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The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 19, No. 548, May 26, 1832 online

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It would be curious to analyze the concurrent causes, and marshal
the successive steps, by which Lancashire has advanced; - not only
succeeding in appropriating to itself a leading interest in the
creative inventions of Watt and Arkwright, but connecting its name
in honourable alliance with literature and science. The very
circumstances from which a contrary presumption would originally have
been drawn, have (singularly enough) principally contributed to its
extraordinary progress. Lancashire owes the canals, by which the
commercial thoroughfare of that end of England has been turned from
the Humber to the Mersey, to the enterprise of a _Peer_. It owes the
docks, which have about them almost a Roman presentiment of future
greatness, to the spirit of a _Corporation_. It owes the taste and
accomplishments, by which the character of its wealth has been raised
above the drudgery and fanaticism of money-getting, almost entirely to
the zeal of a few _Dissenters_. The name of Governor Clinton is not so
pre-eminently united with the canal policy of America, as is the name
of the Duke of Bridgewater with the canals of England. He staked his
last shilling on the chance of thus cutting out an inland north-west
passage to the Atlantic. The corporation of Liverpool, by an
enlightened application of their vast resources, have accelerated,
consolidated, and secured the realization, of every expectation and
contingency which fortune threw in their way. They have hastened,
not to say, anticipated, events. There can be as little doubt of the
effect which the light radiating from the assemblage of Priestley,
Wakefield, Aikin, &c. at Warrington; from the presence of Percival,
Henry, Ferriar, and Dalton, at Manchester; and from that of Roscoe
and Currie at Liverpool, spread over their circle. The literary
attainments and cultivation of the manufacturers and merchants of
Lancashire, as a body, seem otherwise likely long to have lagged
behind their general powers of understanding, and their real station
in society. - _Edinburgh Review_.

* * * * *


ENNUI OF FASHION.


It must be owned that five years form an awful lapse in human life: - a
lapse whose hours and minutes leave no where a trace more sharp and
injurious than on the minds and countenances of individuals involved
in the buzzing, stinging gnatswarms of fashionable life. Elsewhere,
existence marches with a more dignified step, and the scenes pictured
among the records of our memory assume a grander aspect; they lie in
masses, - their shadows are broader, - their lights more brilliantly
thrown out. But reminiscences of a life of ton are as vexatious as
they are frivolous. The season of 1829 differs from that of 1830,
only inasmuch as its quadrilles are varied with galoppes as well
as waltzes, and danced at Lady A.'s and Lady B.'s, - instead of the
Duchess of D.'s, and Countess E.'s. The Duchess is dead, - the Countess
ruined; - but no matter! - there are still plenty of balls to be had.
"Another and another still succeeds!" Since young ladies _will_ grow
up to be presented, lady-mothers and aunts _must_ continue to project
breakfasts, water parties, and galas, whereby to throw them in the way
of flirtation, courtship, and marriage. Mischief, in her most smiling
mask, sits like the beautiful witch in Thalaba at an everlasting
spinning-wheel, weaving a mingled yarn of sin and sorrow for the
daughters of Fashion. Although the cauldron of Hecate and her
priestesses has vanished from the heath at Forres, it bubbles in
nightly incantations among the elm-trees of Grosvenor Square; and
Hopper and Hellway, Puckle and Straddling, now croak forth their
chorus of rejoicing where golden lamps swing blazing over the écarté
tables, and the soft strains of the Mazurka enervate the atmosphere of
the gorgeous temples of May Fair. Never yet was there a woman _really_
improved in attraction by mingling with the motley throng of the _beau
monde_. She may learn to dress better, to step more gracefully; her
head may assume a more elegant turn, her conversation become more
polished, her air more distinguished; - but in point of _attraction_
she acquires nothing. Her simplicity of mind departs; - her generous,
confiding impulses of character are lost; - she is no longer inclined
to interpret favourably of men and things, - she listens without
believing, - sees without admiring; has suffered persecution without
learning mercy; - and been taught to mistrust the candour of others
by the forfeiture of her own. The freshness of her disposition
has vanished with the freshness of her complexion; hard lines are
perceptible in her very soul, and crowsfeet contract her very fancy.
No longer pure and fair as the statue of alabaster, her beauty, like
that of some painted waxen effigy, is tawdry and meretricious. It is
not alone the rouge upon the cheek and the false tresses adorning
the forehead, which repel the ardour of admiration; it is the
artificiality of mind with which such efforts are connected that
breaks the spell of beauty.

_From the Fair of May Fair._

* * * * *


BAMBOROUGH CASTLE


Is situate on the romantic coast of Northumberland, "over against"
an obscure town of the same name. It stands upon a basalt rock, of a
triangular shape, high, rugged, and abrupt on the land side; flanked
by the German Ocean, and strong natural rampires of sand, matted
together with sea rushes on the east; and only accessible to an enemy
on the south-east, which is guarded by a deep, dry ditch, and a series
of towers in the wall, on each side of the gateway. Nature has mantled
the rock with lichens of various rich tints: its beetling brow is 150
feet above the level of the sea, upon a stratum of mouldering rock,
apparently scorched with violent heat, and having beneath it a close
flinty sandstone. Its crown is girt with walls and towers, which on
the land side have been nearly all repaired. The outer gateway stands
between two fine old towers, with time-worn heads; twelve paces within
it is a second gate, which is machicolated, and has a portcullis; and,
within this, on the left hand, on a lofty point of rock, is a very
ancient round tower of great strength; commanding a pass subject to
every annoyance from the besieged. This fort is believed to be of
Saxon origin. The keep stands on the area of the rock, having an open
space around it. It is square, and of that kind of building which
prevailed from the Conquest till about the time of our second Henry.
It had no chimney; but fires had been made in the middle of a large
room, which was lighted by a window near its top, three feet square.
All the other rooms were lighted by slit or loop holes, six inches
broad. The walls are of small stones, from a quarry at Sunderland on
the sea, three miles distant: within them is a draw well, discovered
in 1770, in clearing the cellar from sand and rubbish; its depth is
145 feet, cut through solid rock, of which seventy-five feet are of
whinstone. The remains of a chapel were discovered here, under a
prodigious mass of land, in the year 1773; its architecture was pure
Saxon, and the ancient font being found, was preserved in the keep.
The chapel has been rebuilt on the old foundations.

[Illustration: _(Bamborough Castle before the general repairs.)_]

The founder of the Castle is stated by Matthew of Westminster to have
been Ida, King of Northumberland. Sir Walter Scott sings

Thy tower, proud Bamborough, mark'd they
here,
King Ida's castle, huge and square,
From its tall rock look grimly down,
And on the swelling ocean frown.[4]

[4] Marmion.

It was destroyed by the Danes in 993; but about the time of the
Conquest was in good repair. In 1095, it was in the possession of
Robert Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland, when it was besieged, and,
after much difficulty, taken by William II. The castle lost the
greatest part of its beauty in a siege after the battle of Hexham.
Camden tells us "from that time it has suffered by time and winds,
which throw up incredible quantities of sand from the sea upon its
walls, through the windows which are open." Sir John Forster was
governor of it in Elizabeth's reign; and his grandson John obtained
a grant of it and the manor from James the First. His descendant,
Thomas, forfeited it in 1715; but his maternal uncle, Nathaniel, Lord
Crewe, bishop of Durham, purchased his estates, and bequeathed them to
charitable purposes in 1720. The sunken rocks and shifting sands of
this coast had long been a terror to the mariners, but under his
lordship's will, Dr. Sharp, then archdeacon of Durham, fitted up the
keep of the Castle, for the reception of suffering seamen, and
of property which might be rescued from the fury of the ocean.
Regulations were also adopted, both to prevent accidents on the coast,
and to alleviate misfortunes when they had occurred. A nine pounder,
placed at the bottom of the great tower, gives signals to ships in
distress, and in case of a wreck, announces the same to the Custom
House officers and their servants, who hasten to prevent the wreck
being plundered. In addition to this, during a storm, horsemen patrol
the coast, and rewards are paid for the earliest intelligence of
vessels in distress. A flag is always hoisted when any ship is seen
in distress on the Fern Islands or Staples; or a rocket thrown up at
night, which gives notice to the Holy Island fishermen, who can put
off to the spot when no boat from the main can get over the breakers.
Life-boats have likewise been added to the establishment. The vast
increase of the residuary rents of the Castle estates also enables
the trustees to support within its walls two free-schools, a library,
infirmary, thirty beds for shipwrecked sailors, and a granary, whence
poor persons are supplied with provisions at the first price.[5]
Altogether, the establishment of Bamborough merits the epithet of
"princely," which it has received from the historians of the county.
Its philanthropic endowment has not been suffered to decay with the
romance of olden time, but the charitable intentions of the testator
are fulfilled, so as to maintain a lasting record of his active
benevolence. Such magnificence may be said to eclipse all the glitter
and gleam of chivalry, and make them appear but as idle dreams.

[5] See _Mirror_, vol. xiii. p 415. - One of the best features of
the establishment is the gratuitous circulation of the library for
twenty miles round; the books being lent to any householder of
good report residing within twenty miles of the castle.

A boundless view of the ocean presents itself from the towers of
Bamborough Castle, studded with small islands, having the Coquet
Island on the south, and the Holy Island on the north.

* * * * *



MANNERS & CUSTOMS OF ALL NATIONS.

* * * * *

ORIGIN OF EPSOM RACES.


In a pleasant little volume modestly entitled _Some Particulars
relating to the History of Epsom_, the following facts are collected
with much diligence. At the present season, they may be acceptable to
our readers.

"When these races first commenced, we have not been able with
certainty to trace. Few writers, who mention the district, do more
than simply state the fact, that horse races are annually held at
Epsom.

"Whether they were at first periodical or occasional, we will not
presume to determine, though the latter is, we think, the most
probable.

"Races, it is generally agreed, took their origin from, if they did
not give birth to, the Olympic games. The first information we have of
their existence in this country is in the reign of Henry II. At that
time, and for many ages afterwards, the sport must have been merely
a rude pastime, perhaps as destitute of the science of the present
system, as of the vices, which are too generally engendered by it.

"There can be no doubt, that Epsom downs (or as they are frequently,
though erroneously written in old writings, Banstead downs) early
became the spot, upon which the lovers of racing indulged their fancy.
And, perhaps, the known partiality of King James I., for this species
of diversion, will justify us in ascribing their commencement to the
period when he resided at the palace of Nonsuch.

"The following extract from Clarendon's History of the Rebellion, will
shew, that during the troubles of his unfortunate successor,
Charles I., races upon Epsom downs, were viewed as no uncommon
occurrence. - 'Soon after the meeting, which was held at Guildford,
18th May, 1648, to address the two Houses of Parliament, that the
King, their only lawful sovereign, might be restored to his due
honors, and might come to his parliament for a personal treaty, &c. - a
meeting of the royalists was held on Banstead (Epsom) downs, under the
pretence of a horse race, and six hundred horses were collected and
marched to Reigate.'

"King James had imbibed a predilection for horse races, before he
ascended the English throne; they were in high estimation in Scotland
during his minority, previously to which, the English parliament seem
to have turned their attention to the subject.

"We find, that in the time of Henry VII. and his successors, Henry
VIII. and Elizabeth, several acts of parliament were made to prevent
the exportation of horses to Scotland, and other parts.

"There is an entry in the Lord's Journal, June 15th, 1540 - 'At length,
the bill is read this day, for encouraging the breed of horses, of a
larger stature, and despatched with unanimous consent, and without a
dissenting voice.'

"The great men of Elizabeth's reign, appear to have been fully
disposed to profit by the example and injunctions of her father.
Italian masters were invited over; the art of managing horses became
an universal accomplishment, among the nobility and gentry of England;
but most of the professors, both of equitation and farriery, were
foreigners.

"Horses were not yet kept exclusively for the purpose of running
races, but gentlemen matched their hunters or hacknies, and usually
rode the race themselves.

"The most fashionable trial, however, of the speed and goodness of
their horses, was hunting red herrings, or 'the train scent,' as
it was then called, from the body of some animal, which had been
previously drawn across hedge and ditch. Here the scent was certain
and strong, and the hounds would run upon it to the end, with their
utmost speed. The matched horses followed these hounds, and to be
in with them, was generally accounted a very satisfactory proof of
goodness.

"Markham, and that celebrated riding master, Michael Baret, describe,
also, another mode of running matches across the country in those days
denominated the wild goose chase; an imitation of which has continued
in occasional use, to the present time, under the name of steeple
hunting; that is to say, two horsemen, drunk or sober, in or out of
their wits, fix upon a steeple or some other conspicuous distant
object, to which they make a straight cut over hedge, ditch, and gate.
We think our readers will do any thing but smile, at this rational
pastime for reasonable creatures.

"The wild goose chase, however, at last became more regular and better
conducted. It was prescribed, that after the horse had run twelve
score yards, he was to be followed wherever he went by the others,
within a certain distance agreed upon, as twice or thrice his length.
A horse being left behind twelve score, or any limited number of
yards, was deemed beaten, and lost the match.

"These rude and barbarous modes of horse-racing gave way, in the
reign of James I., to the more scientific, accurate, and satisfactory
trials, of the horses carrying stated weights, over measured and even
ground.

"That monarch, as has before been intimated, brought with him from
Scotland, a strong predilection for the turf, which must have
prevailed to a considerable degree in that country, for we find, that
during his reign there, and before his accession to the crown of
England, it was deemed necessary to restrain, by an express law, the
passion of the Scots for horse-racing, and laying large bets on the
events.

"The reign of James I. may be fairly stated, as the period when
horse-racing first became a general and national amusement. The races
appear to have been at that time conducted nearly in the same style,
as to essentials, as in the present day.

"They were then called bell courses, the prize being a silver bell;
the winner was said to bear or carry the bell.

"Regular prizes were now run for in various parts of England. The king
and his court, frequently attended races at Croydon and Enfield, in
the vicinity of London.

"The first match, upon record, in this country, was one against time,
which occurred in the year 1604, when John Lepton,[6] a groom, in the
service of King James I., undertook to ride five times between London
and York, from Monday morning until Saturday night, and actually
performed the task within five days.

[6] This should be John Lenton, and the year 1603, - See _Mirror_,
vol. xvii, p. 181.

"At this period, much attention was paid to the pedigrees of horses,
for the purpose of enhancing their reputation and worth. The training
discipline, in all its variety of regular food, clothing, physic,
airing, and gallops, was in full use; and the weights that race horses
had to carry were adjusted; the most usual of which were ten stone.

"We find that, soon after the accession of Charles I., an ordinance
was issued, enjoining the substitution of bits or curbs, instead of
snaffles, which had probably been of late introduction in the army.
Not long afterwards, the king granted a special licence to William
Smith and others, to import into this kingdom, horses, mares and
geldings; further enjoining them to provide coach horses of the height
of fourteen hands and above, and not less than three, nor exceeding
seven years of age.

"During the civil wars, amusements of the turf were partially
suspended, but not forgotten; for we find that Mr. Place, stud-master
to Cromwell, was proprietor of the famous horse, White Turk, (the sire
of Wormwood and Commoner) and of several capital brood mares, one of
which, a great favourite, he concealed in a vault, during the search
after Cromwell's effects, at the time of the Restoration, from which
circumstance, she took the name of the Coffin Mare, and is designated
as such in various pedigrees.

"King Charles II., soon after his restoration, re-established the
races at Newmarket, which had been instituted by James I. He divided
them into regular meetings, and substituted, both there and at other
places, silver cups or bowls, of the value of one hundred pounds,
for the royal gift of the ancient bells, which were in consequence
generally dropped, both in name and effect.

"William III., though not fond of the turf, paid much attention to the
breed of horses for martial service; and in his reign some of the most
celebrated stallions were imported.

"George, Prince of Denmark, was a great amateur of horse-racing. He
obtained from his royal consort, Queen Anne, grants of royal plates
for several places, among which Epsom is, however, not mentioned.

"King George I. is not handed down to us as a sporting character; but
towards the latter end of his reign, the change of the royal plates
into purses of hundred guineas each took place.

"In the 13th year of the reign of King George II., an act, cap. 19.
was passed, 'to restrain and prevent the excessive increase of horse
races.'

"By this act, after reciting 'that the great number of horse races for
small plates, prizes, or sums of money had contributed very much to
the encouragement of idleness, to the impoverishment of many of the
meaner sort of the subjects of this kingdom, and to the prejudice of
the breed of strong and useful horses;' it was enacted that no person
should, thenceforth, enter and start more than one horse, mare or
gelding, for one and the same plate, prize, or sum of money. And that
no plate, or prize of a less value than 50l. should be run for,
under the penalty of 200l.

"It was also by the same act further enacted, that at every such race,
for a plate or prize of the value of 50l. and upwards, each horse,
if five years old, should carry ten stone; if six years old, eleven
stone; and if seven years old, twelve stone. And that the owner of any
horse, carrying less than the specified weight, should forfeit his
horse, and pay the penalty of 200l."

(_TO BE CONCLUDED IN OUR NEXT_.)

* * * * *



THE SELECTOR; AND LITERARY NOTICES OF NEW WORKS.

* * * * *

THE FAIR OF MAY FAIR.


The volumes of sketches of fashionable life with this quaint title
will serve to amuse a few inveterate novel-readers; while occasional
pages may induce others to take up the thread of the narrative. The
flying follies of high life, or rather, we think, of affected ton,
are hit off with truth and vigour, and there is a pleasantry in
the writer's style which is an acceptable relief to the dulness of
common-place details. We shall endeavour to detach a scene or two,
one, as a specimen of "the art of ingeniously tormenting," and the
incipient waywardness of a newly-married pair.

"From the first months of his domestication with his wife at Wellwood
Abbey, Sir Henry Wellwood had intended, had _longed_, to commence his
little system of tender remonstrance; but the slightest insinuation
of a difference of opinion was sufficient to fan the embers of
Henrietta's distemperature into a conflagration. The blaze was not
strong, indeed; for the lady had always been accustomed to find a fit
of wilfulness, or of affected despondency, more available and becoming
than one of hasty anger. But she was tolerably expert in those piquant
flippancies of speech which harass the enemy like a straggling fire;
and could contrive, when it suited her purpose, to make herself as
disagreeable as if her face had not been that of a cherub, or her
voice seraphic.

"'A woman,' quoth La Bruyère, 'must be charming indeed, whose husband
does not repent, ten times a day, that he is a married man.' Sir Henry
Wellwood would have scoffed at the axiom. The 'idol of his soul' was
still an idol; although, like the votaries of old, he had managed to
discover that it was not wholly formed of precious metals; that its
feet were of clay! He still fancied himself the happiest of mortals;
particularly when Henrietta, in her best looks and spirits, was riding
by his side through the Wellwood plantations, listening to the project
of his intended improvements; - or seated in her boudoir sketching
designs and modelling plans for his two new lodges. Sometimes after
dinner she would busy herself with her guitar, and insist on his
attempting a second to her Italian notturno; sometimes she persuaded
him to lend her his arm towards the village, to assist in executing
that easy work of benevolence, the deplenishment of her silken purse.
At such, moments she was indeed enchanting; - and the fascinated
Wellwood was quite willing to echo the chorus of Mrs. Delafield's
visiters, that he had 'drawn a prize.'

"But the sands of life are not formed exclusively of diamond sparks.
Flint and granite mingle in the contents of the hour-glass; and Sir
Henry often found himself required to listen to fractious complaints
of old Roddington's innovations, of Lawford's negligence - of roses
that would not blow at the gardener's bidding, - of London booksellers,
who would not send down the new novels in proper time, - of old women
who refused to be cured of their rheumatism, and young ones
who declined becoming scholars at her platting school. His own
misdemeanours, too, were frequent and unpardonable. He had a knack of
carrying off the very volume she was reading, - of losing _her_ place,
and leaving his own marked by leaving the unfortunate book sprawling
upon its face on the table, like a drunkard on the ground. He often
kept her waiting five minutes for her ride, or twenty for dinner;
would stop and detain her, in their walks, while he corrected the
practical blunders of some superannuated hedger and ditcher; had a
trick of whipping off the thistle-tops while driving her in the garden
chair, to the imminent indignation of her ponies; was sometimes seen
to nod after dinner, when the morning's run had been a good one; and
had an opinion of his own in politics, which precisely reversed those
of Lady Mandeville and her coterie. - In a word, he was often very


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Online LibraryVariousThe Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 19, No. 548, May 26, 1832 → online text (page 2 of 3)