Stories of the Streets of London

Baker, H. Barton


CHAPTER XXI: Piccadilly


CHAPTER XXI: Piccadilly




THE word Piccadilly[1]  has had several meanings assigned to it. But it seems to have originated in a peculiar ruff with stiff points, like spear heads, that was named "piccadilla," the diminutive of "picca," the Italian for pike. The place where the ruffs were sold was a large, solitary house of entertainment and gambling, with extensive recreation grounds, called Pickadilly Hall, built in St. James's Fields. That there were other houses round about is evident from a decree issued by the Star Chamber in 1637, which ordered all houses about Pickadilly, that had stood since the thirteenth of King James, to be pulled down as they were found to be great nuisances and fouled the springs of water which passed by those houses to Whitheall and the city. (Garrard in Strafford's Letters.)

In 1664, the Earl of St. Albans, who was then forming St. James's Square, built a market, which he also called after the patron saint of the locality, in St. James's Fields for the sale of provisions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Later on, within the boundaries of the market, somewhere close to the spot on which the Criterion now stands, was the Mitre Tavern, which in 1699 was kept by one Mrs. Voss, the widow of an officer in the Guards.

Let us peep into the hostess's private room on a certain summer's evening in the year just named. Seated in an arm-chair is buxom Mrs. Voss, and by her side is a beautiful girl of fifteen, her niece, who assists her in the house. She is reading aloud Beaumont and Fletcher's comedy, "The Scornful Lady". And with such spirit and rare appreciation of its wit and dramatic power that a young gentleman, who has been listening at the half-closed door, presently starts applauding, and, running into the room, seizes both hands of the blushing reader and declares that she has the making of a great actress. Mr. Farquhar, though a very young man, does not speak without warranty, for he has just produced his first comedy, " Love and a Bottle," at Drury Lane, and will thereafter write two of the sprightliest comedies of the century, "The Recruiting Officer" and "The Beaux Strategem ". He has also figured upon the stage as an actor. He offers to get her an introduction, through Vanburgh, to the managers of Drury Lane, a proposal which she is eager enough to accept.

Never did anticipations prove more prophetic : Miss Nancy, under the name of Mrs. Oldfield, became one of the most brilliant actresses in the annals of the English stage, incomparable in comedy, admirable in tragedy; she created the characters of Lady Betty Modish, of Lady Townley, and of Jane Shore; she was received on terms of perfect equality by ladies of the highest nobility; at her death she lay in state in the Jerusalem Chamber, lords were pall-bearers at her funeral, and Pope immortalized her under the name of Narcissa, in his Moral Essays.[2] 

If we pay another visit to St. James's Market about sixty years later we shall light upon another romance. It is much changed, shops have been built, and among these is a glover's and draper's kept by one Mr. Wheeler, who has a pretty shopwoman of Quaker parents, named Hannah Lightfoot. A very young gentleman is so smitten by her charms that he comes every day to buy articles, of which he has no need, for the pleasure of talking with her. Smirking Mr. Wheeler, who is of course delighted with such a profitable customer, little imagines that he is helping to weave an historical romance, and would be thunderstruck if he were told that this lad is the heir to the throne of England. Yes, it is no less a personage


than George, Prince of Wales, who is living with his widowed mother at Leicester House close by. The youth does not plead in vain. His intentions are honourable, and one day, in 1759, in Curzon Street Chapel, George marries the pretty Quakeress.

Alas, two years later he is forced to forsake his charming wife for "the ugliest woman in Europe," Charlotte of Mecklenberg-Strelitz. Hannah afterwards married a Mr. Axford, and resided for some years at Hampstead. But in her will she signed herself "Hannah Regina," and commended her children "to the kind protection of their royal father, my husband, his Majesty King George the Third ". One of her two sons became demented and committed suicide; the other, who took the name of George Rex, emigrated to the Cape of Good Hope, where he held a high official position, and was said to be the very image of his royal father. When the Duke of Edinburgh visited the Cape he was entertained by Mr. John Rex, the son of George! Probably the remembrance of this youthful folly had, among other considerations, something to do with the framing of the Royal Marriage Act, by which all the good things of royalty have ever since been secured for German princes and princesses.[3] 

In the middle of the last century that once famous hostelry, the Old White Bear, was erected upon a portion of the Market ground; but the Market did not wholly disappear until Waterloo Place was run through it, in the second decade of the present century. The Criterion marks the spot where once stood that notorious gambling saloon, the Piccadilly Casino.

The great houses of the nobility, for which Piccadilly was once so famous, have nearly disappeared, but the ghosts of the past must ever haunt the ground. Let me invoke them. To begin with the Albany which marks the site of the mansion of the infamous Earl of Sunderland, one of James II.'s favourite ministers; gambler, traitor, roue, who here entertained all the famous men of the age, and plotted against the too trusting master, whom he had led to ruin by his vile counsels. The Albany dates back to 1770, though it did not assume its present appearance until 1804. That cloister-like corridor, which traverses it from end to end, has echoed to the daily footsteps of


many famous men: Lord Byron (at No. 2, in 1814), Lord Brougham, in his early days, and George Canning were at different times residents of those bachelor's chambers. But the Albany is the most intimately associated with memories of Lord Macaulay, who
made his abode in F. 3 during fifteen years (1841- 1856). It was here that he wrote his later Essays, and the greater part of his History. He loved the place, and left it with much regret.

"After fifteen happy years passed in the Albany I am going to leave it thrice as rich a man as when I entered it, and far more famous. . . . Tomorrow I take my final leave of this room where I have spent most of the waking hours of so many years. Already its aspect is changed. It is the corpse of what it was on Sunday. I hate partings. To-day, even while I climbed the endless steps, panting and weary, I thought that it was for the last time, and the tears would come into my eyes."

In St. James's Church many illustrious dead sleep their last sleep: Charles Cotton, the companion and colleague of Izaak Walton in " The Gentle Art," and the translator of Montaigne; Mark Akenside, the author of the almost forgotten Pleasures of the Imagination, who was so ridiculously caricatured by Smollett as the " Doctor" in Peregrine Pickle; Mrs. Delaney, whose autobiography, edited by Dr. Doran, affords such vivid pictures of the society of the last century; Robert Dodsley, one of the most famous of booksellers, the publisher of Tristram Shandy; and brilliant Mrs. Abington, whom we met in Pall Mall. Wren was very proud of St. James's, and with its Grinling Gibbons carvings and beautiful altar, which Evelyn, with much exaggeration, pronounced to be equal to any at home or abroad, is a very fine building.

Albemarle Street marks the site of that splendid mansion of the great Earl of Clarendon, which his opponents nicknamed " Dunkirk House," because they


averred that it was built out of a part of the money that Louis XIV. paid to Charles II. for the sale of the old Flemish town, which Cromwell had taken from the Spaniards.

" Hatchett's" and the White Horse Cellars conjure up pictures of the coaching days of the Regency. See here are the bucks of the Driving Club, clad in light drab-coloured coats, the full skirts reaching to their heels, with three tiers of pockets and mother-of-pearl buttons, each the size of a crown piece; waistcoats with stripes of blue and yellow, an inch wide; breeches of yellow plush with sixteen strings and a rosette to each knee (it was by imitating this fashion that the dandy highwayman, Jack Rann, obtained his sobriquet of Sixteen String Jack); buff-topped boots, wrinkled down to the ankles; a bell-shaped white beaver hat, three and a half inches deep in the crown and of the same width in the brim; and, to complete the picture, an enormous bouquet at the breast.

One of the most famous of these Jehus is Sir John Lade. He was once under the guardianship of Thrale the brewer, and if you turn to your Boswell's Johnson you will find some very severe verses, written by the sage of Fleet Street, upon the occasion of this young gentleman's birthday, in which is very accurately foreshadowed Sir John's future career. Lade took for wife the mistress of the aforementioned Jack Rann, and, as the story goes, won her from the gentleman highwayman in fair fight at " Stunning Joe Banks's," in St. Giles's Rookery, where he was in the habit of carousing


with certain illustrious persons, whom we have met there. Many anecdotes are told of his marvellous feats as a whip. He could drive the two off wheels of a phaeton over a sixpence at a start of a hundred yards; and once drove backwards and forwards through a gate, just wide enough to admit a carriage, with lightning-like speed, twenty-two times, scarcely allowing himself room enough to turn. And it was said that his " lady" almost surpassed him in tooling a coach and four. Between them they soon passed the patrimonial acres into the hands of the Jews, Sir John took to the box professionally, and was glad to pocket tips such as he had once lavished upon others. Nevertheless he lived to see eighty years. Another notable member of the club is Tom Akers, he with the white beaver turned up with green, who is so determined to look a " professional " to the minutest point that he has had his front teeth filed so that he may spit in the orthodox style. And there is "golden" Ball Hughes, one of the most languid exquisites of the Regency, doing his best to run through his £40,000 a year. It will be a lucky day for him when he runs off with beautiful Mercandotti, the opera danseuse, said, bythe-bye, to be a daughter of the Earl of Fife; she will make him a brilliant wife and save him from ruin.

The fair damsel is gone, and no wonder at all,

That bred to the dance, she is gone to the ball,

wrote a wag.

I might fill pages with sketches of the members of the Driving Club and the no less famous Four-in-


Hand, reminiscent of the Marquis of Worcester, Lord Sefton, Sir St. Vincent Cotton, Harry Stevenson and many another, but the coaches, red, blue, green and yellow, with their horses groomed until their coats look like polished glass, are crowding up to the blowing of horns; the windows at Hatchett's are filled with fair demoiselles, who nod and laugh and kiss their hands as their favourite whips mount the boxes; and there is a confusion of Jew hawkers thrusting oranges and cakes and pencils through the coach windows to tempt the passengers, and-the vision fades.

I have before me a picture of Burlington House as it looked two hundred years ago. It was built in the reign of Charles II., and was then said to be the western boundary of the metropolis. In this picture it lies back in its own grounds and gardens, and all behind it is open country. Here Rochester and Buckingham recited their erotics, Pope spat venom upon his rivals, and Dean Swift exercised his savage wit upon friends and foes alike; for Richard Boyle, Lord Burlington, was a Maecenas in his patronage of men of letters, and so were some of his successors. A famous memory associated with the old mansion was the fete given to the allied sovereigns in 1814, when the gardens were splendidly illuminated. And since it has been pushed into the background by a more superb structure, celebrated men and women have certainly not ceased to haunt it.

Little less notable than Burlington is Devonshire


House. The present building was erected in the middle of the last century; but there was an elder one which, like its neighbour, had echoed to the voices of Waller and Rochester, as well as to those of Pope and Swift. The most famous reminiscences connected with the new house are of the time when "the beautiful Duchess" reigned here, the idol of the great Whig leaders, Fox, Burke, Windham, Fitzpatrick, Sheridan, Tom Moore. It was curious that while all the world was in love with her whom even carping Horace Walpole declared to be " a beautiful girl, full of grace," her husband alone was indifferent to her charms. She was married at seventeen, but even during their betrothal, when she was the loveliest star of London society, the duke was cold and distant. Their marriage was an extraordinary one. On a certain Sunday morning, by her mother's instructions, she went to Wimbledon. His Grace was awaiting her at the parish church, and there the ceremony was performed, the only persons present being the Duchess of Portland and the bride's grandmother, Lady Cowper--for she was a Spencer. The new duchess at once became the leader of fashion at court. And a nice dance she led her devotees; beginning by abolishing the hoop and high head-gears in favour of Quaker-like aprons and flat caps, she suddenly started a head-dress of feathers six in number, black, white and pink, an ell and three inches high. The difficulty of obtaining a plumage of this height was so great among those who desired to emulate their leader, that one aspiring wight in


desperation sent to an undertaker, who provided her with hearse plumes ! So, when going to assemblies in their carriages, the ladies had either to sit upon the floor or have openings made in the roofs of them. But our duchess condoned these monstrosities by that incomparable hat of Gainsborough's portrait. How her canvassing in the slums of Seven Dials won the Westminster election for Charles James Fox, has been already alluded to in the chapter on " Covent Garden ".

"Lord, it was a fine sight," said an old elector, fifty years afterwards, "to see a grand lady come smack up to you with, ' Master, how d'ye do?' and laugh so loud and talk so kind, and shake us by the hand, and say, 'Give us your vote, worthy sir; a plumper for the people's friend, our friend, everybody's friend'. And then if we hummed and ha'd she would ask after our wives and children, and if that didn't do she'd think nothing of giving us a kiss, aye, or a dozen or so. Kissing was nothing at all to her, it came so natural." As the polling lasted twenty-three days the task of canvassing in this style must have been an onerous one.

By these political intrigues, by leading the follies of fashion, and by gambling, which was her mania, the neglected wife tried to console herself for the loss of domestic happiness. But at a terrible cost.

With our duchess the taint was hereditary; her father, Earl Spencer, who once boasted that he could spend £30,000 a year without feeling it, left his widow in poverty. The gaming at Devonshire House was


appalling, it was the raison detre of every party there, and her Grace was frequently driven to pawn her diamonds, the family plate, and even borrow privately from the duke's man of business to pay her losses at cards.[4] 

But with all her faults Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire, had much of the better angel in her nature; she was a devoted daughter, mother and sister, her heart was always tender, her purse ever open to distress, and even her bitterest enemy said of her: " Never did holy nun carry to a vestal grave a heart more true to her vows than did the duchess to those she had made at the altar!" Considering that the Prince Regent and Charles James Fox were her most intimate friends she must indeed have been a miracle. She died at Devonshire House in 1806, when only in her fiftieth year. Hazlitt gives us a last glimpse of her, calling over the banisters for her servant. "If she had been


as she once was a thousand admirers would have flown to her assistance. But her face was painted over like a mask, and there was hardly any appearance of life left, but the restless motion of her eyes." Sic transit pulchritudo mundi !

It is but a stone's throw from Devonshire to Cambridge House, now the Naval and Military Club, where another queen of society, Lady Palmerston, presided over the Whig cabals of the early Victorian era, as the duchess had manoeuvred those of the Regency. Lady Palmerston's dinners and receptions, Lord Lamington considered, probably did more for the party than her husband's talents. She was the most frank and genial of hostesses; and the geniality came from her heart; she was really grateful to her husband's supporters. " Many a difficult crisis has been averted by Lady Palmerston entering the room at the right moment, and in her charming manner insisting on the discontented and disappointed one accepting her gracious hospitality. She possessed the power of making each visitor feel that he was the guest she delighted to honour; and thus her receptions were highly appreciated and were of incalculable benefit to the party."

Palmerston himself was equally clever in disarming the wrath of an indignant complainant. An old friend had been recalled from an important post to fill an inferior one; in a towering rage he rushed off to the minister and afterwards related the result to Lord Lamington. "Plague confound the fellow, I couldn't


get in a word! I sent in my card and was kept in the dining-room, while he was, of course, arranging the scene; for no sooner was I shown into his study than before I could utter a word, he rushed up, seized me by both hands. ' My dear, dear friend,' he said, 'I rejoice to have you back among us; you exchange barbaric life for civilisation; all your friends are so glad to welcome you.' 'My lord, I am surprised,' I struggled to say. 'Not a word, not a word; here is Lady Palmerston. My dear, welcome your old friend home; he is one of us again. He will dine with us today-won't you? We must keep you now we've got you back. I'm off to a Cabinet. Lady Palmerston, get our friend to tell you some of those anecdotes which used to delight us ; I leave him in your care, good-bye, au revoir, at eight o'clock '-and he rushed out. I am engaged to dine and so have lost my chance! "

Close by is dingy, bow-windowed Stratton House, now the town residence of the Baroness Burdett-Coutts, which is reminiscent of another famous duchess, nee Harriett Mellon, who, starting in life as a strolling actress, became first the wife of the richest banker in London, and then the consort of a duke. Quite a romance of old age was the marriage of the great banker with the poor player. Sheridan having seen her act at Stafford engaged her for Drury Lane (1797) to play soubrettes at thirty shillings a week! Hear that, ye modern actors! Thomas Coutts, who was a great frequenter of the theatre, conceived an affection for the buxom, though neither handsome, refined, nor


particularly clever actress, and did her many kindnesses. That all was purely platonic between them is evident from the fact that his two daughters received her most
cordially. Eighteen years afterwards Mrs. Coutts, who had long been in a state of imbecility, died. Mr. Coutts, who was then eighty, fell ill, and, on what he believed


to be his deathbed, asked Miss Mellon to be his wife in order that he might be able to make ample provisions for her without scandal. Hymen's torch, however, seems to have put new life into the old man, for he survived during another seven years. He wrote beneath an engraved portrait of her: "When she became my wife she proved the greatest blessing of my life, and made me the happiest of men". He left her the whole of his vast wealth. Some four years afterwards the widow married the Duke of St. Albans ; he was twenty-three, she fifty. But the duchess was faithful to the memory of him who had been so devoted to her. she died (1837) in Stratton House, and , by her wish, in the same bed in which Mr. Coutts had expired. To his granddaughter, now the Baroness Burdett-Coutts, the daughter of Sir Francis Burdett, she left £1,800,000 ; thus fully justifying the great trust Mr. Coutts had reposed in her. Under the present owner thw old house has been the resort of all that is artistic in London society, and the baroness has never forgotten that she owes her wealth to an actress.

The mention of Sir Francis Burdett conjures up a reminiscence of No. 80 Piccadilly, which was teh residence of "Old Glory," as he was nicknamed by his admirers. In , 1810, he denounced the House of Commons as a set of borough-mongers and violators of the Magna Charta. Parliment was more jealous of its honour then than now, perhaps it had ore honour to be jealous of, and an order was issued for his committal to the


Tower. As soon as the news spread abroad a vast concourse filled Piccadilly from Hyde Park Corner to the Haymarket, and every person who came that way was compelled to take off his hat and shout for the idol of the hour, or--take the consequences. The Life Guards were called out, the Riot Act read. Nevertheless the mob commanded every householder to illuminate his windows on pain of having them smashed, those who obeyed were raided by the military and their lights were extinguished ; thereupon the logical crowd battered in all glass within stone's throw and wounded and even killed several innocent people. On the morning of the third day of the riot the Serjeant-at-Arms with a posse of constables forced his way to the house, followed by a carriage and a detachment of soldiers; upon entering the drawing-room they found themselves in the presence of a very strikingly arranged dramatic tableau. Sir Francis was posed in the centre of a group which consisted of his wife, his three sisters, his brother-in-law, Mr. Coutts the banker, and Mr. O'Connor, while his son, a boy of fourteen, was reading aloud Magna Charta.

When the arrest was discovered, it is said that only a tremendous storm, which flooded the streets, saved London from a revolution. On the 21st of June, when Sir Francis was released, every dwelling in Piccadilly, willy nilly, was hung with blue, the Burdett colour, and illuminated at night.

It was at the south-west corner of Bolton Street


that Wattier's Club stood. It was the dandies' club. "They made me a member of Wattier's," writes Byron "[a superb club at that time], being, I take it, the only literary man except two others [both men of the world], Moore and Spencer, in it. Our masquerade was a grand one; so was the dandy ball too." The gambling there, at a game called macao, was terrible; the number of men of fortune ruined incredible; at last the suicides-Lord Lamington knew personally of six or seven-were so frequent that the club was closed. A story is told of Brummell, who lost the greater part of his fortune at Wattier's, finding there Tom Sheridan, Brinsley's son, who had been playing all night, watching in the grey dawn of the morning his last stake being swept away. The beau, having been lucky, offered to take "the box" for him and share the winnings. In a short time he gathered up a thousand and handing poor Tom half the amount bade him go home and never touch dice again. He might as well have told him never to eat again. Brummell attached all his luck and ill luck at the green cloth to a crooked sixpence he picked up one night while crossing Berkeley Square. As long as it remained in his possession Fortune smiled upon him; at last he lost his talisman, and from that hour the fickle goddess deserted him. Wattier was a cook of the Prince Regent's, who, by his royal master's desire, started the establishment for providing more recherches dinners than the monotonous joint, poultry and apple tart which was the almost


unvarying club bill of fare. The dinners were as superlative as the play was after them.

It was somewhere about ten years ago that the mansion of the notorious Marquis of Queensberry, better known as "old Q.," which stood between Hamilton Terrace and Park Lane, was pulled down to make room for the more spacious building that now occupies the site. After his death the mansion was divided into two houses numbered 138 and 139. Here the ancient rake, the Lord March of Thackeray's Virginians, the most famous whip, amateur jockey and voluptuary of his day, lived-and died at the age of eighty-six-in a luxury worthy of Lucullus. Waxen tapers in silver sconces cast subdued and many-coloured lights over costly hangings, priceless pictures, eastern carpets, Venetian mirrors, buhl and marqueterie that had furnished the palaces of Italian princes and French kings, upon dinners that might have tempted Apicius; the dishes, the handles of the knives and forks were of gold; the hand of Pompadour had painted the exquisite Sevres, and that of Cellini had modelled the noble epergne; from the ruby-tinted glasses Doges had sipped the wines of Cyprus, and had the crystal decanters been filled with distilled gold their contents could scarcely have been more costly. (After his death the Tokay fetched a hundred guineas a dozen.) At the head of the table sits the host, a little weazened old man attired in the court dress of the ancien regime. Sometimes after these banquets there is an entertainment, or tableau, realising


the Judgment of Paris. Three of the most beautiful women to be found in London, with no more costume than Rubens has given the Graces in his famous picture, represent the three immortals, while the duke poses for Paris, his shrunk shanks encased in flesh-coloured hose, over which hangs a tunic of blue silk, a laurel wreath is upon his head, his withered cheeks are well rouged and the golden apple is in his hand.

Every morning he bathed in a silver bath filled with milk. In summer time he sat upon his balcony with a parasol over his head, ogling every pretty woman that passed, and when one particularly took his fancy he would send his groom, who stood beneath waiting his orders, to follow and if possible lure her into the spider's web. Country cousins were taken to have a peep at this wicked old ogre who devoured innocent virgins, as a sort of moral lesson upon the awful depravity of London. True to himself to the last, when he lay dying, his bed was covered with seventy letters from women of all grades, from ladies of title to courtesans, soliciting money and favours, for he had a pitiful heart for the fair sex; they came by every post and he had them laid upon the silken coverlet, and so he died shrouded in billets doux ! Old Q. was a good friend to the French emigres, many of whom might have died of want but for his generous hospitality, and to spare their delicacy he would purchase boxes at the theatres for their use, pretending that they were sent to them free by the managers.

It may be noted that he was the last of the nobility who kept running footmen.[5]  He died in 1810.

It is not, however, the ghost of old roue Queensberry that alone haunts the spot, it is associated with far more interesting shadows. As I have noted before the house after its noble owner's death was divided into two, and in one of these, No. 139, Lord Byron spent the greater part of his brief married life. It was here: that that icy precisian, his wife, left him with smiling, hypocritical face, but intending never to return. The moment was well chosen by such a model of propriety as she posed before the world. "At the time when he had to stand this unexpected shock," writes Moore, " his pecuniary embarrassments, which had been fast gathering around him during the whole of the last year (there having been no less than eight or nine executions in his house within that period), had arrived at their utmost; and at a moment when, to use his own strong expression, he was 'standing alone on his hearth with his household gods shivered around him,' he was also doomed to receive the startling


intelligence that the wife who had just parted with him in kindness had parted with him for ever." In this house were written Parisina and The Siege of Corinth.

Upon the ground now occupied by Apsley House and the mansions of the Rothschilds, in the middle of the last century, stood some tumble-down dwellings and a couple of taverns. The Hercules Pillars, which Fielding has immortalised in Tom Jones, and the Triumphant Chariot, that was much affected by the military. A portion of this site was given by George II. to an old soldier named Allen, who had fought with him at Dettingen, with permission to put up a hut on it for the sale of apples and cakes. Being close to the entrance to the park he drove a thriving trade; at his death, however, the hut was deserted, and Lord Apsley, obtaining a grant of the land from the crown, erected a mansion thereon. But Allen had a son whom he had articled to an attorney, and this young man, like a true disciple of the Law, lay perdu until the building was finished, and then, to the astonishment of everybody, the transaction having been forgotten or perhaps unknown, he presented his claim and had to be compensated with a ground rent of £450 per annum. This was afterwards compounded for a round sum. Apsley House was originally an ugly red brick building in the tasteless style that prevailed at the period. As most people know it was presented to the duke by the nation in 1820, but it was not until eight years later that the front was.


encased in Bathstone, and so converted into what was then called the classic style; this has been the only alteration effected in the original building.

One of the greatest functions of the London season was the Waterloo banquet, given in the great gallery, at which the officers who had helped him to gain that mighty victory, that had decided the destiny of the world, were present as long as death spared them. On those occasions the sideboard was ornamented by the Golden Shield that the city of London had given to the duke; upon this trophy were embossed representations of the hero's most celebrated victories, after designs by Stothard; it was worth £ 15,000.

Heroic figures frequently fade after being long exposed to the fierce light that beats upon them; how smudged and tarnished is that of the mighty Napoleon! But every fresh fact and trait that is added to our better knowledge of his conqueror sheds a brighter lustre upon the stainless marble of the grand old warrior. Even crabbed Carlyle, who usually could see only the seamy side of greatness, had nothing but praise and reverence for the hero of Waterloo. He met him at one of the great houses, and after caustically epigrammatising every one present, he writes: " By far the most interesting person present was the old Duke of Wellington-truly a beautiful old man. I had never seen till now how beautiful, and what an expression of graceful simplicity, veracity and nobleness there is about the old hero when you see him close at hand. . . . Eyes beautiful light blue,


full of mild valour, with infinitely more faculty and geniality than I had fancied before; the face wholly gentle, wise, valiant and venerable.... He glided along slightly saluting this and that other, clear, clean, fresh as this June evening itself, till the silver buckle of his stock vanished into the door of the next room and I saw him no more."

No man ever had a fuller opportunity of testing the value of popular applause. After Waterloo he could not leave his house without being mobbed ad nauseam; but the moment he opposed the passion of the hour demos thirsted for his blood and smashed his windows, until he was obliged to have them covered with iron shutters. After a while the many-headed turned again and shouted and ran after the hero as in the pre-reform agitation days. But he treated them with the most stoical indifference, and one day, when demos followed him to the gates of Apsley House, he turned round with a smile, pointed to the still closed windows,. made a sarcastic bow and entered the court without a word. " I owe all I have achieved," he once said, "to being ready a quarter of an hour before it was deemed necessary to be so." "All the business of war, and indeed all the business of life," he remarked on another occasion, "is to find out what you don't know by what you do."


[1] This place name occurs 300 years ago in Gerard's Herbal, wherein the old botanist records finding bugloss in the dry ditches about " Pickadilla ". Cotgrave defines " Piccadilles " as several divisions, or pieces fastened about the brim of the collar of a doublet. A "pickadel" is mentioned in the old comedy of Northward Ho ! as part of a woman's dress.

[2] Odious! in woollen ! 'twould a saint provoke (Were the last words that poor Narcissa spoke); No, let a chintz and charming Brussels lace Wrap my cold limbs and shade my lifeless face; One would not, sure, be frightful when one's dead, And-Betty-give this cheek a little red.

[3] So runs the popular legend, of which there are several other versions. In one it is asserted that Hannah was married to Axford, who was a man in her own station of life, previous to her connection with the prince, and was conveyed from the church door to the arms of her royal lover; in another she is called Whitefoot; Mr. Thorns denied that such a person ever existed and was of opinion that the whole story was an invention (see Notes and Queries, 1863-7), but Mr. Thoms was an universal sceptic, and was equally positive that no human being ever attained a hundredth birthday. Some say she died of a broken heart; others that she lived happily with Axford after the marriage of the king. In the Proceedings of the Quakers' Society of the City of Westminster at the time in question, there is an entry referring to one Hannah Lightfoot, who was summoned before it to answer for the heinous sin of having been married by a clergyman. There is also a passage in The Gentleman's Magazine of about a century back, to which I have lost the reference, which indicates that the story was generally accepted. As there is never smoke without fire, romances so circumstantial must have their foundation in fact.

[4] Such difficulties were common enough to ladies at this period. To obtain funds for the gaming table they frequently not only beggared their fortune, but their honour as well. Some women of noble family even went so far as to start a faro bank-they were nicknamed "Pharaoh's daughters "-and convert their houses into gambling hells. The Duchess of Cumberland and Lady Elizabeth Luttrell were guilty of like practices, and the latter had to fly the country.. Being convicted of cheating in Germany, she was chained to a barrow and condemned to draw it through the streets. Ladies have been known to lose £3000 at a sitting. Here is a curious paragraph from The London Chronicle, 13th August, 1775: " On Wednesday morning two ladies of distinction, having a dispute at a party at cards, repaired in their carriage to a field near Pancrass, and fought a duel with pistols, when one of them being shot in the left arm, the affair terminated ".

[5] The running footmen was no doubt a survival of the middle ages, when it was necessary for great persons while travelling to send out scouts in advance to guard against ambuscades. The running footman was usually dressed in white, carried a wand and ran before his master's carriage, crying out, " Make way for my Lord So-and-So ". Many anecdotes, that sound almost incredible, are told of their powers of endurance and the distances they could cover in one heat. An old public-house in Charles Street, Berkeley Square, has the sign of " The Running Footman," and represents a tall fellow in the costume of his calling, a long staff with a metal ball at the top in his hand, and underneath the legend, " I am the only Running Footman".