Imágenes de páginas

which, the adventure which befel the Warwickshire worthy of inquisitive memory will sufficiently disprove. It is by no means extraordinary that I should be led to examine this subject, as I ever found curiosity to form a part of myself, “ to have grown with my growth, and strengthened with my strength ;' nor has any part of my family been at any time free from this thirst for knowledge to which my ever-lamented mother fell a martyr. She died (as the ill-natured world said,) from an insatiable desire to learn the secret of free masonry ; but in reality from a cold she contracted by too constantly applying her ear to a key-hole, during the courtship of Captain Crusty and my old maiden aunt, Miss Rachael Rubbish. My inquisitive mania manifested itself in the earliest period of infancy, many a toy have I purposely broke, that I might discover what the inside contained ; rattles and drums were sacrificed to this darling wish, and silenced for ever. My studies while at school were rather aided than impeded by this prying propensity, as it certainly caused me to sieze any new book with avidity, although the pleasure I experienced in the perusal of any work was (1 confess) somewhat lessened by my always reading the conclusion of the book first, in order to ascertain whether the heroes, whose history I was devouring, were murdered or married, bit the dust in the field of battle, or lived happy ever afterwards. If a secret existed between any of my school-fellows, which I endeavoured in vain to discover, although I am naturally of a lively disposition, my gaiety instantly fled; “ I pined in thought," and curiosity was the canker-worm which preyed on my restless soul: not all the drubbings I received, nor the dislike I naturally incurred, could ever conquer my desire to listen, when the probable discovery of a secret was the temptation. Even in the selection of a wife curiosity was my guide; you, perhaps, sir, may be surprised at this assertion, but I assure you I would willingly have married the invisible girl, if the , disclosure of this acoustical delusion had been her dowry. Miss — was the only person who knew the real cause of a rupture which had lately happened between two persons of distinction, on the verge of matrimony. I burned with anxiety to participate in her knowledge: 1 offered my hand and fortune, and received the secret in exchange, for which

I am now tied to age, ugliness, and ill-nature. I have for some time past been gradually declining in health, and have tried, to no purpose, every receipt in Buchan's Domestic Medicine. Alas! I may throw physic to the dogs: my mind alone is diseased; the true name of the man in the iron mask is the only recipe which can ensure my amendment. :

I flatter myself, as I have before hinted, that my complaint is universal; that every one (though not in so violent a degree,) labours under this inquisitive cacoethes. Why, is every street in Paris filled with gaping Englishmen? Why, on the representation of a new piece, is the theatre crowded, while the pathetic tenderness of Otway, and the brilliant wit of Congreve, appears to have lost their attractions ? The Englishman does not prefer soup maigre to roast beef, nor are the public more pleased by modern trash than by the sterling bullion of our ancient dramatic writers : curiosity may be assigned as the cause, which, in both cases has, and ever will-produce this effect; nor in any situation of life are we entirely divested of its influence; it is the first incentive to learning and to love ; is the main spring, hy which every wheel in the machine of human life is put in motion; its birth may be traced to the first dawn of reason; it attends us during our journey through life, nor quits us till wc writhe in the agonies of dissolution.


“ Oh sweet to my soul is that beautiful spot,
Awaking remembrance most dear."-MONTGOMERY.

In St. Giles's Church lie Chapman, the earliest and the best translator of Homer; and Andrew Marvell, the wit and patriot, whose poverty Charles the Second could not bribe. Who would suppose that the Borough was the most classical ground in the metropolis? And yet it is undoubtedly so. The Globe theatre was there, of which Shakspeare himself was a proprietor, and for which he wrote his plays. Globelane, in which it stood, is still extant, we believe, under that name. It is probable that he lived near it: it is certain that he must have been much there. It is also certain that on the Borough side of the river, then and still called the Bank-side, in the same lodging, having the same wardrobe, and some say, with other participations more remarkable, lived Beaumont and Fletcher. In the Borough also, at St. Saviour's, lie Fletcher and Massinger in one grave; in the same church under a monument and effigy, lies Chaucer's contemporary, Gower; and from an inn in the Borough, the existence of which is still boasted, and the site pointed out by a picture and inscription, Chaucer sets out his pilgrims and himself on their famous road to Canterbury.

To return over the water, who would expect any thing poetical from East Smithfield ? Yet there was born the most poetical even of poets, Spenser. Pope was born within the sound of Bow-bell, in a street no less anti-poetical than Lombard-street. So was Gray, in Cornbill. So was Milton, in Bread-street, Cheapside. The presence of the same great poet and patriot has given happy memories to many parts of the metropolis. He lived in St. Bride's Church-yard, Fleet-street; in Aldersgate-street, in Jewin-street, in Barbican, in Bartholomew-close, in Holborn, looking back to Lincoln's Inn Fields; in Holborn, near Red Lion Square; in Scotland-yard; in a house looking to St. James's Park, now belonging to an eminent writer on legislation, and lately occupied by a celebrated critic and metaphysician; and he died in the Artillery-walk, Bunhill Fields: and was buried in St. Giles's, Cripplegate.

Ben Jonson, who was born in Hartshorne-lane, near Charing-cross, was at one time • master' of a theatre in Barbican. He appears also to have visited a tavern called the Sun and Moon, in Aldersgate-street; and is known to have frequented with Beaumont and others, the famous one called the Mermaid, which was in Cornhill. Beaumont writing to him from the country, in an epistle full of jovial wit, says,

“ The sun, which doth the greatest comfort bring,
To absent friends, because the self-same thing
They know they see, however absent, is
Here our best haymaker : forgive me this : .
It is our country style :-in this warm shine
I lie, and dream of your full Mermaid wine.

Methinks the little wit I had, is lost,
Since I saw you; for wit is like a rest
Held up at tennis, which men do the best
With the best gamesters. What things have we seen
Done at the Mermaid ? Hard words that have been

So nimble, and so full of subtle flame,
As if that every one from whom they came
Had meant to put his whole wit in a jest,
And had resolved to live a fool the rest
Of his dull life. Then, when there hath been thrown
Wit, able enough to justify the town
For three days past, -wit, that might warrant be
For the whole city to talk foolishly
Till that were cancelled, and when that was gone,
We left an air behind us, which alone
Was able to make the two next companies

Right witty ;-though but downright fools, inere wise.” The other celebrated resort of the great wits of that time was the Devil Tavern, in Fleet-street, close to Temple-bar. Ben Jonson lived also in Bartholomew-close, where Milton afterwards lived. It is in the passage from the cloisters of Christ's Hospital into St. Bartholomew's. Aubrey gives it as a common opinion, that at the time when Jonson's fatherin-law made him help him in his business of bricklayer, he worked with his own hands upon the Lincoln's Inn garden wall; which looks upon Chancery-lane, and which seems old enough to have some of his illustrious brick and mortar still remaining."

Under the cloisters in Christ's Hospital (which stand in the heart of the city unknown to most persons, like a house kept invisible for young and learned eyes) lie buried a multitude of persons of all ranks; for it was once a monastery of Grey Friars.' Among them is John of Bourbon, one of the prisoners taken at the battle of Agincourt. Here also lies Thomas Burdet, ancestor of the present Sir Francis, who was put to death in the reign of Edward the Fourth, for wishing the horns of a favourite white stag, which the King had killed, in the body of the person who advised him to do it. . And here too (a sufficient contrast) lies Isabella, wife of Edward the Second.

“ She-wolf of France, unrelenting fangs,

Who tore the bowels of her mangled mate."-GRAY. Her mate’s' heart was buried with her, and placed upon her bosom! a thing that looks like the fantastic incoherence of a dream. It is well we did not know of her presence when at school; or after reading one of Shakspeare's tragedies, we should have run twice as fast round the cloisters at night, time, as we used, Camden, 'the nourrice of antiquitie,' re. ceived part of his education in this school; and here also, not to mention a variety of others known in the literary world, were bred two of the most powerful and deep-spirited writers of the present day; whose visits to the cloisters we well remember.

In a palace on the site of Hatton-garden, died John of Gaunt. Brook House, at the corner of the street of that name in Holborn, was the residence of the celebrated Sir Fulke Greville, Lord Brook, the friend of Sir Philip Sydney.' In the same street, died, by a voluntary death, of poison, that extraordinary person, Thomas Chatterton,

“ The sleepless boy, who perished in his pride."—WORDSWORTH. He was buried in the work-house in Shoe-lane ;-a circumstance, at which one can hardly help feeling a movement of indignation. Yet what could beadles and parish-officers know about such a being! No more than Horace Walpole. In Gray's Inn lived, and in Gray's Inn garden meditated, Lord Bacon. In Southampton-row, Holborn, Cowper was a fellow-clerk to an attorney with the future Lord Chancellor Thurlow. At the Fleet-street corner of Chancery-lane, Cowley, we believe, was born. In Salisbury-court, Fleetstreet, was the house of Thomas Sackville, first Earl of Dorset, the precurser of Spenser, and one of the authors of the first regular English tragedy. On the demolition of this house, part of the ground was occupied by the celebrated theatre built after the Restoration, at which Betterton performed, and of which Sir William Davenant was manager. Lastly, here was the house and printing-office of Richardson. In Bolt-court, not far distant, lived Dr. Johnson, who resided also for some time in the Temple. A list of his numerous other residences is to be found in Boswell.* Congreve died in Surry-street in the Strand, at his own house. At the corner of Beaufort-buildings, was Lilly's, the perfumer, at whose house the Tatler was published. In Maiden-lane, Coventgarden, Voltaire lodged, while in London, at the sign of the White Peruke. Tavistock-street was then, we believe, the Bond-street of the fashionable world; as Bow-street was before. The change of Bow-street from fashion to the police,

* The Temple-must have had many eminent inmates. Among them, it is believed, was Chaucer, who is also said, upon the strength of an old record, to have been fined two shillings for beating a Franciscan friar in Fleet-street.

« AnteriorContinuar »