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De Libris: Prose and Verse by Austin Dobson

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Whoever should be within;
But all to no purpose, for no one
Would hearken to let them in.

"_La rime n'est pas riche_" nor is the technique thoroughly assured; but
the thought is poetical. Here is another, "In an Apple-Tree," which
reads like a child variation of that haunting "Mimnermus in Church" of
the author of Ionica:--

In September, when the apples are red,
To Belinda I said,
"Would you like to go away
To Heaven, or stay
Here in this orchard full of trees
All your life? "And she said," If you please
I'll stay here--where I know,
And the flowers grow."

In another vein is the bright little "Child's Song":--

The King and the Queen were riding
Upon a Summer's day,
And a Blackbird flew above them,
To hear what they did say.

The King said he liked apples,
The Queen said she liked pears;
And what shall we do to the Blackbird
Who listens unawares?

But, as a rule, it must be admitted of her poetry that, while nearly
always poetic in its impulse, it is often halting and inarticulate in
its expression. A few words may be added in regard to the mere facts of
Miss Greenaway's career. She was born at 1 Cavendish Street, Hoxton, on
the 17th March, 1846, her father being Mr. John Greenaway, a draughtsman
on wood, who contributed much to the earlier issues of the _Illustrated
London News_ and _Punch_. Annual visits to a farm-house at Rolleston in
Nottinghamshire--the country residence already referred to--nourished
and confirmed her love of nature. Very early she showed a distinct bias
towards colour and design of an original kind. She studied at different
places, and at South Kensington. Here both she and Lady Butler "would
bribe the porter to lock them in when the day's work was done, so that
they might labour on for some while more." Her master at Kensington was
Richard Burchett, who, forty years ago, was a prominent figure in the
art-schools, a well instructed painter, and a teacher exceptionally
equipped with all the learning of his craft. Mr. Burchett thought highly
of Miss Greenaway's abilities; and she worked under him for several
years with exemplary perseverance and industry. She subsequently studied
in the Slade School under Professor Legros.

Her first essays in the way of design took the form of Christmas cards,
then beginning their now somewhat flagging career, and she exhibited
pictures at the Dudley Gallery for some years in succession, beginning
with 1868. In 1877 she contributed to the Royal Academy a water colour
entitled "Musing," and in 1889 was elected a member of the Royal
Institute of Painters in Water Colours.

By this date, as will be gathered from what has preceded, Miss Greenaway
had made her mark as a producer of children's books, since, in addition
to the volumes already specially mentioned, she had issued _Under the
Window_ (her earliest success), _The Language of Flowers, Kate
Greenaway's Painting Book, The Book of Games, King Pepito_ and other
works. Her last "Almanack," which was published by Messrs Dent and Co.,
appeared in 1897. In 1891, the Fine Arts Society exhibited some 150 of
her original drawings--an exhibition which was deservedly successful,
and was followed by others.[28] As Slade Professor at Oxford, Ruskin,
always her fervent admirer, gave her unstinted eulogium; and in France
her designs aroused the greatest admiration. The _DÈbats_ had a leading
article on her death; and the clever author of _L'Art du Rire_, M.
ArsËne Alexandre, who had already written appreciatively of her gifts as
a "_paysagiste_," and as a "_maÓtresse en l'art du sourire, du jolt
sourire_ _d'enfant inginu et gaiement candide_" devoted a column in the
_Figaro_ to her merits.


[28] Among other things these exhibitions revealed the great superiority
of the original designs to the reproductions with which the public are
familiar--excellent as these are in their way. Probably, if Miss
Greenaway's work were now repeated by the latest form of three-colour
process, she would be less an "inheritor"--in this respect--"of unfulfilled

It has been noted that, in her later years, Miss Greenaway's popularity
was scarcely maintained. It would perhaps be more exact to say that it
somewhat fell off with the fickle crowd who follow a reigning fashion,
and who unfortunately help to swell the units of a paying community. To
the last she gave of her best; but it is the misfortune of distinctive
and original work, that, while the public resents versatility in its
favourites, it wearies unreasonably of what had pleased it at
first--especially if the note be made tedious by imitation. Miss
Greenaway's old vogue was in some measure revived by her too-early death
on the 6th November 1901; but, in any case, she is sure of attention
from the connoisseur of the future. Those who collect Stothard and
Caldecott (and they are many!) cannot afford to neglect either _Marigold
Garden_ or _Mother Goose_.[29]


[29] Since the above article appeared in the _Art Journal_, from
which it is here substantially reproduced, Messrs. M.H, Spieimann and
G.S. Layard have (1905) devoted a sumptuous and exhaustive volume to
Miss Greenaway and her art. To this truly beautiful and sympathetic book
I can but refer those of her admirers who are not yet acquainted
with it.


As I went a-walking on _Lavender Hill_,
O, I met a Darling in frock and frill;
And she looked at me shyly, with eyes of blue,
"Are you going a-walking? Then take me too!"

So we strolled to the field where the cowslips grow,
And we played--and we played, for an hour or so;
Then we climbed to the top of the old park wall,
And the Darling she threaded a cowslip ball.

Then we played again, till I said--"My Dear,
This pain in my side, it has grown severe;
I ought to have mentioned I'm past three-score,
And I fear that I scarcely can play any more!"

But the Darling she answered,-"O no! O no!
You must play--you must play.--I sha'n't let you go!"

--And I woke with a start and a sigh of despair,
And I found myself safe in my Grandfather's-chair!



In virtue of certain gentle and caressing qualities of style, Douglas
Jerrold conferred on one of his contributors--Miss Eliza Meteyard--the
pseudonym of "Silverpen." It is in the silver-pensive key that one would
wish to write of Mr. HUGH THOMSON. There is nothing in his work of
elemental strife,--of social problem,--of passion torn to tatters. He
leads you by no _terribile via_,--over no "burning Marle." You cannot
conceive him as the illustrator of _Paradise Lost_, of Dante's
_Inferno_--even of DorÈ's _Wandering Jew_. But when, after turning over
some dozens of his designs, you take stock of your impressions, you
discover that your memory is packed with pleasant fancies. You have been
among "blown fields" and "flowerful closes"; you have passed quaint
roadside-inns and picturesque cottages; you are familiar with the
cheery, ever-changing idyll of the highway and the bustle of animal
life; with horses that really gallop, and dogs that really bark; with
charming male and female figures in the most attractive old-world
attire; with happy laughter and artless waggeries; with a hundred
intimate details of English domesticity that are pushed just far enough
back to lose the hardness of their outline in a softening haze of
retrospect. There has been nothing more tragic in your travels than a
sprained ankle or an interrupted affair of honour; nothing more
blood-curdling than a dream of a dragoon officer knocked out of his
saddle by a brickbat. Your flesh has never been made to creep: but the
cockles of your heart have been warmed. Mechanically, you raise your
hand to lift away your optimistic spectacles. But they are not there.
The optimism is in the pictures.

It must be more than a quarter of a century since Mr. Hugh Thomson,
arriving from Coleraine in all the ardour of one-and-twenty, invaded the
strongholds of English illustration. He came at a fortunate moment.
After a few hesitating and tentative attempts upon the newspapers, he
obtained an introduction to Mr. Comyns Carr, then engaged in
establishing the _English Illustrated Magazine_ for Messrs. Macmillan.
His recommendation was a scrap-book of minutely elaborated designs for
_Vanity Fair_, which he had done (like Reynolds) "out of pure idleness."
Mr. Carr, then, as always, a discriminating critic, with a keen eye to
possibilities, was not slow to detect, among much artistic recollection,
something more than uncertain promise; and although he had already
Randolph Caldecott and Mr. Harry Furniss on his staff, he at once gave
Mr. Thomson a commission for the magazine. The earliest picture from his
hand which appeared was a fancy representation of the Parade at Bath for
a paper in June, 1884, by the late H. D. Traill; and he also illustrated
(in part) papers on Drawing Room Dances, on Cricket (by Mr. Andrew
Lang), and on Covent Garden. But graphic and vividly naturalistic as
were his pictures of modern life, his native bias towards imaginary
eighteenth century subjects (perhaps prompted by boyish studies of
Hogarth in the old Dublin _Penny Magazine_), was already abundantly
manifest. He promptly drifted into what was eventually to become his
first illustrated book, a series of compositions from the _Spectator_.
These were published in 1886 as a little quarto, entitled _Days with Sir
Roger de Coverley_.

It was a "temerarious" task to attempt to revive the types which, from
the days of Harrison's _Essayists_, had occupied so many of the earlier
illustrators. But the attempt was fully justified by its success. One
has but to glance at the head-piece to the first paper, where Sir Roger
and "Mr. Spectator" have alighted from the jolting, springless,
heavy-wheeled old coach as the tired horses toil uphill, to recognise at
once that here is an artist _en pays de connaissance_, who may fairly be
trusted, in the best sense, to "illustrate" his subject. Whatever one's
predilections for previous presentments, it is impossible to resist Sir
Roger (young, slim, and handsome), carving the perverse widow's name
upon a tree-trunk; or Sir Roger at bowls, or riding to hounds, or
listening--with grave courtesy--to Will Wimble's long-winded and
circumstantial account of the taking of the historic jack. Nor is the
conception less happy of that amorous fine-gentleman ancestor of the
Coverleys who first made love by squeezing the hand; or of that other
Knight of the Shire who so narrowly escaped being killed in the Civil
Wars because he was sent out of the field upon a private message, the
day before Cromwell's "crowning mercy,"--the battle of Worcester. But
the varied embodiments of these, and of Mrs. Betty Arable ("the great
fortune"), of Ephraim the Quaker, and the rest, are not all. The figures
are set in their fitting environment; they ride their own horses, hallo
to their own dogs, and eat and drink in their own dark-panelled rooms
that look out on the pleached alleys of their ancient gardens. They live
and move in their own passed-away atmosphere of association; and a
faithful effort has moreover been made to realise each separate scene
with strict relation to its text.

All of the "Coverley" series came out in the _English Illustrated_. So
also did the designs for the next book, the _Coaching Days and Coaching
Ways_ of Mr. Outram Tristram, 1888. Here Mr. Thomson had a topographical
collaborator, Mr. Herbert Railton, who did the major part of the very
effective drawings in this kind. But Mr. Thomson's contributions may
fairly be said to have exhausted the "romance" of the road. Inns and
inn-yards, hosts and ostlers and chambermaids, stage-coachmen,
toll-keepers, mail-coaches struggling in snow-drifts, mail-coaches held
up by highwaymen, overturns, elopements, cast shoes, snapped poles, lost
linch-pins,--all the episodes and moving accidents of bygone travel on
the high road have abundant illustration, till the pages seem almost to
reek of the stableyard, or ring with the horn.[30] And here it may be
noted, as a peculiarity of Mr. Thomson's conscientious horse-drawing,
that he depicts, not the ideal, but the actual animal. His steeds are
not "faultless monsters" like the Dauphin's palfrey in _Henry the
Fifth_. They are "all sorts and conditions" of horses; and--if truth
required it--would disclose as many sand-cracks as Rocinante, or as many
equine defects (from wind-gall to the bolts) as those imputed to that
unhappy "Blackberry" sold by the Vicar of Wakefield at Welbridge Fair to
Mr, Ephraini Jenkinson.


[30] Sometimes a literary or historical picture creeps into the text.
Such are "Swift and Bolingbroke at Backlebury" (p. 30); "Charles
II. recognised by the Ostler" (p. 144), and "Barry Lyndon cracks a
Bottle" (p. 116). _Barry Lyndon_ with its picaresque note and Irish
background, would seem an excellent contribution to the "Cranford"
series. Why does not Mr. Thomson try his hand at it? He has illustrated
_Esmond_, and the _Great Haggarty Diamond_.

The _Vicar of Wakefield_--as it happens--was Mr. Thomson's next
enterprise; and it is, in many respects, a most memorable one. It came
out in December, 1890, having occupied him for nearly two years. He took
exceptional pains to study and realise the several types for himself,
and to ensure correctness of costume. From the first introductory
procession of the Primrose family at the head of chapter i. to the
awkward merriment of the two Miss Flamboroughs at the close, there is
scarcely a page which has not some stroke of quiet fun, some graceful
attitude, or some ingenious contrivance in composition. Considering that
from Wenham's edition of 1780, nearly every illustrator of repute had
tried his hand at Goldsmith's masterpiece in fiction,--that he had been
attempted without humour by Stothard, without lightness by
Mulready,[31]--that he had been made comic by Cruikshank, and vulgarised
by Rowiandson,--it was certainly to Mr. Thomson's credit that he had
approached his task with so much refinement, reverence and originality.
If the book has a blemish, it is to be mentioned only because the
artist, by his later practice, seems to have recognised it himself. For
the purposes of process reproduction, the drawings were somewhat loaded
and overworked.


[31]: Mulready's illustrations of 1843 are here referred to, net his

This was not chargeable against the next volumes to be chronicled. Mrs.
Gaskell's _Cranford_, 1891, and Miss Mitford's _Our Village_, 1893, are
still regarded by many as the artist's happiest efforts. I say "still,"
because Mr. Thomson is only now in what Victor Hugo called the youth of
old age (as opposed to the old age of youth); and it would be premature
to assume that a talent so alert to multiply and diversify its efforts,
had already attained the summit of its achievement. But in these two
books he had certain unquestionable advantages. One obviously would be,
that his audience were not already preoccupied by former illustrations;
and he was consequently free to invent his own personages and follow his
own fertile fancy, without recalling to that implacable and Gorgonising
organ, the "Public Eye," any earlier pictorial conceptions. Another
thing in his favour was, that in either case, the very definite, and not
very complex types surrendered themselves readily to artistic
embodiment. "It almost illustrated itself,"--he told an interviewer
concerning _Cranford_; "the characters were so exquisitely and
distinctly realised." Every one has known some like them; and the
delightful Knutsford ladies (for "Cranford" was "Knutsford"), the
"Boz"--loving Captain Brown and Mr. Holbrook, Peter and his father, and
even Martha the maid, with their _mise en scËne_ of card-tables and
crackle-china, and pattens and reticules, are part of the memories of
our childhood. The same may be said of _Our Village_, except that the
breath of Nature blows more freely through it than through the quiet
Cheshire market-town; and there is a larger preponderance of those
"charming glimpses of rural life" of which Lady Ritchie speaks
admiringly in her sympathetic preface. And with regard to the "bits of
scenery"--as Mr. Thomson himself calls them--it may be noted that one of
the Manchester papers, speaking of _Cranford_, praised the artist's
intimate knowledge of the locality,--a locality he had never seen. Most
of his backgrounds were from sketches made on Wimbledon Common, near
which--until he moved for a space to the ancient Cinque Port of Seaford
in Sussex--he lived for the first years of his London life.

In strict order of time, Mr. Thomson's next important effort should have
preceded the books of Miss Mitford and Mrs. Gaskell. The novels of Jane
Austen--to which we now come--if not the artist's high-water mark, are
certainly remarkable as a _tour de force_. To contrive some forty page
illustrations for each of Miss Austen's admirable, but--from an
illustrator's standpoint--not very palpitating productions,--with a
scene usually confined to the dining-room or parlour,--with next to no
animals, and with rare opportunities for landscape accessory,--was an
"adventure"--in Cervantic phrase--which might well have given pause to a
designer of less fertility and resource. But besides the figures there
was the furniture; and acute admirers have pointed out that a nice
discretion is exhibited in graduating the appointments of Longbourn and
Netherfield Park,--of Rosings and Hunsford. But what is perhaps more
worthy of remark is the artist's persistent attempt to give
individuality, as well as grace, to his dramatis persona;. The
unspeakable Mr. Collins, Mr. Bennet, the horsy Mr. John Thorpe, Mrs.
Jennings and Mrs. Norris, the Eltons--are all carefully discriminated.
Nothing can well be better than Mr. Woodhouse, with his "almost
immaterial legs" drawn securely out of the range of a too-fierce fire,
chatting placidly to Miss Bates upon the merits of water-gruel; nothing
more in keeping than the Right Honourable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, "in
the very torrent, tempest, and whirlwind" of her indignation,
superciliously pausing to patronise the capabilities of the Longbourn
reception rooms. Not less happy is the dumbfounded astonishment of Mrs.
Bennet at her toilet, when she hears--to her stupefaction--that her
daughter Elizabeth is to be mistress of Pemberley and ten thousand a
year. This last is a head-piece; and it may be observed, as an
additional difficulty in this group of novels, that, owing to the
circumstances of publication, only in one of the books. _Pride and
Prejudice_, was Mr, Thomson free to decorate the chapters with those
ingenious _entÍtes_ and _culs-de-lampe_ of which he so eminently
possesses the secret.[32]


[32] That eloquence of subsidiary detail, which has had so many
exponents in English art from Hogarth onwards, is one of Mr. Thomson's
most striking characteristics. The reader will find it exemplified in
the beautiful book-plate at page 111, which, by the courtesy of its
owner, Mr. Ernest Brown, I am permitted to reproduce.

By this time his reputation had long been firmly established. To the
Jane Austen volumes succeeded other numbers of the so-called "Cranford"
series, to which, in 1894, Mr. Thomson had already added, under the
title of _Coridon's Song and other Verses_, a fresh ingathering of
old-time minstrelsy from the pages of the _English Illustrated_. Many of
the drawings for these, though of necessity reduced for publication in
book form, are in his most delightful and winning manner,--notably
perhaps (if one must choose!) the martial ballad of that "Captain of
Militia, Sir Bilberry Diddle," who

--dreamt, Fame reports, that he cut all the throats
Of the French as they landed in flat-bottomed boats

--or rather were going to land any time during the Seven Years' War.
Excellent, too, are John Gay's ambling _Journey to Exeter_., the
_Angler's Song_ from Walton (which gives its name to the collection),
and Fielding's rollicking "A-hunting we will go." Other "Cranford"
books, which now followed, were James Lane Allen's _Kentucky Cardinal_,
1901; Fanny Burney's _Evelina_, 1903; Thackeray's _Esmond_, 1905; and
two of George Eliot's novels--_Scenes of Clerical Life_, 1906, and
_Silas Marner_, 1907. In 1899 Mr. Thomson had also undertaken another
book for George Allen, an edition of Reade's _Peg Woffington_,--a task
in which he took the keenest delight, particularly in the burlesque
character of Triplet. These were all in the old pen-work; but some of
the designs for _Silas Marner_ were lightly and tastefully coloured.
This was a plan the author had adopted, with good effect, not only in a
special edition of _Cranford_ (1898), but for some of his original
drawings which came into the market after exhibition. Nothing can be
more seductive than a Hugh Thomson pen-sketch, when delicately tinted in
sky-blue, _rose-Du Barry_, and apple-green (the _vert-pomme_ dear--as
Gautier says--to the soft moderns)--a treatment which lends them a
subdued but indefinable distinction, as of old china with a pedigree,
and fully justifies the amiable enthusiasm of the phrase-maker who
described their inventor as the "Charles Lamb of illustration."

From the above enumeration certain omissions have of necessity been
made. Besides the books mentioned, Mr. Thomson has contrived to prepare
for newspapers and magazines many closely-studied sketches of
contemporary manners. Some of the best of his work in this way is to be
found in the late Mrs. E.T. Cook's _Highways and Byways of London Life_,
1902. For the _Highways and Byways_ series, he has also illustrated,
wholly or in part, volumes on Ireland, North Wales, Devon, Cornwall and
Yorkshire. The last volume, Kent, 1907, is entirely decorated by
himself. In this instance, his drawings throughout are in pencil, and he
is his own topographer. It is a remarkable departure, both in manner and
theme, though Mr. Thomson's liking for landscape has always been
pronounced. "I would desire above all things," he told an interviewer,
"to pass my time in painting landscape. Landscape pictures always
attract me, and the grand examples, Gainsboroughs, Claudes, Cromes, and
Turners, to be seen any day in our National Gallery, are a source of
never-failing yearning and delight." The original drawings for the Kent
book are of great beauty; and singularly dexterous in the varied methods
by which the effect is produced. The artist is now at work on the county
of Surrey. It is earnest of his versatility that, in 1904, he
illustrated for Messrs. Wells, Darton and Co., with conspicuous success,
a modernised prose version of certain of Chaucer's _Canterbury Tales_,
as well as _Tales from Maria Edgeworth_, 1903; and he also executed, in
1892 and 1895,[33] some charming designs to selections from the verses of
the present writer, who has long enjoyed the privilege of his friendship.

Personal traits do not come within the province of this paper, or it
would be pleasant to dwell upon Mr. Thomson's modesty, his untiring
industry, and his devotion to his art. But in regard to that art, it may
be observed that to characterise it solely as "packing the memory with
pleasant fancies" may suffice for an exordium, but is inadequate as a
final appreciation. Let me therefore note down, as they occur to me,
some of his more prominent pictorial characteristics. With three of the
artists mentioned in this and the preceding paper, he has obvious
affinities, while, in a sense, he includes them all. If he does not
excel Stothard in the gift of grace, he does in range and variety; and
he more than rivals him in composition. He has not, like Miss Greenaway,
endowed the art-world with a special type of childhood; but his children
are always lifelike and engaging. (Compare, at a venture, the boy
soldiers whom Frank Castlewood is drilling in chapter xi. of _Esmond_,
or the delightful little fellow who is throwing up his arms in chapter
ix. of _Emma_.) As regards dogs and horses and the rest, his colleague,
Mr, Joseph Pennell, an expert critic, and a most accomplished artist,
holds that he has "long since surpassed" Randolph Caldecott.[34] I doubt
whether Mr. Thomson himself would concur with his eulogist in this. But
he has assuredly followed Caldecott close; and in opulence of
production, which--as Macaulay insisted--should always count, has
naturally exceeded that gifted, but shortlived, designer. If, pursuing
an ancient practice, one were to attempt to label Mr. Thomson with a
special distinction apart from, and in addition to, his other merits, I
should be inclined to designate him the "Master of the
Vignette,"--taking that word in its primary sense as including
head-pieces, tail-pieces and initial letters. In this department, no
draughtsman I can call to mind has ever shown greater fertility of
invention, so much playful fancy, so much grace, so much kindly humour,
and such a sane and wholesome spirit of fun.


[33] _The Ballad of Beau Brocade_, and _The Story of Rosina_.

[34] _Pen-Drawing and Pen-Draughtsmen, 2nd ed. 1894, p. 358._




_(Published at Madrid, by Francisco de Robles, January 1605)_

"Para mÌ sola naciÛ don Quixote, y yo para Èl."--CERVANTES.

Advents we greet of great and small;
Much we extol that may not live;
Yet to the new-born Type we give
No care at all!

This year,[35]--three centuries past,--by age
More maimed than by LEPANTO'S fight,--
This year CERVANTES gave to light
His matchless page,

Whence first outrode th' immortal Pair,--
The half-crazed Hero and his hind,--
To make sad laughter for mankind;
And whence they fare

Throughout all Fiction still, where chance
Allies Life's dulness with its dreams--
Allies what is, with what but seems,--
Fact and Romance:--

O Knight of fire and Squire of earth!--
O changing give-and-take between
The aim too high, the aim too mean,
I hail your birth,--

Three centuries past,--in sunburned SPAIN,
And hang, on Time's PANTHEON wall,
My votive tablet to recall
That lasting gain!


[35] _I.e._ January 1905.


One common grave, according to Garrick, covers the actor and his art.
The same may be said of the raconteur. Oral tradition, or even his own
writings, may preserve his precise words; but his peculiarities of voice
or action, his tricks of utterance and intonation,--all the collateral
details which serve to lend distinction or piquancy to the
performance--perish irrecoverably. The glorified gramophone of the
future may perhaps rectify this for a new generation; and give us,
without mechanical drawback, the authentic accents of speakers dead and
gone; but it can never perpetuate the dramatic accompaniment of gesture
and expression. If, as always, there are exceptions to this rule, they
are necessarily evanescent. Now and then, it may be, some clever mimic
will recall the manner of a passed-away predecessor; and he may even
contrive to hand it on, more or less effectually, to a disciple. But the
reproduction is of brief duration; and it is speedily effaced or

In this way it is, however, that we get our most satisfactory idea of
the once famous table-talker, Samuel Rogers. Charles Dickens, who sent
Rogers several of his books; who dedicated _Master Humphrey's Clock_ to
him; and who frequently assisted at the famous breakfasts in St. James's
Place, was accustomed--rather cruelly, it may be thought--to take off
his host's very characteristic way of telling a story; and it is,
moreover, affirmed by Mr. Percy Fitzgerald[36] that, in the famous
Readings, "the strangely obtuse and owl-like expression, and the slow,
husky croak" of Mr. Justice Stareleigh in the "Trial from _Pickwick_"
were carefully copied from the author of the _Pleasures of Memory_, That
Dickens used thus to amuse his friends is confirmed by the autobiography
of the late Frederick Locker,[37] who perfectly remembered the old man,
to see whom he had been carried, as a boy, by his father. He had also
heard Dickens repeat one of Rogers's stock anecdotes (it was that of the
duel in a dark room, where the more considerate combatant, firing up the
chimney, brings down his adversary);[38]--and he speaks of Dickens as
mimicking Rogers's "calm, low-pitched, drawling voice and dry biting
manner very comically."[39] At the same time, it must be remembered that
these reminiscences relate to Rogers in his old age. He was over seventy
when Dickens published his first book, _Sketches by Boz_; and, though it
is possible that Rogers's voice was always rather sepulchral, and his
enunciation unusually deliberate and monotonous, he had nevertheless, as
Locker says, "made story-telling a fine art." Continued practice had
given him the utmost economy of words; and as far as brevity and point
are concerned, his method left nothing to be desired. Many of his best
efforts are still to be found in the volume of _Table-Talk_ edited for
Moxon in 1856 by the Rev. Alexander Dyce; or preferably, as actually
written down by Rogers himself in the delightful _Recollections_ issued
three years later by his nephew and executor, William Sharpe.


[36] _Recreations of a Literary Man_, 1882, p. 137.

[37] _My Confidences_, by Frederick Locker-Lampson, 1896, pp. 98
and 325.

[38] The duellists were an Englishman and a Frenchman; and
Rogers was in the habit of adding as a postscript: "When I tell that in
Paris, I always put the Englishman up the chimney!"

[39] It may be added that Mr. Percy Fitzgerald, himself no mean
mime, may be sometimes persuaded to imitate Dickens imitating Rogers.

But although the two things are often intimately connected, the "books,"
and not the "stories" of Rogers, are the subject of the present paper.
After this, it sounds paradoxical to have to admit that his reputation
as a connoisseur far overshadowed his reputation as a bibliophile. When,
in December 1855, he died, his pictures and curios,--his "articles of
virtue and bigotry" as a modern Malaprop would have styled
them,--attracted far more attention than the not very numerous volumes
forming his library.[40] What people flocked to see at the tiny
treasure-house overlooking the Green Park,[41] which its nonagenarian
owner had occupied for more than fifty years, were the "Puck" and
"Strawberry Girl" of Sir Joshua, the Titians, Giorgiones, and Guidos,[42]
the Poussins and Claudes, the drawings of Raphael and D¸rer and Lucas
van Leyden, the cabinet decorated by Stothard, the chimney-piece carved
by Flaxman; the miniatures and bronzes and Etruscan vases,--all the
"infinite riches in a little room," which crowded No. 22 from garret to
basement. These were the rarities that filled the columns of the papers
and the voices of the quidnuncs when in 1856 they came to the hammer.
But although the Press of that day takes careful count of these things,
it makes little reference to the sale of the "books" of the banker-bard
who spent some £15,000 on the embellishments of his _Italy_ and his
_Poems_; and although Dr. Burney says that Rogers's library included
"the best editions of the best authors in most languages," he had
clearly no widespread reputation as a book-collector pure and simple.
Nevertheless he loved his books,--that is, he loved the books he read.
And, as far as can be ascertained, he anticipated the late Master of
Balliol, since he read only the books he liked. Nor was he ever diverted
from his predilections by mere fashion or novelty. "He followed Bacon's
maxim"--says one who knew him--"to read much, not many things: _multum
legere, non multa_. He used to say, 'When a new book comes out, I read
an old one.'"[43]


[40] The prices obtained confirm this. Thetotaisum realised was
£45,188:14:3. Of this the books represented no more than £1415:5.

[41] This--with its triple range of bow-windows, from one of
which Rogers used to watch his favourite sunsets--is now the residence
of Lord Northcliffe.

[42] Three of these--the "_Noli me tangere_" of Titian, Giorgione's
"Knight in Armour," and Guide's "_Ecce Homo_"--are now in the National
Gallery, to which they were bequeathed by Rogers.

[43] _Edinburgh Review_, vol. civ. p. 105, by Abraham Hayward.

The general Rogers-sale at Christie's took place in the spring of 1856,
and twelve days had been absorbed before the books were reached. Their
sale took six days more--_i.e._ from May 12 to May 19. As might be
expected from Rogers's traditional position in the literary world, the
catalogue contains many presentation copies. What, at first sight, would
seem the earliest, is the _Works_ of Edward Moore, 1796, 2 vols. But if
this be the fabulist and editor of the _World_, it can scarcely have
been received from the writer, since, in 1796, Moore had been dead for
nearly forty years. With Bloomfield's poems of 1802, l. p., we are on
surer ground, for Rogers, like Capel Lofft, had been kind to the author
of _The Farmer's Boy_, and had done his best to obtain him a pension.
Another early tribute, subsequently followed by the _Tales of the Hall_,
was Crabbe's Borough, which he sent to Rogers in 1810, in response to
polite overtures made to him by the poet. This was the beginning of a
lasting friendship, of no small import to Crabbe, as it at once admitted
him to Rogers's circle, an advantage of which there are many traces in
Crabbe's journal. Next comes Madame de StaÎl's much proscribed _De
l'Allamagne_ (the Paris edition); and from its date, 1813, it must have
been presented to Rogers when its irrepressible author was in England.
She often dined or breakfasted at St. James's Place, where (according to
Byron), she out-talked Whitbread, confounded Sir Humphry Davy, and was
herself well "_ironed_"[44] by Sheridan. Rogers considered _Corinne_ to
be her best novel, and _Delphine_ a terrible falling-off. The Germany he
found "very fatiguing." "She writes her works four or five times over,
correcting them only in that way"--he says. "The end of a chapter [is]
always the most obscure, as she ends with an epigram,"[45] Another early
presentation copy is the second edition of Bowles's _Missionary_, 1815.
According to Rogers, who claims to have suggested the poem, it was to
have been inscribed to him. But somehow or other, the book got dedicated
to noble lord who--Rogers adds drily--never, either by word or letter,
made any acknowledgment of the homage.[46] It is not impossible that
there is some confusion of recollection here, or Rogers is misreported
by Dyce. The first anonymous edition of the _Missionary_, 1813, had _no_
dedication; and the second was inscribed to the Marquess of Lansdowne
because he had been prominent among those who recognised the merit of
its predecessor.


[44] Perhaps a remembrance of Mrs Slipslop's "_ironing_."

[45] Clayden's _Rogers and his Contemporaries_, 1889, i. 225. As
an epigrammatist himself, Rogers might have been more indulgent to a
_consoeur_. Here is one of Madame de StaÎl's "ends of chapters":--"_La
monotonie, dans la retraite, tranquillise l'‚me; la monotonie, dans le
grand monde, fatigue l'esprit_" (ch. viii.). But he evidently found her
rather overpowering.

[46] Table-Talk, 1856, p. 258.

Several of Scott's poems, with Rogers's autograph, and Scott's card,
appear in the catalogue; and, in 1812, Byron, who a year after inscribed
the _Giaour_ to Rogers, sent him the first two cantos of _Childe
Harold._ In 1838, Moore presents _Lalla Rookh_, with Heath's plates, a
work which, upon its first appearance, twenty years earlier, had been
dedicated to Rogers. In 1839 Charles Dickens followed with _Nicholas
Nickleby_, succeeded a year later by _Master Humphrey's Clock_ (1840-1),
also dedicated to Rogers in recognition, not only of his poetical merit,
but of his "active sympathy with the poorest and humblest of his kind."
Rogers was fond of "Little Nell"; and in the Preface to _Barnaby Rudge_,
Dickens gracefully acknowledged that "for a beautiful thought" in the
seventy-second chapter of the _Old Curiosity Shop_, he was indebted to
Rogers's Ginevra in the _Italy_:--

And long might'st thou have seen
An old man wandering _as in quest of something,_
Something he could not find--he knew not what.

The _American Notes_, 1842, was a further offering from Dickens. Among
other gifts may be noted Wordsworth's _Poems_, 1827-35; Campbell's
_Pilgrim of Glencoe_, 1842; Longfellow's _Ballads and Voices of the
Night_, 1840-2; Macaulay's _Lays_ and Tennyson's _Poems_, 1842; and
lastly, Hazlitt's _Criticisms on Art_, 1844, and Carlyle's _Letters and
Speeches of Cromwell_, 1846. Brougham's philosophical novel of _Albert
Lunel; or, the Ch‚teau of Languedoc_, 3 vols, 1844, figures in the
catalogue as "withdrawn." It had been suppressed "for private reasons"
upon the eve of publication; and this particular copy being annotated by
Rogers (to whom it was inscribed) those concerned were no doubt all the
more anxious that it should not get abroad. Inspection of the reprint of
1872 shows, however, that want of interest was its chief error. A
reviewer of 1858 roundly calls it "feeble" and "commonplace"; and it
could hardly have increased its writer's reputation. Indeed, by some, it
was not supposed to be from his Lordship's pen at all. Rogers, it may be
added, frequently annotated his books. His copies of Pope, Gray and
Scott had many _marginalia_. Clarke's and Fox's histories of James II.
were also works which he decorated in this way.

As already hinted, not very many bibliographical curiosities are
included in the St. James's Place collection; and to look for
Shakespeare quartos or folios, for example, would be idle. Ordinary
editions of Shakespeare, such as Johnson's and Theobald's;
Shakespeariana, such as Mrs. Montagu's _Essay_ and Ayscough's
_Index_,--these are there of course. If the list also takes in Thomas
Caldecott's _Hamlet_, and _As you like it_ (1832), that is, first,
because the volume is a presentation copy; and secondly, because
Caldecott's colleague in his frustrate enterprise was Crowe, Rogers's
Miltonic friend, hereafter mentioned. Rogers's own feeling for
Shakespeare was cold and hypercritical; and he was in the habit of
endorsing with emphasis Ben Jonson's aspiration that the master had
blotted a good many of his too-facile lines. Nevertheless, it is
possible to pick out a few exceptional volumes from Mr. Christie's
record. Among the earliest comes a copy of Garth's _Dispensary_, 1703,
which certainly boasts an illustrious pedigree. Pope, who received it
from the author, had carefully corrected it in several places; and in
1744 bequeathed it to Warburton. Warburton, in his turn, handed it on to
Mason, from whom it descended to Lord St. Helens, by whom, again,
shortly before his death (1815), it was presented to Rogers. To Pope's
corrections, which Garth adopted, Mason had added a comment. What made
the volume of further interest was, that it contained Lord Dorchester's
receipt for his subscription to Pope's _Homer_; and, inserted at the
end, a full-length portrait of Pope; viz., that engraved in Warton's
edition of 1797, as sketched in pen-and-ink by William Hoare of Bath.
Another interesting item is the quarto first edition (the first three
books) of Spenser's _Faerie Queene_, Ponsonbie, 1590: and a third, the
_Paradise Lost_ of Milton in ten books, the original text of 1667 (with
the 1669 title-page and the Argument and Address to the Reader)--both
bequeathed to Rogers by W, Jackson of Edinburgh. (One of the stock
exhibits at "Memory Hall"--as 22 St. James's Place was playfully called
by some of the owner's friends--was Milton's receipt to Symmons the
printer for the five pounds he received for his epic. This, framed and
glazeds hung, according to Lady Eastlake, on one of the doors.[47]) A
fourth rare book was William Bonham's black-letter Chaucer, a folio
which had been copiously annotated in MS. by Home Tooke, who gave it to
Rogers. It moreover contained, at folio 221, the record of Tooke's
arrest at Wimbledon on 16th May, 1794, and subsequent committal on the
19th to the Tower, for alleged high treason.[48] Further _notabilia_ in
this category were the Duke of Marlborough's _Hypnerotomachie_ of
Poliphilus, Paris, 1554, and also the Aldine edition of 1499; the very
rare 1572 issue of Camoens's _Lusiads_; Holbein's _Dance of Death_, the
Lyons issues of 1538 and 1547; first editions of Bewick's _Birds_ and
_Quadrupeds_; Le Sueur's _Life of St. Bruno_, with the autograph of Sir
Joshua Reynolds, and a rare quarto (1516) of Boccaccio's _Decameron_.


[47] It was, no doubt, identical with the "Original Articles of
Agreement" (Add. MSS. 18,861) between Milton and Samuel Symmons,
printer, dated 27th April, 1667, presented by Rogers in 1852 to the
British Museum. Besides the above-mentioned £5 down, there were to be
three further payments of £5 each on the sale of three editions, each of
1300 copies. The second edition appeared in 1674, the year of the
author's death.

[48] He was acquitted. His notes, in pencil, and relating chiefly to his
_Diversions of Parley_, were actually written in the Tower. Rogers, who
was present at the trial in November, mentioned, according to Dyce, a
curious incident bearing upon a now obsolete custom referred to by
Goldsmith and others. As usual, the prisoner's dock, in view of possible
jail-fever, was strewn with sweet-smelling herbs-fennel, rosemary and the
like. Tooke indignantly swept them away. Another of several characteristic
anecdotes told by Rogers of Tooke is as follows:--Being asked once at
college what his father was, he replied, "A Turkey Merchant." Tooke _pËre_
was a poulterer in Clare Market.

But the mere recapitulation of titles readily grows tedious, even to the
elect; and I turn to some of the volumes with which, from references in
the _Table-Talk_ and _Recollections_, their owner might seem to be more
intimately connected. Foremost among these--one would think--should come
his own productions. Most of these, no doubt, are included under the
auctioneers' heading of "Works and Illustrations." In the "Library"
proper, however, there are few traces of them. There is a quarto copy of
the unfortunate _Columbus_, with Stothard's sketches; and there is the
choice little _Pleasures of Memory_ of 1810, with Luke Clennell's
admirable cuts in _facsimile_ from the same artist's pen-and-ink,--a
volume which, come what may, will always hold its own in the annals of
book-illustration. That there were more than one of these latter may be
an accident. Rogers, nevertheless, like many book-lovers, must have
indulged in duplicates. According to Hayward, once at breakfast, when
some one quoted Gray's irresponsible outburst concerning the novels of
Marivaux and CrÈbillon _le fils_, Rogers asked his guests, three in
number, whether they were familiar with Marivaux's _Vie de Marianne_, a
book which he himself confesses to have read through six times, and
which French critics still hold, on inconclusive evidence, to have been
the "only begetter" of Richardson's _Pamela_ and the sentimental novel.
None of the trio knew anything about it. "Then I will lend you each a
copy," rejoined Rogers; and the volumes were immediately produced,
doubtless by that faithful and indefatigable factotum, Edmund Paine, of
whom his master was wont to affirm that he would not only find any book
_in_ the house, but _out_ of it as well. What is more (unless it be
assumed that the poet's stock was larger still), one, at least, of the
three copies must have been returned, since there is a copy in the
catalogue. As might be expected in the admirer of Marivaux's heroine,
the list is also rich in Jean-Jacques, whose "_go˚t vif pour les
dÈjeuners_," this Amphitryon often extolled, quoting with approval
Rousseau's opinion that "_C'est le temps de la journÈe o˘ nous sommes le
plus tranquilles, o˘ nous causons le plus ‡ noire aise._" Another of his
favourite authors was Manzoni, whose _Promessi Sposi_ he was inclined to
think he would rather have written than all Scott's novels; and he never
tired of reading Louis Racine's _MÈmoires_ of his father, 1747,--that
"_filon de l'or pur du dix-septiËme siecle_"--as Villemain calls
it--"_qui se prolonge dans l'‚ge suivant._" Some of Rogers's likings
sound strange enough nowadays. With Campbell, he delighted in Cowper's
_Homer_, which he assiduously studied, and infinitely preferred to that
of Pope. Into Chapman's it must be assumed that he had not
looked--certainly he has left no sonnet on the subject. Milton was
perhaps his best-loved bard. "When I was travelling in Italy (he says),
I made two authors my constant study for versification,--Milton _and
Crowe_" (The italics are ours.) It is an odd collocation; but not
unintelligible. William Crowe, the now forgotten Public Orator of
Oxford, and author of _Lewesdon Hill_, was an intimate friend; a writer
on versification; and, last but not least, a very respectable echo of
the Miltonic note, as the following, from a passage dealing with the
loss in 1786 of the _Halsewell_ East Indiaman off the coast of Dorset,
sufficiently testifies:--

The richliest-laden ship
Of spicy Ternate, or that annual sent
To the Philippines o'er the southern main
From Acapulco, carrying massy gold,
Were poor to this;--freighted with hopeful Youth
And Beauty, and high Courage undismay'd
By mortal terrors, and paternal Love, etc., etc.

It is not improbable that Rogers caught the mould of his blank verse
from the copy rather than from the model. In the matter of style--as
Flaubert has said--the second-bests are often the better teachers. More
is to be learned from La Fontaine and Gautier than from MoliËre and
Victor Hugo.

Many art-books, many books addressed specially to the connoisseur, as
well as most of those invaluable volumes no gentleman's library should
be without, found their places on Rogers's hospitable shelves. Of such,
it is needless to speak; nor, in this place, is it necessary to deal
with his finished and amiable, but not very vigorous or vital poetry. A
parting word may, however, be devoted to the poet himself. Although,
during his lifetime, and particularly towards its close, his weak voice
and singularly blanched appearance exposed him perpetually to a kind of
brutal personality now happily tabooed, it cannot be pretended that,
either in age or youth, he was an attractive-looking man. In these
cases, as in that of Goldsmith, a measure of burlesque sometimes
provides a surer criterion than academic portraiture. The bust of the
sculptor-caricaturist, Danton, is of course what even Hogarth would have
classed as _outrÈ_[49]; but there is reason for believing that Maclise's
sketch in _Fraser_ of the obtrusively bald, cadaverous and wizened
figure in its arm-chair, which gave such a shudder of premonition to
Goethe, and which Maginn, reflecting the popular voice, declared to be a
mortal likeness--"painted to the very death"--was more like the original
than his pictures by Lawrence and Hoppner. One can comprehend, too, that
the person whom nature had so ungenerously endowed, might be perfectly
capable of retorting to rudeness, or the still-smarting recollection of
rudeness, with those weapons of mordant wit and acrid epigram which are
not unfrequently the protective compensation of physical shortcomings.
But this conceded, there are numberless anecdotes which testify to
Rogers's cultivated taste and real good breeding, to his genuine
benevolence, to his almost sentimental craving for appreciation and
affection. In a paper on his books, it is permissible to end with
a bookish anecdote. One of his favourite memories, much repeated in his
latter days, was that of Cowley's laconic Will,--"I give my body to the
earth, and my soul to my Maker." Lady Eastlake shall tell the
rest:--"This ... proved on one occasion too much for one of the party,
and in an incautious moment a flippant young lady exclaimed, 'But, Mr.
Rogers, what of Cowley's _property_?' An ominous silence ensued, broken
only by a _sotto voce_ from the late Mrs. Procter: 'Well, my dear, you
have put your foot in it; no more invitations for you in a hurry,' But
she did the kind old man, then above ninety, wrong. The culprit
continued to receive the same invitations and the same welcome."[50]


[49] Rogers's own copy of this, which (it may be added), he held
in horror, now belongs to Mr. Edmund Gosse. Lord Londonderry has a
number of Danton's busts.

[50] _Quarterly Review_, vol. 167, p. 512.


To One who asked why he wrote it.

You ask me what was his intent?
In truth, I'm not a German;
'Tis plain though that he neither meant
A Lecture nor a Sermon.

But there it is,--the thing's a Fact.
I find no other reason
But that some scribbling itch attacked
Him in and out of season,

To write what no one else should read,
With this for second meaning,
To "cleanse his bosom" (and indeed
It sometimes wanted cleaning);

To speak, as 'twere, his private mind,
Unhindered by repression,
To make his motley life a kind,
Of Midas' ears confession;

And thus outgrew this work _per se_,--
This queer, kaleidoscopic,
Delightful, blabbing, vivid, free
Hotch-pot of daily topic.

So artless in its vanity,
So fleeting, so eternal,
So packed with "poor Humanity"--
We know as Pepys' his journal.[51]


[51] Written for the Pepys' Dinner at Magdalene College, Cambridge,
February 23rd, 1905.


Among other pleasant premonitions of the present _entente cordiale_
between France and England is the increased attention which, for some
time past, our friends of Outre Manche have been devoting to our
literature. That this is wholly of recent growth, is not, of course, to
be inferred. It must be nearly five-and-forty years since M. Hippolyte
Taine issued his logical and orderly _Histoire de la LittÈrature
Anglaise_; while other isolated efforts of insight and importance--such
as the _Laurence Sterne_ of M. Paul Stapfer, and the excellent _Le
Public et les Hommes de Lettres en Angleterre au XVIII^e SiËcle_ of the
late M. Alexandre Beljame of the Sorbonne--are already of distant date.
But during the last two decades the appearance of similar productions
has been more recurrent and more marked. From one eminent writer
alone--M. J.-J. Jusserand--we have received an entire series of studies
of exceptional charm, variety, and accomplishment. M. Felix Rabbe has
given us a sympathetic analysis of Shelley; M. Auguste
Angellier,--himself a poet of individuality and distinction,--what has
been rightly described as a "splendid work" on Burns;[52] while M. …mile
Legouis, in a minute examination of "The Prelude," has contrasted and
compared the orthodox Wordsworth of maturity with the juvenile
semi-atheist of Coleridge. Travelling farther afield, M. W. Thomas has
devoted an exhaustive volume to Young of the _Night Thoughts_; M. LÈon
Morel, another to Thomson; and, incidentally, a flood of fresh light has
been thrown upon the birth and growth of the English Novel by the
admirable _Jean-Jacques Rousseau et les Origines du Cosmopolitisme
LittÈraire_ of the late Joseph Texte--an investigation unquestionably of
the ripest scholarship, and the most extended research. And now once
more there are signs that French lucidity and French precision are about
to enter upon other conquests; and we have M. Barbeau's study of a
famous old English watering-place[53]--appropriately dedicated, as is
another of the books already mentioned, to M. Beljame.[54]


[52] A volume of _Pages Choisies de Auguste Angellier, Prose et
Vers_, with an Introduction by M. Legouis, has recently (1908) been
issued by the Clarendon Press. It contains lengthy extracts from M.
Angellier's study of Burns.

[53:]_Une Ville d'Eaux anglaise au XVIIIe SiËcle, La SociÈtÈ Elegante
et LittÈraire ‡ Bath sous la Reine Anne et sous les Georges_. Par A.
Barbeau. Paris, Picard, 1904.

[54] The list grows apace. To the above, among others, must now
be added M. RenÈ Huchon's brilliant little essay on Mrs. Montagu, and
his elaborate study of Crabbe, to say nothing of M. Jules Derocquigny's
Lamb, M. Jules Douady's Hazlitt, and M. Joseph Aynard's Coleridge.

At first sight, topography, even when combined with social sketches, may
seem less suited to a foreigner and an outsider than it would be to a
resident and a native. In the attitude of the latter to the land in
which he lives or has been born, there is always an inherent something
of the soil for which even trained powers of comparison, and a special
perceptive faculty, are but imperfect substitutes. On the other hand,
the visitor from over-sea is, in many respects, better placed for
observation than the inhabitant. He enjoys not a little--it has been
often said--of the position of posterity. He takes in more at a glance;
he leaves out less; he is disturbed by no apprehensions of explaining
what is obvious, or discovering what is known. As a consequence, he sets
down much which, from long familiarity, an indigenous critic would be
disposed to discard, although it might not be, in itself, either
uninteresting or superfluous. And if, instead of dealing with the
present and actual, his concern is with history and the past, his
external standpoint becomes a strength rather than a weakness. He can
survey his subject with a detachment which is wholly favourable to his
project; and he can give it, with less difficulty than another, the
advantages of scientific treatment and an artistic setting. Finally, if
his theme have definite limits--as for instance an appreciable
beginning, middle, and end--he must be held to be exceptionally
fortunate. And this, either from happy guessing, or sheer good luck, is
M. Barbeau's case. All these conditions are present in the annals of the
once popular pleasure-resort of which he has elected to tell the story.
It arose gradually; it grew through a century of unexampled prosperity;
it sank again to the level of a county-town. If it should ever arise
again,--and it is by no means a _ville morte_,--it will be in an
entirely different way. The particular Bath of the eighteenth
century--the Bath of Queen Anne and the Georges, of Nash and Fielding
and Sheridan, of Anstey and Mrs. Siddons, of Wesley and Lady Huntingdon,
of Quin and Gainsborough and Lawrence and a hundred others--is no more.
It is a case of _Fuit Ilium_. It has gone for ever; and can never be
revived in the old circumstances. To borrow an apposite expression from
M. Texte, it is an organism whose evolution has accomplished its course.

M. Barbeau's task, then, is very definitely mapped-out and
circumscribed. But he is far too good a craftsman to do no more than
give a mere panorama of that daily Bath programme which King Nash and
his dynasty ordained and established. He goes back to the origins; to
the legend of King Lear's leper-father; to the _Diary_ of the
too-much-neglected Celia Fiennes; to Pepys[55] and Grammont's Memoirs; to
the days when hapless Catherine of Braganza, with the baleful "_belle_
Stewart" in her train, made fruitless pilgrimage to Bladud's spring as a
remedy against sterility. He sketches, with due acknowledgments to
Goldsmith's unique little book, the biography of that archquack,
_poseur_, and very clever organiser, Mr. Richard Nash, the first real
Master of the Ceremonies; and he gives a full account of his followers
and successors. He also minutely relates the story of Sheridan's
marriage to his beautiful "St. Cecilia," Elizabeth Ann Linley. A
separate and very interesting chapter is allotted to Lady Huntingdon and
the Methodists, not without levies from the remarkable _Spiritual
Quixote_ of that Rev. Richard Graves of Claverton, of whom an excellent
account was given not long since in Mr. W. H. Hutton's suggestive
_Burford Papers_. Other chapters are occupied with Bath and its _belles
lettres_; with "Squire Allworthy" of Prior Park and his literary guests,
Pope, Warburton, Fielding and his sister, etc.; with the historic
Frascati vase of Lady Miller at Batheaston, which stirred the ridicule
of Horace Walpole, and is still, it is said, to be seen in a local park.
The dosing pages treat of Bath--musical, artistic, scientific--of its
gradual transformation as a health resort--of its eventual and
foredoomed decline and fall as the one fashionable watering-place,
supreme and single, for Great Britain and Ireland.


[55] Oddly enough--if M. Barbeau's index is to be trusted, and
it is an unusually good one,--he makes no reference to Evelyn's visit to
Bath. But Evelyn went there in June, 1654, bathed in the Cross Bath,
criticised the "_facciata_" of the Abbey Church, complained of the
"narrow, uneven and unpleasant streets," and inter-visited with the
company frequenting the place for health. "Among the rest of the idle
diversions of the town," he says, "one musician was famous for acting a
changeling [idiot or half-wit], which indeed he personated strangely."
(_Diary_, Globe edn., 1908, p. 174.)

But it is needless to prolong analysis. One's only wonder--as usual
after the event--is that what has been done so well had never been
thought of before. For while M. Barbeau is to be congratulated upon the
happy task he has undertaken, we may also congratulate ourselves that he
has performed it so effectively. His material is admirably arranged. He
has supported it by copious notes; and he has backed it up by an
impressive bibliography of authorities ancient and modern. This is
something; but it is not all[56]. He has done much more than this. He has
contrived that, in his picturesque and learned pages, the old "Queen of
the West" shall live again, with its circling terraces, its grey stone
houses and ill-paved streets, its crush of chairs and chariots, its
throng of smirking, self-satisfied prom-enaders.


[56] To the English version (Heinemann, 1904) an eighteenth-century map
of Bath, and a number of interesting views and portraits have been added.

One seems to see the clumsy stage-coaches depositing their touzled and
tumbled inmates, in their rough rocklows and quaint travelling headgear,
at the "Bear" or the "White Hart," after a jolting two or three days'
journey from Oxford or London, not without the usual experiences, real
and imaginary, of suspicious-looking horsemen at Hounslow, or masked
"gentlemen of the pad" on Claverton Down. One hears the peal of
five-and-twenty bells which greets the arrival of visitors of
importance; and notes the obsequious and venal town-waits who follow
them to their lodgings in Gay Street or Milsom Street or the
Parades,--where they will, no doubt, be promptly attended by the Master
of the Ceremonies, "as fine as fivepence," and a very pretty,
sweet-smelling gentleman, to be sure, whether his name be Wade or
Derrick. Next day will probably discover them in chip hats and flannel,
duly equipped with wooden bowls and bouquets, at the King's Bath, where,
through a steaming atmosphere, you may survey their artless manoeuvres
(as does Lydia Melford in _Humphry Clinker_) from the windows of the
Pump Room, to which rallying-place they will presently repair to drink
the waters, in a medley of notables and notorieties, members of
Parliament, chaplains and led-captains, Noblemen with ribbons and stars,
dove-coloured Quakers, Duchesses, quacks, fortune-hunters, lackeys,
lank-haired Methodists, Bishops, and boarding-school misses. Ferdinand
Count Fathom will be there, as well as my Lord Ogleby; Lady Bellaston
(and Mr. Thomas Jones); Geoffry Wildgoose and Tugwell the cobbler;
Lismahago and Tabitha Bramble; the caustic Mrs. Selwyn and the blushing
Miss Anville. Be certain, too, that, sooner or later, you will encounter
Mrs, Candour and Lady Sneerwell, Sir Benjamin Backbite and his uncle,
Mr. Crabtree, for this is their main haunt and region--in fact, they
were born here. You may follow this worshipful and piebald procession to
the Public Breakfasts in the Spring Gardens, to the Toy-shops behind the
Church, to the Coffee-houses in Westgate Street, to the Reading Rooms on
the Walks, where, in Mr. James Leake's parlour at the back--if you are
lucky--you may behold the celebrated Mr. Ralph Allen of Prior Park,
talking either to Mr. Henry Fielding or to Mr. Leake's brother-in-law,
Mr. Samuel Richardson, but never--if we are correctly informed--to both
of them together. Or you may run against Mr. Christopher Anstey of the
over-praised _Guide_, walking arm-in-arm with another Bathonian, Mr.
Melmoth, whose version of Pliny was once held to surpass its original.
At the Abbey--where there are daily morning services--you shall listen
to the silver periods of Bishop Kurd, whom his admirers call fondly "the
Beauty of Holiness"; at St. James's you can attend the full-blown
lectures, "more unctuous than ever he preached," of Bishop Beilby
Porteus; or you may succeed in procuring a card for a select hearing, at
Edgar Buildings, of Lady Huntingdon's eloquent chaplain, Mr. Whitefield.
With the gathering shades of even, you may pass, if so minded, to
Palmer's Theatre in Orchard Street, and follow Mrs. Siddons acting
Belvidera in Otway's _Venice Preserv'd_ to the Pierre of that forgotten
Mr. Lee whom Fanny Burney put next to Garrick; or you may join the
enraptured audience whom Mrs. Jordan is delighting with her favourite
part of Priscilla Tomboy in _The Romp_. You may assist at the concerts
of Signer Venanzio Rauzzini and Monsieur La Motte; you may take part in
a long minuet or country dance at the Upper or Lower Assembly Rooms,
which Bunbury will caricature; you may even lose a few pieces at the
green tables; and, should you return home late enough, may watch a
couple of stout chairmen at the door of the "Three Tuns" in Stall
Street, hoisting that seasoned toper, Mr. James Quin, into a sedan after
his evening's quantum of claret. What you do to-day, you will do
to-morrow, if the bad air of the Pump Room has not given you a headache,
or the waters a touch of vertigo; and you will continue to do it for a
month or six weeks, when the lumbering vehicle with the leathern straps
and crane-necked springs will carry you back again over the deplorable
roads ("so _sidelum_ and _jumblum_," one traveller calls them) to your
town-house, or your country-box, or your city-shop or chambers, as the
case may be. Here, in due course, you will begin to meditate upon your
next excursion to THE BATH, provided always that you have not dipped
your estate at "E.O.", or been ruined by milliners' bills;--that your
son has not gone northwards with a sham Scotch heiress, or your daughter
been married at Charicombe, by private license, to a pinchbeck Irish
peer. For all these things--however painful the admission--were,
according to the most credible chroniclers, the by-no-means infrequent
accompaniment or sequel of an unguarded sojourn at the old jigging,
card-playing, scandal-loving, pleasure-seeking city in the loop of "the
soft-flowing Avon."

It is an inordinate paragraph, outraging all known rules of composition!
But then--How seductive a subject is eighteenth-century Bath!--and how
rich in memories is M. Barbeau's book!


To William John Courthope, _March 12, 1903_

When Pope came back from Trojan wars once more,
He found a Bard, to meet him on the shore,
And hail his advent with a strain as clear
As e'er was sung by BYRON or by FRERE.[57]

You, SIR, have travelled from no distant clime,
Yet would JOHN GAY could welcome you in rhyme;
And by some fable not too coldly penned,
Teach how with judgment one may praise a Friend.

There is no need that I should tell in words
Your prowess from _The Paradise of Birds_;[58]
No need to show how surely you have traced
The Life in Poetry, the Law in Taste;[59]
Or mark with what unwearied strength you wear
The weight that WARTON found too great to bear.[60]
There Is no need for this or that. My plan
Is less to laud the Matter than the Man.

This is my brief. We recognise in you
The mind judicial, the untroubled view;
The critic who, without pedantic pose,
Takes his firm foothold on the thing he knows;
Who, free alike from passion or pretence,
Holds the good rule of calm and common sense;
And be the subject or perplexed or plain,--
Clear or confusing,--is throughout urbane,
Patient, persuasive, logical, precise,
And only hard to vanity and vice.

More I could add, but brevity is best;--
These are our claims to honour you as Guest.


[57] _Alexander Pope: his Safe Return from Troy. A Congratulatory Poem
on his Completing his Translation of Homer's Iliad._ (In _ottava rima_.)
By Mr. Gay, 1720(?). Frere's burlesque, _Monks and Giants_--it will be
remembered--set the tune to Byron's _Beppo_.

[58] _The Paradise of Birds_, 1870.

[59] _Life in Poetry, Law in Taste_, two series of Lectures
delivered in Oxford, 1895-1900. 1901.

[60] _A History of English Poetry_. 1895 (in progress).


At this date, Thackeray's _Esmond_ has passed from the domain of
criticism into that securer region where the classics, if they do not
actually "slumber out their immortality," are at least preserved from
profane intrusion. This "noble story"[61]--as it was called by one of its
earliest admirers--is no longer, in any sense, a book "under review."
The painful student of the past may still, indeed, with tape and
compass, question its details and proportions; or the quick-fingered
professor of paradox, jauntily turning it upside-down, rejoice in the
results of his perverse dexterity; but certain things are now
established in regard to it, which cannot be gainsaid, even by those who
assume the superfluous office of anatomising the accepted. In the first
place, if _Esmond_ be not the author's greatest work (and there are
those who, like the late Anthony Trollope, would willingly give it that
rank), it is unquestionably his greatest work in its particular kind,
for its sequel, _The Virginians_, however admirable in detached
passages, is desultory and invertebrate, while _Denis Duval_, of which
the promise was "great, remains unfinished. With _Vanity Fair_, the
author's masterpiece in another manner, _Esmond_ cannot properly be
compared, because an imitation of the past can never compete in
verisimilitude or on any satisfactory terms with a contemporary picture.
Nevertheless, in its successful reproduction of the tone of a bygone
epoch, lies _Esmond's_ second and incontestable claim to length of days.
Athough fifty years and more have passed since it was published, it is
still unrivalled as the typical example of that class of historical
fiction, which, dealing indiscriminately with characters real and
feigned, develops them both with equal familiarity, treating them each
from within, and investing them impartially with a common atmosphere of
illusion. No modern novel has done this in the same way, nor with the
same good fortune, as Esmond; and there is nothing more to be said on
this score. Even if--as always--later researches should have revised our
conception of certain of the real personages, the value of the book as
an imaginative _tour de force_ is unimpaired. Little remains therefore
for the gleaner of to-day save bibliographical jottings, and neglected
notes on its first appearance.


[61] "Never could I have believed that Thackeray, great as his abilities
are, could have written so noble a story as _Esmond_."--WALTER SAVAGE
LANDOR, August 1856.

In Thackeray's work, the place of _The History of Henry Esmond, Esq., a
Colonel in the Service of Her Majesty Q. Anne. Written by Himself_--lies
midway between his four other principal books, _Vanity Fair, Pendennis,
The Newcomes_, and _The Virginians_; and its position serves, in a
measure, to explain its origin. In 1848, after much tentative and
miscellaneous production, of which the value had been but imperfectly
appreciated, the author found his fame with the yellow numbers of
_Vanity Fair_. Two years later, adopting the same serial form, came
_Pendennis_. _Vanity Fair_ had been the condensation of a life's
experience; and excellent as _Pendennis_ would have seemed from any
inferior hand, its readers could not disguise from themselves that,
though showing no falling off in other respects, it drew to some extent
upon the old material. No one was readier than Thackeray to listen to a
whisper of this kind, or more willing to believe that--as he afterwards
told his friend Elwin concerning _The Newcomes_--"he had exhausted all
the types of character with which he was familiar." Accordingly he
began, for the time, to turn his thoughts in fresh directions; and in
the year that followed the publication of _Pendennis_, prepared and
delivered in England and Scotland a series of _Lectures upon the English
Humourists of the Eighteenth Century_. With the success of these came
the prompting for a new work of fiction,--not to be contemporary, and
not to be issued in parts. His studies for the _Humourists_ had
saturated him with the spirit of a time to which--witness his novelette
of _Barry Lyndon_--he had always been attracted; and when Mr. George
Smith called on him with a proposal that he should write a new story for
£1000, he was already well in hand with _Esmond_,--an effort in which,
if it were not possible to invent new puppets, it was at least possible
to provide fresh costumes and a change of background. Begun in 1851,
_Esmond_ progressed rapidly, and by the end of May 1852 it was
completed. Owing to the limited stock of old-cut type in which it was
set up, its three volumes passed but slowly through the press; and it
was eventually issued at the end of the following October, upon the eve
of the author's departure to lecture in America. In fact, he was waiting
on the pier for the tender which was to convey him to the steamer, when
he received his bound copies from the publisher.

Mr. Eyre Crowe, A.R.A., who accompanied Thackeray to the United States,
and had for some time previously been acting as his "factotum and
amanuensis," has recorded several interesting details with regard to the
writing of _Esmond_, To most readers it will be matter of surprise, and
it is certainly a noteworthy testimony to the author's powers, that this
attempt to revive the language and atmosphere of a vanished era was in
great part dictated. It has even been said that, like _Pendennis_, it
was _all_ dictated; but this it seems is a mistake, for, as we shall see
presently, part of the manuscript was prepared by the author himself. As
he warmed to his work, however, he often reverted to the method of oral
composition which had always been most congenial to him, and which
explains the easy colloquialism of his style. Much of the "copy" was
taken down by Mr. Crowe in a first-floor bedroom of No. 16 Young Street,
Kensington, the still-existent house where Vanity Fair had been written;
at the Bedford Hotel in Covent Garden; at the round table in the
Athenasum library, and elsewhere. "I write better anywhere than at
home,"--Thackeray told Elwin,--"and I write less at home than anywhere."
Sometimes author and scribe would betake themselves to the British
Museum, to look up points in connection with Marlborough's battles, or
to rummage Jacob Tonson's Gazettes for the official accounts of
Wynendael and Oudenarde. The British Museum, indeed, was another of
_Esmond's_ birthplaces. By favour of Sir Antonio Panizzi, Thackeray and
his assistant, surrounded by their authorities, were accommodated in one
of the secluded galleries. "I sat down,"--says Mr. Crowe--"and wrote to
dictation the scathing sentences about the great Marlborough, the
denouncing of Cadogan, etc., etc. As a curious instance of literary
contagion, it may be here stated that I got quite bitten, with the
expressed anger at their misdeeds against General Webb, Thackeray's
kinsman and ancestor; and that I then looked upon Secretary Cardonnel's
conduct with perfect loathing. I was quite delighted to find his
meannesses justly pilloried in _Esmond's_ pages." What rendered the
situation more piquant,--Mr. Crowe adds,--all this took place on the
site of old Montague House, where, as Steele's "Prue" says to St. John
in the novel," you wretches go and fight duels."[62]


[62] _With Thackeray in America_, 1893, p. 4.

Those who are willing to make a pilgrimage to Cambridge, may, if they
please, inspect the very passages which aroused the enthusiam of
Thackeray's secretary. In a special case in the Library of Trinity
College, not far from those which enclose the manuscripts of Tennyson
and Milton, is the original and only manuscript of _Esmond_, being in
fact the identical "copy" which was despatched to the press of Messrs.
Bradbury and Evans at Whitefriars. It makes two large quarto volumes,
and was presented to the College (Esmond's College!) in 1888 by the
author's son-in-law, the late Sir Leslie Stephen. It still bears in
pencil the names of the different compositors who set up the type. Much
of it is in Thackeray's own small, slightly-slanted, but oftener upright
hand, and many pages have hardly any corrections.[63] His custom was to
write on half-sheets of a rather large notepaper, and some idea may be
gathered of the neat, minute, and regular script, when it is added that
the lines usually contain twelve to fifteen words, and that there are
frequently as many as thirty-three of these lines to a page. Some of the
rest of the "copy" is in the handwriting of the author's daughter, now
Lady Ritchie; but a considerable portion was penned by Mr. Eyre Crowe.
The oft-quoted passage in book ii. chap. vi. about "bringing your
sheaves with you," was written by Thackeray himself almost as it stands;
so was the sham _Spectator_, hereafter mentioned, and most of the
chapter headed "General Webb wins the Battle of Wynendael." But the
splendid closing scene,--"August 1st, 1714,"--is almost wholly in the
hand of Mr. Crowe. It is certainly a remarkable fact that work at this
level should have been thus improvised, and that nothing, as we are
credibly informed, should have been before committed to paper.[64]

When _Esmond_ first made its appearance in October 1852, it was not
without distinguished and even formidable competitors. _Bleak House_ had
reached its eighth number; and Bulwer was running _My Novel in
Blackwood_. In _Fraser_, Kingsley was bringing out _Hypatia_; and Whyte
Melville was preluding with _Digby Grand_. Charlotte BrontÎ must have
been getting ready _Villette_ for the press; and Tennyson--undeterred by
the fact that his hero had already been "dirged" by the indefatigable
Tupper--was busy with his _Ode on the Death of the Duke of
Wellington_.[65] The critics of the time were possibly embarrassed with
this wealth of talent, for they were not, at the outset, immoderately
enthusiastic over the new arrival. The _Athenaeum_ was by no means
laudatory. _Esmond_ "harped upon the same string"; "wanted vital heat";
"touched no fresh fount of thought"; "introduced no novel forms of
life"; and so forth. But the _Spectator_, in a charming greeting from
George Brimley (since included in his _Essays_), placed the book, as a
work of art, even above _Vanity Fair_ and _Pendennis_; the "serious and
orthodox" _Examiner_, then under John Forster, was politely judicial;
the _Daily News_ friendly; and the _Morning Advertiser_ enraptured. The
book, this last declared, was the "beau-ideal of historical romance." On
December 4 a second edition was announced. Then, on the 22nd, came the
_Times_. Whether the _Times_ remembered and resented a certain
delightfully contemptuous "Essay on Thunder and Small Beer," with which
Thackeray retorted to its notice of _The Kickkburys on the Rhine_ (a
thing hard to believe!) or whether it did not,--its report of _Esmond_
was distinctly hostile. In three columns, it commended little but the
character of Marlborough, and the writer's "incomparably easy and
unforced style." Thackeray thought that it had "absolutely stopped" the
sale. But this seems inconsistent with the fact that the publisher sent
him a supplementary cheque for £250 on account of _Esmond's_ success.


[63] One is reminded of the accounts of Scott's "copy." "Page
after page the writing runs on exactly as you read it in print"--says
Mr. Mowbray Morris. "I was looking not long ago at the manuscript of
_Kenilworth_ in the British Museum, and examined the end with particular
care, thinking that the wonderful scene of Amy Robsart's death must
surely have cost him some labour. They were the cleanest pages in the
volume: I do not think there was a sentence altered or added in the
whole chapter" (Lecture at Eton, _Macmillan's Magazine_ (1889), lx.
pp. 158-9).

[64] "The sentences"--Mr. Crowe told a member of the Athenaeum,
when speaking of his task--"came out glibly as he [Thackeray] paced the
room." This is the more singular when contrasted with the slow
elaboration of the Balzac and Flaubert school. No doubt Thackeray must
often have arranged in his mind precisely much that he meant to say.
Such seems indeed to have been his habit. The late Mr. Lockcer-Lampson
informed the writer of this paper that once, when he met the author of
Esmond in the Green Park, Thackeray gently begged to be allowed to walk
alone, as he had some verses In his head which he was finishing. They
were those which afterwards appeared in the _Cornhill_ for January 1867,
under the title of _Mrs. Katherine's Lantern_.

[65] The Duke died 14th Sept. 1852.

Another reason which may have tended to slacken--not to stop--the sale,
is also suggested by the author himself. This was the growing popularity
of _My Novel_ and _Villette_. And Miss BrontÎ's book calls to mind the
fact that she was among the earliest readers of _Esmond_, the first two
volumes of which were sent to her in manuscript by George Smith, She
read it, she tells him, with "as much ire and sorrow as gratitude and
admiration," marvelling at its mastery of reconstruction,--hating its
satire,--its injustice to women. How could Lady Castlewood peep through
a keyhole, listen at a door, and be jealous of a boy and a milkmaid!
There was too much political and religious intrigue--she thought.
Nevertheless she said (this was in February 1852, speaking of vol. i.)
the author might "yet make it the best he had ever written." In March
she had seen the second volume. The character of Marlborough (here she
anticipated the _Times_) was a "masterly piece of writing." But there
was "too little story." The final volume, by her own request, she
received in print. It possessed, in her opinion, the "most sparkle,
impetus, and interest." "I hold," she wrote to Mr. Smith, "that a work
of fiction ought to be a work of creation: that the _real_ should be
sparingly introduced in pages dedicated to the _ideal_" In a later
letter she gives high praise to the complex conception of Beatrix,
traversing incidentally the absurd accusation of one of the papers that
she resembled. Blanche Amory [the _Athenaeum_ and _Examiner_, it may be
noted, regarded her as "another Becky"]. "To me," Miss Bronte exclaims,
"they are about as identical as a weasel and a royal tigress of Bengal;
both the latter are quadrupeds, both the former women." These frank
comments of a fervent but thoroughly honest admirer, are of genuine
interest. When the book was published, Thackeray himself sent her a copy
with his "grateful regards," and it must have been of this that she
wrote to Mr. Smith on November 3,--"Colonel Henry Esmond is just
arrived. He looks very antique and distinguished in his Queen Anne's
garb; the periwig, sword, lace, and ruffles are very well represented by
the old _Spectator_ type."[66]


[66] Mr. Clement Shorter's _Charlotte BrontÎ and her Circle_,
1896, p. 403; and Gaskell's _Life of Charlotte BrontÎ_, 1900, pp. 561
et seq.

One of the points on which Miss BrontÎ does not touch,--at all events
does not touch in those portions of her correspondence which have been
printed,--is the marriage with which _Esmond_ closes. Upon this event it
would have been highly instructive to have had her views, especially as
it appears to have greatly exercised her contemporaries, the first
reviewers. It was the gravamen of the _Times_ indictment; to the critic
of _Fraser_ it was highly objectionable; and the _Examiner_ regarded it
as "incredible." Why it was "incredible" that a man should marry a woman
seven years older than himself, to whom he had already proposed once in
vol. ii., and of whose youthful appearance we are continually reminded
("she looks the sister of her daughter" says the old Dowager at
Chelsea), is certainly not superficially obvious. Nor was it obvious to
Lady Castlewood's children, "Mother's in love with you,--yes, I think
mother's in love with you," says downright Frank Esmond; the only
impediment in his eyes being the bar sinister, as yet unremoved. And
Miss Beatrix herself, in vol. iii., is even more roundly explicit. "As
for you," she tells Esmond, "you want a woman to bring your slippers and
cap, and to sit at your feet, and cry 'O caro! O bravo!' whilst you read
your Shakespeares, and Miltons, and stuff" [which shows that she herself
had read Swift's _Grand Question Debated_]. "Mamma would have been the
wife for you, had you been a little older, though you look ten years
older than she does," "You do, you glum-faced, blue-bearded, little old
man!" adds this very imperious and free-spoken young lady. The situation
is, no doubt, at times extremely difficult, and naturally requires
consummate skill in the treatment. But if these things and others
signify anything to an intelligent reader, they signify that the author,
if he had not his end steadily in view, knew perfectly well that his
story was tending in one direction. There will probably always be some
diversity of opinion in the matter; but the majority of us have accepted
Thackeray's solution, and have dropped out of sight that hint of
undesirable rivalry, which so troubled the precisians of the early
Victorian age. To those who read _Esmond_ now, noting carefully the
almost imperceptible transformation of the motives on either side, as
developed by the evolution of the story, the union of the hero and
heroine at the end must appear not only credible but preordained. And
that the gradual progress towards this foregone conclusion is handled
with unfailing tact and skill, there can surely be no question.[67]


[67} Thackeray's own explanation was more characteristic than
convincing. "Why did you"--said once to him impetuous Mrs. John Brown of
Edinburgh--"Why did you make Esmond marry that old woman?" "My dear
lady," he replied, "it was not I who married them. They married
themselves." (Dr. _John Brmon_, by the late John Taylor Brown, 1903,
pp. 96-7.)

Of the historical portraits in the book, the interest has, perhaps, at
this date, a little paled. Not that they are one whit less vigorously
alive than when the author first put them in motion; but they have
suffered from the very attention which _Esmond_ and _The Humourists_
have directed to the study of the originals. The picture of Marlborough
is still as effective as when it was first proclaimed to be good enough
for the brush of Saint-Simon. But Thackeray himself confessed to a
family prejudice against the hero of Blenheim, and later artists have
considerably readjusted the likeness. Nor in all probability would the
latest biographer of Bolingbroke endorse _that_ presentment. In the
purely literary figures, Thackeray naturally followed the _Lectures_,
and is consequently open to the same criticisms as have been offered on
those performances. The Swift of _The Humourists_, modelled on Macaulay,
was never accepted from the first; and it has not been accepted in the
novel, or by subsequent writers from Forster onwards.[68] Addison has
been less studied; and his likeness has consequently been less
questioned. Concerning Steele there has been rather more discussion.
That Thackeray's sketch is very vivid, very human, and in most
essentials, hard to disprove, must be granted. But it is obviously
conceived under the domination of the "poor Dick" of Addison, and dwells
far too persistently upon Steele's frailer and more fallible aspect. No
one would believe that the flushed personage in the full-bottomed
periwig, who hiccups Addison's _Campaign_ in the Haymarket garret, or
the fuddled victim of "Prue's" curtain lecture at Hampton, ranked, at
the date of the story, far higher than Addison as a writer, and that he
was, in spite of his faults, not only a kindly gentleman and scholar,
but a philanthropist, a staunch patriot, and a consistent politician.
Probably the author of _Esmond_ considered that, in a mixed character,
to be introduced incidentally, and exhibited naturally "in the quotidian
undress and relaxation of his mind" (as Lamb says), anything like
biographical big drum should be deprecated. This is, at least, the
impression left on us by an anecdote told by Elwin. He says that
Thackeray, talking to him once about _The Virginians_, which was then
appearing, announced that he meant, among other people, to bring in
Goldsmith, "representing him as he really was, a little, shabby, mean,
shuffling Irishman." These are given as Thackeray's actual words. If so,
they do not show the side of Goldsmith which is shown in the last
lecture of _The Humourists._[69]


[68] Thackeray heartily disliked Swift, and said so. "As for
Swift, you haven't made me alter my opinion"--he replied to Hannay's
remonstrances. This feeling was intensified by the belief that Swift, as
a clergyman, was insincere. "Of course,"--he wrote in September, 1851,
in a letter now in the British Museum,--"any man is welcome to believe
as he likes for me _except_ a parson; and I can't help looking upon
Swift and Sterne as a couple of traitors and renegades ... with a
scornful pity for them in spite of all their genius and greatness."

[69] _Some XVIII. Century Men of Letters_, 1902, i. 187. The
intention was never carried out. In _The King over the Water_, 1908,
Miss A. Shield and Mr. Andrew Lang have recently examined another
portrait in _Esmond_,--that of the Chevalier de St. George,--not without
injury to its historical veracity. In these matters, Mr. Lang--like Rob
Roy--is on his native heath; and it is only necessary to refer the
reader to this highly interesting study.

But although, with our rectified information, we may except against the
picture of Steele as a man, we can scarcely cavil at the reproduction of
his manner as a writer. Even when Thackeray was a boy at Charterhouse,
his imitative faculty had been exceptional; and he displayed it
triumphantly in his maturity by those _Novels by Eminent Hands_ in which
the authors chosen are at once caricatured and criticised. The thing is
more than the gift of parody; it amounts (as Mr. Frederic Harrison has
rightly said) to positive forgery. It is present in all his works, in
stray letters and detached passages.

In its simplest form it is to be found in the stiff, circumstantial
report of the seconds in the duel at Boulogne in _Denis Duval_; and in
the missive in barbarous French of the Dowager Viscountess
Castlewood[70]--a letter which only requires the sprawling, childish
script to make it an exact facsimile of one of the epistolary efforts of
that "baby-faced" Caroline beauty who was accustomed to sign herself "L
duchesse de Portsmout." It is better still in the letter from Walpole to
General Conway in chap. xl. of _The Virginians_, which is perfect, even
to the indifferent pun of sleepy (and overrated) George Selwyn. But the
crown and top of these _pastiches_ is certainly the delightful paper,
which pretends to be No. 341 of the _Spectator_ for All Fools' Day,
1712, in which Colonel Esmond treats "Mistress Jocasta-Beatrix," to
what, in the parlance of the time, was decidedly a "bite."[71] Here
Thackeray has borrowed not only Steele's voice, but his very trick of
speech. It is, however, a fresh instance of the "tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive," that although this
pseudo-_Spectator_ is stated to have been printed "exactly as those
famous journals were printed" for eighteenth-century breakfast-tables,
it could hardly, owing to one microscopic detail, have deceived the
contemporary elect. For Mr, Esmond, to his very apposite Latin epigraph,
unluckily appended an English translation,--a concession to the country
gentlemen from which both Addison and Steele deliberately abstained,
holding that their distinctive mottoes were (in Addison's own phrase)
"words to the wise," of no concern to unlearned persons.[72]


[70] _Esmond_, Book ii, chap, ii.

[71] _Ib_. Book iii, chap, iii.

[72] _Spectator_, No. 221, November 13, 1711.

This very minute trifle emphasises the pitfalls of would-be perfect
imitation. But it also serves to bring us finally to the vocabulary of
_Esmond_. As to this, extravagant pretensions have sometimes been
advanced. It has been asserted, for instance, by a high journalistic
authority, that "no man, woman, or child in _Esmond_, ever says anything
that he or she might not have said in the reign of Queen Anne." This is
one of those extreme utterances in which enthusiasm, losing its head,
invites contradiction. Thackeray professedly "copied the language of
Queen Anne,"--he says so in his dedication to Lord Ashburton; but he
himself would certainly never have put forward so comprehensive a claim
as the above. There is no doubt a story that he challenged Mr. Lowell
(who was his fellow-passenger to America on the _Canada_) to point out
in _Esmond_ a word which had not been used in the early eighteenth
century; and that the author of _The Biglow Papers_ promptly discovered
such a word. But even if the anecdote be not well-invented, the
invitation must have been more jest than earnest. For none knew better
than Thackeray that these barren triumphs of wording belong to ingenuity
rather than genius, being exercises altogether in the taste of the
Persian poet who left out all the A's (as well as the poetry) in his
verses, or of that other French funambulist whose sonnet in honour of
Anne de Montaut was an acrostic, a mesostic, a St. Andrew's Cross, a
lozenge,--everything, in short, but a sonnet. What Thackeray endeavoured
after when "copying the language of Queen Anne," and succeeded in
attaining, was the spirit and tone of the time. It was not pedantic
philology at which he aimed, though he did not disdain occasional
picturesque archaisms, such as "yatches" for "yachts," or despise the
artful aid of terminal k's, long s's, and old-cut type. Consequently, as
was years ago pointed out by Fitzedward Hall (whose manifest prejudice
against Thackeray as a writer should not blind us in a matter of fact),
it is not difficult to detect many expressions in the memoirs of Queen
Anne's Colonel which could never have been employed until Her Majesty
had long been "quietly inurned." What is more,--if we mistake not,--the
author of _Esmond_ sometimes refrained from using an actual
eighteenth-century word, even in a quotation, when his instinct told him
it was not expedient to do so. In the original of that well-known
anecdote of Steele beside his father's coffin, In _Tatler_ No. 181,
reproduced in book i. chap. vi. of the novel, Steele says, "My mother
catched me in her arms." "Catched" is good enough eighteenth-century for
Johnson and Walpole. But Thackeray made it "caught," and "caught" it
remains to this day both in _Esmond_ and _The Humourists_.


(TERCENTENARY, 1608-1908)

"Stops of various Quills."--LYCIDAS.

What need of votive Verse
To strew thy _Laureat Herse_
With that mix'd _Flora_ of th' _Aonian Hill_?
Or _Mincian_ vocall Reed,
That _Cam_ and _Isis_ breed,
When thine own Words are burning in us still?

_Bard, Prophet, Archimage!_
In this Cash-cradled Age,
We grate our scrannel Musick, and we dote:
Where is the Strain unknown,
Through Bronze or Silver blown,
That thrill'd the Welkin with thy woven Note?

Yes,--"we are selfish Men":
Yet would we once again
Might see _Sabrina_ braid her amber Tire;

Or watch the _Comus_ Crew
Sweep down the Glade; or view
Strange-streamer'd Craft from _Javan_ or _Gadire_!

Or could we catch once more,
High up, the Clang and Roar
Of Angel Conflict,--Angel Overthrow;
Or, with a World begun,
Behold the young-ray'd Sun
Flame in the Groves where the _Four Rivers_ go!

Ay me, I fondly dream!
Only the Storm-bird's Scream
Foretells of Tempest in the Days to come;
Nowhere is heard up-climb
The lofty lyric Rhyme,
And the "God-gifted Organ-voice" is dumb.[73]


[73] Written, by request, for the celebration at Christ's College,
Cambridge, July 10, 1908.


The general reader, as a rule, is but moderately interested in minor
rectifications. Secure in a conventional preference of the spirit to the
letter, he professes to be indifferent whether the grandmother of an
exalted personage was a "Hugginson" or a "Blenkinsop"; and he is equally
careless as to the correct Christian names of his cousins and his aunts.
In the main, the general reader is wise in his generation. But with the
painful biographer, toiling in the immeasurable sand of thankless
research, often foot-sore and dry of throat, these trivialities assume
exaggerated proportions; and to those who remind him--as in a cynical
age he is sure to be reminded--of the infinitesimal value of his
hard-gotten grains of information, he can only reply mournfully, if
unconvincingly, that fact is fact--even in matters of mustard-seed. With
this prelude, I propose to set down one or two minute points concerning
Henry Fielding, not yet comprised in any existing records of his


[74] Since this was published in April 1907, they have been
embodied in an Appendix to my "Men of Letters" _Fielding_; and used, to
some extent, for a fresh edition of the _Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon_
("World's Classics").

The first relates to the exact period of his residence at Leyden
University. His earliest biographer, Arthur Murphy, writing in 1762, is
more explicit than usual on this topic. "He [Fielding]," says Murphy,
"went from Eton to Leyden, and there continued to show an eager thirst
for knowledge, and to study the civilians with a remarkable application
for about two years, when, remittances failing, he was obliged to return
to London, not then quite twenty years old" [_i.e._ before 22nd April,
1727]. In 1883, like my predecessors, I adopted this statement, for the
sufficient reason that I had nothing better to put in its place. And
Murphy should have been well-informed. He had known Fielding personally;
he was employed by Fielding's publisher; and he could, one would
imagine, have readily obtained accurate data from Fielding's surviving
sister, Sarah, who was only three years younger than her brother, of
whose short life (he died at forty-eight) she could scarcely have
forgotten the particulars. Murphy's story, moreover, exactly fitted in
with the fact, only definitely made known in June 1883, that Fielding,
as a youth of eighteen, had endeavoured, in November 1725, to abduct or
carry off his first love, Miss Sarah Andrew of Lyme Regis. Although the
lady was promptly married to a son of one of her fluttered guardians,
nothing seemed more reasonable than to assume that the disappointed
lover (one is sure he was never an heiress-hunter!) was despatched to
the Dutch University to keep him out of mischief.[75] But in once more
examining Mr. Keightley's posthumous papers, kindly placed at my
disposal by his nephew, Mr. Alfred C. Lyster, I found a reference to an
un-noted article in the _Cornhill Magazine_ for November, 1863 (from
internal evidence I believe it to have been written by James Hannay),
entitled "A Scotchman in Holland." Visiting Leyden, the writer was
permitted to inspect the University Album; and he found, under 1728, the
following:--"_Henricus Fielding, Anglus, Ann. 20. Stud. Lit._", coupled
with the further detail that he "was living at the 'Hotel of Antwerp.'"
Except in the item of "_Stud. Lit._", this did not seem to conflict
materially with Murphy's account, as Fielding was nominally twenty from
1727 to 1728, and small discrepancies must be allowed for.


[75] "Men of Letters" _Fielding_, 1907, Appendix I.

Twenty years later, a fresh version of the record came to light. At
their tercentenary festival in 1875, tne Leyden University printed a
list of their students from their foundation to that year. From this Mr.
Edward Peacock, F.S.A., compiled in 1883, for the Index Society, an
_Index to English-Speaking Students who have graduated at Leyden
University_; and at p. 35 appears _Fielding, Henricus, Anglus_, 16
Mart. 1728, 915 (the last being the column number of the list). This
added a month-date, and made Fielding a graduate. Then, two years ago,
came yet a third rendering. Mr. A.E.H. Swaen, writing in _The Modern
Language Review_ for July 1906, printed the inscription in the Album as
follows; "Febr. 16. 1728: Rectore Johanne Wesselio, Henricus Fielding,
Anglus. 20, L." Mr. Swaen construed this to mean that, on the date named
(which, it may be observed, is not Mr. Peacock's date), Fielding, "aged
twenty, was _entered_ as _litterarum studiosus_ at Leyden." In this case
it would follow that his residence in Holland should have come after
February 16th, 1728; and Mr. Swaen went on to conjecture that, "as his
[Fielding's] first play, _Love in Several Masques_, was staged at Drury
Lane in February, 1728, and his next play, _The Temple Beau_, was
produced in January, 1730, it is not improbable that his residence in
Holland filled up the interval or part of it. Did the profits of the
play [he proceeded] perhaps cover part of his travelling expenses?"

The new complications imported into the question by this fresh aspect of
it, will be at once apparent. Up to 1875 there had been but one Fielding
on the Leyden books; so that all these differing accounts were
variations from a single source. In this difficulty, I was fortunate
enough to enlist the sympathy of Mr. Frederic Harrison, who most kindly
undertook to make inquiries on my behalf at Leyden University itself. In
reply to certain definite queries drawn up by me, he obtained from the
distinguished scholar and Professor of History, Dr. Pieter Blok, the
following authoritative particulars. The exact words in the original
_Album Academicum_ are:--"16 Martii 1728 Henricus Fielding, Anglus,
annor. 20 Litt. Stud." He was then staying at the "Casteel van
Antwerpen"--as related by "A Scotchman in Holland." His name only occurs
again in the yearly _recensiones_ under February 22nd, 1729, as
"Henricus Fieldingh," when he was domiciled with one Jan Oson. He must
consequently have left Leyden before February 8th, 1730, February 8th
being the birthday of the University, after which all students have to
be annually registered. The entry in the Album (as Mr. Swaen affirmed)
is an _admission_ entry; there are no leaving entries. As regards
"studying the civilians," Fielding might, in those days, Dr. Blok
explains, have had private lessons from the professors; but he could not
have studied in the University without being on the books. To sum up:
After producing _Love in Several Masques_ at Drury Lane, probably on
February 12th, I728,[76] Fielding was admitted a "Litt. Stud." at Leyden
University on March 16th; was still there in February 1729; and left
before February 8th, 1730. Murphy is therefore at fault in almost every
particular. Fielding did _not_ go from Eton to Leyden; he did _not_ make
any recognised study of the civilians, "with remarkable application" or
otherwise; and he did _not_ return to London before he was twenty. But
it is by no means improbable that the _causa causans_ or main reason for
his coming home was the failure of remittances.


[76] _Genest_, iii. 209.

Another recently established fact is also more or less connected with
"Mur.--" as Johnson called him. In his "Essay" of 1762, he gave a
highly-coloured account of Fielding's first marriage, and of the
promptitude with which, assisted by yellow liveries and a pack of
hounds, he managed to make duck and drake of his wife's little fortune.
This account has now been "simply riddled in its details" (as Mr.
Saintsbury puts it) by successive biographers, the last destructive
critic being the late Sir Leslie Stephen, who plausibly suggested that
the "yellow liveries" (not the family liveries, be it noted!) were
simply a confused recollection of the fantastic pranks of that other and
earlier Beau Fielding (Steele's "Orlando the Fair"), who married the
Duchess of Cleveland in 1705, and was also a Justice of the Peace for
Westminster. One thing was wanting to the readjustment of the narrative,
and that was the precise date of Fielding's marriage to the beautiful
Miss Cradock of Salisbury, the original both of Sophia Western and
Amelia Booth. By good fortune this has now been ascertained. Lawrence
gave the date as 1735; and Keightley suggested the spring of that year.
This, as Swift would say, was near the mark, although confirmation has
been slow in coming. In June 1906, Mr. Thomas S. Bush, of Bath,
announced in _The Bath Chronicle_ that the desired information was to be
found (not in the Salisbury registers which had been fruitlessly
consulted, but) at the tiny church of St. Mary, Charlcombe, a secluded
parish about one and a half miles north of Bath. Here is the
record:--"November y'e 28, 1734. Henry Fielding of y'e Parish of St.
James in Bath, Esq., and Charlotte Cradock, of y'e same Parish,
spinster, were married by virtue of a licence from y'e Court of Wells."
All lovers of Fielding owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Bush, whose
researches, in addition, disclosed the fact that Sarah Fielding, the
novelist's third sister (as we shall see presently), was buried, not in
Bath Abbey, where Dr. John Hoadly raised a memorial to her, but "in y'e
entrance of the Chancel [of Charlcombe Church] close to y'e Rector's
seat," April 14th, 1768.[77] Mr. Bush's revelation, it may be added, was
made in connection with another record of the visits of the novelist to
the old Queen of the West, a tablet erected in June 1906 to Fielding and
his sister on the wall of Yew Cottage, now renovated as Widcombe Lodge,
Widcombe, Bath, where they once resided.


[77] Sarah Fielding's epitaph in Bath Abbey is often said to have been
written by Bishop Benjamin Hoadly. In this case, it must have been
anticipatory (like Dr. Primrose's on his Deborah), for the Bishop died
in 1761.

In the last case I have to mention, it is but fair to Murphy to admit
that he seems to have been better informed than those who have succeeded
him. Richardson writes of being "well acquainted" with four of
Fielding's sisters, and both Lawrence and Keightley refer to a Catherine
and an Ursula, of whom Keightley, after prolonged enquiries, could
obtain no tidings. With the help of Colonel W.F. Prideaux, and the kind
offices of Mr. Samuel Martin of the Hammersmith Free Library, this
matter has now been set at rest. In 1887 Sir Leslie Stephen had
suggested to me that Catherine and Ursula were most probably born at
Sharpham Park, before the Fieldings moved to East Stour. This must have
been the case, though Keightley had failed to establish it. At all
events, Catherine and Ursula must have existed, for they both died in
1750, The Hammersmith Registers at Fulham record the following

1750 July 9th, Mrs. Catherine Feilding (_sic_)
1750 Nov. 12th, Mrs. Ursula Fielding
1750 [--1] Feb'y. 24th, Mrs. Beatrice Fielding
1753 May 10th, Louisa, d. of Henry Fielding, Esq.

The first three, with Sarah, make up the "Four Worthy Sisters" of the
reprehensible author of that "truly coarse-titled _Tom Jones_"
concerning which Richardson wrote shudderingly in August 1749 to his
young friends, Astraea and Minerva Hill. The final entry relating to
Fielding's little daughter, Louisa, born December 3rd, 1752, makes it
probable that, in May, 1753, he was staying in the house at Hammersmith,
then occupied by his sole surviving sister, Sarah. In the following year
(October 8th) he himself died at Lisbon. There is no better short
appreciation of his work than Lowell's lapidary lines for the Shire Hall
at Taunton,--the epigraph to the bust by Miss Margaret Thomas:

He looked on naked nature unashamed,
And saw the Sphinx, now bestial, now divine,
In change and re-change; he nor praised nor blamed,
But drew her as he saw with fearless line.
Did he good service? God must judge, not we!
Manly he was, and generous and sincere;
English in all, of genius blithely free:
Who loves a Man may see his image here.


"_Hoc est vivere._"--MARTIAL.

The Printer's is a happy lot:
Alone of all professions,
No fateful smudges ever blot
His earliest "impressions."

The outgrowth of his youthful ken
No cold obstruction fetters;
He quickly learns the "types" of men,
And all the world of "letters."

With "forms" he scorns to compromise;
For him no "rule" has terrors;
The "slips" he makes he can "revise"--
They are but "printers' errors."

From doubtful questions of the "Press"
He wisely holds aloof;
In all polemics, more or less,
His argument is "proof."

Save in their "case," with High and Low,
Small need has he to grapple!
Without dissent he still can go
To his accustomed "Chapel,"[78]

From ills that others scape or shirk,
He rarely fails to rally;
For him, his most "composing" work
Is labour of the "galley."

Though ways be foul, and days are dim,
He makes no lamentation;
The primal "fount" of woe to him
Is--want of occupation:

And when, at last, Time finds him grey
With over-close attention,
He solves the problem of the day,
And gets an Old Age pension.


[78] This, derived, it is said, from Caxton's connection with
Westminster Abbey, is the name given to the meetings held by printers to
consider trade affairs, appeals, etc, (Printers' Vocabulary).


Towards the close of the year 1766--not many months after the
publication of the Vicat of Wakefield--there appeared in Mr. Henry
Sampson Woodfall's _Public Advertiser_, and other newspapers, a letter
addressed "To the Printer," and signed "PAPYRIUS CURSOR." The name was a
real Roman name; but in its burlesque applicability to the theme of the
communication, it was as felicitous as Thackeray's "MANLIUS
PENNIALINUS," or that "APOLLONIUS CURIUS" from whom Hood fabled to have
borrowed the legend of "Lycus the Centaur." The writer of the letter
lamented--as others have done before and since--the barren fertility of
the news sheets of his day. There was, he contended, some diversion and
diversity in card-playing. But as for the papers, the unconnected
occurrences and miscellaneous advertisements, the abrupt transitions
from article to article, without the slightest connection between one
paragraph and another--so overburdened and confused the memory that when
one was questioned, it was impossible to give even a tolerable account
of what one had read. The mind became a jumble of "politics, religion,
picking of pockets, puffs, casualties, deaths, marriages, bankruptcies,
preferments, resignations, executions, lottery tickets, India bonds,
Scotch pebbles, Canada bills, French chicken gloves, auctioneers, and
quack doctors," of all of which, particularly as the pages contained
three columns, the bewildered reader could retain little or nothing.
(One may perhaps pause for a moment to wonder, seeing that Papyrius
could contrive to extract so much mental perplexity from Cowper's "folio
of four pages"--he speaks specifically of this form,--what he would have
done with _Lloyd's_, or a modern American Sunday paper!) Coming later to
the point of his epistle, he goes on to explain that he has hit upon a
method (as to which, be it added, he was not, as he thought, the
originator[79]) of making this heterogeneous mass afford, like cards, a
"_variety_ of entertainment."


[79] As a matter of fact, he had been anticipated by a paper, No. 49 of
"little Harrison's" spurious _Tatler_, vol. v., where the writer reads a

Book of the day: