LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Recollections of Writers
Chapter VIII.

Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
‣ Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX
John Keats
Charles Lamb
Mary Lamb
Leigh Hunt
Douglas Jerrold
Charles Dickens
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Lord Murray—John Hunter—Mrs. Stirling—Mrs. Catherine Crowe—Alexander Christie—Professor Pillans—William Smith—R. Mackay Smith—Henry Bowie—Robert Cox—Dr. and Mrs. Hodgson—Samuel Timmins—George Dawson—Mr. and Mrs. Follett Osler—Arthur Ryland—Francis Clark—Mathew Davenport Hill—Rowland Hill—John Adamson—Henry Barry Peacock—Beddoes Peacock—Robert Ferguson—Westland Marston—Robert Charles Leslie—Clarkson Stanfield—Sydney Dobell—Henry Chorley—Mrs. Newton Crosland—Miss Mulock—John Rolt—John Varley—William Etty—Leslie—William Havell.

During the twenty-one years that I (C. C. C.) lectured in London and the provinces scarcely any place surpassed Edinburgh in the warmth and cordiality with which I was not only received in the lecture-room, but welcomed into private homes by kindly hospitable men and women. The two men just named; Lord Murray; John Hunter of Craig Cook (the “friend of Leigh Hunt’s verse,” to whom was inscribed his lovely verse-story of “Godiva”); John Hunter’s talented sister, Mrs. Stirling (authoress of two gracefully moral novels, “Fanny Hervey” and “Sedgely Court”); Mrs. Catherine Crowe (one of the earliest and perhaps most forcible of the sensational school of romancists); Alexander Christie (whose fine painting of “Othello’s Despair” was presented, while
still personally unknown, to M. C. C, and which still is daily before our eyes in the picture gallery at Villa Novello);
Professor Pillans, William Smith, R. Mackay Smith, Henry Bowie, and Robert Cox,—are all names associated with many a brilliant and jovial hour spent in “canny Edinburgh.” With Liverpool come thronging pleasant hospitable reminiscences of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Yates (linked in delightful memory as co-travellers with Harriet Martineau in her admirable book of “Eastern Life Past and Present”); and of Dr. (erudite as kindly and kindly as erudite) and Mrs. Hodgson (worthy helpmeet, but, alas! now lost to him). With Birmingham troop to mind visions of friendliest and constantest Samuel Timmins; of George Dawson, as we first beheld him there, a youth gifted with extraordinary oratorical eloquence; of hospitable Mr. and Mrs. Follett Osler; of obliging and agreeably-epistolary Arthur Ryland; and of Francis Clark and his numerous family, who subsequently sought health in the milder-climed region of Australia. A copy of the Adelaide Observer, containing a very pleasant and broadly humorous Anglicised iteration of the old French romance poem of “The Grey Palfrey” (from which Leigh Hunt took the ground-work for his poetical tale called “The Palfrey”), written by Howard Clark, one of the sons of Francis Clark (who is himself no longer living), reached me lately and brought the whole family to my pleased recollection. The Clarks are related to the Hills of Birmingham, the proprietors and conductors of their eminent scholastic establishment of Hazlewood, so eminent as to have attracted the favourable opinion of so avowed an authority as the Edinburgh Reviewers. The widow of Francis Clark, and mother of the many children who survive him, is sister to the
Hills,—to the eminently intellectual and quite as delightful late excellent Recorder of Birmingham,
Mathew Davenport Hill; and to the man among the blessedest benefactors of the human race,—the illustrious and adored re-creator of the postal delivery—Rowland Hill; who has brought socialism—affectionate and commercial—to humane perfection all over the world; who enabled the labourer at Stoke Pogis to communicate with a brother or friend
In Borneo’s isle, where lives the strange ape,
The ourang-outang almost human in shape.

At Newcastle I met with the scholarly John Adamson, author of “Lusitania Illustrata;” and on my way thither I encountered a being of whom I cannot do other now than linger a few moments to speak. My most amiable and earliest northern friend, Henry Barry Peacock, of Manchester, hearing that I was engaged at Newcastle-on-Tyne, recommended me to pause on my journey thither at Darlington, where he would introduce me to his cousin, Beddoes Peacock, the medical professor of the district. This was one of the most interesting events of my social intercourse in life. In the first instance, I was introduced to a pale, bland, most cheerful-looking, and somewhat young man, lying out upon a sofa, from which he did not rise to greet me. His manner and tone of reception were so graceful, and so remarkable was the expression of an un-commonplace pair of eyes, that I felt suddenly released from the natural suspension of an immediate familiarity. He first of all explained the cause of his not rising to receive me. It was, that he could only move the upper part of his frame. His coachman and “total-help” lifted him from sofa to
dinner-table; and, finally to his night-couch, which was a regular hospital water-bed. This is the most indefinite outline (for the moment) that I can give of the daily course of action of this most intensely—most attractively engrossing being, who fulfilled a constant series of medical, and (if requisite) of even surgical practice. With all his impedimental difficulties, so thoroughly, so profoundly esteemed was Dr. Peacock that his patients—lady-patients included—submitted to his being brought by his coachman to their bedside. This is a bare glance at his then course of life; with equal brevity I inform my readers that in his younger days he was a very active and athletic sportsman, ready for every action required, from the chase of the otter to the stag-hunt. One day, by some accident—the particulars of which (for evident reason) I would not require of himself—two men were in danger of drowning—one trying to save the other, and both being unable to swim—Dr. Peacock darted into the water, bade them be quiet, and hold back their heads. They were fortunately near enough to the bank for him to pull them within their depth, and he saved both. Whether from the noble service he then performed, or whether from some indescribable cause unknown to himself and his scientific brethren, he, shortly after this heroic act, was seized with the calamitous affection above described. My own opinion is, that the attack was indigenous; for his sister was prostrated with the same complaint; and every day, when he went out professionally, he always drove by her house; and she, expecting him, was always lying by her window, when they cheerfully nodded to each other. I have known very few individuals—not exclusively devoted to literary studies—who possessed so decided an accomplishment in
high-class conversation: he was, of course, in education a classic; and for poetic reading he had a passionate fondness. Upon receiving a presentation copy of “
The Riches of Chaucer,” he acknowledged the gift with a sonnet, which I feel no appreciator of poetical composition will read without a sympathetic feeling:—

Full many a year, to ease the baleful stound
Of blows by Fortune given, in mood unkind,
No greater balm or solace could I find
Than wand’ring o’er the sweet oblivious ground
Where Poets dwell. The gardens perfumed round
Of modern Bards first kept me long in thrall:
On Shakespeare’s breezy heights at length I found
Freshness eterne—trees, flowers that never pall,
Nor farther wish’d to search. A friendly voice
Whisper’d, “Still onward! much remains unsung;
Old England’s youthful days shall thee rejoice,
When her strong-hearted Muse first found a tongue:
’Mongst Chaucer’s groves that pathless seem and dark
Wealth is in store for thee.”—God bless you, Clarke!
4th June, 1846. Beddoes Peacock.

When I was at Carlisle nothing could exceed the frank hospitality of Robert Ferguson, then Mayor of that ancient city and fine border town; and he subsequently gratified me by a presentation copy of each of his valuable and interesting books—“The Shadow of the Pyramid,” “The Pipe of Repose,” “Swiss Men and Swiss Mountains,” and “The Northmen of Cumberland and Westmoreland.”

If it were only for the sterling sound-headed and sound-hearted people with whom my lecture career brought me into delightful connexion, I should always look back upon that portion of my life with a sense of gratification and gratitude.


We were never able to indulge much in what is called “Society,” or to go to many parties; but at the few to which we were able to accept invitations, we met more than one person whom it was pleasure and privilege to have seen. Westland Marston, Robert Charles Leslie, Clarkson Stanfield, Sydney Dobell, Henry Chorley, Mrs. Newton Crosland (with whom our acquaintance then formed has since ripened into highly-valued letter friendship), and Miss Mulock, we found ourselves in company with; while at John Rolt’s dinners we encountered some of the first men in his profession. It had been our joy to watch the rapid rise of this most interesting and most intellectual man, from his youthful commencement as a barrister, through his promotion as Queen’s Counsel, his honours as Solicitor-General Attorney-General, Judge, Sir John Rolt; and always to know him the same kindly, cordial, warm-hearted friend, and simple-mannered, true gentleman, from first to last. Whether, as the young rising barrister, with his modest suburban home,—where we have many times supped with him, and been from thence accompanied by him on our way home in the small hours after midnight, lured into lengthened sittings by his enchanting conversation and taste for literary subjects,—or whether seated at the head of his brilliant dinner circle at his town-house in Harley Street,—or when he was master of Ozleworth Park, possessed of all the wealth and dignity that his own sole individual exertions had won for him,—Rolt was an impersonation of all that is noble and admirable in English manhood. With a singularly handsome face, eyes that were at once penetrating and sweet, and a mouth that for chiselled beauty of shape was worthy of belonging to one of the sculptured heads of Grecian
antique art, he was as winning in exterior as he was attractive from mental superiority; and when we have sometimes sat over the fire, late at night, after the majority of his guests had departed, and lingered on, talking of
Purcell’s music, or Goethe’sWilhelm Meister,” or any topic that chanced for the moment to engage his thoughts, we have felt John Rolt’s fascination of appearance and talk to be irresistibly alluring.

The mention of two great artist names reminds us of the exceptional pleasure we have had from what intercourse we have enjoyed with celebrated artists. While one of us was still in her childhood, John Varley was known to her father and mother; and one or two of his choicest water-colour pictures are still in careful preservation with us. There is one little piece—a view of Cader Idris—on a small square of drawing-paper, that might easily be covered by the spread palms of two hands, which is so exquisite in subdued colouring and effect of light on a mountain-side, that William Etty used to say of it that it made him wish he had been a water-colour painter instead of a painter in oils. Once, when John Varley came to see his friend Vincent Novello, he told of a circumstance that had happened which excited the strongest sympathy and bitterest wrath in the hearers. It appeared that a new maid-servant had taken for kindling her fires a whole drawer-full of his water-colour sketches, fancying they were waste-paper! He was very eccentric; and at one time had a whim for astrology, believing himself to be an adept in casting nativities. He inquired the date of birth, &c, of Vincent Novello’s eldest child; and after making several abstruse calculations of “born under this star,” and when that planet was “in conjunction with t’other,” &c., he assured Mrs.
Novello that her daughter would marry late, and have a numerous family of children, all of whom would die young. The daughter in question married early, and never had a single child!

Another charming water-colour artist known to the Novellos was William Havell; one of whose woody landscapes is still in treasured existence, as well as a sketch he took of M. C. C. in Dame Quickly’s costume. Holland, too, the landscape painter, was pleasantly known to me (C. C. C.); and on one occasion, when I met him at the house of a mutual friend, he showed me an exquisite collection of remarkable sunsets that he had sketched from time to time as studies for future use and introduction into pictures.

At one time we knew William Etty well. It was soon after his return from Italy, where he went to study; and we recollect a certain afternoon, when we called upon him in his studio at his chambers in one of the streets leading off from the Strand down to the Thames, and found him at his easel, whereon stood the picture he was then engaged upon, “The Bevy of Fair Women,” from Milton’sParadise Lost.” We remember the rich reflection of colour from the garland of orange lilies round the waist of one fair creature thrown upon the white creamy skin, of the figure next to her, and Etty’s pleasure when we rapturized over the effect produced. He was a worshipper of colour effects, and we recollect the enthusiasm with which he noticed the harmony of blended tints produced by a certain goldy-brown silk dress and a canary-coloured crape kerchief worn by one of his visitors, as she stood talking to him. It was on that same afternoon that he made us laugh by telling us of an order he had to paint a picture for some society, or board, or
company, who gave him for his subject a range of line-of-battle ships giving fire in a full broadside! Etty roared with laughter as he exclaimed, “Me! fancy giving me such a subject!! Fancy my painting a battle-piece!!!” He said that the English, generally speaking, had little general taste or knowledge in art, adding, “You must always take an Englishman by the hand and lead him up to a painting, and say, ‘That’s a good picture,’ before he can really perceive its merits.”

Of Leslie we entertain the liveliest recollection on an evening when we met him at a party and he fell into conversation about Shakespeare’s women as suited for painting, and asked us to give him a Shakespearian subject for his next picture. We suggested the meeting between Viola and Olivia, with Maria standing by; seeing in imagination the charming way in which Leslie would have given the just-withdrawn veil from Olivia’s half-disdainful, half-melting, wholly beautiful face, Viola’s womanly loveliness in her page’s attire, and Maria’s mischievous roguery of look as she watches them both.

Clarkson Stanfield lives vividly in our memory, as we last saw him, when we were in England in 1862, in his pretty garden-surrounded house at Hampstead. He showed us a portfolio of gorgeous sketches made during a tour in Italy, two of which remain especially impressed upon our mind. One was a bit taken on Mount Vesuvius about daybreak, with volumes of volcanic smoke rolling from the near crater, touched by the beams of the rising sun; the other was a view of Esa, a picturesque sea-side village perched on the summit of a little rocky hill, bosomed among the olive-clad crags and cliffs of the Cornice road between Nice and Turbia.