« 上一頁繼續 »
given for our faith in this really noble City institution. How many must it save from ruin by its implied invitations to timely providence, and how greatly do the charities of its members, individually and collectively, lessen the dreary mass of human misery! If you have a tale of sorrow to tell, to alleviate which you solicit pecuniary aid, do you not first visit, almost as a matter of course, Lloyd's and the Stock Exchange?
MRS. SALMON'S WAX WORK,
VERY few of our readers have heard of Mrs. Salmon, the Tussaud of bygone days. Her waxen wonders, once universally admired, and produced at a cost of £500, were ultimately sold by auction for £50. Possibly some further particulars on the subject may not be without interest. I first noticed the toy-shop in Fleet-street, where the museum in question was located, in 1805. It had been popular for many years, and all country cousins expected to be treated to it. Of course, in the days before railroads, arrivals from the provinces were rare, and a Yorkshire bumpkin, or a genuine Welshman, was a thing to stare at; yet in a city like London, though its inhabitants were then under a million, there would be numerous idle or inquisitive folks to whom a sight was quite a boon; and the "waxwork” was thought to be a really flourishing
Mrs. Salmon was a remarkable woman for that period, and though almost uneducated, her natural abilities were excellent. It occurred to her, when her worldly means were small—for she had been left a widow, and executrix to the poorest of properties, which must have been quickly eaten up if not improved—that there was an opening for some novelty of a generally attractive character. She made and sold toys, and had considerable skill in modelling; might she not fashion a group of life
sized dolls—give them heads and faces resembling living people, and invite the public to visit her quiet folks, where, for a low fee, they could be introduced to court ladies and gentlemen, and even to royalty itself, without trouble, or the fear of being turned back as intruders ?
She selected the place for her exhibition with great judgment, installing her handiwork in an old pile of buildings possessing the accommodation of large rooms, close to
one of the entrances of the Temple, and since known, in . the occupation of an enterprising wig-maker, as the palace
of Henry VIII. and Cardinal Wolsey, the exterior being curiously repaired and beautified. The house was unquestionably ancient, but early in the century its clains to antiquity were not so lofty, and now the glory seems wholly eclipsed, for the frontage has shrunk to one-half, in order to admit a prim modern erection. Here then, certainly as early as 1787, Mrs. Salmon set up her tent. Londoners were not nearly so exacting in those days, and criticism had not cut its teeth. It might say illnatured things, but it was quite as likely to praise the most rubbishy production as the most elaborate. A mere stonecutter was allowed to chip busts ; West was declared the beau-idéal of a painter; the finest work of Reynolds was not more valued in the market than one of these meagre efforts.
Mrs. Salmon furnished her shop with a tempting assortment of toys-Dutch, English, and French; Punch and Judy invited customers; cricket-bats and chess-boards allured old and young; while for her exhibition, which Occupied the first and second floors, she practised a very ingenious sort of advertisement, though far less costly than modern appeals for patronage in the world's journal. She expended all her talent in constructing two admirable effigies of a beefeater and a match-woman, who on alternate days kept guard at her door, offering to passing