Born: Albert Darer, artist, 1471, Nuremberg; Elijah Fenton, poet, 1683, Shelton, Staffordshire.
Died: Christopher Columbus, 1506, Valladolid; Bishop Thomas Sprat, 1713, Bromley, Kent; Nicholas Brady, D. D., joint translator of the Psalms into English, 1726, Clapham; Thomas Boston, popular Scotch writer in divinity, 1732, Ettrick; Charles Bonnet, naturalist, 1793, Geneva; Rev. Blanco White, miscellaneous writer, 1841.
Feast Day: St. Ethelbert, king of the East Angles, 793; B. Yvo, Bishop of Chartres, 1115. St. Bernardine of Sienna.
There is, perhaps, no more remarkable and affecting story of the conflict and suffering endured by an earnest and honest mind in search for religious truth, than that afforded by the life of the Rev. Joseph Blanco White.
He was born at Seville, in 1775. His father belonged to an Irish family, and his mother was a Spaniard, connected with the old Andalusian nobility. His father was engaged in trade, and Blanco was placed in the counting-house, that he might at once learn writing and arithmetic, and become fitted for business. The drudgery he abhorred; his mother sympathized with him, and as a way of escape it was resolved that he should announce the church as his vocation. His father unwillingly assented. He was sent to college, became a priest, and attained sundry preferments. From an early age he had been afflicted with doubts. In reading Fenelon's Telemaque, before he was full eight years old, his delight in the story and sympathy with the courage and virtue of the characters, suggested the question, 'Why should we feel so perfectly sure that those who worshipped in that manner were wrong?'
As a priest, graver doubts thickened in his mind, until at last he found himself 'worked to the madness of utter atheism.' He found other priests in the same case, but they were satisfied to perform their offices as matters of business or routine. This was impossible for White, and he longed to escape to some land where he should be free to speak openly all that he thought inwardly. In the excitement of the French invasion he sailed for England, and arrived in London in 1810. There he was fortunate enough to project and edit a monthly magazine, El Espanõl, for circulation in Spain. It met the favour of the English government, and when discontinued in 1814, with the expulsion of the French from the Peninsula, White was rewarded with a pension of £250 a-year. The five years of hard work he passed through in the preparation of El Espanõl ruined his health to such a degree, that his life was never afterwards free from suffering.
After his arrival in England he reviewed his opinions free from the antagonism and irritation he had endured in Spain, and which, he writes, had for ten years rendered the very name of religion so odious to me, that no language was strong enough to express my dislike.' After two years of serious consideration, in which he discovered 'that, with the exception of points essentially Popish, there is the most perfect agreement in the theological systems of Rome and England,' he became a member of the Church of England, and then a clergyman, by signing the twenty-four Articles, being all that is required to transform a Roman into an Anglican priest. His life hence-forward for many years was spent in literary pursuits; he wrote some very popular works illustrative of his experience and opinions of Catholicism; and enjoyed the friendship of Lord Holland, Southey, Coleridge, Campbell, Mrs. Hemans, and, above all, of Archbishop Whately. The peace he had at first enjoyed in the Church of England began to ebb away, and in 1818 difficulties about the Trinity were haunting him continually.
After a long and weary time of internal strife, the crisis arrived in December 1834, when residing at the archbishop's palace in Dublin. To Dr. Whately he wrote, 'My views in regard to the Scripture doctrine respecting our Saviour have gradually become Unitarian. The struggles which my mind has gone through on this point are indescribable.' The pain which this confession excited among his friends in the Church was intense. The Rev. J. H. Newman wrote him a letter from Oxford, which he describes as 'one long moan.' Many turned away from him, but Archbishop Whately, while regretting the change, preserved his friendship unaltered. To enjoy the worship and fellowship of the Unitarians, he settled in Liverpool, and there spent the remaining six years of his life. His health was wretched, but his days of pain were soothed by intercourse with congenial society, and correspondence with Dr. Charming and other notable men in the Unitarian body. Worn with suffering, he obtained release in death, on the 20th of May 1841. On the morning of that day he woke, and said, 'Now I die;' and after sitting for about two hours in the attitude of expectation, it came to pass as he had said.
Blanco White was the author of a sonnet on Night,' which has been thought by many the best composition of the kind in our language; as it is not much known, it is here inserted.
Mysterious night! when our first parent knew
Thee from report Divine, and heard thy name,
Did he not tremble for this lovely frame,
This glorious canopy of light and blue?
Yet 'neath a curtain of translucent dew,
Bathed in the rays of the great setting flame,
Hesperus with the host of heaven came,
And lo! Creation widened in man's view.
Who could have thought such darkness lay concealed
Within thy beams, 0 Sun! or who could find,
Whilst fly, and leaf, and insect stood revealed,
That to such countless orbs thou mildest us blind!
Why do we then shun death with anxious strife?
If Light can thus deceive, wherefore not Life?
THE GARRAT ELECTIONS
A comparatively obscure act of local injustice originated during the last century a political burlesque, which was so highly relished by the British public, that sometimes upwards of 80,000 persons assembled to take part in or enjoy the fan. The inhabitants of the hamlet of Garrat, situated between Wandsworth and Tooting, in Surrey, had certain rights in a small common, which had been encroached upon; they therefore met in conclave, elected a president, resisted, and obtained their rights. As this happened at the time of a general election, it was determined that their president, or mayor, should hold office during parliament, and be re-elected with a new one. It was impossible that the ridiculous pomposity of the whole affair should not be felt and joked upon. When, therefore, party-spirit ran high, its effervescence was parodied by 'the storm in a tea-pot' of a Garrat election.
The public soon began to enjoy the joke, and the inn-keepers and publicans of Wandsworth and the neighbourhood reaped so rich a harvest, that they ultimately made up a purse to pay necessary expenses; the queerest and most facetious of candidates were brought from all quarters; and all the paraphernalia of a serious election were parodied in this mock one. The culminating point of its popularity was reached in 1761, when Foote attended, and soon afterwards produced his farce, Die Mayor of Garrat, at the Haymarket Theatre, where it had a great and deserved success, and immortalized elections that else would have been long since forgotten.
We possess no information as to who were the candidates for this important borough before 1747, when Squire Blowmedown and Squire Gubbins contested the honour. These were, as usual, assumed titles-the first being borne by John Willis, a waterman of Wandsworth; the second by James Simmonds, keeper of a public-house known as the 'Gubbins' Head,' in Blackman Street, Borough. 'The Clerk and Recorder' issued from an imaginary town-hall, at the order of the mayor, a due notification of the day of election; and each candidate gave out handbills, in which he asserted his own merits, and abused his opponent in the style of the genuine elections. An 'Oath of Qualification 'was administered to electors, which was couched throughout in a strain of double entendre, and nothing was left undone that was usually done to insure success to the candidates.
From a somewhat large and curious collection of handbills and broadsides, printed during these elections, we may be enabled to give an idea of the wit of the day. In 1747 the pretensions of Squire Blowmedown were enforced in 'a letter sent from an elector of the borough of Garrat to another,' and dated from St. James's Market, in which we are assured that 'the greatest stranger must look upon himself as void of reason, entirely barren of wisdom, extinct of humanity, and unworthy the esteem of men of sense and veracity, should he neglect any opportunity to testify how ardent his wishes are that this Phaenix may be unanimously chosen.' For, 'as our worthy candidate judiciously observes, if drinking largely, heading a mob majestically, huzzaing eloquently, and feeding voraciously, be merits in any degree worthy the esteem of the good people of this land, a Garrat, I must ingeniously confess, is too mean an apartment for such a worthy; for Envy herself must confess, if the above qualifications are of any efficacy, the universal voice of the whole realm of Great Britain would not be equivalent to his wondrous deserts.'
In 1754, the same candidates came forward again, and, in imitation of their betters, bespattered each other in handbills. Thus Gubbins, while declaring himself 'zealously affected to his present Majesty King George, the Church and State,' asks-'where was Esquire Blowmedown when the Jew Bill, Matrimony Bill, and Wheel Bill passed?' Worse still, Blowmedown 'washes his boat every Sabbath-day, that he may not be induced to rise on Monday morning before high-water! ' Of course, this meets with an indignant reply from the friends of the party attacked, 'a large majority of the most substantial and wealthy freeholders, electors of the ancient borough of Garrat' who state themselves to be not ashamed, much less afraid, to publicly declare that Blowmedown is the pride and glory of our minds, and that we will support him to the last.' The bill ends with an important-'N.B. The Esquire entertains his friends at all the houses in Wandsworth on the day of election, which will be elegant and generous, without any other expense than that of every one paying for what they call for.'
The election of May 20, 1761, was alike remarkable for the number of candidates and for the efficient aid of their friends. Nine candidates came forward, and it is said that Foote, Garrick, and Wilkes wrote some of their addresses. Foote attended the election, and paid nine guineas for a room opposite Wandsworth church, for himself and friends to see the proceedings. The character of Snuffle, the sexton, in Foote's play, was derived from John Gardiner, a cobbler of Wandsworth and the parish gravedigger, who was one of the candidates under the name of Lord Twankum. That of Crispin Heeltap was copied from another candidate, a shoemaker, who came forward as Lord Lapstone.
The other five were Kit Noisy, Esq. (one Christopher Beacham, a waterman), Lords Wedge and Paxford, Sir John Crambo and Beau Silvester. The claims of the latter were strongly enforced in an address to the electors of 'the antient, loyal, and renowned Boroughwick,' the principal point of the appeal being the resistance he is reputed to have made to an extra tax on beer, which at that time excited much popular ire. A lengthy and high-flown address was also issued by the Beau, in which he declares, 'I have given necessary orders for opening great plenty of public-houses in every hamlet throughout the electorate, for the reception of my friends and their acquaintance, desiring at the same time that they will be punctual in paying for what they call for; and not to overgorge, as it may endanger their health, and prejudice my election.' He then alludes to his fellow-candidates, giving his highest praise to Lord Lapstone, whose powers of drinking, he thinks, will produce 'a vast revenue' to his country, if he be 'spared for a long life! 'We reprint entire another of his harangues, as it is one of the host specimens of the Garrat literature:
To the worthy Electors of the Antient and Opulent Borough of Garrat.
I return my unfeigned and hearty thanks to the numberless and worthy electors that have exerted themselves in my interest, in support of my election; and should I be so happy (as by almost a general voice I am already declared) to be your representative, the honour so conferred will lay on me such high obligations, as my best endeavours can never discharge; but my service shall be always at your command, and my study ever for your welfare. Without flattery I promise, and without delay I perform; and, worthy gentlemen, I doubt not your peculiar penetration, unbiased integrity, and renowned prudence in the choice of another,'' worthy of such high honour and important trust.
In your choice thereof, with submission I entreat you neither to choose one of fancied high blood, and certain low fortune, for by him your privileges will be at stake, either to maintain or advance his honour; nor one either mean in descent or fortune, as the integrity of such will be always doubtful; nor yet proud, as your highest esteem of his merit will serve only for a footstool to his ambition; nor covetous, for he will be enamoured with your verdant lawns, and never rest till he has enclosed your extensive plains in his parchment noose, and confined your wide-spread space within the secure bounds of his coffers; nor impudent, because ignorance will be his only guide and your sure destruction.
If one too venerable, he will require more respect from you than ever you will have service from him; and your remarkable temperance and sobriety demonstrates your abhorrence of a beastly glutton and a stupid sot; and common prudence will direct you to beware of one prompted by a complication of iniquities, for to his will the antique charter of your borough, your public treasure, your private properties, without remorse will he grasp, and without mercy snatch away your lives to feed his insatiable cruelty; against either of these may fate protect your borough and me from such connexions, but in them the devil will get his due. As for your humble servant, if my religion is not the most profound, 'tis the most universally applauded (20s. to the pound); and I fear not but by my pious example to increase the practice thereof.
In honour I am upright, and downright in justice; immovably attached to my king and country, with an unbiased hatred to their enemies; my manners are untainted with gaudy politeness or fawning complaisance. My abilities will procure you the knowledge of your wants, if not the gratification of your desires; and those that dare advance the present price of the darling essence of Sir John Barley will highly incur my displeasure, if not feel the weight of my resentment. Through my purer and universal connexion, your liberty and commerce shall be spread to the Antipodes, and I will order yet undiscovered regions to be alarmed with your fame; in your borough I will erect a non-existent edifice for the transaction of your timber business, and in your suburbs plant an imaginary grove for your private affairs. My unknown fortune shall be ever ready for your assistance, my useless sword drawn in your defence; and my waste blood I'll freely spill in your protection. And, with permission,
'I will, for ever and a day, Subscribe myself, gentlemen, Your most obedient servant,
'Bull Hall, May 4th 1761. 'BEAU SILVESTER.'
N. B. -The Election will be the 20th instant. The Angel at Bull Stairs will be opened every day for the reception of all friends that please to honour me with their company.
It is impossible to read this address without being forcibly reminded of Matthew Mug, the principal candidate in Foote's drama. He is a specious promiser of all good things to Garrat and its inhabitants, and, like Beau Silvester, particularly dilates on improving their trade. Should I succeed, you gentlemen may depend on my using my utmost endeavours to promote the good of the borough; to which purpose the encouragement of your trade and manufactories will most principally tend. Garrat, it must be owned, is an inland town, and has not, like Wandsworth, and Fulham, and Putney, the glorious advantage of a port; but what nature has denied, industry may supply. Cabbages, carrots, and cauliflowers may be deemed at present your staple commodities; but why should not your commerce be extended? Were I, gentlemen, worthy to advise, I should recommend the opening a new branch of trade; sparrowgrass, gentlemen, the manufacturing of sparrowgrass! Battersea, I own, gentlemen, bears at present the bell; but where lies the fault? In ourselves, gentlemen; let us, gentlemen, but exert our natural strength, and I will take upon me to say, that a hundred of grass from the corporation of Garrat will, in a short time, at the London market, be held at least as an equivalent to a Battersea bundle!' There can be little doubt that Beau Silvester is 'the great original' of Matthew Mug.
Kitt Noisy's pretensions are summed up in a grandiloquent placard, which ends by confidently prognosticating his success: 'For I am well assured you know a Demosthenes from a madman, a Lycurgus from a libertine, and a Mark Anthony from a mountebank.' All this is sneered down by Sir Humphry Gubbins, who desires Noisy 'not to make so free with those capital ancients, Demosthenes, Lycurgus, &c.; as they are gentle-men as little acquainted with the majority of his readers as with himself.' His abuse of his fellow - candidates is dismissed with the remark, that 'the regions of his ignorance and scurrility are so extensive, that was the ocean converted into ink, the sky into paper, and the stars into pens, it would not be adequate to the task ' of exposing it. He ends with-'A word or two by way of conclusion. It was the common saying of an old philosopher to his son, 'I know what you have been doing, by knowing what company you have been in.' As Moorfields, St. Giles's, and Hockley-in-the-Hole are such recent and familiar phrases in the mouth of Mr. Noisy's advocate, it requires no great skill in philosophy to learn at what academies he received his education. Probatum est.'
In 1763, we have again Lord Twankum, Kit Noisy, and the new candidate, Sir John Crambo, who declares, 'I will not only use my best endeavours to get repealed the late act on cyder and perry, but also my strongest efforts that you shall have strong beer again for threepence a quart.'
Seven candidates came forward for the next election in 1768. These were Sir Christopher Dashem, Lord Twankum, Sir George Comefirst, Sir William Airey, Sir William Bellows, one who signs himself 'Batt from the Workhouse,' and Sir John Harper. The latter was one James Anderson, a breeches-maker of Wandsworth, who became one of the most popular candidates during several elections.
This year's election was formally commenced by the following announcement:
Whereas divers persons have thought proper to nominate themselves as candidates for this most antient and loyal borough without conforming to the several previous modes, forms, and methods to be observed and taken before such putting-up.
This is therefore to give notice, that by antient records of the borough, each and every candidate who enters the list of fame must subscribe his name (either real or fictitious), his place of residence (if he has one), and occupation (if any), in the Doomsday-book of this borough, kept at the Mansion House, lest any disqualified person should dare to infringe, but the least atom, on the privileges and immunities of this antient and most loyal borough.
Mayor and keeper of the Archives. 9th of April, 1768.
In another broadside the same mayor complains:
That it hath been a custom of late for several people, strangers and foreigners, to erect booths for vending of beer and other liquors on this occasion, who have neither right, title, nor pretension to that privilege; and that this custom is highly injurious to all the publicans of Garrat, to whom solely that privilege belongs by right of inheritance from time immemorial.' He there-fore earnestly adjures the public not to patronize them, and ends his harangue thus: 'Now I must exhort you all to order and good breeding; let the spirit of love reign amongst you-yea, and the spirit of Englishmen. Then, and in that there case, will the greatest decorum and brightest example shine throughout your con-duct; which shall be the fervent prayer of him who will certainly suffer by the contrary, viz.,
Cross, Mayor. (His own fist!)'
On this occasion Lady Twankum played a conspicuous part with her lord. His bills announce that 'Lady Twankum desires those ladies who intend to honour her with their company to send their servants for tickets.' In a second announcement, 'Lady Twankum desires those ladies who are in the interest of her lord to come full dressed, and clean about the heels.' She also hopes they will honour her so far as to drink chocolate, tea, coffee, or any other liquor they please to order, on the morning of election;' and adds, 'The lane and the whole borough will be grandly illuminated, according to custom, during the ball.'
Lord Twankum concludes his address by informing his constituents, 'The election will be on the 7th of June ensuing; when I have given strict orders that every house on the road between Greenwich and Farnham shall be open from five o'clock in the morning to nine, and from nine all day long; where you may please, drink, amuse, and regale yourselves at the mode-rate price of paying for what you use. Also by water, boats, barges, lighters, and wherries; and by land, proper vehicles, viz., sand-carts, dust-carts, dung-carts, carrion-carts, trucks, and truckadoes, will be ready at the most convenient places for you all-if you will only take the trouble to seek them. and pay the hire.'
The election of 1775 is announced by 'Richard Penn, Mayor, Deputy Ranger of Wandsworth Common, and Superintendant of all the Gravel-pits thereto belonging;' who recommends Sir William Blaize and Sir Christopher Dashem, and announces that two places of subscription are opened in Wandsworth and four in London, at various public houses, 'that the candidates shall not put themselves to a shilling expense.' He deprecates bribery, and notes a report 'as a caution to the worthy electors, that Sir John Harper has engaged a certain famous dancing Punch, who will exhibit during the whole election.' Sir William Blaize announces himself as 'Nephew to the late Lord Twankum,' and that he 'went as a volunteer from the artillery in the City of London to St. James's, with 11,000 men to serve his majesty in the rebellion in the year '45, under the command of Sir William Bellows and Sir Joseph Hankey; [he] has been fourteen years since in the Surrey Militia, and exerted his abilities in such a manner [as] has gained him the applause of his country in general.'
The election of 1781 was as remarkable as those of 1761 and 1768 for the number of candidates; no less than nine contested the borough. Among them were our old friends Sir John Harper, Sir Christopher Dashwood, and Sir William Blaize; the new candidates being a Sir John Gnawpost, Sir William Swallowtail (one William Cook, a basketmaker, of Brentford), Sir Thomas Nameless, Sir Thomas Tubbs (a waterman), Sir Buggy Bates (one Robert Bates, a waterman and chimney-sweep), and Sir Jeffrey Dunstan, an itinerant dealer in old wigs, who turned out to be one of the most popular of the candidates that ever appeared on the Garrat hustings, and was retained member for three successive parliaments. He came forward in his own name with merely the prefix of a title, was much of a humorist, and possessed a fund of vulgar wit, and an extremely grotesque personal appearance. He had been long known about London, from his whimsical mode of crying his trade; and it was his pride to appear hatless, and regardless of personal grace, by wearing his shirt and waistcoat open to the waist, his breeches unbuttoned at the knees, and his stockings ungartered. He, however, assumed much mock dignity, spite of his dwarfish size, disproportioned head, and knock-knees; spoke of his daughters as 'Miss Dinah' and 'beautiful Miss Nancy,' the latter being elevated into 'Lady Ann' after she married ' Lord Thompson,' a dustman of Bethnal Green, where Sir Jeffrey resided until his death, by excess of drink, about 1797. He was in the habit of rehearsing his election speeches, and giving his imitations of popular London cries, on stated occasions, at the White-chapel public-houses, in company with 'Ray the Tinker,' and 'Sir Charles Hartis,' a deformed fiddler and an unsuccessful candidate for Garrat. His quaint figure appears on some of the London tradesmen's tokens, and was used as a sign to public-houses.
Sir John Harper, in his address, speaks of having had the honour of serving Garrat in the last two parliaments out-of-doors;' calls himself ' principal rectifier of all mistakes and blunders;' promises 'to promote the trade and commerce of this land in general, and of every freeman in particular of this ancient and loyal borough of Garrat; to establish a firm, lasting, and universal peace with America; chastise the insolence and ingratitude of France, Spain, and Holland; and restore this nation to its ancient glory.' He also promises to call public servants to account in high places, to lighten taxes, shorten parliaments, and bring forward a scheme for the liquidation of the National Debt. He at the same time solemnly declares that he 'will never accept from government either place, pension, title, contract, or emolument whatsoever.' Sir John Harper and Sir Jeffrey Dunstan were unanimously returned, though an imputation was cast on the latter, to the effect that his daughter was to marry the son of the Premier, Lord North. Other candidates had wicked allegations levelled at them: Sir John Swallowtail was declared to have a contract to supply government with baskets; and Sir Buggy Bates another 'for a supply of soot, for the powder to destroy vermin in biscuit.'
There are preserved three very curious drawings by Valentine Green, delineating the chief features of this great electioneering farce. The most curious of the series represents Lady 'Maize in her state barge passing through Wandsworth; the principal inns, 'The Spread Eagle' and 'The Ram,' are indicated, with the entrance to Garrat Lane. Her ladyship carries in her boat a 'dancing Punch,' similar to that noted in 1775. She has also two pages, one to shield her beauties under a huge umbrella, the other to ply an enormous fan. She was graphically described to Hone by an old lady of Wandsworth.
I remember her very well,' said she, 'and so I ought, for I had a good hand in the dressing of her. I helped to put together many a good pound of wool to make her hair up; I suppose it was more than three feet high, at least; and as for her stays, I also helped to make them, down in Anderson's barn. They were neither more nor less than a washing-tub without the bottom, well covered, and bedizened outside to look like a stomacher; as she sat in the boat she was one of the drollest creatures for size and dress ever seen!
The boats were mounted on wheels and drawn by horses, though in one instance we see them dragged by men. The racket and semi-masquerading of the populace is a notable feature; many are habited in quaint wigs and hats, one drummer is in female costume; women join the rowers, quarrels and fights abound, and the scaffolding in front of the 'Spread Eagle' falls with its occupants. There is one remarkable spectator in the right-hand corner of this scene-a coatless, loosely-dressed, bald-headed man, with a porter-pot in his left hand; this is the publican, Sam House, celebrated at all Westminster elections for his zeal in the cause of Fox. He was never seen to wear either hat or coat, and has been spiritedly depicted by the famed caricaturist Gillray.
Sir John Harper addresses his constituents from a phaeton drawn by six horses, with mounted postilions, and preceded by horsemen carrying mops and brooms. Upon his
carriage is inscribed, Harper for ever! No Whigs!' an allusion, possibly, to Sir Jeffrey Dunstan. He is speaking opposite the inn known as 'The Leathern Bottle,' which still stands unchanged in Garrat Lane, nearly opposite the common, which was the glory of the place. Sir William Swallowtail came to the poll in a wicker-chariot made by himself, and was preceded by hand-bell players. Sir Christopher Dashwood was drawn in a boat, with drums and fifes, and a Merry-Andrew mounted beside him. The road was kept by ' the Garrat Cavalry,' consisting of forty boys of all ages and sizes, so arranged that the smallest boys rode the largest horses, and vice versa''; who were commanded by a 'Master of the Horse,' in caricature regimentals, with a sword seven feet long, boots reaching to the hips, provided with enormous spurs, and mounted on the largest dray-horse that could be procured.
At the next election, in 1785, the death of Sir John Harper left Sir Jeffrey Dunstan without a rival; but in that for 1796 he was ousted by a new candidate, Sir Harry Dimsdale, a muffin-seller and dealer in tin-ware, almost as deformed as himself, but by no means so great a humorist. The most was made of his appearance, by dressing him in an ill-proportioned tawdry court suit, with an enormous cocked hat. He enjoyed his honour but a short time, dying before the next general election; he was 'the last' of the grotesque mayors, for no candidates started after his death, the publicans did not as before sub-scribe toward the expenses of the day, and the great saturnalia died a natural death.
'None but those who have seen a London mob on any great holiday,' says Sir Richard Philips, 'can form a just idea of these elections. On several occasions a hundred thousand persons, half of them in carts, in hackney coaches, and on horse and ass-back, covered the various roads from London, and choked up all the approaches to the place of election. At the two last elections, I was told that the road within a mile of Wands-worth was so blocked up by vehicles, that none could move backward or forward during many hours; and that the candidates, dressed like chimney-sweepers on May-day, or in the mock fashion of the period, were brought up to the hustings in the carriages of peers, drawn by six horses, the owners themselves condescending to become their drivers.'
After a lapse of thirty-four years, when the whim and vulgarity of a Garrat election was only remembered by a few, and recorded by Foote's drama, the general election of 1826 seems to have induced a desire to resuscitate the custom. A placard was prepared to forward the interests of a certain 'Sir John Paul Pry,' who was to come forward with Sir Hugh Allsides (one Callendar, beadle of All Saints' Church, Wandsworth), and Sir Robert Needall (Robert Young, surveyor of roads), described as a 'friend to the ladies who attend Wandsworth Fair.' The placard, which may be read in Hone's Every-Day Book, displays 'a plentiful lack of wit.' The project of revival failed; and Garrat has had no parliamentary representative 'out-of-doors ' since the worthy muffin-seller was gathered to his fathers at the close of the last century.
On the night of the 20th of May 1795, shortly after the family at Cliefden House had retired to rest, a maid-servant of the establishment, as she lay in bed, was reading a novel. Absorbed in the story, she was perhaps supremely happy. Bat she was suddenly roused from her enjoyment by perceiving that her bed-curtains were in flames. Too terrified to alarm the family, she sank down on her bed and fainted.
While she lay helpless and unconscious, the flames gathered strength, and spread to other parts of the building. Happily, many of the family were still awake, and in a few minutes the whole household was in motion. Such, according to tradition, was the origin of the conflagration. Certain it is, that however it originated, the fire occurred at the date mentioned, and calamitous were its effects. Every life indeed was saved, but the whole mansion, with the exception of its two end wings and the terrace, perished in the flames, and nearly all its rich furniture, its valuable paintings, and beautiful tapestry, shared the same fate.
This house, which had been originally designed by Archer for the profligate George Villiers, second Duke of Buckingham, was built of red brick, with stone dressings. At each end was a square wing, connected with the main building by a colonnade, and a magnificent terrace about 440 feet long. The Duke of Buckingham, who purchased Cliefden from the family of Manfeld, its ancient proprietors, expended large sums, and evinced much taste in its arrangement and decoration. Regardless of expense, he procured the choicest productions of our own and other countries, and enriched this naturally lovely spot with a variety of trees, shrubs, and flowers, scarcely to be met with, at that period, in any other grounds of the same extent. He also adorned it, according to the fashion of the day, with alcoves and similar buildings.
Cliefden was his favourite place of residence; and here he carried on his amours with the infamous Countess of Shrewsbury, whose husband he killed in a duel.
Gallant and gay, in Cliefden's proud alcove,
The bower of wanton Shrewsbury and love.
His gallantries, however, were often rudely curtailed by the want of money, and, from the same cause, he was unable to complete the mansion here; for, although the inheritor of immense property, his lavish expenditure had involved him deeply in debt, and he died in middle life, self-ruined in health, in fortune, and in reputation.
After the death of the Duke of Buckingham, Clifden was purchased by Lord George Hamilton (fifth son of the Duke of Hamilton), who for his military services was created Earl of Orkney. At eonsiderable cost he completed the house, and added new beauties to the ground. He died in 1737, and leaving no surviving male issue, his eldest daughter, Anne, became Countess of Orkney, and succeeded to the Cliefden estate. While in her possession, it was rented by his Royal Highness Frederick Prince of Wales, who for many years made it his summer residence. This amiable prince, unlike his father, who never appreciated the character of his British subjects, or sought their true interest, exerted his beat energies to acquire a knowledge of the British laws and constitution, and to assimilate his own tastes and feelings to those of the people he expected to be called on to govern. In his general behaviour he was courteous and considerate to all.
He was a zealous promoter of every measure that he considered likely to forward the public good, and a special patron of the arts, sciences, and literature. Cliefden, as his residence, became the resort of the literati of the day, among whom Thomson and Mallet are still memorable in connexion with it. Mallet first received the prince's patronage, and was made his under-secretary, with a salary of two hundred pounds a year. Thomson's introduction to the prince, as described by Johnson, is amusing. The author of the Castle of Indolence appears to have been by no means diligent him-self. His muse was a lazy jade, except under the sharp spur of necessity; and Thomson, having received a comfortable appointment under Government, indulged his love of ease and good living, paying little or no attention to his poetical mistress. But a change of ministry threw him out of his lucrative post; his finances were soon exhausted, and he lapsed into his former indigence. While in this condition he was introduced to the prince, and 'being gaily interrogated,' says Johnson, 'about the state of his affairs, he replied, they were in a more poetical posture than formerly.' He was then allowed a pension of one hundred pounds a year; but this being inadequate to his now luxurious habits, he began again to court his muse, and several dramatic productions were the result. One of them was a masque entitled Alfred, which he and Mallet in conjunction composed for the Prinee of Wales, before whom it was performed for the first time, in 1740, at Cliefden. One of the songs in that masque was Rule Britannia. The masque is forgotten; the author of the song, and they who first heard its thrilling burst from the orchestra, are mouldering in their tombs; the halls through which the strain resounded have long since perished; but the enthusiasm then awakened still vibrates in the British heart to the sound of those words,
Rule Britannia, Britannia rule the waves,
For Britons never, never shall be slaves!
Cliefden House, after the fire in 1795, remained nearly as the flames left it till 1830, when it was rebuilt by Sir George Warrender, who had purchased the estate. After the death of Sir George Warrender, Cliefden was purchased from his trustees by the Duke of Sutherland; and within a few months after his purchase was again burnt down, on the 15th of November, 1849, being the day of thanksgiving for the cessation of the cholera.
In the summer of 1850, the mansion was re-built by the Duke of Sutherland in a still more magnificent style, from designs by Barry. The centre portion, which is a revival of the design for old Somerset House, now extends to the wings, which, together with the terrace, are made to harmonize with the new building. It is indeed a magnificent and imposing structure, though by those who prefer the more picturesque appearance of the Tudor style, it may be considered heavy and formal. It is now (1862) the residence of the Dowager Duchess of Sutherland.
But the grounds of Cliefden, which are about a hundred and thirty-six acres in extent, are its chief attraction. They have often been celebrated both in prose and verse. 'It is to Cliefden,' says a modern writer, 'that the river here owes its chief loveliness; and whether we view the valley of the Thames from it, or float leisurely along the stream, and regard it as the principal object, we shall alike find enough to delight the eye and kindle the imagination. Cliefden runs along the summit of a lofty ridge which overhangs the river. The outline of this ridge is broken in the most agreeable way, the steep bank is clothed with luxuriant foliage, forming a hanging wood of great beauty, or in parts bare, so as to increase the gracefulness of the foliage by the contrast; and the whole bank has run into easy flowing curves at the bidding of the noble stream which washes its base. A few islands deck this part of the river, and occasionally little tongues of land run out into it, or a tree overhangs it, helping to give vigour to the foreground of the rich landscape. In the early morning, when the sun has risen just high enough to illumine the summit of the ridge and highest trees, and all the lower part rests a heavy mass of shadow on the sleeping river, the scene is one of extraordinary grandeur.'
THE SALTPETRE MAN
It will perhaps surprise some readers to learn that chemical science was so far advanced in this country two hundred and twenty years ago, that a patent was granted (dated 1625) to Sir John Brook and Thomas Russel, for obtaining saltpetre, for the manufacture of gunpowder, from animal exuviae, from the soil of slaughter-houses and stables, and even from the floors of dwelling-houses. But it appears that the patent did not immediately produce a supply equal to the demand; for in the year 1627, the third of the reign of Charles I, a proclamation was issued to remedy the inconvenience arising to the service from the want of a full and proper supply of nitre for the gunpowder manufactures. It first set forth that the saltpetre makers were never able to furnish the realm with a third part of the saltpetre required, more especially in time of war; and then proceeded to state that, since a patent had been granted to Sir John Brook and Thomas Russel, for the making of saltpetre by a new invention, they were authorized to collect the animal fluids (which were ordered by this same proclamation to be preserved by families for this purpose) once in twenty-four hours, from house to house, in summer, and once in forty-eight hours in winter.
It will not require a very fertile imagination to conceive that this proclamation was offensive and highly inconvenient to the people, and that the frequent visits of the Saltpetre Man and his agents would be anything but welcome. This, however, was not the worst. All soils throughout the kingdom which were impregnated with animal matter were claimed by the Crown for this peculiar purpose. And the same proclamation empowered the saltpetre makers to dig up the floors of all dove-houses, stables, cellars, slaughter-houses, &c., for the purpose of carrying away the earth; and prohibited the proprietors from relaying such floors with anything but 'mellow earth,' to afford greater facilities to the diggers. An obvious consequence was, that individuals anxious to preserve their premises from injury by this ruinous digging, resorted to bribery, and bought off the visits of the Saltpetre Man. He, on the other hand, conscious of the power his privileges gave him, became extortionate, and made his favours more ruinous than his duties.
These vexatious and mischievous visits were put a stop to in 1656, by the passing of an act forbidding saltpetre makers from digging in houses or enclosed lands without leave of the owners. It also appears, from the extensive powers of the act under which the above-named patent was granted, that the corporate bodies of certain, or perhaps all, municipal towns were compelled at their own charge to maintain works for the manufacture of saltpetre from the refuse of their respective localities-a supposition which is confirmed by the fact that, in the year 1633, an order was made by the corporation of Nottingham, to the effect that no person, without leave from the mayor and common council, should remove any soil except to places appointed for the reception of such matter; nor should any such material be sold to any foreigner (stranger) without their license. Four years later (1637) the hall book of the same corporation contains the following entry:-'William Burrows agreed to be made burgess on condition of freeing the town from all charges relating to the saltpetre works.' Doubtless the corporation were glad enough to rid themselves of the obnoxious character of the Saltpetre Man, with all its disagreeable contingencies, when relief could be had on such easy terms.
Troubles with the Saltpetre Man can be traced to a still earlier date than any we have mentioned, as the following curious memorial will show.
To the Righte Honorable oure verse goode Lorde, the Lorde Burghley, Lorde Hight Threasiror of Englande.
Righte Honorable, oure humble dewties to your good lordshippe premised, maye it please the same to be advertised, that at the Quarter Sessions holden at Newarke, within this countie of Nottingham, there was a general complaynte made unto us by the whole countrie, that one John Foxe, saltpetre maker, had charged the whole countrie by his precepts for the caryinge of cole from Selsona, in the countie of Notting-ham, to the towne of Newarke, within the same countie, being sixteen miles distant, for the making of saltpetre, some towns with five cariages, and some with lesse, or else to give him four shillings for eyrie loade, whereof he bath receved a greate parte. Uppon which complaynte we called the same John Ffoxe before some of us at Newarke, at the sessions there, to answere the premises, and also to make us a proposition what lodes of toles would serve to make a thousand weight of saltpetre, to the end we might have sette some order for the preparing of the same; but the saide Ffoxe will not sette down anie rate what would serve for the making of a thousand. Therefore, we have thoughte good to advise youre good lordshippe of the premises, and have appoynted the clark of the peace of this countie of Nottingham to attend your lordshippe, to know your lordshippe's pleasure about the same, who can further inform your good lordshippe of the particularities thereof, if it shall please your lordshippe to give him hearinge: and so most humblie take our leaves. -Newark, the 8th of October, 1589.
Re. Markham. William Sutton. Rauf Barton. Nihs. Roos. Brian Lassels. John Thornhagh.
After the discovery and importation of rough nitre from the East Indies, the practice of obtaining it by such processes as those described in the patent of Brook and Russel fell into gradual disuse, and thus the country was relieved from one of the greatest annoyances to which it had ever been subject.