Theodore Edward Hook.

The life and remains of Theodore Edward Hook online

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two of his daughters, Miss Atkins and Miss Sarah Jane,
left his seat, Halstead Place, in Kent, on Monday, the
24th of July, and set out from London for Oxford in the
cool of the following morning. On the same day, Mr.
Alderman and Mrs. Lucas, with their daughters, Miss
Charlotte and Miss Catherine, left their house at Lea, in
Kent, and went by land as far as Boulter's Lock, near
Maidenhead, where they embarked on board the Naviga-
tion shallop, and proceeded by water to Beading ; thus
selecting some of the finest views on the river."

Lord Wenables himself was, however, not so rash ; for
having satisfied himself of the actual existence of Oxford
by receiving a letter from one of the natives, he resolved
to proceed thither by land. See we, then, from his
reverend chaplain's history the mode of his lordship's
setting forth :

" On the morning of the 25th, the Lord Mayor, ac-
companied by the Lady Mayoress, and attended by the
Chaplain, left the Mansion House soon after eight

" The private state-carriage, drawn by four beautiful
bays, had driven to the door at half-past seven. The
coachman's countenance was reserved and thoughtful,
indicating full consciousness of the test by which his
equestrian skill would this day be tried, in having the
undivided charge of four high-spirited and stately horses
a circumstance somewhat unusual; for, in the Lord
Mayor's carriage, a postilion usually guides the first pair
of horses. These fine animals were in admirable con-
dition for the journey. Having been allowed a previous
day of unbroken rest, they were quite impatient of delay,


and chafed and champed exceedingly on the bits by which
their impetuosity was restrained.

" The murmur of expectation, which had lasted for
more than half an hour, amongst a crowd who had
gathered around the carriage, was at length hushed by
the opening of the hall-door. The Lord Mayor had been
filling up this interval with instructions to ihefemme de
menage, and other household officers, who were to be left
in residence, to attend with their wonted fidelity and
diligence, to their respective departments of service
during his absence, and now appeared at the door. His
lordship was accompanied by the Lady Mayoress and
/ollowed by the Chaplain.

" As soon as the female attendant of the Lady Mayoress
had taken her seat, dressed with becoming neatness,
at the side of the well-looking coachman, the carriage
drove away ; not, however, with that violent and extreme
rapidity which rather astounds than gratifies the be-
holders ; but at that steady and majestic pace which is
always an indication of real greatness !

" Passing along Cheapsidc and Fleet Street those
arteries, as Dr. Johnson somewhere styles them, through
which pours the full tide of London population, and
then along the Strand and Piccadilly, the carriage took
the Henley road to Oxford.

" The weather was delightful ; the sun, as though it
had been refreshed by the copious and seasonable
showers that had fallen very recently, seemed to rise more
bright and clear than usnal, and streamed in full glory
all around. The dust of almost a whole summer had
been laid by the rain ; the roads were, of consequence, in
excellent order, and the whole face of creation gleamed
with joy ! "

In fact, creation was so delighted with the appear-
ance of Lord \Venables that " Nature wore an universal

The reverend gentleman then describes the blowing-up
of a powder-mill as they reached Hounslow, which at
iirst startled Lord "Wenables, who imagined fondly that
lie had accidentally set fire to the great river whose source
he was seeking ; but Lady Wenables concurred with the
vcverend writer in assuring his lordship that he might


make himself perfectly easy upon that particular

"At Cranford Bridge," says the reverend author,
" which is about thirteen miles from Hyde Park Corner,
the Lord Mayor stayed only long enough to change
horses. For, his lordship intending to travel post from
Cranford Bridge to Oxford, his own fine horses were,
after a proper interval of rest, to return to town under
the coachman's care.

"These noble animals, however, seemed scarcely to
need the rest which their master's kindness now allotted
them. For, though they had drawn a somewhat heavy
carriage a distance of nearly seventeen miles, they yet
appeared as full of life as ever : arching their stately
necks, and dashing in all directions the white foam from
their mouths, as if they were displeased that they were
to go no farther !

" Just as the carriage was about to drive away, Mr.
Alderman Magnay, accompanied by his lady and daugh-
ter, arrived in a post-chaise ! After an interchange of
salutations, the Lady Mayoress, observing that they
must be somewhat crowded in the chaise, invited Miss
Magnay to take the fourth seat, which had as yet been
vacant in the carriage. As the day was beginning to
*>e warm, this courteous offer of her ladyship was readily

Here we have, in one short page, a striking instance of
the "true instinct" of Lord Wenables' fine horses, ' who
were quite displeased that they were not allowed to drag
him any further' a delightful picture of a worthy alder-
man and his family three in a chay, a splendid speci-
men of Lady Wenables' sagacity and urbanity, and a
fair estimate of the value of the latter upon the mind of
the young invitee, who accepted her ladyship's offer of a
seat in the state-coach because the day was beginning to
get warm !

In safety, however, did Lord Wenables get to Oxford,
of which the reverend author says, "There is some-
thing peculiarly imposing in the entrance, particularly in
the eastern entrance, to this city." Now this, which is
ably twisted into the begisnins of a nourishing descrip-
tion of towers and colleges, evidently refers to the toll at


Bridge Gate, and which, Lord Wenables, who paid the
turnpikes himself, and kept the halfpence in the coach-
pockets, declared to be one of the greatest impositions at
the entrance of a city that he had ever met with.

We are unable to give our readers the account of the
highly honourable reception which Lord Wenables met
with at Oxford, or the description of the dinner of which
he partook, but we must, let what may happen, extract
the whole account of the dinner given by his lordship to
the Oxfordians, a dinner which took place after a some-
what protracted lecture on comparative anatomy, which, if
it failed in the delivery of establishing a likeness between
a "bat" and a "whale," most certainly bears evidence,
in its transmission to paper, of the great similitude be-
tween a Lord Mayor's chaplain and a donkey.

It will be needless for us to make an observation upon
what follows :

f " The hour of six had scarcely arrived, when the com-
pany invited by the Lord Mayor to dine with him at the
Star began to assemble. The city-watermen, in their
new scarlet state liveries, were stationed in the entrance-
hall; and a band of music was in attendance, to play on
the arrival of the visitors."

The reverend author, by blending the band and the
watermen (who are also firemen), leaves it somewhat
doubtful to which corps the duty of playing on the arrival
of the visitors was confided. He proceeds

" In a large drawing-room, on the first floor, fronting
the street, on a sofa at the upper end, sat the Lady
Mayoress, accompanied by Mr. Charles Venables; and
surrounded by the other ladies of the party. The City
Marshal of London, Mr. Cope, dressed in full uniform,
and carrying his staff of office in his hand, took his sta-
tion at the door, and announced the names of the guests
as they severally arrived. Near the entrance of the room
also stood Mr. Beddome, in a richly-wrought black silk
gown, carrying the sword downwards. The Lord Mayor,
who was in full dress, and attended by his chaplain in
clerical robes, wore on this occasion the brilliant collar of
SS. (Quere, ASS.) The Worshipful the Mayor, and
the other magistrates of Oxford : Eichard Cox, Esq.,
Thomas Fox Bricknell, Esq., aldermen ; William Folker,


Esq., Thomas Eobinson, Esq., Eichard Ferdinand Cox,
Esq., assistants; Mr. Deodatus Eaton, and Mr. Crews
Dudley, bailiffs ; together with Mr. Percival "Walsh, the
city solicitor, attended by the town-clerk, in his robe of
office, which resembled in some degree the undress black
silk 'gown worn by gentlemen commoners of the Uni-
versity were all severally introduced, and received by
the Lord Mayor with a warmth and cordiality adequate
to that which they had so kindly manifested on the pre-
ceding day.

" The Vice-Chancellor of Oxford, the Eev. Dr. Eichard
Jenkyns, Master of Baliol, preceded, as usual, by one of
the Yeomen Bedels, carrying a large mace, and the Eev.
Dr. Thomas Edward Bridges, President of Corpus Christi
College, the Eev. Dr. George William Hall, Master of
Pembroke ; the Eev. Dr. Philip Nicholas Shuttleworth,
Warden of New College; the Eev. Dr. John Dean,
Principal of St. Mary's Hall, and Lord Almoner's Pnc-
lector in Arabic ; together with the two Proctors, the
Eev. George Gumming Eashleigh, M.A., and the Eev.
Wadham Harbin, M.A. ; the Eev. Mr. Woodgate, to
whom allusion has before been made, and other members
of the University, all of whom were dressed in full acade-
micals, were severally introduced to the Lady Mayoress.
To this distinguished list of visitors must be added the
names of John Fane, Esq., one of the Members of Par-
liament for the county of Oxford; and Jas. Haughton
Langston, Esq., and John Ingram Lockhart, Esq., Mem-
bers for the city of Oxford.

" When dinner was announced, the party, amounting
to nearly sixty persons, each gentleman taking charge of
a fair partner, descended to a long room on the ground

" Every attention had been given by the proprietor of
the Star, to render the dinner as excellent as the occasion
required, and to fit up the dining-room with as much
taste as its extent would admit of ; and no means had
been left untried to keep the apartment as cool as possible.
Wreaths of flowers were hung thickly round it, and the
windows, which opened on a garden, were overspread
with branches of trees, to exclude, as much as possible,
the warm beams of a western summer sun. The band of



musicians now removed their station from the entrancr-
hall to the garden under the windows, where they played
at proper intervals, with excellent effect, the whole eve-
ning. The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress took their
seats at the head of the table : the Vice-Chancellor of
the University sitting on the right hand of his lordship,
and the Chief Magistrate of Oxford on the left of her
ladyship. The heads of the houses then took their seats,
according to the priority of their admission to the degree
of doctor, alternating with the ladies and daughters of
Aldermen Atkins, Magnay, Heygate, and Lucas. The
aldermen of London and of Oxford then filled the remain-
der of the table.

" Amidst much elegance and beauty, the Lady Mayoress
attracted particular observation. Her ladyship was ar-
rayed in the most splendid manner, wore a towering
plume of ostrich feathers, and blazed with jewels !

"When the chaplain, by craving a blessing on the
feast, had set the guests at liberty to address themselves
to the dainties before them and the room was illumi-
nated throughout by a profusion of delicate wax-candles,
which cast a light as of broad day over the apartment
it would not have been easy for any eye, however accus-
tomed to look on splendour, not to have been delighted in
no common manner with the elegance of the classic and
civic scene now exhibited in the dining-parlour of the
first inn in Oxford.

" The accompaniments, indeed, fell short of that splen-
tlour which they would have had in the Egyptian Hall of
the Mansion House in London, but still the general
effect was peculiarly striking; and when the rank of
'the company is considered, may with truth be called

" The conversation naturally assumed that tone best
qualified for the discovery of those talents and learning,
of which the evening had drawn together so select and
.bright a constellation.

" After dinner, as soon as the health of the King, the
"welfare of the Church, the prosperity of the University
and City, and other toasts of loyalty, literature, and reli-
gion, had been honoured, the Lord Mayor proposed the
health of the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford. This was followed


by toasts to the health of the other heads of Houses, the
professors, and proctors ; the Worshipful the Mayor and
other magistrates of Oxford; and the Eight Hon. the
Lord Mayor of London ; each toast giving rise to such
acknowledgments as the individuals to whom they re-
ferred considered appropriate and adequate. The health
of the Lady Mayoress, and the other ladies of the com-
pany, was proposed by one of the heads of the Houses ;
the toast was hailed with warm demonstrations of respect,
and the honour was acknowledged with considerable
point and taste by Mr. Lockhart, the Member, at her
ladyship's request.

" The ladies, who, to the great gratification of the
company, had sat longer than is usual at most tables, at
length obeyed the signal of the Lady Mayoress, and
retired to the drawing-room

' With grace,
Which won who saw to wish their stay.'

The conversation was, however, in no degree changed in
their absence. The Lady Mayoress and lier fair friends
had taken their share in it with much good sense and
delicacy; and their departure, so far from being suc-
ceeded by that obstreperous and vulgar merriment, or
anything like that gross profligacy of conversation which
indicates rejoicing at being emancipated from the re-
straint of iemale presence, only gave occasion to the
magistrates of Oxford to express their wish, that in the
invitations to their corporation dinners arrangements
could be made that would include the ladies."

After such a dinner, and such an evening, it may
easily be imagined that Lord Wenables and his court
slept like tops not but that his lordship had " requested
his friends not to devote too many hours to repose."
In obedience to a wish which, when Jbreathed by a Lord
Mayor, becomes a command, everybody was up and busy
4 * while the morning was early :" the yeoman of his lord-
ship's household, half covered with an awning, was
occupied with the cook, who was busied on this lovely
day in making a fire to boil the tea-kettle, in a grate
in the bow of the boat.

"About seven o'clock," says the reverend historian,



"signals of the approach of his lordship's party were
descried and heard. The populace, thickly stationed on
the road through which the carriages were to pass,
caught up the acclamation, and announced to all who
thronged the margin of the river, that the Lord Mayor
was coming! His lordship and the Lady Mayoress
alighted from the carriage at the bridge, and walked
through the respectful crowd, which divided to give
them passage ; and were at once conveyed to the state-
barge, in the water-bailiffs boat."

The shouts of delight which rent the air were music
to the ears of greatness, it was quite a genial morning,
and one of those days " when we seem to draw in delight
with the very air we breathe, and to feel happy we can
scarcely tell why." So writes the reverend author, with
more taste than judgment ; for a man, placed as he was,
in the society of Lord Wenables and his court, not to
know why he felt happy, shows, we fear, a want of per-
ception equally lamentable with the want of tact dis-
play ed in confessing it.

The reverend author laments that the eagerness of
the party to do honour to the delicacies of the Lord
Mayor's breakfast-table prevented their seeing the
beauties of Nuneham.

At ten o'clock they made Abingdon, and, at Clifden,
the water shoaled suddenly from eighteen inches to
fourteen and a half, so that his lordship's yacht, which
drew nearly two feet, could be drawn no further, and
they remained hard and fast till a fresh supply of the
element could be procured. The following passage is
in the author's happiest style :

" The crowds ot people men, women, and children
who had accompanied the barge from Oxford, were con-
tinually succeeded by fresh reinforcements from every
town and village that is skirted by the river. Distant
shouts of acclamation perpetually re-echoed from field to
field, as the various rustic parties, with their fresh and
blooming faces, were seen hurrying forth from their
cottages and gardens, climbing trees, struggling through
copses, and traversing thickets, to make their shortest
way to the water side. Handfuls of halfpence were
scattered to the children as they kept pace in running


along the banks with the city-barge ; and Mr. Alderman
Atkins, who assisted the Lord Mayor in the distribution,
seemed to enter with more than common pleasure into
the enjoyment of the little children. It was gratifying
to see the absence of selfish feeling manifested by some
of the elder boys, who, forgetful of themselves, collected
for the younger girls."

It will be remembered that the voyage now under
detail was undertaken in the dreadful year of Panic;
but, we confess, we had no idea of the desperate state
of affairs in the country which could induce so severe
a run on the banks for a few halfpence, such as is here
described. It may not be uninteresting to trace the
source of the Lord Wenables' munificence : the half-
pence in question were those which we mentioned his
lordship to have taken in change at the turnpike-gates
during his lordship's overland journey to Oxford, and
were now distributed with that liberality and grace for
which his lordship and Mr. Alderman Atkins will never
cease to be remembered. The reverend writer, indeed,

" There is, unquestionably, something genuine and
affectionate in the cheerfulness of the common people
when it springs from the bounty and familiarity of those
above them : the warm glow of gratitude spreads over
their mirth ; and a kind word or look, or a little plea-
santry frankly said or done and which calls in no degree
for any sacrifice of personal dignity always gladdens
the heart of a dependent a thousand times more than
oil and wine. It is wonderful, too, how much life and
joy even one intelligent and good-humoured member of
a pleasure party will diffuse around him. The fountain
01 indwelling light, which animates his own bosom, over-
flows to others ; and everything around quickly freshens
into smiles."

It is, we fear, too evident that this passage comes
direct from the reverend writer's heart it seems clear
to the meanest capacity, that he speaks from experience
perhaps of himself when he expresses the delight
which even one intelligent person can convey to a party.
It is quite clear, that in the party now assembled, there
either was no intelligent person, or only one at least, the


observation of the author leaves little room to doubt the
disagreeable fact.

At page 80, the following account of the natives of
Caversham and the neighbouring districts is given, which
is at once romantic and picturesque :

" Among the equestrians, two are deserving that their
looks and equipments should be alluded to in more than
general terms. The animals they bestrode were a couple
of broken-down ponies, gaunt and rusty, who had pos-
sibly once seen better days. The men themselves were not
unsuitable figures for such a pair of steeds. They rode
with short stirrups, that brought their knees almost under
cover of the shaggy mane that overspread the ewe-necks
of the poor creatures; and carried their short, thick
sticks perpendicular in their hands. Such was tho
appearance of these country wights as they shambled
along the road that gave them so good a view of the
city state-barge. And so mightily pleased was the Lord
Mayor with their uncouth and ludicrous appearance, that
he hailed one of them, and asked him to be the bearer of
n message to Heading, touching his lordship's carriage.
The fellow seemed to feel as he never felt before ! An
honour was about to be conferred upon him alone to be
the avant-courier of the Lord Mayor of London ! above
and beyond all other riders, drivers, and walkers, of
whatever quality and degree, who had thronged to the
view of the civic party. And no sooner had his lordship
flung him a piece of money, and told him to ' make haste
to the Bear Inn, Beading, and order the Lord Mayor's
carriage to meet the barge at Caversham Bridge,' than
the fellow instantly belaboured the starvling ribs of the
poor animal that carried him with kicks and cudgel ; who
in a moment dashed briskly forward, snuffling and snort-
ing, across the fields. In the eagerness of his flight, the
doughty messenger had much ado to maintain his seat ;
he sometimes slipped on one side of the saddle, and
sometimes on the other ; while the skirts of his unbut-
toned coat fluttered far out behind him. He executed
his commission, however, with fidelity equalled only by
the dispatch which he had used; for when the barge
arrived at Caversham Bridge, the carriage was waiting
the Lord Mayor's arrival. Other carriages were also in<


attendance. It was now nearly nine o'clock ; and as the
evening shadows were beginning to shroud the sur-
rounding scenery, the Lady Mayoress, and the other
ladies of the party, except the Misses Atkins, fearful of
too long exposure to the night air, landed at the bridge,
amidst the firing of guns and other demonstrations of
respectful salutation; and proceeded in their carriages
to Reading."

That a Lord Mayor should devote much time to
reading, Mr- Rogers would declare highly improbable;
but his lordship and party partook of a sumptuous
supper, and went to bed. That we cannot devote much
more space to Lord Wenables is equally mortifying
suffice it to say, that on the following day, after a hearty
breakfast, an eleven o'clock snack, and a one o'clock lun-
cheon, Lord Wenables and his court partook of a cold
collation at Clifden, at which were present Mrs. Fromow
and her son, Broom Witts, Esq., the Mayors of Maiden-
head, Windsor, and Reading, the brothers and sisters of
Lord Wenables, and sixty or seventy other persons.

" The gardens and grounds were thronged with spec-
tators, either strolling about or seated on the grass ; and
on the opposite banks several tents were erected for
general convenience ; around which the children shouted
and threw up their hats ! "

What particular occurrences excited the mirth and
activity ot the children, round this particular spot, the
reverend gentleman omits to mention; the following,
however, must not be overlooked :

"The increasing pressure of the surrounding people
now rendered the adoption of some plan necessary by
which their curiosity could be better gratified. Arrange-
ments were accordingly made to admit the female part of
the spectators in small successive parties, to walk round
the tables as the company were seated at dinner ; and it
was curious to see how many eager eyes were strained,
and fingers pointed, ts distinguish the individuals of the
party. But it was something more than a mere idle
feeling of curiosity that prompted this anxiety in the
honest peasantry to see the Lord Mayor of London ! "

It seems in fact, that Lord Wenables was born in those
parts, so that his anxiety about the source of the Thames


was in fact instinctive and intuitive, and as natural as it
was laudable.

The next thirty or forty pages of the work consist of a
character of his late Majesty, an account of Mr.Wenables'
paper-mill, and a description of the Royal Castle at
Windsor, copied, we presume, from the Guide to that
building, which has been long since published for the
benefit of Lions, at the small charge of sixpence.

The details of breaking a bottle over the stone at
Staines, we cannot give, although the anxiety of Lord
Wenables to discover the London water-mark appears to
have been professionally natural. At Richmond the
barge remained, like the great lord's stock in trade, sta-
tionery and his lordship's fine foaming horses having
been delighted once more with the sight of his lordship,
dashed from Richmond to the Mansion House with a
celerity which, although somewhat inconsistent with
"true dignity," brought the illustrious personage, his
wife, his chaplain, and sword-bearer, to the end of the
Poultry in " no time ;" having safely achieved an adven-

Online LibraryTheodore Edward HookThe life and remains of Theodore Edward Hook → online text (page 32 of 42)