Henry Colman.

European life and manners; in familiar letters to friends (Volume 1) online

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them daily at table in the houses of the nobility. In
the market-shops, a good one brings from twenty to
thirty shillings, or from five to seven dollars and a half.
Peaches, nectarines, and apricots were also plentiful at
all such tables, and grapes likewise, though these were
not finer than at Elfin glen, indeed, how could they be ?
Pears, likewise, are now abundant in the market, and
very fine, at about two cents apiece, but they seem to
have wanted sun. Voltaire says, " The only ripe fruit
in England is a baked-apple." As to the names, I
have inquired until I despair of learning any thing more
than that "they are a very good pear, try them, sir." I
wish very much your husband could see Chatsworth and
its grounds, which I have already described to you.
There is no more happiness there than in his own litllo


domain, but the taste displayed, and the multiplied forms
of beauty presented, would, I think, oblige him to wipe
his spectacles often.

My last was dated at Wareham, from the farm-house
of one of the principal tenants of the Earl of Leicester,
Mr. Bloomfield, a most comfortable establishment indeed.
He is about seventy-five years old, a widower, and his
daughter, about twenty-two, keeps house for him. His
son and son's wife live in the family, and they did every
thing they could for my comfort. This was in Norfolk.
If you look at the map, you will find Holkham on the
seashore at the north-east of England — and this farm
reminded me of the Lynn establishment, as it was
entirely open to the German Ocean. From Wareham
I returned to Cambridge, to visit a large farmer, Mr.
Jonas Webb, a great raiser of South Down sheep, who
sold one sheep the week before for sixty-five guineas,
and had some for which he had refused two hundred
guineas. I wrote to you that when I was at Cambridge
to see the entree of the Queen, I was unfortunate enough
to miss my tickets of admission to the Chapel and the
Senate Chamber, where I should have seen her on the
throne, and heard her speech. I learnt now that I was
even still more unfortunate, for I found in the office at
Cambridge a letter from the Earl of Hardwicke, express-
ing his hope that I had received the invitation, which he
had sent me, for the ball given to the Queen at Wimpole,
his palace, where she passed two nights. Wimpole is
eight miles from Cambridge, and I unluckily missed it,
though my name was announced among the invitees.
This only made matters worse. The company at the
ball was announced to be of the " most select character,

• LKTTRR xr,r. 137

and the rules of dress extremely strict." I confess I
should like to have seen the Queen, and most certainly I
am greatly indebted to Lord Hardwicke's politeness. He
is one of the Lords in waiting on Her Majesty, and a
nobleman of the highest distinction. The royal state
beds, which I saw at Burleigh House, where I was the
other day, were said to have cost £4,000 sterling — that
is, about ^'20,000. The mattress and pillow-cases of one
of the state beds which I saw at the Duke of Buccleuch's,
were covered with white satin, and the hangings were
blue satin, figured and magnificently worked, rising in a
high tower or canopy, with the British arms and crown
worked in the centre. I suppose none of these would
keep the head or the heart from aching, if either the
stomach or the conscience were disordered. The Queen
is extremely neat and pleasing in her appearance. When
I saw her receiving the homage of the tens of thousands
that blocked up the street through which her- carriage
passed and made the air echo with their thundering
shouts, I could not help thinking of the picture of the
head of Mary, Queen of Scots, taken after her death,
which I saw hanging up at Abbotsford, and of the axe
with which Anne Boleyn was executed, which 1 saw in
the Tower of London. Alas ! what is human applause
worth !


London, 17th November, 1843.
My Dear A :

Goodwood, from which I have recently returned, is
sixty-four miles south-east from London, antl in the book


which I hav^e sent, you will have a description and history
of it more exact and full than I can give. The Duke
of Richmond, one of the highest peers in the kingdom,
who, from the time of my arrival, has treated me in the
most courteous manner, kindly invited me, some time
since, to make him a second visit and pass Christmas
holidays : but I could not. He has several times re-
peated his invitations, and sent to me particularly to
come down during the Easter vacation. I determined,
therefore, to accept this invitation, and left by coach a
week ago last Thursday. I reached Lavant, a stopping-
place about three miles from Goodwood, at five, and
found the Duke's coach waiting my arrival. On reach-
ing Goodwood, the Duke and Duchess met me in the
park and gave me a hearty welcome. They had just
returned from a long ride on horseback. It is enough
here, however, to say ride, which always means on
horseback : when in a carriage, it is always called a drive.

I shall not undertake to detail to you all the particu-
lars of this delightful visit, for, in truth, in comfort and
splendor, the living at all these houses is upon a common
type, but there may be some circumstances, perhaps of
trifling import, which may gratify your nice eye, not to
say your ever-awake curiosity in all matters of taste and
refinement. .......

The service at dinner was always silver or gold
throughout, plates and dishes, excepting for the jellies
and puddings, and those the most beautiful china. At
breakfast, every article, cups and saucers, plates, Sic,
Sic, were all of the most splendid china, and every one
differed in its pattern from another, that is, one cup and
saucer was different from another cup and saucer ; one


plate differed from another. I sliould not have observed
this had not the lady who sat next mo, asked me, one
morning, if I did not admire the painting on some of the
cups. There was an immense amovmt, not only of por-
celain, but of Sevre's china ; and to give you some idea
of the value of the latter, which is of the finest descrip-
tion, the price of a single cup and saucer, now on sale
in Oxford street, is thirty-five dollars.

On Friday, being Good Friday, I attended with the
family at the parish church, where the Duke's pew is a
little building about six feet long and four feet wide,
completely enclosed, excepting towards the pulpit, with
roof and glass windows, and standing near the centre of
the church, with the roof and sides very much orna-

After church we returned, and at half-past one is
always lunch ; the table remains until three o'clock, and
for those who choose to take it, the lunch may be con-
sidered a regular dinner, consisting of hot meats, games,
pies, bread, cheese, butter, wines, and porter, only taken
without so much formality as dinner.

After dinner the Duke and myself rode over his farms,
visited his dog-kennel, and on our return saw the race-
horses cleaned and fed. There were more than forty race-
horses, of the finest character, in his stables, and sixty
grooms and hostlers. So passed off the first day.

The second day I went with him to visit the Union,
or Work House, and see some of his farms and allot-
ments, and I was delighted to see the Duke every-
where recognized by his laborers and servants, with the
most grateful respect and attention, the sincerity of which
could not be doubted.


Tn tlie afternoon we look a long ride, exploring the
country, which is very interesting on many accounts.
On Sunday, Lord Arthur Lennox went with me in a
carriage to Chichester, to attend the Cathedral service,
about three miles, and returned to lunch. In the after-
noon the Duke showed me every room in his house, and
described many of the pictures and statues. The boudoir
of the Duchess, her little private sitting-room, to which
I was afterwards admitted, was most splendid and full of
every thing to delight you in the way of articles of curi-
osity and bijouterie.

On Monday I attended, with the Duke, the meeting
of the Guardians of the Work House, who are, most of
them, farmers, and in the afternoon he put me under the
care of one of the most intelligent of them, to show me
his stock and over several of his farms, and give me all
the information he could. The evening passed off de-
lightfully. The ladies were much engaged in working
embroidery, or rather tapestry work for ottomans, of ele-
gant samples, of which the house is full.

Tuesday the Duchess was kind enough to say she
must take me under her care, so that she might show me
her conservatory, her orangery, her pheasantry, contain-
ing, among other things, a most splendid peacock, per-
fectly white, and several gold and silver pheasants, and
then her dairy-room. After this I went on an exploring
expedition among the grounds, and at two o'clock the
several gentlemen and Lady Caroline Lennox started for
a ride ; and traversing hill and dale, exploring farms and
lands, and seeing all that was interesting in our tour, we
returned after a ride, in all, of more than twenty miles, to
dress for dinner.


Wednesday, the Duke took nie to Chichester, about
three miles, to see the Corn INIarket, and introduce me to
several farmers, and was then to take me to Petworth,
where he was to attend the Assizes, but I begged off, and
explored the city of Chichester, which is an old walled
city, and full of objects of curiosity, and then walked
to Goodwood. I was to have left to-day, but he kindly
invited me to stay until Saturday, as he had made arrange-
ments with several farmers to see me. He was obliged
to attend his court but the Duchess expressed her wish
that I would remain ; and I was happy to stay.

Thursday, Mr. Rusbridger, the Duke's steward, at ten
o'clock took me in his gig to Manhood, about twelve
miles from Goodwood, on the seashore opposite the Isle
of Wight, to show me a highly cultivated and beautiful
district of country known by that name. I found, when
I got there, two most respectable gentlemen farmers,
waiting for me, and a servant with a horse sent by the
Duke, that we might ride over several of the farms
where the carriage could not go. So we all four mount-
ed, taking a servant to open gates, and spent several
hours in exploring the country and getting all the infor-
mation I could. We lunched at Mr. Gorham's, an excel-
lent and elegant farm-house, where Mrs. Gorham and one
of the gentlemen told me they were much obliged to me
for asking for a cup of tea instead of wine, as they had
never tried it before and considered it a great discovery,
of which they should avail themselves hereafter. I
returned to Goodwood in season for dinner, having had a
most interesting day.

Friday, I spent the forenoon until twelve reading and
writing, and then went with Mr. Rusbridger to Bognor,


about twelve miles, a famous watering place by the sea-
side, to see several other of the Duke's farms. No
place can be neater than this. It is situated much as
Swampscott, in Lynn, but the difference in the appear-
ance of the two places, is all the difference between a
gentleman's parlor and a common pigsty. I returned
to dine, and took leave of the ladies in the evening,
thinking, as I was to leave by half-past nine, I might
not see them again ; but they were kind enough to be
down at breakfast, and my eyes were again delighted by
their cheerful countenances, and my heart was refreshed
by their kindness.

I never met with people where there was less of
assumption of any kind. The style of living is, indeed,
wholly different from any thing to which we are accus-
tomed ; and familiar as it has always been to them, they
would, perhaps, be amused at my account of it to you
as in any degree extraordinary. You are not allowed
to feel for a moment that you are not entirely at home,
and they do not permit you to name your wants, because
they are all anticipated. Prayers are had every morning
at ten o'clock in the chapel, when the Duke himself
officiates, or some clergyman, if there should be one

The Duke has invited me to visit him this summer at
Gordon Castle, in Scotland, where he says he will intro-
duce me to a great many gentlemen, and put me in the
way of seeing all that is interesting. At Goodwood the
estate consists of 40,000 acres, at Gordon Castle, of
300,000 ! The salmon fishery at Gordon Castle is let
annually for £7000 sterling, and, before the alteration
of the tariff, used to be let for £10,000 sterling.


Mr. Pusey has sent ine the head of the fox whicli I
hunted, and was in at the death of, carefully preserved,
and I have it in a box to send to N ,

Lord Bathurst has kindly promised to get me tickets
to see the drawing-room of the Queen next week ; if I
succeed, I will give you an account. He and several
others wish me to be presented, and has offered me his
sword and knee and shoe buckles, and bag wig, &lc.,
but for several reasons, I must decline the honor.*


London, 17th November, 1843.
My Dear S :

I AM not quite willing that the packet should go
without a letter to you, although I believe you are very
much in my debt, unless I am to consider one of yours
as equivalent to five of mine, which I assure you I am
quite willing to do, if I can make no better bargain
with you.

I have neglected in my letters to give you any account

* I have been often asked whether, in such visits as above described, fees
are given to servants. Usually a gentleman is happy to present some small
douceur to the valet, and to leave siomething on ins table for the femme de
chambre. In one case, however, in speaking of this custom, a nobleman of
high rank remarked that he should consider it an insult for any gentleman to
fee a servant in his house. Sometimes you are requested not to do it.
Others forbid their .servants to accept any thing, under pain of dismi,s.sal. At
the house of a nobleman of high rank I (bund a printed notice on my dress-
ing table to this effect, " The guests are particularly requested to give no gra-
tuities to the servants." In most cases, however, something is expected for
your valet.


of two affairs, which had so much interest for me, that
I flatter myself they may have some for you. Sunday
before the last, I went seven miles with Mr. Webb, to
attend service at Cambridge. In the morning, we
attended the usual parish church, and had a political
sermon, it being the fifth of November, the anniversary
of the Gunpowder Plot, when the Papists prepared to
blow up the Parliament. At two o'clock I went to the
University Church, where all the officers and members
of the University attend, merely to hear a short prayer
and a sermon. The prayer in this case, is what is called
the Bidding Prayer, being a supplication for all classes
and conditions of men, mentioning most of them in
particular. The Liturgy in such case is not used ; such
prayers are not much to my taste, and seem greatly
wanting in dignity and reverence. I quarrel, however,
with the religious institutions of no country. The
scholars were all in their robes ; the rectors, in their
scarlet robes and flat caps ; the noblemen sitting with
the Vice-Chancellor and Doctors, distinguished by a pro-
fusion of gold and silver lace and tassels ; and the others,
two thousand of them, in their black gowns, and flat
caps, and capes, silk and woollen, with different trimmings
and badges, according to their respective colleges and
degrees. The Vice-Chancellor went in state, with the
mace-bearer and other officers in attendance. The
preaching was almost the best that I have heard in
England. It was a highly devout, practical, and useful
sermon, and written with great elegance, delivered
in a simple, earnest, and unaffected manner. There
was no music, but it was a grand show. At four o'clock
I attended the Chapel service of King's College. The


scholars here are only seventy, and are the elite of Eton
school, being all head-scholars, whose education is lVe(>,
as a reward of merit. The room is of the most magnifi-
cent description, and the chanting exquisite ; you can
only get admission into these private chapels, by special
favor. At six o'clock, I went to the Chapel of Trinity
College, and here was a very grand display ; I had a
situation in the organ gallery, from whence I had a full
view of the whole assembly. The room is not elegant ;
it is a good deal larger than King's Chapel in Boston,
with seats running lengthwise, and rising from the centre
aisle. The room was lighted by about two hundred wax
candles, and the whole assembly below, were dressed in
white surplices, with their black square caps in their hands.
I counted more than five hundred of them ; and their
movements, and the whole service, was a most impressive
scenic exhibition. The greater part of the service was
chanted, and so harmoniously, that when, for example,
Amen was pronounced, it seemed actually to proceed
from but a single mouth ; I have never witnessed a sight
so splendid and august. But I have given a more par-
ticular account of it in another letter to a mutual friend.
No student is allowed to go without his University dress,
at any time, out of his own room ; and at prayers, they
appear in white surplices.

I will give you now an account of another day's
adventures. When at Brocklesby, Lord Worsley was
kindly solicitous that I should stay two or three days
over my time, in order to go out with the hounds, upon
a fox-hunt. I was sorry to leave, but could not afford
the time. When at Babraham, however, Mr. Webb
insisted that I should go out one day, coursing for


hares, with the Newmarket Club, which were then
holding a course, where the principal stakes among the
sporting gentlemen, were five hundred guineas for the best
dog, after a trial among fifty for a week, besides an immense
amount of private betting. He himself belongs to the
club, who pay seven hundred guineas annual rent, for their
preserve. So I was fairly mounted, and proceeded to
the field, at eleven o'clock, just as the first couple of
hounds were unleashed, and spent the day in witnessing
and participating in what I could not deny, was a most
exciting, and equally a most cruel amusement. There
were about seventy gentlemen on the field, and a num-
ber of ladies on horseback, and the game was most
abundant. My friends insisted upon it, that I should see
the whole sport, and I was several times in at the death,
being exceedingly well mounted ; and, if you will believe
it, (O tempora ! O mores !) actually leapt, full tilt, over
one hedge, and a wide ditch, where a great many of the
horsemen turned back. I got over, to my own admira-
tion, at least, and was much complimented ; but I took
very good care not to go back the same way, but went
round by the bridge. Why I did not break my neck, I
do not know, unless I am destined to have it broken in
some other way. Here ends my hare-coursing, though
I really hope to see a fox-hunt or deer-chase, when I visit
Lord Hardwicke ; but I shall go merely as a spectator.

This is the season for sporting. Grouse-shooting begins
about the twelfth of August ; partridge, about the fourth
of September ; and after that, in October, hare-coursing,
and fox and deer-hunting. From the first of August
until Parliament meet in February, the noblemen and
gentlemen are in the country, engaged in field sports,


or visiting euch other, in large parties, of sometimes ten,
twenty, thirty, and ahnost always with ladies.

In one of my rides with Mr. Webb, on the great
road to Newmarket, the place more distinguished than
almost any other for horse-racing, and possibly, some
other kinds of gambling, we passed a toll-house with an
inscription, which at first quite startled me, and which I
will quote for your amusement. " Whoever pays toll
here, will pass free at the Devil's Ditch." I make no
application of it ; but the true explanation is, that
between that place and Newmarket, there Is an exten-
sive rampart, supposed to have been erected at a very
early period of English History, perhaps at the time
of the Roman Conquest ; and a ditch, which here goes
by that very remarkable name, which I almost fear to
quote to " ears polite," called the " Devil's Ditch." I
shall not tell you whether I paid toll or not.

My lodgings, I hope, will improve, as the people seem
extremely anxious to please, and the " poor maid of all
work," has this morning, a clean cap, a clean face, and
a clean apron ; all encouraging symptoms. In general,
the English servants are proverbial for their cleanliness ;
in the best houses — private houses — they are, in dress,
ladies and gentlemen ; and distinguished, the women
especially, for good looks and good manners. There
is a surpassing elegance, although not always the best
taste, in the style of dress of ladies in the higher classes.
The dress and appearance of the middle classes, with
many exceptions, are much inferior to ours. A lady
proper, is seldom seen walking in the street, without a
gentleman or a servant. Adieu.



London, 1st December, 1843.
My Dear R :

Many thanks for your kind letter, and yet I cannot
say that I deserve all the blame which you are pleased
to bestow upon me. Indeed, you do not mean any such
thing ; and it is only a trick which some people have,
when they know themselves guilty, to begin blustering
about the sins and faults of other people, so that the
attention may be diverted from its proper object, and they
escape with impunity. I have certainly written to you
twice since I left home, and yet, excepting some post-
scripts, which were agreeable enough — for from your
fair hands " the smallest favors are gratefully received " —
this is the first regular communication with which you
have honored me. This is truly welcome, and you see
it is no sooner read than acknowledged.

You, of course know my progress ; all my " witty
sayings, all my wise saws, and all my grave sentences ; "
what I do, where I am, and where I go — for vanity
does not grow less as one grows older ; and, for want of
something better, I am prone to fill up the " million
reams of paper," which you are pleased to give me
the credit of inditing, with my own renowned adven-


I was absent from London about five months, chiefly
in the north of England and the low countries of Scot-
land. I returned, therefore, with a feeling that I was
approaching home ; and really a good many of the
streets and comers and shops had such an air of famili-
arity, that I began to think myself among old friends
again. But in London " nobody knows nobody " nor
anybody ; and you may go down the great thoroughfares
— Holborn, the Strand, Piccadilly, Regent Street, Ox-
ford Street — and no one person ever seems to know
another. There are never any salutations in the street,
unless here and there a couple of washerwomen, old
cronies, happen to meet to drink a glass of gin together ;
and you'll never see the same faces, unless it be some
stationary objects, such as an applewoman, who stands
the whole live-long day at the same corner, with her
load of apples and nuts swinging from her neck ; or some
beggar, blind or halt, or with a thousand other miseries
hanging about him as thick as leaves upon a tree, who
has his regular begging-place, and may always be found,
like a police-officer, on his accustomed beat. Some of
these poor wretches I always recognize. I know them
and they know me, especially certain fruit-women at
certain comers, who always courtesy when " your
honor" passes, and expect you to take a penny's worth
of apples and get sixpence or a shilling for it, and give
you all the change your heart can desire in " God
Almighty bless your honor," and " Long life to your
honor," and '' May your dear honor never want a bit of
bread as long as you live," and as many more of their
benedictions as you can carry away. I believe they
?Tiean it all.



There is everything in London to admire ; its popu-
lousness, its wealth, its gorgeousness, its dazzUng
splendor ; but there is the other extreme, and you can-
not walk a rod, especially at this season, without meeting
objects which fill you with anguish, and make you won-

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Online LibraryHenry ColmanEuropean life and manners; in familiar letters to friends (Volume 1) → online text (page 11 of 25)