which is the best
thing in the country.

The dinner hour is usually five: the labouring part of the community
dine at one, the highest ranks at six, seven, or even eight. The
quantity of meat which they consume is astonishing! I verily believe
that what is drest for one dinner here, would supply the same number of
persons in Spain for a week, even if no fast-days intervened. Every
where you find both meat and vegetables in the same crude and insipid
state. The potatoe appears at table all the year round: indeed the poor
subsist so generally upon this root, that it seems surprising how they
could have lived before it was introduced from America. Beer is the
common drink. They take less wine than we do at dinner, and more after
it; but the custom of sitting for hours over the bottle, which was so
prevalent of late years, has been gradually laid aside, as much from the
gradual progress of the taxes as of good sense. Tea is served between
seven and eight, in the same manner as at breakfast, except that we do
not assemble round the table. Supper is rather a ceremony than a meal;
but the hour afterwards, over our wine and water, or spirits, is the
pleasantest in the day.

The old refinements of epicurean cruelty are no longer heard of, yet the
lower classes are cruel from mere insensibility, and the higher ones,
for want of thought, make no effort to amend them. The butchers and
drovers in particular are a savage race. The sheep which I have met on
their way to the slaughter-house, have frequently their faces smeared
with their own blood, and accidents from over-driven oxen are very
common. Cattle are slaughtered with the clumsiest barbarity: the butcher
hammers away at the forehead of the beast; blow after blow raises a
swelling which renders the following blows ineffectual, and the butchery
is completed by cutting the throat. Great pains have been taken by a
nobleman who has travelled in Spain, to introduce our humane method of
piercing the spine; the effect has been little, and I have heard that
the butchers have sometimes wantonly prolonged the sufferings of animals
in his sight, for the pleasure of tormenting a humanity which they think
ridiculous. Oysters are eaten alive here. You see women in the streets
skinning eels while the creature writhes on the fork. They are thought
delicacies here, and yet the English laugh at the French for eating
frogs! Lobsters and crabs are boiled alive, and sometimes roasted! and
carp, after having been scaled and gutted, will sometimes leap out of
the stew-pan. If humanity is in better natures an instinct, no instinct
is so easily deadened, and in the mass of mankind it seems not to exist.

Roast beef has been heard of wherever the English are known. I have more
than once been asked at table my opinion of the roast beef of Old
England, with a sort of smile, and in a tone as if the national honour
were concerned in my reply. The loin of beef is always called Sir, which
is the same as Señor.[13] Neither drunkenness nor gluttony can fairly be
imputed as national vices to this people, and yet perhaps there is no
other country where so much nice and curious attention is paid to eating
and drinking, nor where the pleasures of the table are thought of such
serious importance, and gratified at so great an expense. All parts of
the world are ransacked for an Englishman’s table. Turtle are brought
alive from the West Indies, and their arrival is of so much consequence,
that notices are immediately sent to the newspapers, particularly
stating that they are in fine order, and lively. Whereever you dine
since peace has been concluded, you see a Perigord pye. India supplies
sauces and curry powder; they have hams from Portugal and Westphalia;
reindeers’ tongues from Lapland; caviar from Russia; sausages from
Bologna; maccaroni from Naples; oil from Florence; olives from France,
Italy, or Spain, at choice; cheese from Parma and Switzerland. Fish come
packed up in ice from Scotland for the London market, and the epicures
here will not eat any mutton but what is killed in Wales. There is in
this very morning’s newspaper, a notice from a shopkeeper in the Strand,
offering to contract with any person who will send him game regularly
from France, Norway, or Russia.

Footnote 13:

  D. Manuel has mistaken the word, which is Surloin, quasi
  _Super-Loin_,—the upper part of it.—TR.

The choice of inferior liquors is great; but all are bad substitutes for
the pure juice of the grape. You have tasted their beer in its best
state, and cider you have drank in Biscay. They have a beverage made
from the buds of the fir-tree and treacle; necessity taught the American
settlers to brew this detestable mixture, which is introduced here as a
luxury. Factitious waters are now also become fashionable; soda-water
particularly, the fixed air of which hisses as it goes down your throat
as cutting as a razor, and draws tears as it comes up through the nose
as pungent as a pinch of snuff. The common water is abominable; it is
either from a vapid canal in which all the rabble of the outskirts wash
themselves in summer, or from the Thames, which receives all the filth
of the city. It is truly disgraceful that such a city should be without
an aqueduct. At great tables the wine stands in ice, and you keep your
glass inverted in water. In nothing are they so curious as in their
wines, though rather in the quality than the variety. They even send it
abroad to be ripened by the motion of the ship, and by warmer climates;
you see _superior, London, picked, particular, East India_ Madeira
advertised, every epithet of which must be paid for.


                              LETTER XVI.

_Informers.—System upon which they act.—Anecdotes of their
    Rascality.—Evil of encouraging them.—English Character a Compound of

They talk here of our Holy Office as a disgrace to the Spanish nation,
when their own government is ten times more inquisitorial, for the
paltry purposes of revenue. Shortly after his last return from Spain, J—
stept into a hosier’s to buy a pair of gloves; the day was warm, and he
laid his hat upon the counter: a well-drest man came in after him for
the same ostensible purpose, either learnt his name by enquiry, or
followed him till he had discovered it, and the next day my friend was
summoned before a magistrate to answer a charge for wearing his hat
without a stamp. It was in vain he pleaded that the hat had been
purchased abroad; he had been in England more than six weeks, and had
not bought a stamp to put into it, and therefore was fined in the full

This species of espionage has within these few years become a regular
trade; the laws are in some instances so perplexed, and in others so
vexatious, that matter for prosecution is never wanting, and many of
these familiars of the Tax Office are amassing fortunes by this infamous
business. The most lucrative method of practice is as follows: A fellow
surcharges half the people in the district; that is, he informs the
tax-commissioners, that such persons have given in a false account of
their window’s, dogs, horses, carriages, &c. an offence for which the
tax is trebled, and half the surplus given to the informer. A day of
appeal, however, is allowed for those who think they can justify
themselves; but so many have been aggrieved, that when they appear
together before the commissioners, there is not time to hear one in ten.
Some of these persons live two, four, or six, leagues from the place of
appeal: they go there a second, and perhaps a third time in the hope of
redress; the informer takes care, by new surcharges, to keep up the
crowd, and the injured persons find it at last less burthensome to pay
the unjust fine, than to be repeatedly at the trouble and expense of
seeking justice in vain.

There is nothing, however dishonourable or villanous, to which these
wretches will not stoop. One of them, on his first settling in the
province which he had chosen for the scene of his campaigns, was invited
to dinner by a neighbouring gentleman, before his character was known;
the next day he surcharged his host for another servant, because one of
the men employed about his grounds had assisted in waiting at dinner.
Another happening to lame his horse, borrowed one of a farmer to ride
home: the farmer told him it was but an uneasy-going beast, as he was
kept wholly for the cart, but rather than that the gentleman should be
distressed he would put the saddle on him;—he was surcharged the next
day for keeping a saddle-horse, as his reward. Can there be a more
convincing proof of the excellent police of England, and, what is still
better, of the admirable effect of well-executed laws upon the people,
than that such pests of society as these walk abroad among the very
people whom they oppress and insult, with perfect safety both by day and
by night!

Government do not seem to be aware that when they offer premiums for
treachery, they are corrupting the morals of the people, and thereby
weakening their own security. There is reason sufficient for pardoning a
criminal, who confesses his own guilt, and impeaches his accomplice; the
course of law could not go on without it, and such men are already
infamous. But no such plea can be alleged in this case: it is a
miserable excuse for encouraging informers, to say, that the taxes are
so clumsily laid on, that they can easily be eluded. A far worse
instance of this pernicious practice occurs in the system of pressing
men for the navy, which the English confess to be the opprobrium of
their country, while they regret it as inevitable. In the proclamation
issued upon these occasions, a reward is regularly offered to all
persons who will give information where a sailor has hidden himself.

The whole system of England, from highest to lowest, is, and has been,
one series of antagonisms; struggle—struggle—in every thing. Check and
countercheck is the principle of their constitution, which is the result
of centuries of contention between the Crown and the People. The
struggle between the Clergy and the Lawyers unfettered their lands from
feudal tenures. Their church is a half-and-half mixture of Catholicism
and Puritanism. These contests being over, it is now a trial between the
Government and the Subject, how the one can lay on taxes, and how the
other can elude them.

This spirit of contradiction is the character of the nation. They love
to be at war, but do not love to pay for their amusement; and now, that
they are at peace, they begin to complain that the newspapers are not
worth reading, and rail at the French as if they really wished to begin
again. There is not a people upon the earth who have a truer love for
their Royal Family than the English, yet they caricature them in the
most open and insolent manner. They boast of the freedom of the press,
yet as surely and systematically punish the author who publishes any
thing obnoxious, and the bookseller who sells it, as we in our country
should prevent the publication. They cry out against intolerance, and
burn down the houses of those whom they regard as heretics. They love
liberty; go to war with their neighbours, because they chose to become
republicans, and insist upon the right of enslaving the negroes. They
hate the French and ape all their fashions, ridicule their neologisms
and then naturalize them, laugh at their inventions and then adopt them,
cry out against their political measures and then imitate them; the levy
in mass, the telegraph, and the income-tax are all from France. And the
common people, not to be behind-hand with their betters in absurdity,
boast as heartily of the roast beef of Old England, as if they were not
obliged to be content themselves with bread and potatoes. Well may punch
be the favourite liquor of the English,—it is a truly emblematic
compound of contrarieties.


                              LETTER XVII.

_The Word_ Home, _said to be peculiar to the English.—Propriety
    of the Assertion questioned.—Comfort.—Curious

There are two words in their language on which these people pride
themselves, and which they say cannot be translated. _Home_ is the one,
by which an Englishman means his house. As the meaning is precisely the
same whether it be expressed by one word or by two, and the feeling
associated therewith is the same also, the advantage seems wholly
imaginary; for assuredly this meaning can be conveyed in any language
without any possible ambiguity. In general, when a remark of this kind
is made to me, if I do not perceive its truth, I rather attribute it to
my own imperfect conception than to any fallacy in the assertion; but
when this was said to me, I recollected the exquisite lines of Catullus,
and asked if they were improved in the English translation:

                O quid solutis est beatius curis,
                Cum mens onus reponit, ac peregrino
                Labore fessi, venimus _larem ad nostrum_
                Desideratoque acquiescimus lecto?

We may with truth say that our word _solar_[14] is untranslatable, for
the English have not merely no equivalent term, but no feeling
correspondent to it. That reverence for the seat of our ancestors, which
with us is almost a religion, is wholly unknown here. But how can it be
otherwise in a land where there is no pride of blood, and where men who
would be puzzled to trace the place of their grandfather’s birth, are
not unfrequently elevated to a level with the grandees!

Footnote 14:

  _Solar_ is the floor of a house. _Hidalgo de solar conocido_, is the
  phrase used for a man of old family.—TR.

The other word is _comfort_; it means all the enjoyments and privileges
of _home_, or which, when abroad, makes us feel no want of _home_; and
here I must confess that these proud islanders have reason for their
pride. In their social intercourse and their modes of life they have
enjoyments which we never dream of. Saints and philosophers teach us
that they who have the fewest wants are the wisest and the happiest; but
neither philosophers nor saints are in fashion in England. It is
recorded of some old Eastern tyrant, that he offered a reward for the
discovery of a new pleasure;—in like manner this nation offers a
perpetual reward to those who will discover new wants for them, in the
readiness wherewith they purchase any thing, if the seller will but
assure them that it is exceedingly convenient. For instance, in the
common act of drawing a cork, a common screw was thought perfectly
sufficient for the purpose from the time when bottles were invented,
till within the last twenty years. It was then found somewhat
inconvenient to exert the arm, that the wine was spoilt by shaking, and
that the neck of the bottle might come off: to prevent these evils and
this danger, some ingenious fellow adapted the mechanical screw, and the
cork was extracted by the simple operation of turning a lever. Well,
this lasted for a generation, till another artificer discovered, with
equal ingenuity, that it was exceedingly unpleasant to dirt the fingers
by taking off the cork; a compound concave screw was therefore invented,
first to draw the cork and then to discharge it, and the profits of this
useful invention are secured to the inventor by a patent.—The royal arms
are affixed to this Patent Compound Concave Corkscrew; and the inventor,
in defiance to all future corkscrew-makers, has stamped upon it _Ne plus
ultra_, signifying that the art of making corkscrews can be carried no
further.—The tallow candles which they burn here frequently require
snuffing; but the common implement for this purpose had served time out
of mind, till within the present reign, the great epoch of the rise of
manufactures, and the decline of every thing else; a machine was then
invented to prevent the snuff from falling out upon the table; another
inventor supplanted this by using a revolving tube or cylinder, which
could never be so filled as to strain the spring; and now a still more
ingenious mechanic proposes to make snuffers which shall, by their own
act, snuff the candle whenever it is required, and to save all trouble
whatever.—One sort of knife is used for fish, another for butter, a
third for cheese. Penknives and scissars are not sufficient here; they
have an instrument to make pens, and an instrument to clip the nails.
They have a machine for slicing cucumbers; one instrument to pull on the
shoe, another to pull on the boot, another to button the knees of the
breeches. Pocket-toasting-forks have been invented, as if it were
possible to want a toasting-fork in the pocket; and even this has been
exceeded by the fertile genius of a celebrated projector, who ordered a
pocket-fender for his own use, which was to cost 200_l._ The article was
made, but as it did not please, payment was refused; an action was in
consequence brought, and the workman said upon the trial that he was
very sorry to disoblige so good a customer, and would willingly have
taken the thing back, if there could be any chance of selling it, but
that really nobody except the gentleman in question ever would want a
pocket-fender. This same gentleman has contrived to have the whole set
of fire-irons made hollow instead of solid; to be sure, the cost is more
than twenty-fold, but what is that to the convenience of holding a few
ounces in the hand, when you stir the fire, instead of a few pounds?
This curious projector is said to have taken out above seventy patents
for inventions equally ingenious, and equally useful; but a more
extraordinary invention than any of his threescore and ten, is that of
the hunting-razor, with which you may shave yourself while riding full

There is no end of these oddities; but the number of real conveniences
which have been created by this indiscriminate demand for novelty is
truly astonishing. These are the refinements of late years, the devices
of a people made wanton by prosperity. It is not for such superfluities
that the English are to be envied; it is for their domestic habits, and
for that unrestrained intercourse of the sexes, which, instead of
producing the consequences we should expect, gives birth not only to
their greatest enjoyments, but also to their best virtues.


                             LETTER XVIII.

_Drury-Lane Theatre.—The Winter’s Tale.—Kemble.—Mrs Siddons.—Don Juan._

There is nothing in a foreign land which a traveller is so little able
to enjoy as the national theatre: though he may read the language with
ease, and converse in it with little difficulty, still he cannot follow
the progress of a story upon the stage, nor catch the jests, which set
all around him in a roar, unless he has lived so long in the country,
that his ear has become perfectly naturalized. Fully aware of this, I
desired J— to take me there on some evening when the drama would be most
intelligible to the sense of sight; and we went accordingly yesternight
to see The Winter’s Tale, a play of the famous Shakespeare’s, which has
been lately revived for the purpose of displaying to advantage their two
most celebrated performers, Kemble, and his sister Mrs Siddons.

In the reigns of Elizabeth and James, the golden age of the English
drama, London was not a tenth part of its present size, and it then
contained seventeen theatres. At present there are but two. More would
succeed, and indeed more are wanted, but these have obtained exclusive
privileges. Old people say the acting was better in their younger days,
because there were more schools for actors; and the theatres being
smaller, the natural voice could be heard, and the natural expression of
the features seen, and therefore rant and distortion were unnecessary.
They, however, who remember no other generation of actors than the
present, will not be persuaded that there has ever been one more
perfect. Be this as it may, all are agreed that the drama itself has
wofully degenerated, though it is the only species of literary labour
which is well paid. They are agreed also as to the cause of this
degeneracy, attributing it to the prodigious size of the theatres. The
finer tones of passion cannot be discriminated, nor the finer movements
of the countenance perceived from the front, hardly from the middle of
the house. Authors, therefore, substitute what is here called broad
farce for genuine comedy; their jests are made intelligible by grimace,
or by that sort of mechanical wit which can be seen; comedy is made up
of trick, and tragedy of processions, pageants, battles, and explosions.

The two theatres are near each other, and tolerably well situated for
the more fashionable and more opulent parts of the town; but buildings
of such magnitude might have been made ornamental to the metropolis, and
both require a more open space before them. Soldiers were stationed at
the doors; and as we drew near we were importuned by women with oranges,
and by boys to purchase a bill of the play. We went into the pit that I
might have a better view of the house, which was that called Drury-lane,
from the place where it stands, the larger and more beautiful of the
two. The price here is three shillings and sixpence, about sixteen
reales. The benches are not divided into single seats, and men and women
here and in all parts of the house sit promiscuously.

I had heard much of this theatre, and was prepared for wonder; still the
size, the height, the beauty, the splendour, astonished me. Imagine a
pit capable of holding a thousand persons, four tiers of boxes supported
by pillars scarcely thicker than a man’s arm, and two galleries in
front, the higher one at such a distance, that they who are in it must
be content to see the show, without hoping to hear the dialogue; the
colours blue and silver, and the whole illuminated with chandeliers of
cut glass, not partially nor parsimoniously; every part as distinctly
seen as if in the noon sunshine. After the first feeling of surprise and
delight, I began to wish that a massier style of architecture had been
adopted. The pillars, which are iron, are so slender as to give an idea
of insecurity; their lightness is much admired, but it is
disproportioned and out of place. There is a row of private boxes on
each side of the pit, on a level with it; convenient they must doubtless
be to those who occupy them, and profitable to the proprietors of the
house; but they deform the theatre.

The people in the galleries were very noisy before the representation
began, whistling and calling to the musicians; and they amused
themselves by throwing orange-peel into the pit and upon the stage:
after the curtain drew up they were sufficiently silent. The pit was
soon filled; the lower side-boxes did not begin to fill till towards the
middle of the first act, because that part of the audience is too
fashionable to come in time; the back part of the front boxes not till
the half play; they were then filled with a swarm of prostitutes, and of
men who came to meet them. In the course of the evening there were two
or three quarrels there which disturbed the performance, and perhaps
ended in duels the next morning. The English say, and I believe they say
truly, that they are the most moral people in Europe; but were they to
be judged by their theatres,—I speak not of the representation, but of
the manners which are exhibited by this part of the audience,—it would
be thought that no people had so little sense of common decorum, or paid
so little respect to public decency.

No prompter was to be seen; the actors were perfect, and stood in no
need of his awkward presence. The story of the drama was, with a little
assistance, easily intelligible to me; not, indeed, by the dialogue; for
of that I found myself quite unable to understand any two sentences
together, scarcely a single one: and when I looked afterwards at the
printed play, I perceived that the difficulty lay in the peculiarity of
Shakespeare’s language, which is so antiquated, and still more so
perplexed, that few even of the English themselve can thoroughly
understand their favourite author. The tale, however, is this.
Polixenes, king of Bohemia, is visiting his friend Leontes, king of
Sicily; he is about to take his departure; Leontes presses him to stay
awhile longer, but in vain—urges the request with warmth, and is still
refused; then sets his queen to persuade him; and, perceiving that she
succeeds, is seized with sudden jealousy, which, in the progress of the
scene, becomes so violent, that he orders one of his courtiers to murder
Polixenes. This courtier acquaints Polixenes with his danger, and flies
with him. Leontes throws the queen into prison, where she is delivered
of a daughter; he orders the child to be burnt; his attendants
remonstrate against this barbarous sentence, and he then sends one of
them to carry it out of his dominions, and expose it in some wild place.
He has sent messengers to Delphos to consult the oracle; but, instead of
waiting for their return to confirm his suspicions or disprove them, he
brings the queen to trial. During the trial the messengers arrive, the
answer of the god is opened, and found to be that the queen is innocent,
the child legitimate, and that Leontes will be without an heir, unless
this which is lost shall be found. Even this fails to convince him; but
immediately tidings come in that the prince, his only son, has died of
anxiety for his mother: the queen at this faints, and is carried off;
and her woman comes in presently to say that she is dead also.

The courtier meantime lands with the child upon the coast of Bohemia,
and there leaves it: a bear pursues him across the stage, to the great
delight of the audience, and eats him out of their sight; which is
doubtless to their great disappointment. The ship is lost with all on
board in a storm, and thus no clue is left for discovering the princess.
Sixteen years are now supposed to elapse between the third and fourth
acts: the lost child, Perdita, has grown up a beautiful shepherdess, and
the son of Polixenes has promised marriage to her. He proceeds to
espouse her at a sheep-shearing feast; where a pedlar, who picks
pockets, excites much merriment. Polixenes, and Camillo the old courtier
who had preserved his life, are present in disguise and prevent the
contract. Camillo, longing to return to his own country, persuades the
prince to fly with his beloved to Sicily: he then goes with the king in
pursuit of them. The old shepherd, who has brought up Perdita as his own
child, goes in company with her; he produces the things which he had
found with her; she is thus discovered to be the lost daughter of
Leontes, and the oracle is accomplished. But the greatest wonder is yet
to come. As Leontes still continues to bewail the loss of his wife,
Paulina, the queen’s woman, promises to show him a statue of her,
painted to the life, the work of Julio Romano, that painter having
flourished in the days when Bohemia was a maritime country, and when the
kings thereof were used to consult the oracle of Apollo, being
idolaters. This statue proves to be the queen herself, who begins to
move to slow music, and comes down to her husband. And then to conclude
the play, as it was the husband of this woman who has been eaten by the
bear, old Camillo is given her that she may be no loser.

Far be it from me to judge of Shakespeare by these absurdities, which
are all that I can understand of the play. While, however, the English
tolerate such, and are pleased not merely in spite of them, but with
them, it would become their travellers not to speak with quite so much
contempt of the Spanish theatre. That Shakespeare was a great dramatist,
notwithstanding his Winter’s Tale, I believe; just as I know Cervantes
to have been a great man, though he wrote _El Rufián Dichoso_.

But you cannot imagine any thing more impressive than the finer parts of
this representation; the workings of the king’s jealousy, the dignified
grief and resentment of the queen, tempered with compassion for her
husband’s phrensy; and the last scene in particular, which surpassed
whatever I could have conceived of theatrical effect. The actress who
personated the queen is acknowledged lo be perfect in her art: she stood
leaning upon a pedestal with one arm, the other hanging down—the best
Grecian sculptor could not have adjusted her drapery with more grace,
nor have improved the attitude; and when she began to move, though this
was what the spectators were impatiently expecting, it gave every person
such a start of delight, as the dramatist himself would have wished,
though the whole merit must be ascribed to the actress.

The regular entertainments on the English stage consist of a play of
three or five acts, and an afterpiece of two; interludes are added only
on benefit nights. The afterpiece this evening was Don Juan, our old
story of the reprobate cavalier and the statue, here represented wholly
in pantomime. Nothing could be more insipid than all the former part of
this drama, nothing more dreadful, and indeed unfit for scenic
representation, than the catastrophe: but either the furies of Æschylus
were more terrible than European devils, or our Christian ladies are
less easily frightened than the women of Greece, for this is a favourite
spectacle everywhere. I know not whether the invention be originally
ours or the Italians; be it whose it may, the story of the Statue is in
a high style of fancy, truly fine and terrific. The sound of his marble
footsteps upon the stage struck a dead silence through the house. It is
to this machinery that the popularity of the piece is owing; and in
spite of the dulness which precedes this incident, and the horror which
follows it, I do not wonder that it is popular. Still it would be
decorous in English writers to speak with a little less disrespect of
the Spanish stage, and of the taste of a Spanish audience, while their
own countrymen continue to represent and to delight in one of the most
monstrous of all our dramas.

The representation began at seven; and the meals in London are so late,
that even this is complained of as inconveniently early. We did not
reach home till after midnight.


                              LETTER XIX.

_English Church Service.—Banns of Marriage.—Inconvenience of having the
    Sermon a regular Part.—Sermons an Article of Trade.—Popular
    Preachers.—Private Chapels._

The ceremonies of the English Church Service are soon described. Imagine
a church with one altar covered with crimson velvet, the Creed and the
Decalogue over it in golden letters, over these the Hebrew name of God,
or the I.H.S. at the pleasure of the painter, and half a dozen winged
heads about it, clumsily painted, or more clumsily carved: the nakedness
of the other walls concealed by a gallery; an organ over the door, and
below it, immediately fronting the priest, a clock. Here also in some
conspicuous place is a tablet to record in what year the church was
repaired or beautified, and to perpetuate the names of the
church-wardens at that time in letters of gold. Another tablet
enumerates, but in faded lettering, and less conspicuous situation, all
the benefactors to the parish; that is, all who have left alms to the
poor, or fees to the minister for an anniversary sermon. The gallery and
the area of the church are divided into pews, as they are called, by
handsome mahogany partitions, within which the rich sit on cushioned
seats, and kneel on hassocks, while the poor stand in the aisle, and
kneel upon the stones. These pews are usually freehold, attached to
houses in the parish. In towns a rent is exacted for them; and in
private chapels, of which I shall speak hereafter, the whole income is
derived from them, as in a theatre. The reading-desk of the priest is
under the pulpit, and under it that of the clerk; there are no other
assistants except the sexton and his wife, who open the pews, and expect
a fee for accommodating a stranger with a seat. The priest wears a
surplice; the clerk is no otherwise distinguished from the laity than as
he has a stronger voice than usual, reads worse than other people, that
is, more like a boy at a village school, and more frequently speaks
through the nose. The catholic church has no corresponding office; he is
to the congregation what the leader of the band is to an orchestra.

Some part of the service is repeated by the clerk and the people after
the priest; with others, as the psalms, and all the hymns, they proceed
alternately verse by verse; the priest reads the scripture lessons and
many of the prayers alone; he also reads the Litany, and the clerk and
congregation make the petition at the end of every clause. There is
nothing in the Liturgy to which a Catholic must necessarily object,
except the absolution; and with respect to that, his objection would be
to the sense in which it is taken, not to that which it was intended to
convey. After the first lesson the organist relieves the priest by
playing a tune, good or bad according to his own fancy. This is an
interlude of modern interpolation, which would have shocked the
Protestants in those days when their priests were more zealous and
longer-winded. At the end of what is properly called the morning
service, though on the Sunday it is but the first part of three, a
portion of the Psalms in vile verse, is given out by the clerk, and sung
by the whole congregation: the organ seems to have been introduced in
all opulent churches to hide the hideous discord of so many untuned and
unmusical voices, and overpower it by a louder strain. A second part
follows, which is usually performed beside the altar, but this is at the
option of the officiating priest; in this the congregation and their
leader have little more to do than to cry Amen, except that they repeat
the Nicene Creed; this part also is terminated by psalm-singing, during
which the priest exchanges his white vestment for a black one, and
ascends the pulpit. He begins with a short prayer, of which the form is
left to himself; then proceeds to the sermon. In old times the sermon
was a serious thing, both for the preacher and the hearers; the more,
the better, was the maxim in the days of fanaticism, and when the sands
of one hour were run out the people heard with pleasure the invitation
of the preacher to take another glass with him. But times are changed;
the hour-glass has disappeared, the patience of a congregation is now
understood to last twenty minutes, and in this instance short measure is
preferred. Immediately after the valediction the organ strikes up a loud
peal, with much propriety, as it drowns the greetings and salutations
which pass from one person to another. The Litany and the whole of the
second part are omitted in the evening service.

Thus you perceive, that having apostatized and given up the essentials
of religion, the schismatics have deprived divine service of its
specific meaning and motive. It is no longer a sacrifice for the people.
The congregation assemble to say prayers which might as well be said in
their oratories, and to hear sermons which might more conveniently be
read at home. Nothing is done which might not be done with the same
propriety in a chamber as in a church, and by a layman as by a priest.

A curious legal form is observed in the midst of the service; the priest
reads a list of all the persons in the parish who are about to be
married. This is done three successive Sundays, that if any person
should be acquainted with any existing impediment to the marriage, he
may declare it in time. The better classes avoid this publicity by
obtaining a license at easy expense. Those of high rank choose to be
married at their own houses, a license for which can be obtained from
only the primate. In Scotland, where the schismatics succeeded in
abolishing all the decencies as well as the ornaments of religion, this
is the universal practice; the sacrament of marriage may be celebrated
in any place, and by any person, in that country, and the whole funeral
ceremony there consists in digging a hole, and putting the body into it!

Of the service of this heretical church, such as it is, the sermon seems
to be regarded as the most important part; children are required to
remember the text, and it is as regular a thing for the English to
praise the discourse when they are going out of church, as it is to talk
of their health immediately before, and of the weather immediately
afterwards. The founders of the schism did not foresee the inconvenience
of always attaching this appendage to prayers and forms which the
Fathers of the church indited and enacted under the grace of the Holy
Spirit, and which even they had grace enough to leave uncorrupted,
though not unmutilated. To go through these forms and offer up these
petitions requires in the priest nothing more than the commonest
learning; it is, indeed, one of the manifold excellencies of the true
church, that the service can neither be made better nor worse by him who
performs it. But here, where a main part consists of composition merely
human, which is designed to edify and instruct the people, more
knowledge and more talents are necessary than it is reasonable to expect
in every priest, or indeed possible to find. You may suppose that this
inconvenience is easily remedied, that only those persons would be
licensed to preach whom the bishop had approved as well qualified, and
that all others would be enjoined to read the discourses of those
schismatical doctors whom their schismatical church had sanctioned.
Something like this was at first intended, and a book of homilies set
forth by authority. Happily these have become obsolete. I say happily,
because, having been composed in the first years of the schism, they
abound with calumnies against the faith. The people now expect original
composition from their priests, let their ability be what it may; it
would be regarded as a confession of incapacity to take a book into the
pulpit; and you may well suppose, if we in Spain have more preachers
than are good, what it must be in a country where every priest is one.

The sermon is read, not recited, nor delivered extemporaneously; which
is one main difference between the regular English clergy and the
sectarians. It has become a branch of trade to supply the priests with
discourses, and sermons may be bespoken upon any subject, at prices
proportioned to the degree of merit required, which is according to the
rank of the congregation to whom they are to be addressed. One clergyman
of Cambridge has assisted his weaker brethren, by publishing outlines
which they may fill up, and which he calls skeletons of sermons; another
of higher rank, to accommodate them still further, prints discourses at
full, in the written alphabet, so as to appear like manuscript to such
of the congregation as may chance to see them. The manuscripts of a
deceased clergyman are often advertised for sale, and it is usually
added to the notice, that they are warranted original; that is, that no
other copies have been sold, which might betray the secret. These
shifts, however, are not resorted to by the more respectable clergy; it
is not uncommon for these to enter into a commercial treaty with their
friends of the profession, and exchange their compositions. But even
with this reinforcement, the regular stock is usually but scanty; and if
the memory of the parishioners be good enough to last two years, or
perhaps half the time, they recognise their old acquaintance at their
regular return.

If, however, this custom be burthensome to one part of the clergy, they
who have enough talents to support more vanity fail not to profit by it,
and London is never without a certain number of popular preachers. I am
not now speaking of those who are popular among the sectarians, or
because they introduce sectarian doctrines into the church; but of that
specific character among the regular English clergy, which is here
denominated a popular preacher. You may well imagine, that, as the tree
is known by its fruits, I have not a Luis de Granada, nor an Antonio
Vieyra, to describe. Thread-bare garments of religious poverty, eyes
weakened by incessant tears of contrition, or of pious love, and cheeks
withered by fasting and penitence, would have few charms for that part
of the congregation for whom the popular preacher of London curls his
forelock, studies gestures at his looking-glass, takes lessons from some
stage-player in his chamber, and displays his white hand and white
handkerchief in the pulpit. The discourse is in character with the
orator; nothing to rouse a slumbering conscience, nothing to alarm the
soul at a sense of its danger, no difficulties expounded to confirm the
wavering, no mighty truths enforced to rejoice the faithful,—to look for
theology here would be[15] seeking pears from the elm;—only a little
smooth morality, such as Turk, Jew, or Infidel, may listen to without
offence, sparkling with metaphors and similes, and rounded off with a
text of scripture, a scrap of poetry, or, better than either, a
quotation from Ossian.—To have a clergy exempt from the frailties of
human nature is impossible; but the true church has effectually secured
hers from the vanities of the world: we may sometimes have to grieve,
because the wolf has put on the shepherd’s cloak, but never can have
need to blush at seeing the monkey in it.

Footnote 15:

  Pedir peras al olmo.

These gentlemen have two ends in view, the main one is to make a fortune
by marriage,—one of the evils this of a married clergy. It was formerly
a doubt whether the red coat or the black one, the soldier or the
priest, had the best chance with the ladies; if on the one side there
was valour, there was learning on the other; but since volunteering has
made scarlet so common, black carries the day;—_cedunt arma togæ_. The
customs of England do not exclude the clergyman from any species of
amusement; the popular preacher is to be seen at the theatre, and at the
horse-race, bearing his part at the concert and the ball, making his
court to old ladies at the card-table, and to young ones at the
harpsichord: and in this way, if he does but steer clear of any flagrant
crime or irregularity, (which is not always the case; for this order, in
the heretical hierarchy, has had more than one Lucifer,) he generally
succeeds in finding some widow, or waning spinster, with weightier
charms than youth and beauty.

His other object is to obtain what is called a lectureship, in some
wealthy parish; that is, to preach an evening sermon on Sundays, at a
later hour than the regular service, for which the parishioners pay by
subscription. As this is an addition to the established service, at the
choice of the people, and supported by them at a voluntary expense, the
appointment is in their hands as a thing distinct from the cure; it is
decided by votes, and the election usually produces a contest, which is
carried on with the same ardour, and leaves behind it the same sort of
dissension among friends and neighbours, as a contested election for
parliament. But the height of the popular preacher’s ambition is to
obtain a chapel of his own, in which he rents out pews and single seats
by the year; and here he does not trust wholly to his own oratorical
accomplishments; he will have a finer-tuned organ than his neighbour,
singers better trained, double doors, and stoves of the newest
construction, to keep it comfortably warm. I met one of these
chapel-proprietors in company; self-complacency, good humour, and
habitual assentation to every body he met with, had wrinkled his face
into a perpetual smile. He said he had lately been expending all his
ready money in religious purposes; this he afterwards explained as
meaning that he had been fitting up his chapel; “and I shall think
myself very badly off,” he added, “if it does not bring me in fifty per


                               LETTER XX.

_Irreverence of the English towards the Virgin Mary and the Saints.—Want
    of Ceremonies in their Church.—Festival Dainties.—Traces of
    Catholicism in their Language and Oaths.—Disbelief of
    Purgatory.—Fatal Consequences of this Error.—Supposed Advantages of
    the Schism examined.—Clergy not so numerous as formerly._

The religion of the English approaches more nearly than I had supposed,
in its doctrines, to the true faith; so nearly indeed, in some
instances, that it would puzzle these heretics to explain the
difference, or to account for it where it exists. With respect to the
holiest sacrament, they admit that the body and blood of Christ is
verily and indeed taken, and yet they deny the real presence. They give
absolution regularly in their church service, upon a public and general
confession, which is equivalent to no confession at all. They accredit
the miracles of the first two or three centuries, and no others; as if
miracles were not just as well authenticated, and just as necessary, in
succeeding ages, or, as if it were possible to say. Thus far shalt thou
believe, and no further. They profess to believe in the communion of
saints, though in fact they believe not in the saints; and they say that
the Holy Catholic Church subsisted in the Waldenses and Albigenses, for
to these miserable wretches they trace the origin of the great schism.
It is as extraordinary as it is lamentable, to see how they have reduced
every thing to a mere _caput mortuum_.

One of the things which most indicates their blindness, is their total
want of all reverence for Mary, the most pure. Believing her to be
indeed the immaculate mother of God, they honour her with no festivals,
no service, not a single prayer; nor have they the slightest feeling of
adoration or love for a being so infinitely lovely and adorable. The
most obscure saint in the calendar has more respect in Spain, than is
shown here to the most holy Virgin! St Joseph is never mentioned, nor
thought of; they scarcely seem to know that such a person ever existed.
The Apostles are just so far noticed that no business is transacted at
the public offices upon their festivals, and this is all; no procession
is made, nobody goes to church; in fact, nobody remembers that the day
is a festival, except the clerks, who find it a holyday; for these words
are not synonymous in England. Holyday means nothing more here than a
day of cessation from business, and a school-boy’s vacation. The very
meaning of the word is forgotten.

Nothing can be conceived more cold and unimpassioned and uninteresting
than all the forms of this false Church. No vestments except the
surplice and the cassock, the one all white, the other all black, to
which the Bishops add nothing but lawn sleeves. Only a single altar, and
that almost naked, without one taper, and without the great and adorable
Mystery. Rarely a picture, no images, the few which the persecutors left
in the niches of the old cathedrals are mutilated; no lamps, no
crucifix, not even a cross to be seen. If it were not for the Creed and
the Ten Commandments which are usually written over the altar, one of
these heretical places of worship might as soon be taken for a mosque as
for a church. The service is equally bald; no genuflections, no
crossings, no incense, no elevation; and their music, when they have
any, is so monstrous, that it seems as if the Father of Heresy had
perverted their ears as well as their hearts.

The Church festivals, however, are not entirely unobserved; though the
English will not pray, they will eat; and, accordingly, they have
particular dainties for all the great holydays. On Shrove Tuesday they
eat what they call pancakes, which are a sort of wafer fried or made
smaller and thicker with currants or apples, in which case they are
called fritters. For Mid Lent Sunday they have huge plum-cakes, crusted
with sugar like snow; for Good Friday, hot bunns marked with a cross for
breakfast; the only relic of religion remaining among all their customs.
These bunns will keep for ever without becoming mouldy, by virtue of the
holy sign impressed upon them. I have also been credibly informed, that
in the province of Herefordshire a pious woman annually makes two upon
this day, the crumbs of which are a sovereign remedy for diarrhœa.
People come far and near for this precious medicine, which has never
been known to fail; yet even miracles produce no effect. On the feast of
St Michael the Archangel, every body must eat goose for dinner; and on
the Nativity, turkey, with what they call Christmas pies. They have the
cakes again on the festival of the Kings.

Some traces of Catholicism may occasionally be observed in their
language. Their words Christmas and Candlemas show that there was once a
time when they were in the right way. The five wounds are corrupted into
a passionate exclamation, of which, they who use it know not the awful
meaning. There is another instance so shocking as well as ridiculous
that I almost tremble to write it. The word for swine in this language
differs little in its pronunciation from the word _Pix_; it is well
known how infamous these people have at all times been for the practice
of swearing: they have retained an oath by this sacred vessel, and yet
so completely forgotten even the meaning of the word, that they say,
Please the Pigs, instead of the Pix. They also still preserve in their
oaths the names of some Pagan Divinities whom their fathers worshipped,
and of whom perhaps no other traces remain. The Deuce is one, the
Lord-Harry another: there is also the Living Jingo, Gor, and Goles. The
Pagan Goths had no such idols; so probably these were adored by the
Celtic inhabitants of the island.

With us every thing is calculated to remind us of religion. We cannot go
abroad without seeing some representation of Purgatory, some cross which
marks a station, an image of Mary the most pure, or a crucifix,—without
meeting priest, or monk, or friar, a brotherhood busy in their work of
charity, or the most holy Sacrament under its canopy borne to redeem and
sanctify the dying sinner. In your chamber the bells of the church or
convent reach your ear, or the voice of one begging alms for the souls,
or the chaunt of the priests in procession. Your babe’s first plaything
is his nurse’s rosary. The festivals of the Church cannot pass
unnoticed, because they regulate the economy of your table; and they
cannot be neglected without reproof from the confessor, who is as a
father to every individual in the family. There is nothing of all this
in England. The clergy here are as little distinguished from the laity
in their dress as in their lives; they are confined to black, indeed,
but with no distinction of make, and black is a fashionable colour; the
only difference is, that they wear no tail, though their heads are
ornamented with as much care as if they had never been exhorted to
renounce the vanities of the world. Here are no vespers to unite a whole
kingdom at one time in one feeling of devotion; if the bells are heard,
it is because bell-ringing is the popular music. As for Purgatory, it is
well known that all the heretics reject it: by some inconceivable
absurdity they believe that sin may deserve eternal punishment, and yet
cannot deserve any thing short thereof,—as if there were no degrees of
criminality. In like manner they deny all degrees of merit, confining
the benefit of every man’s good works to himself; confounding thus all
distinctions of piety; or, to speak more truly, denying that there is
any merit in good works; that is, that good works can be good; and thus
they take away all motive for goodness.

Oh how fatal is this error to the living and to the dead! An Englishman
has as little to do with religion in his death as in his life. No tapers
are lighted, no altar prepared, no sacrifice performed, no confession
made, no absolution given, no unction administered; the priest rarely
attends; it is sufficient to have the doctor and the nurse by the sick
bed; so the body be attended, the soul may shift for itself. Every thing
ends with the funeral; they think prayers for the dead of no avail: and
in this, alas! they are unwittingly right, for it is to be feared their
dead are in the place from whence there is no redemption.

All the ties which connect us with the World of Spirits are cut off by
this tremendous heresy. If prayers for the dead were of no further avail
than as the consolation of the living, their advantage would even then
he incalculable; for, what consolation can be equal to the belief that
we are by our own earnest expressions of piety alleviating the
sufferings of our departed friends, and accelerating the commencement of
their eternal happiness! Such a belief rouses us from the languor of
sorrow to the performance of this active duty, the performance of which
brings with it its own reward: we know that they for whom we mourn and
intercede are sensible of these proofs of love, and that from every
separate prayer thus directed they derive more real and inestimable
benefit, than any services, however essential, could possibly impart to
the living. And what a motive is this for us to train up our children in
the ways of righteousness, that they in their turn may intercede for us
when we stand most in need of intercession! Alas! the accursed Luther
and his accomplices seem to have barred up every avenue to Heaven.

They, however, boast of the advantages obtained by the Schism, which
they think proper to call the Reformation. The three points on which
they especially congratulate themselves are, the privilege of having the
Scriptures in their own tongue; of the cup for the congregation, and of
the marriage of the clergy. As for the first, it is altogether
imaginary: the church does not prohibit its members from translating the
Bible, it only enjoins that they translate from the approved version of
the Vulgate, lest any errors should creep in from ignorance of the
sacred language, or misconception, or misrepresentation; and the wisdom
of this injunction has been sufficiently evinced. The privilege of the
cup might be thought of little importance to a people who think so
lightly of the Eucharist; but as they have preserved so few sacraments,
they are right to make the most of what they have. The marriage of the
clergy has the effect of introducing poverty among them, and rendering
it, instead of a voluntary virtue, the punishment of an heretical
custom. Most of the inferior clergy are miserably poor: nothing, indeed,
can be conceived more deplorable than the situation of those among them
who have large families. They are debarred by their profession from
adding to their scanty stipends by any kind of labour; and the people,
knowing nothing of religious poverty, regard poverty at all times more
as a crime than a misfortune, and would despise an apostle if he came to
them in rags.

During the last generation, it was the ambition of those persons in the
lower ranks of society who were just above the peasantry, to make one of
their sons a clergyman, if they fancied he had a talent for learning.
But times have changed, and the situation of a clergyman who has no
family interest is too unpromising to be any longer an object of envy.
They who would have adventured in the church formerly, now become
commercial adventurers: in consequence, commerce is now far more
overstocked with adventurers than ever the church has been, and men are
starving as clerks instead of as curates. I have heard that the master
of one of the free grammar-schools, who, twenty years ago, used to be
seeking what they call curacies for his scholars, and had always many
more expectants than he could supply with churches, has now applications
for five curates, and cannot find one to accept the situation. On the
contrary, a person in this great city advertised lately for a clerk; the
salary was by no means large, nor was the situation in other respects
particularly desirable, yet he had no fewer than ninety applicants.


                              LETTER XXI.

_Show of Tulips.—Florists.—Passion for Rarities in England.—Queen Anne’s
    Farthings.—Male Tortoise-shell Cat.—Collectors.—The King of

Yesterday I went to see a show of tulips, as it is called, about three
miles from town. The bed in which they were arranged, each in its
separate pot, was not less than fifty _varas_ in length, covered with a
linen awning the whole way, and with linen curtains at the sides, to be
let down if the wind should be violent, or the rain beat in. The first
sight of this long gallery of flowers was singular and striking; and
faint as the odour of the tulip is, the many thousands which were here
collected together, formed a very perceptible and sweet fragrance. The
few persons present were brother florists, or amateurs of the science,
and the exhibitor himself was a character quite new to me. Never before
had I seen such perfect and complete enjoyment as this man took in his
tulips; he did not seem to have a single wish, or thought, or idea
beyond them; his whole business from one end of the year to the other
was to nurse them up, and here they were in full bloom and beauty. The
price of one, he told us, was twenty guineas, another only ten; some
were forty, fifty, as high as a hundred; there was one on which no price
could be set,—he did not know its value,—indeed it was invaluable. We
saw Julius Cæsar, and the Great Mogul, and Bonaparte, and St George, and
the Duke of Marlborough. “This,” said he, “is poor Louis XVI.;—here’s
Pompey;—that’s Washington; he’s a grand fellow!” and he looked up in our
faces with a feeling so simple, and so serious, that it was evident his
praise was solely designed for the flower. I ventured to admire one,
and, as you may suppose, only betrayed my ignorance; it was a vulgar
flower, and had no name; they told me it was _streaky_, by which term
they meant that it was veined with colours which spread into the white
part of the leaf, and faded away;—the very thing for which I had admired
it. It seems, the perfection of a tulip consists in its form; the lips
of the cup should just incline inwards, and just be tipt with a colour
which does not diffuse itself. When I knew their standard of perfection,
I began to see with the eyes of a connoisseur, and certainly discovered
beauties which would never have been perceptible to me in my state of

He and his man, he told us, sat up alternately to watch the garden; yet,
notwithstanding their vigilance, some thieves had got in a few nights
before:—“The fools!” said he, “they took about fifty yards of the cloth
before they were disturbed, but never touched one of the tulips.” His
man appeared to be as devoutly attached to the pursuit as himself. I
never saw such complete happiness, as both these men felt in beholding
the perfections of their year’s labour, such sober and deep delight as
was manifest in every word and gesture.—Never let me be told again that
the pursuit of happiness is vain.

The tulip mania of the Dutch never raged in England, whatever you might
imagine from this specimen; yet I have heard of one old gentleman who
never was half a dozen leagues from his birth-place during his whole
life, except once, when he went to Holland to purchase roots. There may
be amateurs enough to make it not an expensive pursuit for the florist;
and perhaps the number of persons, who, like us, give a shilling to see
the exhibition, may be sufficient to pay for the awning; but I should
think it can never be pursued for profit. The carnation, the ranunculus,
and the auricula, have each their devotees, who have meetings to exhibit
their choice specimens, and prizes for the most beautiful. These bring
those flowers to a wonderful perfection, yet this perfection is less
wonderful than the pains by which it is procured. Akin to the florists
are the Columbarians or pigeon-fanciers, and the butterfly-breeders or
Aurelians.—Even as any thing may become the object of superstition, an
onion or a crocodile, an ape or an ape’s tooth, so also any thing does
for a pursuit; and all that is to be regretted is, that the ordinary
pursuits of mankind are not as innocent as that of these experimental
Minorites or Minims.

There is, perhaps, no country in which the passion for collecting
rarities is so prevalent as in England. The wealth of the kingdom, the
rapidity with which intelligence is circulated, and the facility with
which things are conveyed from one end of the island to the other, are
instrumental causes; but the main cause must be the oddity of the people
themselves. There is a popular notion which has originated, Heaven knows
how, that, a Queen Anne’s farthing (the smallest coin they have) is
worth 500_l._; and some little while ago, an advertisement appeared in
the newspapers offering one for sale at this price. This at once excited
the hopes of every body who possessed one of these coins, for there are
really so many in existence that the fictitious value is little or
nothing. Other farthings were speedily announced to be sold by private
contract,—go where you would, this was the topic of conversation. The
strange part of the story is to come. A man was brought before the
magistrates charged by a soldier with having assaulted him on the
highway, and robbed him of eight pounds, some silver, and a Queen Anne’s
farthing. The man protested his innocence, and brought sufficient proof
of it. Upon further investigation it was discovered that some
pettifogging lawyer, as ignorant as he was villainous, had suborned the
soldier to bring this false accusation against an innocent man, in the
hopes of hanging him, and getting possession of the farthing.
Unbelievable as you may think this, I have the most positive testimony
of its truth.

Another vulgar notion is, that there is no such thing as a male
tortoise-shell-coloured cat. Some fortunate person, however, has just
given notice that he is in possession of such a curiosity, and offers to
treat with the virtuosos for the sale of this _rara avis_, as he
literally calls it. They call the male cats in this country Thomas, and
the male asses either Edward or John. I cannot learn the reason of this
strange custom.

The passion for old china is confined to old women, and indeed is almost
extinct. Medals are in less request since science has become
fashionable; or perhaps the pursuit is too expensive; or it requires
more knowledge than can be acquired easily enough by those who wish for
the reputation of knowledge without the trouble of acquiring it.
Minerals are now the most common objects of pursuit; engraved portraits
form another, since a clergyman some forty years ago published a
biographical account of all persons whose likenesses had been engraved
in England. This is a mischievous taste, for you rarely or never meet an
old book here with the author’s head in it; all are mutilated by the
collectors; and I have heard that still more mischievous collections of
engraved title-pages have been begun. The book-collectors are of a
higher order,—not that their pursuit necessarily implies knowledge; it
is the love of possessing rarities, or the pleasure of pursuit, which in
most cases actuates them;—one person who had spent many years in
collecting large paper copies, having obtained nearly all which had ever
been thus printed, sold the whole collection for the sake of beginning
to collect them again. I shall bring home an English bookseller’s
catalogue as a curiosity: every thing is specified that can tempt these
curious purchasers: the name of the printer, if he be at all famous;
even the binder, for in this art they certainly are unrivalled. The size
of the margin is of great importance. I could not conceive what was
meant by _a tall copy_, till this was explained to me. If the leaves of
an old book have never been cut smooth its value is greatly enhanced;
but if it should happen that they have never been cut open, the copy
becomes inestimable.

The good which these collectors do is, that they preserve volumes which
would otherwise perish; and this out-balances the evil which they have
done in increasing the price of old books ten and twenty fold. One
person will collect English poetry, another Italian, a third classics, a
fourth romances; for the wiser sort go upon the maxim of having
something of every thing, and every thing of something. They are in
general sufficiently liberal in permitting men of letters to make use of
their collections: which are not only more complete in their kind than
could be found in the public libraries of England, but are more
particularly useful in a country where the public libraries are rendered
almost useless by absurd restrictions and bad management, and where
there are no convents. The want of convents is, if only in this respect,
a national misfortune.

The species of minor collectors are very numerous. Some ten years ago
many tradesmen issued copper money of their own, which they called
tokens, and which bore the arms of their respective towns, or their own
heads, or any device which pleased them. How worthless these pieces must
in general have been, you may judge, when I tell you that their current
value was less than two _quartos_. They became very numerous; and as
soon as it was difficult to form a complete collection,—for while it was
easy nobody thought it worth while,—the collectors began the pursuit.
The very worst soon became the most valuable, precisely because no
person had ever preserved them for their beauty. Will you believe me
when I tell you that a series of engravings of these worthless coins was
actually begun, and that a cabinet of them sold for not less than fifty
pieces of eight? When the last new copper currency was issued, a
shopkeeper in the country sent for a hundred pounds worth from the mint,
on purpose that he might choose out a good specimen for himself. Some
few geniuses have struck out paths for themselves; one admits no work
into his library if it extends beyond a single volume; one is employed
in collecting play-bills, another in collecting tea-pots, another in
hunting for visiting cards, another in forming a list of remarkable
surnames, another more amusingly in getting specimens of every kind of
wig that has been worn within the memory of man. But the King of
Collectors is a gentleman in one of the provinces, who with great pains
and expense procures the halters which have been used at executions:
these he arranges round his museum in chronological order, labelling
each with the name of the criminal to whom it belonged, the history of
his offence, and the time and place of his execution. In the true spirit
of virtù, he ought to hang himself, and leave his own halter to complete
the collection.

You will not wonder if mean vices should sometimes be found connected
with such mean pursuits. The collectors are said to acknowledge only
nine commandments of the ten, rejecting the eighth.[16] At the sale of a
virtuoso’s effects, a single shell was purchased at a very high price;
the buyer held it up to the company: “There are but two specimens of
this shell,” said he, “known to be in existence, and I have the
other;”—and he set his foot upon it and crushed it to pieces.

Footnote 16:

  In the original it is said the seventh. The Catholics reject the
  second commandment, and make up the number by dividing the tenth into
  two. Their seventh therefore is our eighth, and has accordingly been
  so translated.—TR.


                              LETTER XXII.

_English Coins.—Paper Currency.—Frequent Executions for Forgery.—Dr
    Dodd.—Opinion that Prevention is the End of Punishment.—This End not
    answered by the Frequency of Executions.—Plan for the Prevention of
    Forgery rejected by the Bank._

English money is calculated in pounds, shillings, pence, and farthings;
four farthings making one penny, twelve pence one shilling, twenty
shillings one pound. Four shillings and sixpence is the value of the
_peso-duro_ at _par_. It is in one respect better than our money,
because it is the same over the whole kingdom.

As the value of money has gradually lessened, the smallest denominations
of coin have every where disappeared. The farthing is rarely seen; and
as the penny, which was formerly an imaginary coin, has within these few
years been issued, it will soon entirely disappear, just as the mite or
half farthing has disappeared before it. A coin of new denomination
always raises the price of those things which are just below its value;
the seller finding it profitable as well as convenient to avoid
fractions. The penny is a handsome piece of money, though of
uncomfortable weight, being exactly an English ounce; so that in
receiving change you have frequently a quarter of a pound of copper to
carry in your pocket:—the legend is indented on a raised rim; and by
this means both the legend and the stamp are less liable to be effaced.
For the same reason a slight concavity is given to the half-penny. In
other respects these pieces are alike, bearing the king’s head on one
side, and on the other a figure of Britannia sitting on the shore, and
holding out an olive branch.

The silver coins are four: the crown, which is five shillings, and the
half-crown, the shilling, and the sixpence or half-shilling. The silver
groat, which is four pence, and silver penny, were once current; but
though these, with the silver three pence and half-groat, are still
coined, they never get into circulation. Those which get abroad are
given to children, and laid by for their rarity. The crown piece in like
manner, when met with, is usually laid aside; it is the size of our
dollar, and has, like it, on one side the head of the sovereign, on the
other the arms of the kingdom; but the die, though far from good, is
better than ours. Nothing, however, can be so bad as the other silver
coins; that is, all which are in use. The sixpence, though it should
happen not to be a counterfeit, is not worth one-fourth of its nominal
value; it is a thin piece of crooked silver, which seldom bears the
slightest remains of any impress. The shillings also are worn perfectly
smooth, though not otherwise defaced; they are worth about half their
current value. The coiners are not contented with cent. per cent. profit
for issuing good silver, for which the public would be much indebted to
them whatever the government might be, silver being inconveniently
scarce; they pour out base money in abundance, and it requires more
circumspection than I can boast to avoid the loss which is thus
occasioned. The half-crown approaches nearer its due weight; and it is
more frequently possible to trace upon it the head of Charles II., or
James, of William, or Queen Anne, the earliest and latest princes whose
silver is in general circulation.

A new coinage of silver has been wanted and called for time out of mind.
The exceeding difficulty attending the measure still prevents it. For,
if the old silver were permitted to be current only for a week after the
new was issued, all the new would be ground smooth and re-issued in the
same state as the old, as indeed has been done with all the silver of
the two last reigns. And if any temporary medium were substituted till
the old money could be called in, that also would be immediately
counterfeited. You can have no conception of the ingenuity, the
activity, and the indefatigable watchfulness of roguery in England.

There are three gold coins: the guinea, which is twenty-one shillings,
its half, and its third. The difference between the pound and guinea is
absurd, and occasioned some trouble at first to a foreigner when
accounts were calculated in the one and paid in the other; but paper has
now become so general that this is hardly to be complained of. Compared
to the piece of eight, the guinea is a mean and diminutive coin. There
are five-guinea pieces in existence, which are only to be seen in the
cabinets of the curious. The seven-shilling piece was first coined
during the present reign, and circulated but a few years ago: there were
such struck during the American war, and never issued. I know not why.
One of these I have seen, which had never been milled: the obverse was a
lion standing upon the crown, in this respect handsomer than the present
piece, which has the crown and nothing else; indeed the die was in every
respect better. Both the current gold and copper are almost exclusively
of the present reign. It may be remarked, that the newest gold is in the
worst taste; armorial bearings appear best upon a shield; they have
discarded the shield, and tied them round with the garter. Medallie,
that is, historical money, has often been recommended; but it implies
too much love for the arts, and too much attention to posterity, to be
adopted here. There has not been a good coin struck in England since the
days of Oliver Cromwell.

There was no paper in circulation of less than five pounds value till
the stoppage of the Bank during the late war. Bills of one and two
pounds were then issued, and these have almost superseded guineas. Upon
the policy or impolicy of continuing this paper money after the
immediate urgency has ceased, volumes and volumes have been written. On
one side it is asserted, that the great increase of the circulating
medium, by lessening the value of money raises the price of provisions,
and thus virtually operates as a heavy tax upon all persons who do not
immediately profit by the banking trade. On the other hand, the
conveniences were detailed more speciously than truly, and one advocate
even went so far as to entitle his pamphlet, “Guineas an Incumbrance.”
Setting the political advantages or disadvantages aside, as a subject
upon which I am not qualified to offer an opinion, I can plainly see
that every person dislikes these small notes; they are less convenient
than guineas in the purse, and more liable to accidents. You are also
always in danger of receiving forged ones; and if you do, the loss lies
at your own door, for the Bank refuses to indemnify the holder. This
injustice the directors can safely commit: they know their own strength
with government, and care little for the people; but the country
bankers, whose credit depends upon fair dealing, pay their forged notes,
and therefore provincial bills are always preferred in the country to
those of the Bank of England. The inconvenience in travelling is
excessive: you receive nothing but these bills; and if you carry them a
stage beyond their sphere of circulation they become useless.

The frequent executions for forgery in England are justly considered by
the humane and thinking part of the people as repugnant to justice,
shocking to humanity, and disgraceful to the nation. Death has been the
uniform punishment in every case, though it is scarcely possible to
conceive a crime capable of so many modifications of guilt in the
criminal. The most powerful intercessions have been made for mercy, and
the most powerful arguments urged in vain; no instance has ever yet been
known of pardon. A Doctor of Divinity was executed for it in the early
part of the present reign, who, though led by prodigality to the
commission of the deed for which he suffered, was the most useful as
well as the most popular of all their preachers. Any regard to his
clerical character was, as you may well suppose, out of the question in
this land of schism; yet earnest entreaties were made in his behalf. The
famous Dr Johnson, of whom the English boast as the great ornament of
his age, and as one of the best and wisest men whom their country has
ever produced, and of whose piety it will be sufficient praise to say
that he was almost a Catholic,—he strenuously exerted himself to procure
the pardon of this unfortunate man, on the ground that the punishment
exceeded the measure of the offence, and that the life of the offender
might usefully be passed in retirement and penitence. Thousands who had
been benefited by his preaching petitioned that mercy might be shown
him, and the Queen herself interceded, but in vain. During the interval
between his trial and his execution he wrote a long poem entitled Prison
Thoughts; a far more extraordinary effort of mind than the poem of
Villon, composed under similar circumstances, for which, in an age of
less humanity, the life of the author was spared. Had the punishment of
Dr Dodd been proportioned to his offence, he would have been no object
of pity; but when he suffered the same death as a felon or a murderer,
compassion overpowered the sense of his guilt, and the people
universally regarded him as the victim of a law inordinately rigorous.
It was long believed that his life had been preserved by connivance of
the executioner; that a waxen figure had been buried in his stead, and
that he had been conveyed over to the continent.

More persons have suffered for this offence since the law has been
enacted than for any other crime. In all other cases palliative
circumstances are allowed their due weight; this alone is the sin for
which there is no remission. No allowance is made for the pressure of
want, for the temptation which the facility of the fraud holds out, nor
for the difference between offences against natural or against political
law. More merciless than Draco, or than those inquisitors who are never
mentioned in this country without an abhorrent expression of real or
affected humanity, the commercial legislators of England are satisfied
with nothing but the life of the offender who sins against the Bank,
which is their Holy of Holies. They sacrificed for this offence one of
the ablest engravers in the kingdom, the inventor of the dotted or chalk
engraving. A mechanic has lately suffered who had made a machine to go
without horses, and proved its success by travelling in it himself about
forty leagues. A man of respectable family and unblemished conduct has
just been executed in Ireland, because, when reduced by unavoidable
misfortunes to the utmost distress, he committed a forgery to relieve
his family from absolute want.

There is an easy and effectual mode of preventing the repetition of this
offence, by amputating the thumb; it seems one of the few crimes for
which mutilation would be a fit punishment. But it is a part of the
English system to colonize with criminals. It is not the best mode of
colonizing; nor, having adopted it, do they manage it in the best
manner. Of all crimes, there should seem to be none for which change of
climate is so effectual a cure as for forgery; and as there is none
which involves in itself so little moral depravity, nor which is so
frequently committed, it is evident that these needless executions
deprive New South Wales of those who would be its most useful members,
men of ingenuity, less depraved, and better educated in general, than
any other convicts.

I have seen it recorded of some English judge, that when he was about to
sentence a man to death for horse-stealing, the man observed it was hard
he should lose his life for only stealing a horse; to which the judge
replied, “You are not to be hanged for stealing a horse, but in order
that horses may not be stolen.” The reply was as unphilosophical as
unfeeling; but it is the fashion among the English to assert that
prevention is the end of punishment, and to disclaim any principle of
vengeance, though vengeance is the foundation of all penal law, divine
and human. Proceeding upon this fallacious principle, they necessarily
make no attempt at proportioning the punishment to the offence; and
offences are punished, not according to the degree of moral guilt which
they indicate in the offender, but according to the facility with which
they can be committed, and to their supposed danger in consequence to
the community. But even upon this principle it is no longer possible to
justify the frequent executions for forgery; the end of prevention is
not answered, and assuredly the experiment has been tried sufficiently
long, and sufficiently often.

In other cases, offences are held more venial as the temptation
thereunto is stronger, man being frail by nature; in this the punishment
is made heavier in proportion to the strength of the temptation. Surely,
it is the duty of the Bank Directors to render the commission of forgery
as difficult as possible. This is not effected by adopting private marks
in their bills, which, as they are meant to be private, can never enable
the public to be upon their guard. Such means may render it impossible
that a false bill should pass undiscovered at the bank, but do not in
the slightest degree impede its general circulation. What is required is
something so obvious that a common and uninstructed eye shall
immediately perceive it; and nothing seems so likely to effect this as a
plan which they are said to have rejected,—that in every bill there
should be two engravings, the one in copper, the other in wood, each
executed by the best artists in his respective branch. It is obvious
that few persons would be able to imitate either, and highly improbable
that any single one could execute both, or that two persons sufficiently
skilful should combine together. As it now is, the engraving is such as
may be copied by the clumsiest apprentice to the trade. The additional
expense which this plan would cost the bank would be considerably less
than what it now expends in hanging men for an offence, which could not
be so frequent if it was not so easy. The bank directors say the
Pater-noster in their own language, but they seem to forget that one of
the petitions which He who best knew the heart of man enjoined us to
make is, that we may not be led into temptation.


                             LETTER XXIII.

_Westminster Abbey.—Legend of its Consecration.—Its single Altar in bad
    Taste.—Gothic or English Architecture.—Monuments.— Banks the
    Sculptor.—Wax-work.—Henry the Seventh’s Chapel.—Mischievous
    Propensity of the People to mutilate the Monuments._

All persons who come to London, from whatever part of the world they
may, whether English or foreigners, go to see Westminster Abbey, the
place of interment of all illustrious men; kings, admirals, statesmen,
poets, philosophers, and divines, even stage-players and musicians.
There is perhaps no other temple in the world where such practical
testimony is borne to the truth, that “Death levels all distinctions,
except those of desert.”

They continue to call this church an Abbey, just as they continue to
profess their belief in the most holy Sacrament. Originally it was the
second religious establishment in the island; and, since Glastonbury has
been desecrated and destroyed, is now the first. Lucius, the first
Christian king of the Britons, founded it, to be the burial-place of
himself and his successors. During the persecution of Diocletian, it was
converted into a temple of Apollo, which Sebert, king of the East
Saxons, demolished, and built a church to the honour of God and St Peter
in its stead. The place where it stands was then called Thorney, and is
said in a charter of king Edgar’s to have been a dreadful place; not so
much, it is supposed, on account of its rudeness, as because the wicked
spirits who were there worshipped had dominion there. St Augustine, the
apostle of the Saxons, had baptized Sebert and his queen Ethelgoda; and,
being unable to remain with them himself, consigned the care of his
converts to St Mellitus, a Roman abbot, whom pope St Gregory the Great
had sent to his assistance, and whom he consecrated bishop of London.
This holy bishop was to consecrate the new building; but on the night
before the ceremony was to be performed, a fisherman, as he was about to
cast his nets in the river, which runs within a stone’s throw of the
Abbey, was called to by one upon the opposite bank, who desired to cross
in his boat. The fisherman accordingly wafted him over, little knowing,
sinful man, how highly he was favoured, for this was the blessed apostle
St Peter. As soon as the saint landed he entered the church, and
immediately a light brighter than the midday sun illuminated it, and the
fisherman, almost bereft of his senses by fear, saw a multitude of
angels enter, and heard heavenly music within, and perceived odours far
more delicious than any earthly fragrance. In this state of terror St
Peter found him when he came out of the church, and cheered him, and
desired to be taken back in the boat. When they were in the middle of
the river, the saint told him to cast his net. He did so, and the
draught of fish was prodigious. Among them was one large salmon: St
Peter bade him take this to St Mellitus, and keep the rest as his fare,
and added that he and his children after him should always be prosperous
in their employment, provided that they paid scrupulously the tithe of
what they took, and never attempted to fish upon the Sabbath day. He
bade him likewise tell the bishop all that he had seen, and that St
Peter himself had consecrated the church, and promised often to visit
it, and to be present there at the prayers of the faithful. In the
morning, as St Mellitus was going in procession to perform the ceremony,
the fisherman met him, presented the fish, and delivered the message.
The appearance of the church as soon as the doors were opened fully
verified his story. The pavement was marked with Greek and Latin
letters; the walls anointed in twelve places with holy oil; the twelve
tapers upon twelve crosses still burning, and the aspersions not yet
dry. That further testimony might not be wanting, the fisherman
described the person whom he had seen to St Mellitus, and the
description perfectly agreed with the authentic picture of the apostle
at Rome.

I need not tell you that this miracle is suppressed by the heretical
historians who have written concerning this building. It is their custom
either to speak of such things with a sarcasm, or to omit them
altogether, taking it for granted, that whatever they in their wisdom do
not believe, must be false; as if it were not of importance to know what
has been believed, whether it be true or not, and as if individual
opinion was to be the standard of truth.

During the ravages of the Danes the abbey fell to decay. King St Edward
the Confessor rebuilt it upon a singular occasion. This pious prince had
made a vow to God during his exile, that if ever he should be restored
to the kingdom of his forefathers, he would make a pilgrimage to Rome,
and return his thanks at the throne of St Peter. His subjects besought
him not to leave them in performance of this vow, but to beg a
dispensation from it; and this the pope granted on condition that he
should build a new monastery to St Peter’s honour, or rebuild an old
one. At the same time it was revealed to a holy man, that it was God’s
pleasure to have the abbey at Westminster rebuilt. The king obeyed this
divine intimation, and gave the full tithe of all his possessions to the
work. The tomb of this third founder still remains: having been a king,
he escaped some of the insults which were committed against the other
English saints at the time of the schism; and though his shrine was
plundered, his body was suffered to remain in peace. But though the
monument was thus spared from the general destruction, it has been
defaced by that spirit of barbarous curiosity, or wanton mischief, for
which these people are so remarkable.

The high altar is of Grecian architecture. I ought to observe that in
these _reformed_ churches, there is but one altar; and if it had not
been for an archbishop whose head they cut off because they thought him
too superstitious, they would have been without any altar at all. The
mixture of these discordant styles of architecture has the worst effect
imaginable; and what is still more extraordinary, this mark of bad taste
is the production of one of the ablest architects that England ever
produced, the celebrated Sir Christopher Wren. But in his time it was so
much the fashion to speak with contempt of whatever was Gothic, and to
despise the architecture of their forefathers, that, if the nation could
have afforded money enough to have replaced these edifices, there would
not now have been one remaining in the kingdom.—Luckily the national
wealth was at that time employed in preserving the balance of power and
extending commerce, and this evil was avoided. Since that age, however,
the English have learned better than to treat the Gothic with contempt;
they have now discovered in it so much elegance and beauty, that they
are endeavouring to change the barbarous name, and, with feeling
partiality to themselves, claim the invention for their own countrymen:
it is therefore become here an established article of Antiquarian faith
to believe that this architecture is of native growth, and accordingly
it is denominated English architecture in all the publications of the
Antiquarian Society. This point I am neither bound to believe, nor
disposed at present to discuss.

This Abbey is a curious repository of tombs, in which the progress of
sculpture during eight centuries may be traced. Here may be seen the
rude Saxon monument; the Gothic in all its stages, from its first
rudiments to that perfection of florid beauty which it had attained at
the Schism, and the monstrous combinations which prevailed in the time
of Elizabeth, equally a heretic in her heterogeneous taste and her
execrable religion. After the great rebellion, the change which had
taken place in society became as manifest in the number as in the style
of these memorials. In the early ages of Christianity, only saints and
kings, and the founders of churches were thought worthy of interment
within the walls of the house of God; nobles were satisfied with a place
in the Galilee, and the people never thought of monuments: it was enough
for them to rest in consecrated ground; and so their names were written
in the Book of Life, it mattered not how soon they were forgotten upon
earth. The privilege of burial within the church was gradually conceded
to rank and to literature; still, however, they who had no pretensions
to be remembered by posterity were content to be forgotten. The process
may satisfactorily be traced in the church whereof I am now writing, and
thus far it had reached at the time of the Great Rebellion; during that
struggle, few monuments were erected; they who would have been entitled
to them were mostly on the unsuccessful side, and the conquerors had no
respect for churches; instead of erecting new tombs, their delight was
to deface the old. After the Restoration the triumph of wealth began.
The iron age of England was over, and the golden one commenced. An
English author has written an ingenious book, to show that the true
order of the four ages is precisely the reverse of that in which the
poets have arranged them: the age in which riches are paramount to every
thing may well be denominated the golden, but it remains to be proved
whether such an age of gold be the best in the series. With the
Restoration, however, that golden age began. Money was the passport to
distinction during life, and they who enjoyed this distinction were
determined to be remembered after death, as long as inscriptions in
marble could secure remembrance. The church walls were then lined with
tablets; and vain as the hope of thus perpetuating an ignoble name may
appear, it has succeeded better than you would imagine; for every
county, city, and almost every town in England has its particular
history, and the epitaphs in the churches and church-yards form no
inconsiderable part of their contents.

The numerous piles of marble which deface the Abbey are crowded
together, without any reference to the style of the building or the
situation in which they are placed; except two which flank the entrance
of the choir, and are made ornamental by a similarity of form and size,
which has not confined the artist in varying the design of each. One
bears the great name of Newton: he is represented reclining upon a
sarcophagus; above him is Astronomy seated in an attitude of meditation
on a celestial globe. This globe, which certainly occupies so large a
space as to give an idea of weight in the upper part of the monument,
seems principally placed there to show the track of the comet which
appeared, according to Newton’s calculation, in the year 1680. On a
tablet in the side of the sarcophagus is an emblematic representation,
in relief, of some of the purposes to which he applied his philosophy.
The inscription concludes curiously thus,

                        Sibi gratulentur mortales
                        Talem tantumque extitisse
                        Humani Generis Decus.

The corresponding monument is in memory of the Earl of Stanhope, as
eminent a warrior and statesman as Newton had been a philosopher. He is
represented in Roman armour, reposing on a sarcophagus also, and under a
tent; on the top of which a figure of Pallas seems at once to protect
him, and point him out as worthy of admiration. Both these were designed
by an English artist, and executed by Michael Rysbrack.

England has produced few good sculptors; it would not be incorrect if I
should say none, with the exception of Mr Banks, a living artist, whose
best works are not by any means estimated according to their merit. I
saw at his house a female figure of Victory designed for the tomb of a
naval officer who fell in battle, as admirably executed as any thing
which has been produced since the revival of the art. There were also
two busts there, the one of Mr Hastings, late viceroy of India, the
other of the celebrated usurper Oliver Cromwell, which would have done
honour to the best age of sculpture. Most of the monuments in this
church are wholly worthless in design and execution, and the few which
have any merit are the work of foreigners.

One of the vergers went round with us; a man whose lank stature and
solemn deportment would have suited the church in its best days. When
first I saw him in the shadow he looked like one of the Gothic figures
affixed to a pillar; and when he began to move, I could have fancied
that an embalmed corpse had risen from its cemetery to say mass in one
of the chauntries. He led us with much civility and solemnity to Edward
the Confessor’s chapel, and showed us there the tomb of that holy king;
the chairs in which the king and queen are crowned; the famous
coronation stone, brought hither from Scotland, and once regarded as the
Palladium of the royal line; and in the same chapel certain waxen
figures as large as life, and in full dress. You have heard J— mention
the representation of the Nativity at Belem; and exclaim against the
degenerate taste of the Portuguese, in erecting a puppet-show among the
tombs of their kings. It was not without satisfaction that I reminded
him of this on my return from Westminster Abbey, and told him I had seen
the wax-work.

The most interesting part of the edifice is the chapel built by Henry
VII. and called by his name. At the upper end is the bronze tomb of the
founder, surrounded by a Gothic screen, which was once richly ornamented
with statues in its various niches and recesses, but most of these have
been destroyed. The whole is the work of Torregiano, an Italian artist,
who broke Michel Angelo’s nose, and died in Spain under a charge of
heresy. Since the reign of Elizabeth, no monument has been erected to
any of the English sovereigns: a proof of the coldness which their
baneful heresy has produced in the national feeling. A plain marble
pavement covers the royal dead in this splendid chapel, erected by one
of their ancestors. No one was here to be interred who was not of the
royal family: Cromwell, however, the great usurper, whose name is held
in higher estimation abroad than it seems to be in his own country, was
deposited here with more than royal pomp. It was easier to dispossess
him from the grave than from the throne; his bones were dug up by order
of Charles II. and gibbeted: poor vengeance for a father dethroned and
decapitated, for his own defeat at Worcester, and for twelve years of
exile! The body of Blake, which had been laid with merited honours in
the same vault, was also removed, and turned into the church-yard: if
the removal was thought necessary, English gratitude should at least
have raised a monument over the man who had raised the English name
higher than ever admiral before him.

One thing struck me, in viewing this church, as very remarkable. The
monuments which are within reach of a walking-stick are all more or less
injured, by that barbarous habit which Englishmen have of seeing by the
sense of touch, if I may so express myself. They can never look at any
thing without having it in the hand, nor show it to another person
without touching it with a stick, if it is within reach; I have even
noticed in several collections of pictures exposed for sale, a large
printed inscription requesting the connoisseurs not to touch them.
Besides this odd habit, which is universal, there is prevalent among
these people a sort of mischievous manual wit, by which mile-stones are
commonly defaced, directing-posts broken, and the parapets of bridges
thrown into the river. Their dislike to a passage in a book is often
shewn by tearing the leaf, or scrawling over the page, which differs
from them in political opinion. Here is a monument to a Major André, who
was hanged by Washington as a spy: the story was related in relief: it
had not been erected a month before some person struck off Washington’s
head by way of retaliation; somebody of different sentiments requited
this by knocking off the head of the major: so the two principal figures
in the composition are both headless! From such depredations you might
naturally suppose that no care is taken of the church, that stalls are
set up in it, that old women sell gingerbread nuts there, and porters
make it a thoroughfare, as is done in Hamburgh. On the contrary, no
person is admitted to see the Abbey for less than two shillings; and
this money, which is collected by twopences and sixpences, makes part of
the revenue of the subordinate priests in this reformed church. There is
a strange mixture of greatness and littleness in every thing in this
country: for this, however, there is some excuse to be offered; from the
mischief which is even now committed, it is evident that, were the
public indiscriminately admitted, every thing valuable in the church
would soon be destroyed.


                              LETTER XXIV.

_Complexion of the English contradictory to their historical
    Theories.—Christian Names, and their Diminutives.—System of
    Surnames.—Names of the Months and Days.—Friday the unlucky Day.—St
    Valentine.—Relics of Catholicism._

The prevalence of dark hair and dark complexions among the English is a
remarkable fact in opposition to all established theories respecting the
peoplers of the Island. We know that the Celts were light or red-haired,
with blue eyes, by the evidence of history; and their descendants in
Wales, and Ireland, and Scotland, still continue so. The Saxons, and
Angles, and Danes, were of the same complexion. How is it then that the
dark eyes and dark hair of the south should predominate? Could the Roman
breed have been so generally extended, or, did the Spanish colony spread
further than has been supposed? Climate will not account for the fact;
there is not sun enough to ripen a grape; and if the climate could have
darkened the Danes and Saxons, it would also have affected the Welsh;
but they retain the marked character of their ancestors.

The proper names afford no clue; they are mostly indigenous, and the
greater number of local derivation. Of the baptismal names the main
proportion are Saxon and Norman; John, Thomas, and James, are the only
common apostolical ones; others indeed occur, but it is rather unusual
to meet with them. The Old Testament has furnished a few; Hagiology
still fewer. Among the men, William and John predominate; Mary and Anne,
among the women. In the northern provinces I am told that the Catholic
names Agnes and Agatha are still frequent; and, what is more
extraordinary, our Spanish Isabel, instead of Elizabeth.

Even these little things are affected by revolutions of state and the
change of manners, as the storm which wrecks an Armada turns the village
weathercock. Thus the partisans of the Stuarts preferred the names of
James and Charles for their sons; and in the democratic families you now
find young Alfreds and Hampdens, Algernons and Washingtons, growing up.
Grace and Prudence were common in old times among the English ladies; I
would not be taken literally when I say that they are no longer to be
found among them, and that Honour and Faith, Hope and Charity, have
disappeared as well. The continental wars introduced Eugene, and
Ferdinand, and Frederick, into the parish registers; and since the
accession of the present family you meet with Georges, Carolines, and
Charlottes, Augustuses and Augustas. The prevailing appetite for novels
has had a very general effect. The manufacturers of these precious
commodities, as their delicate ears could bear none but vocal
terminations, either rejected the plain names of their aunts and
grandmothers, or clipped or stretched them till they were shaped into
something like sentimental euphony. Under their improving hands, Lucy
was extended to Louisa, Mary to Marianne, Harriet to Henrietta, and
Elizabeth cut shorter into Eliza. Their readers followed their example
when they signed their names, and christened their children. Bridget and
Joan, and Dorothy and Alice, have been discarded; and while the more
fantastic went abroad for Cecilia, Amelia, and Wilhelmina, they of a
better taste recurred to their own history for such sweet names as Emma
and Emmeline.

The manner in which the English abbreviate their baptismal names is
unaccountably irregular. If a boy be christened John, his mother calls
him Jacky, and his father Jack; William in like manner becomes Billy or
Bill; and Edward, Neddy or Ned, Teddy or Ted, according to the gender of
the person speaking: a whimsical rule not to be paralleled in any other
language. Mary is changed into Molly and Polly; Elizabeth into Bessy,
Bess, Betty, Tetty, Betsy, and Tetsy; Margaret into Madge, Peggy, and
Meggy; all which in vulgar language are clipt of their final vowel, and
shortened into monosyllables. Perhaps these last instances explain the
origin of these anomalous mutations. Pega and Tetta are old English
names long since disused, and only to be found in hagiological history;
it is evident that these must have been the originals of the diminutives
Peggy, and Tetty or Tetsy, which never by any process of capricious
alteration can be formed from Margaret and Elizabeth. The probable
solution is, in each case, that some person formerly bore both names,
who signed with the first, and was called at home by the second,—thus
the diminutive of one became associated with the other: in the next
generation one may have been dropt, yet the familiar diminutive
preserved; and this would go on like other family names, in all the
subsequent branchings from the original stock. In like manner, Jacques
would be the root of Jack; Theodore or Thaddeus, of Teddy; Apollonia of
Polly; and Beatrice of Betty. A copious nomenclature might explain the

During the late war it became a fashion to call infants after the
successful admirals,—though it would have been more in character to have
named ships after them: the next generation will have Hoods and Nelsons
in abundance, who will never set foot in the navy. Sometimes an
irreverent species of wit, if wit it may be called, has been indulged
upon this subject; a man whose name is Ball has christened his three
sons, Pistol, Musket, and Cannon. I have heard of another, who, having
an illegitimate boy, baptized him Nebuchadnezzar, because, according to
a mode of speaking here, he was to be sent to grass, that is, nursed by
a poor woman in the country.

The system of proper names is simple and convenient. There are no
patronymics, the surname never changes, and the wife loses hers for that
of her husband. This custom has but lately established itself in Wales,
where the people are still in a state of comparative barbarism. There
the son of John Thomas used to be Thomas Johns, and his son again John
Thomas; but this has given way to the English mode, which renders it
easy to trace a descent. The names in general, like the language, though
infinitely less barbarous than the German, are sufficiently uncouth to a
southern eye, and sufficiently cacophonous to a southern ear.

The months are called after the Latin as with us, and differ rather less
from the original, as only the terminations are altered. But the days of
the week keep the names given them by the Saxon Pagans: _Lunes_ is
Monday or the day of the Moon; _Martes_, Tuesday or Tuisco’s day;
_Miércoles_, Wednesday or Woden’s day; _Jueves_, Thursday or Thor’s day;
_Viernes_, Friday or Frea’s day; _Sábado_, Saturday or Surtur’s day;
_Domingo_, Sunday or the day of the Sun. Saturday indeed is usually
deduced from _Dies Saturni_; but it is not likely that this Roman deity
should have maintained his post singly, when all the rest of his fellows
were displaced.

Friday, instead of Tuesday, is the unlucky day of the English, who are
just as superstitious as we are, though in a different way. It is the
common day of execution, except in cases of murder; when, as the
sentence is by law to be executed the day after it is pronounced, it is
always passed on Saturday, that the criminal may have the Sabbath to
make his peace with Heaven. I could remark more freely upon the
inhumanity of allowing so short a respite, did I not remember the worse
inhumanity of withholding the sacrament from wretches in this dreadful
situation. No person here is ever married on a Friday; nor will the
sailors, if they can possibly avoid it, put to sea upon that day: these
follies are contagious; and the captains, as well as the crew, will
rather lose a fair wind than begin the voyage so unluckily. Sailors, we
know, are every where superstitious, and well may they be so.

If it rains on St Swithin’s, they fancy it will rain every day for the
next forty days. On St Valentine’s it is believed that the birds choose
their mates; and the first person you see in the morning is to be your
lover, whom they call a Valentine, after the saint. Among the many odd
things which I shall take home, is one of the pieces of cut paper which
they send about on this day, with verses in the middle, usually
acrostics, to accord with the hearts, and darts, and billing doves
represented all round, either in colours or by the scissars. How a saint
and a bishop came to be the national Cupid, Heaven knows! Even one of
their own poets has thought it extraordinary.

                           Bishop Valentine
             Left us examples to do deeds of charity;
             To feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit
             The weak and sick, to entertain the poor,
             And give the dead a Christian funeral.
             These were the works of piety he did practise,
             And bade us imitate; not look for lovers
             Or handsome images to please our senses.

The heretics, you see, need not ridicule us for bleeding our horses on
St Stephen’s, and grafting our trees on the day of the Annunciation.

Many other traces of the old religion remain in the calendar, and indeed
every where, but all to as little purpose. Christ_mas_, Candle_mas_,
Lady-day, Michael_mas_; they are become mere words, and the primary
signification utterly out of mind. In the map you see St Alban’s, St
Neot’s, St Columb’s, &c. The churches all over the country are dedicated
to saints whose legends are quite forgotten, even upon the spot. You
find a statue of King Charles in the place of Charing-Cross, one of the
bridges is called Black-Friars, one of the streets the Minories. There
is a place called the Sanctuary, a Pater-Noster-Row, and an
Ave-Maria-Lane. Every where I find these vestiges of Catholicism, which
give to a Catholic a feeling of deeper melancholy, than the scholar
feels amid the ruins of Rome or Athens.


                              LETTER XXV.

_Vermin imported from all Parts.—Fox-Hunting.—Shooting.—Destruction of
    the Game.—Rural Sports._

The king of England has a regular bug-destroyer in his household! a
relic no doubt of dirtier times; for the English are a truly clean
people, and have an abhorrence of all vermin. This loathsome insect
seems to have been imported from France. An English traveller of the
early part of the seventeenth century calls it the French _punaise_;
which should imply either that the bug was unknown in his time, or had
been so newly imported as to be still regarded as a Frenchman. It is
still confined to large cities, and is called in the country, where it
is known only by name, the London bug; a proof of foreign extraction.

It seems to be the curse of this country to catch vermin from all
others: the Hessian fly devours their turnips; an insect from America
has fastened upon the apple-trees, and is destroying them; it travels
onward about a league in a year, and no means have yet been discovered
of checking its progress. The cockroach of the West Indies infests all
houses near the river in London, and all sea-port towns; and the Norway
rats have fairly extirpated the aboriginal ones, and taken possession of
the land by right of conquest. As they came in about the same time as
the reigning family, the partisans of the Stuarts used to call them
Hanoverians. They multiply prodigiously, and their boldness and ferocity
almost surpass belief: I have been told of men from whose heads they
have sucked the powder and pomatum during their sleep, and of children
whom they have attacked in the night and mangled. If the animals of the
North should migrate, like their country barbarians, in successive
shoals, each shoal fiercer than the last, it is the hamsters’ turn to
come after the rats, and the people of England must take care of
themselves. An invasion by rafts and gun-boats would be less dangerous.

A lady of J—’s acquaintance was exceedingly desirous, when she was in
Andalusia, to bring a few live locusts home with her, that she might
introduce such beautiful creatures into England. Certainly, had she
succeeded, she ought to have applied to the board of agriculture for a

Foxes are imported from France in time of peace, and turned loose upon
the south coast to keep up the breed for hunting. There is certainly no
race of people, not even the hunting tribes of savages, who delight so
passionately as the English in this sport. The fox-hunter of the last
generation was a character as utterly unlike any other in society, and
as totally absorbed in his own pursuits, as the alchemist. His whole
thoughts were respecting his hounds and horses; his whole anxiety, that
the weather might be favourable for the sport; his whole conversation
was of the kennel and stable, and of the history of his chases. One of
the last of this species, who died not many years ago, finding himself
seriously ill, rode off to the nearest town, and bade the waiter of the
inn bring him in some oysters and porter, and go for a physician. When
the physician arrived he said to him, “Doctor, I am devilish ill,—and
you must cure me by next month, that I may be ready for foxhunting.”
This, however, was beyond the doctor’s power. One of his acquaintance
called in upon him some little time after, and asked what was his
complaint. “They tell me,” said he, “’tis a dyspepsy. I don’t know what
that is, but some damn’d thing or other, I suppose!”—a definition of
which every sick man will feel the force.

But this race is extinct, or exists only in a few families, in which the
passion has so long been handed down from father to son, that it is
become a sort of hereditary disease. The great alteration in society
which has taken place during the present reign, tends to make men more
like one another. The agriculturist has caught the spirit of commerce;
the merchant is educated like the nobleman; the sea-officer has the
polish of high life; and London is now so often visited, that the
manners of the metropolis are to be found in every country gentleman’s
house. But though hunting has ceased to be the exclusive business of any
person’s life, except a huntsman’s, it is still pursued with an ardour
and desperate perseverance beyond even that of savages: the prey is
their object, for which they set their snares or lie patiently in
wait:—here the pleasure is in the pursuit. It is no uncommon thing to
read in the newspapers of a chase of ten or twelve leagues,—remember,
all this at full speed, and without intermission,—dogs, men, and horses
equally eager and equally delighted, though not equally fatigued. Facts
are recorded in the annals of sporting, how the hunted animal, unable to
escape, has sprung from a precipice, and some of the hounds have
followed it; and of a stag, which, after one of these unmerciful
pursuits, returned to its own lair, and, leaping a high boundary with
its last effort, dropped down dead,—the only hound which had kept up
with it to the last, dying in like manner by its side. The present king,
who is remarkably fond of the sport, once followed a deer till the
creature died with pure fatigue.

This was the only English custom which William of Nassau thoroughly and
heartily adopted, as if he had been an Englishman himself. He was as
passionately addicted to it as his present successor, and rode as
boldly, making it a point of honour never to be outdone in any leap,
however perilous. A certain Mr Cherry, who was devoted to the exiled
family, took occasion of this, to form perhaps the most pardonable
design which ever was laid against a king’s life. He regularly joined
the royal hounds, put himself foremost, and took the most desperate
leaps, in the hope that William might break his neck in following him.
One day, however, he accomplished one so imminently hazardous, that the
king, when he came to the spot, shook his head and drew back.

Shooting is pursued with the same zeal. Many a man, who, if a walk of
three leagues were proposed to him, would shrink from it as an exertion
beyond his strength, will walk from sun-rise till a late dinner hour,
with a gun upon his shoulder, over heath and mountain, never thinking of
distance, and never feeling fatigue. A game book, as it is called, is
one of the regular publications, wherein the sportsman may keep an
account of all the game he kills, the time when, the place where, and
chronicle the whole history of his campaigns! The preservation of the
game becomes necessarily an object of peculiar interest to the gentry,
and the laws upon this subject are enforced with a rigour unknown in any
other part of Europe. In spite of this, it becomes scarcer every year:
poaching, that is, killing game without a privilege so to do, is made a
trade: the stage-coaches carry it from all parts of the kingdom to the
metropolis for sale, and the larders of all the great inns are regularly
supplied; they who would eagerly punish the poacher, never failing to
encourage him by purchasing from his employers. Another cause of
destruction arises from the resentment of the farmers, who think that,
as the animals are fed upon their grounds, it is hard that they should
be denied the privilege of profiting by them. At a public meeting of the
gentry in one of the northern provinces, a hamper came directed to the
president, containing two thousand partridges’ eggs carefully packed.
Some species by these continual persecutions have been quite rooted out,
others are nearly extinct, and others only to be found in remote parts
of the island. Sportsmen lament this, and naturalists lament it also
with better reason.

One of the most costly works which I shall bring home is a complete
treatise upon rural sports, with the most beautiful decorations that I
have ever seen: it contains all possible information upon the subject,
the best instructions, and annals of these sciences, as they may be
termed in England. I have purchased it as an exquisite specimen of
English arts, and excellently characteristic of the country, more
especially as being the work of a clergyman. He might have seen in his
Bible that the mighty hunters there are not mentioned as examples; and
that, when Christ called the fishermen, he bade them leave the pursuit,
for from thenceforth they should catch men.


                              LETTER XXVI.

_Poor-Laws.—Work-Houses.—Sufferings of the Poor from the
    Climate.—Dangerous State of England during the Scarcity.—The Poor
    not bettered by the Progress of Civilization._

With us charity is a religious duty, with the English it is an affair of
law. We support the poor by alms; in England a tax is levied to keep
them from starving, and, enormous as the amount of this tax is, it is
scarcely sufficient for the purpose. This evil began immediately upon
the dissolution of the monasteries. They who were accustomed to receive
food at the convent door, where they could ask it without shame because
it was given as an act of piety, had then none to look up to for bread.
A system of parish taxation was soon therefore established, and new laws
from time to time enacted to redress new grievances, the evil still
outgrowing the remedy, till the poor-laws have become the disgrace of
the statutes, and it is supposed that at this day a tenth part of the
whole population of England receive regular parish pay.

The disposal of this money is vested in certain officers called
overseers. The office is so troublesome that the gentry rarely or never
undertake it, and it usually devolves upon people rather below the
middle rank, who are rigidly parsimonious in the distribution of their
trust. If they were uniformly thus frugal of the parish purse, it would
be laudable, or at least excusable; but where their own enjoyments are
concerned, they are inexcusably lavish of the money collected for better
purposes. On every pretext of parish business, however slight, a dinner
is ordered for the officers. While they indulge themselves they deal
hardly by the poor, and give reluctantly what they cannot withhold. The
beadsman at the convent door receives a blessing with his pittance, but
the poor man here is made to feel his poverty as a reproach; his scanty
relief is bestowed ungraciously, and ungraciously received; there is
neither charity in him that gives, nor gratitude in him that takes. Nor
is this the worst evil: as each parish is bound to provide for its own
poor, an endless source of oppression and litigation arises from the
necessity of keeping out all persons likely to become chargeable. We
talk of the liberty of the English, and they talk of their own liberty;
but there is no liberty in England for the poor. They are no longer sold
with the soil, it is true; but they cannot quit the soil, if there be
any probability or suspicion that age or infirmity may disable them. If
in such a case they endeavour to remove to some situation where they
hope more easily to maintain themselves, where work is more plentiful,
or provisions cheaper, the overseers are alarmed; the intruder is
apprehended as if he were a criminal, and sent back to his own parish.
Wherever a pauper dies, that parish must be at the cost of his funeral:
instances therefore have not been wanting, of wretches in the last stage
of disease having been hurried away in an open cart upon straw, and
dying upon the road. Nay, even women in the very pains of labour have
been driven out, and have perished by the way-side, because the
birth-place of the child would be its parish. Such acts do not pass
without reprehension; but no adequate punishment can be inflicted, and
the root of the evil lies in the laws.

The principle upon which the poor-laws seem to have been framed is this:
The price of labour is conceived to be adequate to the support of the
labourer. If the season be unusually hard, or his family larger than he
can maintain, the parish then assists him; rather affording a specific
relief, than raising the price of labour, because if wages were
increased, it would injure the main part of the labouring poor instead
of benefiting them: a fact, however mortifying to the national
character, sufficiently proved by experience. They would spend more
money at the alehouse, working less and drinking more, till the habits
of idleness and drunkenness strengthening each other, would reduce them
to a state of helpless and burthensome poverty. Parish pay, therefore,
is a means devised for increasing the wages of those persons only to
whom the increase is really advantageous, and at times only when it is
really necessary.

Plausible as this may at first appear, it is fallacious, as all
reasonings will be found which assume for their basis the depravity of
human nature. The industrious by this plan are made to suffer for the
spendthrift. They are prevented from laying by the surplus of their
earnings for the support of their declining years, lest others not so
provident should squander it. But the consequence is, that the parish is
at last obliged to support both; for, if the labourer in the prime of
his youth and strength cannot earn more than his subsistence, he must
necessarily in his old age earn less.

When the poor are incapable of contributing any longer to their own
support, they are removed to what is called the workhouse. I cannot
express to you the feeling of hopelessness and dread with which all the
decent poor look on to this wretched termination of a life of labour. To
this place all vagrants are sent for punishment; unmarried women with
child go here to be delivered; and poor orphans and base-born children
are brought up here till they are of age to be apprenticed off; the
other inmates are those unhappy people who are utterly helpless, parish
idiots and madmen, the blind and the palsied, and the old who are fairly
worn out. It is not in the nature of things that the superintendants of
such institutions as these should be gentle-hearted, when the
superintendance is undertaken merely for the sake of the salary; and, in
this country, religion is out of the question. There are always enough
competitors for the management, among those people who can get no better
situation; but, whatever kindliness of disposition they may bring with
them to the task, it is soon perverted by the perpetual sight of
depravity and of suffering. The management of children who grow up
without one natural affection—where there is none to love them, and
consequently none whom they can love—would alone be sufficient to sour a
happier disposition than is usually brought to the government of a

To this society of wretchedness the labouring poor of England look on,
as their last resting-place on this side the grave; and rather than
enter abodes so miserable, they endure the severest privations as long
as it is possible to exist. A feeling of honest pride makes them shrink
from a place where guilt and poverty are confounded; and it is
heart-breaking for those who have reared a family of their own, to be
subjected in their old age to the harsh and unfeeling authority of
persons younger than themselves, neither better born nor better bred.
They dread also the disrespectful and careless funeral which public
charity, or rather law, bestows; and many a wretch denies himself the
few sordid comforts within his reach, that he may hoard up enough to
purchase a more decent burial, a better shroud, or a firmer coffin, than
the parish will afford.

The wealth of this nation is their own boast, and the envy of all the
rest of Europe; yet in no other country is there so much poverty—nor is
poverty any where else attended with such actual suffering. Poor as our
own country is, the poor Spaniard has resources and comforts which are
denied to the Englishman: above all, he enjoys a climate which rarely or
never subjects him to physical suffering. Perhaps the pain—the positive
bodily pain which the poor here endure from cold, may be esteemed the
worst evil of their poverty. Coal is every where dear, except in the
neighbourhood of the collieries; and especially so in London, where the
number of the poor is of course greatest. You see women raking the ashes
in the streets, for the sake of the half-burnt cinders. What a picture
does one of their houses present in the depth of winter! the old
cowering over a few embers—the children shivering in rags, pale and
livid—all the activity and joyousness natural to their time of life
chilled within them.—The numbers who perish from diseases produced by
exposure to cold and rain, by unwholesome food, and by the want of
enough even of that, would startle as well as shock you. Of the children
of the poor, hardly one-third are reared.

During the late war the internal peace of the country was twice
endangered by scarcities. Many riots broke out, though fewer than were
apprehended, and though the people on the whole behaved with exemplary
patience. Nor were the rich deficient in charity. There is no country in
the world where money is so willingly given for public purposes of
acknowledged utility. Subscriptions were raised in all parts, and
associations formed, to supply the distressed with food, either
gratuitously, or at a cheaper rate than the market price. But though the
danger was felt and confessed, and though the military force of London
was called out to quell an incipient insurrection, no measures have been
taken to prevent a return of the evil. With all its boasted wealth and
prosperity, England is at the mercy of the seasons. One unfavourable
harvest occasions dearth: and what the consequences of famine would be
in a country where the poor are already so numerous and so wretched, is
a question which the boldest statesman dares not ask himself. When
volunteer forces were raised over the kingdom, the poor were excluded;
it was not thought safe to trust them with arms. But the peasantry are,
and ought to be, the strength of every country; and woe to that country
where the peasantry and the poor are the same!

Many causes have contributed to the rapid increase of this evil. The
ruinous wars of the present reign, and the oppressive system of taxation
pursued by the late premier, are among the principal. But the
manufacturing system is the main cause; it is the inevitable tendency of
that system to multiply the number of the poor, and to make them
vicious, diseased, and miserable.

To answer the question concerning the comparative advantages of the
savage and social states, as Rousseau has done, is to commit high
treason against human nature, and blasphemy against Omniscient Goodness;
but they who say that society ought to stop where it is, and that it has
no further amelioration to expect, do not less blaspheme the one, and
betray the other. The improvements of society never reach the poor: they
have been stationary, while the higher classes were progressive. The
gentry of the land are better lodged, better accommodated, better
educated than their ancestors; the poor man lives in as poor a dwelling
as his forefathers when they were slaves of the soil, works as hard, is
worse fed, and not better taught. His situation, therefore, is
relatively worse. There is, indeed, no insuperable bar to his rising
into a higher order—his children may be tradesmen, merchants, or even
nobles—but this political advantage is no amendment of his actual state.
The best conceivable state for man is that wherein he has the full
enjoyment of all his powers, bodily and intellectual. This is the lot of
the higher classes in Europe; the poor enjoys neither—the savage only
the former. If, therefore, religion were out of the question, it had
been happier for the poor man to have been born among savages, than in a
civilized country, where he is in fact the victim of civilization.


                             LETTER XXVII.

_Saint Paul’s.—Anecdote of a female Esquimaux.—Defect of
    Grecian Architecture in cold Climates.—Nakedness of the
    Church.—Monuments.—Pictures offered by Sir Joshua Reynolds, &c., and
    refused.— Ascent.—View from the Summit._

The cathedral church of St Paul’s is not more celebrated than it
deserves to be. No other nation in modern times has reared so
magnificent a monument of piety. I never behold it without regretting
that such a church should be appropriated to heretical worship;—that,
like a whited sepulchre, there should be death within.

In the court before the grand entrance stands a statue of Queen Anne,
instead of a cross; a figure as ill-executed as it is ill-placed, which
has provoked some epigrams even in this country, indifferent as the
taste in sculpture is here, and little as is the sense of religious
decorum. On entering the church I was impressed by its magnitude. A fine
anecdote is related of the effect this produced upon a female
Esquimaux:—quite overpowered with wonder when she stood under the dome,
she leaned upon her conductor, as if sinking under the strong feeling of
awe, and fearfully asked him, “Did man make it? or was it put here?” My
own sensations were of the same character, yet it was wonder at human
power unmingled with any other kind of awe; not that feeling which a
temple should inspire; not so much a sense that the building in which I
stood was peculiarly suitable for worship, as that it could be suitable
for nothing else. Gothic architecture produces the effect of sublimity,
though always without simplicity, and often without magnitude; so
perhaps does the Saracenic; if the Grecian ever produce the same effect
it is by magnitude alone. But the architecture of the ancients is
altered, and materially injured by the alteration, when adapted to cold
climates, where it is necessary when the light is admitted to exclude
the air: the windows have always a littleness, always appear misplaced;
they are holes cut in the wall: not, as in the Gothic, natural and
essential parts of the general structure.

The air in all the English churches which I have yet entered is damp,
cold, confined, and unwholesome, as if the graves beneath tainted it. No
better proof can be required of the wisdom of enjoining incense. I have
complained that the area in their ordinary churches is crowded; but the
opposite fault is perceivable in this great cathedral. The choir is but
a very small part of the church; service was going on there, being
hurried over as usual in week-days, and attended only by two or three
old women, whose piety deserved to meet with better instructors. The
vergers, however, paid so much respect to this service, such as it is,
that they would not show us the church till it was over. There are no
chapels, no other altar than that in the choir;—for what then can the
heretics have erected so huge an edifice? It is as purposeless as the

Here are suspended all the flags which were taken in the naval victories
of the late war. I do not think that the natural feeling which arose
within me at seeing the Spanish colours among them influences me, when I
say that they do not ornament the church, and that, even if they did,
the church is not the place for them. They might be appropriate
offerings in a temple of Mars; but certainly there is nothing in the
revealed will of God which teaches us that he should be better pleased
with the blood of man in battle, than with that of bulls and of goats in
sacrifice. The palace, the houses of legislature, the admiralty, and the
tower where the regalia are deposited, should be decorated with these
trophies; so also should Greenwich be, the noble asylum for their old
seamen; and even in the church a flag might perhaps fitly be hung over
the tomb of him who won it and fell in the victory. Monuments are
erecting here to all the naval captains who fell in these actions; some
of them are not finished; those which are do little honour to the
artists of England. The artists know not what to do with their
villainous costume, and, to avoid uniforms in marble, make their unhappy
statues half naked. One of these represents the dying captain as falling
into Neptune’s arms;—a dreadful situation for a dying captain it would
be—he would certainly take the old sea-god for the devil, and the
trident for the pitchfork with which he tosses about souls in the fire.
Will sculptors never perceive the absurdity of allegorizing in stone!

There are but few of these monuments as yet, because the English never
thought of making St Paul’s the mausoleum of their great men, till they
had crowded Westminster Abbey with the illustrious and the obscure
indiscriminately. They now seem to have discovered the nakedness of this
huge edifice, and to vote parliamentary monuments to every sea captain
who falls in battle, for the sake of filling it as fast as possible.
This is making the honour too common. It is only the name of the
commander in chief which is always necessarily connected with that of
the victory; he, therefore, is the only individual to whom a national
monument ought to be erected. If he survives the action, and it be
thought expedient, as I willingly allow it to be, that every victory
should have its monument, let it be, like the stone at Thermopylæ,
inscribed to the memory of all who fell. The commander in chief may
deserve a separate commemoration: the responsibility of the engagement
rests upon him; and to him the merit of the victory, as far as
professional skill is entitled to it, will, whether justly or not, be
attributed, though assuredly in most cases with the strictest justice.
But whatever may have been the merit of the subordinate officers, the
rank which they hold is not sufficiently conspicuous. The historian will
mention them, but the reader will not remember them because they are
mentioned but once, and it is only to those who are remembered that
statues should be voted; only to those who live in the hearts and in the
mouths of the people. “Who is this?” is a question which will be asked
at every statue; but if after the verger has named the person
represented it is still necessary to ask, “Who is he?” the statue is
misplaced in a national mausoleum.

These monuments are too few as yet to produce any other general effect
than a wish that there were more; and the nakedness of these wide walls
without altar, chapel, confessional, picture, or offering, is striking
and dolorous as you may suppose. Yet if such honours were awarded
without any immediate political motive, there are many for whom they
might justly be claimed; for Cook for instance, the first navigator,
without reproach; for Bruce, the most intrepid and successful of modern
travellers; for lady Wortley Montague, the best of all letter-writers,
and the benefactress of Europe. “I,” said W., who was with me, “should
demand one for Sir Walter Raleigh; and even you, Spaniard as you are,
would not, I think, contest the claim; it should be for introducing
tobacco into Christendom, for which he deserves a statue of pipe-makers’

Some five-and-twenty or thirty years ago the best English artists
offered to paint pictures and give them to this cathedral;—England had
never greater painters to boast of than at that time. The thing,
however, was not so easy as you might imagine, and it was necessary to
obtain the consent of the bishop, the chapter, the lord mayor, and the
king. The king loves the arts, and willingly consented; the lord mayor
and the chapter made no objection; but the bishop positively refused;
for no other reason, it is said, than because the first application had
not been made to him. Perhaps some puritanical feeling may have been
mingled with this despicable pride, some leven of the old Iconoclastic
and Lutheran barbarism; but as long as the names of Barry and of Sir
Joshua Reynolds are remembered in this country, and remembered they will
be as long as the works and the fame of a painter can endure, so long
will the provoking absurdity of this refusal be execrated.[17]

Footnote 17:

  A story, even less honourable than this to the dean and chapter of St
  Paul’s is current at this present time, which if false should be
  contradicted, and if true should be generally known. Upon the death of
  Barry the painter it was wished to erect a tablet to his memory in
  this cathedral, and the dean and chapter were applied to for
  permission so to do: the answer was, that the fee was a thousand
  pounds. In reply to this unexpected demand, it was represented that
  Barry had been a poor man, and that the monument was designed by his
  friends as a mark of respect to his genius: that it would not be
  large, and consequently might stand in a situation where there was not
  room for a larger. Upon this it was answered, that, in consideration
  of these circumstances, perhaps five hundred pounds might be taken. A
  second remonstrance was made, a chapter was convened to consider the
  matter, and the final answer was, that nothing less than a thousand
  pounds could be taken.

  If this be false it should be publicly contradicted, especially as any
  thing dishonourable will be readily believed concerning St Paul’s,
  since Lord Nelson’s coffin was shown there in the grave for a shilling
  a head.—TR.

The monuments and the body of the church may be seen gratuitously; a
price is required for admittance to any thing above stairs, and for
fourpenny, sixpenny, and shilling fees we were admitted to see the
curiosities of the building;—a model something differing from the
present structure, and the work of the same great architect; a
geometrical staircase, at the top of which the door closes with a
tremendous sound; the clock, whose huge bell in a calm day, when what
little wind is stirring is from the east, may be heard five leagues over
the plain at Windsor; and a whispering gallery, the great amusement of
children and wonder of women, and which is indeed at first sufficiently
startling. It is just below the dome; and when I was on the one side and
my guide on the other, the whole breadth of the dome being between us,
he shut-to the door, and the sound was like a peal of thunder rolling
among the mountains.—The scratch of a pin against the wall, and the
lowest whisper, were distinctly heard across. The inside of the cupola
is covered with pictures by a certain Sir James Thornhill: they are too
high to be seen distinctly from any place except the gallery immediately
under them, and if there were nothing else to repay the fatigue of the
ascent it would be labour in vain.

Much as I had been impressed by the size of the building on first
entering it, my sense of its magnitude was heightened by the prodigious
length of the passages which we traversed, and the seeming endlessness
of the steps we mounted. We kept close to our conductor with a sense of
danger: that it is dangerous to do otherwise was exemplified not long
since by a person who lost himself here, and remained two days and
nights in this dismal solitude. At length he reached one of the towers
in the front; to make himself heard was impossible; he tied his
handkerchief to his stick, and hung it out as a signal of distress,
which at last was seen from below, and he was rescued. The best plan in
such cases would be to stop the clock, if the way to it could be found.

In all other towers which I had ever ascended, the ascent was fatiguing,
but no ways frightful. Stone steps winding round and round a stone
pillar from the bottom up to the top, with just room to admit you
between the pillar and the wall, make the limbs ache and the head giddy,
but there is nothing to give a sense of danger. Here was a totally
different scene: the ascent was up the cupola, by stair-cases and stages
of wood, which had all the seeming insecurity of scaffolding. Projecting
beams hung with cobwebs and black with dust, the depth below, the extent
of the gloomy dome within which we were enclosed, and the light which
just served to show all this, sometimes dawning before us, sometimes
fading away behind, now slanting from one side, and now leaving us
almost in utter darkness: of such materials you may conceive how
terrifying a scene may be formed, and you know how delightful it is to
contemplate images of terror with a sense of security.

Having at last reached the summit of the dome, I was contented. The way
up to the cross was by a ladder; and as we could already see as far as
the eye could reach, there was nothing above to reward me for a longer
and more laborious ascent. The old bird’s-eye views which are now
disused because they are out of fashion, were of more use than any thing
which supplies their place: half plain, half picture, they gave an idea
of the place which they represented more accurately than pictures, and
more vividly than plans. I would have climbed St Paul’s, if it had been
only to see London thus mapped below me, and though there had been
nothing beautiful or sublime in the view: few objects, however, are so
sublime, if by sublimity we understand that which completely fills the
imagination to the utmost measure of its powers, as the view of a huge
city thus seen at once:—house-roofs, the chimneys of which formed so
many turrets; towers and steeples; the trees and gardens of the inns of
court and the distant squares forming so many green spots in the map;
Westminster Abbey on the one hand with Westminster Hall, an object
scarcely less conspicuous; on the other the Monument, a prodigious
column worthy of a happier occasion and a less lying inscription; the
Tower and the masts of the shipping rising behind it; the river with its
three bridges and all its boats and barges; the streets immediately
within view blackened with moving swarms of men and lines of carriages.
To the north were Hampstead and Highgate on their eminences, southward
the Surrey hills. Where the city ended it was impossible to distinguish:
it would have been more beautiful if, as at Madrid, the capital had been
circumscribed within walls, and the open country had commenced
immediately without its limits. In every direction the lines of houses
ran out as far as the eye could follow them, only the patches of green
were more frequently interspersed towards the extremity of the prospect,
as the lines diverged further from each other. It was a sight which awed
me and made me melancholy. I was looking down upon the habitations of a
million of human beings; upon the single spot whereon were crowded
together more wealth, more splendour, more ingenuity, more worldly
wisdom, and, alas! more worldly blindness, poverty, depravity,
dishonesty, and wretchedness, than upon any other spot in the whole
habitable earth.


                             LETTER XXVIII.

_State of the English Catholics.—Their prudent Silence in the Days of
    Jacobitism.—The Church of England jealous of the Dissenters.—Riots
    in 1780.—Effects of the French Revolution.—The Re-establishment of
    the Monastic Orders in England.—Number of Nunneries and Catholic
    Seminaries.—The Poor easily converted.—Catholic Writers.—Dr Geddes._

The situation of the Catholics in England is far more favourable at
present than it has been at any period since the unfortunate expulsion
of James II. There is an opinion prevalent among freethinkers and
schismatics that intolerance is bad policy, and that religious
principles hostile to an establishment will die away if they are not
persecuted. These reasoners have forgotten that Christianity was rooted
up in Japan, and that heresy was extirpated from Spain, by fire. The
impolicy is in half measures.

So long as the Stuarts laid claim to the crown, the Catholics were
jealously regarded as a party connected with them; and even the large
class of Jacobites, as they were called, who adhered to the old family
merely from a principle of loyalty, being obstinate heretics, looked
suspiciously upon their Catholic coadjutors as men whose motives were
different, though they were engaged in the same cause. These men would
never have attempted to restore the Stuarts, if they had not believed
that the Protestant church establishment would remain undisturbed, they
believed this firmly—believed that a Catholic king would reign over a
nation of schismatics, and make no attempt at converting them; so
ignorant were they of the principles of Catholicism. But no sooner had
the Pretender ceased to be formidable than the Catholics were forgotten,
or considered only as a religious sect of less consequence in the state,
and therefore less obnoxious than any other, because neither numerous
nor noisy. In fact the persecuting laws, though never enforced, were
still in existence; and the Catholics themselves, as they had not
forgotten their bloody effects in former times, prudently persevered in

Fortunately for them, as soon as they had ceased to be objects of
suspicion, the Presbyterians became so. This body of dissenters had been
uniformly attached to the Hanoverian succession; but when that house was
firmly established, and all danger from the Stuarts over, the old
feelings began to revive, both on the part of the Crown and of the
Nonconformists. What they call the connection between civil and
religious freedom, or, as their antagonists say, between schism and
rebellion, made the court jealous of their numbers and of their
principles. The clergy too, being no longer in danger from those whom
they had dispossessed, began to fear those who would dispossess them;
they laid aside their controversy with the Catholics, and directed their
harangues and writings against greater schismatics than themselves.
During such disputes our brethren had nothing to do but quietly look on,
and rejoice that the kingdom of Beelzebub was divided against itself.

It is true, a violent insurrection broke out against them in the year
1780; but this was the work of the lowest rabble, led on by a madman. It
did not originate in any previous feelings, for probably nine-tenths of
the mob had never heard of popery till they rioted to suppress it, and
it left no rankling behind: on the contrary, as the Catholics had been
wantonly and cruelly attacked, a sentiment of compassion for them was
excited in the more respectable part of the community.

The French Revolution materially assisted the true religion. The English
clergy, trembling for their own benefices, welcomed the emigrant priests
as brethren, and, forgetting all their former ravings about Antichrist,
and Babylon, and the Scarlet Whore, lamented the downfall of religion in
France. An outcry was raised against the more daring heretics at home,
and the tide of popular fury let loose upon them. While this dread of
atheism prevailed, the Catholic priests obtained access every where; and
the university of Oxford even supplied them with books from its own
press. These noble confessors did not let the happy opportunity pass by
unimproved; they sowed the seeds abundantly, and saw the first fruits of
the harvest. But the most important advantage which has ever been
obtained for the true religion since its subversion, is the
re-establishment of the monastic orders in this island, from whence they
had so long been proscribed. This great object has been effected with
admirable prudence. A few nuns who had escaped from the atheistical
persecution in France were permitted to live together, according to
their former mode of life. It would have been cruel to have separated
them, and their establishment was connived at as trifling in itself, and
which would die a natural death with its members. But the Catholic
families, rejoicing in this manifest interposition of Providence, made
use of the opportunity, and found no difficulty in introducing novices.
Thus is good always educed from evil; the irruption of the barbarous
nations led to their conversion; the overthrow of the Greek empire
occasioned the revival of letters in Europe; and the persecution of
Catholicism in France has been the cause of its establishment in
England: the storm which threatened to pluck up this Tree of Life by its
roots has only scattered abroad its seed. Not only have many conversions
been effected, but even in many instances the children of Protestants
have been inspired with such holy zeal, that, heroically abandoning the
world, in spite of all the efforts of their deluded parents, they have
entered and professed. Some of the wiser heretics have seen to what
these beginnings will lead; but the answer to their representations has
been, the vows may be taken at pleasure, and broken at pleasure, for by
the law of England such vows are not binding. As if any law could take
away the moral obligation of a vow, and neutralise perjury! May we not
indulge a hope that this blindness is the work of God?

There are at this time five Catholic colleges in England and two in
Scotland, besides twelve schools and academies for the instruction of
boys: eleven schools for females, besides what separate ones are kept by
the English Benedictine nuns from Dunkirk; the nuns of the Ancient
English Community of Brussels; the nuns from Bruges; the nuns from
Liege; the Augustinian nuns from Louvain; the English Benedictine nuns
from Cambray; the Benedictine nuns from Ghent; those of the same order
from Montargis; and the Dominican nuns from Brussels: in all these
communities the rules of the respective orders are observed, and novices
are admitted; they are convents as well as schools. The Poor Clares have
four establishments, in which only novices are received, not scholars;
the Teresians three; the Benedictine nuns one. Convents of monks are not
so numerous; and indeed in the present state of things secular clergy
are better labourers in the vineyard; the Carthusians, however, have an
establishment in the full rigour of their rule. Who could have hoped to
live to see these things in England!

The greater number of converts are made among the poor, who are always
more easily converted than the rich, because their inheritance is not in
this world, and they enjoy so little happiness here that they are more
disposed to think seriously of securing it for hereafter. It is no
difficult thing to make them set their hearts and their hopes upon
heaven. Their own clergy neglect them; and when they behold any one
solicitous for their salvation without any interested motive, an act of
love towards them is so unexpected and so unusual, that their gratitude
prepares the way for truth. The charity also which our holy religion so
particularly enjoins produces its good effect even on earth; proselytes
always abound in the neighbourhood of a wealthy Catholic family. Were
the seminaries as active as they were in the days of persecution, and as
liberally supplied with means, it would not be absurd to hope for the
conversion of this island, so long lost to the church.

Another circumstance greatly in favour of the true religion is, that
there is no longer any difficulty or danger in publishing Catholic
writings. They were formerly proscribed and hunted out as vigilantly as
prohibited books in our own country; but now the press is open to them,
and able defenders of the truth have appeared. This also has been
managed skilfully. To have openly attacked the heretical establishment
might have attracted too much notice, and perhaps have excited alarm;
nor indeed would the heretics have perused a work avowedly written with
such a design. Accordingly the form of history has been used, a study of
which the English are particularly fond. An excellent life of Cardinal
Pole has been written, which exposes the enormities of Henry VIII. and
the character of the wretched Anna Boleyn. Another writer, in a history
of Henry II. has vindicated the memory of that blessed Saint Thomas of
Canterbury, who is so vilified by all the English historians; and Bishop
Milner, still more lately, in a work upon antiquities, has ventured to
defend those excellent prelates who attempted, under Philip and Mary, to
save their country from the abyss of heresy.

A division for a short time among the Catholics themselves was
occasioned by Dr Geddes, a priest of great learning, but of the most
irascible disposition and perverse mind. This man began to translate the
scriptures anew; and, as he avowed opinions destructive of their
authority, as well as of revealed religion, his bishop very properly
interfered, forbade him to proceed, and on his persisting suspended him
for contumacy. He obstinately went on, and lived to publish two volumes
of the text and a third of notes: the notes consist wholly of verbal
criticism, and explain nothing, and the language of the translation is
such as almost to justify a suspicion that he intended to debase the
holy writings, and render them odious. As long as he lived he found a
patron in Lord Petre; but his books are now selling at their just value,
that is, as waste paper; and if his name was not inserted in the Index
Expurgatorius it would be forgotten.

Pope and Dryden, the two greatest English poets, were both Catholics,
though the latter had been educated in the schism.


                              LETTER XXIX.

_Number of Sects in England, all appealing to the
    Scriptures.—Puritans.—Nonjurors.—Rise of Socinianism, and its
    probable Downfall._

The heretical sects in this country are so numerous, that an explanatory
dictionary of their names has been published. They form a curious list!
Arminians, Socinians, Baxterians, Presbyterians, New Americans,
Sabellians, Lutherans, Moravians, Swedenborgians, Athanasians,
Episcopalians, Arians, Sabbatarians, Trinitarians, Unitarians,
Millenarians, Necessarians, Sublapsarians, Supralapsarians, Antinomians,
Hutchinsonians, Sandemonians, Muggletonians, Baptists, Anabaptists,
Pædobaptists, Methodists, Papists, Universalists, Calvinists,
Materialists, Destructionists, Brownists, Independants, Protestants,
Hugonots, Nonjurors, Seceders, Hernhutters, Dunkers, Jumpers, Shakers,
and Quakers, &c. &c. &c.[18] A precious nomenclature! only to be
paralleled by the catalogue of the Philistines in Sanson Nazarenzo,[19]
or the muster-roll of Anna de Santiago’s Devils,[19] under Aquias, Brum,
and Acatu, lieutenant-generals to Lucifer himself.

Footnote 18:

  It must surely be superfluous to make any comment upon the ignorant or
  insolent manner in which synonymous appellations are here classed as
  different sects. The popish author seems to have aimed at something
  like wit by arranging them in rhymes:—as this could not be preserved
  in the translation, and it is a pity any wit should be lost, the
  original, such as it is, follows: “_Arminianos, Socinianos,
  Baxterianos, Presbiterianos, Nuevos Americanos, Sabellianos,
  Luteranos, Moravianos, Swedenborgianos, Athanasianos, Episcopalianos,
  Arianos, Sabbatarianos, Trinitarianos, Unitarianos, Millenarianos,
  Necessarianos, Sublapsarianos, Supralapsarianos, Antinomianos,
  Hutchinsonianos, Sandemonianos, Muggletonianos, Baptistas,
  Anabaptistas, Pædobaptistas, Methodistas, Papistas, Universalistas,
  Calvinistas, Materialistas, Destruicionistas, Brownistas,
  Independantes, Protestantes, Hugonotos, Nonjureros, Secederos,
  Hernhutteros, Dunkeros, Jumperos, Shakeros, y Quakeros._”—The author,
  to make these names look as uncouth and portentous as possible, has
  not translated several which he must have understood, and has retained
  the _w_ and _k_.—TR.

This endless confusion arises from the want of some surer standard of
faith than Reason and the Scriptures, to one or both of which all the
schismatics appeal, making it their boast that they allow no other
authority. Reason and the Scriptures! Even one of their own bishops
calls Reason a box of quicksilver, and says that it is like a pigeon’s
neck, or a shot-silk, appearing one colour to me, and another to you who
stand in a different light.

Footnote 19:

  These allusions are probably well understood in Spain; but here, as in
  many other instances, the translator must confess his ignorance, and
  regret that he can give no explanation.—TR.

And for the Scriptures, well have they been likened to a nose of wax,
which every finger and thumb may tweak to the fashion of their own
fancy. You may well suppose how perversely those heretics will wrest the
spirit, who have not scrupled to corrupt the letter of the Gospel. In
many editions of the English Bible _ye_ has been substituted for _we_;
Acts, vi. 3. the Presbyterians having bribed the printer thus to favour
their heresy. Were you to hear the stress which some of these Puritans
lay upon the necessity of perusing the Scriptures, you might suppose
they had adopted the Jewish notion, that the first thing which God
himself does every morning is to read three hours in the Bible.

You said to me, Examine into the opinions of the different heretics, and
you will be in no danger of heresy; and you requested me to send you
full accounts of all that I should see, learn, and think during this
enquiry, as the main confession you should require. The result will
prove that your confidence was not misplaced; that nothing could leach
me so feelingly the blessing of health, as a course of studies in an

Many of the names of this hydra brood need no explanation; the others I
shall explain as I understand them, and those which are left untouched
you may consider as too insignificant in their numbers, or in their
points of difference, to require more than the mere insertion of their
titles in the classification of heresies. The Dunkers and Sandemonians,
the Baxterians and Muggletonians, may be left in obscurity with the
Tascadrogiti and Ascodrogiti, the Perliconasati of old, the
Passalaronciti, and Artotyriti, of whom St Jerome might well say, _Magis
portenta quam nomina_.

Some of these sects differ from the establishment in discipline only,
others both in doctrine and discipline; they are either political, or
fanatical, or both. In all cases it may be remarked, that the dissenting
ministers, as they are called, are more zealous than the regular clergy,
because they either choose their profession for conscience sake, or take
it up as a trade, influenced either by enthusiasm or knavery, which are
so near akin and so much alike, that it is generally difficult, and
sometimes impossible, to distinguish one from the other.

When the schism was fairly established in this island by the accursed
Elizabeth, all sorts of heresies sprung up like weeds in a neglected
field. The new establishment paid its court to the new head of the
church by the most slavish doctrines; the more abject, the more were
they unlike the principles of the Catholic religion, and also to the
political tenets of the Nonconformists. The consequence was, a strict
union between the clergy and the crown; while, on the other hand, all
the fanatics, however at variance in other points, were connected by
their common hatred of this double tyranny. Elizabeth kept them down by
the Inquisition: she martyred the Catholic teachers, and put the
Puritans to a slower death, by throwing them into dungeons, and leaving
them to rot there amid their own excrement. They strengthened during the
reign of her timorous successor, and overthrew the monarchy and
hierarchy together under Charles, the martyr of the English schismatical
church. Then they quarrelled among themselves; and one party,
disappointed of effecting its own establishment, brought back Charles
II., who ruled them with a rod of iron. A little prudence in James would
have restored England to the bosom of the church; but he offended the
clergy by his precipitance, forced them to coalesce with the Dissenters,
and lost his crown. His father’s fate was before his eyes, and he feared
to lose his head also; but had he been bold enough to set it at stake,
and been as willing to be a martyr as he was to be a confessor, a
bloodier civil war might have been excited in England than in Ireland;
England might have been his by conquest as well as by birth, and the
religion of the conqueror imposed upon the people.

This revolution occasioned a new schism. From the time of their first
establishment the clergy had been preaching the doctrines of absolute
power and passive obedience; that kings govern by a right divine, and,
therefore, are not amenable to man for their conduct. These principles
had taken deep root in consequence of the general fear and hatred
against the Calvinists. No inconsiderable portion of the clergy,
therefore, however heartily they dreaded the restoration of what they
called Popery by James, could not in conscience assent to the accession
of William: indeed, the more sincerely they had deprecated the former
danger, the less could they reconcile their really tender consciences to
the Revolution. They therefore resigned, or rather were displaced from,
their sees and benefices, and lingered about half a century as a
distinct sect, under the title of Nonjurors. These men were less
dangerous to the new government than they who, having the same opinions
without the same integrity, took the oaths of allegiance, and washed
them down with secret bumpers to King James. But great part of the
clergy sincerely acquiesced in the Whig principles; and this number was
continually increasing as long as such principles were the fashion of
the court. Of this the government were well aware: they let the
malcontents[20] alone, knowing that where the carcase is there will the
crows be gathered together; and in this case it so happened that the
common frailty and the common sense of mankind coincided.

Footnote 20:

  Don Manuel seems not to recollect Dr Sacheverell, or not to have heard
  of him.—TR.

I have related in my last how the Dissenters, from the republican
tendency of their principles, became again obnoxious to government
during the present reign; the ascendancy of the old high church and tory
party, and the advantages which have resulted to the true religion.
Their internal state has undergone as great a change. One part of them
has insensibly lapsed into Socinianism, a heresy, till of late years,
almost unknown in England; and into this party all the indifferentists
from other sects, who do not choose, for political motives, to join the
establishment, naturally fall. The establishment itself furnishes a
supply by the falling off of those of its members, who, in the progress
of enquiry, discover that the church of England is neither one thing nor
another; that in matters of religion all must rest upon faith, or upon
reason; and have unhappily preferred the sandy foundation of human wit.
_Crede ut intelligas, noli intelligere ut credas_, is the wise precept
of St Augustine; but these heretics have discarded the fathers as well
as the saints! These become Socinians; and though many of them do not
stop here in the career of unbelief, they still frequent the
meeting-houses, and are numbered among the sect. With these all the
hydra brood of Arianism and Pelagianism, and all the anti-calvinist
Dissenters have united; each preserving its own peculiar tenets, but all
agreeing in their abhorrence of Calvinism, their love of unbounded
freedom of opinion, and in consequence their hostility to any church
establishment. All, however, by this union, and still more by the medley
of doctrines which are preached as the pulpit happens to be filled by a
minister of one persuasion or the other, are insensibly modified and
assimilated to each other; and this assimilation will probably become
complete, as the older members, who were more rigidly trained in the
orthodoxy of heterodoxy, drop off. A body will remain respectable for
riches, numbers, erudition, and talents, but without zeal and without
generosity; and they will fall asunder at no very remote period, because
they do not afford their ministers stipends sufficient for the decencies
of life. The church must be kept together by a golden chain; and this,
which is typically true of the true church, is literally applicable to
every false one. These sectarians call themselves the enlightened part
of the Dissenters; but the children of Mammon are wiser in their
generation than such children of light.

From this party, therefore, the church of England has nothing to fear,
though of late years its hostility has been erringly directed against
them. They are rather its allies than its enemies, an advanced guard who
have pitched their camp upon the very frontiers of infidelity, and exert
themselves in combating the unbelievers on one hand, and the Calvinists
on the other. They have the fate of Servetus for their warning, which
the followers of Calvin justify, and are ready to make their precedent.
Should these sworn foes to the establishment succeed in overthrowing it,
a burnt-offering of anti-trinitarians would be the first illumination
for the victory.


                              LETTER XXX.

_Watering Places.—Taste for the Picturesque.—Encomiendas._

The English migrate as regularly as rooks. Home-sickness is a disease
which has no existence in a certain state of civilization or of luxury,
and instead of it these islanders are subject to periodical fits, of
what I shall beg leave to call _oikophobia_, a disorder with which
physicians are perfectly well acquainted though it may not yet have been
catalogued in the nomenclature of nosology.

In old times, that is to say, two generations ago, mineral springs were
the only places of resort. Now the Nereids have as many votaries as the
Naiads, and the tribes of wealth and fashion swarm down to the sea coast
as punctually as the land crabs in the West Indies march the same way.
These people, who have unquestionably the best houses of any people in
Europe, and more conveniences about them to render home comfortable,
crowd themselves into the narrow apartments and dark streets of a little
country town, just at that time of the year when instinct seems to make
us, like the lark, desirous of as much sky-room as possible. The price
they pay for these lodgings is exorbitant; the more expensive the place,
the more numerous are the visitors; for the pride of wealth is as
ostentatious in this country as ever the pride of birth has been
elsewhere. In their haunts, however, these visitors are capricious; they
frequent a coast some seasons in succession, like herrings, and then
desert it for some other, with as little apparent motive as the fish
have for varying their track. It is fashion which influences them, not
the beauty of the place, not the desirableness of the accommodations,
not the convenience of the shore for their ostensible purpose, bathing.
Wherever one of the queen-bees of fashion alights, a whole swarm follows
her. They go into the country for the sake of seeing company, not for
retirement; and in all this there is more reason than you perhaps have
yet imagined.

The fact is, that in these heretical countries parents have but one way
of disposing of their daughters, and in that way it becomes less and
less easy to dispose of them every year, because the modes of living
become continually more expensive, the number of adventurers in every
profession yearly increases, and of course every adventurer’s chance of
success is proportionately diminished. They who have daughters take them
to these public places to look for husbands; and there is no indelicacy
in this, because others who have no such motive for frequenting them go
likewise, in consequence of the fashion,—or of habits which they have
acquired in their younger days. This is so general, that health has
almost ceased to be the pretext. Physicians, indeed, still send those
who have more complaints than they can cure, or so few that they can
discover none, to some of the fashionable spas, which are supposed to be
medicinal because they are nauseous; they still send the paralytic to
find relief at Bath or to look for it, and the consumptive to die at the
Hot-wells: yet even to these places more persons go in quest of pleasure
than of relief, and the parades and pump-rooms there exhibit something
more like the Dance of Death than has ever perhaps been represented
elsewhere in real life.

There is another way of passing the summer which is equally, if not
more, fashionable. Within the last thirty years a taste for the
picturesque has sprung up,—and a course of summer travelling is now
looked upon to be as essential as ever a course of spring physic was in
old times. While one of the flocks of fashion migrates to the sea-coast,
another flies off to the mountains of Wales, to the lakes in the
northern provinces, or to Scotland; some to mineralogize, some to
botanize, some to take views of the country,—all to study the
picturesque, a new science for which a new language has been formed, and
for which the English have discovered a new sense in themselves, which
assuredly was not possessed by their fathers. This is one of the customs
to which it suits a stranger to conform. My business is to see the
country,—and, to confess the truth, I have myself caught something of
this passion for the picturesque, from conversation, from books, and
still more from the beautiful landscapes in water colours, in which the
English excel all other nations.

To the lakes then I am preparing to set out. D. will be my companion. We
go by way of Oxford, Birmingham, and Liverpool, and return by York and
Cambridge, designing to travel by stage over the less interesting
provinces, and, when we reach the land of lakes, to go on foot, in true
picturesque costume, with a knapsack slung over the shoulder.—I am
smiling at the elevation of yours, and the astonishment in your arched
brows. Even so:—it is the custom in England. Young Englishmen have
discovered that they can walk as well as the well-girt Greeks in the
days of old, and they have taught me the use of my legs.

I have packed up a box of _encomiendas_ to go during my absence by the
Sally, the captain of which has promised to deposit it safely with our
friend Baltazar. One case of razors is for my father; they are of the
very best fabric; my friend Benito has never wielded such instruments
since first he took man by the nose. I have added a case of lancets for
Benito himself at his own request, and in addition the newest instrument
for drawing teeth, remembering the last grinder which he dislocated for
me, and obeying the precept of returning good for evil. The cost stands
over to my own charity score, and I shall account for it with my
confessor. Padre Antonio will admit it as alms, it being manifestly
designed to save my neighbours from the pains of purgatory upon earth.
The lamp is infinitely superior to any thing you have ever seen in our
own country,—but England is the land of ingenuity. I have written such
particular instructions that there can be no difficulty in using it. The
smaller parcel is Dona Isabel’s commission. If she ask how I like the
English ladies, say to her, in the words of the Romance,

                      Que no quiero amores
                        En Inglaterra,
                      Pues otros mejores
                        Tengo yo en mi tierra.[21]

Footnote 21:

  _That I want no loves in England, because I have other better ones in
  my own country._—TR.

The case of sweetmeats is Mrs J—’s present to my mother. There is also a
hamper of cheese, the choicest which could be procured. One, with the
other case of razors, you will send to Padre Antonio, and tell him that
in this land of heresy I shall be as mindful of my faith as of my


                              LETTER XXXI.

_Journey to Oxford.—Stage-Coach Travelling and Company._

                                                       Thursday, July 1.

The stage-coach in which we had taken our places was to start at six. We
met at the inn, and saw our trunks safely stowed in the boot, as they
call a great receptacle for baggage, under the coachman’s feet: this is
a necessary precaution for travellers in a place where rogues of every
description swarm, and in a case where neglect would be as mischievous
as knavery.—There were two other passengers, who, with ourselves, filled
the coach. The one was evidently a member of the university; the other a
fat vulgar woman who had stored herself with cakes, oranges and cordials
for the journey. She had with her a large bundle which she would not
trust in the boot, and which was too big to go in the seat, so she
carried it upon her lap. A man and woman, who had accompanied her to the
inn, stood by the coach till it set off; relations they seemed to be, by
the familiar manner in which they spoke of those to whom she was
returning, sending their love to one, and requesting to hear of another,
and repeating ‘Be sure you let us know you are got safe,’ till the very
last minute. The machine started within a few minutes of the time
appointed; the coachman smacked his whip, as if proud of his dexterity,
and we rattled over the stones with a fearful velocity, for he was
driving four horses. In Piccadilly he stopped at another inn, where all
the western stages call as they enter or go out of town: here we took in
another cargo of parcels, two passengers mounted the roof, and we once
more proceeded.

We left town by the great western road, the same way which I had
entered. It was a great relief when we exchanged the violent jolting
over the stones for steady motion on a gravel road; but the paved ways
were met with again in all the little towns and townlets;[22] and as
these for a considerable distance almost join each other, it was a full
hour before we felt ourselves fairly in the country. Several stages
passed us within a few miles of London, on their way up: they had been
travelling all night; yet such are their regularity and emulation, that
though they had come about thirty leagues, and stopped at different
places, not one was more than ten minutes distance apart from another.

Footnote 22:

  _Lugares._ Villages would have been an improper name for such places
  as Kensington, &c.

Englishmen are not very social to strangers. Our fellow-traveller
composed himself to sleep in the corner of the coach; but women are more
communicative, and the good lady gave us her whole history before we
arrived at the end of the first stage;—how she had been to see her
sister who lived in the Borough, and was now returning home; that she
had been to both the play-houses; Astley’s Amphitheatre, and the Royal
Circus; had seen the crown and the lions at the Tower, and the elephants
at Exeter ’Change; and that on the night of the illumination she had
been out till half after two o’clock, but never could get within sight
of M. Otto’s house. I found that it raised me considerably in her
estimation when I assured her that I had been more fortunate, and had
actually seen it. She then execrated all who did not like the peace,
told me what the price of bread had been during the war and how it had
fallen, expressed a hope that Hollands and French brandy would fall
also; spoke with complacency of Bonniprat, as she called him, and asked
whether we loved him as well in our country as the people in England
loved King George. On my telling her that I was a Spaniard, not a
Frenchman, she accommodated her conversation accordingly, said it was a
good thing to be at peace with Spain, because Spanish annatto and jar
raisins came from that country, and enquired how Spanish liquorice was
made, and if the people wer’n’t papists and never read in the Bible. You
must not blame me for boasting of a lady’s favours, if I say my answers
were so satisfactory that I was pressed to partake of her cakes and

We breakfasted at Slough, the second stage; a little town which seems to
be chiefly supported by its inns. The room into which we were shown was
not so well furnished as those which were reserved for travellers in
chaises; in other respects we were quite as well served, and perhaps
more expeditiously. The breakfast service was on the table and the
kettle boiling. When we paid the reckoning, the woman’s share was
divided among us; it is the custom in stage-coaches, that if there be
but one woman in company the other passengers pay for her at the inns.

We saw Windsor distinctly on the left, standing on a little eminence, a
flag upon the tower indicating that the royal family were there. Almost
under it were the pinnacles of Eton college, where most of the young
nobility are educated immediately under the sovereign’s eye. An inn was
pointed out to me by the road side, where a whole party, many years ago,
were poisoned, by eating food which had been prepared in a copper
vessel. The country is flat, or little diversified with risings,
beautifully verdant, though with far more uncultivated ground than you
would suppose could possibly be permitted so near to such a metropolis.
The frequent towns, the number of houses by the road side, and the
apparent comfort and cleanliness of all, the travellers whom we met, and
the gentlemen’s seats, as they are called, in sight, every one of which
was mentioned in my Book of the Roads, kept my attention perpetually
alive. All the houses are of brick; and I did not see one which appeared
to be above half a century old.

We crossed the Thames over Maidenhead-bridge, so called from the near
town, where a head of one of the eleven thousand virgins was once
venerated. Here the river is rather beautiful than majestic; indeed
nothing larger than barges navigate it above London. The bridge is a
handsome stone pile, and the prospect on either hand delightful; but
chiefly up the river, where many fine seats are situated on the left
bank, amid hanging woods. As the day was very fine, D. proposed that we
should mount the roof; to which I assented, not without some little
secret perturbation; and, to confess the truth, for a few minutes I
repented my temerity. We sate upon the bare roof, immediately in front,
our feet resting upon a narrow shelf which was fastened behind the
coachman’s seat, and being further or closer as the body of the coach
was jolted, sometimes it swung from under us, and at others squeezed the
foot back. There was only a low iron rail on each side to secure us, or
rather to hold by, for otherwise it was no security. At first it was
fearful to look down over the driver upon four horses going with such
rapidity, or upon the rapid motion of the wheels immediately below us:
but I soon lost all sense of danger, or, to speak more truly, found that
no danger existed except in imagination; for if I sate freely, and
feared nothing, there was in reality nothing to fear.

The Oxford road branches off here from the great Western one, in a
northerly direction. A piece of waste which we crossed, called
Maidenhead Thicket, (though now not woodland as the name implies,) was
formerly infamous for robberies: and our coachman observed that it would
recover its old reputation, as soon as the soldiers and sailors were
paid off. I have heard apprehensions of this kind very generally
expressed. The soldiers have little or no money when they are
discharged, and the sailors soon squander what they may have. There will
of course be many who cannot find employment, and some who will not seek
it. Indeed the sailors talk with the greatest composure of
land-privateering, as they call highway robbery: and it must be
confessed, that their habits of privateering by sea are very well
adapted to remove all scruples concerning _meum_ and _tuum_.

At Henley we came in sight of the Thames again,—still the same quiet and
beautiful stream: the view as we descended a long hill was exceedingly
fine: the river was winding below, a fine stone bridge across it, and a
large and handsome town immediately on the other side; a town, indeed,
considerably larger than any which we had passed. These stage-coaches
are admirably managed: relays of horses are ready at every post: as soon
as the coach drives up they are brought out, and we are scarcely
detained ten minutes. The coachman seems to know every body along the
road; he drops a parcel at one door, nods to a woman at another,
delivers a message at a third, and stops at a fourth to receive a glass
of spirits or a cup of ale, which has been filled for him as soon as the
sound of his wheels was beard. In fact, he lives upon the road, and is
at home when upon his coach-box.

The country improved after we left Henley; it became more broken with
hills, better cultivated, and better wooded. It is impossible not to
like the villas, so much opulence, and so much ornament is visible about
them; but it is also impossible not to wish that the domestic
architecture of England were in a better taste. Dinner was ready for us
at Nettlebed: it was a very good one; nor was there any thing to
complain of, except the strange custom of calling for wine which you
know to be bad, and paying an extravagant price for what you would
rather not drink. The coachman left us here, and received from each
person a shilling as a gratuity, which he had well deserved. We now
resumed our places in the inside: dinner had made our male companion
better acquainted with us, and he became conversable. When he knew what
countryman I was, he made many enquiries respecting Salamanca, the only
one of our universities with which the English seem to be acquainted,
and which, I believe, they know only from Gil Blas. I do not think he
had ever before heard of Alcala; but he listened very attentively to
what I told him, and politely offered me his services in Oxford, telling
us he was a fellow of Lincoln, and insisting that we should breakfast
with him the following morning.

At Nettlebed we passed over what is said to be the highest ground in
England, I know not with what truth, but certainly with little apparent
probability. We could have ascended little upon the whole since we had
left London, and were travelling upon level ground. About five o’clock
we came in sight of Oxford, and I resumed my place on the roof. This was
by no means the best approach to the city, yet I never beheld any thing
more impressive, more in character, more what it should be, than these
pinnacles and spires, and towers, and domes, rising amid thick groves.
It stands on a plain, and the road in the immediate vicinity is through
open corn fields. We entered by a stately bridge over the Cherwell:
Magdalen tower, than which nothing can be more beautiful, stands at the
end, and we looked down upon the shady walks of Magdalen college. The
coach drove half way up the High-street, and stopped at the Angel-inn.

                        END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.

    Printed by James Ballantyre and Co.


 ● Transcriber’s Notes:
    ○ Missing or obscured punctuation was silently corrected.
    ○ Typographical errors were silently corrected.
    ○ Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation were made consistent only
      when a predominant form was found in this book.
    ○ Text that was in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).

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