Laura Hain Friswell.

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Impressions of Literary People
and Others ^ ^ ^









IN writing this book, I have tried to picture certain
scenes in the life of a young girl, the only daughter
of two most unworldly idealists who tried to live
the Gentle Life, or in other words, the Simple Life.
The girl was, from her earliest years, thrown amongst
an exceptional set of people, most of whom were
then, or have since become, celebrated. I have done
my best to draw pictures of these people, and to
describe their relations to the girl, their kindness to
her, and the impressions they made upon her. I have
also essayed to depict the beginnings of certain move-
ments that were to reform Society and what are
called the " Lower Classes," but which, like so many
such schemes, have fallen into disuse or abuse.

I will only add that I earnestly hope that the pre-
diction of the late Mr. H. D. Traill will come true, and
that In the Sixties and Seventies will please the public.


Wimbledon, 1905.




James Haiti Friswell, Essayist, Critic, and Novelist ; Author of
The Gentle Life— The " Institooshun "—Mr. Friswell's
Courage — " Little Toddlekins " and her Father


Toddlekins and George Cruikshank — Cruikshank's Great Picture,
T/ie Worship of Bacchus — Cruikshank and Temperance —
The Chevalier and Madame de Chatelain— Andrew Halliday
and Toddlekins— The Broughs


Supper-rooms— Ross the Singer—" Evans's "—A Pathetic Story
— My Visit to " Evans's " — We see the Prince of Wales —
Paddy Green 3^


Under a Cloud— The Burtons— To School at Watford— Yellow-
backed Novels — The Specimen Pupil— Mr. and Mrs. Gerald
Massey — Thomas Cooper, Chartist 43


Mr. Edward Draper, a Literary Solicitor — Some Memorable Days
— I leave School — Dr. Benjamin Ward Richardson — An
Awkward Position — Mr. Edward Clarke — Dr. Pankhurst — A
Successful Case — A Large Children's Party . . . .61

vlii Contents



The Bayard Series — Anecdotes of Mr. Swinburne — Swinburne
comes to Tea — The Ralston Russian Stories — Mr. Swinburne
again 73


" The Angel Epps " — A Glimpse of Mrs. Langtry — Mr. Du
Maurier enjoys a Hearty Laugh — Mrs. Du Maurier and her
Husband's Sketches — The Last Time I saw Mr. Du Maurier 84


A Queen Anne House — An Indian Prince — A Vision of the Past

— A Large " At Home " 92


" The Duchess " — A Serious Accident — Professor Morley —
" A Story from Boccaccio " — Prince Jon Ghica — A Letter
from Kingsley — Alton Locke and Thomas Cooper — I meet
Charles Kingsley 104


The Play — The Prince of Wales's Theatre— Marie Wilton — Mr.
Montague — J. S. Rice, and " Proposals from the Fair Sex " —
Behind the Scenes — Creswick — True to the Core — Creswick
as "Hamlet" — Irving as "Hamlet" — Henry Marston —
Phelps — Marston in Danger of his Life — Miss Marriott . . Il8


Mr. J. L. Toole — His Practical Jokes — Irving in Dearer than.
Life — Mr. W. S. Gilbert — "The House where the Plague
broke out" 133


The Death of Nellie Moore — Irving, and Mendelssohn's Songs
without Words — Misgivings about The Bells — The First
Night of The Bells 143

Contents ix



The Rev. J. M. Bellew — Reflections on the Church — Bellew and
the Furniture — Bellew as a Public Reader — A Reading of
Romeo and Juliet — Bellew leaves the Church . . -152


Introduced to Charles Dickens — "Like Little Nell" — The Fare-
well Dinner to Dickens — Anthony TroUope — Lord Lytton —
A Curious Scene — Introduced to Tennyson .... 164


James Hain Friswell's Philanthropy — The Censor Dinners —

Slumming in those Days — A Sad Story — " Have we beat ? ". 176


Mr. and Mrs. Justin McCarthy — William Barry — Miss Heraud —
Henrie Drayton — The Gingerbread Maiden — Letters from
Hans Christian Andersen . . . . . . .192


An "At Home" at the McCarthys' — William Black — Mr. Rice
on " Women's Heroes " — William Black's Kindness — Richard
Whiteing 204


Sir Thomas and Lady Duffus Hardy — Iza Duffus Hardy — Youth-
ful Sculptors — Blowing Bubbles — Out on the Roof — General
Lowe . . . . . 217


Nick-names — "Marie Antoinette" — "A Modern Antique" — A
Dance at Lady Hardy's — Curious Partners — Lord Romilly's
Son — Louis Blanc — I dance with Louis Blanc — Louis Blanc
and " Marie Antoinette " — General Lowe .... 225




Madox Brown— The Pre-Raphaelite Young Ladies—" A Great
Distinction " — The Pre-Raphaelite Young Ladies on WiUiam
Morris — Sir Benjamin Richardson on Truth .... 239


Mr. Joseph Ellis — Snowed up on the Line — An Old English
Home—" Orion " Home — Mr. Dallas — Miss Isabella Dallas
Glyn — Miss Glyn on Marriage — An Evening Party and an
Amusing Incident — A New Version of Petrarch and Laura . 249


At Frampton Court — The Hon. Mrs. Norton and her Sons — Two
Amusing Mistakes — Bexley Heath — The Village Autocrats —
Their Opinion of the Author of The Earthly Paradise . . 262


My Father's Illness — Rice's Idea of Wit — A Rush for the Doctor
— I give Mr. Rice a Fright by Way of Revenge— Alone at
Bayard Cottage 27 1


J. S. Rice as an Editor — The Offices of Once a Week — A Recipe
for Falling Hair — The Mortimers — A Wonderful Review —
Mr. Rice's Delight thereat — Rice on Literary Women . . 278


Sir Walter Besant — The Incorporated Society of Authors — I join
the Authors' Society — An Interview with Besant — He dis-
courses on his Favourite Topic — The Gentle Life, and its
Publishers — A Letter from Lady Lytton .... 288

Contents xi



A Dinner at the Authors' Society— I first see Sir H. M. Stanley
— How I wished he had not found Livingstone — My Last
Interview with Sir Walter Besant — His Advice on Novel-
writing 300


We go to Live at Bexley Heath — Reminiscences of Artemus
Ward — Joseph Hatton — Arthur Sketchley — Sarah Bern-
hardt's Exhibition in Piccadilly — A Fashionable Wedding —
Gladstone and Sir William Harcourt 308


Old Letters — Lady Lytton's Correspondence with my Father —
Some Anecdotes of Benjamin Disraeli — Disraeli's Devotion
to his Wife— Lady Beaconsfield — Mr. H. D. Traill on Remi-
niscences — The End 319

In the Sixties and Seventies



" " I "HERE was once a time," says Thackeray in
X The NewcomeSy " when the sun used to shine
more brightly than it appears to do in this latter half
of the nineteenth century ; when the zest of life was
keener, when the perusal of novels was productive of
immense delight, and the monthly advent of magazine
day was hailed as an exciting holiday ; when to know
Thompson, who had written a magazine article, was
an honour and a privilege."

We do not feel like this now ; there are too many
novels, too many magazines (all alike too), and too
many Thompsons writing ; the *' privilege," it seems,
would now be to know the person who does not write.
But Thackeray was speaking of the days of his youth,
and yet it seems to me this passage would equally
apply to the time when he was writing it. I do not


2 In the Sixties and Seventies

quite know the year The Newcomes first appeared, but
if it was published as he wrote it, which is most likely,
it must have been in 1853 or 1854, for the last words
were written in Paris in June, 1855.

At this time there lived in Pentonville, then a some-
what rural neighbourhood, a young couple who were
enthusiastic admirers of Thackeray. The day that the
instalments of his novels came out was " hailed as an
exciting holiday " ; and though the stories often ran
twenty-three months, it was not a day too long for
these enthusiastic young people. Should we keep up
our interest in a story now for nearly two years .'' and
could any one feel excited over magazine day } — but
there is no magazine day, because there are more
magazines than days in the longest month.

This young couple, who were known to their
friends as " the model couple," had soaring ambitions,
and a great idea of their duty to their fellow creatures.
The young man, whose name was James Hain
Friswell, and who afterwards became well known in
literary circles, and to the world, as an essayist and
novelist, being anxious for the advancement and
education of the masses, taught in a ragged school two
or three times a week, helping his schoolfellow, the
Rev. Warwick Wroth. Mr W^roth was a remarkable
man, an aesthetic of the old school, and the first
clergyman of the Established Church to don vestments.
Hard work and fasting undermined his health, and he
died at an early age.

James Hain Friswell 3

Mr. Friswell not only helped in the ragged school,
but he joined an institution in Gray's Inn Road, where
he laboured to drum into the heads of working-men
mathematics and the rudiments of Latin and Greek.
The institution was started by Mr. Passmore Edwards,
whom every one now knows for his philanthropic
schemes ; he was even then laying the foundation
for those greater works, and the young author threw
himself with enthusiasm into his scheme for helping
the poor. He was an idealist ; he felt he was im-
proving mankind, and making the world, in his little
way, better than he found it. This thought was
his reward ; and as he looked at the whitewashed walls
of the " institooshun," as his pupils called it, he felt
he was not living quite uselessly.

Those were the days when there was so much stir
amongst the people; 1848 was over, but the Charter
and the Five Points were still debated. The masses
were seething, struggling for more education, more
freedom. In France Lacordaire preached the Gospel,
and with it the benefit of the poor. The Abbe
Lamennais had made a social tract of some of the
words of the Saviour, and called it, I believe, '* The
Gospel of Freedom," and on the walls of the
" institooshun " hung two remarkable portraits ; one
was Eugene Sue, then well known for his socialist
novels, the other was Charles Kingsley, M.A., author
of Alton Locke.

Eugene Sue was a man of some forty-five years.

4 In the Sixties and Seventies

and unmistakably a Frenchman, although utterly
different from the old Frenchman of the haute noblesse^
and equally so from the modern production. Charles
Kingsley was as thoroughly English as Eugene Sue
was French. A high, noble forehead, large, earnest,
deep-set eyes (which the lithograph had hollowed as
if with thought and work), a firm, close-shut mouth
and powerful jaw ; here was a poet as well as a parson,
a fighter as well as a writer, a leader as well as a
priest ; earnest, glowing, true-hearted eyes shone
out from beneath the forehead, and seemed to speak
openly to whomsoever listened : " Come, let us work
together for the good of mankind."

At the time the portraits hung there the institution
did not pay. The typical working-man, who wanted
to learn Latin and mathematics, soon rose to be more
than a working-man, and the loafer always remained
a loafer, and always will. The young author, who
gave his hard-earned leisure to teach them, soon found
this out, and was obliged to acknowledge that the
typical working-man, like all good and great men,
is somewhat of a rare bird, and also that the young
men of the day would rather play croquet with the
girl of the period, or even dress in " drag," play at
an amateur theatre, burn statues in a college quadrangle,
or listen to the Christy Minstrels, than teach the
typical working-man.

The neighbourhood round Clerkenwell and Bagnigge
Wells Road was not very charming even in those days.

The Effect of Persuasion 5

though it was more rural than now. Mr. Hain
Friswell, in his philanthropic labours, used to frequent
some very low courts and alleys, and his courage and
coolness often stood him in good stead. One evening
as he was going down Saffron Hill, a very low neigh-
bourhood, a policeman called upon him to assist him
in the capture of a man who was " wanted," and who
had hidden himself in a house down a court, where
the inhabitants were in a state of revolt against the
law entering in person. The young author followed
the policeman into the court. They were hooted and
yelled at and pelted with cabbage stumps and brickbats.
Hot water was thrown over them from the houses,
but they stood their ground, and the young author
addressed the people, and so worked upon their feelings
that they not only left off insulting them, but the
man came down and gave himself up.

There are parts of London now so squalid that
it seems a wonder that they were ever any different,
and yet not so many years ago they were inhabited
by well-to-do merchants and gentry, who kept their
carriages ; this is the case in the neighbourhood of
Holborn and Lincoln's Inn Fields. In Lincoln's Inn
and some of the adjacent streets there are still fine
old houses, dating back to the time of Charles II.,
and in one of these my maternal grandfather lived
and carried on his business as an engraver. I can
just remember the lofty rooms, high carved oak
mantelshelves and deep window seats ; the staircase

6 In the Sixties and Seventies

was very fine and wide, and all the rooms were panelled,
no doubt in oak, but they had been painted various
colours. The drawing-room was on the first floor,
and a very large room, painted pale green ; leading
out of that was my mother's and aunt's studio, its
window covered up till there was only a top light ;
the fireplace was across one of the corners of the
room, and near it stood a large carved oak chair.
I fancy 1 can see sitting in that chair a very tiny child,
with a pale face and a quantity of pale yellow hair ;
she is named Laura, after Laura Bell, in Pendennis,
one of Thackeray's most charming heroines ; I scarcely
think the novelist would have felt complimented, but,
as I have said, the child's near relations were enthusiastic
young people, and great readers and admirers of
Thackeray and Dickens. The child is sucking her
thumb and watching with great gravity her aunt
paint some gleaming fish which are lying upon some
rushes ; presently she falls asleep ; a bell rings, and
she wakes with a start, to find herself alone in the
room — that dreadful person the lay figure staring at
her, and the plaster casts of heads, hands, and feet
dancing in the firelight ; the Fiamingo Boys, which
are hung from the ceiling, really seem to be alive,
and the one she has for a dolly, wrapped up in an
old piece of silk, lying in a chair at her side, positively
stares at her, for her aunt has painted its face till it
is most lifelike. She lifts up her voice and weeps,
then the door flies open, and her father, the young

Toddlekins and her Father 7

author and engraver, hurries in. She cannot remember
what he is like, but she knows he has the brightest,
merriest blue eyes and fair hair. " All alone ! — poor
little Toddlekins," he says, and he catches her up,
Fiamingo Boy and all, and bears her off downstairs.

It is difficult to realise at this space of time that I
and that child are the same ; but it is always so. We
look back to our childhood, or youth, and the child or
young girl seems to be some one else, some one we have
seen and known ; and so I can remember Toddlekins.
I know she sat at tea on a very prickly horse-hair
chair ; I know she moved restlessly, and that the heavy
doll, in spite of her frantic clutches at it, rolled down
upon the floor, and off came its head. She wept long
and loudly and was quite inconsolable, while her grand-
father and grandmother scolded her aunt for having
given her such a plaything as an expensive plaster cast.

It is dim remembrances, such as these, which seem
like dreams, that made me, many years afterwards,
when I read The Old Curiosity Shop, associate it with
my grandfather's house. It was a beautiful old house,
not a bit like the real Curiosity Shop, as I know now ;
but then I had not seen the little, dirty, shabby old
house which is said to be the original of Dickens's
story. My grandfather was a collector of pictures,
china, silver, and everything that was valuable, and the
old and curious things that filled the house must have
influenced me, for to this day I always think of it as
" The Old Curiosity Shop."

8 In the Sixties and Seventies

But I see another picture of little Toddlekins in her
own home, that small house in Pentonville. It is tea-
time, and the fire and lamp-light shining on crimson
walls and table-cover make a pleasant picture. There
were no five o'clock tea-cloths in those days, and the
wooden or Japanese tea-tray had not become fashion-
able, so the tray was of enamelled iron — it is chocolate
and gold, and has a very flat and elaborate edge. The
pattern consists of scrolls and leaves in gold — there
is no crude landscape to set your teeth on edge, as
I have seen on some trays of that period. A young
and pretty woman, with her hair done in curls something
like Thackeray's Amelia, sits in front of the tray, and
close to her is her husband, who has said good-bye to
his books for an hour or so, and is listening to his little
son, whom he calls " the Philosopher Dick " ; to quote
my father : " Dick has made a wonderful machine out
of three pieces of firewood, an old pill-box, a wheel
from the bottom of a wooden horse, a cotton reel,
and some twine. Dick is always making machines of
a most useless and absurd character, but he is pleased
and busy ; he proposes to fill the pill-box with water,
for some impossible project, which will end in soaking
his pinafore ; happy Dick ! there are some machinists
in the world whose projectures are quite as absurd."

And here is a description of Toddlekins : " I turn
from Dick to Toddlekins, who has been, with a face
as grave as that of the Lady Mayoress at a ministerial
feast, receiving company for the last half-hour. She is

An Author^s Household 9

bright-eyed, with a fair face, and such a white and red
skin as no lady in the land, not even Phyllis at eighteen,
can boast ; like Fielding's Amelia she has the prettiest
nose in the world, but, unlike that heroine, she has
not yet broken it. She is receiving company ; the
latter consists of a very wooden Dutch doll, a wax-
faced ditto, Mr. Noah of the Ark, an elephant who
has left his trunk behind him, a papier mache donkey,
who in his youth used to wag what he has lost — his
head — and a miserable kitten which has not spirit to
run away. The company sit round Toddlekins and
her tea-tray, and she now pours out a curious mixture
of weak tea, milk, and dirt. The Dutch doll, an ugly
brute with a face as flat as that of a clock, without
a nose, and with no hair on its head, is the favourite.
Why is it so } — I do not know. I hate it myself.
It nearly threw me downstairs once. It's not half
so handsome as the wax doll, nor on the whole so
lively as Noah, nor so curious as the elephant ; yet
she loves it, she bows down to it and worships it,
and sets it in the place of honour, gives it the best
things — it has the cofi^ee-pot with the wooden spout
to drink tea from — and favours it in a thousand odd
ways, the stupid wooden thing ! Why does she do
so 1 But, ah me ! why do I and you, reader, bow
down to our Dutch dolls } We have some very
wooden ones in the great world, and give them more
valuable things than toy coffee-pots to play with.
" What does little Toddlekins do after } A wiser

lo In the Sixties and Seventies

head than mine hath observed the ways of such people,
and tells us of a certain ' four years darling of a
pigmy size,' like Toddlekins, who goes through the
old, old games of life :

" A wedding, or a festival,
A mourning, or a funeral ;

And this hath now his heart,
And unto this he frames his speech :

Then will he fit his tongue
To dialogues of business, love, or strife,

But it will not be long

Ere this be thrown aside,

And with new joy and pride
The little actor cons another part.



THE quotation in the last chapter is from Other
People s Windows, a very well known book
of my father's, published by Messrs. Sampson Low
& Co. in 1868. I have abstracted this little piece of
the sketch, as it gives a very lifelike, and, I think,
pretty picture of the young author's home.

Again the scene shifts. It is summer-time, and
I see little Toddlekins running to meet and throw
her arms round an old gentleman, who picks her up
and carries her into the house, while she hugs him and
rubs her face against his. When they reach the
drawing-room he sets her down, and she, rifling his
pockets, pulls out a book — no less than Cinderella^
beautifully illustrated by George Cruikshank. But
Toddlekins is a very ignorant young lady — she can't
read, and so, after placing the book upon a chair and
her thumb in her mouth, she studies the pictures
with the utmost interest and gravity.

Her father, mother, and Mr. Cruikshank talk for

12 In the Sixties and Seventies

a long time, and Toddlekins is as quiet as a mouse ;
but when there is a lull in the conversation she looks
round, and the artist smiles at her. That is enough ;
she says nothing, but, pulling her thumb out of her
mouth with a plop, she takes the book and climbs
upon his knee, where she nestles against him, and he
reads, or rather tells her, that wonderful story that
no child ever grows tired of ; at least Toddlekins
does not, for she sucks her thumb and looks alter-
nately at the pictures and the narrator with her bright,
dark blue eyes, and says, "Say it again, again";
or she corrects him if he deviates one tittle from what
he has told her on former occasions ; and George
Cruikshank smilingly complies with her imperious
demands, and interprets his beautiful illustrations and
looks as happy and as pleased as the little child he
is nursing.

Toddlekins was a privileged person, had she but
known it, for in this way she had Cinderella^
Hop-o -my-Thumb, Jack and the Beanstalk^ and many
other fairy tales told her by that prince of illustrators.
She was a glutton as far as fairy literature was con-
cerned, and she was as charmed with George
Cruikshank's illustrations as persons four times her
age were. As to him, he loved his little listener,
and would have her come and see his big picture.
So Toddlekins went one fine Sunday morning with
her father. She remembers that walk very well, and
how smart she was in her bottle-green coat — they called

George Cruikshank 13

them pelisses then — and her drawn satin bonnet with
its green rosettes. She remembers too how tightly
her father held her hand, and how she seemed to trip
up every now and then in the very paving stones,
so that she swung ofF her feet right round in front
of her father and clutched at his coat to save herself.
This was such a very uncomfortable way of proceeding
that her father told her to lift up her feet and to walk
on her toes and her heels, and the Philosopher had
to put it in practice to show her how ; and so they
at last came to George Cruikshank's house.

There Toddlekins was so amazed and rapt with
what she saw that she was dumb. For many years
that picture haunted her. She often dreamt about it,
till at last she did not know if she had really seen it,
or if it was only in a dream. But it was no dream,
for in the National Gallery can be seen " The Worship
of Bacchus," the picture that took George Cruikshank
so much time and thought, and that so impressed
Toddlekins that she stood in front of it and sucked
her thumb ; nor would she be beguiled from it by any

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