London, Volume 3

Knight, Charles


LVII.-Strawberry Hill--Walpole's London.

LVII.-Strawberry Hill--Walpole's London.




When I was very young, and in the height of the opposition to my father, my mother wanted a large parcel of bugles; for what use I forget. As they were then out of fashion, she could get none. At last she was told of a quantity in a little shop in an obscure alley in the City. We drove thither; found a great stock; she bought it, and bade the proprietor send it home. He said,


To Sir Robert Walpole's.

He asked, coolly,

Who is Sir Robert Walpole?


What is Strawberry Hill?

might be a similar question with many persons, were we not living in a somewhat different age from that of Sir Robert Walpole. But it may be asked, with some propriety,

What has Strawberry Hill to do with London?

The maker of Strawberry Hill--the builder--up of its galleries, and tribunes, and Holbein-chambers--the arranger of its

painted glass and gloom

--the collector of its pictures, and books, and bijouterie, says of himself,

I am writing, I am building-both works that will outlast the memory of battles and heroes! Truly, I believe, the


will as much as t'other. My buildings are paper, like my writings, and both will be blown away in


years after I am dead: if they had not the substantial use of amusing me while I live, they would be worth little indeed.

[n.97.2]  Horace Walpole himself prevented the realization of his own prophecy. It was said of him, even during his lifetime,

that he had



sets of his own battlements ;

but he nevertheless contrived, by tying up his toy-warehouse and its moveables with entails and jointures through several generations, to keep the thing tolerably entire for nearly half a century after he had-left that state of being where

moth and dust do corrupt.

And though the paper portion of his



Royal and Noble Authors,


Anecdotes of Painting,


Historic Doubts,

&c.-are formed of materials not much more durable than his battlements, he was during a long life scattering about the world an abundance of other paper fragments, that have not only lasted , , , years after he was dead, but which aftertimes will not willingly let die. It was in Strawberry Hill that the everyday thoughts and experiences for the most part centred that have made the letters of Horace Walpole the best record of the manners of the upper ranks during half a century, when very great social changes were working all around. Strawberry Hill and Horace Walpole are inseparably associated in our minds. The house in , from which he sometimes dates, is, like most other West-end houses, a thing distinguished only by its number; and which has no more abiding associations than the chariot which rolls on from its drawing-room through the necessary decay of cracked varnish and split pannels, until its steps display the nakedness of their original iron, and the dirty rag that was once a carpet is finally succeeded by the luxury of clean straw once a-week. We cannot conceive Horace Walpole in a house with windows upon a floor, in a formal row of ugly brick brethren. It is in Strawberry Hill, in the

little parlour hung with a stone-colour Gothic paper, and Jackson's Venetian prints

--or in the

charming closet hung with green paper and water-colour pictures

--or in

the room where we always live, hung with a blue and white paper in stripes, adorned with festoons

--that we fancy him writing to Montagu, Mann, Chute, and Conway, in the days when

we pique ourselves upon nothing but simplicity,

and Lady Townshend exclaimed of the house,

It is just such a house as a parson's, where the children lie at the foot of the bed.

In a few years the owner had visions of galleries, and round towers, and cloisters, and chapels; and then the house became filled with kingly armour, and rare pictures, and cabinets of miniatures by Oliver and Petitot, and Raffaelle china. Then, when Strawberry Hill came to the height of its glory, the owner kept

an inn, the sign the Gothic Castle,

and his whole time was passed in giving tickets for seeing it, and hiding himself while it was seen.[n.98.1]  Lastly came the time when the man was laid up for weeks with the gout, and the building and curiosity-buying was at an end; and after the Duchess of York had come to see his house in , when he put a carpet on the step of his gate, and matted his court, and presented chocolate upon a salver, he says, here

will end my connexions with courts, beginning with George the


, great-greatgreat-grandfather to the Duchess of York! It sounds as if there could not have been above


generations more before Adam.

There never was a place so associated with the memory of man as Strawberry Hill is with Horace Walpole. There is nothing to confuse us in the recollection. We are not embarrassed with the various branches of the genealogical tree. Horace the or Horace the , Horace the great or Horace the little, do not jostle in our memories. Imagination has no great room to play, with a catalogue in hand, and a porter


watching that no trinkets are stolen, and a mob of people about us, who

admire a lobster or a cabbage in a market-piece, dispute whether the last room was green or purple, and then hurry to the inn for fear the fish should be over-dressed.

[n.99.1]  Even as the author of

The Castle of Otranto

saw the portrait all in white of Lord Deputy Falkland walk out of its frame in the great gallery at Strawberry Hill, so if Mr. Robins had permitted us to wander about the house in the cold twilight, we should most assuredly have seen a dapper little gentleman in embroidered velvet, who would have told us something new worth communicating to our readers. As it is, we must be content without any revelations from Strawberry Hill. The world ought to be content. It possesses some closely printed pages of private history, gossiped over and committed to paper in great part within those walls. Strawberry Hill has a wonderful resemblance to

the House of Tidings

of Chaucer; and that house

Ne half so quaintly was ywrought.

Like each other-

Al'Al'--although. was the timber of no strength,

Yet it is founded to endure.

But the uses of the poetical and prosaic

House of Tidings

were identical.

And by day in every tide

Be all the doores open wide,

And by night each one is unshut;

Ne porter is there none to let

No manner tidings in to pace, Pace-pass.

Ne never rest is in that place,

That it n' is filled full of tidings,

Either loud or of whisperings,

And ever all the house's angles

Is full of rownings Rownings-mutterings. and of jangles,

Of wars, of peace, of marriages,

Of rests, of labours, of viages,

Of abode, of deathe, and of life,

Of love, of hate, accord, of strife,

Of loss, of lore, and of winnings,

Of heal, of sickness, or leasings, Leasings-lyings.

Of fair weather and tempestes,

Of qualm, of folk, and of beastes,

Of divers transmutations,

Of estates and of regions,

Of trust, of drede, Drede-doubt. of jealousy,

Of wit, of winning, of folly,

Of plenty and of great famine,

Of cheap, of dearth, and of ruin,

Of good or of misgovernment,

Of fire and divers accident.

Chaucer's house was for all time, but it has left very few minute records: Strawberry Hill has reference to a fraction of existence; but for half a century it can boast of the most delightful historiographer of the London world of fashion-a noisy, busy, glittering world at all periods, but in Walpole's pages something more amusing than the respectable monotony of the same world in our better days of prudence and decorum.



The letters of Horace Walpole cannot at all be regarded as a picture of society in general. He has no distinct notion whatever of the habits of the middle classes. Society with him is divided into great sections--the aristocracy and the mob. He was made by his times; and this is of the remarkable features of his times. With all his sympathy for literature, he has a decided hatred for authors that are out of the pale of fashion. Fielding, Johnson, Sterne, Goldsmith, the greatest names of his day, are with him ridiculous and contemptible. He cannot be regarded therefore as a representative of the literary classes of his times. As the son of a great minister he was petted and flattered till his father fell from his power; he says himself he had then enough of flattery. When he mixed among his equals in the political intrigues of the time, he displayed no talent for business or oratory. His feeble constitution compelled him to seek amusement instead of dissipation; and his great amusement was to look upon the follies of his associates and to laugh at them. He was not at bottom an ill-natured man, or without feeling. He affected that insensibility which is the exclusive privilege of high life-and long may it continue so. When Lord Mountford shot himself, and another Lord rejoiced that his friend's death would allow him to hire the best cook in England, the selfish indifference was probably more affected than real. Walpole himself takes off his own mask on occasion. When he heard of Gray's death, in writing to Chute he apologises for the concern he feels, and adds,

I thought that what I had seen of the world had hardened my heart; but I find that it

had formed my language

, not extinguished my tenderness.

When he speaks of individuals we may occasionally think that the world had formed his language; he is too often spiteful and malicious: but when he describes a class he is not likely much to exaggerate. The would render him somewhat charitable: if he did not


he would not set down

in malice,

when he was holding up a mirror of himself and of the very people with whom he was corresponding.

In the early part of the last century London saw less of the wealth and splendour of the aristocracy than previous to the Revolution. The great political divisions of the kingdom kept many families away from the Court; and the habits of the Elector of Hanover who walked into the ownership of St. James's, and of his son and successor, were not very likely to attract the proud and the discontented from the scenes of their own proper greatness. Walpole, writing from Newmarket in , says,

How dismal, how solitary, how scrub does this town look; and yet it has actually a street of houses better than Parma or Modena! Nay, the houses of the people of fashion, who come hither for the races, are palaces to what houses in London itself were


years ago. People do begin to live again now; and I suppose in a term we shall revert to York Houses, Clarendon Houses, &c. But from that grandeur all the nobility had contracted themselves to live in coops of a dining-room, a dark back room, with


eye in a corner, and a closet. Think what London would be if the chief houses were in it, as in the cities in other countries, and not dispersed like great rarity-plums in a vast pudding of country.

It was some time before the large houses of the nobility once more made London the magnificent capital which it subsequently became. In the mean time the lordly tenants of the


above described spent a vast deal of their time in places of resort. Let us cast


a rapid glance at the fashionable amusements of the half of the last century.

The year presents to us a curious spectacle of the aristocracy and the people at issue, and almost in mortal conflict, not upon the question of corn or taxes, but whether the Italian school of music should prevail, or the Anglo- German.

The opera is to be on the French system of dancers, scenes, and dresses. The directors have already laid out great sums. They talk of a mob to silence the operas, as they did the French players; but it will be more difficult, for here half the young noblemen in town are engaged, and they will not be so easily persuaded to humour the taste of the mobility: in short, they have already retained several eminent lawyers from the Bear Garden to plead their defence.

[n.101.1]  The fight had been going on for nearly years. Everybody knows Swift's epigram

Strange, all this difference should be

'Twixt Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee.

Walpole naturally belonged to the party of his


Handel had produced his great work, the


in , at Covent Garden. Fashion was against him, though he was supported by the court, the mob, and the poet of common sense. He went to Ireland; and the triumph of the Italian faction was thus immortalized by Pope:--

O Cara! Cara! silence all that train:

Joy to great Chaos! let Division reign:

Chromatic tortures soon shall drive them hence,

Break all their nerves, and fritter all their sense:

One trill shall harmonise joy, grief, and rage,

Wake the dull Church, and lull the ranting Stage:

To the same notes thy sons shall hum, or snore,

And all thy yawning daughters cry encore.

Another Phoebus, thy own Phoebus, reigns,

Joys in my jigs, and dances in my chains.

But soon, ah soon, Rebellion will commence,

If Music meanly borrows aid from Sense:

Strong in new arms, lo! giant Handel stands,

Like bold Briareus, with a hundred hands;

To stir, to rouse, to shake the soul he comes,

And Jove's own thunders follow Mars's drums.

Arrest him, empress, or you sleep no more-

She heard, and drove him to th' Hibernian shore.

[n.101.2]  Handel came back to London in , and the tide then turned in his favour. Horace Walpole shows us how fashion tried to sneer him down; he is himself the oracle of the divinity.

Handel has set up an oratorio against the operas, and succeeds. He has hired all the goddesses from farces, and the singers of Roast Beef from between the acts at both theatres, with a man with


note in his voice, and a girl without ever a


; and so they sing, and make brave hallelujahs; and the good company encore the recitative, if it happens to have any cadence like what they call a tune.

[n.101.3]  The Italian Opera House in the itself went out of fashion in a few years, and the nobility had their


favourite house in . What the Court then patronised the aristocracy rejected.

The late royalties went to the


, when it was the fashion to frequent the other opera in

Lincoln's Inn.Fields

. Lord Chesterfield


night came into the latter, and was asked if he had been at the other house?


said he,

but there was nobody but the king and queen; and as I thought they might be talking business, I came away.

[n.102.1]  However, amidst all these feuds the Italian Opera became firmly established in London; and through that interchange of taste which fortunately neither the prejudices of exclusiveness nor ignorance can long prevent, the people began gradually to appreciate the opera, and the nobility became enthusiastic admirers of the oratorio.

In the days of Walpole the Theatre was fashionable; and in their love of theatrical amusements the nobility did not affect to be exclusive. In not liking Garrick when he came out, Walpole and his friend Gray indulged probably in the fastidiousness of individual taste, instead of representing the opinions of the fashionable or literary classes. Gray writes,

Did I tell you about Mr. Garrick, that the town are horn-mad after? There are a dozen dukes of a night at

Goodman's Fields

sometimes; and yet I am stiff in the opposition.

Walpole, in , months after Garrick's appearance, says,

All the run is now after Garrick, a wine-merchant, who is turned player, at

Goodman's Fields

. He plays all parts, and is a very good mimic. His acting I have seen, and may say to you, who will not tell it again here, I see nothing wonderful in it; but it is heresy to say so: the Duke of Argyle says he is superior to Betterton.

[n.102.2]  From some cause or other, Walpole hated and vilified Garrick all his life. His pride was perhaps wounded when he was compelled to jostle against the actor in the best society. In the instance of Garrick, Pope's strong sense was again opposed to Walpole's super-refinement. The great poet of manners said to Lord Orrery on witnessing Garrick's Richard III.,

That young man never had his equal as an actor, and will never have a rival.

As a manager Garrick did not scruple to resent an injustice, however offensive to the leaders of the ton.

There has been a new comedy, called

The Foundling,

far from good, but it took. Lord Hobart and some more young men made a party to damn it, merely for the love of damnation. The Templars espoused the play, and went armed with syringes charged with stinking oil and with sticking-plasters; but it did not come to action. Garrick was


, and the pretty men gave over their plot the moment they grew to be in the right.

[n.102.3]  The Templars with their syringes and stinking oil, and Lord Hobart with his ready


give a notion of the mob-legislation of the theatres at that period, for boxes, pit, and gallery constituted mob. There was a calm awhile, but in Walpole writes:

England seems returning: for those who are not in Parliament there are nightly riots at

Drury Lane

, where there is an Anti-Gallican party against some French dancers. The young men of quality have protected them till last night, when, being opera-night, the galleries were victorious.

Walpole tells us a most amusing story of the manner in which these things were managed in his earlier days.

The town has been trying all this winter to beat pantomimes off the stage, very boisterously; for

it is the way here to make even an affair of taste and sense a matter of riot and arms

. Fleetwood, the master of

Drury Lane

, has omitted nothing to support them, as they supported his house. About


days ago he let into the pit great numbers of Bear Garden


(that is the term), to knock down everybody that hissed. The pit rallied their forces and drove them out. I was sitting very quietly in the side-boxes, contemplating all this. On a sudden the curtain flew up, and discovered the whole stage filled with blackguards, armed with bludgeons and clubs, to menace the audience. This raised the greatest uproar; and among the rest, who flew into a passion but your friend the philosopher! In short,


of the actors, advancing to the front of the stage to make an apology for the manager, he had scarce begun to say,

Mr. Fleetwood --

when your friend, with a most audible voice and dignity of anger, called out,

He is an impudent rascal!

The whole pit huzzaed, and repeated the words. Only think of my being a popular orator! But what was still better, while my shadow of a person was dilating to the consistence of a hero,


of the chief ringleaders of the riot, coming under the box where I sat, and pulling off his hat, said,

Mr. Walpole, what would you please to have us do next?

It is impossible to describe to you the confusion into which this apostrophe threw me. I sank down into the box, and have never since ventured to set my foot into the playhouse. The next night the uproar was repeated with greater violence, and nothing was heard but voices calling out,

Where's Mr. W.? where's Mr. W.?

In short, the whole town has been entertained with my prowess, and Mr. Conway has given me the name of Wat Tyler.

[n.103.1]  The participation of people of fashion in theatrical rows is a sufficient evidence of the interest which they took in the theatre. They carried the matter still farther in , by hiring to act a play themselves.

The rage was so great to see this performance, that

the House of Commons literally adjourned at three o'clock on purpose



and Ranelagh figure, as we have seen, in the descriptions of the


and the

Citizen of the World,

in the


and in


[n.103.3]  But none of these writers give us an adequate notion of of and Ranelagh.

Addison, and Goldsmith, and Miss Burney looked upon the great crowd of all ranks as they would look upon life in general. Walpole saw only his own set; but how graphically has he described them! The mere surface of the shows, the gilding and varnish of the gaiety, fills the imagination. At


we see Prince Lobkowitz's footmen, in very rich new liveries, bearing torches, and the Prince himself in a new sky-blue watered tabby coat, with gold button-holes, and a magnificent gold waistcoat; and Madame l'Ambassadrice de Vénise in a green sack, with a straw hat; and we hear the violins and hautboys, the drums and trumpets, of the Prince of Wales's barges.


Imagine such a sight in our own days! And then,




years later in life, Walpole is again going to


to a

ridotto alfresco

, with a tide and torrent of coaches so prodigious, that he is an hour and a half on the road before he gets half way from

Arlington Street


There is to be a rival mob in the same way at Ranelagh to-morrow; for the greater the folly and imposition, the greater is the crowd.



But for a little, quiet, domestic party at , composed of the highest in rank and fashion, Walpole is the most delightful, and, we have no doubt, the most veracious of chroniclers. Mrs. Tibbs and the pawnbroker's widow of Goldsmith are mere pretenders to coarseness by the side of Lady Caroline Petersham and Miss Ashe. Walpole receives a card from Lady Caroline in to go with her to . When he calls, the ladies

had just finished their last layer of red, and looked as handsome as crimson could make them.

All the town had been summoned; and in they picked up dukes and damsels, and young ladies especially, who had been

trusted by their mothers for the


time of their lives to the matronly care of Lady Caroline.

They marched to their barge with a boat of French horns attending. Upon debarking at they

picked up Lord Granby, arrived very drunk from

Jenny's Whim;

where, instead of going to old Strafford's catacombs to make honourable love, he had dined with Lady Fanny, and left her and


other women and


other men playing at brag.

Jenny's Whim

was a tavern at . The party assemble in their booth and go to supper, after a process of cookery which would rather astonish a Lady Caroline of our own day:

We minced


chickens into a china dish, which Lady Caroline stewed over a lamp with


pats of butter and a flagon of water, stirring, and rattling, and laughing, and we every minute expecting to have the dish fly about our ears. She had brought Betty, the fruitgirl, with hampers of strawberries and cherries from Rogers's, and made her wait upon us, and then made her sup by us at a little table. The conversation was no less lively than the whole transaction.

Lady Caroline was not singular in her tastes. Before the accession of George III. it was by no means uncommon for ladies of quality to sup at taverns, and even to the gentlemen to be of the company. Walpole says that in a Frenchman, who was ignorant of the custom, took some liberties with Lady Harrington, through which mistake her house was afterwards closed against him. This practice, which to us seems so startling, was a relic of the manners of a century earlier. The decorum of the court of George III. banished the custom from the upper ranks; but it lingered amongst the middle classes: and Dr. Johnson thought it not in the slightest degree indecorous to say to young ladies who called upon him,

Come, you pretty fools, dine with Maxwell and me at the Mitre ;

to which the ladies, who wished to consult the philosopher upon the subject of Methodism, very readily assented. In the reign of the George, and perhaps a little later, the great ladies, whether at taverns or in private houses, carried their vivacity somewhat farther than we should now think consistent with perfect propriety. Lady Coventry, at a great supper at Lord ,

said, in a very vulgar accent, if she drank any more she should be



How the Americans of our own day must be shocked at the vulgarity of our aristocratic predecessors; for will not tolerate even the word , and describe the condition which that word conveys by the pretty epithet ! We are adopting the term; and it may be expected that the refinement in our nomenclature may lead to a revival of a little of the old liberty in our practice. Walpole explains that was

Irish for sentimental.

He did not foresee the change in our English. He calls things by their right names. He tells us that

Lord Cornwallis and Lord Allen came drunk to the Opera;

and, what is harder to believe, that the Chancellor, Lord



Henley, being chosen a governor of St. Bartholomew's Hospital,

a smart gentleman who was sent with a staff carried it in the evening when the Chancellor happened to be drunk.

These exhibitions were in .

We might believe, from the well-known lines of Pope, that the amusement which was invented for the solace of a mad king was the exclusive inheritance of an aristocracy:

See how the world its veterans rewards,

A youth of folly, an old age of cards.

Not so. The cards were a part of the folly of youth as well as of age. Walpole never appears to have had the passion of a gambler; but we learn from his years' correspondence that he was always well content to dabble with cards and dice, and he records his winnings with a very evident satisfaction. The reign of

, whose chances and intrigues interested the great quite as much as the accidents and plots of the reign of Anne, was supplanted by the new dynasty of ; and then yielded to the more gambling excitement of ; to which succeeded; and the very cards themselves were at last almost kicked out by the ivory cubes, which disposed of fortunes by a more summary process. In whist was the mania, though Walpole voted it dull:

Whist has spread a universal opium over the whole nation.


The kingdom of the Dull is come upon earth. . . . The only token of this new kingdom is a woman riding on a beast, which is the mother of abominations, and the name in the forehead is Whist; and the




elders, and the woman, and the whole town, do nothing but play with this beast.

[n.105.1]  Whist had a long reign. In Walpole writes:

As I passed over the green [Richmond], I saw Lord Bath, Lord Lonsdale, and half-a-dozen more of the White's club, sauntering at the door of a house

which they have taken there, and come to every Saturday and


to play at whist. You will naturally ask why they can't play at whist in London on those days as well as on the other


? Indeed I can't tell you, except that it is so established a fashion to go out of town at the end of the week, that people do go, though it be only into another town.

[n.106.1]  Ministers of state, and princes who had something to do, were ready to relieve the cares of business by gambling, as much as other people gamed to vary their idleness. Lord Sandwich

goes once or twice a-week to hunt with the Duke [Cumberland]; and as the latter has taken a turn of gaming, Sandwich, to make his court-and fortune-carries a box and dice in his pocket; and so they throw a main, whenever the hounds are at fault,

upon every green hill, and under every green tree.

[n.106.2]  years later, at a magnificent ball and supper at Bedford House, the Duke

was playing at hazard with a great heap of gold before him: somebody said he looked like the prodigal son and the fatted calf, both.

[n.106.3]  Amongst the royal and noble gamblers, swindlers sometimes found their way. There was a Sir William Burdett, whose name had the honour of being inscribed in the betting-room at White's as the subject of a wager that he would be the baronet that would be hanged. He and a lady,

dressed foreign as a princess of the house of Brandenburg,

cheated Lord Castledurrow and Captain Rodney out of a handsome sum at faro. The noble victim met the Baronet at Ranelagh, and thus apostrophised him:

Sir William,--here is the sum I think I lost last night; since that, I have heard that you are a professed pickpocket, and therefore desire to have no farther acquaintance with you.

The Baronet took the money with a respectful bow, and then asked his Lordship the further favour to set him down at , and without waiting for an answer whipped into the chariot. [n.106.4]  No doubt the Baronet prospered and was smiled upon. Walpole tells another story of a hanger--on upon the gaming-tables, which has a dash of the tragic in it:

General Wade was at a low gaming-house, and had a very fine snuff-box, which on a sudden he missed. Everybody denied having taken it: he insisted on searching the company. He did: there remained only


man, who had stood behind him, but refused to be searched, unless the General would go into another room alone with him. There the man told him that he was born a gentleman, was reduced, and lived by what little bets he could pick up there, and by fragments which the waiters sometimes gave him.

At this moment I have half a fowl in my pocket; I was afraid of being exposed: here it is! Now, sir, you may search me.

Wade was so struck that he gave the man a

hundred pounds


[n.106.5]  The genius of gambling might be painted, like Garrick, between the tragic and the comic muse. We turn over the page, and Comedy again presents herself, in an attitude that looks very like the hoyden step of her half sister, Farce:

Jemmy Lumley last week had a party of whist at his own house: the combatants, Lucy Southwell, that curtseys like a bear, Mrs. Prijean, and a Mrs. Mackenzy. They played from


in the evening till


next day; Jemmy never winning


rubber, and rising a loser of

two thousand pounds

. How it happened I know not, nor why his suspicions arrived so late, but he fancied himself cheated, and refused

to pay. However,

the bear

had no share in his evil surmises: on the contrary, a cay or


afterwards, he promised a dinner at Hampstead to Lucy and her virtuous sister. As he went to the rendezvous his chaise was stopped by somebody, who advised him not to proceed. Yet, no whit daunted, he advanced. In the garden he found the gentle conqueress, Mrs. Mackenzy, who accosted him in the most friendly manner. After a few compliments, she asked him if he did not intend to pay her.

No, indeed, I shan't, I shan't; your servant, your servant.

Shan't you?

said the fair virago; and taking a horsewhip from beneath her hoop, she fell upon him with as much vehemence as the Empress-quoteueen would upon the King of Prussia, if she could catch him alone in the garden at Hampstead.


There was deep philosophy in a saying of George Selwyn's, when a waiter at Arthur's Club House was taken up for robbery:


a horrid idea he will give of us to the people in Newgate!

It may be doubted whether the gentlemen-highwaymen who peopled Newgate at that era had a much looser code of morals than some of the great folks they pillaged. The people of London got frightened about an earthquake in , and again in . There was a slight shock in the of those years, which set the haunters of White's furiously betting whether it was an earthquake or the blowing--up of the powder-mills at Hounslow. Bishop Sherlock and Bishop Secker endeavoured to frighten the people into piety; but the visitors at Bedford House, who had supped and stayed late, went about the town knocking at doors, and bawling in the watchman's note,



o'clock and a dreadful earthquake.

Some of the fashionable set got frightened, however, and went out of town; and days before the exact day on which the great earthquake was prophesied to happen, the crowd of coaches passing with whole parties removing into the country was something like the procession already described to .

Several women have made earthquake gowns--that is, warm gowns to sit out of doors all to-night. These are of the more courageous.


woman, still more heroic, is come to town on purpose; she says all her friends are in London, and she will not survive them. But what will you think of Lady Catherine Pelham, Lady Frances Arundel, and Lord and Lady Galway, who go this evening to an inn


miles out of town, where they are to play at brag till


in the morning, and then come back--I suppose to look for the bones of their husbands and families under the rubbish?

[n.107.2]  When the rulers of the nation on such an occasion, or any other occasion of public terror, took a fit of hypocrisy and ordered a general fast, the gambling-houses used to be filled with senators who had a day of leisure upon their hands. Indifference to public opinion, as well as a real insensibility, drew a line between the people of fashion and the middle classes. Walpole tells a story which is characteristic enough to be true, though he hints that it was invented:--,

They have put in the papers a good story made on White's: a man dropped down dead at the door, was carried in; the club immediately made bets whether he was dead or not; and when they were going to bleed him, the wagerers for his death interposed, and said it would affect the fairness of the bet.

[n.107.3]  A great deal of this reckless spirit of gambling, which lasted through the century, and which probably has only


clothed itself more decently in our own day, must be attributed to the great increase of the Wealth of the aristocracy, through the natural effects of the great increase of the profitable industry of the middle classes. But it cannot be denied that much of the increase flowed back to the sources from which it was derived, in the form of bills, bonds, post-obits, and mortgages. The financial maxim of Charles Fox, that a man need never want money if he was willing to pay enough for it, tended to keep matters somewhat equal.

The idea from which we cannot escape, when we trace the history of fashion in the middle of the last century, is, that the prevailing tone indicated something like a general moral intoxication. A succession of stimulants appears necessary to the upholding of .social existence. This must be always in some,degree the case with the rich and idle, whose vocation is chiefly to what they call pleasure. But we have few glimpses in the letters and memoirs of that period of the disposition to those calm domestic enjoyments which are principally derived from the cultivation of a taste for reading and the arts, and which, in our own day, equally characterises the middle and the upper classes. Of course, under the loosest state of manners, even in the profligate court of Charles II., there must have been many families of the upper ranks who despised the low vices and unintellectual excitements of their equals in birth; and under the most decorous and rational system of life there must be a few who would gladly restore a general licence, and who occasionally signalise themselves by some outbreak. But neither of these constitute a class. In the youth and middle age of Walpole the men and women of fashion appear to have lived without restraint imposed by their own sense of decorum, without apprehension of the opinions of their associates, without the slightest consideration for the good or evil word of the classes below them.

In a regular monarchy the folly of the prince gives the tone; in a downright tyranny folly dares give itself no airs; it is in a wanton overgrown commonwealth that


and debauchery intrigue together.

[n.108.1]  Every lady or gentleman of spirit was allowed to have a , whether it inclined to gambling, or intrigue, or drunkenness, or riots in public places. What Walpole said of the Duke of Newcastle, that he looked like a dead body hung in chains always wanting to be hung somewhere else, gives a notion of the perpetual restlessness of the fashionable class. The untiring activity of some leaders lasted a good deal longer; and no doubt occasionally displays itself even now in a preternatural energy, which makes the cheek pale in the season of bloom and freshness. But there is now some repose, some intervals for reflection; the moral intoxication does not last through of the -and- hours. The love of , the great characteristic of the vulgar of our own day, was emphatically the passion of the great in the last century. The plague was reported to be in a house in the City; and fashion went to look at the outside of the house in which the plague was enshrined. Lady Milton and Lady Temple on a night in March put on hats and cloaks, and, sallying out by themselves to see Lord Macclesfield lie in state,

literally waited on the steps of the house in the thick of the mob, while


posse was admitted and let out again for a


to enter.

[n.108.2]  The


(by which Walpole usually means an assemblage of people of any station below the aristocracy) paid back this


curiosity with interest. The Miss Gunnings lighted upon the earth of London in , and were declared the handsomest women alive.

They can't walk in the Park or go to


, but such mobs follow that they are generally driven away.

It is difficult to understand how a real plebeian mob should know anything about the Miss Gunnings, at a time when there were no paragraphs of personality in the meagre newspapers. The Gunning mob was probably a very courtly . At any rate the curiosity was in common between the high and the low. of these fair ladies became Duchess of Hamilton.

The world is still mad about the Gunnings: the Duchess of Hamilton was presented on Friday; the crowd was so great that even the noble mob in the drawingroom clambered upon chairs and tables to look at her. There are mobs at their doors to see them get into their chairs; and people go early to get places at the theatres when it is known they will be there.

[n.109.1]  years later there was another great sight to which all resorted--the Ghost. How characteristic of the period is the following description of a visit to the den of the ghost!-

We set out from the Opera, changed our clothes at

Northumberland House

, the Duke of York, Lady Northumberland, Lady Mary Coke, Lord Hertford, and I, all in


hackney-coach, and drove to the spot: it rained torrents; yet the lane was full of mob, and the house so full we could not get in; at last they discovered it was the Duke of York, and the company squeezed themselves into


another's pockets to make room for us. The house, which is borrowed, and to which the ghost has adjourned, is wretchedly small and miserable. When we opened the chamber, in which were


people, with no light but


tallow-candle at the end, we tumbled over the bed of the child to whom the ghost comes, and whom they are murdering by inches in such insufferable heat and stench. At the top of the room are ropes to dry clothes. I asked if we were to have rope-dancing between the acts? We had nothing. They told us, as they would at a puppet-show, that it would not come that night till


in the morning, that is, when there are only 'prentices and old women.

We stayed, however, till half an hour after one


Imagine a prince of the blood, noble ladies, a peer, and the son of a prime minister, packing in hackneycoach from on a winter's night, and in a dirty lane near Smithfield watching till half-past by the light of a tallow-candle, amidst of the


for the arrival of a ghost! In those days the great patron of executions was the fashionable George Selwyn; and this was the way he talked of such diversions:--

Some women were scolding him for going to see the execution [of Lord Lovat], and asked him,

how he could be such a barbarian to see the head cut off?


says he,

if that was such a crime, I am sure I have made amends, for I went to see it sewed on again.

[n.109.2]  When M'Lean, the highwayman, was under sentence of death in Newgate, he was a great attraction to the fashionable world.

Lord Mountford, at the head of half White's, went the


day. ... But the chief personages who have been to comfort and weep over this fallen hero are Lady Caroline Petersham and Miss Ashe.

[n.109.3]  These were the heroines of the minced chickens at ; and we presume they did not visit the condemned cell to metamorphose the thief


into a saint, as is the


of our own times. The real robbers were as fashionable in as their trumpery histories were in .

You can't conceive the ridiculous rage there is of going to Newgate; and the prints that are published of the malefactors, and the memoirs of their lives and deaths set forth with as= much parade as-as-Marshal Turenne's-we have no generals worth making a parallel.

[n.110.1]  The visitors had abundant opportunities for the display of their sympathy:--

It is shocking to think what a shambles this country is grown!

Seventeen were executed this morning


[n.110.2]  Amidst such excitements, who can wonder that a man of talent and taste, as Walpole was, should often prefer pasting prints into a portfolio, or correcting proofs, at

poor little Strawberry?

The reckless and improvident spirit of the period when Horace Walpole was an active member of the world of fashion is strikingly shown in the rash, and we may say indecent, manner in which persons of rank rushed into marriage. The happiness of a life was the stake which the great too often trusted to something as uncertain as the cast of a die or the turn--up of a trump. It seems almost impossible that in London, or years ago only, such a being as a Fleet parson could have existed, who performed the marriage ceremonial at any hour of the day or night, in a public-house or a low lodging, without public notice or public witnesses, requiring no consent of parents, and asking only the names of the parties who sought to be united. We might imagine, at any rate, that such irreverend proceedings were confined to the lowest of the people. The Fleet parsons had not a monopoly of their trade. In the fashionable locality of May Fair was a chapel in which Keith presided, who advertised in the newspapers, and made, according to Walpole,

a very bishopric of revenue.

This worthy was at last excommunicated for

contempt of the Holy and Mother Church ;

but the impudent varlet retaliated, and excommunicated at his own chapel Bishop Gibson, the Judge of the Ecclesiastical Court, and reverend doctors. Keith was sent to prison, where he remained many years; but his shop flourished under the management of his shopmen, called Curates; and the public were duly apprised of its situation and prices:--

To prevent mistakes, the little new chapel in May Fair, near

Hyde Park Corner

, is in the corner-house opposite to the City side of the great chapel, and within


yards of it, and the minister and clerk live in the same corner-house where the little chapel is; and the license on a crown stamp, minister and clerk's fees, together with the certificate, amount to


guinea, as heretofore, at any hour till


in the afternoon. And that it may be the better known, there is a porch at the door like a country church porch.

[n.110.3]  Keith issued from his prison a manifesto against the Act to prevent clandestine marriages, to which we shall presently advert, in which he gravely puts forth the following recommendation of his summary process with reference to the lower classes:--

Another inconveniency which will arise from this Act will be, that the expense of being married will be so great that few of the lower class of people can afford; for I have often heard a Fleet parson say that many have come to be married when they have

had but half-a-crown in their pockets, and sixpence to buy a pot of beer, and for which they have pawned some of their clothes.


But exclusive fashion did not care to be exclusive in these practices. Sometimes a petticoat without a hoop was to be led by a bag-wig and sword to the May Fair altar, after other solicitations had been tried in vain. The virtue of the community was wonderfully supported by these easy arrangements, as Walpole tells us, in his best style:

You must know, then-but did you know a young fellow that was called Handsome Tracy? He was walking in the Park with some of his acquaintance, and overtook




was very pretty: they followed them; but the girls ran away, and the company grew tired of pursuing them, all but Tracy. He followed to


Gate, where he gave a porter a crown to dog them: the porter hunted them-he the porter. The girls ran all round


, and back to the


, where the porter came up with them. He told the pretty


she must go with him, and kept her talking till Tracy arrived, quite out of breath, and exceedingly in love. He insisted on knowing where she lived, which she refused to tell him; and, after much disputing, went to the house of


of her companions, and Tracy with them. He there made her discover her family, a butterwoman in

Craven Street

, and engaged her to meet him the next morning in the Park; but before night he wrote her


love-letters, and in the last offered

two hundred pounds

a-year to her, and a


a-year to Signora la Madre. Griselda made a confidence to a staymaker's wife, who told her that the swain was certainly in love enough to marry her, if she could determine to be virtuous and refuse his offers.


says she,

but if I should, and should lose him by it.

However, the measures of the cabinet council were decided for virtue; and when she met Tracy the next morning in the Park, she was convoyed by her sister and brother-in-law, and stuck close to the letter of her reputation. She would do nothing; she would go nowhere. At last, as an instance of prodigious compliance, she told him, that if he would accept such a dinner as a butterwoman's daughter could give him, he should be welcome. Away they walked to

Craven Street

: the mother borrowed some silver to buy a leg of mutton, and kept the eager lover drinking till


at night, when a chosen committee waited on the faithful pair to the minister of May Fair. The doctor was in bed, and swore he would not get up to marry the king; but that he had a brother over the way who perhaps would, and who did.



the butterwoman's daughter

had no lack of high example to teach her how to make a short step into the matrimonial

ship of fools.

The Fleet Registers, and those of May Fair, are rich in the names of Honourables and even of Peers. For example:

February 14, 1752

, James Duke of Hamilton and Elizabeth Gunning.

Walpole has a pleasant comment upon this entry.

The event that has made most noise since my last, is the extempore wedding of the youngest of the


Gunnings, who have made so vehement a noise . About a fortnight since, at an immense assembly at my Lord Chesterfield's, made to show the house, which is really most magnificent, Duke Hamilton made violent love at


end of the room, while he was playing at faro at the other end; that is, he saw neither the bank nor his own cards, which were of

three hundred

pounds each; he soon lost a




nights afterwards, he found himself so impatient, that he sent for a parson. The doctor refused to perform the ceremony without license or ring: the Duke swore he would send for the Archbishop. At last they were married with a ring of the bed-curtain, at half-an-hour after


at night, at May Fair chapel.


The people of rank at last grew frightened at their own practices. The Act against Clandestine Marriages came into operation on the . On the there were marriages at the Fleet entered in register; and on the same day ceremonies of the like agreeable nature took place at May Fair. After the Act was passed in there was to be all interval of some months before its enactments were to be law. Walpole says,

The Duchess of Argyle harangues against the Marriage Bill not taking place immediately, and is persuaded that all the, girls will go off before next Lady Day.



[n.97.1] Horace Walpole to the Miss Berrys, March 5, 1791.

[n.97.2] Horace Walpole to Conway, August 5, 1761.

[n.98.1] Horace Walpole to Montagu, Sept. 3, 1763.

[n.99.1] Horace Walpole to Montagu, March 25, 1761.

[n.101.1] Horace Walpole to Mann, Oct. 8, 1741.

[n.101.2] Dunciad, Book IV.

[n.101.3] Horace Walpole to Mann, Feb. 24, 1743.

[n.102.1] Horace Walpole to Conway, Sept. 25, 1761.

[n.102.2] Horace Walpole to Mann.

[n.102.3] Horace Walpole to Mann, March 11, 1748.

[n.103.1] Horace Walpole to Mann, November 26, 1744.

[n.103.2] Horace Walpole to Mann.

[n.103.3] London, vol. i. No. 23.

[n.103.4] Horace Walpole to Conway, June 27, 1748.

[n.103.5] Horace Walpole to Montagu, May 11, 1769.

[n.105.1] Horace Walpole to Mann.

[n.106.1] Horace Walpole to Mann, June 4,1749.

[n.106.2] Horace Walpole to Mann, January 31, 1750.

[n.106.3] Horace Walpole to Bentley, 1755 .

[n.106.4] Horace Walpole to Mann, 1748 .

[n.106.5] Horace Walpole to Mann, January 10, 1750.

[n.107.1] Horace Walpole to Montagu, May 14, 1761.

[n.107.2] Horace Walpole to Manni, April 2, 1750.

[n.107.3] Horace Walpole to Mann, September 1, 1750.

[n.108.1] Horace Walpole to Mann.

[n.108.2] Horace Walpole to Lord Hertford, March 27, 1764.

[n.109.1] Horace Walpole to Mann, March23, 1752 .

[] Horace Walpole to Montagu, February 2, 1762.

[n.109.2] Horace Walpole to Conway, April 16, 1747.

[n.109.3] Horace Walpole to Mann, August 2, 1750.

[n.110.1] Horace Walpole to Mann, October 18, 1750.

[n.110.2] Horace Walpole to Mann, March 23, 1752.

[n.110.3] Daily Post, July 20, 1744; quoted in Mr. Burn's valuable work on The Fleet Registers.

[n.111.1] Daily Post, July 20, 1744; quoted in Mr. Burn's valuable work on The Fleet Registers.

[n.111.2] Horace Walpole to Montagu, Sept. 3, 1748.

[n.112.1] Horace Walpole to Mann, Feb. 27, 1752.

[n.112.2] Horace Walpole to Montagu, July 17, 1753.