Memories (1)
Home Up W. J. Linton. The Chartists Claribel Misc Poems Stories for Children James Watson Republican Letters The English Republic Main Index Site Search
 


 

 

RECOLLECTIONS

CHAPTER I.


Earliest Recollections; Stratford; Death of George III.; Queen Caroline; Hone and Cruikshank; Press Gangs; State Lotteries; Copper Coinage; Cheap Illustrated Serials; Scott's Poems and Novels; School Days; Wanstead House.


    SOME vague remembrance I still have of the house in which I was born (December 7, 1812) and in which I lived till I was five years old: one of a row of private houses, "Ireland's Row" in the Mile-End Road, at the east end of London, close to Charrington's brewery,—a brewery I believe still prosperously existing.  The house was in the parish of Stepney, the parish for all folk born at sea.  My real recollections begin with 1820, the year in which George III. ceased to be nominal king of England.  My family was then living at Stratford, some four miles out of what was distinctly London in those days: not Chaucer's "Stratford atte Bowe," where the prioress learned French (which is now only Bow), but a continuation distinguished of old as Long Stratford, one of the fords for folk to "dance over my Lady Lea," fords bridged over in my time by, I think, four bridges between Old Bow Church and Stratford proper, now a busy railroad centre then a straggling hamlet of the parish of West Ham, where in old time had been an abbey, and connected with it one of the largest and handsomest churches in England.  Early in 1820 I was one evening walking with my father in our garden, a garden in which we showed with pride two almost unknown vegetables, rhubarb (American "pie-plant") and sea-kail, when we heard the far sound of a deep-toned bell.  It was the great bell of St. Paul's Cathedral, only used on the most solemn of State occasions.  My father spoke: "The old king is dead."

    Next I recollect being in the City, on a visit to some relations, and seeing daily the processions of the city companies (the old-time guilds) passing through the streets with banners and bands of music on their way westward to Hammersmith to present their loyal addresses to Queen Caroline, who, denied her place at court, was there living.  For her, if only out of censorious disrespect for the royal husband who rejected her, public sympathy was very strongly evoked.  It did not even need her acquittal by the packed and partial tribunal to which she was shamefully dragged by the sovereign profligate to make all that was liberal in England take part with her against him.  The queen's cause was also taken advantage of as an anti-governmental policy, calling forth William Hone's political pasquinades, in illustration of which the genius of George Cruikshank first made its appearance.  Shelley's Œdipus Tyrannus (Swellfoot the Tyrant, alias gouty George IV.) had its impulse in the same conflict.  My father was what was then called "a Queen's Man," and of course took in Hone's pamphlets,—The House that Jack built, The Man in the Moon, The Political Showman, The Queen's Matrimonial Ladder, and several others.  Some of them, relics of old days, are before me now; fierce but clever, the cuts by Cruikshank not unworthy of his after fame.  I can not charge my memory with any observation of them in that childish period of my life; but I must have seen them whether then interested or not.

    Not long afterwards was the queen's funeral: on the 7th of June in that year 1820.  It was said that she died heart-broken at her disappointment in not being able to obtain admittance to Westminster Abbey, to there insist on her right of coronation as undivorced queen.  Refusing her even a grave in England, her body was ordered to be conveyed to Brunswick to be buried there among her own kinfolk.  An attempt was made to smuggle the removal through the by-streets of London, but the people barred the way and forced the cortège through the principal thoroughfares.  Two, there may have been three, mourning coaches, escorted by a few mud-bespattered horse-guards, the "Oxford Blues," formed the funeral procession as it passed through Stratford, passing my father's door, on the way to the port of Harwich.  It was the shabbiest notable funeral I ever saw.  Very different had been the funeral of Nelson, on which occasion my father as a volunteer kept on Ludgate Hill the way of the solemn procession to St. Paul's, where under the central dome the greatest English admiral since Blake was buried with the utmost honour that could be rendered to the victorious and heroic sailor.  Yet even in those days of naval glory, and for many years after, the "common sailor" was arbitrarily and forcibly impressed into the service.  I have heard my father tell of the butchers of Whitechapel (an East London street of butchers' shops) turning out armed with their long knives to resist the cutlasses of the press-gangs, who called all fish which they could haul into their nets.

    Some few years later than 1820, and for many years earlier, there was the demoralising craze of State lotteries.  The contractors for the sale of tickets competed furiously, touting in the streets by thrusting their circulars into the hands of the passengers, rich or poor, old or young.  Boy-like, I was pleased to collect these lottery bills, many of them pictorial, well-drawn, and fairly engraved.  I believe that Branston, the wood-engraver, Bewick's contemporary, and, as an engraver, his worthy rival, coming from Bath to London in 1799, had his first employment on the cuts of these bills.  I think this lottery mania did not outlast my boyhood.  Another of my boyish collections was of the remains of a copper coinage of the time of the war against Napoleon, when money was so scarce that "brass buttons passed current," and large manufacturers coined copper "tokens" for the use of their workmen, of course only in their mutual dealings.  Some of these tokens were admirably designed and executed, and I had a large number of them.

    Of school-days, three years under the Rev. Dr. Burford at Stratford, there is not much to say.  They were the first days of cheap, sometimes illustrated, serial publications: the Portfolio, a harmless paper,—the respectable Mirror, published by Limbird in the Strand, and edited, if not at first, yet later, by John Timbs, afterwards editor of the Illustrated London News,—Endless Entertainment, Legends of Horror, the Newgate Calendar, and others: affording much amusement, if not very valuable instruction, to the young.  Lord Brougham's Society "for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge" had not yet glimmered above the horizon, and the Messrs. Chambers were not.  Among my early readings were Scott's Lady of the Lake, Marmion, Rokeby, and the Lord of the Isles, in the first grand quarto editions; books given me to heighten my seat as I wrote my Latin exercises at home; books in lonely opportunities to be lifted from under me for the pleasanter reading.  After a serious illness I read in bed some of Scott's novels, one of the volumes of Rob Roy in manuscript, page for page written out by Mr. Crick, the Stratford Circulating Librarian, to make good the set of three volumes sold at a guinea and a half, the usual price of novels before the advent of Mudie.

    A very quiet village was Stratford then, its lower parts periodically overflowed by the Lea waters.  Our basement kitchen might have three feet of flood in it.  I have seen the ground floor of the Blue Boar Inn under water to nearly the edge of the tabletops.  People living on the marshes could at such times only leave or get to their houses by boats; and in one part of the London road, the great highway out of London eastward, the road at such times would be impassable for foot-passengers.

    Between two and three miles from Stratford, bordering upon Epping—more properly Hainault—Forest, which then extended from Wanstead and Walthamstow through Woodford and Loughton to Epping, was Wanstead Park, the property of Tylney Long Pole Wellesley (I trust I have the names correctly), a nephew of the Duke of Wellington, and one of the fastest of the fast livers of that gorgeous Georgian era.  The park, with its noble avenues of trees, its lake, and heronry, was a favourite resort of us school-boys on half-holidays.  Wanstead House, in the park, said to be nearly if not quite the largest private house in England, I saw but once, a magnificent building well worthy of the Earl of Leicester, and to have had Queen Elizabeth as guest.  Here Sir Philip Sidney wrote his masque, the Lady of the May, on occasion of Her Majesty's visit in 1578.  Here, too, during a season of her displeasure, Sir Walter Raleigh seems to have been rusticated, if we may attribute to him the "Hermit's Song," in one of Dowland's Song-Books.  A lovely place was the park till most of the trees were cut down, and a right princely mansion was Wanstead House, despoiled to pay a gambler's debts.

    In these school-days but one small incident may bear recalling: our school's excitement at hearing of a new pupil at a rival establishment in Stratford, in the person of a son of Fauntleroy, the banker recently hanged for forgery.


 
CHAPTER II.


Apprenticeship; Dulwich College; The Picture Gallery; The Cruikshanks; Hood; Henry Hunt; Old London Bridge; City Sights; Jonathan Wooler; Richard Carlile; Popular Grievances; Fairs.


    IN 1828, having taken lessons in some sort of drawing, and therefore being fondly supposed to have an artistic inclination, I was apprenticed to Mr. George Wilmot Bonner, wood-engraver, a nephew and pupil of Branston, and went to live with the Bonner family for six years at Kennington, a suburb of London on the Surrey side.  Bonner was a clever artist, and a good master, making his pupils learn and do everything connected with their work, even to sawing up a box-wood log and planing and smoothing the rounds of wood to fit them to receive the drawings.  For these we might also sometimes have to make the sketches and draw them on the wood for our own engraving.  It was good artistic training.  I recollect being sent up the Thames side to sketch the "Red House" at Battersea (a noted house for matches of pigeon-shooting) and the old wooden bridges between Battersea and Chelsea (only lately removed) and between Putney and Fulham.  In that time of learning, too, I worked occasionally in the fifteenth century mode of wood-work, with a knife instead of a graver, on cuts for placards for Ducrow, the manager of Astley's Amphitheatre, the one horse-circus in London, in the Westminster Bridge Road.

    From our workroom window at the back, and top of No. 12 Canterbury Row, Kennington, we looked over gardens and fields to the Surrey Zoological Gardens, to which the menagerie of Exeter Change in the Strand was about that time removed.  The Surrey Gardens during these my 'prentice days had been laid out and opened as a rival to the Zoological Gardens in the Regent's Park.

    From Kennington through Camberwell to Dulwich was then a pleasant walk, after passing Camberwell through country fields, a walk I often took, as I had the fortune to be acquainted with one of the Fellows of Dulwich College, and so was sometimes allowed to spend a Sunday there, rambling in the large College garden, or for hours alone in the most pleasant of picture-galleries attached to the College.  The College had been founded and endowed by Edward Alleyn, an actor of Elizabethan days, as an almshouse for six poor bachelor curates of the Church of England: the master and warden to be always of the same name as the founder.  At the time I went there, this much-abused "charity" was ground-landlord of more than a mile every way from the College; and, as the letter of the founder's will was still the only rule, the master, warden, and other four "poor curates" lived in clover.  One of them held also two livings somewhere in the country, with perhaps two poor curates to do his duty there.  Under the Fellows' private rooms dwelt, serving them as janitors, as many poor men, whose ordered pittance had not increased with the property; and a sort of free school for a few village boys was also kept up.  Dining together in the common hall, when they preferred that to their own luxurious chambers, these Fellows fared sumptuously, waited on like princes.  There was "divine service" on Sundays in the College chapel (adorned with a large picture by Giulio Romano), one or other of the Fellows officiating, one as organist; but else the College was but a palace of drones.  Since then, parliamentary interference has, in this as in many other like cases, compelled a more reasonable application of the funds of the endowment.  I could even at the time of my visiting perceive the wrongfulness of the abuse; but as a visitor I cared mainly, perhaps only, for the beautiful picture-gallery, with its Murillos and Rembrandts, a Titian, a Guido, a Wouvermans, a Gainsborough, a Reynolds (the places in which they hung I can still remember), and many more, all of which I generally had quite to myself except for a few minutes when noticeable visitors coming out of the chapel were shown round.  The gallery is still there, one of the sights for strangers in London.

    Not many men of note came within my vision during these my 'prentice days.  One was Robert Cruikshank, who made drawings for Cumberland's British Theatre, as new plays came out at the theatres.  The drawings were always engraved by Bonner.  The many volumes of plays were the principal part of the small library accessible to me.  Robert Cruikshank was far from being the equal of his famous brother; but, being the elder, claimed the right of being Mister Cruikshank; and George had to assert himself as artistically the "real Simon Pure," an assertion afterwards mistaken for a statement that it was his real name and Cruikshank a pseudonym: so the reader is gravely informed in a German biographical dictionary, the biographer only too ready to grasp at every information.

    Hood I saw at his chambers in the Adelphi when I went to fetch his drawings for his Comic Annual, queer pen-and-ink drawings to be cut in fac-simile, some by myself.  I recall him only as a spare man of fair stature, grave but not ungenial.  But I most regarded his tools.  Beside pencil and pen there lay on his desk an old graver, a reminiscence of his early time as an engraver in copper, a penknife, and a nail, with which it appeared he cut or scraped out any wrong line in his drawing.  One other notable man I once saw was Henry Hunt, "the radical," with a white chimney-pot hat, his obnoxious sign of radicalism, in a waggon on his way to take the chair at a political meeting on Kennington Common, a great place for public meetings until prudently converted into a "park" for the more innocent amusement of the populace.

    A thing to be remembered was the first passing over New London Bridge, between Southwark ("the Borough") and the City (I mind not the exact date of its building—between 1828 and 1831), and looking down on the old bridge by the side of the new and many feet below it, the old bridge with its wide wooden abutments to the piers, and on each side of the roadway the half-cupola niches with seats, in which one could hear a conversation in the niche on the opposite side, the like of what was to be heard in the "Whispering Gallery" round the inside of the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral.  Another City wonder, still happily existing, outliving Temple Bar, the last of the City Gates, was the Giant Gog, with his fellow-giant Magog, standing in Guildhall, each in a high niche, from which, according to the veracious legend, they came down to dinner every day when they heard the clock strike one.  In the Guildhall too, so I was informed, was a pillar with a cavity called "Little Ease," in which refractory apprentices were confined.  City of London apprentices, it must be understood, of which I was one, being as matter of form "bound" to an elder half-brother, to entitle me to the freedom of the Scriveners' Company (the Guild to which Milton belonged) after due years of nominal service.  Never wanting to open a shop in the City precincts, I never took up my "freedom."  Of course I was acquainted with the bas-relief of a boy on a basket, marking the highest ground in London, in Pannier Alley, close by St. Paul's; and with "London Stone," some three feet of the top of which is, I believe, still visible near the Cannon Street Railway Station, the stone really some twenty feet high, the ground raised since the old Romans set it on their Watling Street, their highway through the country.  I may note also yet another City wonder, since removed, in front of old St. Dunstan's Church in Fleet Street; two life-sized figures which, one on each side of a bell, struck the hours.  Not very far from opposite, about that time, or it may have been later, I think at the corner of Bouverie Street, was Richard Carlile's shop, over which, in an upper window, stood two life-sized figures—"the Devil and a Bishop," cheek by jowl, scandalising the pious passers-by.  Carlile had followed in the wake of Jonathan Wooler (editor of the Black, Dwarf) and Hone, as publisher of proscribed books, Palmer's Principles of Nature, Paine's Age of Reason, and other such, for which wickedness he suffered under different sentences nine years of imprisonment.  It was the heyday of governmental prosecutions for "seditious" speaking or publishing and "blasphemy," in which the Government was not always successful.  On one occasion Carlile took advantage of the law that a full report of a trial was permissible, and read in his defence the whole of Paine's Age of Reason; so legally procuring repetition of the offence for which he was indicted, and for which he was sentenced to three years' imprisonment in Dorchester Gaol.

    Popular objections to things as they were had not much of "sweetness and light," but were sometimes as harsh and unseemly as their provocation.  Two low fellows parading London streets of an evening as parson and clerk, mouthing out a ribald parody of the "Form of Common Prayer," did not betoken much popular respect for either Church or State; but there was ground for bitter feeling and disrespect among the lower orders, kept lower, when Dorchester labourers were imprisoned for too plainly avowed discontent at four shillings a week as the support for a family; when men were sent to prison for "unlawfully assembling on a Sunday;" when for the mere selling of an unstamped newspaper men and women were also punished with incarceration.  But of this I shall have to speak when I tell of my friends Watson and Hetherington.  As an apprentice I might not take part in any public matter; but I wore the badge of the National Association at the passing of the Reform Bill, and had learned to feel an interest in public affairs.

    These were days of yearly fairs: Bow Fair, where while yet a child I was taken, to be disgusted with the ugliness of wax-work; Camberwell Fair, to which I went in 'prentice time; and "Bartlemy" (Bartholomew) Fair, held near St. Bartholomew's Hospital, in Smithfield: permitted gatherings these of unruly crowds, for whom was provided the roughest kind of amusement, theatrical and other, coarse, vulgar, and obscene, to suit the lowest tastes.  I can not recollect how it was that one night, after my apprenticeship, I found myself in a low public house near Smithfield, thence following a riotous crowd which at midnight proceeded, shouting and knocking at doors, to "proclaim the Fair" (to be opened next day by proclamation of the lord mayor) as a proceeding necessary to maintain the charter.

    All these fairs, with many more throughout the country, were held by charters of different kings, and in old days had met conveniences of trade; becoming, however, at last mere disorderly nuisances, a disgrace to even the rough "civilisation" of the early part of the nineteenth century.  Bartholomew Fair, in the heart of the City, was the worst of these, unless indeed its grossnesses of vice could have been surpassed by those of Greenwich, held in Greenwich Park behind the Sailors' Hospital,—of which grossnesses old Francis Place (the radical Westminster tailor whose political influence placed Burdett and Hobhouse in Parliament) told me tales, of the days when he was young and manners were yet more rough and indecent.


 
CHAPTER III.


Church Services; Landor; Carlton House; First Perversion; My First Friend; W. J. Huggins, Marine Painter to William IV.; Duncan ; Wade; Horne.


    FROM my father, the first Englishman of his race (his father was an Aberdeen ship-carpenter who settled in London as a builder, with fair pretension also to be called an architect), I perhaps inherited some tendency to radicalism; certainly not from my mother, who, my father not interfering, brought up myself and a younger brother and two sisters in the tenets of the Church of England, her utmost show of tolerance to send us small children on wet Sundays, when it was not fit for us to walk the more than a mile to our parish church at West Ham, to a small Methodist chapel, only a few doors from home, which we called "Mamma's Little Meeting."  I do not remember that she ever went there with us.  Too young to be impressed with the Thirtynine Articles, I was none the less endoctrinated in the Athanasian Creed and the special church services, of course including those in commemoration of the "Blessed Martyr," Charles I., and the happy restoration of his worthy son; and so fairly trained through all the ceremonials of the church as by law established.  Excellent those commemorative services for the two Charleses if, as Walter Savage Landor observed, each could be changed for the other!  After all, though England was not a gainer politically or morally by the accession of her easy-going crowned libertine, yet (as even a clergyman of the Established Church, J. Woodfall Ebsworth, the good vicar of Molash, Kent, once remarked to me) he had one saving grace, "he was not such a liar as his father."  Perhaps to teach me some additional reverence for the contemporary loyalty, which, mean as it was, was not without blind loyal worshipers, I was once taken by a family friend, who had been a page of the Prince Regent, to see the state apartments in Carlton House, which had been one of the Regent's palaces, then standing on the side of St. James' Park, at the foot of Waterloo Place, where now are the steps into the park and the column on which is the statue of the Duke of York, the king's brother, so elevated, it was wickedly said, "to be out of the reach of his creditors."

    My first perversion may have come from a fellow engraver, a young man from Stockton-on-Tees, who sat beside me during the last two years of my apprenticeship, and who was what, in those days, was not reputable—that is, he was an Unitarian, and so "not a Christian" in the estimation of the pious according to law.  There was nothing else against him, and he showed considerable talent as an engraver.  But I owed more of free thought to a friend a few years older than myself, a stock-broker's clerk and also organist at two city churches, with whom, between the services, at our lunch in an else untenanted office, I read Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary.  He, I suppose, would have been called worse than Unitarian, an "infidel."  Certainly a non-conformist, though in no way aggressive or obtrusive; but to be such, however inoffensively, was enough for him to be shut from his respectable father's house, and to have his mother and sisters forbidden to speak to him if by chance they met him in the street.  To me, in my recollection of him, he seems to have been the most beautifully natured man I have ever known, almost womanly in his delicacy of aspect and gentleness of manner, yet with a keen masculine intellect and firmness of character and will.  Opposed and hindered in every way by his father,—not a bad man, but a bigot,—he at last emigrated to Australia, as a clerk in one of the first Australian banks.  There he died.  He was more than a brother to me, and his memory is still very dear.  My first acquaintance with him was near the end of my apprenticeship.  I knew him as the friend of Edward Duncan, the talented water-colour painter, at that time an aquatint engraver, engraving portraits of horses and of ships, from paintings by his father-in-law, W. J. Huggins, Marine Painter to his Majesty King William IV.  Very different the artist's position at that time from what it has become since.  Huggins lived where no fairly successful artist would think of living now, in Leadenhall Street, not far from opposite to the East India House, in a narrow house, only two small rooms on a floor, the ground floor a shop, kept by his son for the sale of engravings from paintings by the father, of portraits of ships, and where they could be seen by East India captains, for whom, in general, they were painted.  Above the shop were parlour and kitchen; over them the bedrooms, and at top the painting-room, where the painter, a jolly, fat, good-natured fellow, who had been ship's cook in the same vessel in which Stanfield was a cabin-boy, smoked his pipe and drank his all-water grog, of which he would jocosely offer a share to his visitors; and where, on the drugget flooring of the room, he would chalk the positions of the several vessels in a naval action.  For he was not a mere ship-portrait painter, but did higher things, painted for the king three large pictures of the Battle of Navarino, which his Marine Majesty would come to see in progress, for all the shop and the climb up steep and narrow stairs.  Huggins was a kind and instructive friend to me, and his son-in-law, Edward Duncan, was my good friend for many after years, until his death.

    Toward the close of my apprenticeship, I became acquainted with Thomas Wade and his friend Richard Hengist Horne.  Wade, the author of a volume of thoughtful and imaginative poems, Mundi et Cordis Carmina, published in 1835, of a play, The Jew of Arragon, brought out by Charles Kemble (in which Fanny Kemble, afterwards Mrs. Butler, played the heroine), and of other poems.  He (Wade) should have made a high mark in literature, but under pressure of some money difficulties, betook himself to Jersey, a sort of debtors' Alsatia in those days, and there obtained a living by editing a weekly newspaper.  There he died, leaving MSS. of verse, in the hands of Mr. Buxton Forman, yet unpublished.

    Horne, in 1835, had already published his fine tragedy of Cosmo de' Medici, in five acts, and The Death of Marlowe, in one act, works with more of the vigorous character and high poetic quality of the Elizabethan dramatists than anything that has been written since the Elizabethan days.  Somewhat later he brought out a noble epic poem, Orion, which, in a freak to prove that the age did not care for poetry, he issued at the price of one farthing.  His publisher would not let me have a second farthing's worth.  He proved his case: the sale was small.  I think years afterwards there might have been some additional small demand for the book when published at five shillings.  A prose work,—an Exposition of the False Medium, the Barriers between Men of Genius and the Public,—a fierce onslaught on the publishers' Reader and the Reviewers, did not help him to a too friendly critical appreciation.  And his work was very unequal.  A Life of Napoleon was hardly more than a wordy enlargement of that by Hazlitt; and an imaginary Life of Van Amburg, the Lion-Tamer, and papers unsigned in the Monthly Repository under the editorship of W. J. Fox, and for a short time of Leigh Hunt, only showed his clever versatility.  Gregory VII., a five-act tragedy, deserved a lofty place; but very much of later work, despite notable exceptions, did not reach the same height.  A man of indubitable genius, he yet wanted that one element of genius, humour.  Still he merited far more than he had of contemporary appreciation, and very much of his verse may rank with the very best of that of the nineteenth century poets.  A remarkable man also in other respects; small in stature, but with a grand head, beautiful in young days when he was a cadet at Woolwich, serving afterwards in the war for Mexican independence, for which service he, up to the time of his death, drew a small annuity; he was also one of the sub-commissioners appointed to inquire into the condition of women and children in our mines, horrible enough to demand inquiry; he lectured, in 1847, on Italy, when, with Mazzini's aid, the People's International League strove to stir the public mind in favour of Italian freedom; had command later, when in Australia (where he went with William Howitt), of the escort of gold from the mines; and also sat in the Australian legislature.  Coming back to England after several years, he continued to write, sometimes with his old vigour; his last work, Sithron the Star-stricken, worthy of his best days.  He was a musician, played well on the guitar, and sang well.  I was in England at the end of 1882, and during the following year, and half of 1884; and, our acquaintanceship resumed, spent many evenings with the old man at his lodgings in Northumberland Street, Marylebone.  Through the two winters he would cook our dinner at the stove in his sitting-room, priding himself on his cooking (he was very much of an epicure, an epicurean in his life), and we ate on what room was left by books and letters on a little round table before the fire.  He had always good wine, supplied by an admiring friend, and we sat and talked of books or of his Australian life.  He was proud of showing how strong, in spite of his years (his dated with the century), his physique still was; and one evening he showed me his bare foot, that I might see he was really web-footed.  He had taken several prizes for swimming; on one occasion had been thrown into the water hands and feet tied, to prove that merely touching the end of a straw could keep a man afloat,—of course he did not need the straw.  After reaching the "threescore years and ten," he leaped from the pier at Eastbourne to give a lesson in swimming.  One evening I found him not in his usual spirits.  He had been dining out the evening before, and I thought there had been some imprudent excess.  A day or two later he was in bed with gastric fever, and only recovered sufficiently to go for change of air to the sea at Margate, where after a few days he died.  We buried the old man there, though it had been his wish to be laid near Charles Lamb at Edmonton.  I am not sure that he had known Lamb, though it may have been.  Hazlitt he had known, and, I believe, had nursed in his last sickness.  I always think of Horne as one who ought to have been great, he came so near it in his work, in the greatness and nobility of his best writings.


 
CHAPTER IV.


W. J. Fox; Southwood Smith; Eliza Flower; Sarah Flower Adams; W. B. Adams; Watson; Hetherington; The Poor Man's Guardian; Movement for a Free Press; Heywood; Moore; Hibbert.


    IN 1837, Wade was living, with his mother and sisters, in Great Quebec Street, Montague Square.  He had just given up editing the Bell's New Weekly Messenger, a liberal newspaper.  On Sunday evenings he gave receptions, when there would be music by Mrs. Bridgman (distinguished as a fine pianiste, afterwards the wife of Wade), and where I would meet Horne, Douglas Jerrold, W. J. Fox (the eloquent Unitarian preacher), Dr. Southwood Smith (one of Bentham's executors, and physician to the Jews' and fever hospitals), Margaret Gillies (the miniature painter), and her sister Mary (a writer of the Mary Howitt class, and a most amiable woman), and others.  We had good music and, I dare to say, good talk, to which I listened.  After this I was a frequent visitor in Fox's house, there becoming acquainted with Eliza Flower, the musical composer, and her sister, the author of the hymn "Nearer, my God! to Thee," the wife of William Bridges Adams, one of our best civil engineers, a man held in high esteem in his profession, and also for his most unselfish and wide philanthropy.  He, his wife, and her sister, became my intimate and dearest friends.

    Eliza Flower's music, Hymns and Anthems, was the music at South Place Chapel, Finsbury, the church of an advanced section of religious Unitarians, the followers of William Johnson Fox, a man whose eloquence drew all the best of the liberal notabilities,—such men as John Stuart Mill and Disraeli—to listen to him.  The musical services, too, at the chapel sought a high religious ground, the Hymns and Anthems consisting of selections from Scripture and from old divines and poets, set by Eliza Flower to worthy music of notable originality and excellence.  Some of the hymns were by Fox himself; others by Sarah Flower Adams, who should also be remembered for a very noble tragic "dramatic poem," Vivia Perpetua, of similar subject but very different treatment to Massinger's Virgin Martyr.  The sisters were two of the most beautiful women of their day, daughters of Benjamin Flower, editor of the Cambridge Intelligencer, the earliest of our liberal newspapers.  They had been friends of Browning in his young manhood,—the first to recognize and call attention to his genius.  To me their friendship, a love as of two elder sisters, too soon to be interrupted by their death (that of Eliza Flower in December, 1846, and of Mrs. Adams in 1848, a year and a half later), was indeed a liberal education.  With their love and feeling for music and pictorial art, and their high poetic thought, they were such women in their purity, intelligence, and high-souled enthusiasm, as Shelley might have sung as fitted to redeem a world by their very presence.

    Fox ought to have been the leader, as well as a great teacher, of the people.  I think he was only prevented by a physique which made him inactive.  He was a short, stout man, with a grand head and fine eyes,—the most poetic and rich-languaged of all great speakers I have heard, only not so classic as Wendell Phillips.  He was afterwards Member of Parliament for Oldham.  He was also, in private, a good verse-improvisatore.

    I owed very much to the influence of Fox.  Before I knew him personally, hearing lectures by him, and reading Shelley's Queen Mab and Lamennais' Words of a Believer (Paroles d'un Croyant), had stirred me with the passion of Reform.  Passing to the city from the Lower Road, Islington, where, the days of pupilage over, I was living in 1835-6, I would look into a bookseller's shop, a few doors from Bunhill Fields (John Bunyan's burial-place), in the City Road, Finsbury, to buy Roebuck's Pamphlets (parliamentary critiques), or Volney's Ruins of Empire and Lectures on History, or Frances Wright's Few Days at Athens, or the works of Godwin, Paine, or Robert Dale Owen: all of them the neat and cheap publications of James Watson, in 1835 just out of prison for selling an unstamped newspaper,—a man whose evident sincerity and quiet earnestness led me into conversation concerning the books he sold, and on other matters also.  With him began my first acquaintance with Chartism, a movement of no small importance, however little now is thought or known of it, which arose out of the action of Henry Hetherington, a London printer.  His fight for a free press should first be spoken of.

    In 1831, and after, with the "reforming" Whigs in power, it still remained illegal, so declared by the government administrators, to give political knowledge to the people: illegal ipso facto, to render the giving impossible.  There was a four-penny stamp on every periodical publication that gave news.  Caution money was required before a newspaper could be issued, in order that, in case of conviction for anything which could be construed as offensive to the government, the fine might be at hand.  There was also a tax upon every advertisement, and a duty upon paper.  To contend against such a state of things, this printer Hetherington, after several vain attempts to evade the law, began the publication of the Poor Man's Guardian, a weekly paper for the people, "established contrary to law, which will contain (in the words of the prohibitory Act, here in italic) news, intelligence, occurrences, and remarks and observations thereon, tending decidedly to excite hatred and contempt of the government and constitution of the tyranny of this country as by law established, and also to vilify the abuses of religion; and will be printed in the United Kingdom for sale and published periodically (every Saturday) at intervals not exceeding twenty-six days, and not exceeding two sheets; and will be published for a less sum than sixpence (to wit, the sum of ONE PENNY) exclusive of the duty imposed by the 38 Geo. III., cap. 78, and 60 Geo. III., c. 9, or any other acts whatsoever."

    For selling a single copy of such a paper, proof given before a magistrate was deemed to be sufficient for conviction; and during three years and a half, more than five hundred men and women were under magisterial sentences imprisoned for various periods; Hetherington himself twice for six months.  Still he persevered, and at last succeeded in forcing a trial in the Court of Exchequer before Lord Lyndhurst and a special jury, when the Guardian was declared to be a "strictly legal publication."  Of course there was no redress for the more than five hundred persons who had suffered illegally.

    Among the imprisoned was Abel Heywood, a bookseller of Manchester and wholesale agent for the Guardian, so a fair target for prosecution.  He took his prison degree, paid his fines, and went on selling the paper.  Then the authorities seized the papers in the hands of the carriers, and various devices had to be resorted to in order that they might circulate in safety.  Some packed with shoes, some with chests of tea, some otherwise, the prohibited goods were sent through the country, and their sale was continued until the reduction of the duty, as was expected, destroyed their monopoly of cheapness.  But by this time the Guardian had been made the foundation of a business, which Heywood's ability and perseverance enlarged, until he, denounced in these early days as "seditious," became, without change of principles or political conduct, an influential and well-to-do citizen, mayor of Manchester, and might have represented Manchester in Parliament had he cared to do so.  To his second wife, a woman of some wealth, we owe the erection in Manchester of the first statue of Oliver Cromwell.

    Watson, Hetherington's closest friend, the son of a Yorkshire day-labourer, his mother a very intelligent and energetic woman, had his three prison services: the first of twelve months for selling Palmer's Principles of Nature in Carlile's shop (he had come to London from Malton in Yorkshire to volunteer as shopman for Carlile, Carlile and his wife being both in prison, she under a two years' sentence), then twice, six months each time, for selling the Guardian.  Such had been English freedom under the infamous Castlereagh administration in the reign of George IV., and such it remained under liberal Whig rule after the passing of the Reform Bill, a measure only meaned, in later words of Richard Cobden, to "garrison our present institutions" against the rising democracy.

    The popularity of the cheap unstamped papers injuring the sale of the stamped higher-priced, compelled them also to join in the agitation against the stamp; and the consequence of their co-operation was the reduction of the tax from fourpence to one penny, which Mr. Hume rightly called the worst penny of the lot.  This reduction, as anticipated, ruined the unstamped.  But the reduction did not stop the agitation.  The "Society for the Repeal of all the Taxes on Knowledge" took up the question, and after thirteen years of incessant action (the committee met 473 times) forced the government to give up not only the remaining penny stamp on every paper, but also the tax on advertisements and that on the manufacture of paper.  Most active in this later movement was the indefatigable chairman, Richard Moore, a wood-carver, who was happily married to a niece of Watson, and who was in close fellowship with Watson in all his public life.  A man singularly modest and quietly persistent was Moore, for more than forty years among the foremost in all the liberal movements of that time, a leading elector in the most radical borough of Finsbury, returning Wakley and Duncombe to Parliament, in active sympathy with the cause of Poland and that of Italy, and enjoying the esteem and friendship of leading politicians, of those even whose views were not so far-going as his own.  It was fairly written of him at his death in 1878, that "all the prominent English Radicals and liberal Exiles he could reckon among his friends . . . the purity of his life was only equalled by his disinterestedness . . . there was something singularly earnest, gentle, and chivalrous in his character."  This man I am proud to speak of as my friend.

    Another man, before I leave the story of the unstamped, must not be left unmentioned, though I only knew him by report: Julian Hibbert, the treasurer and "chief prop" of the Victim Fund during the battle for the Poor Man's Guardian.  For the victims of the government prosecutions were not left uncared for.  Hibbert was, I believe, brought up as a Catholic, a man of "good family," education, and some wealth, who identified himself with the political and free-thinking movements which had then to encounter disrepute and obloquy,—a man whose portrait (now before me) reminds me of Shelley, who seems, indeed, to have been a prose Shelley, with the same gentleness of nature and chivalrous zeal against wrong.  He died in 1834.


 
CHAPTER V.


The People's Charter; Major Cartwright ; The London Working Men's Association; Crown and Anchor Conference; The Chartist Convention; O'Connor; Spies; The Odd Fellow; Hetherington; Watson.


    THE "People's Charter" was an endeavour to carry out the principles of Major John Cartwright, who, born in 1740 and dying in 1824, is noteworthy, in the words beneath his statue in Burton Crescent, London, as "the firm, consistent, and persevering advocate of universal suffrage," and reform in Parliament: principles which, though they had been accepted, were not insisted on by Earl Grey in his Reform Bill.  The immediate movement for the Charter grew out of a document prepared by Hetherington in 1831, which originated the "National Union of the Working Classes,"—"to collect and organise a peaceful and open expression of public opinion" (so superseding the secret societies of the time), "and to obtain an effectual reform in Parliament," instead of the partial reform which was all that was attainable by the Whig Reform Bill.  The National Union of the Working Classes was, after much good educational work, disturbed, and, to a great extent, displaced by the trades unions; but a section still sought to continue the political action by the formation in 1836 of the "London Working Men's Association," an association whose published addresses called forth the admiration of even so fastidious a literary critic as Leigh Hunt.  In February, 1837, this association convened a public meeting at the Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand, out-door meetings being illegal and two attempts having been stopped by the Reform Government.  A petition to the House of Commons for universal suffrage and better ordering of elections, adopted at that meeting, was placed in the hands of John Arthur Roebuck, M. P. for Sheffield, for presentation to the House; and the association towards its support requested a conference with those members of the reformed House who professed liberal principles.  Eight answered: Colonel Perronet Thompson, Joseph Hume, Charles Hindley, Daniel O'Connell, Dr. Bowring, John Temple Leader, William Sherman Crawford, and Benjamin Hawes; all, except Hawes, after two nights' discussion, accepting the principles of the association.  O'Connell dodged, had a scheme of his own, but, that not approved of, agreed to the course of the association, not honestly, as afterwards appeared.

    Resolutions were adopted, pledging the above-named members, Hawes excepted, to support the petition to be presented by Roebuck, and to support and vote for a bill to be brought into the House of Commons "embodying the principles of universal suffrage, equal representation, free selection of representatives without reference to property, the ballot, and short Parliaments of fixed duration, the limit not to exceed three years"; and appointing a committee of twelve to draw up the bill.  The committee consisted of six Members of Parliament,—Thompson, Crawford, Leader, Roebuck, Hindley, and O'Connell; and six members of the Working Men's Association,—Henry Hetherington, John Cleave, James Watson (three booksellers), Richard Moore (carver), William Lovett (cabinet-maker), and Henry Vincent (journey man printer).  Roebuck and Lovett were to draft the bill; but, owing to Roebuck's parliamentary engagements, the work was really done by Lovett, with Roebuck's legal advice.  This was the "People's Charter," first published on the 8th of May, 1838, accepted at large public meetings in Glasgow and Birmingham, and in London at an important public meeting in Palace Yard, Westminster, called by the high bailiff on the requisition of a large number of influential citizens.  One of the speakers I saw and heard at this meeting was Ebenezer Elliott, the "Corn-Law Rhymer."

    A Convention of fifty-five persons, elected by show of hands at public meetings- throughout the country of, it was said, three millions of persons, sat in London in the following year, to consider of the means to obtain the charter; and, having placed a petition with 1,228,000 signatures in the hands of Mr. Atwood, M. P. for Birmingham, for presentation to Parliament, transferred their sittings to Birmingham, and then dispersed to hold meetings throughout the country.  The petition was presented and rejected by the Reformed House of Commons, by 235 votes against 46.  Thereupon followed hot and angry talk, chiefly by Feargus O'Connor (formerly a follower of O'Connell), who, in his Northern Star, a newspaper published at Leeds, and assuming to be the organ of the Chartists (in reality only of the unwiser section who prided themselves on the advocacy of physical force), broke up the coherence and the morale of the party and, aided by arbitrary arrests and imprisonments for "seditious" speaking, much of it provoked by government spies, caused at last an insane attempt at insurrection in South Wales.  After that came disheartening, lukewarmness, with intermittent bluster, indifference, and so an end to all hopes of popular success.

    How spies were employed to worm themselves into the Chartist movement, to incite to outbreaks or at least to intemperate language which the Government could construe as seditious, was exposed before Parliament by Cobbett, while Member for Oldham.  He proved that one Popay and other spies were employed by the police with the knowledge of the Government, and paid out of the Secret Service Money.  This Popay joined the Union of the Working Classes, winning confidence by his professions and activity, attending the class meetings in order to report them, suggesting and even drawing up resolutions of a violent character, and urging the procuring of arms with a view to open rebellion.  An extract from Cobbett's report of the evidence, laid before the Select Committee of the House of Commons, will give some idea of the man and of the system.


    "Your Committee request the House first to cast their eyes over the ten months' deeds of this most indefatigable and unrelenting spy; to survey the circle of his exploits from the Borough Town Hall to Blackheath, and from Copenhagen House to Finsbury Square; to behold him dancing with the wife of the man whom he had denounced in his reports, and, standing on a tomb-stone, writing down and then reporting the words uttered over the grave of a departed reformer (Thelwall's speech at Hardy's grave in Bunhill Fields burialground); to trace him going from meeting to meeting, and from group to group, collecting matter for accusation in the night, and going regularly in the morning bearing the fruits of his perfidy to his immediate employer, to be by him conveyed to the Government; to follow him into the houses of John B. Young and Mr. Sturgis, and there see his wife and children relieved and fed and warmed and cherished, and then look at one of his written reports and see him describe Young's Union class as armed to a man, and at another see him describe Mr. Sturgis as the teacher of a doctrine that 'fitted man for the worst offences'; and see Lord Melbourne writing on the back of this report that 'it is not unimportant and ought not to be lost sight of.' . . . Your Committee request the House to cast their eyes over these ten months of the life of this man, and then consider whether it is possible for a Government to preserve the affections of a frank and confiding people, unless it at once, in the most unequivocal manner, give proof of its resolution to put an end, and forever, to a system which could have created such a monster in human shape."


    Under such a system it could be no matter for wonder, that for hasty, if not intemperate speaking, always "seditious," four hundred and forty-three "Chartists" were imprisoned for different periods in 1839 and 1840.

    Yet that Chartist agitation, mere bootless talk as it may be considered, was the fair outstarting and the sure promise of all political gain which has since accrued to the working classes.  And the first movers in it were men worthy to be held in honourable remembrance.  Most of them I knew personally, and was in close fellowship with them always.  Hetherington, Watson, and Moore, were my intimate friends; Lovett I knew well; Cleave not so well; and Vincent I only recall as an enthusiastic and able speaker, whose outspokenness was not always wise.  He paid in prison for the unwisdom.

    Hetherington was a leader of men, a ready and effective speaker, plain, pathetic, humorous, or sarcastic, as occasion required; a bold thinker and a good organizer, prompt, energetic, earnest, and devoted.  As a printer, publisher, and news-agent, he might have become a rich man, but his time was only too ungrudgingly given to the public service, which he would not neglect even when his attention to it might be at the risk of his own business.  I knew him well, for more than a year, from April, 1841, to August, 1842, editing for him one of his unstamped papers, the Odd Fellow, so entitled because it chronicled the proceedings of the "Odd Fellows," at that time and since an extensive benefit society.  In this paper I wrote weekly political leading articles, much verse, chiefly political, and criticisms of plays, books, etc.  Among the criticisms were a laudatory review of Dickens' Old Curiosity Shop, and one on the first performance of Gerald Griffin's Gisippus, brought out by Macready at Drury Lane Theatre, a production notable not only on account of the play itself, but also for the novel appropriateness of the setting of the drama in its scenery and accessories, such unusual ordering due to Macready, who repeated the same appropriateness, an example to all scenic propriety since, in the production of Leigh Hunt's Legend of Florence, a play, though well performed, too refined and purely beautiful for general appreciation.  I was present at the first performance of that also.

    My editorship bringing me into such constant communication with Hetherington, I was well able to judge of the character of the man.  Popular among the better portion of the Chartist party, not unpopular even with those to whose policy and conduct he was opposed, I found him to be one for whom I could not but have a sincere respect and very warm regard.

    Watson was of the old Puritan type of our great Cromwellian time, such a man as Ireton, simply wise, serious, and most earnest; a good, not a great speaker, his speeches of few words, but always clear and to the purpose; a brave specimen of the intelligent and honest English workman.  I think of him always as a workman, for his life seemed to show that the ideal he had before him was what an English workman ought to be; and though he kept a bookseller's shop, he was in no sense a tradesman—a buyer and seller merely for gain.  His publishing was only of works for the benefit of his fellows.  He was a man whom his most violent opponents could not but respect for his integrity and calm, manly self-possession under all circumstances; essentially a religious man, a believer in duty, though he bowed in neither church nor chapel, and only gave an honestly industrious life for freedom of thought and speech, his whole course a commentary on the words of Milton: "Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience above all liberties."  He was my close and dear friend for thirty-seven years, until his death.


 
CHAPTER VI.


Lovett and Collins; Cooper; Bronterre O'Brien; O'Connor; Outbreak in Wales; Frost; Protest against Death Punishment; Carlyle; Fairfield Festival; Leigh Hunt.


    OF Richard Moore, my friend, too, for the like period, I have already written.  Lovett was the gentlest of agitators, a mild, peace-loving man, whom nothing but a deep sense of sympathy with and duty toward the wronged could have dragged into public life.  His chief ambition, apparent in the later evening of his day when the Chartist movement was at an end, would have been to do good work as an efficient school-teacher.  Yet he, too, encountering oppression, had his share of punishment, sentenced, with John Collins, a fellow-member of the Chartist Convention, to twelve months' imprisonment in Warwick gaol for having signed (Lovett as secretary) and printed the resolution of the Convention then sitting at Birmingham (it was only taken to be printed by Collins), a temperate and manly protest of the Convention against a brutal attack by the police upon the people assembled peaceably in their usual place of meeting, the Bull Ring at Birmingham.  This police outrage provoked a riot, which was all the Government wanted as giving a colour for farther proceedings.  From the 25th of July, 1839, to the same date in 1840, the two Chartists remained in gaol, most harshly treated.

    On the 3rd of August, 1840, a public dinner, to congratulate the offenders on their liberation, was given at the White Conduit House, Mr. Wakley, surgeon and coroner, the editor of the Lancet, and M. P. for Finsbury, in the chair, and his fellow-member, Mr. Duncombe, also present.  More than a thousand persons attended.  At this dinner I met and was introduced to a tall, stalwart Frenchman, Godfrey Cavaignac, the chief of the French Republicans, the brother of the unrepublican general who put down the Paris insurrection of June, 1848.

    Thomas Cooper, the poet-shoemaker, was a man of a very different character from Lovett; impulsive, hot-headed, and, I doubt not, in his early utterances, sufficiently careless of his words to be considered "seditious," and so promoted to two years in prison, where in Spenserian stanzas he wrote his "prison rhyme," the Purgatory of Suicides, a long poem, remarkable if only for being produced under prison difficulties, but also as evincing much thoughtful reading, and not without passages of true poetic beauty.  When he came out of prison, the rarity of such a performance gave him a certain notoriety and importance.  He came to London, and there took an active part in the Chartist movement, more especially in the endeavour at its revival, when new hopes arose with the February days of France.  Chartism at an end, he became an itinerant preacher, I think in the Baptist connection.  A simple-hearted, good man, quick-tempered and enthusiastic, he was an eloquent orator and a good writer.  His Letters to Working Men are of excellent sense, and in plain, earnest, vigorous English, reminding one of, and worthy of comparison with, the best writing of Cobbett.  His Autobiography is a notable book.  Kindly natured, though easy to take offence, the offence was soon forgiven.  He was trying, on one occasion, to persuade me to join some "League of Universal Brotherhood," when I answered: "Cooper!  I know only two of the Brothers, yourself and Howitt (a man as warm-tempered as Cooper), and I am not tempted to be a third."  I once said of him that he would be an excellent coöperator if the coöper were in two syllables.  It was too severe to fairly characterise the man.  He died, very deservedly respected, so late as 1892, in the eighty-seventh year of his age.  Among the Chartist crowd, I would also select for notice James Bronterre O'Brien, an Irishman, perhaps the cleverest man of our party, and a forcible speaker.

    The Chartist movement was a people's protest against the misgovernment of an oligarchy.  It but followed the example set by the middle classes in their struggle for the Reform Bill; and at first was even more closely within legal limits, superseding by open speech the dangerous growl of secret societies.  But when Feargus O'Connor, a man of probably quite honest intentions, but of little fibre and impolitic, through the influence of the wide circulation of his paper, the Northern Star, became prominent as a leader, the course was changed.  The Star helped and encouraged fierce and foolish talk of what might be done by force.  This led, at the close of 1839, to an outbreak in Wales, with the purpose of liberating Vincent from Monmouth gaol, in prison there for too plain speaking: an ill-advised and ill-planned outbreak, easily put down, for which the leader, John Frost (up to that time a man of quiet respectability as a linen-draper, a magistrate, and mayor of Newport), was, with two others, Zephaniah Williams and Jones, sentenced to death.  While they were in prison awaiting their trial, I, then living at Woodford, some eight miles from London, had a visit from Watson to tell me that one of the rebels, who had been put in prison chiefly that he might be used as a witness against Frost, had escaped and was then in London, at Hetherington's.  Would I give him refuge and take care of him?  Of course I would.  So he came, little more than a lad (and a nice lad), and stayed with me until the trial was over, not then having much to fear, on account of his youth.

    When news came that the death-sentence of the three men was really to be carried out, and that the gallows was being erected, it was in the little sitting-room behind Watson's shop in the City Road that we copied out a petition for reprieve, to which the subscriptions received in not many hours became so numerous that the government was fain to send the announcement of a stay of the death-sentence to Hetherington's more prominent place of business in the Strand, to be there exhibited to allay the popular excitement.  The sentence of death was commuted to transportation for life.  Frost was allowed after some forty years to return to England.  Jones and Williams, I believe, died abroad.

    I thought then to make the opportunity available for an influential protest against death-punishment; and consulted Dr. Southwood Smith, Dr. Birkbeck (the founder of the first Mechanics' Institute), and Fox.  Fox sent me to Birkbeck for him to draw up the protest.  Birkbeck sent me back to Fox.  He still hesitating, I wrote the protest myself, and approved by Birkbeck, went on my way, calling first upon Carlyle.  I had never seen him, and had no introduction except my purpose.  He received me well, talked with me, but would not sign the protest, which included Frost.  "No!" he said, "he respected the Quaker principle, but force must be met by force; who took the sword must expect to perish by the sword," or words to that effect.  Then he spoke of the men,—"Poor Frost!" and tears were in his eyes; "but I am sorry for him."  From him I went to his neighbour, Leigh Hunt, who received me with most kindly warmth and unhesitatingly gave me his signature.  Yet as I went away, I thought there was something in the manner of Carlyle's refusal which touched me more closely than even Hunt's prompt acquiescence.  There was a deep-heartedness in it, in which I have kept faith, despite all harshnesses of utterance: which, I think, have not justly characterised him.  One other thing of later happening may also show his better depth, when not disturbed by dyspepsia.  A young German had become a member of a queer society or community, raw vegetarians and else, located at Alcott House, on Ham Common, near Richmond on Thames.  I know not whether it had been founded by Alcott, Emerson's friend and neighbour at Concord, Massachusetts, or only established in admiration of his eccentricity.  The ways of the society were very much out of the common; but one morning the young German went beyond them.  He was found in the garden digging "mit nodings on."  The poor fellow was crazy, crazier than the community could stand.  Carlyle took charge of the stranger in his own house until friends in Germany could have care of him.  Many hard words may be forgiven for such a generously gentle act.

    Only twice after my visit to ask for his signature had I the good fortune to see Carlyle.  Once, not long afterwards, at a festival given to my friend William Bridges Adams by his workmen at his railway-carriage building works, the Fairfield works at Bow, when Carlyle and Mrs. Carlyle, Mazzini, Miss Hays (the first English translator of George Sand), Lady Duff Gordon, Dr. Stewart, Miss Jewsbury, myself and others, were guests.  Carlyle spoke on the occasion.  "Might they always understand industry and service as something more than mere marketable commodities, and might no fool or coward or liar ever be among them!" (I quote from a report I gave to the People's Journal.)  I had not much talk with Carlyle; but more with his wife, with whom I was much pleased.  I recollect her speaking of her childhood, of the times when she was made a scholar and would rather have had a doll.  Once later, when Emerson was in England and lectured at Exeter Hall (a grand lecture on "Home," of which I have lost sight), I came out from the lecture with Carlyle and Adams, and walked some way along the Strand with them.

    My visit to Leigh Hunt was only the first of many to that most delightful of old men.  I got at last to be treated almost as one of the family, spending freely my evenings with them when I would, listening to Hunt's pleasantly wise talk, while Mrs. Hunt (a stout, genial, motherly woman, of whom no one could have supposed that in her young days she was threatened with consumption) peeled walnuts for me.  How well I remember one evening when I was privileged to dine with Hunt and Eliza Flower and Fox, at Fox's house in Queen Square, Westminster,—only the four of us, and the two men talking of the Old Dramatists, to which we other two were content to be listeners.  I walked from the Square with Hunt to his house in Edwardes Square, Kensington, he finding something to say of every notable house on our way, and was taken in with him.  Late as it was, he sat down to his beloved piano, playing among other things Purcell's "Halcyon Days," from the King Arthur.  It was an evening never to be forgotten, of which I fain would have notes, to speak more fully.


 
CHAPTER VII.


The Howitts; Tennyson; The Toynbees; Mazzini; Worcell; Stolzman; The Bandieras; Letter Opening at the Post Office; Carlisle Election.


    IT may have been some years later that I knew the Howitts, when I knew them living at Upper Clapton, beyond Hackney. Howitt was a square, sturdily built, but not large, Quaker, who, when out, generally carried a big stick: the type of the Quaker who would not take up arms, but who, when the ship on which he was a passenger was boarded by an enemy, held out his hands against one of the boarders with the quiet remark, "Friend! thee hath no business here," and pushed him off. William Howitt's inoffensive stick might have come into play under such warranty. I think he was not a quarrelsome man, though quick-tempered, and he could be angry at opposition. Mrs. Howitt was the gentle, primitive Quakeress, a comely woman, good, and very kindly. Her writings seem to reflect her nature. It was a great pleasure to me, many years after I supposed I must have passed out of remembrance, to receive a most cordial letter from her, then an aged woman living in Switzerland, in answer to a request for leave to print in England some of her poems. At the Howitts' house in Upper Clapton I once breakfasted with Alfred Tennyson, not much impressed by his appearance, speech, or manner.

    Friends of Wade were the two brothers Toynbee, George, a literary man who died young, and Joseph, afterwards eminent as an aurist, the father of Arthur Toynbee, whose memory is kept alive by "Toynbee Hall." George was one of the first acquaintances made in England by Mazzini, and to Mazzini I was introduced by Joseph. In 1841 Mazzini established at No. 5 Greville Street, Hatton Garden, a free school for the poor Italians in London, most of them the wretched organ-grinders and hawkers of plaster casts. Here Joseph Toynbee, with Mazzini himself, and a few of his Italian refugee friends, taught nightly, with lectures on Sunday evenings. Pistrucci, a remarkable improvisatore, brother of a clever medallist in the Mint, was director and also a teacher here. And here one night I met, at one of the school meetings, a little plain Yankee woman, Margaret Fuller, plain, but interesting and attractive, whose speech was earnest and to the purpose. I had some after correspondence with her from Italy.

    Mazzini introduced me to two Polish friends, refugees and exiles like himself, Stanislas Worcell and Karl Stolzman. Worcell, a Count of Volhynia, had been the owner of large estates, which he forfeited on account of his prominent share in the Polish insurrection of 1830. He raised a troop on his own lands, fought his way into Warsaw, and sat there in the Polish Senate. He was a man of middle height, of noble presence, and of most remarkable culture and intelligence, the chief of the Democratic party in the Polish Emigration, although nearly related to the royal Czartoryskis. In the course of years, with very much intercourse with him, I became as intimate with him as with Mazzini. I might say even more intimate. He was a man to revere and love, a saintly martyr, a true hero, a wise philosopher, and a man whose knowledge seemed to be unbounded. He was Mazzini's closest friend. Stolzman, a tall, stalwart man of military bearing, was an old soldier, who in his youth had served under Napoleon. Returning to Poland after the Imperial fall, he, as an artillery officer, did good service in the defence of Warsaw, for which, by General Bem, famous afterwards in the Hungarian War, he was promoted to the rank of colonel. Meeting with Mazzini in Switzerland, he aided in the formation of the Society of "Young Europe," founded by Mazzini to bring together the Republicans of the different countries.

    In 1844, letters from abroad to Mazzini and Stolzman were opened at the English General Post-Office in London. Of course they were in correspondence with Italian and Polish patriots. Lord Aberdeen was then the English Foreign Secretary, and Sir James Graham was Home Secretary. Some unimportant letters from Lovett and myself to Mazzini were also opened. These various letters were not only opened, but were afterwards resealed and delivered as if they had not been meddled with. At this time two young Italians, officers in the Austro-Italian Navy, Attilio and Emilio Bandiera, the sons of a vice-admiral in the Austrian service, were planning an Italian insurrection, from which Mazzini was endeavouring to dissuade them as in opportune. Information, stolen in the English Post Office, from their letters to him, was given by Lord Aberdeen to the Austrian ambassador, which information was made use of to decoy the Bandieras into a vain attempt on Calabria, where with seven companions they were stalked down, taken prisoners, and shot to death.

    At first we were only aware of letters being delayed; and only by accident found out that they were opened and resealed (at that time it was still the custom
to seal letters with wax). Then we learned the method : which was to take an impression of the seal, then carefully to break it, and afterwards, first slightly heating the surface of the wax, to press the counterfeit stamp precisely as it had been done before, so that there was no alteration of position, nor outward appearance of any kind to show that the seal had been tampered with. But they could not prevent the breakage of a hair or slip of paper placed under the seal as a means of detection; and the heating of the wax was only on the surface just enough to take the new impression, leaving the main underbody of the seal broken. This I discovered by happening to keep a letter loose in my pocket for a couple of days, when the surface-joined seal sundered and revealed the procedure. We also obtained exact information from a subordinate in the Post-Office.

    Then I took the matter to Thomas Slingsby Duncombe, the radical member of Parliament for Finsbury, a man chivalrously prompt to notice any political grievance. At first he would not believe me, but when convinced, gave himself heartily to the exposure by bringing it before the House of Commons. After much official evasion and shuffling and opposition on the part of the government, Duncombe obtained from the Commons the appointment of a Select
Committee of Inquiry (himself not named on it and the inquiry secret); and Lord Radnor obtained a similar committee from the House of Lords. The reports of the two committees (that of the Lords sitting later and so fuller) did not agree, each reporting only what they supposed to have been discovered by us. We knew more, but were not called to produce our evidence. On occasion of the debate in the Commons, Duncombe got the admission of Mazzini and myself to the floor of the House, and I heard Shiel (harsh-voiced but eloquent), Wakley, and Macaulay, in denunciation of the outrage. A full account of the parliamentary proceedings and of the whole affair is given by my friend, Dr. Lonsdale of Carlisle, in his life of Sir James Graham in the Worthies of Cumberland, published by Routledge in 1868. Public feeling for a time ran high. Punch caricatured Graham as Paul Pry at the Post-Office; Leech drew a pictorial parody of Mulready's design for the Post-Office envelopes, with Graham for principal figure in place of Britannia; letters were posted with "not to be Grahamed" on the outside; indignant public meetings were held; but after a while, as there was no personal interest involved, the excitement died out. But Graham's share in the business was not forgotten.

    Some years after this, while living in the Lake Country at Brantwood, beside Coniston Water, I went to Carlisle to meet my friend Mr. Joseph Cowen from Newcastle; Carlisle a sort of half-way for each of us. We spent a night together, and separated next day. But it was the eve of an election, and Sir James Graham was a candidate, and we happened to visit the Working Men's Association; so it was immediately assumed that I could only be in Carlisle to annoy Sir James by reviving the old Post-Office scandal, there, perhaps, as a tool of the Tory party to oppose him. Surely I had no thought of being a candidate for parliamentary honour or of interfering with the election, but the disgrace of the espionnaqe had clung to him. After all, not Graham, who suffered most as cat's paw, but Aberdeen, who had passed on the stolen information to Austria, was the worse offender.

    The story of the Bandieras, of their patriotism, their betrayal, and their fate, I heard from Mazzini's own lips, as he walked with me in the forest on one of his visits to me at Woodford.


 
CHAPTER VIII.


Partnership with John Orrin Smith; Artists and Work; Illustrated London News; Ingram; Punch; Jerrold; Leech; the Doyles; Lady Morgan.


    IN 1842 I became the partner of John Orrin Smith, a good and eminently successful engraver in wood, for whom I had worked for several years, and so, leaving Woodford, came to live again in London; first in Judd Street, Brunswick Square, and then at 85 Hatton-Garden, Holborn; after a little while taking my family back to Woodford, retaining 85 Hatton-Garden as my place of business.  My connection with Smith brought me among the artists whose drawings, with the help of a dozen or so of pupils and journeymen, we engraved.  Chief of these artists, still retaining the popularity he had gained almost immediately when, Bewick's favourite pupil, he came to London from Newcastle, was William Harvey, most prolific of draftsmen, most amiable of men.  Him I had known before I joined with Smith.  Through Smith I knew Kenny Meadows, then completing an Illustrated Shakspere, and also drawing the Heads of the People, a clever series of character heads for which the letter-press was written by Douglas Jerrold, Horne, Laman Blanchard, Dickens, and others.  The editor of the Illustrated Shakspere was Stanton the chess-player, a tall, handsome, genial man, whom I knew slightly.  We also engraved John Gilbert's drawings for an edition of Cowper, the most careful and, I think, almost the best, although the earliest of Gilbert's numerous works.  He had not then begun to draw for the Illustrated London News.  For the Bell's Life in London, a weekly sporting newspaper, we engraved outline portraits of horses, the winners of the Ascot, Epsom, and Goodwood races, drawn by Herring, the animal painter; and other few illustrations—once a whole side of the paper, on occasion of the birth of the Prince of Wales.  In the editor's room one day I had the honour of meeting a well-mannered, rather mild-looking man, over six feet in height, Mr. Winter, the landlord of a respectable public house in Holborn, who in his younger days had been known as Tom Spring, the champion pugilist of England.  John Leech's first drawings were submitted to us, and found ready appreciation.

    For the Illustrated London News, after its first year, Smith & Linton did a great amount of work, from drawings by Harvey, Meadows, Gilbert, Duncan, Dodgson, Leitch, and other artists; and copies of pictures by the old masters, and paintings in the annual exhibitions of the Royal Academy and the two Water-Colour Galleries.  A very remarkable man was the proprietor of the News, Herbert Ingram, a Lincolnshire printer, who, having made some money by the sale of "Parr's Life Pills" (the recipe of Dr. Snaith of Boston), came to London and met with a projector named Marriott, from whom he obtained the idea of an illustrated paper.  He found a good publisher, Joseph Clayton, the publisher of the Spectator, at that time the most important and best of weekly newspapers in London; and the News was soon a success.  Ingrain was a curious character: uneducated, without literary ability or knowledge or appreciation of Art (asking me once if I had leave from Guido to copy his "Aurora"), he seemed about the last man to be the conductor of an illustrated paper; but he had a kind of intuitive faculty of judging what would please the ordinary public, a perception of that which seemed never to fail.  And he was enterprising and liberal.  The paper was well edited, at first by John Timbs, who had been editor of the Mirror, a good book-worm and a man of much general information, and afterwards by Charles Mackay, the very popular poet.  Stanton contributed the chess column, and the management was promptly ready in engaging the best draftsmen on wood, in which Smith & Linton, and afterwards Linton alone, were able to be of considerable service.  The paper had the good fortune to meet a public want, and also by its conduct deserved its great success.

    Very different was the beginning of Punch, which was suggested by the Figaro in London, a smaller sheet, edited by Gilbert a-Becket and illustrated by Seymour; for Punch started with a galaxy of talent, literary and artistic, since unequalled,—Douglas Jerrold, Mark Lemon, Thackeray, Henry Mayhew, Albert Smith, Leigh, (Hood came later), Leech, Tenniel, Richard Doyle, and Cruikshank.  Most of these men I knew more or less.  Jerrold I knew best, a little keen-faced man, bowed by rheumatism, the consequence of early privations.  I have heard of him and a companion in early days, Laman Blanchard, afterwards known as a poet and wit, and, I think, editor of the Court Journal, sitting in their poverty and despair on a doorstep, meditating suicide.  Once, coming from Herne Bay to London by steamboat, I saw Jerrold lifted on board in a chair, where, for the few hours' voyage, he sat movelessly, in pain, and fearful of anything coming near to touch him.  Rheumatism, like gout, is not a good teacher of amiability; nevertheless I believe, for all the sometime cynicism of his sarcastic witticisms, that Jerrold was a kindly natured man, as melancholy Hood most certainly was.  But even in the days of his late prosperity all was not smooth with Jerrold.  He had many drags upon him.  One, I fancied, was Henry Mayhew, a clever man about town, the author of London Labour and the London Poor, who married Jerrold's daughter, a girl not half his own age.  Jerrold's wife's brother, Hammond, was lessee of the little Strand Theatre, at which Jerrold played the hero in his own charming little drama, The Painter of Ghent.  I have spoken of Laman Blanchard.  I only recollect his brilliant eyes and witty talk, once for a few hours in his company with Orrin Smith at the original Mulberry Club, before the club was made notable by Dickens.  Albert Smith, the famous showman, began life as a dentist.  I remember him when he was hoping for a practice in Percy Street, Tottenham Court Road.  Tenniel was a tall, handsome, gentlemanly fellow, blind of one eye, which had been injured in fencing.  Thackeray would sometimes drop in at 85 Hatton-Garden, and I came to know more of him and his kind-heartedness and generosities later.  Leech, too, was tall, slight, and very handsome, and gentlemanly in his nature and deportment.  His father had been proprietor of the "London," or "City of London" (I forget which of the two taverns and hotels), in Bishopsgate Street; and young Leech, when his artistic talent first appeared, was a medical student.

    While I was living in Judd Street, I was one night roused from my bed by a policeman who came to say that a Mr. (I forget the name, but it was one I did not
know) had been taken to the neighbouring police station and wished to see me.  I went there and found Leech.  It appeared that he and Leigh, going along the streets, perhaps returning from the weekly meeting of the contributors to Punch, had somehow jostled a stranger off the pavement, and there had been rough words and talk of assault, ending in Leech and Leigh being taken up.  Leech was sober, Leigh not.  So Leigh had to remain in "durance vile" while Leech returned with me, and we sat up until his friend had recovered sufficiently to be bailed out.  They had to appear in court next day, and to suffer some small fine for the small offence.  "Like a leech?  Sir!" remarked the police sergeant, recognising his man for all his assumed name as he saw him drawing on his thumb-nail.  Leech's marvellous talent in portrayal of character was a natural gift.  He had no academical education, but learned and grew by practice.  His drawing, except his dainty little bits of landscape background, was never good; but his hand never failed in rendering vividly what his eyes saw.  Richard Doyle I do not personally recollect; but I knew his eldest brother, James, also an artist, though of less original talent.  There were three brothers, James, Henry, and Richard.  Once, at a conversazione given by the Institute of Fine Arts at the "Thatched House" in St. James' Street, I saw the elder Doyle, their father, the famous caricaturist "H. B.," whose lithographs deserve to be prized if only for the admirable portraits in them—the very best portraits of men of the period.  At the same conversazione I was introduced to Lady Morgan, a little wizened old woman.



[Next Page]

 



[Home] [Up] [W. J. Linton.] [The Chartists] [Claribel] [Misc Poems] [Stories for Children] [James Watson] [Republican Letters] [The English Republic] [Main Index] [Site Search]

Correspondence should be sent to Webmaster@Gerald-Massey.org.uk