Page images

there may be one or two individuals to represent the general public, while all around are officials and clerks, without whose aid the Board would not be able to do its work.

Let us remark in conclusion that the establishment of the Metropolitan Board of Works was a great step in advance and a real gain for the public. Up till the time of its establishment the metropolis, excluding the City of London and Westminster, was governed by vestries. There was no attempt at local government in the interests of the whole. The disadvantage of this state of things was manifold. What one parish did another undid. There

was no harmonious action. "Vestries were supreme within their local limits. They acted quite independently of another, often regardless of each other, often in a strong spirit of hostility. Sometimes they quarrelled with each other and went to law, to the increasing of the rates and for the good of the lawyers. This mischievous order of things is now gone, and in their place we have the more dignified, the more sensible, the more economical action, looked at in the interests of the entire community, of the Metropolitan Board of Works.






scendants of those very geese to whom Rome once owed its salvation, so that a festival was established in their honour."

“But for what do you expect to be distinguished yourselves?” asked the traveller.

“Because our ancestors"

“Yes, I know ; I have read all about it. What I want to know is what good have you yourselves done?

Why, our ancestors saved Rome.”

Yes, yes; but what have you done of the kind ?”

"We? Nothing."

“Of what good are you, then? Do leave your ancestors at peace. They were honoured for their deeds; but you, my friends, are only fit for roasting."

PEASANT was one day driving some geese to a neighbouring town where he hoped to

sell them. He had a long stick in his hand, and, to say the truth, he did not treat his flock of geese with much consideration. I do not blame him, however; he was anxious to get to the market in time to make a profit, and not only geese but men must expect to suffer if they hinder gain.

The geese, however, did not look on the matter in this light, and happening to meet a traveller walking along the road they poured forth their complaints against the peasant who was driving them.

“Where can you find geese more unhappy than we are ? See how this peasant is hurrying on this way and that, and driving us just as though we were only common geese. Ignorant fellow as he is, he never thinks how he is bound to honour and respect us; for we are the distinguished de


I might explain at length the meaning of this fable, but it would not do to irritate the geese too much.

- From the Russian of Kriloff.


In the wood. When thou art weary, go into the fields,

Nor scorn to feel a child's joy to behold The bowing buttercups bend in the breeze,

Dashing the green with gold. Stand by the stile, within the green cornfields,

When early on some iron-gray clouded morn The wind sweeps o'er the land, and listen to

The rustling of the corn.
And there is music, music rarely sweet,

From every hedge in early summer-time;
Each little bird seems helping all he can

To ring a summer-chime.
Oh, how they sing in early summer-time,

Those happy birds, with voices full of cheer! The chaffinch in his bowery elm all day

Sings, “ 'Tis the sweet o' the year !" The bold blackbird, high up among the boughs, Where leaves grow thickest, whistles clear and

The lark up-struggles thro' the dazzling air

In ecstacy of song.
I know a wood where tangled sunbeams lie,

Caught in the brambles; there the grasses grow Untrampled, and at noon life seems to pause,

And sleepy airs breathe slow.

The honeysuckle twines about the briar;

The ivy and the mantling mosses climb Over old trees, and make the wrinkled

boles Fairer than in their prime; The topmost branches hardly stir-so still

Is noon within the wood ; the hazy sky
Seems near; and round the honeysuckle flits

One yellow butterfly.
Yet is not silence in the wood—the birds

Are sweetly piping all within the cover ;
Two thrushes, each one side an open space,

Sing all their old songs over.
The nightingale sings now and then, as tho'

She thought her song too sweet for daylight ears; Bright dragon-fies, with wiry wings, dart swist

Between the tall grass-spears.
Inland, at eve, the freshening twilight-breeze

Fills out the spreading boughs of every tree,
And makes a sound in the close-clustered elms

Like to a far-off sea.
There, while we listen, pacing slow to hear,

We find a thought that links the earth with heaven, Remembering once the Voice of God did sound Among the trees at even.




N looking over a volume containing news

papers of various dates, issued in London

and several other large towns, I have found various scraps of fashion-gossip, and other notices of English social and domestic life, which carry me back to the middle of the eighteenth century, the scenes of which appear with a reality and a vividness which I only hope may present itself to my readers.

Then, as now, Paris reigned supreme, a very queen of fashion, and the most minute and intense interest is taken in the doings of the Court of that period. Here is a specimen :

January, 1744.—They write from Paris that the diamonds of the lords and ladies of the Court of Versailles at the grand ball of the 25th of last month were valued at 250 millions, which is near twelve millions sterling; those of the Dauphin and Dauphiness alone were actually worth forty-five millions of livres, and those of the King and Queen seventy millions.

Our next notice is of a different class; it is an extract from a London paper, and is dated

Dundee, September 13th, 1745.—The young chevalier is now in our neighbourhood, and but far too well attended. The Government and King George want not friends among us. The whole army under the Pretender moved last Wed. nesday to Dunblane, and are daily growing in numbers. Lord Ogilvie is now at Montross, and has committed great outrages in this country, and is threatening also to visit Dun. blane. I cannot say what the number of the armed rebels may amount to ; some say four, others five, and others seven thousand.

The Pretender makes himself very popular. He is dressed in a Highland garb of fine silk tartan, red velvet breeches, and a blue velvet bonnet, with gold lace round it and a large jewel of St. Andrew appended. He wears also a green ribbon, is above six foot, walks well and straight, and speaks the English or broad Scots very well.

And here is fashion on the other side :

Edinburgh, February ist, 1746.-On Thursday, at three in the morning, the Duke of Cumberland arrived at the Abbey, not in the least fatigued. He went to bed and slept near three hours, so that by eight he was busy with General Hawley and General Huske, and the rest of the principal officers, who all appeared in boots. His Highness had no time to go into Edinburgh all that day, and could scarce be persuaded to allow the ladies to be admitted for one hour; but at last he agreed to receive them at seven in the evening, and none to stay after eight. The ladies attended at the time appointed, very richly dressed. His Royal Highness re. ceived them very familiarly; saluted each of them. One, Miss Car, made a very fine appearance. At the top of her stays, on her breast, was a crown,

well done in beugles, and underneath, in letters, “William DUKE OF CUMBERLAND." On the right side of the crown was the word “ Britain's," and on the left “Hero."

Can you not imagine the agony of fright Miss Car or Kerr was in all that first day of February, 1746 ? I can. The “ beugles” must have taken an immensity of stitching on to her stays. I wonder if the prince took particular notice of the fair lady who did him so much honour.

The next we have is from the “ London Gazette":

June 17th, 1751, Lord Chamberlain's Office. -Orders for

change of mourning for His Royal Highness the Prir.ce of Wales on Sunday next, 23rd inst.-viz., the men to wear black, full-trimmed, plain or fringed linen. Black swords and buckles.

Undress-Grey frocks.

The ladies to wear black silk, fringed or plain linen, white gloves, black and white shoes, fans and tippets, white necklaces and earrings; no diamonds.

Undress-White or grey lutestrings, tabbies or damasks.

Lutestrings, tabbies, and damasks! All names that have utterly vanished from the world of fashion. A “lutestring” was a plain stout silk; the name, by-the-bye, corrupted from lustring. A “tabby” was a kind of waved silk, usually watered, manufactured like taffeta, but thicker and stronger (the latter a fine smooth silken stuff, having usually à remarkably wavy lustre, imparted by pressure and heat, with the application of an acidulous fluid, to produce the effect called watering—it was of all colours, and often striped with silver and gold). These two must have been very much. what our moiré antiques and watered silks are. A “damask” was a heavy rich figured silk, with varied figures, such as flowers set, evidently the counterpart of our richest figured silks. It seems rather odd that these three excessively rich materials should be ordered for undress, while plain black silk was for State use.

Apparently at that period English ladies had a reputation for being good dressers; for read this :

September 17, 1751.-A fine doll is made by Mr. Church's daughter, in St. James's Street, with different dresses to cloath it, and is to be sent to the Czarina, to show the manner of dressing at present in fashion among the English ladies.

We read the result of this doll's mission a month later.

From Petersburgh we hear that the Czarina of Russia has of late taken such a fancy to the dress of the English ladies that she has desired to have dolls sent over from London completely attired in the various dresses now in fashion at Court and in the City, as also in deshabil and riding habits. Her Imperial Majesty intends to ir roduce the same at her Court ; though it is feared some alterations may appear here ere the dolls can be completely rigged out, or at least before they can reach Petersburgh, one moon being sufficient to give a turn to fashion.

That terrible woman, Elizabeth Petrovna, waj just then in the zenith of her power. It is difficult to imagine her occupying herself with anything so harmless as foreign fashions. True, she did found a University and an Academy of Art, two clean spots in the vast blot of which her character consisted.

Decem 29, 1763. –The ribbon manufacturers of Spitalfields are busy making up a quantity of fine ribbons of proper colours and curious devices to be ready against the marriage of Her Royal Highness Princess Augusta.

Here is another exceedingly interesting announcement :

July, 1745.–We hear an academy will soon be established at the Court end of the town (London) to teach young gentle.

[ocr errors]

whence Her Majesty will proceed to Denmark. Their Royal Highnesses the Dukes of York and Gloucester, Prinoe Henry, and the Princess of Brunswick were at Carlton House between five and six in the morning to take leave of their royal sister, which was very affecting on all sides, and the Queen of Denmark shed tears when getting into the coach.

I do not wonder at it. What a forlorn marriage! What an ordeal, to go all alone, at least without any of her own kith and kin, into a foreign country and among strangers to meet a husband who had not taken the trouble to fetch her from the land of her birth! Small wonder that she shed tears on getting into the coach.

In 1767 we find two very amusing letters from a lady and gentleman of fashion. Though rather long, they are both so laughable that I must give them in full.

men to curl and paper up their hair in order to qualify them for posts in the Army.

It may be meant for a joke, but it is inserted between two paragraphs which certainly have no “joke" about them. I note invariably, however, that the humour of a hundred years ago, if it is not so broad as to be coarse and even worse, is so carefully wrapped up that we cannot without much consideration discover it.

June 24, 1764.-When a certain great Minister of State took his leave of some persons of distinction he did it in a fustian frock, and not à la mode de Paris, which put them a little out of humour, they deeming it a mark of contempt, and therefore returned the visit in the same manner.

Poor Minister of State! How he must have felt the rebuke!

Here is another scrap of fashionable gossip apropos of a well-known politician:

April, 1768.-So great is some people's veneration or enthusiasm for Mr. Wilkes, that we are assured a gentleman has lately had a coat made, on the button-holes of which are embroidered the words, 'Wilkes and Liberty.

The following deals with a subject of ever-recurring interest :

February 5, 1765.-Several eminent silk manufacturers of Spitalfields attended on Friday at the Treasury, and were examined by their lordships upon the decline of that valu. able branch of trade. It is said a noble countess, highly distinguished for her public spirit, has declared her intention of wearing only British manufactures, and to encourage the manufacturer has allowed him to affix to his name and sign, “Weaver to Her Ladyship.

This surely must have been an ancestress of the great champion of English industry, Lady Bective. It is so annoying not to know her name. Who. ever she was, the noble countess brought high influence to her aid ; for see the announcement:

A stocking manufacturer at Doncaster, who lately sold {wenty pairs of stockings at a guinea each pair, has got a commission from some of the nobility for six pairs at six pounds each pair, which he has undertaken to execute. To so great perfection is that branch of British industry arrived.

Rather a long price, is it not ? Another paragraph says:

June, 1766.- We hear Her Royal Highness Princess Caroline Matilda has particularly requested that her wed. ding cloaths and Her Royal Highness's other dresses shall be made of the manufactures of England.

Poor ill-fated princess! I find close by the account of that marriage, which, until she died broken-hearted nineteen years later in the Castle of Lille, brought her only wretchedness and misery.

October 2, 1766.- Last night between seven and eight Her Royal Highness the Princess Caroline Matilda, youngest sister of our most gracious Sovereign, was married by proxy to the King of Denmark, His Royal Highness the Duke of York standing proxy for His Danish Majesty. The ceremony was performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Council Chamber of St. James's. This morning about half after six the Queen of Denmark set out from Carlton House, attended by Lady Mary Boothby, Count Bothman, and several other persons of distinction, in three coaches-and-six and two post-chaises, escorted by a party of Horse Guards and a numerous train of attendants, for Harwich, to embark on board the yacht for Rotterdam, from

October, 1767.—To the Printer of the “St James's Chronicle" :-Sir,-It hath often been observed that we English people are remarkable for extremities—that is, that we are remarkable for acting in opposition to those wise maxims which tell us, In medio tutissimus ibis, or In medio consistet z'irtus. Though an Englishman, I have candour enough to acknowledge the truth of the accusation, and I think it was never more exemplified than at present by my countrywomen in the enormous size of their heads. It is not very long since this part of their sweet bodies used to be bound so tight and so amazingly snug that they appeared like a pin's head on the top of a knitting-needle. But now they have so far exceeded the golden mean in the contrary extremity that our fine ladies remind me of an apple stuck on the top of a small skewer. If I am not mistaken the head of the Venus de Medicis measures about one-tenth of her whole body. This, therefore, we may very justly conclude to be the just proportion. In proportion, therefore, as a lady deviates in her appearance from that standard, the nearer she approaches to our idea of a monster.

How then is it possible that a fine lady can imagine herself agreeable in the eyes of a spectator when her head makes a full fourth of her whole body? I often frequent the playhouse, and between the acts am wont to regale myself with conteni. plating the charms of my fair countrywomen ; but really their heads of late have become so enormous that, in order to be. hold them without disgust, I find myself under the necessity of imagining them to be so many Patagonians, and conse. quently that the feet of those in the boxes are on a level with the floor of the orchestra. This I find to be a much more tolerable idea than to suppose them to be dwarfs, with giants' heads. Pray, sir, inform these fair ladies that without proportion there can be no beauty, and that an oyster-wench in puris naturalibis is a much more desirable object than a bro. caded monster. But, cries her ladyship, it is the fashion, Fie ! fie ! my good lady, I expected a more rational answer. Ought a woman of your understanding to be led into mani. fest absurdity by a parcel of foolish ridiculous female coxcombs and French friseurs ?-I am, Sir, yours, etc.

It is severe, and the writer seems to have held the popular belief that the Patagonians are the veritable sons of Anak. Little more than a year previous to the date of his letter had appeared a short account of the natives of that country, which our severe friend had evidently seen, and, seeing, believed. Here it is :

August 19, 1766.—There is no doubt of the Patagonians being as tall a people as has been represented—viz., between eight and ten feet. As a corroboration one of the ship's people (it does not, by-the-bye, say what ship) brought home with him asskeleton of one of their hands, which measures sixteen inches from the joint of the wrist to the fingers' ends, and every way large in proportion. Their children are five feet high at two years old, and their women are adorned with bracelets of gold. They do not inter their dead, but by a preparation eat off their flesh and hang the bones in a box

up a tree, many of which were seen and might have been brought away easily.

Just a proof that travellers see strange things, and geese at home believe them. I find, on looking into the subject, that the Patagonians average five feet ten, but are known to reach six feet four. Not more extraordinary in height than the Englishmen we are accustomed to see every day.

And here is the reply to the letter:

appearance than a powdered beau? I would advise your satirical friend to compare a lady's and a gentleman's head together, then let him say which object is the most worthy of ridicule ; if he speaks candidly, I am apt to think the verdict will be given in favour of the lady. For my part, I can compare a fine gentleman's head to nothing better than a round. cut yew-tree in a white-frosty morning. I could wish these very (would-be) wise beings did not make themselves appear such very great dolls by finding fault with those who are so very much more perfect than themselves.-I am, Sir, your friend, LEONORA.-Grosvenor Square.

October 14, 1767.--Sir,-In your paper of Saturday I read a letter of criticism on the present taste of the ladies' head-dresses. I cannot help thinking it severe and indeed scurrilous to compare the fairest of the creation to monsters. Insufferable ! it is an impertinence not to be forgiven by the injured sex. I must confess the extravagance of the present mode is ridiculous in a great degree and really ought to be corrected ; but then, in a more gentle manner than your correspondent has done. We women, you know, are generally deemed weak; if this argument is allowed, our little foibles should be overlooked; and I think I may with justice vindicate my own sex, by saying they are not half so absurd in their dress as the men, who are supposed to have sense superior to us, consequently should not rush into such extremes. I am sure they deviate from their great sense when they make themselves such enormous figures as they do at present. What is there on earth that has a more ridiculous

A couple of nice, pleasant, complimentary letters, are they not? I really cannot tell which gets the best of the argument—both are somewhat too fluent to be very effective; a dozen words, terse and strictly to the point, would have been better. As an example, a man once said to a young lady, 2 distinguished-looking girl, who was accustomed to plenty of admiration, and had at times as keen a tongue as any one I know, “I don't like the way you do your hair.” The girl looked him coolly up and down, from head to seet, and back again. “I should be very sorry


you did,” she remarked, quietly: Of course there was a general laugh, and of course he left that young woman alone for the future.

H. V. P.


“WRIGHT OF DERBY." 'HE acquisition of an art gallery by the corpo- biographers speaks of him as being very mild and

ration of Derby has been very appropriately unassuming in his manner, and having the perfect

signalised this year by an exhibition of pic- carriage of a gentleman-generous, full of sensi. tures mainly the work of a Derby artist, or of bility, and honourable and punctual in all his engravings from his work. The experiment of transactions. Such ought to be in an especial bringing together a large number of the pic- degree the characteristics of all men specially tures of any one painter is sometimes perilous. endowed with the perception of the beautiful. Such collections have been very common of late, He is after all but a mental monstrosity who is but then many of them have been put together by keenly alive to beauty of colour and form and the artists themselves—the Doré gallery, for in- harmonious composition, and has no sense of the stance, the Millais collection, and the Alma beauty of a wholesome and harmonious life. А Tadema collection—and of course would com- man with George Morland's artistic instincts, and prise only such works as would be likely to set with George Morland's vicious and degraded life, forth the painter's powers in the most favourable is as much a deformity as a man with one arm fully light. The Derby artist whose pictures have just and finely developed and the other shrivelled and been displayed by his appreciative townsmen, shrunken by disease. himself exhibited a selection of twenty-five of his Joseph Wright was born at Derby on the 3rd of paintings just about a century ago. But a promis- September, 1734.

He was the son of a respectcuous gathering of all the available works of any able attorney in that town, and the first indicaartist is perilously apt to bring into striking pro- tions of talent seemed to point to mechanics minence mannerisms and tricks of effect, and to rather than art as his future line. As a child he show with painful clearness limits of scope and was always curiously interested in any mechanical power. A painter whose works can bear this proceedings, and after closely watching the operaordeal must be exceptionally gifted.

tions of any workman, would often go away and No doubt “ Wright of Derby” was an excep- attempt the same thing himself. About the age tionally gifted man, even for å successful artist. of eleven, however, he became very much absorbed He was gifted in many ways. A bright, genial in drawing, and seems to have evinced rather unnature, of exquisite sensibility, and a tenderness usual adroitness in taking likenesses, often, it is of heart and conscience, seem to have been said, producing recognisable portraits of persons characteristic of Joseph Wright. A man of un- he had seen only once. Possibly if young Wright doubted genius, he was apparently entirely free had been obliged to turn to the first employment from the affectations and follies and vices which that presented a chance of making a living, as a generation or two ago, more commonly than in many boys of twelve or fourteen years of age have our own day, were supposed to be intimately con- to do, the world might never have heard much of nected with genius, and have not unfrequently him. We are apt to talk sometimes as though been accepted as natural indications of it.

poverty were the foster-mother of genius, and now Wright was a man of real talent. One of his and then there are cases in which it really seems


« PreviousContinue »