17th December

Born: Anthony Wood or it Wood, antiquarian writer, 1632, Oxford; Gabrielle Emilie, Marquise du Chastelet, translator of Newton's Principia, 1706; Ludwig Beethoven, eminent composer, 1770, Bonn; Sir Humphry Davy, chemist, 1779, Penzance.

Died: Sir William Gascoigne, lord chief-justice, 1413; Simon Bolivar, liberator of South America, 1831, Carthagena; Kaspar Hauser, mysterious foundling, from the stroke of an assassin on the 14th, 1833, Anspach, Bavaria; Maria Louisa, archduchess of Parma (ex-empress of the French), 1347, Parma.

Feast Day: St. Olympias, widow, about 410. St. Begga, widow and abbess, 698.


Like the 'Man in the Iron Mask,' the identity of the unfortunate Kaspar Hauser, the foundling of Nuremberg, has formed. the subject of much curious speculation. To the present day, the mystery hanging over his origin remains undispelled, and the whole affair is beset with such anomalies and contradictions, that it is almost impossible to form even a well-grounded conjecture on the subject. The following are the ascertained facts of the case.

Between four and five o'clock in the afternoon of 26th May 1828, a young lad, apparently of about sixteen or seventeen years of age, was found in a helpless and forlorn condition in the market-place of Nuremberg, by a citizen of that town. He was dressed like a peasant-boy, and had. with him a letter addressed to the captain of the sixth regiment of horse at Nuremberg. Being conducted to this officer and interrogated, it soon became evident that he could speak very little, and was almost totally ignorant. To all questions he replied, 'Von Regensbuurg' (from Regensburg), or 'Ich woais nit' (I don't know). On the other hand, he wrote his name in firm legible characters on a sheet of paper, but without adding the place of his birth, or anything else, though requested to do so. Though short and broad shouldered, his figure was perfectly well-proportioned.

His skin was very white; his limbs delicately formed, the hands and feet small and beautiful, the latter, however, spewing no marks of his having ever worn shoes. With the exception of dry bread and water, he shewed a violent dislike to all kinds of meat and drink. His language was confined to a few words or sentences in the old Bavarian dialect. He shewed entire ignorance of the most ordinary objects, and great indifference to the conveniences and necessaries of life. Among his scanty articles of clothing was a handkerchief marked K. H.; he had likewise about him some written Catholic prayers. In the letter which he carried, dated 'From the confines of Bavaria, place unknown, 1828,' the writer stated himself to be a poor day-labourer, the father of ten children, and said that the boy had been deposited before his door by his mother, a person unknown to the writer. He stated further, that he had brought up the boy secretly, without allowing him to leave the house, but had instructed him in reading, writing, and the doctrines of Christianity; adding that it was the boy's wish to become a horse-soldier. The letter enclosed a line, apparently from the mother, stating that she, a poor girl, had given birth to the boy on the 30th April 1812, that his name was Kaspar, and that his father, who had formerly served in the sixth regiment, was dead.

The poor boy having been taken before and attended to by the magistrates, his story was soon made known to the public, and he himself became the object of general sympathy. Binder, a burgomaster, exerted himself, in particular, to throw some light on the obscurity in which the origin of the young man was involved. In the course of many conversations with him, it came out that Hauser, from his childhood, had worn only a shirt and trousers: that he had lived in a dark place underground, where he was unable to stretch himself out at full length; that he had been fed upon bread and water by a man who did not shew himself, but who cleaned and dressed him, and provided him with food and drink while he was in a state of natural or artificial sleep. His sole occupation was playing with two wooden horses. For some time before he was conveyed to Nuremberg, the man had come oftener to his dungeon, and had taught him to write by guiding his hand, and to lift his feet and walk.

This narrative gave rise to various suppositions and rumours. According to some, this mysterious foundling was the natural son of a priest, or of a young lady of high rank, while others believed him to be of princely origin, or the victim of some dark plot respecting an inheritance. Some incredulous persons believed the whole affair to be an imposition. On the 18th July 1828, Hauser was handed over to the care of Professor Daumer, who afterwards acted the part of his biographer. The history of his education is remarkable in a pedagogic point of view, as his original desire for knowledge, his extraordinary memory, and acute understanding decreased in proportion as the sphere of his knowledge extended. His progress was, on the whole, small. On the 17th October 1829, he was found bleeding from a slight wound on the brow, which he said had been inflicted by a man with a black head. All efforts made to discover the perpetrator were ineffectual. The incident excited a great sensation; Hauser was conveyed to the house of one of the magistrates, and constantly guarded by two soldiers. Among the many strangers who came to see him was Lord Stanhope, who became interested in him, and sent him to be educated at Anspach. Here he was employed in an office of the court of appeal, but he by no means distinguished himself either by industry or talent, and was gradually forgotten, till his death again made him the subject of attention.

This event took place under the following singular circumstances. A stranger, under the pretext of bringing him a message from Lord Stanhope, and informing him of the circumstances of his birth, engaged to meet Hauser in the palace garden at three o'clock in the afternoon of the 14th December 1833. The hapless young man was faithful to the rendezvous, but he had scarcely commenced to converse with the unknown emissary, when the latter stabbed him in the left side, and he fell mortally wounded. He had, however, sufficient strength left to return home and relate the circumstances of his assassination, and three days after-wards, on the 17th December 1833, he died. Among the many surmises current regarding the unfortunate Hauser, the latest is that he was the scion of a noble family in England, and that his dark and mysterious history, with its atrocious termination, had its origin in this country. But nothing beyond mere conjecture has ever been adduced.


Ancient Britain is not so entirely a thing of the past as is generally supposed. When the ancient Britons were driven out of their territory, they could not carry their old homes with them; these were abandoned, and it is probable that the sites of many of them were occupied by the Roman conquerors. But in inaccessible places, beyond. the Roman Wall, this was not the case; and to this day, among the Cheviot Hills, may be seen one of their deserted towns, several strong forts, numerous isolated huts, a monolithic ring temple, terraces on the steep hill-sides on which they grew their corn, barrows and cairns innumerable. These remains of ancient Britain yield a vivid realization of the day of our Celtic predecessors.

The deserted town just mentioned, is situated on the southern slope of one of the Cheviot Hills, called Greenshaw. It consists of a group of stone huts, between sixty and seventy in number, divided into three clusters. The largest cluster, containing upwards of thirty huts, is surrounded by two strong stone rampiers, a fact which suggests the supposition that on report of coming foe, all the inhabitants would take shelter within the enclosure. Time has clothed the summits of the walls with vegetation, and heaped up earth on the ruins; but this has not destroyed the identity of the place. The huts are of a circular form, built of large pieces of unhewn porphyry. This is the stone of the district; and is still to be seen in enormous quantities, lying, in blocks, among the heather and ferns on the sides of the bills. There was no quarrying required. All the ancient Briton had to do, was to collect pieces of suitable and portable sizes. To every hut there is a door-way; and to one of them an indication of a sill, or similar arrangement, to receive a door. They are all roofless; and the question of what material the roofs were formed, is the only one about which there is any doubt; whether they were simply thatched with the abundant gorse, heather, or ferns, as the shepherds' huts are to this day in the same district, or whether they possessed conical roofs of stone or timber, we shall probably never know.

In the extreme north of Scotland, there are circular stone-houses of a similar antiquity with conical stone roofs; yet, when several of these huts were cleared of the accumulations within them, for the purpose of an antiquarian survey, at which the writer was present, no traces of roof stones were discovered. In nearly every instance, charred wood was found upon the flat stones with which the floors were rudely paved. There is a burn, called Linhope, near this town, from which, as well as from a couple of springs close by, water could be procured; and it is noticeable, that the distance to this stream is protected by a length of rampier. Several pieces of rough clay-pottery, found in the soil of the town, prove that pitchers were broken in going to the water in that day as in this. There is an ancient roadway, sunken two or three feet deep, and fortified by a rampier, down to the neighbouring river Breamish; and two others of a similar construction, lead from the west and from the east into the town.

On another of the Cheviot Hills, Yeavering Bell, are further traces of ancient Britain. On the summit of this hill, about two thousand feet above the level of the sea, is an area of twelve acres, enclosed by a stone wall, upwards of ten feet thick, having four entrances into it, one of which is defended by a guard-house; and within this area is an inner fort, excavated out of the rock, of an oval form, measuring thirteen feet across the widest part. On the sides of the hill, and in a high valley between the Bell and the next hill, called Whitelaw, there are many remains of stone huts rudely flagged, some in groups surrounded by rampiers, and others isolated. Barrows, too, are numerous here. On Ingram Hill, several of these old-world tumuli have been opened; but nothing but charred wood has been found in them.

In the valley of the Breamish, where there are many more camps, there are traces of ancient British agriculture. These are terraces cut out of the hillsides, rising one above another. On. some hills there are a dozen or more of these primitive cornfields, or hanging gardens. It is supposed that as the valleys were boggy and liable to floods, this was the mode of culture which presented less difficulty than any other to the Celtic mind.

The Celtic temple, or monolithic ring, in the same district, consists of thirteen huge stones, which once marked an oval enclosure on the bank of the Three Stone Burn. There were, probably, fourteen originally; as between the first and thirteenth there is a space double the extent that exists between any of the others. Several are overthrown, and lie bedded in heather. They are of different heights; the tallest being upwards of five feet; the shortest, scarcely two feet above the ground. As this could not have been a place of residence, nor of defence, we may reasonably conclude that it was a place of worship. What rites were celebrated within its mystic oval we can but imagine; but the temple itself we may see with our eyes.

In fine, among the gorse, ferns, scarlet-leaved bilberries, mountain pinks, mosses, tall foxgloves, and heather of the Cheviot district, with its myriads of blocks of porphyry strewn upon the hills, and valleys covered with sea-green lichens, we have a considerable tract of ancient Britain still. We may enter the ancient Briton's fort, or his hut; we may climb the rampiers raised by his hands, scan his vast hunting grounds and his terraced cornfields and we may saunter, as we have seen, in his temple -so rudely grand with its background of hills and canopy of sky. We may search the debris of his deserted home, and find the flint arrow-head with which he shot; the horns of the deers so slain the flint, javelin-head he reserved for hostile tribes the handmills with which his women ground corn pieces of the pottery they used for domestic purposes; and, maybe, a portion of a discarded armlet worn by a Celtic princess.


The disturbance known in theatrical annals as the 0. P. Riots, or the 0. P. Row, was perhaps the most remarkable manifestation of the popular will ever displayed at any of our places of amassment, ending with a concession to public opinion rather than to rightful claim.

On the 20th of September 1808, Covent Garden Theatre was burned to the ground, involving the loss of many lives, and the destruction of property valued at little less than a quarter of a million sterling. As it had belonged to a sort of joint-stock company, money was soon found to rebuild the theatre; and great admiration was bestowed on the magnitude and beauty of the new structure, when it was opened to the public on the 17th of September 1809. But a storm was impending. The proprietors had issued an address or prospectus, announcing that, in consequence of the great expense incurred in rebuilding the theatre, the increased ground-rent charged by the Duke of Bedford, and the enhanced prices of almost every-thing needed for stage purposes, they would be compelled to raise the prices of admission to the boxes and pit. They appealed to the kindness and consideration of the public under these circumstances; and Mr. John Kemble, in an opening address, adverted to the matter in the following very unpoetical terms:

Solid our building, heavy our expense;
We rest our claim on your munificence;
What ardour plans a nation's taste to raise,
A nation's liberality repays.

If there had. been anything like 'free-trade' in theatres, the audience would have had no right to complain, but simply to stay away if they did not choose to pay the enhanced prices. As matters stood, however, in those days, the two 'Patent' or 'Royal' theatres, Covent Garden and Drury Lane, claimed great privileges over all the minor establishments; the public were forbidden to see Shakspeare represented except at the two great houses; and therefore they claimed, rightly or wrongly, to have some voice in determining the prices of admission. To assert this right, was evidently the purpose of a large number of the visitors on the opening night. They received Kemble with volleys of hooting, groaning, whistling, 'cat-calls,' and cries of 'Old Prices!'-the last soon abbreviated to '0. P.!'

The opening address passed over in dumb show; and so did the tragedy of Macbeth, and the farce of the Quaker. The mob outside sympathised with the audience within, and Bow Street was a scene of tremendous commotion. Excited by the accounts given in the newspapers, the public prepared to go to the theatre on the second night in a spirit more warlike than ever; and on the third night, Kemble gave still greater offence to the audience by saying to them: 'I wait to know what you want.' So matters continued for a week: the actors and actresses bravely bearing the storm, instead of receiving the applause to which they were accustomed; and the audience determining that not a single word of the performances should be heard.

At length, on the 23rd, Mr. Kemble made an announcement from the stage, which was certainly a fair one under the circumstances, to this effect-that a committee of gentlemen should be appointed to examine the accounts of the theatre, with a view of determining whether the new prices were or were not equitable; that the theatre should be closed until that committee had reported on their proceedings; and that the report should be accepted as conclusive by the two belligerents, the public and the proprietors. The audience took this proposal in good part; and on the following day a committee was formed, consisting of Alderman Sir Charles Price, Sir Thomas Plumer (solicitor-general), Mr. Sylvester (recorder of the City of' London), Mr. Whitmore (governor of the Bank of England), and Mr. Angerstein.

The report of the committee was decidedly in favour of the proprietors; showing that, if the new house were fully insured, and all expenses honourably paid, the probable gross receipts at the new prices would not yield more net profit than three and a half per cent. on the capital sunk; and that at the old prices, there would be no profit whatever. This report was printed on the play-bill for the re-opening night, October 4. The public had evidently expected a different decision, and manifested signs of turbulence before the curtain rose. The malcontents were of two kinds-those who insisted on the old prices, whether right or wrong; and those who doubted whether the committee had satisfactorily explained their meaning, and their mode of reasoning. The report said that the 'future profits' would probably be three and a half per cent, or nil, according as the new or the old prices were adopted. But there arose a doubt whether five per cent. had been implied as regular interest on the capital sunk, in addition to the profit named. This produced an explanation, to the effect that no such interest had been implied; and that the proprietors, in the opinion of the committee, would obtain no return whatever for their money, unless the new prices were adopted.

According to all principles of fairness, the opposition should have ended here, unless some other fallacy or error had been detected. But it did not. On the contrary, the O. P. advocates formed themselves into a party, resolved to disturb the performances night after night, until their demands were acceded to. Then ensued a series of struggles which lasted during the extraordinary period of ten weeks, and which were not ended till the 'Treaty of Peace' was framed on the 17th of December. It became a regular part of the duty of the daily newspapers to notice the state of affairs at the theatre on the previous evening. Sometimes there were merely speeches pro and con by the pit-orators and Mr. Kemble; sometimes cries and shouts, such as 'Old Prices!' 'No humbug for John Bull!' No garbled extracts!' &c.; while on other occasions the malcontents went to the expense of placards to the following effect: 'Mr Kemble, let your monopoly cease, and then raise your prices as high as you please!' 'No private boxes for intriguing!' 'A long pull, a strong pull, and a pull altogether, for old prices!' 'John Bull, be very bold and resolute! never depart from your resolution, but firmly keep your station.'

The word 'monopoly' gives a clue to one motive for the opposition-the patent rights which Mr. Kemble haughtily claimed in reference to the legitimate drama. As to the private boxes, they had increased in number, as a source of additional profit; and the dissatisfied public chose to stigmatise them on other than financial grounds. In addition to cries and placards, there was a continuous tumult of groaning, singing, laughing, and whistling; with an occasional accompaniment of coachmen's horns, showmen's trumpets, dustmen's bells, and watchmen's rattles. Many came with the symbolic initials, 'O. P.,' on their hats or coats. The malcontents got up a gymnastic exercise, which was known as the 'O. P. dance,' and which consisted in an alternate stamping of the feet, accompanied with the regular cry of '0. P.!' in noisy and monotonous unison. As it was rather expensive to keep on this system night after night, the rioters began to adopt the plan of coming in at half-price; the curious effect of which was, that three acts of a play were listened to in the usual orderly manner by peaceful visitors; while of the remaining two acts not a word could be heard.

If the proprietors had remained quiescent, the disturbances would probably have died out after a few nights; and the new prices would have been adhered to or not, according as the house was well or ill filled. But they adopted a most reprehensible step-that of hiring prize-fighters, to convince the public by the force of fists. This gave a wholly new aspect to the struggle; many persons who had hitherto held aloof, now took part in the contest, for they felt exasperated at procedure so insulting. Dutch Sam, a noted pugilist of those days, organised his corps; and the pit became a scene of fighting. On one particular evening, Mr. Clifford, a barrister, who had taken an active part in the opposition, entered the pit with the letters 0. P. on his hat; he was received with cheers, and the old ' O. P. dance' again commenced.

The proprietors now thought themselves strong enough to adopt decisive measures; at least this was the view of Mr. Brandon, the box-keeper, for he caused Mr. Clifford to be arrested. Then ensued new scenes of excitement. Mr. Brandon failed to get Mr. Clifford convicted as a rioter; whereupon Mr. Clifford succeeded in obtaining a verdict against Mr. Brandon for false imprisonment. A meeting took place at the Crown and Anchor Tavern, with the view of obtaining subscriptions to defend any persons against whom, like Mr. Clifford, proceedings might be instituted as rioters. Mr. Kemble, feeling that the public were taking up the matter rather seriously, requested and Obtained admission to this assembly. He offered, on the part of the proprietors, to concede most of the objects demanded, and to drop all prosecutions. The meeting demanded also the dismissal of Mr. Brandon, who seems to have made himself unnecessarily offensive; but a supplicatory letter from him pacified the public. A few weeks afterwards, a public dinner was held, in which Mr. Kemble took part, as a sort of ratification of the Treaty of Peace.

One of the most remarkable circumstances connected with the O. P. Riots is, that these enabled Stockdale, the publisher, to fill two entire octavo volumes, forming a compilation called the Covent Garden Journal. This work comprises, first, a statement of the cause of the quarrel; then a Journal of the sixty-seven nights' disturbances, numbered with all the regularity of Scheherazade's narrations in the Arabian Nights' Entertainments; and then an appendix of documents. These documents are valuable, in so far as they grew the tone of public feeling on the subject, as reflected in the newspaper-press. The Times, Chronicle, Post, Examiner, Herald, Public Ledger, and Evening Post, all are represented in these documents, and generally as opponents of the Kemble party. Some of the newspaper jeux d'esprit, and some of the placards distributed in the theatre, shewed how heartily many of the public entered into the comicality which formed one aspect of the affair. One commenced:

Cease, cease the public here to knock, sirs;
The pit was never made for boxers.


Surely the manager devoid of grace is;
He pigeons both our pockets and our places.

A third:

'In consequence of the general hoarseness in town, occasioned by a clamour for Old Prices, the confectioners, it is said, have determined, in the sale of their pectoral lozenges, to follow Mr. Kemble's plan, by charging an advance.'

The Morning Chronicle appeared with:

Since naught can appease Johnny Bull but 0. P.,
And the promised suppression of every P. B.,
The playhouse, no doubt, will continue M. T.,
Per King John has declar'd he 'd be sooner D. D.

The following was a parody on Gray's Bard, beginning:

Ruin seize thee, ruthless John,
Confusion on thy banners wait.

And another on Chevy Chase:

God prosper long our noble king,
Our cash and comforts all;
In Covent Garden while I sing
The row that did befall.

One effusion was to be sung to the tune of 'Said a Smile to a Tear:'

Said a P to an 0,
Where d 'ye intend to go?
Said the 0, I've not fixed upon whither.
0 then, said the P,
You and I will agree,
To kick up a row both together.

A second to the air of 'Derry Down:'

They send in their ruffians, who saucily sit,
With their doxies in front-seats of boxes and pit,
With orders to stifle the voice of the town,
And convince us of error by knocking us down.
Derry down.

A third to that of The Frog in an Opera Hat:

John Kemble would an acting go;
Heigho, says Rowley.
He raised the price which he thought too low,
Whether the public would let him or no,
With his roly-poly,
Gammon, and spillage,
Heigho, says Kemble.

The House that Jade Built was brought into requisition, with stanzas which commenced with:

This is the House that Jack built.
These are the Boxes, let to the great, that
Visit the House that Jack built.

And so on to the last cumulative clause, which ran thus:

This is the Manager full of scorn, who raised the price to the People forlorn, and directed the Thief-taker, shaven and shorn, to take up John Bull with his Bugle-horn, who hissed the Cat engaged to squall, to the poor in the Pigeon-holes, over the Boxes, let to the Great, who visit the House that Jack built.

The 'Cat' was Madame Catalani, a little out of favour at that time with some of the public. Nor did the National Anthem fail in the hands of these parodists:

God save great Johnny Bull,
Long live our Johnny Bull,
God save John Bull!
Send him victorious,
Loud and uproarious,
With lungs like Boreas,
God save John Bull!