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CHAPTER VI.

FLEET STREET (NORTHERN TRIBUTARIES-SHOE LANE AND BELL YARD).

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The Kit-Kat Club-The Toast for the Year-Little Lady Mary-Drunken John Sly-Garth's Patients-Club removed to Barn Elms-Steele at the

“Trumpet "-Rogues' Lane, Murder-Beggars' Haunts-Thieves' Dens--Coiners—Theodore Hook in Hemp's Sponging-house-Pope in Bell Yard-Minor Celebrities-Apollo Court.

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OPPOSITE Child's Bank, and almost within sound Congreve, the most courtly of dramatists; Garth, of the jingle of its gold, once stood Shire Lane, the poetical physician—"well-natured Garth," as

, afterwards known as Lower Serle's Place. It latterly Pope somewhat awkwardly calls him; and Vanbrugh, became a dingy, disreputable defile, where lawyers' the writer of admirable comedies. Dryden could

a clerks and the hangers-on of the law-courts were hardly have seriously belonged to a Whig club; often allured and sometimes robbed; yet it had Pope was inadmissible as a Catholic, and Prior as been in its day a place of great repute. In this lane a renegade. Latterly objectionable men pushed in, the Kit-Kat, the great club of Queen Anne's reign, worst of all, Lord Mohun, a disreputable debauchee held its sittings, at the “Cat and Fiddle,” the shop of and duellist, afterwards run through by the Duke à pastrycook named Christopher Kat. The house, of Hamilton in Hyde Park, the duke himself according to local antiquaries, afterwards became the perishing in the encounter. ,, When Mohun, in a "Trumpet," a tavern mentioned by Steele in the drunken pet, broke a gilded emblem off a club Tatler, and latterly known as the “Duke of York." chair, respectable old Tonson predicted the downThe Kit-Kats were originally Whig patriots, who, at fall of the society, and said with a sigh, “The man the end of King William's reign, met in this out-of- who would do that would cut a man's throat.”.,, Sir the-way place to devise measures to secure the Godfrey Kneller, the great Court painter of the Protestant succession and keep out the pestilent reigns of William and Anne, was a member; and Stuarts. : Latterly they assembled for simple enjoy- he painted, for his friend Tonson the portraits of ment; and there have been grave disputes as to forty-two gentlemen of the Kit-Kat, including whether the club took its name from the punning Dryden, who died a year after it started. The sign, the "Cat and Kit,” or from the favourite pies forty-two portraits, painted three-quarter size (hence which Christopher Kat had christened ; and as this called Kit-Kat), to suit the walls of Tonson's villa question will probably last the antiquaries another at Barn Elms, still exist, and are treasured by Mr. two centuries, we leave it alone. According to some R. W. Baker, a representative of the Tonson family, verses by Arbuthnot, the chosen friend of Pope and at Hertingfordbury, in Hertfordshire. Among the Swift, the question was mooted even in his time, as lesser men of this distinguished club we must if the very founders of the club had forgotten. include Pope's friends, the “knowing Walsh” and Some think that the club really began with a weekly

“Granville the polite." dinner given by Jacob Tonson, the great book- As at the “Devil,”, “the tribe of Ben" must seller of Gray's Inn Lane, to his chief authors and have often discussed the downfall of Lord Bacon, patrons. This Tonson, one of the patriarchs of the poisoning of Overbury, the war in the PalaEnglish booksellers, who published Dryden's tinate, and the murder of Buckingham; so in Virgil,” purchased a share of Milton's works, and Shire Lane, opposite, the talk must have run on first made Shakespeare's works cheap enough to be Marlborough's victories, Jacobite plots, and the accessible to the many, was secretary to the club South Sea Bubble; Addison must have discussed from the commencement. An average of thirty Swift, and Steele condemned the littleness of Pope. nine poets, wits, noblemen,

' and gentlemen formed It was the custom of this aristocratic club every year the staple of the association. The noblemen were to elect some reigning beauty as a toast: To the perhaps rather too numerous for that republican queen of the year the gallant members wrote equality that should prevail in the best intellectual epigrammatic verses, which were etched with a society; yet above all the dukes shine out Steele diamond on the club glasses. The most celeand Addison, the two great luminaries of the club. brated of these toasts were the four daughters of Among the Kit-Kat dukes was the great Marl- the Duke of Marlborough-Lady Godolphin, Lady borough; among the earls the poetic Dorset, the Sunderland (generally known as “ the Little patron of Dryden and Prior; among the lords the Whig”), Lady Bridgewater, and Lady Monthermer. wise Halifax; among the baronets bluff Sir Robert Swift's friend, Mrs. Long, was another; and so Walpole. Of the poets isand „wits there were , was a piece of Sir, Isaac Newton. The verses

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· Fleet Street Tributaries.)

THE LITTLE TOAST.

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seem flat and dead now, like flowers found be- even when in liquor, kept whispering to the tween the leaves of an old book ; but in their rather shocked prelate, “Do laugh; it is humanity time no doubt they had their special bloom and to laugh.” The bishop soon put on his hat and fragrance. The most tolerable are those written withdrew, and Steele by and by subsided under the by Lord Halifax on "the Little Whig" :- table. Picked up and crammed into a sedan-chair,

he insisted, late as it was, in going to the Bishop of « All nature's charms in Sunderland appear, Bangor's to apologise. Eventually he was coaxed Bright as her eyes and as her reason clear ;

home and got upstairs, but then, in a gush of Yet still their force, to man not safely known, Seems undiscovered to herself alone."

politeness, he insisted on seeing the chairmen out;

after which he retired with self-complacency to Yet how poor after all is this laboured compli- bed. The next morning, in spite of headache the ment in comparison to a sentence of Steele's on most racking, Steele sent the tolerant bishop the some lady of rank whose virtues he honoured,- following exquisite couplet, which covered a mul“that even to have known her was in itself a titude of such sins :liberal education.”

“ Virtue with so much ease on Bangor sits, But few stories connected with the Kit-Kat

All faults he pardons, though he none commits." meetings are to be dug out of books, though no doubt many snatches of the best conversation

One night when amiable Garth lingered over the are embalmed in the Spectator and the Tatler. Kit-Kat wine, though patients were pining for him, Yet Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, whom Pope Steele reproved the epicurean doctor. first admired and then reviled, tells one pleasant nay, Dick," said Garth, pulling out a list of fifteen, incident of her childhood that connects her with “it's no great matter after all, for nine of them the great club.

have such bad constitutions that not all the phyOne evening when toasts were being chosen, sicians in the world could save them; and the her father, Evelyn Pierpoint, Duke of Kingston, other six have such good constitutions that all the took it into his head to nominate Lady Mary, then physicians in the world could not kill them.” a child only eight years of age. She was prettier,

Three o'clock in the morning seems to have he vowed, than any beauty on the list. “You been no uncommon hour for the Kit-Kat to break shall see her," cried the duke, and instantly sent a up, and a Tory lampooner says that at this club chaise for her. Presently she came ushered in, the youth of Anne's reign learned dressed in her best, and was elected by acclama

“To sleep away the days and drink away the nights.” tion. The Whig gentlemen drank the little lady's health up-standing and, feasting her with sweet- The club latterly held its meetings at Tonson's meats and passing her round with kisses, at once villa at Barn Elms (previously the residence of inscribed her name with a diamond on a drinking- Cowley), or at the “ Upper Flask” tavern, on glass. " Pleasure,” she says, “was too poor a Hampstead Heath. The club died out before word to express my sensations. They amounted 1727 (George II.); for Vanbrugh, writing to

, to ecstasy. Never again throughout my whole life Tonson, says,—“Both Lord Carlisle and Cobham did I pass so happy an evening."

expressed a great desire of having one meeting It used to be said that it took so much wine to next winter, not as a club, but as old friends raise Addison to his best mood, that Steele gene that have been of a club—and the best club that rally got drunk before that golden hour arrived. ever met.” In 1709 we find the Kit-Kat subSteele, that warm-hearted careless fellow in whom scribing 400 guineas for the encouragement of Thackeray so delighted, certainly shone at the Kit- good comedies. Altogether such a body of men Kat; and an anecdote still extant shows him to must have had great influence on the literature of es with all his amiable weaknesses. On the night the age, for, in spite of the bitterness of party, there of that great Whig festival—the celebration of King was some generous esprit de corps then, and the William's anniversary-Steele and Addison brought Whig wits and poets were a power, and were Dr. Hoadley, the Bishop of Bangor, with them, and backed by rank and wealth. solemnly drank “the immortal memory.” Pre- Whether the “Trumpet" (formerly half-way up sently John Sly, an eccentric hatter and enthu- on the left-hand side ascending from Temple Bar) siastic politician, crawled into the room on his was the citadel of the Kit-Kats or not, Steele introknees, in the old Cavalier fashion, and drank the duces it as the scene of two of the best of his Orange toast in a tankard of foaming October. No Tatler papers. It was there, in October, 1709, that one laughed at the tipsy hatter ; but Steele, kindly he received his deputation of Staffordshire county

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LADY MARY WORTLEY MONTAGU AND THE KIT-KATS (see page 71).

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Fleet Street Tributaries.)

THE FIFTEEN TRUMPETERS.

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gentlemen, delightful old fogies, standing much on humour Steele sketches Sir Geoffrey Notch, the form and precedence. There he prepares tea for president, who had spent all his money on horses, Sir Harry Quickset, Bart. ; Sir Giles Wheelbarrow; dogs, and gamecocks, and who looked on all Thomas Rentfree, Esq., J.P.; Andrew Windmill, thriving persons as pitiful upstarts. Then comes Esq., the steward, with boots and whip; and Mr. Major Matchlock, who thought nothing of any Nicholas Doubt, of the Inner Temple, Sir Harry's battle since Marston Moor, and who usually began mischievous young nephew. After much dispute his story of Naseby at three-quarters past six. about precedence, the sturdy old fellows are taken Dick Reptile was a silent man, with a nephew

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by Steele to "Dick's” Coffee-house for a morning whom he often reproved. The wit of the club, draught; and safely, after some danger, effect the an old Temple bencher, never left the room till passage of Fleet Street, Steele rallying them at the he had quoted ten distiches from “ Hudibras" and Temple Gate. In Sir Harry we fancy we see a told long stories of a certain extinct man about raint sketch of the more dignified Sir Roger de town named Jack Ogle. Old Reptile was extremely Coverley, which Addison afterwards so exquisitely attentive to all that was said, though he had heard elaborated.

the same stories every night for twenty years, and At the “Trumpet” Steele also introduces us to a upon all occasions winked oracularly to his delightful club of old citizens that met every even-nephew to particularly mind what passed. About ing precisely at six. The humours of the fifteen ten the innocent twaddle closed by a man coming Trumpeters are painted with the breadth and vigour in with a lantern to light home old Bickerstaff. of Hogarth's best manner. With a delightful They were simple and happy times that Steele

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describes with such kindly humour; and the the professional mendicants, were found there by London of his days must have been full of such the police. quiet, homely haunts.

The "Sun" Tavern, afterwards the “ Temple Bar Mr. R. Wells, of Colne Park, Halstead, kindly Stores," had been a great resort for the Tom and informs us that as late as the year 1765 there Jerry frolics of the Regency; and the “ Lati-Galliwas a club that still kept up the name of Kit-Kat. can” Tavern was a haunt of low sporting men, being The members in 1765 included, among others, kept by Harry Lee, father of the first and original Lord Sandwich (Jemmy Twitcher, as he was gene“ tiger,” invented and made fashionable by the rally called), Mr. Beard, Lord Weymouth, Lord notorious Lord Barrymore. During the Chartist Bolingbroke, the Duke of Queensbury, Lord times violent meetings were held at a club in Caresford, Mr. Cadogan, the Marquis of Caracciollo, Shire Lane. A good story is told of one of these. Mr. Seymour, and Sir George Armytage. One A detective in disguise attended an illegal meeting, of the most active managers of the club was leaving his comrades ready below. All at once a Richard Phelps (who, we believe, afterwards was frantic hatter rose, denounced the detective as a secretary to Pitt). Among letters and receipts spy, and proposed off-hand to pitch him out of preserved by Mr. Wells, is one from Thomas window. Permitted by the more peaceable to Pingo, jeweller, of the “Golden Head,” on the depart, the policeman scuttled downstairs as fast “Paved Stones,” Gray's Inn Lane, for gold medals, as he could, and, not being recognised in his disprobably to be worn by the members.

guise, was instantly knocked down by his friends' Even in the reign of James I. Shire Lane was prompt truncheons. christened Rogues' Lane, and, in spite of all the In Ship Yard, close to Shire Lane, once stood a dukes and lords of the Kit-Kat, it never grew very block of disreputable, tumble-down houses, used by respectable. In 1724 that incomparable young coiners, and known as the “Smashing Lumber." rascal, Jack Sheppard, used to frequent the Every room had a secret trap, and from the work. "Bible” public-house-a printers' house of call-at shop above a shaft reached the cellars to hurry away No. 13. There was a trap in one of the rooms by means of a basket and pulley all the apparatus by which Jack could drop into a subterraneous at the first alarm. The first man made his fortune, passage leading to Bell Yard. Tyburn gibbet but the new police soon ransacked the den and cured Jack of this trick. In 1738 the lane went broke up the business. on even worse, for there Thomas Carr (a low In August, 1823, Theodore Hook, the witty and attorney, of Elm Court) and Elizabeth Adams the heartless, was brought to a sponging-house robbed and murdered a gentleman named Quarring- kept by a sheriff's officer named Hemp, at the ton at the “Angel and Crown” Tavern, and the upper end of Shire Lane, being under arrest for a miscreants were hung at Tyburn. Hogarth painted Crown debt of £12,000, due to the Crown for a portrait of the woman. One night, many years defalcations during his careless consulship at the ago, a man was robbed, thrown downstairs, and Mauritius. He was editor of John Bull at the killed, in one of the dens in Shire Lane. There time, and continued while in this horrid den to was snow on the ground, and about two o'clock, write his “Sayings and Doings,” and to pour forth when the watchmen grew drowsy and were a long for royal pay his usual scurrilous lampoons at all while between their rounds, the frightened mur- who supported poor, persecuted Queen Caroline. derers carried the stiffened body up the lane and Dr. Maginn, who had just come over from Cork placed it bolt upright, near a dim oil lamp, at a to practise Toryism, was his constant visitor, and neighbour's door. There the watchmen found it; Hemp's barred door no doubt often shook at their but there was no clue to guide them, for nearly reckless laughter. Hook at length left Shire Lane every house in the lane was infamous. Years after, for the Rules of the Bench (Temple Place) in two ruffianly fellows who were confined in the April, 1824. Previously to his arrest he had King's Bench were heard accusing each other of been living in retirement at lodgings, in Somer's the murder in Shire Lane, and justice pounced Town, with a poor girl whom he had seduced. upon her prey.

Here he renewed the mad scenes of his thoughtOne thieves' house, known as the “Retreat," less youth with Terry, Matthews, and wonderful led, Mr. Diprose says, by a back way into old Tom Hill; and here he resumed (but not at Crown Court; and other dens had a passage into these revels) his former acquaintanceship with No. 242, Strand. Nos. 9, 10, and 11 were known that mischievous obstructive, Wilson Croker. After as Cadgers' Hall, and were much frequented by he left Shire Lane and the Rules of the Bench he beggars, and bushels of bread, thrown aside by went to Putney.

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