« PreviousContinue »
1848.] Jesse's Literary and Historical Memorials of London. 11 there, he resided at Hampstead near the Ponds, then at Hendon, and last at Chiswick, where he was buried.
William Mitford's, Esq., (the learned historian of Greece) in Clarges Street, the east side, half way down. He moved here from Cork Street.
Sir Francis Chantrey's house and studio, the corner of Eccleston Street, Pimlico.
Flaxman's small unpretending house in Buckingham Street, Fitzroy Square, where he lived and died.
The Hon. Wm. Herbert (Dean of Manchester), a person of talents, accomplishments, and learning, perhaps unexcelled in this, his own age, in No. 11, Hereford Street, Park Lane.
Sir Joseph Banks.—The house in the south-east corner of Soho Square, formerly Sir George Colebrooke's. This house will not soon be forgotten.
Mr. Payne Knight's house, a few doors from it, in the same square, where his rich collection of bronzes, drawings, gems, &c. were assembled before they were removed to the British Museum.
John Philip Kemble's (who can forget the Roscius of the age ?) house in Great Russell Street, which will be recollected by its double windows in the library. It was lastly the temporary residence of Sir Henry Ellis, the principal Librarian of the British Museum, and was taken down last autumn for the new Museum buildings.
The whole of Great Ormond Street should be most diligently investigated, once the fashionable street in that part of London, and still retaining in its carved cornices and elaborate frontispieces more of the character of Queen Anne's time than any street in London, though of late much altered. We only mention
Doctor Mead, the celebrated physician. Here he resided and kept his noble collection of books, medals, drawings, antiquities, unsurpassed in his time.
Doctor Askew, his successor in practice as a physician as well as a collector, resided in Queen Square. His collection was more confined to books, but was of great rarity and value.
Lord Loughborough.-The large corner house, turning to Guildford Street, in Russell Square.
Lord Ellenborough.—The corner house of Bloomsbury Square and Orange Street, before he moved into St. James's Square.
Sir Thomas Lawrence. His house was four doors from that of Lord Loughborough's, on the east side of Russell Square. We shall never forget the Cossacks mounted on their small white horses, with their long spears grounded, standing sentinels at the door of this great painter while he was taking the portrait of their General, Platoff.*
Sir S. Romilly. In the same square.
Baron Maseres.-In Rathbone Place, near Charlotte Street.
* Sir Thomas Lawrence's house in Greek Street, Soho Square, where he lived for many years, must not be overlooked. It is still distinguished by its large window in the painting-room.-Rev.
Mr. Towneley.--In Park Street, Westminster, where was his fine collection of marbles,
John Baynes, the poetical antiquary and friend of Ritson, &c.; a man of very accurate and curious learning. His rooms should be found out in Gray's Inn Square.
Isaac Reed.-Ilis chambers, also, in Staples Inn should be noticed as frequented by Steevens, and immortalised by his studies on Shakspere.
Thomas Taylor, the learned translator of Plato and Aristotle.—His house was in the small street at Walworth leading up to the Surrey Zoological Gardens. His cabinet library, fitted up with hundreds of mirrors, each about an inch in size, to reflect truth from every side, we shall never forget. Here he lived his blameless and studious life, and here he died, followed by scholars to his grave. It would be vain we fear to hope to find where his brother-translator Sydenham lived in such poverty in lodgings in the Strand.
Thus closes our little list; and we may add, that we think most valuable additions might be made by those who have opportunity afforded them in time and residence by a selection of some of the London clergy most celebrated for learning and abilities, whose names at least would be more reputable than those of the courtiers and courtezans that figure in the pages of some works of this kind, rather offensively both to morals and taste, and of whom we fear any memorials must be as frail as themselves. Would not Lambeth, or St. James's, or St. Martin's furnish a more respectable company, if their venerable shadows were invoked ? and will not the future historian, perhaps in an age of literature and taste somewhat more pure and masculine than this, delight to point to the residence of a Coplestone in the old deanery of St. Paul's, and to say with pride, when he approaches Walbrook, that the walls of St. Stephen's have listened with delight and improvement to the genius and eloquence of Croly ?* And here we will introduce a few lines from faithful old Heylin on the episcopal residences :
“ I question, says Fuller, whether the Bishop of Rochester, whose country house at Bromley is so nigh, had ever a house in the city.” On which Heylin remarks,— There is no question but he had, Stowe finding it in Southwark by the name of Rochester House, adjoining on the south side to the Bishop of Winchester's, ruinous, and out of reparation in his time, as probably not much frequented since the building of Bromley House, and since converted into tenements for private persons. But since our author hath desired others to recover the rest from oblivion, I shall help him to the knowledge of two more, and shall thank any man to find out the third. The first of these two is the Bishop of Lincoln's house, situate near the Old Temple in Ilolborn, first built by Robert de Chesney, Bishop of Lincoln, anno | 147, since aliened from that see to the Earls of Southampton, and passing by the name of Southampton House. The second is the Bishop of Bangor's, a fair house situate in Shoe Lane, near Saint Andrew's Church, of late times leased out by the bishops, and not long since the dwelling of Doctor Smithı, Doctor in Physic, a right honest and ingenious person, and my very good friend. Of all the old bishops
* The speaking of St. Paul's reminds us that we had forgotten to mention the residence of our friend Sydney Smith, at 56, Green Street, Park Lane, and of his more learned brother “Bobus," in Saville Row, No. 20.-Rev.
† On this site now stands Bangor House, the birthplace of our modern contemporary Bentley's Miscellany, and of various other Bentleian literature.
1848.] Jesse's Literary and Historical Memorials of London. 13 which were founded before Harry the Eighth there is none whose house we have not found but the Bishop of St. Asaph's; to the finding whereof, if our author or any other will hold forth the candle, I shall follow the light the best I can, and be thankful for it."
“ After the death of Frederic, Carlton House became the residence of his widow, Augusta of Saxe Gotha, mother of George the Third, and the scene in which she carried on her amatory intimacy with the celebrated minister Lord Bute.” This is rather decisive language to be used on a point at least admitting a doubt. Mr. Jesse quotes Horace Walpole's words,-“ I am as much convinced of an amorous connexion between Lord Bute and the Princess as if I had seen them together.” No doubt that Walpole, as well as others, had this impression, but Walpole nowhere gives the evidence or the reason that led to this conclusion; and therefore we shall add, that one of the principal ones with him was, that the Princess died
very poor, though having a large revenue ; that Lord Bute spent a great deal, apparently with small means of his own; and therefore that she supplied him with the money. George the Second always laughed when the Princess sent him a message for Lord Bute's promotion.
The mention of the death of Mr. Fox at p. 177 reminds us of an anecdote relating to a person once in his confidence and society, which is interesting in itself, and is not, we believe, like so many others we meet with, stale from repetition. We give it as it was given to us : -“ During the prevalence of severe typhus fever in 1817 in Dublin, where he (Archbishop Magee) then was, he went from one infected house to another, administering to the bodily and spiritual necessities of the afflicted. In one of his visits he found a man in great misery, who had once been in very comfortable circumstances, and had been educated in the University of Dublin. This sufferer had no attendant but his wife, who was so weak that she was scarcely able to assist him. They could not afford to keep a servant. The afflicted gentleman was Mr. Trotter, formerly private secretary to the celebrated Charles James Fox. Dr. Magee found him in almost the lowest state of destitution. To this interesting sufferer his visits were constant. He administered to all his wants; he used to sit on his sick bed side, assisting him with the attention of a nurse,--wetting his parched lips, raising his drooping head, and, above all, imparting the consolations of religion, and pointing out the way of salvation. His benevolent efforts appeared to be blessed by God to the sufferer, whose spirit in a few weeks afterwards was called away, the attention of his sympathising and pious visitor having been unremittingly continued to the last moment of his life.”
To the account of Lord Bolingbroke given at p. 193, many of whose libertine excesses and immoralities were so notorious and so gross as would make the very paper blush on which they were written, and which therefore have remained among the anecdotes preserved in the cabinets of collectors, we shall add what is more to the purpose, a short but not exaggerated estimate of his character as a reasoner, written by a master's hand. We shall leave it to the criticism of the curious to name the author. “ In truth, to sum up all in a word, my Lord Bolingbroke was no more than a coxcomb in literature and a pretender in science. Nor has religion, though the principal object of his hostility, so much to complain of his bungling attempts as philosophy; at the same time that both have experienced more of malevolence than injury at his hands. With him the great sages of antiquity have been as much the objects of lasting contempt as the prophets and apostles, and the maxims of ancient wisdom have been held as cheap as the established doctrines of Revelation. Whatever, in short, is not Lord Bulingbroke is not sense. All, whether ancient or modern, who have trod the same ground before him, historians, chronologists, moralists, philosophers, divines, all were either blockheads or impostors; and even Locke and Newton dwindle into drivellers when they have presumed to meddle with those subjects which the Viscount condescends to illustrate." As for Lord Bolingbroke's style, Blair says, “ There is hardly anything to commend : that in his reasonings he is for the most part flimsy and false ; in his political writings factious ; in what he calls his philosophical ones irreligious and sophistical in the highest degree.” (Vide Lectures, i. p. 282.) Lord Chesterfield says of him, “ These passions were interrupted but by a stronger one, ambition ; the former impaired both his constitution and his character, but the latter destroyed both his fortune and reputation;" and he finishes his very partial sketch, by the acknowledgment, “Upon the whole, of this extraordinary man what can we say, but, alas! poor human nature !"
We now turn to Mr. Jesse, p. 227. On the “ General Churchill” mentioned here some very severe verses were written, which were given at the time to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu; but, though passing by her name, they were really written by Mallet. We have them.
Mrs. Oldfield," As her life had been distinguished for many virtues, so was her end pious and resigned.” She ordered in her will that she should be painted and dressed in lace after death, and accordingly she is thus represented by Pope, under the name of Narcissa, in lines too well known to be repeated :
Odious in woollen, 't would a saint provoke!
Were the last words that poor Narcissa spoke, &c. P. 231. Mentioning Dr. Stilling fleet, the Bishop of Worcester, Mr. Jesse refers to his Life, printed in 1710. We add, that there is an opinion somewhat current in the literary world, that this life was written by the great scholar Dr. Bentley, who was Stilling fleet's chaplain ; but there is no internal evidence from style, &c. to support it, and we much doubt it. Can Mr. Jesse tell us ?
P. 234. “ The disgraceful state of many of the London churches. The exaction of two pence as the price of entering the great cathedral of St. Paul's.” We have been three times within the last week in St. Paul's, and never paid anything, nor were ever asked ; and we saw numerous people come and go without payment. There must be some mistake here, for, according to the old verses
The men and women say with rapture,
How liberal are the Dean and Chapter. P. 236. “ New Hall, a seat of the Butlers, Earls of Ormond, in Wiltshire.”—Is there not some great mistake here of “in Wiltshire" for Earl of Wiltshire ? New Hall, which we have often visited, is in Essex, between Chelmsford and Witham, near the village of Boreham. Henry the Eighth occasionally resided here, and gave it the name of Beaulieu, from the pleasantness of its situation. It then came into the possession of the Buckinghams; and out of the gates of New Hall, Prince Charles and the Duke of Buckingham rode forth for Gravesend, and then embarked for their romantic journey to Spain. One court of the original house was 1848.] Jesse's Literary and Historical Memorials of London. 15 pulled down ; one remains, with the arms of Henry on the gateway. It is now a Roman Catholic seminary.
P. 237. Speaking of Skelton, Mr. Jesse says, “ That man could be indeed no literary impostor,” &c. No one ever supposed Skelton a literary impostor, but the fact was that scarcely any one could judge at all of his merits. With the rarest exceptions, all the original editions of his poems have perished, and the only form in which his poetry was accessible was in a most wretched book, edited we believe by Mr. Bowle, about 1760 ? so full of blunders, mistakes, omissions, that Skelton's genius, whatever it was, was quite clouded over and obscured. Mr. Dyce is deserving of praise for a very different edition, published about four years ago, in two volumes 8vo. the result of great diligence and knowledge; but Skelton's poems are so full of learning, allusions, and enigmas, that it would require a life of labour to elucidate and explain.
P. 233. Mr. Jesse speaks of “the gay, the gallant, and the gifted Thomas Churchyard,” All we have to say is, that his poetry bears no marks of any of these three qualities, being as lifeless and as unreadable a mass of dulness as is to be found in the ditches of Parnassus. We beg our readers to attempt “ The Spider and the Flie,” or the “Worthies of Wales," or any of the others.
P. 242. “ Thomas May, the translator of Lucan.” Thomas May, the dramatic writer, the historian, the historical poet, deserved a longer notice. His chief fame, however, must rest, not on his English translation of Lucan, but on his continuation of Lucan, which places him in the foremost and honourable rank of the poets in our nation who have distinguished themselves by composition in Latin verse, as Milton, Addison, Cowley, Gray, West, and others of later fame.
P. 347. Speaking of the execution of Sir Thomas More, Mr. Jesse says,—“His son found his way through the crowd, and falling on his knees in a passion of grief, besought the blessing of his condemned father." Is there not here a mistake of son for daughter? Margaret Roper did what is here described, and which is so beautifully told in Mr. Rogers's “ Human Life.”
-“The blushing maid,
Believing she should see his face no more." P. 356. The author, speaking of the trial of Lord Strafford, says“Presenting the extraordinary spectacle of a great and free people bringing an unpopular minister to the bar of justice, in spite of their sovereign, whose arm was powerless to save his minister and his friend." In our opinion it was not a great and free people, but a band of violent zealots and vindictive republicans, acting entirely independent of the feelings of the nation, who accused and condemned Stratford- not bringing him to the bar of justice, but taking the shorter and surer method of an attainder. The arm of the sovereign was powerless to save his friend, for it was powerless to save himself. When Charles signed the warrant for Strafford's execution, and yielded the power, at the same time, to the Parliament to sit during their pleasure, he signed and sealed his own fate. Whatever may have been Strafford's errors, we will never own that he was brought