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LONDON MAGAZINE



JULY TO DECEMBER,



1820.



Why should not divers studies, at divers hours, delight, when the
variety is able alone to refresh and repair us ?

Ben JoN80ir*8 Ditcoveries,



VOL. II.



Hontion :

Printed for

BALDWIN, CRADOCK, AND JOY.
18SI0.



m^



C. Baldwin, Printer,
Vvw Bridge-street, Loadoa.



RECOLLECTIONS OF THE SOUTH SEA HOU^E-



Reader, in thy passage from the
Bank — where thou hast been receiv-
ing thy half-yearly dividends (sup-
posing thou art a lean annuitant like
myself) — to the Flower Pot, to secure
a place for Dalston, or Shacklewell,
or some other thy suburban retreat
northerly,— didst thou never observe a
melancholy-looking, handsome, brick
and stone edifice, to the left — where
Threadneedle-street abuts upon Bi-
shopsgate ? I dare say thou hast
often admired its magnificent portals
ever gaping wide, and disclosing to
view a grave court, with cloisters,
and pillars, with few or no traces of
goers-in or comers-out — a desolation
^something like Balclutha's.*
*- This was once a house of trade,— a
centre of busy interests. The throng
of merchants was here — the quick
pulse of gain — and here some forms of
i)usiness are still kept up, though the
soul be long since fled. Here are still
to be seen stately porticos ; imposing
staircaises ; offices roomy as the state
apartments in palaces — deserted, or
thinly peopled with a few straggling
clerks ; the still more sacred interiors
of court and committee rooms, with
venerable faces of beadles, door-keep-
ers directors seated in form on

solemn days (to proclaim a dead di-
vidend,) at long worm-eaten tables,
that have been mahogany, with tar-
nished gilt-leather coverings, sup-
porting massy silver inkstands long
since dry; — the oaken w^ainscots hung
with pictures of deceased governors
and sub-governors, of queen Anne,
and the two first monarchs of the
Brunswick dynasty; — huge charts,
lirhich subsequent discoveries have



antiquated ; — dusty maps of Mexico^
dim as dreams, — and soundings of the
Bay of Panama ! — The long passages-
hung with buckets, appended, in idle
row, to walls, whose substance might
defy any, short of the last, conflagra-
tion : — with vast ranges of cellarage
under all, where dollars and pieces of
eight once lay, an " unsunned heap,"
for Mammon to have solaced his so-
litary heart withal, — long since dissi-
pated, or scattered into air at the
blast of the breaking of that famous

Bubble.

Such is the South Sea-house. At
least, such it was forty years ago,
when I knew it, — a magnificent relic f
AVhat alterations may have been made
in it since, I have had no opportuni-
ties of verifying. Time, 1 take for
granted, has not freshened it. No
wind has resuscitated the face of the
sleeping waters. A thicker crust by
this time stagnates upon it. The
moths, that were then battening upon
its obsolete ledgers and day-books,
have rested from their depredations,
but other light generations have suc-
ceeded, making fine fretwork among
their single and double entries. Lay-
ers of dust have accumulated (a super-
foe tation of dirt !) upon the old layers,
that seldom used to be disturbed, save
by some curious finger, now and then,
that wished to explore the mode of
book-keeping in Queen Anne's reign ;
or, with less hallowed curiosity,
sought to imveil some of the myste-
ries of that tremendous hoax, whose
extent the petty peculators of our day
look back upon with the same ex-
pression of incredulous admiration,
and hopeless ambition of rivalry, as



• I passed by the walls of Balclutha, and they were desolate. — Ossian-



1820.;]



Recollections of the South Sea House,



143



would become the puny face of modern
conspiracy contemplating the Titan
size of Vaux's superhuman plot.

Peace to the manes of the Bubble !
Silence and destitution are upon thy
walls, proud house, for a memorial !

Situated as thou art, in the very
heart of stirring and living commerce,
— amid the fret and fever of specula-
tion — with the Bank, and the 'Change,
and the India-house about thee, in
the hey-day of present prosperity,
with their important faces, as it were
insulting thee, their mor neighbour
out of business — to the idle, and mere-
ly contemplative, — to such as me, old
house ! there is a charm in thy quiet:
— a cessation — a coolness from busi-
ness — an indolence almost cloistral —
which is delightful ! With what re-
verence have I paced thy great bare
rooms and courts at eventide! They
spoke of the past i^— the shade of some
dead accountant, with visionary pen
, in ear, would flit by me, stiff as in
- life. Living accounts and accountants
puzzle me. I have no skill in figur-
ing. But thy great dead tomes, which
scarce three degenerate clerks of the
present day could lift from their en-
shrining shelves — with their old fan-
tastic flourishes, and decorative ru-
bric interfacings — their sums in triple
columniations, set down with formal
superfluity of cyphers — with pious
sentences at the beghming, without
which our religious ancestors never
ventured to open a book of business,
or bill of lading — the costly vellum
covers of some of them almost per-
suading us that we are got hito some
better library, — are very agreea[)Ie
and edifying spectacles. I can look
upon these defunct dragons with com-
placency. Thy heavy odd-shaped
ivory-handled penknives (our ances-
-lors had every thing on a larger scale
than we have hearts for) are as good
as any thing from Herculaneum. The
pounce-boxes of our days have gone
retrograde.

The very clerks which I remember
in the South Sea-house — I speak of
forty years back — had an air very dif-
ferent from those hi the public offices
that I have had to do with since.
They partook of the genius of the
place!

They were mostly (for the esta-
blishment did not a^mit of superflu-
ous salaries,) bachelors. Generally
{for they had not much to do) per-



sons of a curious and speculative
turn of mind. Old-fashioned, for a
reason mentioned before. Humour-
ists, for they were of all descrip-
tions ; and, not having been brought
together in early life (which has a
tendency to assimilate the members
of corporate bodies to each other),
but, for the most part, placed in this
house in ripe or middle age, they ne-
cessarily carried into it their separate
habits and oddities, unqualified, if I
may so speak, as into a common stock.
Hence they formed a sort of Noah's
ark. Odd fishes. A lay-monastry.
Domestic retainers in a great house,
kept more for show than use. Yet
pleasant fellows, full of chat — and not
a iGW among them had arrived at con-
siderable proficiency on the German
flute.

The cashier at that time was one
Evans, a Cambro-Briton. He had
something of the choleric complexion
of his countrymen stamped on his
visnomy, but was a worthy sensible
man at bottom. He wore his hair,
to the last, powdered and frizzed
out, in the fashion which I remem-
ber to have seen in caricatures of
what were termed, in my young
days, Maccaronies. He was the last
of that race of beaux. Melancholy
as a gib-cat over his counter all the
forenoon, I think I see him, making
up his cash (as they call it) with tre-
mulous fingers, as if he feared every
one about him was a defaulter; in
his hypochondry ready to imagine
himself one; haunted, at least, with
the idea of the possibility of his be-
coming one : his tristful visage clear-
ing up a little over his roast neck of
veal at Anderton's at two (where his
picture still hangs, taken a little be-
fore his death by desire of the master
of the coffee-house, which he had
frequented for the last five-and-twenty
years), but not attaining the meridian
of its animation till evening brought
on the hour of tea and visiting. The
simultaneous sound of his well-known
rap at the door with the stroke of the
clock announcing six, was a topic of
never failing mirth in the families
which this dear old bachelor gladden-
ed with his presence. Then was his
forte, his glorified hour ! How would
he chirp, and expand, over a muffin !
How would he dilate into secret
history ! His countryman. Pennant
himself, in particular, could not be
M2



144



Recollections of the South Sea Howe.



CAug.



more eloquent than he in relation to
old and new London — the site of old
theatres, churches, streets gone to de-
cay — where Rosomund's pond stood
— the Mulberry-gardens — and the
Conduit in Cheap^r-with many a plea-
sant anecdote, derived from paternal
tradition, of those grotesque figures
which Hogarth has immortalized in
his picture of Noon, — the worthy de-
scendants of those heroic confessors,
who, flying to this country, from the
wrath of Louis the Fourteenth and
his dragoons, kept alive the flame of
pure religion in the sheltering obscu-
rities of Hog-lane, and the vicinity of
the Seven Dials !

Deputy, under Evans, was Thomas
Tame. He had the air and stoop of
a nobleman. You would have taken
him for one, had you met him in one
of the passages leading to Westmin-
ster-hall. By stoop, I mean that
gentle bending of the body forwards,
which, in great men, must be sup-
posed to be the effect of an habitual
condescending attention to the appli-
cations of their inferiors. While he
held you in converse, you felt ^'strain-
ed to the height" in the colloquy.
The conference over, you were at
leisure to smile at the comparative
insignificance of the pretensions which
had just awed you. His intellect was
of the shallowest order. It did not
reach to a saw or a proverb. His
mind was in its original state of white
paper. A sucking babe might have
posed him. What was it then ? Was
he rich } Alas, no ! Thomas Tame
was very poor. Both he and his wife
looked outwardly gentlefolks, when I
fear all wa&not well at all times with-
in. She bad a neat meagre person,
which it was evident she had not
sinned in over-pampering ; but. in its
reins was noble blood. She traced
her descent, by some labyrinth of re-
lationship, which I never thoroughly
understood, — much less can explain
with any heraldic certainty at this
time of day, — ^to the illustrious, but
unfortunate house of Derwent water.
This was the secret of Thomas's stoop.
Jhis was the thought — the sentiment
.-^the bright solitary star of your lives.



— ye mild and happy pair,— 'which
cheered you in the night of intellect,
and in the obscurity of your station!
This was to you instead of riches, in-
stead of rank, instead of glittermg
attainments : and it was worth them
all together. You insulted none with
it ; but, while you wore it as a piece
of defensive armour only, no insult
likewise could reach you through, it.
Decus et solamen.

Of quite another stamp was the
then accountant, John Tipp. He
neither pretended to high blood, aor
in good truth cared one fig about the
matter. He " thought an accountant
the greatest character in the world,
and himself the greatest accountant
in it." Yet John was not without his
hobby. The fiddle relieved his va-
cant hours. He sang, certainly, '^ with
other notes than to the Orphean lyre."
He did, indeed, scream and scrape
most abominably. His fine suite of
official rooms in Threadneedle-strect,
which, without any thing very sub-
stantial appended to them, were
enough to enlarge a man's notions of
himself that lived in them, (I know
not who is the occupier of them now*)
resounded fortnightly to the notes of a
concert of ^^ sweet breasts," as our an-
cestors would have called them, culled
from club-roomsandorchestras— cho-
rus singers — ^first 2uid second violin-
cellos - doiible basses — and clarionets
— who ate his cold mutton, and drank
his punch, and praised his ear. He
sate like Lord Midas among them. Bat
at the desk Tipp was quite another
sort of creatiu-e. Thence all ideas,
that were purely ornamental, were
banished. You could not speak of
any thing romantic without relmke.
Politics were excluded. A newspaper
was thought ^oo refined and abstract-
ed. The whole duty of man consist-
ed in writing off dividend warrants.
The striking of the annual balance
in the company's books (which, per-
haps, differed from the balance of last
year in the sum of 2.5/. Is. 6d.) occu-
pied his days and nights for a month
previous. Not that Tipp was blind
to the deadness of things (as they call
them in the city) in his beloved house.



* I have since been informed, that the present tenant of them is a Mr. Lamb, a gen-
tleman who is happy in the possession of some choice pictures, and among them a rare
portTMt of Milton, which I mean to do myself the pleasure of going to see, and at the
same time to refresh my memory with the sight of old scenes. Mr. Lamb has the cha-
lacter of a right courteous and communicative collector.



1820.;]



Recollections of ike South Sea House.



14»^



or did not sigh for a return of the old
stirring days, when South Sea hope*
were young — (he was indeed equal
to the weilding of any the most intri-
cate accounts of the most flourishing
company in these or those days) : — but
to a genuine accountant the difference
of proceeds is as nothing. The fractional
farthing is as dear to his heart as the
thousands which stand before it. He
is the true actor, who, whether his
part be a prince or a peasant, must
act it with like intensity. With Tipp
form was every thing. His life was
formal. His actions seemed ruled
with a Tuler. His pen was not less
erring than his heart. He made the
best executor in the world : he was
plagued with incessant executorships
accordingly, which excited his spleen
and soothed his vanity in equal ratios.
He would swear (for Tipp swore) at
the little orphans, whose rights he
would guard with a tenacity like the
grasp of the dying hand, that com-
mended their interests to his protec-
tion. With all this there was about
him a sort of timidity — (Ms few ene-
mies used to give it a worse name) —
a something which, in reverence to
the dead, we will place, if you please,
a little on this side of the heroic. Na-
ture certainly had been pleased to
endow John Tipp with a sufficient
measure of the principle of self-pre-
servation. There is a cowardice which
we do not despise, because it has no-
thing base or treacherous in its ele-
ments ; it betrays itself, not you : it
is mere temperament ; the absence of
the romantic and the enterprising ; it
sees a lion in the way, and will not,
with Fortinbras, " greatly find quar-
rel hi a straw," when some supposed
honour is at stake. Tipp never mount-
ed the box of a stage-coach in his
life ; or leaned against the rails of a
balcony; or walked upon the ridge
of a parapet ; or looked down a pre-
cipice ; or let ofF a gun ; or went
upon a water-party ; or woukl will-
ingly let you go if he could have
helped it : neither was it recorded of
him, that for lucre, or for intimidation,
he ever forsook friend or principle.

Whom next shall we summon from
the dusty dead, in whom common
qualities become uncommon ? — Can
I forget thee, Henry Man, the wit,
the polished man of letters, the author,
of the South Sea House.'* who never
enteredst thy office in a morning, or



quitted it in mid-day — (what didst
thou in an office?) — without some:
quirk that left a sting ! Thy gibes
and thy jokes are now extinct, oi
survive but in two forgotten volumes,
which 1 had the gootl fortune to res-
cue from a stall in Barbican, not three
days ago, and found thee terse, fresh,
epigrammatic, as alive. Thy wit is
a little gone by in these fastidious
days — thy topics are staled by the
"new-born gauds" of the time:— ■
but great thou used to be in Public
Ledgers, and inChronicles, upon Chat-
ham, and Shelbourn, and Rocking-
ham, and Howe, and Burgoyne, and
Clinton, and the war which ended in
the tearing from Great Britain her
rebellious colonies, — and Keppel, and'
Wilkes, and Sawbridge, and Bull,
and Dunning, and Pratt, and Rich-
mond, — and such small politics.

A little less facetious, and a great
deal more obstreperous, was fine rat-
tling rattleheaded Plumer. He was
descended, — not in a right line, reader,
(for his lineal pretensions, like his
personal, favoured a little of the si-
nister bend) from the Plumers of Hert-
fordshire. So tradition gave him out ;
and certain family features not a lit-
tle sanctioned the opinion. Certainly
old Walter Plumer (his reputed au-
thor) had been a rake in his days,
and visited much in Italy, and had
seen the world. He was uncle, ba-
chelor-uncle, to the fine old whig still
living, who has represented the coun-
ty in so many successive parliaments,
and has a fine old mansion near Ware.
\Falter fiourished in George the Se-
cond's days, and was the same who
was summoned before the House of
Commons about a business of franks,
with the old Duchess of Marlborough.
You may read of it in Johnson's Life
of Cave. Cave came off cleverly in
that business. It is certain our Plumer
did nothing to discountenance the
rumour. lie rather seemed pleased
Avhenever it was, with all gentleness,
insinuated. But, besides his family
pretensions, Plumer was an engaging
fellow, and sang gloriously.

Not so sweetly sang Plumer as thou
sangest, mild, child-like, pastoral
M ; a flute's breathing less divine-
ly whispering than thy Arcadian me-
lodies, when, in tones worthy of Ar-
den, thou didst chant that song sung
by Amiens to the banished Duke,
which proclaims the winter wind



U6



more lenient than for a man to be
ungrateful. Thy sire was old surly
M- , the unapproachable church-
warden of Bishopsgate. He knew
not what he did, when he begat thee,
like spring, gentle offspring of blus-
tering winter: — only unfortunate in
thy endhig, which should have been

mild, conciliatory, swan-like.

Much remains to sing. Many fan-
tastic shapes rise up, but they must
be mine in private : — already 1 have
fooled the reader to the top of his
bent ; — else could I omit that strange
creature Woollett, who existed in
trying the question, and bought liti-

fatiojis ? — and still stranger, inimi ta-
le, solemn Hepworth, from whose
gravity Newton might have deduced



The Traveller. CAu^-

the law of gravitation. How pro-
foundly would he nib a pen — with
what deliberation would he wet a
wafer !

But it is time to close — night's
wheels are rattling fast over me — it is
proper to have done with this solemn
mockery.

Reader, what if I have been play-
ing with thee all this while — perad-
venture the very namesj which I have
summoned up before thee, are fan-
tastic — insubstantial — like Henry
Pimpernel, and old John Naps of
Greece :

Be satisfied that something an-
swering to them has had a being.
Their importance is from the past.

Elia.




302 Sonnet to Barry Cornwall, S^c, CSept.

SONNET

To the Author of Poems piillishcd under the navie of Barry ConncalL

Let hate, or grosser heats, their fouhiess mask

In riddling Junius, or in L 1^'* name :

Let things eschew the light, deserving blame :

No cause hast thou to blush for thy sweet task,

Marcian Colonna is a dainty book;

And thy Sicilian Tale may boldly pass ; —

Thy Dream 'bove all, in which, as in a glass.

On the great world's antique glories we may look.

No longer then, as " lowly substitute.

Factor, or Proctor, for another's gains,"

Suffer the admiring world to be deceived ;

Lest thou thyself, by self of fame bereaved.

Lament too late the lost prize of thy pains.

And heavenly tunes, piped through an alien flute.

« » * *



TO R. S. KNOWLES, ESQ.

ON HIS TRAGEDY OF VIRGIXIUS.

Twelve years ago I knew you, Knowles, and then

Esteemed you a perfect specimen

Of those fine* spirits warm-soul'd Ireland sends.

To teach us colder English how a friend's

Quick pulse should beat. I knew you brave, and plain.

Strong-sensed, rough-witted, above fear or gain ;

But nothing further had the gift to 'spy.

Sudden you re-appear. With wonder I

Hear my old friend (turn'd Shakspeare ! ) read a scene.

Only to his inferior in the clean

Passes of pathos : with such fence-like art, —

Ere we can see the steel, 'tis in our heart.

Almost without the aid, language affords.

Your piece seems wrought. That huffing medium, words,

(Which in the modern Tainhurlaines quite sway

Our shamed souls from their bias) in your play

We scarce attend to. Hastier passion draws

Our tears on credit ; and we find the cause

Some two hours after, spelling o'er again

Those strange few words at ease, that wrought the pain.

Proceed, old friend ; and, as the year returns.

Still snatch some new old story from the urns

Of long-dead virtue. We, that knew before

Your worth, may admire, we cannot love you, more.

June, 1820. C, Lamb.



To the Editor.

Mr. Editor^ — The riddling lines which I send you, were written upon a
young lady, who, from her diverting sportiveness in childhood, was named
"by her friends The Ape. When the verses were written, L. M. had out-
grown the title — but not the memory of it — behig in her teens, and conse-
quently past child-tricks. They are an endeavour to express that perplexity,
which one feels at any alteration, even supposed for the better, in a beloved
object; with a little oblique grudging at Time, who cannot bestow new
graces without taking away some portion of the older ones, which we can
Slmiss. * * * *

THE APE.

An Ape is but a trivial beast.

Men count it light and vain ;
But I would let them have their thoughts.

To have my Ape again.

To love a beast in any sort.

Is no great sign of grace ;
But I have loved a flouting Ape's

'Bove any lady's face.

I have known the power of two fair eyes.

In smile, or else in glance.
And how (for I a lover was)

They make the spirits dance;

But I would give two hundred smiles.

Of them that fairest be.
For one look of my staring Ape,

That used to stare on me.

This beast, this Ape, it had a face

If face it might be styl'd

Sometimes it was a staring Ape,

Sometimes a beauteous child —

A Negro flat — a Pagod squat.

Cast in a Chinese mold —
And then it was a Cherub's face,

Alade of the beaten gold !

But 1 iMi:., that's meddling, meddling still

And always altering thhigs —
And, what's already at the best.

To alteration brings —

That turns the sweetest buds to flowers.

And chops and changes toys —
That breaks up dreams, and parts old friends, '

And still commutes our joys —

Has changed away my Ape at last.

And in its place convey'd.
Thinking therewith to cheat my sight,

A fresh and blooming maid I

And fair to sight is she — and still

Each day doth sightlier grow.
Upon the ruins of the Ape,

My ancient play-fellow !

The tale of Sphinx, and Theban jests,

I true in me perceive ;
I suffer riddles ; death from dark

Enigmas I receive :

Whilst a hid being I pursue.
That lurks in a new shape.
My darling in herself I miss —
And, in my Ape, The Ape.
1806.



THE



EotttJOtt ^aga^me.



N^X.



OCTOBER, 1820.



Vol. IL



MISCELLANEOUS ARTICLES.



OXFORD IN THE VACATION.



Casting a preparatory glance at
the bottom of this article ^-as the wary
connoisseur in prints, with cursory
eve (which, while it reads, seems as
though it read not,) never fails to con-
sult the quis sculjisit in the corner,
before he pronounces some rare piece

to be a Vivares, or a Woollet

me thinks 1 hear you exclaim. Reader,
Whois EUa?

Because in my last I tried to divert
thee with some half-forgotten hu-
mours of some old clerks defunct, in
an old house of business, long since
gone to decay, doubtless you have
already set me down in your mind as
one of the self-same college a vo-
tary of the desk — a notched and cropt
scrivener — one that sucks his suste-
nance, as certain sick people are said
to do, through a quill.

Well, I do agnize something of the
sort. I confess that it is my humour,
my fancy — in the forepart of the day,
when the mind of your man of letters
requires some relaxation — (and none
better than such as at first sight
seems most abhorrent from his be-
loved studies) — to while away some
good hours of my time in the con-
templation of indigos, cottons, raw
«ilks, piece-goods, flowered or other-
wise. In the first place * *



and then it sends you home with such



Online LibraryCharles LambCharles Lamb's essays : as first published in the London magazine : 1820-1825 → online text (page 1 of 33)