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ley, and we are all very grateful to
"Ye're a wonderful man, Mr. Buck- Chesterfield and the witty Walpole felt it no degradation to the work over which they presided, that it should be jocose about his (the shoeblack's) fraternity, and hold that his profession was more dignified than that of the author." "Gay makes the black youth' his mythological descent from the goddess of mud, and his importance in a muddy city the subject of the longest episode in his amusing Trivia." The fraternity did certainly, Eusebius, maintain a kind of dignity, for I remember hearing a gentleman "in a muddy city" monstrate with one of the "profession," that he had either cleaned the wrong shoes or cleaned ill, and was much amused by the reply, made with an air of great indifference, "Oh, it must have been a mistake of my clerk's." The shoeblack of those days went in despair to the poorhouse when streets were paved; "and his boys, having a keener eye than their father to the wants of the community, took up the trade which he most hated, and applied themselves to the diligent removal of the mud in an earlier stage of its accumulationthey swept crossings instead of sweeping shoes." The trade is happily revived, however, and, to give it its dignity, if he has not always "fine linen," the shoeblack is clothed in scarlet. Before 1750 the road (the only road, we are told) to the Houses of Parliament was so bad that, when the King went to Parliament, fagots were thrown in to fill up the ruts. This was nearly a century before the wooden blocks, which gave occasion to the witty proposal of Sidney Smith to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's, that they should" lay their heads together to improve the ways." Among the street obstructions are noticed the gallows, and the pillory, and the foot-ball players. It is inconceivable to us, who witness the serious stir of business now in those places, how the foot-ball players should have been a nuisance little more than a century ago in Cheapside, Covent Garden, and the Strand. But how few of the living generation have seen a pillory! You and I, Eusebius, have seen pillories more than once or twice. We read of it now as a barbarity, and youngsters
I doubt, Eusebius, if our friend, the author of Once upon a Time, has made enough here of his comparison of old with present days, either as to printing or reading. For instance, in this case of hearing of a battle on Wednesday, and having an account published of it on Thursday, we not only hear of a battle, but have a printed account of one that took place, only a few hours before, three thousand miles off. Nay, more!-in a day or two we have an exact, or rather many exact pictures of the scenes of action, taken accurately on the spot, transferred to the pages of a newspaper, and circulated by thousands upon thousands over England in a few hours among multitudes of readers never dreamed of. Would you not like, Eusebius, to call up the shade of Mr. Buckley, and put into his hands an Illustrated News, and inform him when and where the scenes were acted which he sees represented to the truth with such exquisite skill? Nor would the poor Buckley shade have cause to boast much of his material. I had in my possession, and gave it away to a collector, one of the numbers of the Spectator. It would be now, so bad was the paper, quite unfit to lay upon a breakfast-table. The wit of those days was "finer wove" than the material on which it appeared. (Exit the ghost of Mr. Buckley.)
Trivia the name of the pure Diana-witnessing to all impure ways. We learn that the last of the ancient shoeblacks was seen about the year 1820. I suspect the blacking before that period was not of that superior quality, the advertisement of whose excellence was painted on the great Pyramid," as travellers record. "In 1754," says our author, "the polite
ask what it was. The foot-ball must have been a savage game, which spared neither clothes nor limbs of any passers-by. D'Avenant's Frenchman thus complains of the streets of London: "I would make a safe retreat, but that methinks I am stopped by one of your heroic games called football, which I conceive (under your favour) not very conveniently civil in the streets, especially in such irregular and narrow roads as Crooked Lane." In the days of Elizabeth the sturdy 'prentices played this game in the streets, and were not very particular whom they deposited in a ditch. But street-walking was not then much the fashion. "The red-heeled shoes" of the time of Anne were as little suited for walking as the "pantoffles" of Elizabeth, "whereof some be of white leather, some of black, and some of red, some of green, rayed, carved, cut, stitched all over with silk, and laid on with gold, silver, and suchlike." Perhaps the necessity of walking was considered a vulgarity. To wear, or rather invent such shoes as were unfit to walk in, was better than the Chinese method of mutilating the feet, and ingeniously persuading both man and woman-kind that it was the beauty of gentility.
"These fine shoes belonged to the transition state between the horse and the coach." We have often thought contemptuously of our forefathers for their want of taste, shown in their narrow streets. The fact is, everywhere in Paris, that empire of fashion, as well as in London, streets were narrow til the era of coaches came; and coaches were at first poor affairs, "uneasily hung, and so narrow that I took them," says D'Avenant, "for sedans on wheels." We owe comfortable carriages and wide streets to the Fire of London. Macaulay, in his History, speaks disparagingly of the refinement of our ancestors, describing the narrowness of the streets in which they lived. He instances Bristol; but if he had viewed the present remains of almost costly grandeur of the interior of their houses, he might have drawn another inference. It is curious to see how we gild over our barest necessities; in more homely phrase, put "a good face upon a bad matter”-outward show to inward beggary. The
coachman's box and hammer-cloth, which we all so well remember to have seen so fine-what was their origin? "In the times of William III., and Anne, we invariably find him (the coachman) sitting on a box; this thing was for use, and not for finery. Here, or in a leather pouch appended to it, the careful man carried a hammer, pincers, nails, ropes, and other appliances, in case of need; and the hammer-cloth was devised to conceal these necessary but unsightly remedies for broken wheels and shivered panels." Such was the state of the streets. But sturdy chairmen, in and out of livery, carmen, and other unrestrained "bullying and fighting ministers of transit," made, dangerous mobs, rendering the passage of carriages no easy luxury. These Fielding termed "the Fourth Estate." These were the bludgeon-men who influenced elections. How much do we learn from Hogarth! There was a strange jumble in those days of liberty and tyranny. There was a liberty which was a license to do evil, and a tyranny which touched the middle class-that exercised by those above them, and by those below them. The "brutishness of the "fourth estate" is de
scribed by Fielding. "He is speaking most seriously, when he complains that the mob' attack well-dressed river passengers with all kinds of scurrilous, abusive, and indecent terms;' that they insult foot-passengers by day, and knock them down by night; that no coach can pass along the streets without the utmost difficulty and danger, because the carmen draw their waggons across the road, while they laugh at the sufferers from the alehouse window; and finally, that they insult ladies of fashion, and drive them from the park of a Sunday evening." Fielding further tells us that "in 1753, in the month of August," he "was almost fatigued to death by several long examinations, relating to five different murders, all committed within the space of a week, by different gangs of street robbers."
Civilisation, whether it be art or science, is of slow growth; nor is extinction of crime sudden. There has been at length a recognition of the existence of that unseen personage,
"In a condition of society like this, the sweet music must have been worth listening to." A "noise of musicians," as a little band was called, was to be found everywhere. If their descendants are our organ-grinders, it is a very appropriate naming, "A noise of musicians." The term reminds me of a very quaint observation once made by a humorous friend, in company where the relative merits of painting and music were discussed. He very drily dropt in these few very meaning words, Music would be very well if it were not for the noise."
The Public, whose life and property is cause it was the practice of barbers' to be cared for. The art of governing 'prentices to delight their customers has at length, after much endurance of either with the fiddle or guitar. A evil, invented the police system. There pamphleteer, in 1597, says, "Turning are street brutalities enough now. themselves to periwig-making, they Brutality generates brutality; there have forgot their cittern and their is a large quantity to be got rid of. music." "Half a century later even, The police are accumulating know- barbers, coblers, and plowmen were ledge both of the causes and the enumerated as the heirs of music."" I whereabouts, Comparing our days should doubt, however, if the people with those described, we think our- were, as they are here called, "the heirs selves fortunate. Yet, perhaps, half of poetry as well as music." Nor can a century hence, these our days may the authority of Isaac Walton estabbe recorded as days of brutality. lish as a fact that the milkmaids sung Without question, the banditti of the madrigals and sweet songs which Italy, Spain, and other countries, he gives them. Morley, as Mr. were and are the legitimate descend- Knight observes, writing in 1597, ants of the "Condottieri" of former speaks of the astonishment of all predays. Our street villanies may make sent that he could not sing at a their boast of ancestral notorieties. supper-party. "Yea, some whisperWith our new engine, the police, they ed to others, demanding how I was ought to be in progress towards ex- brought up." tinction. It is the fault of the Government if they are allowed to get ahead of civilisation. But it is much to be feared that the abominable ticket-of-leave system is daily, hourly, generating crime to a great extent. I rejoice, Eusebius, to see this noticed in the House of Lords by Lord Lyndhurst, who quotes the strong language of that able police magistrate, Mr. Jardine. It should seem that the noises of the streets were perhaps a greater nuisance two centuries ago than now. Mr. Charles Knight, in proof, quotes a dialogue from Jonson's Silent Woman; and cites Hogarth to speak of its continuance by the wondrous eloquence of his pencil. The noise-hater was the ridiculous of many times. His sensitive and feeble cries have at length been heard, and tender cars have had the benefit of modern legislation. You and I, Eusebius, are of this "irritable genus," the noise-haters you out of pity for others, I out of my own individual suffering. I remember when some, as I then Poor Dibdin! he had a poor thought, abominable composer set small pension in his latter days; but the London cries to music, thereby when the Whigs came in they took it tending to perpetuate them. Silly from him, and he did not long surwas the sing-song affectation: fullgrown men and women, muslined and silk-stocking'd, drawled out with pathetic voices, "Come, buy my white sand," or other such nonsense. Our author thinks we were at one time a nation famous for music, be
Perhaps it is to be lamented that ballad-singing is extinct—and why is it extinct? Have poor-laws, vagrant acts, beadles and constables, put down the unoffending race, that, if not always dealing in the best poetry, seldom failed in good honest sentiment?
I remember in my younger days hearing Dibdin's excellent songs sung unceasingly in our streets, and have even believed they did their part in keeping up a true spirit in our navy.
vive the loss. There was the very marrow of good sense in that saying of the wise statesman, "Let who will make the laws, only let me make the ballads." What historian can solve this difficulty were the Iliad and Odyssey sung about the streets-were
Chevy Chase, and other such ballads, in the people's voices? We know, at any rate, that the Jacobite songs had a wondrous effect. Popular ballads are gone, and many other popular good things with them, and people seem more care-worn than books describe them in days past. It would be a good thing to see a little more merry-making, and the good old ballad-singing fashion brought back.
It is noticed that "a noise of musicians" were sagacious hunters of feasts. But this was in the days before feasts were occasions of drunkenness and gluttony. As drunkenness increased, music went out. Mendicancy had, however, at all times its execrable sounds. Was it upon a known principle that acts of charity are not performed with cheerfulness? Nor was the value of peace and quietness misunderstood. The principle of extorting money by hideous sounds was carried as far as it could go by a fellow of the name of Keeling, called Blind Jack, who performed on the flageolet with his nose." I suspect, Eusebius, that this Blind Jack was a leader of a fashion, and that if he received a few kicks, as a nuisance, in return he took his betters by the nose; for these nose-flageolets were not the sole property of Blind Jack. When I was a boy, my father gave me one which he found in an old house in the country, which came into his possession, and which had belonged to the gay man about town" who received the post-office order in 1745 for horses and guide from London to Bath and back, as I mentioned in the last letter. It was of ebony (a walking-stick), with ivory top, with two holes for the nostrils. According to old Norman law, which would be best off,-Blind Jack, who took Fashion by the nose, or Fashion that kicked Blind Jack? The Normans, like people of honour, provided a penalty of five sous for a lug by the nose, and ten for un coup au derrière. But Fashion, imperative Fashion, Eusebius, is desirous of introducing to your notice quite another sort of personage. Here is before me Walpole's World of Fashion. Horace Walpole! Fashion's Epitome, and unwittingly, or rather carelessly, its true historian. His letters, always witty and most amusing, picture him
self, and in himself, as the facile princeps, the world of Fashion of the day. His wit sometimes touched upon wisdom, but glanced off as if ashamed of such a grave respectability. A specimen: "In a regular monarchy the folly of the prince gives the tone; in a downright tyranny, folly dares give itself no airs: it is in a wanton overgrown commonwealth that whim and debauchery intrigue together." The age made Walpole rather than he the age of Fashion. Too frivolous for any serious aim, what would have been other men's idleness was his industry. His was the Fotiosa sedulitas." He was born to a position which made poor qualifications more serviceable to him than great ones. There was little really good in him; but his wit, the indifference of his virtues, such as they were, even gave his wit a lightness that made it delightfully current. Had it possessed any weight of respectable seriousness, it would never have floated upon the surface of the society into which he was born, and for which he held himself to be gifted. His deficiencies nevertheless were great, because they were in all, or nearly all, his qualifications. That which he most prided himself in, his taste, and which, at first view, might appear most needful to a leader of fashion, never could have been respectable, for taste is the result of good sense and feeling united. spurious taste gains credit by assumption of fastidiousness. Brought to any decent test, Walpole's never amounted to more than a plausible whim. world believed in him; and this courtship of the world ever fed his vanity, and encouraged him, through that his vanity, to make displays of bad taste, which the indulgence or ignorance of the world he lived in applauded, and which a soberer age for the most part pronounced ridiculous or contemptible. Perhaps his secret unhappiness in the midst of his success was a suspicion his cleverness could scarcely help entertaining, that there was error and a falsity in all he did. Did he doubt the vitality of the atmosphere of admiration which he daily inhaled? Whatever were his own secret suspicions, he had the cunning to establish in his generation the credit of his taste by a graceful denial of it, and a light and glittering
playfulness which made that denial a modest assumption. He wished the world to know that he did estimate himself, and intimated the position from which his admirers might see him to most advantage. He was as clever as he could be, and, I fear, notwithstanding Mr Charles Knight's defence in this respect, as heartless as he affected to be. "I am writing, I am building both works that will outlast the memory of battles and heroes!" So said Vanity. "Truly I believe the one will as much as the t'other. My buildings are paper, like my writings, and both will be blown away ten years after I am dead." In this speaks Suspicion. "If they had not the substantial use of amusing me while I live, they would be worth little indeed.” Here is a cunning assumption in a repudiative form. Can that be worthless, would his admirers say, which can amuse Horace Walpole? That he wished something more than amusement while he lived, is evident from the fact that, though he outlived three sets of his own battlements, he "nevertheless contrived, by tying up his toy-warehouse and its movables, with entails and jointures, through several generations, to keep the things tolerably entire for nearly half a century after he had left that state of being "where moth and rust do corrupt." His "Strawberry Hill," which was Horace Walpole in lath and plaster, is gone-so much the better for its own glory, The eyesore removed, generations to come may imagine it to have been something better than it was. He built Strawberry Hill, and embellished it with bijouterie for his own glorification. He was like a man who built a temple for a deity--such an one as he conceived and daily walked into it to worship himself, both as builder and idol. And both were unsubstantial, trumpery affairs enough. But I must not forget, Eusebius, his "World of Fashion." The world of fashion, and nothing else; for he knew no other world that of the middle classes he ignored. "Society with him is divided into two great sections - the aristocracy and the mob." He hated authors that were out of the pale of fashion. "Fielding, Johnson, Sterne, Goldsmith--the greatest names of his
day-are with him ridiculous and contemptible." "His feeble constitution compelled him to seek amusement instead of dissipation; and his great amusement was to look upon the follies of his associates, and to laugh at them. He was not at the bottom an ill-natured man, or one without feeling. He affected that insensibility which is the exclusive privilege of high life and long may it continue so." "When he heard of Gray's death, in writing to Chute he apologises for the concern he feels, and adds, 'I thought that what I had seen of the world had hardened my heart; but I find that it had formed my language, not extinguished my tenderness." More graceful than touchingmore of himself than of Gray. sorrow needs no apology.
"Nil pletas de se dicere vera solet."
Ask me not, Eusebius, where I got that line. I know not. I need not tell you that here pietas is affection. In 1741, the people, Horace Walpole's mob, and Fashion, were at issue; dire was the conflict-bludgeon-men hired to subject Taste to club law; and about what was this war? "Whether the Italian school of music should prevail, or the Anglo-German." Horace Walpole, according to his nature, was "Handel of the party of “his order.” had produced his great work, The Messiah,' in 1741 at Covent Garden. Fashion was against him, though he was supported by the court, the mob, He and the poet of common sense. went to Ireland, and the triumph of the Italian faction was immortalised by Pope."
The forcible lines in the
Dunciad are a true acknowledgment of Handel's genius and supremacy, and warn the Empress Dulness of his reign.
"But now, ab soon, Rebellion will commence, If Music meanly borrows aid from sense; Strong in new arms, so Giant Handel stands,
Like bold Briareus, with a hundred hands: