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has chosen, which I thank God has befallen me ; and
though among the follies of my life, building and
planting have not been the least, and have cost me
more than I have the confidence to own; yet they
have been fully recompensed by the sweetness and
satisfaction of this retreat, where, since my resolution
taken of never entering again into any public employ-
ments, I have passed five years without ever once
going to town, though I am almost in sight of it, and
have a house there always ready to receive me. Nor
has this been any sort of affectation, as some have
thought it, but a mere want of desire or humour to
make so small a remove ; for when I am in this
corner, I can truly say with Horace, Me quoties
reficit, &c.

" Me, when the cold Digentian stream revives,
What does my friend believe I think or ask ?
Let me yet less possess, so I may live,
Whate'er of life remains, unto myself.
May I have books enough ; and one year's store,
Not to depend upon each doubtful hour :
This is enough of mighty Jove to pray,
Who, as he pleases, gives and takes away."



THE GENTEEL STYLE IN WRITING. 99

The writings of Temple are, in general, after this
easy copy. On one occasion, indeed, his wit, which
was mostly subordinate to nature and tenderness, has
seduced him into a string of felicitous antitheses ;
which, it is obvious to remark, have been a model to
Addison and succeeding essayists. " Who would not
be covetous, and with reason," he says, "if health
could be purchased with gold? who not ambitious, if
it were at the command of power, or restored by
honour? but, alas ! a white staff will not help gouty
feet to walk better than a common cane ; nor a blue
riband bind up a wound so well as a fillet. The
glitter of gold, or of diamonds, will but hurt sore eyes
instead of curing them ; and an aching head will be
no more eased by wearing a crown, than a common
night-cap." In a far better style, and more accord-
ant with his own humour of plainness, are the con-
cluding sentences of his " Discourse upon Poetry."
Temple took a part in the controversy about the
ancient and the modern learning; and, with that
partiality so natural and so graceful in an old man,
whose state engagements ad left him little leisure to
look into modern productions, while his retirement
gave him occasion to look back upon the classic
studies of his youth decided in favour of the latter.
"Certain it is," he says, "that, whether the fierce-
ness of the Gothic humours, or noise of their per-
petual wars, frighted it away, or that the unequal



100. THE GENTEEL STYLE IN WRITING.

mixture of the modern languages would not bear it
the great heights and excellency both of poetry and
music fell with the Roman learning and empire, and
have never since recovered the admiration and ap-
plauses that before attended them. Yet, such as they
are amongst us, they must be confessed to be the
softest and sweetest, the most general and most inno-
cent amusements of common time and life. They
still find room in the courts of princes, and the cot-
tages of shepherds. They serve to revive and animate
the dead calm of poor and idle lives, and to allay or
divert the violent passions and perturbations of the
greatest and the busiest men. And both these effects
are of equal use to human life ; for the mind of man
is like the sea, which is neither agreeable to the
beholder rior the voyager, in a calm or in a storm,
but is so to both when a little agitated by gentle
gales; and so the mind, when moved by soft and
easy passions or affections. I know very well that
many who pretend to be wise by the forms of being
grave, are apt to despise both poetry and music, as
toys and trifles too light for the use or entertainment
of serious men. But whoever find themselves wholly
insensible to their charms, would, I think, do well to
keep their own counsel, for fear of reproaching their
own temper, and bringing the goodness of their
natures, if not of their understandings, into question.
While this world lasts, I doubt not but the pleasure



THE GENTEEL STYLE IN WRITING. IOI

and request of these two entertainments will do so
too ; and happy those that content themselves with
these, or any other so easy and so innocent, and do
not trouble the world or other men, because they
cannot be quiet themselves, though nobody hurts
them." "When all is done (he concludes), human
life is at the greatest and the best but like a froward
child, that must be played with, and humoured a
little, to keep it quiet, till it falls asleep, and then the



BARBARA S-



ON the noon of the i4th of November, 1743 or 4, I
forget which it was, just as the clock had struck one,

Barbara S , with her accustomed punctuality

ascended the long rambling staircase, with awkward
interposed landing-places, which led to the office, or
rather a sort of box with a desk in it, whereat sat the
then Treasurer of (what few of our readers may re-
member) the old Bath Theatre. All over the island
it was the custom, and remains so I believe to this
day, for the players to receive their weekly stipend
on the Saturday. It was not much that Barbara had
to claim.

This little maid had just entered her eleventh year ;
but her important station at the theatre, as it seemed
to her, with the benefits which she felt to accrue
from her pious application of her small earnings, had
given an air of womanhood to her steps and to her
behaviour. You would have taken her to have been
at least five years older.



BARBARA S . 103

Till latterly she had merely been employed in
choruses, or where children were wanted to fill up
the scene. But the manager, observing a diligence
and adroitness in her above her age, had for some
few months past intrusted to her the performance of
whole parts. You may guess the self consequence
of the promoted Barbara. She had already drawn
tears in young Arthur ; had rallied Richard with in-
fantine petulance in the Duke of York ; and in her
turn had rebuked that petulance when she was Prince
of Wales. She would have done the elder child in
Morton's pathetic after-piece to the life; but as yet
the " Children in the Wood " was not.

Long after this little girl was grown an aged woman,
I have seen some of these small parts, each making
two or three pages at most, copied out in the rudest
hand of the then prompter, who doubtless transcribed
a little more carefully and fairly for the grown-up
tragedy ladies of the establishment. But such as
they were, blotted and scrawled, as for a child's use,
she kept them all; and in the zenith of her after
reputation it was a delightful sight to behold them
bound up in costliest Morocco, each single each
small part making a book with fine clasps, gilt-
splashed, &c. She had conscientiously kept them as
they had been delivered to her ; not a blot had been
effaced or tampered with. They were precious to
her for their affecting remembrancings. They were



IO4 BARBARA S .

her principia, her rudiments ; the elementary atoms ;
the little steps by which she pressed forward to per-
fection. "What," she would say, "could Indian
rubber, or a pumice stone, have done for these
darlings?"

I am in no hurry to begin my story indeed I
have little or none to tell so I will just mention an
observation of hers connected with that interesting
time.

Not long before she died I had been discoursing
with her on the quantity of real present emotion
which a great tragic performer experiences during
acting. I ventured to think, that though in the first
instance such players must have possessed the feel-
ings which they so powerfully called up in others, yet
by frequent repetition those feelings must become
deadened in great measure, and the performer trust
to the memory of past emotion, rather than express
a present one. She indignantly repelled the notion,
that with a truly great tragedian the operation, by
which such effects were produced upon an audience,
could ever degrade itself into what was purely me-
chanical. With much delicacy, avoiding to instance
in her self- experience, she told me, that so long ago
as when she used to play the part of the Little Son to
Mrs. Porter's Isabella, (I think it was) when that
impressive actress has been bending over her in some
heart-rending colloquy, she has felt real hot tears



BARBARA S . 105

come trickling from her, which (to use her powerful
expression) have perfectly scalded her back.

I am not quite so sure that it was Mrs. Porter ; but
it was some great actress of that day. The name is
indifferent ; but the fact of the scalding tears I most
distinctly remember.

I was always fond of the society of players, and
am not sure that an impediment in my speech (which
certainly kept me out of the pulpit) even more than
certain personal disqualifications, which are often got
over in that profession, did not prevent me at one
time of life from adopting it. I have had the honour
(I must ever call it) once to have been admitted to
the tea-table of Miss Kelly. I have played at serious
whist with Mr. Listen. I have chatted with ever
good-humoured Mrs. Charles Kemble. I have con-
versed as friend to friend with her accomplished
husband. I have been indulged with a classical
conference with Macready j and with a sight of the
Player-picture gallery, at Mr. Matthews's, when the
kind owner, to remunerate me for my love of the old
actors (whom he loves so much) went over it with
me, supplying to his capital collection, what alone the
artist could not give them voice ; and their living
motion. Old tones, half- faded, of Dodd and Parsons,
and Baddeley, have lived again for me at his bidding.
Only Edwin he could not restore to me. I have
supped with ; but I am growing a coxcomb.



106 BARBARA S-



As I was about to say at the desk of the then
treasurer of the old Bath theatre not Diamond's
presented herself the little Barbara S .

The parents of Barbara had been in reputable cir-
cumstances. The father had practised, I believe, as
an apothecary in the town. But his practice from
causes which I feel my own infirmity too sensibly
that way to arraign or perhaps from that pure in-
felicity which accompanies some people in their walk
through life, and which it is impossible to lay at the
door of imprudence was now reduced to nothing.
They were in fact in the very teeth of starvation,
when the manager, who knew and respected them in
better days, took the little Barbara into his company.

At the period I commenced with, her slender
earnings were the sole support of the family, includ-
ing two younger sisters. I must throw a veil over
some mortifying circumstances. Enough to say,
that her Saturday's pittance was the only chance of
a Sunday's (generally their only) meal of meat.

One thing I will only mention, that in some child's
part, where in her theatrical character she was to
sup off a roast fowl (O joy to Barbara !) some comic
actor, who was for the night caterer for this dainty
in the misguided humour of his part, threw over
the dish such a quantity of salt (O grief and pain
of heart to Barbara !) that when he crammed a por-
tion of it into her mouth, she was obliged sputter-



BARBARA S . IO7

ingly to reject it ; and what with shame of her ill-
acted part, and pain of real appetite at missing such
a dainty, her little heart sobbed almost to breaking,
till a flood of tears, which the well-fed spectators
were totally unable to comprehend, mercifully re-
lieved her.

This was the little starved, meritorious maid, who
stood before old Ravenscroft, the treasurer, for her
Saturday's payment.

Ravenscroft was a man, I have heard many old
theatrical people besides herself say, of all men least
calculated for a treasurer. He had no head for ac-
counts, paid away at random, kept scarce any books,
and summing up at the week's end, if he found him-
self a pound or so deficient, blest himself that it
was no worse.

Now. Barbara's weekly stipend was a bare half
guinea. By mistake he popped into her hand a
whole one.

Barbara tripped away.

She was entirely unconscious at first of the mis-
take : God knows, Ravenscroft would never have
discovered it.

But when she had got down to the first of those
uncouth landing-places, she became sensible of an
unusual weight of metal pressing her little hand.

Now mark the dilemma.

She was by nature a good child. From her pa-



IO8 BARBARA S .

rents and those about her she had imbibed no con-
trary influence. But then they had taught her
nothing. Poor men's smoky cabins are not always
porticoes of moral philosophy. This little maid had
no instinct to evil, but then she might be said to
have no fixed principle. She had heard honesty
commended, but never dreamed of its application
to herself. She thought of it as something which
concerned grown-up people men and women. She
had never known temptation, or thought of prepar-
ing resistance against it.

Her first impulse was to go back to the old treas-
urer, and explain to him his blunder. He was al-
ready so confused with age, besides a natural want
of punctuality, that she would have had some diffi-
culty in making him understand it. She saw that in
an instant. And then it was such a bit of money !
and then the image of a larger allowance of butcher's
meat on their table next day came across her, till
her little eyes glistened, and her mouth moistened.
But then Mr. Ravenscroft had always been so good-
natured, had stood her friend behind the scenes,
and even recommended her promotion to some of
her little parts. But again the old man was reputed
to be worth a world of money. He was supposed
to have fifty pounds a year clear of the theatre.
And then came staring upon her the figures of her
little stockingless and shoeless sisters. And when



BARBARA S . 109

she looked at her own neat white cotton stockings,
which her situation at the theatre had made it in-
dispensable for her mother to provide for her, with
hard straining and pinching from the family stock,
and thought how glad she should be to cover their
poor feet with the same and how then they could
accompany her to rehearsals, which they had hitherto
been precluded from doing, by reason of their un-
fashionable attire, in these thoughts she reached
the second landing-place the second, I mean from
the top for there was still another left to traverse.

Now virtue support Barbara !

And that never-failing friend did step in for at
that moment a strength not her own, I have heard
her say, was revealed to her a reason above reason-
ing and without her own agency, as it seemed
(for she never felt her feet to move) she found her-
self transported back to the individual desk she had
just quitted, and her hand in the old hand of Ravens-
croft, who in silence took back the refunded treasure,
and who had been sitting (good man) insensible to
the lapse of minutes, which to her were anxious
ages ; and from that moment a deep peace fell
upon her heart, and she knew the quality of
honesty.

A year or two's unrepining application to her pro-
fession brightened up the feet, and the prospects, of
her little sisters, set the whole family upon their legs



HO BARBARA S .

again, and released her from the difficulty of dis-
cussing moral dogmas upon a landing-place.

I have heard her say, that it was a surprise, not
much short of mortification to her, to see the cool-
ness with which the old man pocketed the difference,
which had caused her such mortal throes.

This anecdote of herself I had in the year 1800,
from the mouth of the late Mrs. Crawford * then
sixty-seven years of age (she died soon after) ; and
to her struggles upon this childish occasion I have
sometimes ventured to think her indebted for that
power of rending the heart in the representation of
conflicting emotions, for which in after years she
was considered as little inferior (if at all so in the
part of Lady Randolph) even to Mrs. Siddons.

* The maiden name of this lady was Street, which she
changed, by successive marriages, for those of Dancer, Barry,
and Crawford. She was Mrs. Crawford, and a third time a
widow, when I knew her.



THE TOMBS IN THE ABBEY.

IN A LETTER TO R S , ESQ.



THOUGH in some points of doctrine, and perhaps of
discipline, I am diffident of lending a perfect assent
to that church which you have so worthily historified,
yet may the ill time never come to me, when with
a chilled heart, or a portion of irreverent sentiment,
I shall enter her beautiful and time-hallowed Edi-
fices. Judge then of my mortification when, after
attending the choral anthems of last Wednesday at
Westminster, and being desirous of renewing my
acquaintance, after lapsed years, with the tombs and
antiquities there, I found myself excluded ; turned
out like a dog, or some profane person, into the
common street, with feelings not very congenial to
the place, or to the solemn service which I had been
listening to. It was a jar after that music.

You had your education at Westminster; and
doubtless among those dim aisles and cloisters, you
must have gathered much of that devotional feeling
in those young years, on which your purest mind



112 THE TOMBS IN THE ABBEY.

feeds still and may it feed ! The antiquarian
spirit, strong in you, and gracefully blending ever
with the religious, may have been sown in you among
those wrecks of splendid mortality. You owe it to
the place of your education; you owe it to your
learned fondness for the architecture of your an-
cestors ; you owe it to the venerableness of your
ecclesiastical establishment, which is daily lessened
and called in question through these practices to
speak aloud your sense of them; never to desist
raising your voice against them, till they be totally
done away with and abolished; till the doors of
Westminster Abbey be no longer closed against the
decent, though low-in-purse, enthusiast, or blameless
devotee, who must commit an injury against his
family economy, if he would be indulged with a bare
admission within its walls. You owe it to the de-
cencies, which you wish to see maintained in its
impressive services, that our Cathedral be no longer
an object of inspection to the poor at those times
only, in which they must rob from their attendance
on the worship every minute which they can bestow
upon the fabric. In vain the public prints have
taken up this subject, in vain such poor nameless
writers as myself express their indignation. A word
from you, Sir a hint in your Journal would be
sufficient to fling open the doors of the Beautiful
Temple again, as we can remember them when we



THE TOMBS IN THE ABBEY. 113

were boys. At that time of life, what would the
imaginative faculty (such as it is) in both of us,
have suffered, if the entrance to so much reflection
had been obstructed by the demand of so much
silver ! If we had scraped it up to gain an occa-
sional admission (as we certainly should have done)
would the sight of those old tombs have been as
impressive to us (while we had been weighing
anxiously prudence against sentiment) as when the
gates stood open, as those of the adjacent Park;
when we could walk in at any time, as the mood
brought us, for a shorter or longer time, as that
lasted? Is the being shown over a place the same
as silently for ourselves detecting the genius of it?
In no part of our beloved Abbey now can a person
find entrance (out of service time) under the sum
of two shillings. The rich and the great will smile
at the anticlimax, presumed to lie in these two short
words. But you can tell them, Sir, how much quiet
worth, how much capacity for enlarged feeling, how
much taste and genius, may coexist, especially in
youth, with a purse incompetent to this demand.
A respected friend of ours, during his late visit to
the metropolis, presented himself for admission to
Saint Paul's. At the same time a decently clothed
man, with as decent a wife, and child, were bar-
gaining for the same indulgence. The price was
only two-pence each person. The poor but decent

8



114 THE TOMBS IN THE ABBEY.

man hesitated, desirouc to go in ; but there were
three of them, and he turned away reluctantly.
Perhaps he wished to have seen the tomb of Nelson.
Perhaps the Interior of the Cathedral was his object.
But in the state of his finances, even sixpence might
reasonably seem too much. Tell the Aristocracy of
the country (no mari can do it more impressively) ;
instruct them of what value these insignificant pieces
of money, these minims to their sight, may be to
their humbler brethren. Shame these Sellers out
of the Temple. Stifle not the suggestions of your
better nature with the pretext, that an indiscriminate
admission would expose the Tombs to violation.
Remember your boy-days. Did you ever see, or
hear, of a mob in the Abbey, while it was free to
all? Do the rabble come there, or trouble their
heads about such speculations? It is all that you
can do to drive them into your churches; they do
not voluntarily offer themselves. They have, alas !
no passion for antiquities ; for tomb of king or
prelate, sage or poet. If they had, they would be
no longer the rabble.

For forty years that I have known the Fabric, the
only well-attested charge of violation adduced, has
been a ridiculous dismemberment committed upon
the effigy of that amiable spy, Major Andre". And
is it for this the wanton mischief of some school-
boy, fired perhaps with raw notions of Transatlantic



THE TOMBS IN THE ABBEY. 115

Freedom or the remote possibility of such a mis-
chief occurring again, so easily to be prevented by
stationing a constable within the walls, if the vergers
are incompetent to the duty is it upon such
wretched pretences, that the people of England are
made to pay a new Peter's Pence, so long abro-
gated; or must content themselves with contem-
plating the ragged Exterior of their Cathedral ? The
mischief was done about the time that you were a
scholar there. Do you know any thing about the
unfortunate relic?



AMICUS REDIVIVUS.



Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless deep
Clos'd o'er the head of your loved Lycidas ?



I DO not know when I have experienced a stranger
sensation, than on seeing my old friend G. D., who
had been paying me a morning visit a few Sundays
back, at my cottage at Islington, upon taking leave,
instead of turning down the right hand path by which
he had entered with staff in hand, and at noon
day, deliberately march right forwards into the midst
of the stream that runs by us, and totally disappear.

A spectacle like this at dusk would have been
appalling enough ; but, in the broad open daylight,
to witness such an unreserved motion towards self-
destruction in a valued friend, took from me all
power of speculation.

How I found my feet, I know not. Consciousness
was quite gone. Some spirit, not my own, whirled
me to the spot. I remember nothing but the silvery
apparition of a good white head emerging; nigh



AMICUS REDIVIVUS. 1 1/

which a staff (the hand unseen that wielded it)
pointed upwards, as feeling for the skies. In a
moment (if time was in that time) he was on my
shoulders, and I freighted with a load more pre-
cious than his who bore Anchises.

And here I cannot but do justice to the officious
zeal of sundry passers by, who, albeit arriving a little
too late to participate in the honours of the rescue,
in philanthropic shoals came thronging to commu-
nicate their advice as to the recovery; prescribing
variously the application, or non-application, of salt,
&c., to the person of the patient. Life meantime
was ebbing fast away, amidst the stifle of conflicting
judgments, when one, more sagacious than the rest,
by a bright thought, proposed sending for the Doctor.
Trite as the counsel was, and impossible, as one
should think, to be missed on, shall I confess ?
in this emergency, it was to me as if an Angel had
spoken. Great previous exertions and mine had
not been inconsiderable are commonly followed
by a debility of purpose. This was a moment of
irresolution.

MONOCULUS for so, in default of catching his
true name, I choose to designate the medical gentle-
man who now appeared is a grave, middle-aged
person, who, without having studied at the college, or
truckled to the pedantry of a diploma, hath employed
a great portion of his valuable time in experimental



Il8 AMICUS REDIVIVUS.

processes upon the bodies of unfortunate fellow-
creatures, in whom the vital spark, to mere vulgar
thinking, would seem extinct, and lost for ever. He
omitteth no occasion of obtruding his services, from
a case of common surfeit-suffocation to the ignobler



Online LibraryCharles LambCharles Lamb's essays → online text (page 24 of 32)