Born: Sanzio Raffaelle, painter, 1483, Urbino; Dr. John Lightfoot, Scripture commentator, 1602, Stoke-upon-Trent; Joseph Ignace Guillotin, physician, originator of the guillotine in France, 1738, Xaintes; Marshal Jean de Dieu Soult, Duke of Dalmatia, 1769, St. Amand-du-Tarn; Sir Edward Geoffrey Stanley, fourteenth Earl of Derby, statesman, 1799.
Died: Pope Stephen X, 1058, Florence; Raymond Lally, 'the enlightened doctor,' 1315, Majorca; Henry Percy, third Earl of Northumberland, killed at the battle of Towton, 1461; Archbishop Tobias Matthew, 1629, York; Theophilus Bonet, eminent Genevese physician, 1689; Captain Thomas Ceram, originator of the Foundling Hospital in London, 1751; Emanuel Swedenborg, 1772, Coldbath Fields, London; Gustavus III of Sweden, 1792, Stockholm.; Charles Dignum, singer, 1827; Sir William Drummond, learned historian, 1828; Thomas Harrison, of Chester, architect, 1829; Lieutenant Stratford, R.N., editor of the Nautical Almanac, 1853.
Feast Day: Saints Jonas, Barachisius, and their companions, martyrs, 327. St. Mark, Bishop of Arethusa, in Syria, 4th century. Saints Armogastes, Archinimus, and Satur, martyrs, 457. St. Gundleus, a Welsh King, 5th century. St. Eustasius (or Eustachius), abbot of Luxe, 625.
SIR THOMAS PARKYNS-CORNISH WRESTLING
Sir Thomas Parkyns, Bart., of Bunny Park, Nottinghamshire, who died on the 29th of March 1741, was the author of a curious work, entitled The Inn Play, or Cornish Hugg Wrestler. Nor was he a mere writer on wrestling; he was an able and skilful athlete himself, as well as a ripe scholar, subtle disputant, and energetic country magistrate. Slightly eccentric, he was equally at home in the wrestling ring or on the magisterial bench; and it was said that he could throw an antagonist, combat a paradox, quote the classics, and lay down the law at quarter sessions, with any man in all England. It was when a boy, under the famous Dr. Busby, at Westminster School, that the attention of Sir Thomas was first attracted to wrestling, by his having to construe the well-known epigram of Martial, commencing with the line:
Rure morans, quid agam? respondi panca, rogatus,'
which has been thus translated:
When to my farm retired, how do I live?
If any ask, this short account I give;
The gods, at the first light, I do adore,
And place this care all other cares before.
My grounds I visit then, and servants call,
And their just tasks I do impose on all.
I study next, rouse my poetic vein;
My body then anoint, and gently strain
With some meet exercise; exult in mind
At every turn, myself both free to find
From crimes and debts; last,
I bathe, sup, laugh, drink,
Jest, sing, rest, and, on all that passes, think.
A little lamp the while sends forth a ray,
Which to my nightly studies makes a day.
From Westminster, Sir Thomas went to Cambridge, where his principal study was mathematics and mechanics, in their applications to feats of strength and dexterity. We next find him a student at Gray's-inn, relieving the dry study of the law by instructions in wrestling, boxing, and fencing, from the best masters that the metropolis could produce. Succeeding to the title early in life, he settled down on his ancestral estate at Bunny, and established an annual wrestling match in his park, open to all comers. The prize was a gold-laced hat, value twenty-two shillings, and three shillings for the second best. The amount was small, but the glory was great. Sir Thomas was no idle patron of the contests; he never objected to go in for a fall with the best man on the ground, and often won and wore the gold-laced hat himself. His servants were all upright, muscular, young fellows, and good wrestlers. Indeed, his favourite coachman and footman had defeated the baronet himself in the wrestling ring, throwing him on his back in such consummate style, that his heart warmed to them at once, and, like Robin Hood of yore, he immediately took them into his service. There was a policy in this, for he well knew that a good and powerful wrestler could be no other than a sober man. 'Whoever would be a complete wrestler,' says Sir Thomas, 'must avoid being overtaken in drink, which very much enervates, or, being in a passion at the sight of his adversary, or having received a fall, in such cases he is bereaved of his senses, not being master of himself is less of his art, but sheweth too much play, or none at all, or rather pulleth, kicketh, and ventureth beyond all reason and his judgment when himself.
That man's a fool, that hopes for good,
From Hewing bowls and feverish blood.
He also further informs us, that the greatest of wrestling masters is one Bacchus, who has many assistants, among others: 'Brandy a Frenchman, Usquebaugh an Irishman, Rum a Molossonian masters teach mostly the trip, which I assure you is no safe and sound play. You may know them by their walkings and gestures, they stagger and reel, and cross legs, which I advise my scholars to avoid, and receive many a foul fall in the sink or kennel: and were your constitutions of porphyry, marble, or steel, they will make you yield to your last and only fair fall.'
Speaking of the antiquity of wrestling, he says Though at the beginning of the preface I take notice that wrestling was in vogue, great credit, reputation, and estimation in Martial the poet's days, wrestling without all doubt is of greater antiquity, as appears by Genesis, Jacob wrestled with an angel. Whether it was real and corporeal, or mystical and spiritual in its signification, I leave the divines to determine. But I advise all my scholars to avoid wrestling with angels; for, though they may maintain the struggle till break of day, and seem to lay their adversaries supine and on their backs, yet they will have the fall and be out of joint with Jacob's thigh.'
A good specimen of what may be termed the wrestling style of Sir Thomas is found in the following directions for giving an opponent the throw called by adepts:
Take him by the right hand with your left, your palm being upwards as if you designed only to shake him by the hand in a friendly manner in the beginning, and twist it outwards, and lift it upwards to make way for your head, and put your head under his right arm-pit, and hold his hand down to your left side, hold. your head stiff backwards, to hold him out of his strength, then put your right arm up to the shoulder between his grainings, and let your hand appear behind past his breech, but if you suspect they will cavil at that arm, as a breeching, lay your arm along his belly, and lift him up as high as your head and in either hold, when so high, lean backward, and throw him over your head.
There is a good-humoured quaintness in the description of this encounter. How placidly it commences with taking the opponent's hand 'in a friendly manner,' reminding us of Izaak Walton's words, 'use him as though you loved him,' when directing how to impale a wretched frog on a fishing-hook. Anon, the plot thickens, until, at last, the astonished novice finds himself performing the flying-horse-the spread eagle the Americans more analogically term it-over his friend's head!
One of the wrestling baronet's whims was to form a collection of stone coffins; and a rare and probably unexampled collection he did form, and keep with great nicety, in the churchyard at Bunny. It was not from any antiquarian tastes, however, that he made this collection; neither was it for the mere empty desire of possessing a few score stone coffins. He was one who loved to read a moral in all around him; to find tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, and good in everything. The coffins ranged before him were emblems of mortality, teaching the athletic champion of the wrestling ring that the great wrestler Death would inevitably overcome him in the end. And to carry this impression of humility even into the house of prayer, he caused his own monument-the marble effigies of Sir Thomas Parkyns, as he termed it-to be placed opposite his pew in the chancel-his own chancel -of Bunny Church, that he might look on it every Lord's day, and say-What is life! This monument was carved out of a 'fair piece of marble,' in his own great barn, by his own domestic chaplain; and from what remains of it now, we may hope that the chaplain was a much better clergyman than a sculptor.
On this monument Sir Thomas is depicted in the centre, standing in his wrestling dress, potent and postured, ready for either flying-horse or Cornish-hug. His attitude is the first position of wrestling, as well as a moralising posture, and emblematises 'the divine and human struggle for the glorious mastery.' On one side is a well limbed figure lying above the scythe of time, the sun rising gloriously over it, showing that the strong man and wrestler is in the prime of youth. On the other side we see the same figure stretched in a coffin, with Time, scythe in hand, standing triumphantly over it; the sun gone down, marking the darkness of the tomb, the fate of all, strong or feeble. There are some Latin verses on the monument, that have been translated as follows:
At length, by conquering Time subdued,
Lo! here Britannia's wrestler lies;
Till now he still unshaken stood,
Whene'er he strove, and gain'd the prize.
Long was the doubtful strife-beset
With years, he long eludes the fall;
Nor yet inglorious his defeat,
O'ermatch'd by Him who conquers all.
To life restored, the day will come,
When he, though now he faint and fail,
Shall rise victorious from the tomb,
Oover Time himself prevail.
Thus did Sir Thomas Parkyns moralise in marble, and decorate with solemn emblems the church at Bunny.
Though no training will enable a man to wrestle successfully against a century, still temperance, wholesome toil, and manly exercise, will carry him bravely over several scores of years. Sir Thomas Parkyns never knew a day's illness until his seventy-eighth year, when death at last gave him the backfall, and he died universally beloved and lamented. The wrestling matches he instituted were annually kept up for many years after his death, and were not finally done away with till about the year 1810. His monument, though considerably dilapidated, is still to be seen in the chancel of Bunny Church; we had almost forgotten to say that, having selected one of his stone coffins for his own use, he left the remainder to such parishioners of Bunny as might choose to be interred in them.
CORAM AND THE FOUNDLING HOSPITAL
Captain Thomas Coram was born at Lyme Regis, in Dorsetshire, in 1668. He emigrated to Massachusetts, where, after working a while as a shipwright, he became master of a trading vessel, made some money, and at last settled in London. In 1720, when living at Rotherhithe, and walking to and from the city early in the morning and late at night, his feelings were often keenly tried in coming across infants exposed and deserted in the streets. His tender heart at once set his head devising some remedy. 'There were hospitals for foundlings in France and Holland, and why not in England?'
Coram was an honest mariner, without much learning or art of address; but he had energy and patience, and for seven-teen years he spent the most of his time in writing letters and visiting in advocacy of a home for foundlings. After long striking, a spark caught the tinder of the fashionable world; such an institution was voted a necessity of the age; and in 1739, the Foundling Hospital was established by Royal Charter. Subscriptions poured freely in, and in 1741 the Lamb's Conduit estate of 56 acres was bought as a site and grounds for £5,500. It was a fortunate investment.
London rapidly girdled the Hospital, which now lies at its very centre, and from the leases of superfluous outskirts the Hospital draws an annual income equal to the original purchase-money. Hogarth was a great friend of the Hospital, and was one of its earliest Governors. For its walls he painted Coram's portrait, 'one of the first,' he writes, 'that I did the size of life, and with a particular desire to excel.' He and other painters displayed their works in the rooms of the Foundling, and out of the practice grew the first Exhibition of the Royal Academy in the Adelphi, in 1760. The show of pictures drew 'the town' to the Hospital, and its grounds became the morning lounge of the belles and beaux of London in the last years of George II.
Handel also served the Foundling nobly. To its chapel he presented an organ, and for eleven years, from 1749 to his death in 1759, he conducted an oratorio for its benefit, from which sums varying from £300 to £900 were annually realized. The original score of his 'Messiah' is preserved among the curiosities of the Hospital.
The Governors commenced work in a house in Hatton Garden on 25th March 1741, having exhibited a notice the previous day, that 'Tomorrow at 8 o'clock in the evening this house will be opened for the reception of 20 children.' Any person bringing a child rang the bell at the inner door, and waited to hear if there were no objections to its reception on account of disease. No questions were asked as to whom the infant belonged to, or why it was brought. When the full number of babes had been received, a board was hung out over the door, 'The House is full.' Sometimes a hundred children were brought when only twenty could be admitted, and in the crush for precedence riots ensued; in consequence, a ballot was instituted, and the women drew out of a bag, white, red, and black balls. Those who drew black had to go away, those who drew white were accepted, and those who drew red remained in case the child of any woman who had drawn white should be found ineligible from infectious disease.
The fame of the charity spread far and wide, and the country began to consign foundlings to its care. A tinker was tried at Monmouth for drowning a child he had received to carry to London. Seven out of eight infants a waggoner undertook to bring to town were found dead at the end of the journey. One man with five in a basket got drunk on his way, fell asleep on a common, and when he awoke three of his charge were suffocated. A horseman from Yorkshire was asked on Highgate Hill what he carried in his panniers, and he shewed two infants, saying that he got eight guineas for the trip, but that others were offering to do it cheaper.
In 1754, the governors moved into the present Hospital, erected from the designs of architect Jacobson, with 600 children, whom they were supporting at an expense of five times the amount of their income! In their distress they applied to Parliament for aid, which voted them £10,000, but plunged them into new difficulties by ordering the reception of all infants that might be brought to them, and opening country branches. At one of these, Ackworth, near Pontefract, cloth was made, in suits of which some of the patrons of the Hospital appeared at the annual festivals. At another, Aylesbury, John Wilkes, M.P., was treasurer, and when he left the kingdom in 1764, it was found that he was in possession of some of the funds.
In compliance with the Act of Parliament a basket was hung at the gate of the Hospital, in which the foundling was deposited, and a bell rung to give notice to the officers in attendance.
From 1741 to 1756 the Governors had accepted the charge of 1384 children, but under the new parliamentary arrangement the traffic developed amazingly. On the 2nd of June 1756, the first day of the basket, 117 infants were put into it. In 1757, bills were posted through the streets, a-uprising the public of their privilege. The work-houses got rid of all their infantile encumbrances in the convenient basket. Women stood at the gate, stripped their babies naked, popped them into the basket, and rang the bell. In the first year, 3,296 were put in; in the second, 4,025; in the third, 4,229; and in ten months of the fourth, 3,324. Out of the total of 14,874, it is scarcely surprising, however horrible, to learn that only 4,000 lived to be apprenticed, a mortality of 70 per cent! The expense of the charity thus far was nearly £500,000. Of course results like these alarmed the most Quixotic, and in 1760 Parliament revoked the order for indiscriminate admission, and agreed to bear the charge of the children who had flooded the charity at their invitation. Warned by this terrible experience, the Governors were content to work with much humbler aims. They still accepted any infant that might be brought, if a purse of £100 was given with it, but even this privilege they felt it wise to abolish in 1801.
The annual revenue of the Hospital at this day from its estate and funded property is nearly £11,000, and with this sum 460 boys and girls are maintained and educated, from infancy until their fifteenth year. The Queen is a donor of fifty guineas annually, following the precedent set by George II. The conditions of admission now are 'that the child be illegitimate, except that the father be a soldier or sailor killed in the service of his country, and that the mother shall have borne a good character previous to her misfortune, and that she be poor and have no relations able or willing to maintain her child.' The object of the Governors is to hide the shame of the mother, as well as to preserve the life of her child, and dismiss her with the charge, 'Sin no more.' The average admissions are thirty-seven annually. No infant is received older than twelve months. The treasurer gives each babe a name, and when christened it is sent into the country to nurse, and on the attainment of its third year is brought to the Hospital in London. There all receive a plain education in reading, writing, and arithmetic. The girls, taught sewing and household work, are put out to domestic service in respectable families. There is a constant demand, much in excess of the supply, for servants bred at the Foundling. The boys are apprenticed to various trades, and about fifty of them are instructed in music, and draughted into the bands of the army and navy. The children on the whole turn out well in the world, and generally bear the home of their youth in kindly remembrance.
From Handel the Foundling has inherited a high musical reputation. Several blind children, received during the years of indiscriminate admission, were trained as a choir, and their sweet voices were a great attraction to the chapel. Mr. Grenville, the organist, Mr. Printer, Jenny Freer, and Miss Thetford, noted singers, were all blind foundlings. On Sundays the chapel is usually filled in every corner by crowds who come to hear the excellent music, which is led by professionals, and supported by the voices of 500 children. The pew rents, and collections at the door, average from £600 to £900 a year, after paying all expenses. The altar-piece, 'Christ presenting a Child,' is by 'West, who retouched the picture in 1816. From the pulpit Sterne and Sidney Smith, not to run over other names, have pleaded for the charity.
The collection of pictures at the Foundling is worth seeing. They are nearly all gifts, and illustrate very fairly the state of British art in the third quarter of last century. There is Hogarth's portrait of Comm, of which he said that 'it had stood the test of twenty years' competition, notwithstanding the first painters in the kingdom exerting all their talents to vie with it;' also his March to Finchley, and his Moses brought to Pharaoh's Daughter. There is a portrait of Lord Dartmouth, by Sir Joshua Reynolds; of George II, by Shackleton; of Handel, by Kneller; of Dr. Mead, by Allan Ramsay; views of various London hospitals, by Gainsborough, Richard Wilson, Haytley, and Wale; three sacred subjects by Hayman, High-more, and Wills; a bas-relief by Rysbrack, and a bust of Handel by Roubiliac.
Captain Coram's fortune appears never to have been large, and his credit in the institution of the Foundling lay, not in any pecuniary endowment, but in the undaunted pertinacity with which he fought down public apathy, and at last induced wealth and power to work out his philanthropic design. Two years before his death it was discovered that he had lost all his means. His friends thereon bestirred themselves to raise him to independence by subscription; and in order that the good old man might not be offended, Dr. Brocklesby broke to him the project. His answer was, ' I have not wasted the little money I once had in self-indulgence or vanity, and am not ashamed to confess that in my old age I am poor.' In 1749 they secured him an annuity of £170. He happily did not live to see the charity he had founded, in the years of its frightful efflorescence. He died on the 29th of March 1751, aged eighty-four, when the Hospital which preserves his memory was in course of erection; and in the new stone catacombs of the chapel his body was the first to be laid. There, also, Lord Tenterden was buried in 1832 -the Canterbury barber's boy, who rose to be Lord Chief Justice of England. An excellent statue of Coram, by Calder Marshall, was set up at the gates of the Hospital in 1856; but the stone out of which it is cut has already proved so friable, that it has had to be painted over to save it from destruction.
THE BERKSHIRE LADY'S GARLAND
'March 29th, 1679,' is the date of a baronetcy conferred on a Berkshire gentleman, William Kenrick, of Whitley, which, however, expired with the second generation about the close of the century. The second baronet left his property to an only daughter, who is understood to have soon after disposed herself in marriage in a very extraordinary way.
Tradition and a contemporary broadside ballad concur in representing this young gentlewoman as paid court to by many, but refusing all, and keeping her affections disengaged, until, attending a wedding at Reading, she met a young and handsome but poor attorney, named Benjamin Child, with whom she fell violently in love on the spot.
For some days she reasoned with herself on the subject, trying to shake herself free of this sudden passion, but all in vain. Then, feeling that something must be done, but unable from confusion of mind to devise a proper course, she took the extraordinary step of sending the young man a letter, demanding satisfaction for injuries she alleged he had inflicted on her, and appointing time and place for a hostile meeting. Mr. Child was much surprised, and quite at a loss to conceive who the challenger could be. By the advice of a friend, however, he resolved to attend. The meeting may be described in the words of the ballad:
Early on a summer's morning,
When bright Phaebus was adorning
Every bower with his beams,
The fair lady came, it seems.
At the bottom of a mountain,
Near a pleasant crystal fountain,
There she left her gilded coach,
While the grove she did approach.
Covered with her mask, and walking,
There she met her lover, talking
With a friend that he had brought,
So she asked him whom he sought.
'I am challenged by a gallant
Who resolves to try my talent;
Who he is I cannot say,
But I hope to shew him play.'
'It is I that did invite you;
You shall wed me, or I'll fight you
Underneath those spreading trees;
Therefore choose from which you please.
'You shall find I do not vapour,
have sought my trusty rapier;
Therefore take your choice,' said she:
'Either fight or marry me!
Said he, 'Madam, pray what mean you?
In my life I've never seen you;
Pray unmask, your visage shew
Then I'll tell you ay or no.'
'I will not my face uncover
Till the marriage ties are over;
Therefore choose you which you will,
Wed me, sir, or try your skill.
'Step within that pleasant bower
With your friend one single hour;
Strive your thoughts to reconcile,
And I'll wander here the while.'
While this beauteous lady waited,
The young bachelors debated
What was best for to be done.
Quoth his friend, ' The hazard run;
'If my judgment can be trusted,
Wed her first, you can't be worsted;
If she's rich you'll rise to fame,
If she's poor, why, you're the same.'
He consented to be married;
All three in a coach were carried.
To a church without delay,
Where he weds the lady gay.
Though sweet pretty Cupids hover'd
Round her eyes, her face was cover'd
With a mask,-he took her thus,
Just for better or for worse.'
The ballad goes on to state that the pair went in her coach to the lady's elegant mansion, where, leaving him in a parlour, she proceeded to dress herself in her finest attire, and by and by broke upon his vision as a young and handsome woman and his devoted wife:
Now he's clothed in rich attire, Not inferior to a squire; Beauty, honour, riches' store, What can man desire more?'
It appears that Mr. Child took a position in society suitable to the fortune thus conferred upon him, and was high sheriff of the county in 1714.
29th March 1837, died at Brighton, Mrs. Fitzherbert, at the age of eighty-one. Born Mary Anne Smythe (daughter of Walter Smythe, Esq., of Brambridge, in the county of Hants), she was first married to Edward Weld, Esq., of Lulworth Castle, Dorsetshire; secondly to Thomas Fitzherbert, Esq., of Swinnerton, Staffordshire. She was a second time a widow, living on a handsome jointure, and greatly admired in society on account of her beauty and accomplishments, when, in 1785, being twenty-nine years of age, she became acquainted with the Prince of Wales, who was six years younger. He fell distractedly in love with her, and was eager to become her third husband; but she, well aware that the royal marriage-act made the possibility of anything more than an appearance of decent nuptials in this case extremely doubtful, resisted all his importunities.
It has been stated, on good authority, that, to overcome her scruples, he caused himself one day to be bled, put on the appearance of having made a desperate attempt on his own life, and sent some friends to bring her to see him. She was thus induced to allow him to engage her with a ring in the presence of witnesses; but she afterwards broke off, went abroad, and for a long time resisted all the efforts he made to induce her to return. It is told, as a curious fact in this strange love history, that one of the chief instruments in bringing about the union of the ill-assorted pair, was the notorious Duke of Orleans (Philip Egalité)
Towards the close of 1785, it became known that the heir-apparent of the British crown was about to marry a Catholic widow lady named Mrs. Fitzherbert. Charles Fox, to whose party the prince had attached himself, wrote to his royal highness on the 10th of December, a long letter, pointing out the dangerous nature of the course he was following. 'Consider,' said he, 'the circumstances in which you stand; the King not feeling for you as a father ought; the Duke of York professedly his favourite, and likely to be married to the King's wishes; the nation full of its old prejudices against Catholics, and justly dreading all disputes about succession.' Then the marriage could not be a real one. 'I need not,' said he, 'point out to your good sense what a source of uneasiness it must be to you, to her, and above all, to the nation, to have it a matter of dispute and discussion whether the Prince of Wales is or is not married.' The whole letter, written in a tone of sincere regard for the prince, was highly creditable to the wisdom of the writer.
The prince answered on the instant, thanking Mr. Fox for his advices and warnings, but assuring them they were needless. 'Make yourself easy, my dear friend; believe me, the world will now soon be convinced that there not only is [not], but never was, any ground for those reports which have of late been so malevolently circulated.'
Ten days after the date of this letter, namely, on the 21st of December, the Prince and Mrs. Fitzherbert were married by an English clergyman, before two witnesses. Mr. Fox, misled by the Prince, took it upon him to deny the fact of the marriage in the House of Commons; but society was never blinded on the subject. Mrs. Fitzherbert lived for several years with great openness, as the wife of the Prince of Wales, and in the enjoyment of the entire respect of society, more especially of her husband's brothers. A separation only took place about 1795, when the prince was about to marry (for the payment of his debts) the unfortunate Caroline of Brunswick. Mrs. Fitzherbert survived this event forty-two years, and never during the whole time ceased to be 'visited.' The case is a very peculiar one, from its standing in so dubious a position both with respect to law and morality.