Part 2 out of 6
me, before I went to Cambridge. It may here be said that Mr.
Collyer had been my father's chaplain, and had lived at
Holkham for several years as family tutor to my brothers and
myself, as we in turn left the nursery. Mr. Collyer, upon
receipt of my letter, referred the matter to Mr. Ellice; with
his approval I was duly installed at Warham. Before
describing my time there, I must tell of an incident which
came near to affecting me in a rather important way.
My mother lived at Longford in Derbyshire, an old place, now
my home, which had come into the Coke family in James I.'s
reign, through the marriage of a son of Chief Justice Coke's
with the heiress of the De Langfords, an ancient family from
that time extinct. While staying there during my summer
holidays, my mother confided to me that she had had an offer
of marriage from Mr. Motteux, the owner of considerable
estates in Norfolk, including two houses - Beachamwell and
Sandringham. Mr. Motteux - 'Johnny Motteux,' as he was
called - was, like Tristram Shandy's father, the son of a
wealthy 'Turkey merchant,' which, until better informed, I
always took to mean a dealer in poultry. 'Johnny,' like
another man of some notoriety, whom I well remember in my
younger days - Mr. Creevey - had access to many large houses
such as Holkham; not, like Creevey, for the sake of his
scandalous tongue, but for the sake of his wealth. He had no
(known) relatives; and big people, who had younger sons to
provide for, were quite willing that one of them should be
his heir. Johnny Motteux was an epicure with the best of
CHEFS. His capons came from Paris, his salmon from
Christchurch, and his Strasburg pies were made to order. One
of these he always brought with him as a present to my
mother, who used to say, 'Mr. Motteux evidently thinks the
nearest way to my heart is down my throat.'
A couple of years after my father's death, Motteux wrote to
my mother proposing marriage, and, to enhance his personal
attractions, (in figure and dress he was a duplicate of the
immortal Pickwick,) stated that he had made his will and had
bequeathed Sandringham to me, adding that, should he die
without issue, I was to inherit the remainder of his estates.
Rather to my surprise, my mother handed the letter to me with
evident signs of embarrassment and distress. My first
exclamation was: 'How jolly! The shooting's first rate, and
the old boy is over seventy, if he's a day.'
My mother apparently did not see it in this light. She
clearly, to my disappointments did not care for the shooting;
and my exultation only brought tears into her eyes.
'Why, mother,' I exclaimed, 'what's up? Don't you - don't
you care for Johnny Motteux?'
She confessed that she did not.
'Then why don't you tell him so, and not bother about his
'If I refuse him you will lose Sandringham.'
'But he says here he has already left it to me.'
'He will alter his will.'
'Let him!' cried I, flying out at such prospective meanness.
'Just you tell him you don't care a rap for him or for
In more lady-like terms she acted in accordance with my
advice; and, it may be added, not long afterwards married Mr.
Mr. Motteux's first love, or one of them, had been Lady
Cowper, then Lady Palmerston. Lady Palmerston's youngest son
was Mr. Spencer Cowper. Mr. Motteux died a year or two after
the above event. He made a codicil to his will, and left
Sandringham and all his property to Mr. Spencer Cowper. Mr.
Spencer Cowper was a young gentleman of costly habits.
Indeed, he bore the slightly modified name of 'Expensive
Cowper.' As an attache at Paris he was famous for his
patronage of dramatic art - or artistes rather; the votaries
of Terpsichore were especially indebted to his liberality.
At the time of Mr. Motteux's demise, he was attached to the
Embassy at St. Petersburg. Mr. Motteux's solicitors wrote
immediately to inform him of his accession to their late
client's wealth. It being one of Mr. Cowper's maxims never
to read lawyers' letters, (he was in daily receipt of more
than he could attend to,) he flung this one unread into the
fire; and only learnt his mistake through the congratulations
of his family.
The Prince Consort happened about this time to be in quest of
a suitable country seat for his present Majesty; and
Sandringham, through the adroit negotiations of Lord
Palmerston, became the property of the Prince of Wales. The
soul of the 'Turkey merchant,' we cannot doubt, will repose
The worthy rector of Warham St. Mary's was an oddity
deserving of passing notice. Outwardly he was no Adonis.
His plain features and shock head of foxy hair, his
antiquated and neglected garb, his copious jabot - much
affected by the clergy of those days - were becoming
investitures of the inward man. His temper was inflammatory,
sometimes leading to excesses, which I am sure he rued in
mental sackcloth and ashes. But visitors at Holkham (unaware
of the excellent motives and moral courage which inspired his
conduct) were not a little amazed at the austerity with which
he obeyed the dictates of his conscience.
For example, one Sunday evening after dinner, when the
drawing-room was filled with guests, who more or less
preserved the decorum which etiquette demands in the presence
of royalty, (the Duke of Sussex was of the party,) Charles
Fox and Lady Anson, great-grandmother of the present Lord
Lichfield, happened to be playing at chess. When the
irascible dominie beheld them he pushed his way through the
bystanders, swept the pieces from the board, and, with
rigorous impartiality, denounced these impious desecrators of
the Sabbath eve.
As an example of his fidelity as a librarian, Mr. Panizzi
used to relate with much glee how, whenever he was at
Holkham, Mr. Collyer dogged him like a detective. One day,
not wishing to detain the reverend gentleman while he himself
spent the forenoon in the manuscript library, (where not only
the ancient manuscripts, but the most valuable of the printed
books, are kept under lock and key,) he considerately begged
Mr. Collyer to leave him to his researches. The dominie
replied 'that he knew his duty, and did not mean to neglect
it.' He did not lose sight of Mr. Panizzi.
The notion that he - the great custodian of the nation's
literary treasures - would snip out and pocket the title-page
of the folio edition of Shakespeare, or of the Coverdale
Bible, tickled Mr. Panizzi's fancy vastly.
In spite, however, of our rector's fiery temperament, or
perhaps in consequence of it, he was remarkably susceptible
to the charms of beauty. We were constantly invited to
dinner and garden parties in the neighbourhood; nor was the
good rector slow to return the compliment. It must be
confessed that the pupil shared to the full the
impressibility of the tutor; and, as it happened, unknown to
both, the two were in one case rivals.
As the young lady afterwards occupied a very distinguished
position in Oxford society, it can only be said that she was
celebrated for her many attractions. She was then sixteen,
and the younger of her suitors but two years older. As far
as age was concerned, nothing could be more compatible. Nor
in the matter of mutual inclination was there any disparity
whatever. What, then, was the pupil's dismay when, after a
dinner party at the rectory, and the company had left, the
tutor, in a frantic state of excitement, seized the pupil by
both hands, and exclaimed: 'She has accepted me!'
'Accepted you?' I asked. 'Who has accepted you?'
'Who? Why, Miss -, of course! Who else do you suppose would
'No one,' said I, with doleful sincerity. 'But did you
propose to her? Did she understand what you said to her?
Did she deliberately and seriously say "Yes?"'
'Yes, yes, yes,' and his disordered jabot and touzled hair
echoed the fatal word.
'O Smintheus of the silver bow!' I groaned. 'It is the
woman's part to create delusions, and - destroy them! To
think of it! after all that has passed between us these -
these three weeks, next Monday! "Once and for ever." Did
ever woman use such words before? And I - believed them!'
'Did you speak to the mother?' I asked in a fit of
'There was no time for that. Mrs. - was in the carriage, and
I didn't pop [the odious word!] till I was helping her on
with her cloak. The cloak, you see, made it less awkward.
My offer was a sort of OBITER DICTUM - a by-the-way, as it
'To the carriage, yes. But wasn't she taken by surprise?'
'Not a bit of it. Bless you! they always know. She
pretended not to understand, but that's a way they have.'
'And when you explained?'
'There wasn't time for more. She laughed, and sprang into
'And that was all?'
'All! would you have had her spring into my arms?'
'God forbid! You will have to face the mother to-morrow,'
said I, recovering rapidly from my despondency.
'Face? Well, I shall have to call upon Mrs. -, if that's
what you mean. A mere matter of form. I shall go over after
lunch. But it needn't interfere with your work. You can go
on with the "Anabasis" till I come back. And remember -
NEANISKOS is not a proper name, ha! ha! ha! The quadratics
will keep till the evening.' He was merry over his
prospects, and I was not altogether otherwise.
But there was no Xenophon, no algebra, that day! Dire was
the distress of my poor dominie when he found the mother as
much bewildered as the daughter was frightened, by the
mistake. 'She,' the daughter, 'had never for a moment
imagined, &c., &c.'
My tutor was not long disheartened by such caprices - so he
deemed them, as Miss Jemima's (she had a prettier name, you
may be sure), and I did my best (it cost me little now) to
encourage his fondest hopes. I proposed that we should drink
the health of the future mistress of Warham in tea, which he
cheerfully acceded to, all the more readily, that it gave him
an opportunity to vent one of his old college jokes. 'Yes,
yes,' said he, with a laugh, 'there's nothing like tea. TE
VENIENTE DIE, TE DECEDENTE CANEBAM.' Such sallies of
innocent playfulness often smoothed his path in life. He
took a genuine pleasure in his own jokes. Some men do. One
day I dropped a pot of marmalade on a new carpet, and should
certainly have been reprimanded for carelessness, had it not
occurred to him to exclaim: 'JAM SATIS TERRIS!' and then
laugh immoderately at his wit.
That there are as good fish in the sea as ever came out of
it, was a maxim he acted upon, if he never heard it. Within a
month of the above incident he proposed to another lady upon
the sole grounds that, when playing a game of chess, an
exchange of pieces being contemplated, she innocently, but
incautiously, observed, 'If you take me, I will take you.'
He referred the matter next day to my ripe judgment. As I
had no partiality for the lady in question, I strongly
advised him to accept so obvious a challenge, and go down on
his knees to her at once. I laid stress on the knees, as the
accepted form of declaration, both in novels and on the
In this case the beloved object, who was not embarrassed by
excess of amiability, promptly desired him, when he urged his
suit, 'not to make a fool of himself.'
My tutor's peculiarities, however, were not confined to his
endeavours to meet with a lady rectoress. He sometimes
surprised his hearers with the originality of his abstruse
theories. One morning he called me into the stable yard to
join in consultation with his gardener as to the advisability
of killing a pig. There were two, and it was not easy to
decide which was the fitter for the butcher. The rector
selected one, I the other, and the gardener, who had nurtured
both from their tenderest age, pleaded that they should be
allowed to 'put on another score.' The point was warmly
argued all round.
'The black sow,' said I (they were both sows, you must know)
- 'The black sow had a litter of ten last time, and the white
one only six. Ergo, if history repeats itself, as I have
heard you say, you should keep the black, and sacrifice the
'But,' objected the rector, 'that was the white's first
litter, and the black's second. Why shouldn't the white do
as well as the black next time?'
'And better, your reverence,' chimed in the gardener. 'The
number don't allays depend on the sow, do it?'
'That is neither here nor there,' returned the rector.
'Well,' said the gardener, who stood to his guns, 'if your
reverence is right, as no doubt you will be, that'll make
just twenty little pigs for the butcher, come Michaelmas.'
'We can't kill 'em before they are born,' said the rector.
'That's true, your reverence. But it comes to the same
'Not to the pigs,' retorted the rector.
'To your reverence, I means.'
'A pig at the butcher's,' I suggested, 'is worth a dozen
'No one can deny it,' said the rector, as he fingered the
small change in his breeches pocket; and pointing with the
other hand to the broad back of the black sow, exclaimed,
'This is the one, DUPLEX AGITUR PER LUMBOS SPINA! She's got
a back like an alderman's chin.'
'EPICURI DE GREGE PORCUS,' I assented, and the fate of the
black sow was sealed.
Next day an express came from Holkham, to say that Lady
Leicester had given birth to a daughter. My tutor jumped out
of his chair to hand me the note. 'Did I not anticipate the
event'? he cried. 'What a wonderful world we live in!
Unconsciously I made room for the infant by sacrificing the
life of that pig.' As I never heard him allude to the
doctrine of Pythagoras, as he had no leaning to Buddhism,
and, as I am sure he knew nothing of the correlation of
forces, it must be admitted that the conception was an
Be this as it may, Mr. Collyer was an upright and
conscientious man. I owe him much, and respect his memory.
He died at an advanced age, an honorary canon, and - a
Another portrait hangs amongst the many in my memory's
picture gallery. It is that of his successor to the
vicarage, the chaplaincy, and the librarianship, at Holkham -
Mr. Alexander Napier - at this time, and until his death
fifty years later, one of my closest and most cherished
friends. Alexander Napier was the son of Macvey Napier,
first editor of the 'Edinburgh Review.' Thus, associated
with many eminent men of letters, he also did some good
literary work of his own. He edited Isaac Barrow's works for
the University of Cambridge, also Boswell's 'Johnson,' and
gave various other proofs of his talents and his scholarship.
He was the most delightful of companions; liberal-minded in
the highest degree; full of quaint humour and quick sympathy;
an excellent parish priest, - looking upon Christianity as a
life and not a dogma; beloved by all, for he had a kind
thought and a kind word for every needy or sick being in his
With such qualities, the man always predominated over the
priest. Hence his large-hearted charity and indulgence for
the faults - nay, crimes - of others. Yet, if taken aback by
an outrage, or an act of gross stupidity, which even the
perpetrator himself had to suffer for, he would momentarily
lose his patience, and rap out an objurgation that would
stagger the straiter-laced gentlemen of his own cloth, or an
outsider who knew less of him than - the recording angel.
A fellow undergraduate of Napier's told me a characteristic
anecdote of his impetuosity. Both were Trinity men, and had
been keeping high jinks at a supper party at Caius. The
friend suddenly pointed to the clock, reminding Napier they
had but five minutes to get into college before Trinity gates
were closed. 'D-n the clock!' shouted Napier, and snatching
up the sugar basin (it was not EAU SUCREE they were
drinking), incontinently flung it at the face of the
This youthful vivacity did not desert him in later years. An
old college friend - also a Scotchman - had become Bishop of
Edinburgh. Napier paid him a visit (he described it to me
himself). They talked of books, they talked of politics,
they talked of English Bards and Scotch Reviewers, of
Brougham, Horner, Wilson, Macaulay, Jeffrey, of Carlyle's
dealings with Napier's father - 'Nosey,' as Carlyle calls
him. They chatted into the small hours of the night, as boon
companions, and as what Bacon calls 'full' men, are wont.
The claret, once so famous in the 'land of cakes,' had given
place to toddy; its flow was in due measure to the flow of
soul. But all that ends is short - the old friends had spent
their last evening together. Yes, their last, perhaps. It
was bed-time, and quoth Napier to his lordship, 'I tell you
what it is, Bishop, I am na fou', but I'll be hanged if I
haven't got two left legs.'
'I see something odd about them,' says his lordship. 'We'd
better go to bed.'
Who the bishop was I do not know, but I'll answer for it he
was one of the right sort.
In 1846 I became an undergraduate of Trinity College,
Cambridge. I do not envy the man (though, of course, one
ought) whose college days are not the happiest to look back
upon. One should hope that however profitably a young man
spends his time at the University, it is but the preparation
for something better. But happiness and utility are not
necessarily concomitant; and even when an undergraduate's
course is least employed for its intended purpose (as, alas!
mine was) - for happiness, certainly not pure, but simple,
give me life at a University,
Heaven forbid that any youth should be corrupted by my
confession! But surely there are some pleasures pertaining
to this unique epoch that are harmless in themselves, and are
certainly not to be met with at any other. These are the
first years of comparative freedom, of manhood, of
responsibility. The novelty, the freshness of every
pleasure, the unsatiated appetite for enjoyment, the animal
vigour, the ignorance of care, the heedlessness of, or
rather, the implicit faith in, the morrow, the absence of
mistrust or suspicion, the frank surrender to generous
impulses, the readiness to accept appearances for realities -
to believe in every profession or exhibition of good will, to
rush into the arms of every friendship, to lay bare one's
tenderest secrets, to listen eagerly to the revelations which
make us all akin, to offer one's time, one's energies, one's
purse, one's heart, without a selfish afterthought - these, I
say, are the priceless pleasures, never to be repeated, of
healthful average youth.
What has after-success, honour, wealth, fame, or, power -
burdened, as they always are, with ambitions, blunders,
jealousies, cares, regrets, and failing health - to match
with this enjoyment of the young, the bright, the bygone,
hour? The wisdom of the worldly teacher - at least, the
CARPE DIEM - was practised here before the injunction was
ever thought of. DU BIST SO SCHON was the unuttered
invocation, while the VERWEILE DOCH was deemed unneedful.
Little, I am ashamed to own, did I add either to my small
classical or mathematical attainments. But I made
friendships - lifelong friendships, that I would not barter
for the best of academical prizes.
Amongst my associates or acquaintances, two or three of whom
have since become known - were the last Lord Derby, Sir
William Harcourt, the late Lord Stanley of Alderley, Latimer
Neville, late Master of Magdalen, Lord Calthorpe, of racing
fame, with whom I afterwards crossed the Rocky Mountains, the
last Lord Durham, my cousin, Sir Augustus Stephenson, ex-
solicitor to the Treasury, Julian Fane, whose lyrics were
edited by Lord Lytton, and my life-long friend Charles
Barrington, private secretary to Lord Palmerston and to Lord
But the most intimate of them was George Cayley, son of the
member for the East Riding of Yorkshire. Cayley was a young
man of much promise. In his second year he won the
University prize poem with his 'Balder,' and soon after
published some other poems, and a novel, which met with
merited oblivion. But it was as a talker that he shone. His
quick intelligence, his ready wit, his command of language,
made his conversation always lively, and sometimes brilliant.
For several years after I left Cambridge I lived with him in
his father's house in Dean's Yard, and thus made the
acquaintance of some celebrities whom his fascinating and
versatile talents attracted thither. As I shall return to
this later on, I will merely mention here the names of such
men as Thackeray, Tennyson, Frederick Locker, Stirling of
Keir, Tom Taylor the dramatist, Millais, Leighton, and others
of lesser note. Cayley was a member of, and regular
attendant at, the Cosmopolitan Club; where he met Dickens,
Foster, Shirley Brooks, John Leech, Dicky Doyle, and the wits
of the day; many of whom occasionally formed part of our
charming coterie in the house I shared with his father.
Speaking of Tom Taylor reminds me of a good turn he once did
me in my college examination at Cambridge. Whewell was then
Master of Trinity. One of the subjects I had to take up was
either the 'Amicitia' or the 'Senectute' (I forget which).
Whewell, more formidable and alarming than ever, opened the
book at hazard, and set me on to construe. I broke down. He
turned over the page; again I stuck fast. The truth is, I
had hardly looked at my lesson, - trusting to my recollection
of parts of it to carry me through, if lucky, with the whole.
'What's your name, sir?' was the Master's gruff inquiry. He
did not catch it. But Tom Taylor - also an examiner -
sitting next to him, repeated my reply, with the addition,
'Just returned from China, where he served as a midshipman in
the late war.' He then took the book out of Whewell's hands,
and giving it to me closed, said good-naturedly: 'Let us
have another try, Mr. Coke.' The chance was not thrown away;
I turned to a part I knew, and rattled off as if my first
examiner had been to blame, not I.
BEFORE dropping the curtain on my college days I must relate
a little adventure which is amusing as an illustration of my
reverend friend Napier's enthusiastic spontaneity. My own
share in the farce is a subordinate matter.
During the Christmas party at Holkham I had 'fallen in love,'
as the phrase goes, with a young lady whose uncle (she had
neither father nor mother) had rented a place in the
neighbourhood. At the end of his visit he invited me to
shoot there the following week. For what else had I paid him
assiduous attention, and listened like an angel to the
interminable history of his gout? I went; and before I left,
proposed to, and was accepted by, the young lady. I was
still at Cambridge, not of age, and had but moderate means.
As for the maiden, 'my face is my fortune' she might have
said. The aunt, therefore, very properly pooh-poohed the
whole affair, and declined to entertain the possibility of an
engagement; the elderly gentleman got a bad attack of gout;
and every wire of communication being cut, not an obstacle
was wanting to render persistence the sweetest of miseries.
Napier was my confessor, and became as keen to circumvent the
'old she-dragon,' so he called her, as I was. Frequent and
long were our consultations, but they generally ended in
suggestions and schemes so preposterous, that the only result
was an immoderate fit of laughter on both sides. At length
it came to this (the proposition was not mine): we were to
hire a post chaise and drive to the inn at G-. I was to
write a note to the young lady requesting her to meet me at
some trysting place. The note was to state that a clergyman
would accompany me, who was ready and willing to unite us
there and then in holy matrimony; that I would bring the
licence in my pocket; that after the marriage we could confer
as to ways and means; and that - she could leave the REST to
No enterprise was ever more merrily conceived, or more
seriously undertaken. (Please to remember that my friend was
not so very much older than I; and, in other respects, was
quite as juvenile.)
Whatever was to come of it, the drive was worth the venture.
The number of possible and impossible contingencies provided
for kept us occupied by the hour. Furnished with a well-
filled luncheon basket, we regaled ourselves and fortified
our courage; while our hilarity increased as we neared, or
imagined that we neared, the climax. Unanimously we repeated
Dr. Johnson's exclamation in a post chaise: 'Life has not
many things better than this.'
But where were we? Our watches told us that we had been two
hours covering a distance of eleven miles.
'Hi! Hullo! Stop!' shouted Napier. In those days post
horses were ridden, not driven; and about all we could see of
the post boy was what Mistress Tabitha Bramble saw of
Humphrey Clinker. 'Where the dickens have we got to now?'
'Don't know, I'm sure, sir,' says the boy; 'never was in
these 'ere parts afore.'
'Why,' shouts the vicar, after a survey of the landscape, 'if
I can see a church by daylight, that's Blakeney steeple; and
we are only three miles from where we started.'
Sure enough it was so. There was nothing for it but to stop
at the nearest house, give the horses a rest and a feed, and
make a fresh start, - better informed as to our topography.
It was past four on that summer afternoon when we reached our
destination. The plan of campaign was cut and dried. I
called for writing materials, and indicted my epistle as
'To whom are you telling her to address the answer?' asked my
accomplice. 'We're INCOG. you know. It won't do for either
of us to be known.'
'Certainly not,' said I. 'What shall it be? White? Black?
Brown? or Green?'
'Try Browne with an E,' said he. 'The E gives an
aristocratic flavour. We can't afford to risk our
The note sealed, I rang the bell for the landlord, desired
him to send it up to the hall and tell the messenger to wait
for an answer.
As our host was leaving the room he turned round, with his
hand on the door, and said:
'Beggin' your pardon, Mr. Cook, would you and Mr. Napeer
please to take dinner here? I've soom beatiful lamb chops,
and you could have a ducklin' and some nice young peas to
your second course. The post-boy says the 'osses is pretty
nigh done up; but by the time - '
'How did you know our names?' asked my companion.
'Law sir! The post-boy, he told me. But, beggin' your
pardon, Mr. Napeer, my daughter, she lives in Holkham
willage; and I've heard you preach afore now.'
'Let's have the dinner by all means,' said I.
'If the Bishop sequesters my living,' cried Napier, with
solemnity, 'I'll summon the landlord for defamation of
character. But time's up. You must make for the boat-house,
which is on the other side of the park. I'll go with you to
the head of the lake.'
We had not gone far, when we heard the sound of an
approaching vehicle. What did we see but an open carriage,
with two ladies in it, not a hundred yards behind us.
'The aunt! by all that's - !'
What - I never heard; for, before the sentence was
completed, the speaker's long legs were scampering out of
sight in the direction of a clump of trees, I following as
hard as I could go.
As the carriage drove past, my Friar Lawrence was lying in a
ditch, while I was behind an oak. We were near enough to
discern the niece, and consequently we feared to be
recognised. The situation was neither dignified nor
romantic. My friend was sanguine, though big ardour was
slightly damped by the ditch water. I doubted the expediency
of trying the boat-house, but he urged the risk of her
disappointment, which made the attempt imperative.
The padre returned to the inn to dry himself, and, in due
course, I rejoined him. He met me with the answer to my
note. 'The boat-house,' it declared, 'was out of the
question. But so, of course, was the POSSIBILITY of CHANGE.
We must put our trust in PROVIDENCE. Time could make NO
difference in OUR case, whatever it might do with OTHERS.
SHE, at any rate, could wait for YEARS.' Upon the whole the
result was comforting - especially as the 'years' dispensed
with the necessity of any immediate step more desperate than
dinner. This we enjoyed like men who had earned it; and long
before I deposited my dear friar in his cell both of us were
snoring in our respective corners of the chaise.
A word or two will complete this romantic episode. The next
long vacation I spent in London, bent, needless to say, on a
happy issue to my engagement. How simple, in the retrospect,
is the frustration of our hopes! I had not been a week in
town, had only danced once with my FIANCEE, when, one day,
taking a tennis lesson from the great Barre, a forced ball
grazed the frame of my racket, and broke a blood vessel in my
For five weeks I was shut up in a dark room. It was two more
before I again met my charmer. She did not tell me, but her
man did, that their wedding day was fixed for the 10th of the
following month; and he 'hoped they would have the pleasure
of seeing me at the breakfast!' [I made the following note
of the fact: N.B. - A woman's tears may cost her nothing;
but her smiles may be expensive.]
I must, however, do the young lady the justice to state that,
though her future husband was no great things as a 'man,' as
she afterwards discovered, he was the heir to a peerage and
great wealth. Both he and she, like most of my collaborators
in this world, have long since passed into the other.
The fashions of bygone days have always an interest for the
living: the greater perhaps the less remote. We like to
think of our ancestors of two or three generations off - the
heroes and heroines of Jane Austen, in their pantaloons and
high-waisted, short-skirted frocks, their pigtails and
powdered hair, their sandalled shoes, and Hessian boots. Our
near connection with them entrances our self-esteem. Their
prim manners, their affected bows and courtesies, the 'dear
Mr. So-and-So' of the wife to her husband, the 'Sir' and
'Madam' of the children to their parents, make us wonder
whether their flesh and blood were ever as warm as ours; or
whether they were a race of prigs and puppets?
My memory carries me back to the remnants of these lost
externals - that which is lost was nothing more; the men and
women were every whit as human as ourselves. My half-sisters
wore turbans with birds-of-paradise in them. My mother wore
gigot sleeves; but objected to my father's pigtail, so cut it
off. But my father powdered his head, and kept to his knee-
breeches to the last; so did all elderly gentlemen, when I
was a boy. For the matter of that, I saw an old fellow with
a pigtail walking in the Park as late as 1845. He, no doubt,
was an ultra-conservative.
Fashions change so imperceptibly that it is difficult for the
historian to assign their initiatory date. Does the young
dandy of to-day want to know when white ties came into vogue?
- he knows that his great-grandfather wore a white neckcloth,
and takes it for granted, may be, that his grandfather did so
too. Not a bit of it. The young Englander of the Coningsby
type - the Count d'Orsays of my youth, scorned the white tie
alike of their fathers and their sons. At dinner-parties or
at balls, they adorned themselves in satin scarfs, with a
jewelled pin or chained pair of pins stuck in them. I well
remember the rebellion - the protest against effeminacy -
which the white tie called forth amongst some of us upon its
first invasion on evening dress. The women were in favour of
it, and, of course, carried the day; but not without a
struggle. One night at Holkham - we were a large party, I
daresay at least fifty at dinner - the men came down in black
scarfs, the women in white 'chokers.' To make the contest
complete, these all sat on one side of the table, and we men
on the other. The battle was not renewed; both factions
surrendered. But the women, as usual, got their way, and -
For my part I could never endure the original white
neckcloth. It was stiffly starched, and wound twice round
the neck; so I abjured it for the rest of my days; now and
then I got the credit of being a coxcomb - not for my pains,
but for my comfort. Once, when dining at the Viceregal Lodge
at Dublin, I was 'pulled up' by an aide-de-camp for my
unbecoming attire; but I stuck to my colours, and was none
the worse. Another time my offence called forth a touch of
good nature on the part of a great man, which I hardly know
how to speak of without writing me down an ass. It was at a
crowded party at Cambridge House. (Let me plead my youth; I
was but two-and-twenty.) Stars and garters were scarcely a
distinction. White ties were then as imperative as shoes and
stockings; I was there in a black one. My candid friends
suggested withdrawal, my relations cut me assiduously,
strangers by my side whispered at me aloud, women turned
their shoulders to me; and my only prayer was that my
accursed tie would strangle me on the spot. One pair of
sharp eyes, however, noticed my ignominy, and their owner was
moved by compassion for my sufferings. As I was slinking
away, Lord Palmerston, with a BONHOMIE peculiarly his own,
came up to me; and with a shake of the hand and hearty
manner, asked after my brother Leicester, and when he was
going to bring me into Parliament? - ending with a smile:
'Where are you off to in such a hurry?' That is the sort of
tact that makes a party leader. I went to bed a proud,
instead of a humiliated, man; ready, if ever I had the
chance, to vote that black was white, should he but state it
Beards and moustache came into fashion after the Crimean war.
It would have been an outrage to wear them before that time.
When I came home from my travels across the Rocky Mountains
in 1851, I was still unshaven. Meeting my younger brother -
a fashionable guardsman - in St. James's Street, he
exclaimed, with horror and disgust at my barbarity, 'I
suppose you mean to cut off that thing!'
Smoking, as indulged in now, was quite out of the question
half a century ago. A man would as soon have thought of
making a call in his dressing-gown as of strolling about the
West End with a cigar in his mouth. The first whom I ever
saw smoke a cigarette at a dining-table after dinner was the
King; some forty years ago, or more perhaps. One of the many
social benefits we owe to his present Majesty.
DURING my blindness I was hospitably housed in Eaten Place by
Mr. Whitbread, the head of the renowned firm. After my
recovery I had the good fortune to meet there Lady Morgan,
the once famous authoress of the 'Wild Irish Girl.' She
still bore traces of her former comeliness, and had probably
lost little of her sparkling vivacity. She was known to like
the company of young people, as she said they made her feel
young; so, being the youngest of the party, I had the honour
of sitting next her at dinner. When I recall her
conversation and her pleasing manners, I can well understand
the homage paid both abroad and at home to the bright genius
of the Irish actor's daughter.
We talked a good deal about Byron and Lady Caroline Lamb.
This arose out of my saying I had been reading 'Glenarvon,'
in which Lady Caroline gives Byron's letters to herself as
Glenarvon's letters to the heroine. Lady Morgan had been the
confidante of Lady Caroline, had seen many of Byron's
letters, and possessed many of her friend's - full of details
of the extraordinary intercourse which had existed between
Lady Morgan evidently did not believe (in spite of Lady
Caroline's mad passion for the poet) that the liaison ever
reached the ultimate stage contemplated by her lover. This
opinion was strengthened by Lady Caroline's undoubted
attachment to her husband - William Lamb, afterwards Lord
Melbourne - who seems to have submitted to his wife's
vagaries with his habitual stoicism and good humour.
Both Byron and Lady Caroline had violent tempers, and were
always quarrelling. This led to the final rupture, when,
according to my informant, the poet's conduct was outrageous.
He sent her some insulting lines, which Lady Morgan quoted.
The only one I remember is:
Thou false to him, thou fiend to me!
Among other amusing anecdotes she told was one of Disraeli.
She had met him (I forget where), soon after his first
success as the youthful author of 'Vivian Grey.' He was
naturally made much of, but rather in the Bohemian world than
by such queens of society as Lady Holland or Lady Jersey.
'And faith!' she added, with the piquante accent which
excitement evoked, 'he took the full shine out of his janius.
And how do ye think he was dressed? In a black velvet jacket
and suit to match, with a red sash round his waist, in which
was stuck a dagger with a richly jew'lled sheath and handle.'
The only analogous instance of self-confidence that I can
call to mind was Garibaldi's costume at a huge reception at
Stafford House. The ELITE of society was there, in diamonds,
ribbons, and stars, to meet him. Garibaldi's uppermost and
outermost garment was a red flannel shirt, nothing more nor
The crowd jostled and swayed around him. To get out of the
way of it, I retreated to the deserted picture gallery. The
only person there was one who interested me more than the
scarlet patriot, Bulwer-Lytton the First. He was sauntering
to and fro with his hands behind his back, looking dingy in
his black satin scarf, and dejected. Was he envying the
Italian hero the obsequious reverence paid to his miner's
shirt? (Nine tenths of the men, and still more of the women
there, knew nothing of the wearer, or his cause, beyond
that.) Was he thinking of similar honours which had been
lavished upon himself when HIS star was in the zenith? Was
he muttering to himself the usual consolation of the 'have-
beens' - VANITAS VANITATUM? Or what new fiction, what old
love, was flitting through that versatile and fantastic
brain? Poor Bulwer! He had written the best novel, the best
play, and had made the most eloquent parliamentary oration of
any man of his day. But, like another celebrated statesman
who has lately passed away, he strutted his hour and will
soon be forgotten - 'Quand on broute sa gloire en herbe de
son vivant, on ne la recolte pas en epis apres sa mort.' The
'Masses,' so courted by the one, however blatant, are not the
arbiters of immortal fame.
To go back a few years before I met Lady Morgan: when my
mother was living at 18 Arlington Street, Sydney Smith used
to be a constant visitor there. One day he called just as we
were going to lunch. He had been very ill, and would not eat
anything. My mother suggested the wing of a chicken.
'My dear lady,' said he, 'it was only yesterday that my
doctor positively refused my request for the wing of a
Another time when he was making a call I came to the door
before it was opened. When the footman answered the bell,
'Is Lady Leicester at home?' he asked.
'No, sir,' was the answer.
'That's a good job,' he exclaimed, but with a heartiness that
fairly took Jeames' breath away.
As Sydney's face was perfectly impassive, I never felt quite
sure whether this was for the benefit of myself or of the
astounded footman; or whether it was the genuine expression
of an absent mind. He was a great friend of my mother's, and
of Mr. Ellice's, but his fits of abstraction were notorious.
He himself records the fact. 'I knocked at a door in London,
asked, "Is Mrs. B- at home?" "Yes, sir; pray what name shall
I say?" I looked at the man's face astonished. What name?
what name? aye, that is the question. What is my name? I
had no more idea who I was than if I had never existed. I
did not know whether I was a dissenter or a layman. I felt
as dull as Sternhold and Hopkins. At last, to my great
relief, it flashed across me that I was Sydney Smith.'
In the summer of the year 1848 Napier and I stayed a couple
of nights with Captain Marryat at Langham, near Blakeney. He
used constantly to come over to Holkham to watch our cricket
matches. His house was a glorified cottage, very comfortable
and prettily decorated. The dining and sitting-rooms were
hung with the original water-colour drawings - mostly by
Stanfield, I think - which illustrated his minor works.
Trophies from all parts of the world garnished the walls.
The only inmates beside us two were his son, a strange, but
clever young man with considerable artistic abilities, and
his talented daughter, Miss Florence, since so well known to
Often as I had spoken to Marryat, I never could quite make
him out. Now that I was his guest his habitual reserve
disappeared, and despite his failing health he was geniality
itself. Even this I did not fully understand at first. At
the dinner-table his amusement seemed, I won't say to make a
'butt' of me - his banter was too good-natured for that - but
he treated me as Dr. Primrose treated his son after the
bushel-of-green-spectacles bargain. He invented the most
wonderful stories, and told them with imperturbable
sedateness. Finding a credulous listener in me, he drew all
the more freely upon his invention. When, however, he
gravely asserted that Jonas was not the only man who had
spent three days and three nights in a whale's belly, but
that he himself had caught a whale with a man inside it who
had lived there for more than a year on blubber, which, he
declared, was better than turtle soup, it was impossible to
resist the fooling, and not forget that one was the Moses of
In the evening he proposed that his son and daughter and I
should act a charade. Napier was the audience, and Marryat
himself the orchestra - that is, he played on his fiddle such
tunes as a ship's fiddler or piper plays to the heaving of
the anchor, or for hoisting in cargo. Everyone was in
romping spirits, and notwithstanding the cheery Captain's
signs of fatigue and worn looks, which he evidently strove to
conceal, the evening had all the freshness and spirit of an
When I left, Marryat gave me his violin, with some sad words
about his not being likely to play upon it more. Perhaps he
knew better than we how prophetically he was speaking.
Barely three weeks afterwards I learnt that the humorous
creator of 'Midshipman Easy' would never make us laugh again.
In 1846 Lord John Russell succeeded Sir Robert Peel as
premier. At the General Election, a brother of mine was the
Liberal candidate for the seat in East Norfolk. He was
returned; but was threatened with defeat through an
occurrence in which I was innocently involved.
The largest landowner in this division of the county, next to
my brother Leicester, was Lord Hastings - great-grandfather
of the present lord. On the occasion I am referring to, he
was a guest at Holkham, where a large party was then
assembled. Leicester was particularly anxious to be civil to
his powerful neighbour; and desired the members of his family
to show him every attention. The little lord was an
exceedingly punctilious man: as scrupulously dapper in
manner as he was in dress. Nothing could be more courteous,
more smiling, than his habitual demeanour; but his bite was
worse than his bark, and nobody knew which candidate his
agents had instructions to support in the coming contest. It
was quite on the cards that the secret order would turn the
One evening after dinner, when the ladies had left us, the
men were drawn together and settled down to their wine. It
was before the days of cigarettes, and claret was plentifully
imbibed. I happened to be seated next to Lord Hastings on
his left; on the other side of him was Spencer Lyttelton,
uncle of our Colonial Secretary. Spencer Lyttelton was a
notable character. He had much of the talents and amiability
of his distinguished family; but he was eccentric,
exceedingly comic, and dangerously addicted to practical
jokes. One of these he now played upon the spruce and
vigilant little potentate whom it was our special aim to win.
As the decanters circulated from right to left, Spencer
filled himself a bumper, and passed the bottles on. Lord
Hastings followed suit. I, unfortunately, was speaking to
Lyttelton behind Lord Hastings's back, and as he turned and
pushed the wine to me, the incorrigible joker, catching sight
of the handkerchief sticking out of my lord's coat-tail,
quick as thought drew it open and emptied his full glass into
the gaping pocket. A few minutes later Lord Hastings, who
took snuff, discovered what had happened. He held the
dripping cloth up for inspection, and with perfect urbanity
deposited it on his dessert plate.
Leicester looked furious, but said nothing till we joined the
ladies. He first spoke to Hastings, and then to me. What
passed between the two I do not know. To me, he said:
'Hastings tells me it was you who poured the claret into his
pocket. This will lose the election. After to-morrow, I
shall want your room.' Of course, the culprit confessed; and
my brother got the support we hoped for. Thus it was that
the political interests of several thousands of electors
depended on a glass of wine.
I HAD completed my second year at the University, when, in
October 1848, just as I was about to return to Cambridge
after the long vacation, an old friend - William Grey, the
youngest of the ex-Prime-Minister's sons - called on me at my
London lodgings. He was attached to the Vienna Embassy,
where his uncle, Lord Ponsonby, was then ambassador. Shortly
before this there had been serious insurrections both in
Paris, Vienna, and Berlin.
Many may still be living who remember how Louis Philippe fled
to England; how the infection spread over this country; how
25,000 Chartists met on Kennington Common; how the upper and
middle classes of London were enrolled as special constables,
with the future Emperor of the French amongst them; how the
promptitude of the Iron Duke saved London, at least, from the
fate of the French and Austrian capitals.
This, however, was not till the following spring. Up to
October, no overt defiance of the Austrian Government had yet
asserted itself; but the imminence of an outbreak was the
anxious thought of the hour. The hot heads of Germany,
France, and England were more than meditating - they were
threatening, and preparing for, a European revolution.
Bloody battles were to be fought; kings and emperors were to
be dethroned and decapitated; mobs were to take the place of
parliaments; the leaders of the 'people' - I.E. the stump
orators - were to rule the world; property was to be divided
and subdivided down to the shirt on a man's - a rich man's -
back; and every 'po'r' man was to have his own, and -
somebody else's. This was the divine law of Nature,
according to the gospels of Saint Jean Jacques and Mr.
Feargus O'Connor. We were all naked under our clothes, which
clearly proved our equality. This was the simple, the
beautiful programme; once carried out, peace, fraternal and
eternal peace, would reign - till it ended, and the earthly
Paradise would be an accomplished fact.
I was an ultra-Radical - a younger-son Radical - in those
days. I was quite ready to share with my elder brother; I
had no prejudice in favour of my superiors; I had often
dreamed of becoming a leader of the 'people' - a stump
orator, I.E. - with the handsome emoluments of ministerial
William Grey came to say good-bye. He was suddenly recalled
in consequence of the insurrection. 'It is a most critical
state of affairs,' he said. 'A revolution may break out all
over the Continent at any moment. There's no saying where it
may end. We are on the eve of a new epoch in the history of
Europe. I wouldn't miss it on any account.'
'Most interesting! most interesting!' I exclaimed. 'How I
wish I were going with you!'
'Come,' said he, with engaging brevity.
'How can I? I'm just going back to Cambridge.'
'You are of age, aren't you?'
'And your own master? Come; you'll never have such a chance
'When do you start?'
'To-morrow morning early.'
'But it is too late to get a passport.'
'Not a bit of it. I have to go to the Foreign Office for my
despatches. Dine with me to-night at my mother's - nobody
else - and I'll bring your passport in my pocket.'
'So be it, then. Billy Whistle [the irreverend nickname we
undergraduates gave the Master of Trinity] will rusticate me
to a certainty. It can't be helped. The cause is sacred.
I'll meet you at Lady Grey's to-night.'
We reached our destination at daylight on October 9. We had
already heard, while changing carriages at Breslau station,
that the revolution had broken out at Vienna, that the rails
were torn up, the Bahn-hof burnt, the military defeated and
driven from the town. William Grey's official papers, aided
by his fluent German, enabled us to pass the barriers, and
find our way into the city. He went straight to the Embassy,
and sent me on to the 'Erzherzog Carl' in the Karnthner Thor
Strasse, at that time the best hotel in Vienna. It being
still nearly dark, candles were burning in every window by
order of the insurgents.
The preceding day had been an eventful one. The
proletariats, headed by the students, had sacked the arsenal,
the troops having made but slight resistance. They then
marched to the War Office and demanded the person of the War
Minister, Count Latour, who was most unpopular on account of
his known appeal to Jellachich, the Ban of Croatia, to
assist, if required, in putting down the disturbances. Some
sharp fighting here took place. The rioters defeated the
small body of soldiers on the spot, captured two guns, and
took possession of the building. The unfortunate minister
was found in one of the upper garrets of the palace. The
ruffians dragged him from his place of concealment, and
barbarously murdered him. They then flung his body from the
window, and in a few minutes it was hanging from a lamp-post
above the heads of the infuriated and yelling mob.
In 1848 the inner city of Vienna was enclosed within a broad
and lofty bastion, fosse, and glacis. These were levelled in
1857. As soon as the troops were expelled, cannon were
placed on the Bastei so as to command the approaches from
without. The tunnelled gateways were built up, and
barricades erected across every principal thoroughfare.
Immediately after these events Ferdinand I. abdicated in
favour of the present Emperor Francis Joseph, who retired
with the Court to Schobrunn. Foreigners at once took flight,
and the hotels were emptied. The only person left in the
'Archduke Charles' beside myself was Mr. Bowen, afterwards
Sir George, Governor of New Zealand, with whom I was glad to
These humble pages do not aspire to the dignity of History;
but a few words as to what took place are needful for the
writer's purposes. The garrison in Vienna had been
comparatively small; and as the National Guard had joined the
students and proletariats, it was deemed advisable by the
Government to await the arrival of reinforcements under
Prince Windischgratz, who, together with a strong body of
Servians and Croats under Jellachich, might overawe the
insurgents; or, if not, recapture the city without
unnecessary bloodshed. The rebels were buoyed up by hopes of
support from the Hungarians under Kossuth. But in this they
were disappointed. In less than three weeks from the day of
the outbreak the city was beleaguered. Fighting began
outside the town on the 24th. On the 25th the soldiers
occupied the Wieden and Nussdorf suburbs. Next day the
Gemeinderath (Municipal Council) sent a PARLEMENTAR to treat
with Windischgratz. The terms were rejected, and the city
was taken by storm on October 30.
A few days before the bombardment, the Austrian commander
gave the usual notice to the Ambassadors to quit the town.
This they accordingly did. Before leaving, Lord Ponsonby
kindly sent his private secretary, Mr. George Samuel, to warn
me and invite me to join him at Schonbrunn. I politely
elected to stay and take my chance. After the attack on the
suburbs began I had reason to regret the decision. The
hotels were entered by patrols, and all efficient waiters
KOMMANDIERE'D to work at the barricades, or carry arms. On
the fourth day I settled to change sides. The constant
banging of big guns, and rattle of musketry, with the
impossibility of getting either air or exercise without the
risk of being indefinitely deprived of both, was becoming
less amusing than I had counted on. I was already provided
with a PASSIERSCHEIN, which franked me inside the town, and
up to the insurgents' outposts. The difficulty was how to
cross the neutral ground and the two opposing lines. Broad
daylight was the safest time for the purpose; the officious
sentry is not then so apt to shoot his friend. With much
stalking and dodging I made a bolt; and, notwithstanding
violent gesticulations and threats, got myself safely seized
and hurried before the nearest commanding officer.
He happened to be a general or a colonel. He was a fierce
looking, stout old gentleman with a very red face, all the
redder for his huge white moustache and well-filled white
uniform. He began by fuming and blustering as if about to
order me to summary execution. He spoke so fast, it was not
easy to follow him. Probably my amateur German was as
puzzling to him. The PASSIERSCHEIN, which I produced, was
not in my favour; unfortunately I had forgotten my Foreign
Office passport. What further added to his suspicion was his
inability to comprehend why I had not availed myself of the
notice, duly given to all foreigners, to leave the city
before active hostilities began. How anyone, who had the
choice, could be fool enough to stay and be shelled or
bayoneted, was (from his point of view) no proof of
respectability. I assured him he was mistaken if he thought
I had a predilection for either of these alternatives.
'It was just because I desired to avoid both that I had
sought, not without risk, the protection I was so sure of
finding at the hands of a great and gallant soldier.'
'Dummes Zeug! dummes Zeug!' (stuff o' nonsense), he puffed.
But a peppery man's good humour is often as near the surface
as his bad. I detected a pleasant sparkle in his eye.
'Pardon me, Excellenz,' said I, 'my presence here is the best
proof of my sincerity.'
'That,' said he sharply, 'is what every rascal might plead
when caught with a rebel's pass in his pocket. Geleitsbriefe
fur Schurken sind Steckbriefe fur die Gerechtigkeit.' (Safe-
conduct passes for knaves are writs of capias to honest men.)
I answered: 'But an English gentleman is not a knave; and no
one knows the difference better than your Excellenz.' The
term 'Schurken' (knaves) had stirred my fire; and though I
made a deferential bow, I looked as indignant as I felt.
'Well, well,' he said pacifically, 'you may go about your
business. But SEHEN SIE, young man, take my advice, don't
satisfy your curiosity at the cost of a broken head. Dazu
gehoren Kerle die eigens geschaffen sind.' As much as to
say: 'Leave halters to those who are born to be hanged.'
Indeed, the old fellow looked as if he had enjoyed life too
well to appreciate parting with it gratuitously.
I had nothing with me save the clothes on my back. When I
should again have access to the 'Erzherzcg Carl' was
impossible to surmise. The only decent inn I knew of outside
the walls was the 'Golden Lamm,' on the suburb side of the
Donau Canal, close to the Ferdinand bridge which faces the
Rothen Thurm Thor. Here I entered, and found it occupied by
a company of Nassau JAGERS. A barricade was thrown up across
the street leading to the bridge. Behind it were two guns.
One end of the barricade abutted on the 'Golden Lamm.' With
the exception of the soldiers, the inn seemed to be deserted;
and I wanted both food and lodging. The upper floor was full
of JAGERS. The front windows over-looked the Bastei. These
were now blocked with mattresses, to protect the men from
bullets. The distance from the ramparts was not more than
150 yards, and woe to the student or the fat grocer, in his
National Guard uniform, who showed his head above the walls.
While I was in the attics a gun above the city gate fired at
the battery below. I ran down a few minutes later to see the
result. One artilleryman had been killed. He was already
laid under the gun-carriage, his head covered with a cloak.
The storming took place a day or two afterwards. One of the
principal points of resistance had been at the bottom of the
Jagerzeile. The insurgents had a battery of several guns
here; and the handsome houses at the corners facing the
Prater had been loop-holed and filled with students. I
walked round the town after all was over, and was especially
impressed with the horrors I witnessed. The beautiful
houses, with their gorgeous furniture, were a mass of smoking
ruins. Not a soul was to be seen, not even a prowling thief.
I picked my way into one or two of them without hindrance.
Here and there were a heap of bodies, some burnt to cinders,
some with their clothes still smouldering. The smell of the
roasted flesh was a disgusting association for a long time to
come. But the whole was sickening to look at, and still more
so, if possible, to reflect upon; for this was the price
which so often has been, so often will be, paid for the
alluring dream of liberty, and for the pursuit of that
mischievous will-o'-the-wisp - jealous Equality.
VIENNA in the early part of the last century was looked upon
as the gayest capital in Europe. Even the frightful
convulsion it had passed through only checked for a while its
chronic pursuit of pleasure. The cynical philosopher might
be tempted to contrast this not infrequent accessory of
paternal rule with the purity and contentment so fondly
expected from a democracy - or shall we say a demagoguey?
The cherished hopes of the so-called patriots had been
crushed; and many were the worse for the struggle. But the
majority naturally subsided into their customary vocations -
beer-drinking, pipe-smoking, music, dancing, and play-going.
The Vienna of 1848 was the Vienna described by Madame de
Stael in 1810: 'Dans ce pays, l'on traite les plaisirs comme
les devoirs. . . . Vous verrez des hommes et des femmes
executer gravement, l'un vis-a-vis de l'autre, les pas d'un
menuet dont ils sont impose l'amusement, . . . comme s'il
[the couple] dansait pour l'acquit de sa conscience.'
Every theatre and place of amusement was soon re-opened.
There was an excellent opera; Strauss - the original -
presided over weekly balls and concerts. For my part, being
extremely fond of music, I worked industriously at the
violin, also at German. My German master, Herr Mauthner by
name, was a little hump-backed Jew, who seemed to know every
man and woman (especially woman) worth knowing in Vienna.
Through him I made the acquaintance of several families of
the middle class, - amongst them that of a veteran musician
who had been Beethoven's favourite flute-player. As my
veneration for Beethoven was unbounded, I listened with awe
to every trifling incident relating to the great master. I
fear the conviction left on my mind was that my idol, though
transcendent amongst musicians, was a bear amongst men.
Pride (according to his ancient associate) was his strong
point. This he vindicated by excessive rudeness to everyone
whose social position was above his own. Even those that did
him a good turn were suspected of patronising. Condescension
was a prerogative confined to himself. In this respect, to
be sure, there was nothing singular.
At the house of the old flutist we played family quartets, -
he, the father, taking the first violin part on his flute, I
the second, the son the 'cello, and his daughter the piano.
It was an atmosphere of music that we all inhaled; and my
happiness on these occasions would have been unalloyed, had
not the young lady - a damsel of six-and-forty - insisted on
poisoning me (out of compliment to my English tastes) with a
bitter decoction she was pleased to call tea. This delicate
attention, I must say, proved an effectual souvenir till we
met again - I dreaded it.
Now and then I dined at the Embassy. One night I met there
Prince Paul Esterhazy, so distinguished by his diamonds when
Austrian Ambassador at the coronation of Queen Victoria. He
talked to me of the Holkham sheep-shearing gatherings, at
which from 200 to 300 guests sat down to dinner every day,
including crowned heads, and celebrities from both sides of
the Atlantic. He had twice assisted at these in my father's
time. He also spoke of the shooting; and promised, if I
would visit him in Hungary, he would show me as good sport as
had ever seen in Norfolk. He invited Mr. Magenis - the
Secretary of Legation - to accompany me.
The following week we two hired a BRITZCKA, and posted to
Eisenstadt. The lordly grandeur of this last of the feudal
princes manifested itself soon after we crossed the Hungarian
frontier. The first sign of it was the livery and badge worn
by the postillions. Posting houses, horses and roads, were
all the property of His Transparency.
Eisenstadt itself, though not his principal seat, is a large
palace - three sides of a triangle. One wing is the
residence, that opposite the barrack, (he had his own
troops,) and the connecting base part museum and part
concert-hall. This last was sanctified by the spirit of
Joseph Haydn, for so many years Kapellmeister to the
Esterhazy family. The conductor's stand and his spinet
remained intact. Even the stools and desks in the orchestra
(so the Prince assured me) were ancient. The very dust was
sacred. Sitting alone in the dim space, one could fancy the
great little man still there, in his snuff-coloured coat and
ruffles, half buried (as on state occasions) in his 'ALLONGE
PERUCKE.' A tap of his magic wand starts into life his
quaint old-fashioned band, and the powder flies from their
wigs. Soft, distant, ghostly harmonies of the Surprise
Symphony float among the rafters; and now, as in a dream, we
are listening to - nay, beholding - the glorious process of
Creation; till suddenly the mighty chord is struck, and we
are startled from our trance by the burst of myriad voices
echoing the command and its fulfilment, 'Let there be light:
and there was light.'
Only a family party was assembled in the house. A Baron
something, and a Graf something - both relations, - and the
son, afterwards Ambassador at St. Petersburg during the
Crimean War. The latter was married to Lady Sarah Villiers,
who was also there. It is amusing to think that the
beautiful daughter of the proud Lady Jersey should be looked
upon by the Austrians as somewhat of a MESALLIANCE for one of
the chiefs of their nobility. Certain it is that the young
Princess was received by them, till they knew her, with more
condescension than enthusiasm.
An air of feudal magnificence pervaded the palace: spacious
reception-rooms hung with armour and trophies of the chase;
numbers of domestics in epauletted and belaced, but ill-
fitting, liveries; the prodigal supply and nationality of the
comestibles - wild boar with marmalade, venison and game of
all sorts with excellent 'Eingemachtes' and 'Mehlspeisen'
galore - a feast for a Gamache or a Gargantua. But then, all
save three, remember, were Germans - and Germans! Noteworthy
was the delicious Chateau Y'quem, of which the Prince
declared he had a monopoly - meaning the best, I presume.
After dinner the son, his brother-in-law, and I, smoked our
meerschaums and played pools of ECARTE in the young Prince's
room. Magenis, who was much our senior, had his rubber
downstairs with the elders.
The life was pleasant enough, but there was one little
medieval peculiarity which almost made one look for retainers
in goat-skins and rushes on the floor, - there was not a bath
(except the Princess's) in the palace! It was with
difficulty that my English servant foraged a tub from the
kitchen or the laundry. As to other sanitary arrangements,
they were what they doubtless had been in the days of Almos
and his son, the mighty Arped. In keeping with these
venerable customs, I had a sentry at the door of my
apartments; to protect me, belike, from the ghosts of
predatory barons and marauders.
During the week we had two days' shooting; one in the
coverts, quite equal to anything of the kind in England, the
other at wild boar. For the latter, a tract of the
Carpathian Mountains had been driven for some days before
into a wood of about a hundred acres. At certain points
there were sheltered stands, raised four or five feet from
the ground, so that the sportsmen had a commanding view of
the broad alley or clearing in front of him, across which the
stags or boar were driven by an army of beaters.
I had my own double-barrelled rifle; but besides this, a man
with a rack on his back bearing three rifles of the prince's,
a loader, and a FORSTER, with a hunting knife or short sword
to despatch the wounded quarry. Out of the first rush of
pigs that went by I knocked over two; and, in my keenness,
jumped out of the stand with the FORSTER who ran to finish
them off. I was immediately collared and brought back; and
as far as I could make out, was taken for a lunatic, or at
least for a 'duffer,' for my rash attempt to approach unarmed
a wounded tusker. When we all met at the end of the day, the
bag of the five guns was forty-five wild boars. The biggest
- and he was a monster - fell to the rifle of the Prince, as
was of course intended.
The old man took me home in his carriage. It was a beautiful
drive. One's idea of an English park - even such a park as
Windsor's - dwindled into that of a pleasure ground, when
compared with the boundless territory we drove through. To
be sure, it was no more a park than is the New Forest; but it
had all the character of the best English scenery - miles of
fine turf, dotted with clumps of splendid trees, and gigantic
oaks standing alone in their majesty. Now and then a herd of
red deer were startled in some sequestered glade; but no
cattle, no sheep, no sign of domestic care. Struck with the
charm of this primeval wilderness, I made some remark about
the richness of the pasture, and wondered there were no sheep
to be seen. 'There,' said the old man, with a touch of
pride, as he pointed to the blue range of the Carpathians;
'that is my farm. I will tell you. All the celebrities of
the day who were interested in farming used to meet at
Holkham for what was called the sheep-shearing. I once told
your father I had more shepherds on my farm than there were
sheep on his.'
IT WAS with a sorry heart that I bade farewell to my Vienna
friends, my musical comrades, the Legation hospitalities, and
my faithful little Israelite. But the colt frisks over the
pasture from sheer superfluity of energy; and between one's
second and third decades instinctive restlessness -
spontaneous movement - is the law of one's being. 'Tis then
that 'Hope builds as fast as knowledge can destroy.' The
enjoyment we abandon is never so sweet as that we seek.
'Pleasure never is at home.' Happiness means action for its
own sake, change, incessant change.
I sought and found it in Bavaria, Bohemia, Russia, all over
Germany, and dropped anchor one day in Cracow; a week
afterwards in Warsaw. These were out-of-the-way places then;
there were no tourists in those days; I did not meet a single
compatriot either in the Polish or Russian town.
At Warsaw I had an adventure not unlike that which befell me
at Vienna. The whole of Europe, remember, was in a state of
political ferment. Poland was at least as ready to rise
against its oppressor then as now; and the police was
proportionately strict and arbitrary. An army corps was
encamped on the right bank of the Vistula, ready for expected
emergencies. Under these circumstances, passports, as may be
supposed, were carefully inspected; except in those of
British subjects, the person of the bearer was described -
his height, the colour of his hair (if he had any), or any
mark that distinguished him.
In my passport, after my name, was added 'ET SON DOMESTIQUE.'
The inspector who examined it at the frontier pointed to
this, and, in indifferent German, asked me where that
individual was. I replied that I had sent him with my
baggage to Dresden, to await my arrival there. A
consultation thereupon took place with another official, in a
language I did not understand; and to my dismay I was
informed that I was - in custody. The small portmanteau I
had with me, together with my despatch-box, was seized; the
latter contained a quantity of letters and my journal. Money
only was I permitted to retain.
Quite by the way, but adding greatly to my discomfort, was
the fact that since leaving Prague, where I had relinquished
everything I could dispense with, I had had much night
travelling amongst native passengers, who so valued
cleanliness that they economised it with religious care. By
the time I reached Warsaw, I may say, without metonymy, that
I was itching (all over) for a bath and a change of linen.
My irritation, indeed, was at its height. But there was no
appeal; and on my arrival I was haled before the authorities.
Again, their head was a general officer, though not the least
like my portly friend at Vienna. His business was to sit in
judgment upon delinquents such as I. He was a spare, austere
man, surrounded by a sharp-looking aide-de-camp, several
clerks in uniform, and two or three men in mufti, whom I took
to be detectives. The inspector who arrested me was present
with my open despatch-box and journal. The journal he handed
to the aide, who began at once to look it through while his
chief was disposing of another case.
To be suspected and dragged before this tribunal was, for the
time being (as I afterwards learnt) almost tantamount to
condemnation. As soon as the General had sentenced my
predecessor, I was accosted as a self-convicted criminal.
Fortunately he spoke French like a Frenchman; and, as it
presently appeared, a few words of English.
'What country do you belong to?' he asked, as if the question
was but a matter of form, put for decency's sake - a mere
prelude to committal.
'England, of course; you can see that by my passport.' I was
determined to fence him with his own weapons. Indeed, in
those innocent days of my youth, I enjoyed a genuine British
contempt for foreigners - in the lump - which, after all, is
about as impartial a sentiment as its converse, that one's
own country is always in the wrong.
'Where did you get it?' (with a face of stone).
PRISONER (NAIVELY): 'Where did I get it? I do not follow
you.' (Don't forget, please, that said prisoner's apparel
was unvaleted, his hands unwashed, his linen unchanged, his
hair unkempt, and his face unshaven).
GENERAL (stonily): '"Where did you get it?" was my question.'
PRISONER (quietly): 'From Lord Palmerston.'
GENERAL (glancing at that Minister's signature): 'It says
here, "et son domestique" - you have no domestique.'
PRISONER (calmly): 'Pardon me, I have a domestic.'
GENERAL (with severity), 'Where is he?'
PRISONER: 'At Dresden by this time, I hope.'
GENERAL (receiving journal from aide-de-camp, who points to a
certain page): 'You state here you were caught by the
Austrians in a pretended escape from the Viennese insurgents;
and add, "They evidently took me for a spy" [returning
journal to aide]. What is your explanation of this?'
PRISONER (shrugging shoulders disdainfully): 'In the first
place, the word "pretended" is not in my journal. In the
second, although of course it does not follow, if one takes
another person for a man of sagacity or a gentleman - it does
not follow that he is either - still, when - '
GENERAL (with signs of impatience): 'I have here a
PASSIERSCHEIN, found amongst your papers and signed by the
rebels. They would not have given you this, had you not been
on friendly terms with them. You will be detained until I
have further particulars.'
PRISONER (angrily): 'I will assist you, through Her Britannic
Majesty's Consul, with whom I claim the right to communicate.
I beg to inform you that I am neither a spy nor a socialist,
but the son of an English peer' (heaven help the relevancy!).
'An Englishman has yet to learn that Lord Palmerston's
signature is to be set at naught and treated with contumacy.'
The General beckoned to the inspector to put an end to the
proceedings. But the aide, who had been studying the
journal, again placed it in his chief's hands. A colloquy
ensued, in which I overheard the name of Lord Ponsonby. The
enemy seemed to waver, so I charged with a renewed request to
see the English Consul. A pause; then some remarks in
Russian from the aide; then the GENERAL (in suaver tones):
'The English Consul, I find, is absent on a month's leave.
If what you state is true, you acted unadvisedly in not
having your passport altered and REVISE when you parted with
your servant. How long do you wish to remain here?'
Said I, 'Vous avez bien raison, Monsieur. Je suis evidemment
dans mon tort. Ma visite a Varsovie etait une aberration.
As to my stay, je suis deja tout ce qu'il y a de plus ennuye.
I have seen enough of Warsaw to last for the rest of my
Eventually my portmanteau and despatch-box were restored to
me; and I took up my quarters in the filthiest inn (there was
no better, I believe) that it was ever my misfortune to lodge
at. It was ancient, dark, dirty, and dismal. My sitting-
room (I had a cupboard besides to sleep in) had but one
window, looking into a gloomy courtyard. The furniture
consisted of two wooden chairs and a spavined horsehair sofa.
The ceiling was low and lamp-blacked; the stained paper fell
in strips from the sweating walls; fortunately there was no
carpet; but if anything could have added to the occupier's
depression it was the sight of his own distorted features in
a shattered glass, which seemed to watch him like a detective
and take notes of his movements - a real Russian mirror.
But the resources of one-and-twenty are not easily daunted,
even by the presence of the CIMEX LECTULARIUS or the PULEX
IRRITANS. I inquired for a LAQUAIS DE PLACE, - some human
being to consort with was the most pressing of immediate
wants. As luck would have it, the very article was in the
dreary courtyard, lurking spider-like for the innocent
traveller just arrived. Elective affinity brought us at once
to friendly intercourse. He was of the Hebrew race, as the
larger half of the Warsaw population still are. He was a
typical Jew (all Jews are typical), though all are not so
thin as was Beninsky. His eyes were sunk in sockets deepened
by the sharpness of his bird-of-prey beak; a single corkscrew
ringlet dropped tearfully down each cheek; and his one front
tooth seemed sometimes in his upper, sometimes in his lower
jaw. His skull-cap and his gabardine might have been
heirlooms from the Patriarch Jacob; and his poor hands seemed
made for clawing. But there was a humble and contrite spirit
in his sad eyes. The history of his race was written in
them; but it was modern history that one read in their
hopeless and appealing look.
His cringing manner and his soft voice (we conversed in
German) touched my heart. I have always had a liking for the
Jews. Who shall reckon how much some of us owe them! They
have always interested me as a peculiar people - admitting
sometimes, as in poor Beninsky's case, of purifying, no
doubt; yet, if occasionally zealous (and who is not?) of
interested works - cent. per cent. works, often - yes, more
often than we Christians - zealous of good works, of open-
handed, large-hearted munificence, of charity in its
democratic and noblest sense. Shame upon the nations which
despise and persecute them for faults which they, the
persecutors, have begotten! Shame on those who have extorted
both their money and their teeth! I think if I were a Jew I
should chuckle to see my shekels furnish all the wars in
which Christians cut one another's Christian weasands.
And who has not a tenderness for the 'beautiful and well-
favoured' Rachels, and the 'tender-eyed' Leahs, and the
tricksy little Zilpahs, and the Rebekahs, from the wife of
Isaac of Gerar to the daughter of Isaac of York? Who would
not love to sit with Jessica where moonlight sleeps, and
watch the patines of bright gold reflected in her heavenly
orbs? I once knew a Jessica, a Polish Jessica, who - but
that was in Vienna, more than half a century ago.
Beninsky's orbs brightened visibly when I bade him break his
fast at my high tea. I ordered everything they had in the
house I think, - a cold Pomeranian GANSEBRUST, a garlicky
WURST, and GERAUCHERTE LACHS. I had a packet of my own
Fortnum and Mason's Souchong; and when the stove gave out its
glow, and the samovar its music, Beninsky's gratitude and his
hunger passed the limits of restraint. Late into the night
we smoked our meerschaums.
When I spoke of the Russians, he got up nervously to see the
door was shut, and whispered with bated breath. What a
relief it was to him to meet a man to whom he could pour out
his griefs, his double griefs, as Pole and Israelite. Before
we parted I made him put the remains of the sausage (!) and
the goose-breast under his petticoats. I bade him come to me
in the morning and show me all that was worth seeing in
Warsaw. When he left, with tears in his eyes, I was consoled
to think that for one night at any rate he and his GANSEBRUST
and sausage would rest peacefully in Abraham's bosom. What
Abraham would say to the sausage I did not ask; nor perhaps
did my poor Beninsky.
THE remainder of the year '49 has left me nothing to tell.
For me, it was the inane life of that draff of Society - the
young man-about-town: the tailor's, the haberdasher's, the
bootmaker's, and trinket-maker's, young man; the dancing and
'hell'-frequenting young man; the young man of the 'Cider
Cellars' and Piccadilly saloons; the valiant dove-slayer, the
park-lounger, the young lady's young man - who puts his hat
into mourning, and turns up his trousers because - because
the other young man does ditto, ditto.
I had a share in the Guards' omnibus box at Covent Garden,
with the privilege attached of going behind the scenes. Ah!
that was a real pleasure. To listen night after night to
Grisi and Mario, Alboni and Lablache, Viardot and Ronconi,
Persiani and Tamburini, - and Jenny Lind too, though she was
at the other house. And what an orchestra was Costa's - with
Sainton leader, and Lindley and old Dragonetti, who together
but alone, accompanied the RECITATIVE with their harmonious
chords on 'cello and double-bass. Is singing a lost art? Or
is that but a TEMPORIS ACTI question? We who heard those now
silent voices fancy there are none to match them nowadays.
Certainly there are no dancers like Taglioni, and Cerito, and
Fanny Elsler, and Carlotta Grisi.
After the opera and the ball, one finished the night at
Vauxhall or Ranelagh; then as gay, and exactly the same, as
they were when Miss Becky Sharpe and fat Jos supped there
only five-and-thirty years before.
Except at the Opera, and the Philharmonic, and Exeter Hall,
one rarely heard good music. Monsieur Jullien, that prince
of musical mountebanks - the 'Prince of Waterloo,' as John
Ella called him, was the first to popularise classical music
at his promenade concerts, by tentatively introducing a
single movement of a symphony here and there in the programme
of his quadrilles and waltzes and music-hall songs.
Mr. Ella, too, furthered the movement with his Musical Union
and quartett parties at Willis's Rooms, where Sainton and
Cooper led alternately, and the incomparable Piatti and Hill
made up the four. Here Ernst, Sivori, Vieuxtemps, and
Bottesini, and Mesdames Schumann, Dulcken, Arabella Goddard,
and all the famous virtuosi played their solos.
Great was the stimulus thus given by Ella's energy and
enthusiasm. As a proof of what he had to contend with, and
what he triumphed over, Halle's 'Life' may be quoted, where
it says: 'When Mr. Ella asked me [this was in 1848] what I
wished to play, and heard that it was one of Beethoven's
pianoforte sonatas, he exclaimed "Impossible!" and
endeavoured to demonstrate that they were not works to be
played in public.' What seven-league boots the world has
stridden in within the memory of living men!
John Ella himself led the second violins in Costa's band, and
had begun life (so I have been told) as a pastry-cook. I
knew both him and the wonderful little Frenchman 'at home.'
According to both, in their different ways, Beethoven and
Mozart would have been lost to fame but for their heroic
efforts to save them.
I used occasionally to play with Ella at the house of a lady
who gave musical parties. He was always attuned to the
highest pitch, - most good-natured, but most excitable where
music was to the fore. We were rehearsing a quintett, the
pianoforte part of which was played by the young lady of the
house - a very pretty girl, and not a bad musician, but
nervous to the point of hysteria. Ella himself was in a
hypercritical state; nothing would go smoothly; and the piano
was always (according to him) the peccant instrument. Again
and again he made us restart the movement. There were a good
many friends of the family invited to this last rehearsal,
which made it worse for the poor girl, who was obviously on
the brink of a breakdown. Presently Ella again jumped off
his chair, and shouted: 'Not E flat! There's no E flat
there; E natural! E natural! I never in my life knew a
young lady so prolific of flats as you.' There was a pause,
then a giggle, then an explosion; and then the poor girl,
bursting into tears, rushed out of the room.
It was at Ella's house that I first heard Joachim, then about
sixteen, I suppose. He had not yet performed in London. All
the musical celebrities were present to hear the youthful
prodigy. Two quartetts were played, Ernst leading one and
Joachim the other. After it was over, everyone was
enraptured, but no one more so than Ernst, who unhesitatingly
predicted the fame which the great artist has so eminently
One more amusing little story belongs to my experiences of
these days. Having two brothers and a brother-in-law in the
Guards, I used to dine often at the Tower, or the Bank, or
St. James's. At the Bank of England there is always at night
an officer's guard. There is no mess, as the officer is
alone. But the Bank provides dinner for two, in case the
officer should invite a friend. On the occasion I speak of,
my brother-in-law, Sir Archibald Macdonald, was on duty. The
soup and fish were excellent, but we were young and hungry,
and the usual leg of mutton was always a dish to be looked
When its cover was removed by the waiter we looked in vain;
there was plenty of gravy, but no mutton. Our surprise was
even greater than our dismay, for the waiter swore 'So 'elp
his gawd' that he saw the cook put the leg on the dish, and
that he himself put the cover on the leg. 'And what did you
do with it then?' questioned my host. 'Nothing, S'Archibald.
Brought it straight in 'ere.' 'Do you mean to tell me it was
never out of your hands between this and the kitchen?'
'Never, but for the moment I put it down outside the door to
change the plates.' 'And was there nobody in the passage?'
'Not a soul, except the sentry.' 'I see,' said my host, who
was a quick-witted man. 'Send the sergeant here.' The
sergeant came. The facts were related, and the order given
to parade the entire guard, sentry included, in the passage.
The sentry was interrogated first. 'No, he had not seen
nobody in the passage.' 'No one had touched the dish?'
'Nobody as ever he seed.' Then came the orders: 'Attention.
Ground arms. Take off your bear-skins.' And the truth -
I.E., the missing leg - was at once revealed; the sentry had
popped it into his shako. For long after that day, when the
guard either for the Tower or Bank marched through the
streets, the little blackguard boys used to run beside it and
cry, 'Who stole the leg o' mutton?'
PROBABLY the most important historical event of the year '49
was the discovery of gold in California, or rather, the great
Western Exodus in pursuit of it. A restless desire possessed
me to see something of America, especially of the Far West.
I had an hereditary love of sport, and had read and heard
wonderful tales of bison, and grisly bears, and wapitis. No
books had so fascinated me, when a boy, as the 'Deer-slayer,'
the 'Pathfinder,' and the beloved 'Last of the Mohicans.'
Here then was a new field for adventure. I would go to
California, and hunt my way across the continent. Ruxton's
'Life in the Far West' inspired a belief in self-reliance and
independence only rivalled by Robinson Crusoe. If I could
not find a companion, I would go alone. Little did I dream
of the fortune which was in store for me, or how nearly I
missed carrying out the scheme so wildly contemplated, or
indeed, any scheme at all.
The only friend I could meet with both willing and able to
join me was the last Lord Durham. He could not undertake to
go to California; but he had been to New York during his
father's reign in Canada, and liked the idea of revisiting
the States. He proposed that we should spend the winter in
the West Indies, and after some buffalo-shooting on the
plains, return to England in the autumn.
The notion of the West Indies gave rise to an off-shoot.
Both Durham and I were members of the old Garrick, then but a
small club in Covent Garden. Amongst our mutual friends was
Andrew Arcedeckne - pronounced Archdeacon - a character to
whom attaches a peculiar literary interest, of which anon.
Arcedeckne - Archy, as he was commonly called - was about a
couple of years older than we were. He was the owner of
Glevering Hall, Suffolk, and nephew of Lord Huntingfield.
These particulars, as well as those of his person, are note-
worthy, as it will soon appear.
Archy - 'Merry Andrew,' as I used to call him, - owned one of
the finest estates in Jamaica - Golden Grove. When he heard
of our intended trip, he at once volunteered to go with us.
He had never seen Golden Grove, but had often wished to visit
it. Thus it came to pass that we three secured our cabins in
one of the West India mailers, and left England in December
To return to our little Suffolk squire. The description of
his figure, as before said, is all-important, though the
world is familiar with it, as drawn by the pencil of a master
caricaturist. Arcedeckne was about five feet three inches,
round as a cask, with a small singularly round face and head,
closely cropped hair, and large soft eyes, - in a word, so
like a seal, that he was as often called 'Phoca' as Archy.
Do you recognise the portrait? Do you need the help of
'Glevering Hall' (how curious the suggestion!). And would
you not like to hear him talk? Here is a specimen in his
best manner. Surely it must have been taken down by a
shorthand writer, or a phonograph:
MR. HARRY FOKER LOQUITUR: 'He inquired for Rincer and the
cold in his nose, told Mrs. Rincer a riddle, asked Miss
Rincer when she would be prepared to marry him, and paid his
compliments to Miss Brett, another young lady in the bar, all
in a minute of time, and with a liveliness and facetiousness
which set all these young ladies in a giggle. "Have a drop,
Pen: it's recommended by the faculty, &c. Give the young
one a glass, R., and score it up to yours truly."'
I fancy the great man who recorded these words was more
afraid of Mr. Harry PHOCA than of any other man in the
Garrick Club - possibly for the reason that honest Harry was
not the least bit afraid of him. The shy, the proud, the
sensitive satirist would steal quietly into the room,
avoiding notice as though he wished himself invisible. Phoca
would be warming his back at the fire, and calling for a
glass of 'Foker's own.' Seeing the giant enter, he would
advance a step or two, with a couple of extended fingers, and
exclaim, quite affably, 'Ha! Mr. Thackry! litary cove! Glad
to see you, sir. How's Major Dobbings?' and likely enough
would turn to the waiter, and bid him, 'Give this gent a
glass of the same, and score it up to yours truly!' We have
his biographer's word for it, that he would have winked at
the Duke of Wellington, with just as little scruple.
Yes, Andrew Arcedeckne was the original of Harry Foker; and,
from the cut of his clothes to his family connection, and to
the comicality, the simplicity, the sweetness of temper
(though hardly doing justice to the loveableness of the
little man), the famous caricature fits him to a T.
The night before we left London we had a convivial dinner at
the Garrick - we three travellers, with Albert Smith, his
brother, and John Leech. It was a merry party, to which all
contributed good fellowship and innocent jokes. The latest
arrival at the Zoo was the first hippopotamus that had
reached England, - a present from the Khedive. Someone
wondered how it had been caught. I suggested a trout-fly;
which so tickled John Leech's fancy that he promised to draw
it for next week's 'Punch.' Albert Smith went with us to
Southampton to see us off.
On our way to Jamaica we stopped a night at Barbadoes to
coal. Here I had the honour of making the acquaintance of
the renowned Caroline Lee! - Miss Car'line, as the negroes
called her. She was so pleased at the assurance that her
friend Mr. Peter Simple had spread her fame all the world
over, that she made us a bowl of the most delicious iced
sangaree; and speedily got up a 'dignity ball' for our
entertainment. She was rather too much of an armful to dance
with herself, but there was no lack of dark beauties, (not a
white woman or white man except ourselves in the room.) We
danced pretty nearly from daylight to daylight. The blending
of rigid propriety, of the severest 'dignity,' with the
sudden guffaw and outburst of wildest spirits and comic
humour, is beyond description, and is only to be met with
amongst these ebullient children of the sun.
On our arrival at Golden Grove, there was a great turn-out of
the natives to welcome their young lord and 'massa.' Archy
was touched and amused by their frantic loyalty. But their
mode of exhibiting it was not so entirely to his taste. Not
only the young, but the old women wanted to hug him. 'Eigh!
Dat you, Massa? Dat you, sar? Me no believe him. Out o' de
way, you trash! Eigh! me too much pleased like devil.' The
one constant and spontaneous ejaculation was, 'Yah! Massa too
muchy handsome! Garamighty! Buckra berry fat!' The latter
attribute was the source of genuine admiration; but the
object of it hardly appreciated its recognition, and waved
off his subjects with a mixture of impatience and alarm.
We had scarcely been a week at Golden Grove, when my two
companions and Durham's servant were down with yellow fever.
Being 'salted,' perhaps, I escaped scot-free, so helped
Archy's valet and Mr. Forbes, his factor, to nurse and to
carry out professional orders. As we were thirty miles from
Kingston the doctor could only come every other day. The
responsibility, therefore, of attending three patients
smitten with so deadly a disease was no light matter. The
factor seemed to think discretion the better part of valour,
and that Jamaica rum was the best specific for keeping his
up. All physicians were SANGRADOS in those days, and when
the Kingston doctor decided upon bleeding, the hysterical
state of the darky girls (we had no men in the bungalow
except Durham's and Archy's servants) rendered them worse
than useless. It fell to me, therefore, to hold the basin
while Archy's man was attending to his master.
Durham, who had nerves of steel, bore his lot with the grim
stoicism which marked his character. But at one time the
doctor considered his state so serious that he thought his
lordship's family should be informed of it. Accordingly I
wrote to the last Lord Grey, his uncle and guardian, stating
that there was little hope of his recovery. Poor Phoca was
at once tragic and comic. His medicine had to be
administered every, two hours. Each time, he begged and
prayed in lacrymose tones to be let off. It was doing him no
good. He might as well be allowed to die in peace. If we
would only spare him the beastliness this once, on his honour
he would take it next time 'like a man.' We were inexorable,
of course, and treated him exactly as one treats a child.
At last the crisis was over. Wonderful to relate, all three
began to recover. During their convalescence, I amused
myself by shooting alligators in the mangrove swamps at
Holland Bay, which was within half an hour's ride of the
bungalow. It was curious sport. The great saurians would
lie motionless in the pools amidst the snake-like tangle of
mangrove roots. They would float with just their eyes and
noses out of water, but so still that, without a glass,
(which I had not,) it was difficult to distinguish their
heads from the countless roots and rotten logs around them.
If one fired by mistake, the sport was spoiled for an hour to
I used to sit watching patiently for one of them to show
itself, or for something to disturb the glassy surface of the
dark waters. Overhead the foliage was so dense that the heat
was not oppressive. All Nature seemed asleep. The deathlike
stillness was rarely broken by the faintest sound, - though
unseen life, amidst the heat and moisture, was teeming
everywhere; life feeding upon life. For what purpose? To
what end? Is this a primary law of Nature? Does cannibalism
prevail in Mars? Sometimes a mocking-bird would pipe its
weird notes, deepening silence by the contrast. But besides
pestilent mosquitos, the only living things in sight were
humming-birds of every hue, some no bigger than a butterfly,
fluttering over the blossoms of the orchids, or darting from
flower to flower like flashes of prismatic rays.
I killed several alligators; but one day, while stalking what
seemed to be an unusual monster, narrowly escaped an
accident. Under the excitement, my eye was so intently fixed
upon the object, that I rather felt than saw my way.
Presently over I went, just managed to save my rifle, and, to
my amazement, found I had set my foot on a sleeping reptile.
Fortunately the brute was as much astonished as I was, and
plunged with a splash into the adjacent pool.
A Cambridge friend, Mr. Walter Shirley, owned an estate at
Trelawny, on the other side of Jamaica; while the invalids
were recovering, I paid him a visit; and was initiated into
the mysteries of cane-growing and sugar-making. As the great
split between the Northern and Southern States on the
question of slavery was pending, the life, condition, and
treatment of the negro was of the greatest interest. Mr.
Shirley was a gentleman of exceptional ability, and full of
valuable information on these subjects. He passed me on to
other plantations; and I made the complete round of the
island before returning to my comrades at Golden Grove. A
few weeks afterwards I stayed with a Spanish gentleman, the
Marquis d'Iznaga, who owned six large sugar plantations in
Cuba; and rode with his son from Casilda to Cienfuegos, from
which port I got a steamer to the Havana. The ride afforded
abundant opportunities of comparing the slave with the free
negro. But, as I have written on the subject elsewhere, I
will pass to matters more entertaining.
ON my arrival at the Havana I found that Durham, who was
still an invalid, had taken up his quarters at Mr.
Crauford's, the Consul-General. Phoca, who was nearly well
again, was at the hotel, the only one in the town. And who
should I meet there but my old Cambridge ally, Fred, the last
Lord Calthorpe. This event was a fruitful one, - it
determined the plans of both of us for a year or more to
Fred - as I shall henceforth call him - had just returned
from a hunting expedition in Texas, with another sportsman
whom he had accidentally met there. This gentleman
ultimately became of even more importance to me than my old