refuge after the battle of Worcester; and it is also said that the great gate leading to the Ham avenue, has never been opened to any meaner visiter since the hour when the fugitive king, after he left the wood of Boscabel, was admitted within it for a night's shelter. Another tradition, which is still more questionable, asserts that here also, as at Boscabel, he hid himself among the branches of an oak to escape a party of his eager pursuers. A shattered trunk of a tree in Ham Lane was formerly shown to the visiter as the identical royal oak; and a fair which is annually held on the spot on the 29th of May, has tended to countenance the belief among the people of the neighbourhood, who have no notion that any incredulous and too precise examiner into dates and facts should deprive them of their traditions. However, "truth is strong," and truth compels us to say, that their royal oak is only a counterfeit.

Just before we arrive at Twickenham, there is a small island in the middle of the river, called by some "Twickenham Ait," but better known to the people of London, as "Eel-pie Island." The tavern upon the island is famous for its eels, and the mode of dressing them, and during the summer season is visited by great crowds from the metropolis. Clubs, benefit societies, trades' unions, and other confederations, frequently proceed thither, each member with his wife and children, or his sweetheart, to feast upon the dainties of the spot. On a fine Sunday especially, Eel-pie Island is in all its glory, thronged with "spruce citizens," "washed artisans," and "smug apprentices," who repair hither, as Byron has it, "to gulp their weekly air,"

And o'er the Thames to row the ribbon'd fair,"

or to wander in the park, which thanks to the public spirit of one humble individual, is still open to every pedestrian. Though somewhat of an episode, the history of the right of way through this pleasant park is deserving of mention. In the year 1758, the Princess Amelia, daughter of George the Second, who was ranger, thought fit to exclude the public; but an action was brought against her by Mr. John Lewis, a brewer, and inhabitant of Richmond, which he gained, and the princess was forced to knock down her barriers. The public right has never since been disputed, and the memory of the patriotic brewer is still highly esteemed in all the neighbourhood, and his portraits sought after, as memorials of his courage and per


But to return again to Eel-pie Island. The place was the favourite resort of Kean for a few months before his death. The boatman we were fortunate enough to hire was the boatman generally employed by the great actor, and from him we learned, that after the fatigues of the night were over at the theatre, he often caused himself to be rowed to Eel-pie Island, and there left to wander about by moonlight till two or three o'clock in the morning. The tavern used at that time to be frequented by a poetical sawyer of Twickenham whose poetry Kean greatly admired. The first time he heard the sawyer's rhymes, he was so delighted that he made him a present of two sovereigns, and urged him to venture upon the dangerous seas of authorship. By his advice the sawyer rushed into print, and published

a twopenny volume upon the beauties of Eel-pie Island, the delights of pie-eating, and various other matters of local and general interest. Kean at this time was so weak, that it was necessary to lift him in and out of the wherry-a circumstance which excited the boatman's curiosity to go and see him in Richard the Third at the Richmond Theatre. "There was some difference then, I reckon," said the honest fellow; "so much that I was almost frightened at him. He seemed on the stage to be as strong as a giant, and strutted about so bravely, that I could scarcely believe it was the same man. Next morning he would come into my boat with a bottle of brandy in his coat-pocket, as weak as a child, until he had drunk about half the brandy, when he plucked up a little. One morning he came on board-I shall never forget him -he was crying like a child, and sobbing as if his heart was breaking'twas the morning when his lady' ran away from him, and he told me all about it as well as he could for his tears. He had a bottle of brandy with him then. He gave me a quartern of it, and drank all the rest before we got to Twickenham, and then he was much better. But he was never the same man afterwards; he said his heart was broken; and I believe it was, for he never held up his head again, poor fellow!"

We thought the boatman (we should mention his name -George Cripps) seemed affected at the thought, and we asked if Kean had been kind to him.

"Many's the time," replied he, "that I have carried him in my arms in and out of the boat, as if he were a baby :-but he wasn't particularly kind. He always paid me my fare, and never grumbled at it, and was very familiar and free-like. But all the watermen were fond of him. He gave a new boat and a purse of sovereigns to be rowed for every year."

"Ah! that accounts for it," said we.

"When he died," continued the boatman, "a great many of the watermen subscribed their little mite towards his monument.

"Was there much gathered?" inquired we.

"About seven or eight hundred pounds, I think," replied the boatman, "and it was to have been placed in Richmond church; but we hear nothing of it now, or whether it's ever to be erected at all. But here we are, sir, at Twickenham church; and if you please to step ashore, I'll wait for you, and then row you up to the Grotto."

This was exactly the arrangement that suited us, and we walked into the dirty village of Twickenham, to pay our homage at the grave of Pope.





"This holy childe Dunston was borne in ye yere of our Lorde ix hondren & xxv. that tyme regnynge in this londe Kinge Athelston. ****

"Than it so was that Sapnt Dunston was wery of prayer than used he to werke in goldsmith's werke with his own handes for to eschewe ydelnes."

Fytte E.

ST. DUNSTAN stood in his ivy'd tower,

Alembic, crucible, all were there;
When in came Nick to play him a trick,
In guise of a damsel passing fair.
Every one knows

How the story goes:

He took up the tongs and caught hold of his nose.
But I beg that you won't for a moment suppose
That I mean to go through in detail to you
A story at least as trite as it's true;

Nor do I intend

An instant to spend

On the tale, how he treated his monarch and friend,
When, bolting away to a chamber remote,
Inconceivably bored by his Witen-gemote,

Edwy left them all joking,
And drinking, and smoking,

So tipsily grand, they'd stand nonsense from no King,
But sent the Archbishop

Their Sovereign to fish up,

With a hint that perchance on his crown he might feel taps,
Unless he came back straight and took off his heel-taps.
You don't want to be plagued with the same story twice,
And may see this one, painted by W. DYCE,
Exhibited now, at a moderate price,

In the Royal Academy, very well done,

And mark'd in the catalogue four, seven, one.

You may there view the Saint, who in sable array'd is,
Coercing the Monarch away from the Ladies;
His right hand has hold of his Majesty's jerkin,
The left points to the door, and he seems to say,
"Sir King,
Your most faithful Commons won't hear of your shirking;
Quit your tea, and return to your Barclai and Perkyn,
Or, by Jingo,* ere morning no longer alive, a

Sad victim you'll lie to your love for Elgiva !"

No farther to treat

Of this ungallant feat,

What I mean to do now is succinctly to paint
A particular fact in the life of the Saint,

* St. Jingo, or Gengo (Gengulphus), sometimes styled "The Living Jingo," from the great tenaciousness of vitality exhibited by his severed members. For his Legend, see BENTLEY'S MISCELLANY for March last.

Which somehow, for want of due care, I presume,
Has escaped the researches of Rapin and Hume,
In recounting a miracle, both of them men who a
Great deal fall short of Jacques Bishop of Genoa,
An historian who likes deeds like these to record-
See his Aurea Legenda, by pnkyn de Worde.

St. Dunstan stood again in his tower,
Alembic, crucible, all complete ;

He had been standing a good half hour,
And now he utter'd the words of power,

And call'd to his Broomstick to bring him a seat.

The words of power !-and what be they
To which e'en Broomsticks bow and obey?
Why, 'twere uncommonly hard to say,

As the prelate I named has recorded none of them,
What they may be,

But I know they are three,

And ABRACADABRA, I take it, is one of them:
For I'm told that most Cabalists use that identical
Word, written thus, in what they call "a Pentacle :"

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

However that be,

You'll doubtless agree

It signifies little to you or to me,

As not being dabblers in Grammarye ;

Still, it must be confess'd, for a Saint to repeat
Such language aloud is scarcely discreet;

For, as Solomon hints to folks given to chatter,

"A Bird of the air may carry the matter;"

And, in sooth,

From my youth

I remember a truth

Insisted on much in my earlier years,

To wit, "Little Pitchers have very long ears!"
Now, just such a "Pitcher" as those I allude to

Was outside the door, which his "ears" appeared glued to.

Peter, the Lay-brother, meagre and thin
Five feet one in his sandal-shoon,
While the Saint thought him sleeping,
Was listening and peeping,

And watching his master the whole afternoon.

This Peter the Saint had pick'd out from his fellows,
To look to his fire, and to blow with the bellows,
To put on the Wall's-Ends and Lambton's whenever he
Chose to indulge in a little orfeverie ;

For, of course, you have read

That St. Dunstan was bred

A Goldsmith, and never quite gave up the trade;
The Company-richest in London, 'tis said-
Acknowledge him still as their Patron and Head;
Nor is it so long
Since a capital song

In his praise-now recorded their archives among-
Delighted the noble and dignified throng

[ocr errors]

Of their guests, who, the newspapers told the whole town,
With cheers" pledged the wine-cup to Dunstan's renown,'
When Lord Lyndhurst, THE DUKE, and Sir Robert, were dining
Last year at the Hall with the Prime Warden Twining.

I am sadly digressing-a fault which sometimes
One can hardly avoid in these gossiping rhymes-
A slight deviation's forgiven; but then this is
Too long, I fear, for a decent parenthesis,

So I'll reign up my Pegasus sharp, and retreat, or
You'll think I've forgotten the Lay.brother Peter,
Whom the Saint, as I said,
Kept to turn down his bed,
Dress his palfreys and cobs,
And do other odd jobs,-
As reducing to writing
Whatever he might, in

The course of the day or the night, be inditing,
And cleaning the plate of his mitre with whiting;
Performing, in short, all those duties and offices
Abbots exact from Lay-brothers and Novices.

It occurs to me here

You'll perhaps think it queer

That St. Dunstan should have such a personage near,
When he'd only to say

Those words,-be what they may,

And his Broomstick at once his commands would obey.-
That's true-but the fact is

"Twas rarely his practice

Such aid to resort to, or such means apply,

Unless he'd

some dignified knot" to untie,

Adopting, though sometimes, as now, he'd reverse it,
Old Horace's maxim, "Nec Broomstick intersit."

« 上一页继续 »