Henry Hawkins Brampton.

The reminiscences of Sir Henry Hawkins, baron Brampton (Volume 1) online

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proposal to listen to. I could advise no client to plead
guilty to wilful murder. It was so extraordinary a
proposition, look at it from whatever point I might,
that it was perfectly impossible to advise such a
course. I asked him if the woman knew what she
was doing, and that if she pleaded guilty certain
death would follow.

' Oh yes,' said he ; ' she is quite prepared.

' The murder,' I said, ' is one of the worst that can
be conceived of cruel and fiendish.'

He agreed, but persisted that she was perfectly
willing to sacrifice her own life if her husband and
son could be saved.

This woman, so full of feeling for her own family,
had thought so little of that of others that she had


held down the poor servant girl in bed while her son
strangled her.

I said, ' It is a serious question, and I must consider
it before giving you a final answer.' I did so, and
afterwards put the matter before the attorney in all its
terrible consequences. ' If,' said I, ' she were to plead
guilty, the great probability is that the jury would be-
lieve they were all guilty, and likely enough they are ;
and most certainly in that case they would all be
hanged.' I therefore most strongly advised that the
woman should stand her trial ' with the others,' which
she did. In the end they all got off! the evidence not
being sufficiently clear against any.

It was a strange mingling of evil and good in one
breast ; of diabolical cruelty and noble self-sacrifice.

I leave others to work out this problem of human



AMONGST my racing acquaintances there was no man
I more respected than William Byron. He was one
of the first and best of English sportsmen, and one of
the finest English gentlemen. To get out of the dull
monotony and routine of a Court of Justice and chat
with him on the topics of the sporting world was like
a gallop on the Surrey downs. He was not a heavy
betting man, and his favourite sport was backing the
field against the favourites. I do not know how that
comes out in the general average, but I think Byron
made it answer. He was not a plunger, but a calcu-
lating bookmaker of that old school of bookmaking
which was one of the pastimes of English gentlemen
until it became the poor apology for sport in the hands
of the gambling money-grubber. I knew him in the
days of Surplice and the Flying Dutchman, and his
name recalls many a face long since passed away, and
many a delightful experience of my early days ; so
I mention William Byron because I respect his memory.
But the sporting world has no greater claim on my
memory than the theatrical or the artistic. I recall
them with a vividness that brings back all the enjoy-


ments of long and sincere friendships. A little circum-
stance with Charles Mathews, for instance, although
so small that one would think it would pass from
memory the moment it had happened, comes back
now over this long period of years, as if transmitted
by wireless telegraphy, and with an amusing interest
while recalling my long since departed friends and the
happy hours I have passed in their company.

One evening I was in Charles Mathews' dressing-
room at the theatre and enjoying a chat when he was
' called ' that is to say, his time had come to take his
part in the piece.

' Come along,' said he ; ' come along !'

Why he should ' call ' me to come along I never
knew. I had no part in the piece at that moment.
But he soon gave me one. I followed, with lingering
steps and slow, having no knowledge of the construction
of the premises ; but in a moment Mathews had dis-
appeared, and T found myself in the middle of the
stage with a crowded house in front of me. The whole
audience burst into an uproar of laughter. I suppose
it was the incompatibility of my appearance at that
juncture which made me ' take ' so well ; but it brought
down the house, and if the curtain had fallen at
that moment I should have been a great success, and
Mathews would have been out of it. In the midst of
my discomfiture, however, he came on to the stage by
another entrance as ' cool as a cucumber.' He told me
afterwards that he had turned the incident to good
account by referring to me as ' Every man in his
humour,' or, ' A bailiff in distressing circumstances !'

I met many men at the Garrick Club whose names
are associated with the brightest hours of my life,


such as Charles Kemble, Keene, and Harley, with
many others who took no little interest in a story
I once told them, really by accident, of a visit I had
paid to the country house of a respectable and religious
old solicitor, who was ' putting me up' while instructing
me in a ' compensation case ' which was to be heard at
Sheffield ; not the one I have already mentioned. He
was a great Churchman, and, not knowing my religious
proclivities, was rather fidgety on the Sunday morning
about the question of going to church, from which he
was said never to absent himself. On this morning,
as I afterwards learned, it was particularly desirable
that he should attend Divine Service, because it was
the harvest thanksgiving at the little village.

I could see that he was wondering how he should
break it out to me that he wished to go ; but as I
had no particular reason for going on that morning
more than on any other I did not come to his aid.
Presently he said :

' I don't know, Mr. Hawkins, whether you would
like to see our little church ?'

' No, thank you,' I answered ; * we can have a look
at it to-morrow when we have a " view of the premises."
You told me they are close by, so we can kill two birds
with one stone.' He looked somewhat aghast, I

A ' view of the premises ' means the view counsel has
for the sake of describing them to the jury and cross-
examining about them in court, and for which he is
paid a proper fee.

' I thought, perhaps,' said the solicitor, 'you might
like to attend the service.'

' No,' said I, ' not particularly ; a walk under the


" broad canopy of heaven " is preferable on a beautiful
morning like this to a poky little pew ; and I like the
singing of the birds better than the humming of a dear
old country clergyman's nose.'

The solicitor looked anything but jovial. I saw
unmistakable signs of this harvest festival, and had
no doubt he was looking forward to a handsome con-
tribution from me. That I took to be his object.

' Very well,' he said, ' we will, if you like, take
a little walk ;' which we did.

With surprising innocence he inflicted upon me
a pious fraud, leading me over fields and meadows,
styles and rustic bridges, until at last the cunning old
fox brought me out along a by-path and over a plank
bridge right into the village. Then, turning a corner
near a picturesque farmhouse, he smilingly observed,
' This is our church.'

' Indeed/ said I, ' it's a very old one, and would look
much more picturesque in the distance. Shall we have
a view a little further off?'

He seemed somewhat annoyed at my inartistic
taste and simplicity, and I saw a slight quiver of his
under lip, which was a somewhat floppy one.

' St. Mary's/ said he ; '1694 is the date '

' Really !' I exclaimed ; ' St. Mary's, is it ? Fancy !
And what is the date 1694 ?'

' It has some fine tablets, Mr. Hawkins, if you'd like
to look in '

'I don't care for tablets,' I answered; ' if I go to
church it is not to stare at tablets, however fine they
may be. I never take my eyes off my book.'

' There's a beautifully executed monument of
Lady '


' Was her ladyship also executed,' I asked. ' They
were troublous times.'

' Mr. Hawkins,' he summed up courage at last to
say, ' this is our little harvest festival of thanksgiving,
and I should not like to be absent.'

' Why on earth, Mr. Goodman,' I answered, ' did you
not say that before ? Let us go in by all means. I
like a good harvest as well as any Christian on earth.
I suppose there will be a collection ; all thanksgivers
are good at that.'

When we got to his pew he looked into his hat for
a long time, it having been done up for the occasion,
but look who would, there never was anything in that
hat to speak of. The pew was the family pew the
whole family pew, and nothing but the family pew,
bought with the estate, with the family estate, and
was in an excellent situation for the congregation to
have a fine view of Mr. Goodman. Indeed, his cheery
face could be seen by everybody in church.

I must say the little edifice looked very nice, and
had been adorned with the most artistic taste by the
young ladies of the Vicarage and the Hall. Mr.
Goodman was * the Hall.' There were bunches of
neatly -arranged turnips and carrots, with potatoes,
barley, oats, and mangel-wurzel, and almost every
variety of fruit from the little village ; and every
girl had barley and wheat-ears in her straw hat. It
was an affecting sight, calculated to make anyone
adore the young ladies and long for dinner.

The sermon was an excellent one so far as I could
pronounce an opinion, but would have been consider-
ably improved had it been three-quarters of an hour
shorter ; that was its great fault. It contained, how-


ever a great many allusions to ' harvest - homes,'
gathering into barns, and laying up treasures, which
last observation reminded Mr. Goodman that he had
left his purse at home and had come away without any

I saw him fumbling in his pocket, and knew what
he was about. Now, thought I, the time has come for
showing my devotion to Mr. Goodman and doing a
good action. As soon, therefore, as he had whispered
to ask me to assist him in his emergency, I handed
him every farthing I had about me, which consisted
of a solitary five-pound note. This, had I not thus
disposed of it, no doubt I should have put into the
collection-bag myself. As it was, he gratefully took it,
and, although about five times as much as he intended
to give, when the bag was handed to him on a long
pole, in went the five-pound note, and there was an
end of the transaction so far as my part of the con-
tribution went, for, like Mr. Goodman, I was now in
the predicament of having nothing in my pocket.

I knew my friend was chuckling as soon as we got
into his family pew at the way in which he had lured
me step by step, till we walked the last plank over the
ditch, so I was not sorry to return good for evil and
lend him my note.

He stared somewhat sideways at me when the bag
passed, but I bore it with fortitude. I was quite imper-
vious to Goodman's glances; while he looked really
ashamed of himself to think he had brought so im-
portant a guest into the family pew, and that he
should give nothing towards the celebration. I took
particular notice that the crimson bag passed along the
front of our family pew at a very dilatory pace, and


tarried a good deal, as if reluctant to leave it. To and
fro it passed in front of my nose as if it contained
something I should like to smell, and at last moved
away altogether. I was glad of that because it pre-
vented my following the words of the hymn in my
book, and, unfortunately, it was one of those harvest
hymns I did not know by heart.

On our way home over the meadows, where the
Grasshoppers were practising for the next day's sports,
and were in high glee over this harvest festival, Mr.
Goodman seemed fidgety ; whether conscience-stricken
for the Sabbath fraud he had practised upon me or not,
I could not say ; but at last he asked how I liked
their little service.

I said it was quite large enough.

* You ' he paused ' you did not, I think another
pause ' contribute to our little gathering ?'

1 No,' I said, ' but it was not my fault ; I lent you
all I had. The fund, however, will not suffer in the
least, and you have the satisfaction of having con-
tributed the whole of our joint pocket-money. It does
not matter who the giver is so long as the fund
obtains it.'

My friends of the Garrick were interested in the
story, especially my old friend J. L. Toole.



IN order to divert my friend Goodman's grief at my
not contributing anything to the bag, I told him a little
story as we went along over the peaceful meadows.

' Mr. Goodman,' said I, ' did I ever tell you how the
dear old Baron I mean Baron Martin once treated
a prisoner ?'

Goodman sighed, and answered ' No.'

' Well, he had tried a very old offender for some
petty act of stealing, and was in considerable doubt
as to what should be done with him. He did not
like accumulated sentences, and thought every crime
should carry its own punishment and no other.
Moreover, he was sternly of opinion that a man or
woman should not be punished twice for the same
offence as they sometimes are, when they receive a
heavier sentence for having been previously convicted.
One Judge I knew some years ago sentenced a man
who had been previously convicted to a lighter
sentence on that account, because between that time
and his second offence he must have striven hard,
against adverse circumstances, to get an honest living.

' " Look," says the Baron, " I hardly know what to
do with you, but you can tak' six months."

VOL. i. 257 17


' " I can't take that, my lord," said the prisoner ;
" it's too much. I can't take it, your lordship sees
I did not steal very much, after all."

' The Baron indulged in one of his characteristic
chuckling laughs, and said :

' " Wai, that's vera true ; ye didn't steal much.
Well, then, ye can tak' four. Will that do four
months ?"

' " Nay, my lord ; but I can't take that, nuther."

' " Then tak' three"

' " That's nearer the mark, my lord, but I'd rather
you made it two, if you'll be so kind."

< " Very well, then, tak' two," said the Judge, " and

don't come again ; if you do, I'll give you Well,

it 11 all depend."

' As the man was going down through the trap-
door, there was a bit of a row between him and the
warder, and the Baron asked what was the matter.

' " The prisoner wants his 'at, my lord, and it ain't

' His hat, it appeared, was in the dock, and on its
being held up to show the Baron, his lordship said :

' " Oh, nonsense ! give the man his hat and let him
go. Allow him his hat." '

This story illustrates the character of Baron Martin
under all circumstances cheerful and good-natured
and notwithstanding his readiness to yield to leniency,
where the humorous appeal of the prisoner was in-
dicative of a character which punishment would never
soften although kindness might, he could yet be firm
to the last degree where necessity required it. No
one more enjoyed a humorous situation in court, or
more worthily maintained its dignity.



IN the evening I entertained Mr. Goodman, as he
wished it, with some of my 'experiences,' especially
my recollection of ' Crockford's.' I thought it would
be some compensation for his disappointment.

Crockford's, as I explained to Mr. Goodman, has
become a mere reminiscence, but worthy, in many
respects, of being preserved as part of the history of
London. It was historic in many of its associations
as well as its incidents, and men who made history as
well as those who wrote it, met at Crockford's. It
was celebrated alike for high play and high company.

As I never had a real passion for gambling, it was
to me a place of great enjoyment, for there were some
of the celebrated men of the day amongst its invited
guests wits, poets, novelists, playwrights, painters
in fact, all who had distinguished themselves in
art or literature, law, science, or learning of any kind
were always welcomed. But it was not for these
that the good fishmonger gave up his business at the
east end of the Strand and opened a more lucrative
one ' The Temple of Fortune,' as it was called in
the more fashionable west.

As there never will be another Crockford's, I feel
259 172


an interest in recalling its associations and the
crowd of persons, celebrated and otherwise, whom I
met in those early days. It was as pleasant a lounge
as any in London, not excepting Tattersall's, which
has equal claims on my memory. At Crockford's I

met Captain H , a wonderful gamester ; he died

early, but not too early for his welfare, seeing that all
the chances of life are against the gambler. Padwick,
too, I knew ; he entertained with refined and lavish
hospitality. He was one of the winners in the game
of life who did not die early. He told good stories
and put much interest into them. He knew Palmer,
the Rugeley poisoner a sporting man of the first
water, who poisoned John Parsons Cook for the sake
of his winnings, and his wife and mother, it was
said, for the sake of the insurance on their lives.
Padwick knew everybody's deeds and misdeeds who
sought to increase his wealth on the turf or at the
gaming-table. He was a just and honourable man,
but without any sympathy for fools.

Others I could recall by the score, men of character
and of no character. Some I knew afterwards pro-
fessionally, and especially one, who, although con-
victed of crime, escaped by collusion the sentence
justly passed upon him. Another was a man of
position without character, whose evil habits destroyed
the talent that would have made him famous.

But I need not dwell on the manifold characters
and scenes of Crockford's. There has been nothing
like it either in its origin or its subsequent history.
There will never be anything like it in an age of
refinement and laws, which have been wisely passed for
the protection of fools. Crockford's is only interesting


as a curious phase of human nature, which you could
obtain from no other quarter.

The founder of this fashionable gambling-place was
at one time a small fishmonger in either the Strand or
Fleet Street, I forget which, and lived there till he
removed to St. James's Street, where he became a
fisher of men, but never in any other than an
honourable way.

His ' Palace of Fortune ' was of the grandest style
of architectural beauty. It was one in which the
worshippers of Fortune planked down the last acre of
their patrimonial estates to propitiate the fickle god-
dess in the allurements of the gaming-table. But how
can Fortune herself give two to one on all comers?
Some must lose to pay the winners.

At this palatial abode the most sumptuous repasts
were prepared by the most celebrated chefs the world
could produce, and were eaten by the most fastidious
and expensive gourmands Nature ever created ;
gamblers of the most distinguished and the most dis-
reputable characters ; gentlemen of the latest pattern
and the oldest school, the worst of men and the best,
sporting politicians and political sportsmen, place-
hunters, Ministers, ex-Ministers, scions of old families
and ancient pedigrees, as well as men of new families
and no pedigrees, who purchased, as we do now, a coat
of arms at the Heralds' tailoring shop, and selected
their ancestors in Wardour Street.

Only the wealthy could be members of this club,
for only the wealthy could lose money and pay it.
Landscape painters might be guests, but it was only
the man who belonged to the landscape who could
belong ;to the body that gambled for it. Young


barristers might visit the place, possibly with an eye
to business, but only members of large practice or
Judges could be members of this society.

Lord Palmerston defended it manfully before the
committee appointed really for its destruction. He
said it did a great deal of good much more good
than all the gambling hells of London did harm.
Whether his lordship contended there was no betting
or gambling carried on at Crockford's I am not pre-
pared to say, but when evidence is given before
Parliamentary Committees it is sometimes difficult to
understand its exact meaning. Palmerston, however,
positively said without any doubt as to his meaning that
candidates were not elected in order that they might
be plucked of every feather they possessed, and that
anyone who maintained the contrary was slandering
one of the most respectable clubs in London. Some
men would rather have pulled down St. Paul's than

It was the very perfection of a club, said the
statesman, and its principal game was chicken
hazard. What could be stronger evidence than that
of its usefulness and respectability ? At this game
they usually lost all they had, of little consequence to
those who could not do better with their property,
and perhaps the best thing for the country, because
when it got into better hands it stood some chance of
being applied to more legitimate purposes.

After a while Crockford quarrelled with his partner,
and they separated.

Whatever men may say in these days against an
institution which nourished in those, ex - Prime
Ministers, Dukes, Earls, and ex-Lord Chancellors, as


well as future Ministers of State and future Judges,
belonged to it, or sought eagerly for* admission to its
membership. To be under the shadow of the fish-
monger was greatness itself.

At the mention of the name of Crockford's a pro-
cession of the greatest men of the day passes before
my eyes ; their name would be legion as to numbers,
but an army of devoted patriots I should call them in
every other sense, for they were English to the back-
bone, whether gamblers or saints.

Of course there were some amongst them, as in every
large body of men, who were not so desirable to know
as you could wish ; but they were easy to avoid and
at all times an interesting study.

There were wise men and self-deluded fools, manly,
well-bred men, and effeminate, conceited coxcombs,
who wore stays and did up their back hair, used paint,
and daubed their cheeks with violet powder. These
men, while they had it, planked down their money
with the longest possible odds against them. There
was one who was the very opposite to these in
the person of old Squire Osbaldistone. True, he had
squandered more money than anyone had ever
seen outside the Bank of England, they said, but he
had done it like a gentleman and not like a fool.
A real grand man was the old squire, and I enjoyed
many a walk with him over Newmarket Heath listen-
ing to his amusing anecdotes, his delightful humour and
wit. His manner was so buoyant that no one could
have believed he had spent some hundreds of thousands
of pounds, but he had without compunction.

The novelist and the painter could artistically
describe Squire Osbaldistone. I can only say he was


a ' fine old English gentleman, one of the olden time.'
It was in a billiard-room at Leamington where I first
met him, and as he was as indifferent a player as you
could meet, he thought himself one of the best that
ever handled a cue.

Such was Crockford's, the most celebrated place of
the kind in its day. Indeed, it belonged to no kind ;
it was a genus of itself.

I neither played chicken hazard nor any other
game, but enjoyed myself in seeing others play, and
in picking up crumbs of knowledge which I made good
use of in my profession.

The institution was not established for the benefit
of science or literature, except that kind of literature
which goes by the name of bookmaking. Its founder
was a veritable dunce, but he was the cleverest of
bookmakers, and made more by it in one night than
all the authors of that day in their lives. One
hundred thousand pounds in one night was not bad
evidence of his calculation of chances and his general
knowledge of mankind.

To be a member of this club, wealth was not the
only qualification, because in time you would lose it ;
you had to be well born or distinguished in some other
way. The fishmonger knew a good salmon by its
appearance ; he had also a keen respect for the man
who had ancestors and ancestral estates.

I ought not to omit to mention another celebrated
bookie of that day, he was second only to Crockford
himself, and was called * The Librarian.' He was also
known as ' Billy Sims.'

Billy lived in St. James's Street in a house which
has long since been demolished, and thither people


resorted to enjoy the idle, witty, and often scandalous
gossip of the time. It was as easy to lose your reputa-
tion there as your money at Crockford's, and far more

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