LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Fifty Years’ Recollections, Literary and Personal

Vol. I Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Vol. II Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Vol. III Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
‣ Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH

Before I quitted Bath, I expressed a wish to see the tower of Mr. Beckford, who had once been considered the richest subject in England. It stood upon a spur of Lansdowne, over the city. Upon his architect mentioning my wish to its owner, he was desired to request me to fix my own day, and he would send his carriage for me. If I would leave that at the tower-entrance, and walk down through the grounds to his house, a distance of less than a mile, he would be happy to show me his curiosities in Lansdowne Crescent. The offer of the carriage arose from the steep ascent that must necessarily be passed over to attain the summit, nearly eight hundred feet above the Avon. I detailed some of the incidents respecting this tower in the “New Monthly Magazine,” and very soon afterward this was followed by an article called the “Tower of the Caliph,” in which I described the gardens and grounds as they appeared at that time. Only a small part of the owner’s books and articles of vertu were in the tower—the latter being under the care of “old Vincent,” the gardener, who had planted Fonthill in his youth. The day was propitious; and the sun shone warmly. I found the entrance
to the enchanted place open, and the gardener ready to receive me, when we were joined by the able architect of the building. Every door was thrown open; every cabinet unlocked. It was a place of enchantment, enriched with treasures of art, and choice editions of books. Sculpture and painting lent every aid to furnish mental food, amid a tranquillity admirably suited to enhance their enjoyment. I opened a number of volumes in beautiful condition. I examined the pictures, among which were some, now in the National Gallery, but there would not be time in a week to look into everything. I was also anxious to visit the owner, who had lived for many years secluded, except to a few friends. In Bath, I had seen him on horseback with the
Duke of Hamilton, when taking an airing, and passing through the city. There, though he lived so long, nobody knew anything about him. The master of the ceremonies, one or two artists, and the workmen, of whom he always employed a number, were alone conversant with him. The strangest and most absurd stories were circulated regarding one of the simplest men in manners, and habits, of the existing day—but I break the chain of narration—I found a great variety of foreign trees and shrubs in the tower plantation, which were not sufficiently old to give much shade to the lower part of the building.

The tower itself, above a hundred feet high, was crowned with a model of the Temple of Lysicrates, at Athens, made of cast iron. Under this, was a square room, each side lighted with three arched-windows, of plate glass. The main-entrance, in ascending two or three steps, led into a narrow apartment, or sort of en-
trance-hall, and, facing it, a plate-glass door, conducted to the tower. In this entrance-hall was a noble pillar-table of Sienna marble, in a recess, bearing three of the oldest class of Etruscan vases. The ceiling borders were wainscot, with gilt cornices. Glazed cabinets, on either hand, bore a number of rare and costly articles, which I had no time to examine. There were relics from Herculaneum, and purchases from Strawberry Hill; there were beautiful bird paintings and landscapes, with bronzes and vases of exquisite form, in rooms in which crimson and black, and scarlet and purple predominated. Here was the companion to the Doge of Venice, Vendramini, by
Bellini; Canalettis; a gem of Domenichino; Patels and Cuyps, now in the National Gallery; and fine Brüghals; magazine coffers, Florentine mosaics, Arabesque candlesticks from the Alhambra; one pair of candlesticks of pure gold, after a design of Holbein; a fine bronze of John of Bologna; and sculptures, by Farnesini—all in the same room. There was a beautiful oratory, too, with a statue of St. Anthony, and a small, well-selected library. It would take a long time to describe accurately the rare and costly things in this gem of a building. I ascended carpetted stairs to the summit, and enjoyed one of the noblest prospects in the kingdom. I hurried myself through, although I had ample time—my mind still running upon the owner of all these tasteful things—“What sort of man should I find him?” The servants, sent there for the occasion, were told that we should proceed afterwards to the house; the architect and gardener conducting me first over the grounds. There I saw the sarcophagus in which the owner now reposes, cut in a single block of
red granite, placed among the shrubs and trees; and at some little distance was a monument, in white marble, to the memory of a favourite dog. I descended through grounds most tastefully disposed, for the distance of a mile. Here was a rough, uneven surface, crossed by a winding-path, that led into and through grottoes, or plunged the stranger into verdant shrubberies, acres of roses, groves, with retired seats, and small ponds of cool, refreshing water. There, wild as in the woods, grew pendant honeysuckle, whole bushes of sweet briar; the appearance of art carefully avoided in all. Almost every species of the pine genus was found here; some had been imported from the Himalaya and Mexico. All was tranquil—all in soothing repose—friendly to meditation. Nor were Italianized buildings wanting, nor sweet-smelling herbs, as thyme and marjoram, planted irregularly, their perfume discovering them more readily than the vision. The birds, which were never suffered to be disturbed, poured forth their melody in the richest notes they could warble, as if grateful for the protection shown them.

At length, we came to an open meadow, on one side of which appeared a bold and lofty portal of stone. Entering here, I found myself in a noble garden filled with fruit trees, and the more useful products of horticulture, kept in the most perfect order. Passing through a door in the southern wall, a road at the back of the crescent led to where the owner of the scene of enchantment, I had just quitted, had his residence in two large houses, joined together, to which was added a gallery, thrown over an archway, constituting the prolongation of a magnificent library.


The door of Mr. Beckford’s house was opened by the porter, a dwarf, named Pero. I took leave of my companion, Mr. Goodrich, the architect, to whose kindness I felt indebted for the pleasure I had experienced, and that I was about to receive. I have said I had seen Mr. Beckford on horseback, with the Duke of Hamilton, but I had no idea of ever approaching the presence of a man so retiring, proud, and inaccessible. It was, in fact, the most difficult thing possible to get acquainted with him—all but impracticable for any one not connected with literature or art. He had great resources for the employment of his time; he had none to spare for “dawdling,” so he called it, for he told me subsequently, he never had a moment’s ennui in his life. Byron, he said, had defied the world, and been beaten. He had never defied the world, but could live out of it; he cared nothing about it, and it could not beat him; he had seen all he could see of it, and knew how little it was worth.

An acquaintance once made, Mr. Beckford was unreserved, kind, and of a feeling disposition; but evidently quick to anger. But I forget that his dark-complexioned dwarf porter, Pero, as broad as he was long, had opened the door of his house to me—my companions had disappeared, and I was alone. A second servant led the way up to the library, the prolongation of which was over the arch already mentioned. This the people of Bath gave out was the habitation of the mysterious dwarf. They knew, as I have said, as little of Mr. Beckford as if he dwelt fifty miles away. The servant announced my name, and retired.

The author of “Vathek” was sitting before a table
covered with books and engravings. He rose, and, bowing with all the ease of a gentleman of the old school, began conversation without further ceremony. He was then in his seventy-fourth year, but did not look anything like as old. His temperance and activity, no doubt, contributed to this less senile appearance. Rather of a slender and delicate, than an athletic frame, he appeared a trifle above the middle height, dressed in a green coat, with cloth-covered buttons, a buff-coloured waistcoat, breeches of the same colour as his coat, and brown-topped boots, the fine cotton stocking appearing just over them. His eyes were small, acute, and grey, but expressive; his features in other respects not remarkable. On the whole, he appeared much as well-bred gentlemen did about thirty years before.

Again acknowledging my sense of his kindness, and the honour he had done me, I was in hopes I should discover the ground of his civility. He told me, he knew me well by name. He knew that I had written a “History of Wine,” which he had in his library, and a harrowing account of certain shipwrecks. “I see few persons,” he observed, “but I know all that passes in the literary world. Do me the favour to sit, and I will show you some of the rare things I possess. I have engaged to be your Cicerone.”

I cared little about seeing the treasures he possessed, compared to keeping up the conversation with one whose extraordinary talents, and mysterious life, had so attracted the general curiosity. He rose, and brought to me the celebrated MS. that had once belonged to Shah Aulum, at Delhi. It contained a series of portraits of the great men of the Mogul empire. He had purchased
it at the sale of the treasures of the great French orientalist,
M. Langles, who died in 1824, keeper of the MSS. at the royal library, in Paris, where, I informed Mr. Beckford, I had visited Langles, in 1817. I observed that, in his tower, I had taken down a volume of Wilkes’ Letters, being in hopes to draw him into conversation about the times of Lord Chatham and the American war, in which I always felt interested—I partly succeeded. I observed that he did not use spectacles. He said he never had any occasion for them, as his sight was as good as it had ever been. In place of looking at his vast collection of curiosities, we got into conversation about the East and Vathek. He told me that the erection of the tower I had just seen, had no connection with that at Fonthill. At the latter place, it was a necessary appendage to a building of similar architecture. At Lansdowne, I must be aware, without some such elevation above the plateau, no prospect could be obtained. He was fond of gardening, planting, and building—whatever would employ him in the open air.

“‘Vathek,’” I observed, “made a great sensation when it appeared?”

“You will hardly credit how closely I could apply myself to study when young. I wrote ‘Vathek’ in the French, as it now stands, at twenty-two years of age. It cost me three days and two nights of labour. I never took off my clothes the whole time. It made me ill.”

“Your mind must have been deeply imbued with a love for Eastern literature?”

“I revelled day and night, for a time, in that sort of
reading. It was a relief from the dryness of the old classical writers. The Greek and Latin were always tasks; the Persian I began to teach myself.”

Byron praises the description of the ‘Hall of Eblis’ for its sublimity. It is simply described.”

“That is a great point; all grand descriptions must be simple. Byron complimented me on my ‘Vathek’ more than once.”

“I never read any description like that of the ‘Hall of Eblis ‘in any of the Eastern writings.”

“I took it from the ‘Hall of Old Fonthill,’ which was remarkably large—perhaps the largest in a private house in the kingdom—but I made mine larger still. There were numerous places of exit from it into other parts of the house, by long, winding passages. It was from that hall I worked, magnifying and colouring it with Eastern character. All the females were portraits drawn from the domestic establishment of Old Fonthill—their good or evil qualities ideally exaggerated to suit my purpose.”

He begged me to accept a copy of the best French edition, which he fetched from another room, writing in it, “From the Author.” I told him I had been much struck with the description of the descent of “Vathek to the Hall of Eblis;” that I thought new and grand the continued acceleration, until the sensation was as of one falling from a precipice. He requested I would show it to him. The French edition ran:—“Comme ils se hâtaient avec une ardente impatience, leurs pas s’accélèrent à un point qu’ils semblaient tomber rapidement dans un precipice, plutôt que marcher.”

“It did not strike me before,” said Mr. Beckford;
“the description is obscure as to the cause of the acceleration. There is sublimity in my story, they say—so the obscure is not out of place.”

I asked him whether the three episodes of “Vathek” were still in existence, the histories of Alasi and Firouz, of Prince Barkiarokh, and of Kalilah, and Zulkais, who were shut up in the palace of subterranean fire.

He replied that he destroyed one, because he thought it too wild. The other two might some day see the light. Mentioning “Vathek” as the author’s first literary performance, he informed me that his lives of extraordinary painters were written earlier. He did not know who translated “Vathek” into English, but it was tolerably well done. I quoted a passage where the quaintness was ill-turned. He remarked it might be true in one or two places, but it was not ill done, as a whole. He then spoke of his attempt to hit off criticisms on the Dutch painters. He told me that the housekeeper at old Fonthill used to get a fee by exhibiting the house and pictures to strangers. She knew nothing of the artists’ names, and gave more extraordinary ones to the artists who had executed them, than ever before entered the brain of woman, while she would expatiate on excellencies in pictures, of which there was no trace. This temptation to mischief was irresistible to a youth of seventeen; his age when he wrote the “Memoirs.” He supplied the good woman with a copy; and she caught up the phrases, used the names of the fictitious wives of imaginary painters, and thus rendered her descriptions more absurdly picturesque to his delight. The book became her text book to all visitors; and quotations continually fell from her to strangers
about the merits of Og of Bassan, and Watersouchy of Amsterdam. Before a picture of
Rubens, she would dissert on the merits of Blunderbussiana of Venice, or the Herr Sucrewasser, of Vienna, and the Wiltshire squires and farmers of those days swallowed it all for the honest truth. He had worked hard, when young, at acquiring the Persian. He had visited Geneva and France early in life, and been introduced to Voltaire, and saw him the same year in which he died. Voltaire had placed his hand upon his head, and given him his blessing—in person a mere skeleton of a man. He was in Paris when the Bastile was stormed.

I rose, and expressed fear I was trespassing upon his time. He assured me I was not. He then told me he was aware I had written a notice of his work on “Italy, Spain, and Portugal.” You struck upon my real feelings in your observations; I am indebted for your remarks (the real secret of his attention to me, I imagine). My sketches were drawn up recently from very inefficient notes of more than half a century’s standing. Here, I observed, that I well knew every minute object described in the first six chapters of his second volume. He demanded if the description was faithful, he was not certain of its being so. I replied in the affirmative. That I was at home in the scenes of my boyhood, on perusing his pages. The stone pyramid, the scent of the wall-flowers, the grove of elms, Arwenick, Trefusis, the vast brakes of furze, scenting the air with the perfume of apricots, primroses, and violets, all in bloom the first week in March, the soft, blue sky, the calm sea, and the fishing-boats, brought the picture to my mind as described by him. I was a child of four or five
years old. He must have passed and repassed my door.

“That is singular,” said Beckford; “and at the distance of half a century and more, we meet in Lansdowne Crescent. Human destiny is a puzzle. What are become of the Portuguese friends I was then on my way to see! Death has taken them all.”

I asked if the Portuguese court was remarkably dissolute. He replied, not more than other courts were in those days. Some of the nobility and ecclesiastics had great goodness of heart, but they were indolent, gluttonous, and luxurious. The country-people were good; the canaille of the towns abominably bad—vile. The ignorance of all ranks was deplorable. The prior of St. Vincent, a particular friend, was an excellent man, possessed of considerable learning. The climate of Portugal was lovely—heavenly.

I rose and took my leave; Mr. Beckford accompanied me to the stairs, pointing out the more remarkable pictures, which covered the walls of the staircase. Before I wished him good morning, he requested I would call upon him, without ceremony, while I was in Bath. He should be always at home to me between twelve and two o’clock.

The next time I called on the author of “Vathek,” I found him in a room on the entrance-floor of his house, seated before an upright, grand piano-forte, of a remarkably fine tone. I observed that the instrument was placed against a fine scarlet-cloth curtain, of considerable fullness, which, he told me, was to prevent the wall of the room from deflecting the sound.

We had much conversation about Lords Chatham and
Littleton, who were both friends of his father. The owner of Fonthill took their advice about his son’s education; and old Beckford paid his preceptors liberally. Mr. Beckford lost his father when he was about eleven years old. He spoke of him as a man of great political integrity, and mentioned a banquet given by him at the Mansion House, in the year of his death. To this the company, consisting of forty-nine members of the House of Peers, and a great number of the House of Commons, went in a procession. One of the toasts he gave was, “May the wicked be taken from before the king, that his throne may be established in righteousness.” This banquet alone cost the Lord Mayor ten thousand pounds, and filled most of the rooms in the Mansion House. He intended to propose to his guests a written agreement, binding them on their honour to act in public life purely after the dictates of their consciences, and to pledge themselves to maintain inviolate the principles of the constitution. The Marquis of Rockingham prevented this proposal from being put. His father thought no one could then swerve from his principles without proclaiming his own disgrace. Mr. Beckford told me, that his mother was of the Abercorn branch of the Hamilton family. His father’s sister married the Earl of Effingham, who was very fond of her nephew when a child, being often a guest at Fonthill. Lords Chatham and Camden he well remembered among the visitors, also Lord Littleton and the old Duke and Duchess of Queensbury. He had a nine years’ minority, and Lord Chatham being consulted on his education, he and his tutor used to visit the great statesman at Burton Pynsent. William Pitt was his
companion there. Pitt was an excellent classical scholar.
Lady Hester Pitt, to imitate her brother, insisted on learning Greek. Lord and Lady Chatham had a small grazing farm, which occupied their mutual attention, but Lady Chatham’s most, for his Lordship attended more to the grounds and garden. Beckford described him as tall, thin, and stooping from the gout; his eyes singularly keen; his air commanding and dignified; his manners exceedingly simple. Lord Chatham said the only fault of Beckford’s father was, that he was apt “to overshoot himself in council.” Mr. Beckford was much given to reading the “Arabian Nights,” when a boy, which Lord Chatham disapproved; but commended him for a speech he repeated, being a translation from Thucydides, for which he had been prepared by his tutor to show off before the Earl; so pleased was he, that he held him up to his son William as an example. This got him considerable credit. William Pitt was carefully instructed, and very correct, but his knowledge was confined. “He had not so much imagination as myself. He was more discerning and observant; more pleasing in his manners, and neat in expression; but less lively and energetic.”

Not having been in the room before, he pointed out to me the St. Catharine of Raphael, now in the British Gallery; and, taking a small key out of his waistcoat pocket, unlocked the inner frame, so as to remove the glass, which was only kept before it as a protection.

“Is not that fine?”

“I said I thought Raphael, in this case, had a feeling like Rubens, with his female embonpoint.”

“No; the women of Raphael are Italian in grace,
stout or not, they look round, firm, and well-formed. The women of
Rubens are Flemish, or Dutch, if you will; flaccid, oysterish, as if they had been fattened in their own quagmires and marshes.”

He said he had attempted to make some verses on the picture, and had failed. He feared he was getting too old to write poetry any more. I observed it was an inspiring theme, and he bade me try it.* He spoke of the “Times” newspaper, which stated he had expended a million sterling on Fonthill—the world loved anything but truth. He had expended upon it just £273,000 some odd hundreds; his steward was out, or he could have told me to a shilling; and that expenditure was scattered over some years. The fall of the tower he fully expected. The foundation was insecure, the architect being grossly negligent, had been paid for turning an arch over the suspected loose ground, and had never made it. I observed that it must have been painful to part with such a place. He observed that he was not so childish as to cry about a plaything. The chancellor, too, had deprived him by a decree of two estates, on which there were fifteen hundred slaves, which estates had been in his family threescore years, and had accompanied it with the reflection that Mr. Beckford had plenty of property left. That decree ultimately made him quit Fonthill. He had been sorry to throw so many people out of employment, as he had kept busily employed there, but he had no choice in the matter.

One of the undertakings of this extraordinary man was to build a wall round Fonthill, nearly eight

* I did so and sent him the lines in which he made two emendations.

miles long, and twelve feet high, in twelve months. It was accomplished in a week or two only over that time. It was done to keep off sportsmen who would take no warning from his servants. No one was permitted to see Fonthill, but at considerable intervals of time. Two or three hundred workmen had constant employment under his own directions. Some people, however, did get in disguised as workmen. One, supposed to have got in over the wall, was met by
Mr. Beckford himself, not far from the house. He was mistaken for his gardener.

“I thought the joke might be followed out,” he observed, “the stranger was a very gentlemanly man, well read, sensible, and agreeable in manners. I undertook to show him the grounds and gardens. I imagine he began to suspect I was not the gardener before I had done. I then proposed to show him the house; and, having exhibited the principal apartments, I took him to the room where the dinner was that moment serving up, and opening the door, I begged him to walk in and partake—I told him of his mistake, and would have no denial. We conversed on a variety of topics, and he seemed at home in all. When he rose to go away, it was becoming dark, and I asked if he had any conveyance. He only expressed a wish to be shown to the park gates. A servant was sent with him accordingly. I never knew who he was. It is said I treated this stranger with rudeness and what not. It was impossible.”

I told him I had read in a magazine of his going down the dance at court with Miss North, in 1782. He said he remembered he had done so. He agreed that George
III. was destitute of feeling and delicacy; and told me some anecdotes of him, I cannot repeat here. I remarked that
Lord Chatham declared the King to be capable of the greatest duplicity. He then related a conversation of the king with an officer of the Guards, who had fired on the mob in the city riots. He heard it take place. The king came out of his closet, and, first seeing the officer in question, abruptly said to him—“Peppered them well, I hope—peppered them well?” Everybody near was struck with the unfeeling coarseness of the speech, while the officer to whom it was addressed, and whose name I forget—but I think it was Howard—said, with great gravity, perceiving the nature of the remark, “I hope your majesty’s troops will always do their duty!”

Lord Chatham, who had taken great pains with his son’s education, asked him one day, on his return from a visit, how he had been entertained. Pitt replied, “Most delectably.” “Delectably, Sir!” said Chatham, looking at his son with severity—“delectably! Never let me hear that affected word from you again.” Beckford showed me letters from Pitt in his boyhood, and one or two from Lord Chatham. He well remembered the state of the public mind in regard to Lord Chatham. He told me his father was at Westminster School, with Lords Mansfield and Kinnoul, and the three were called the triumvirate, for being the best verse makers. His father, he said, was a bad speaker, but able to write, well; he was a most intrepid man, nothing daunted him, and he was actuated by the most patriotic feelings. He became the citizen of London to uphold free principles.

He mentioned Pengreep, a seat that I knew, where he had visited the owner, a Mr. Beauchamp, while he
was anticipating a visit to the orange-groves of Portugal. He spoke to me in high commendation of
Dr. Wolcot (Peter Pindar), who had visited him at Fonthill, with Lord Nelson, and Sir William and Lady Hamilton. He observed, truly enough, that Wolcot was a delightful companion, and the best story-teller he ever heard; that he knew the two worlds well—men and books—and was a shrewd observer of life. He could only remain a week at Fonthill, where his humour and his play upon human follies much entertained the company.

Lady Hamilton was a fine figure, not so beautiful as handsome. Sir William called her his Grecian. Nelson was her dupe. She persuaded him that she had obtained the victualling of his fleet. It was her husband who made her his agent with the queen. She never had a child, though Nelson believed she had, and she passed one off upon him for her own. The execution of Carracioli was wholly indefensible.

There is a characteristic story of Mr. Beckford. Both the coachman and his wife were old servants, and rather favourites. The lady going out one evening to see a friend, and partake of a cup of bohea, found the rain inconvenient, and her caro sposo, the Jehu, arriving very opportunely with the carriage, she got into it, and was driven to her pleasure destination, as it was thought, unobserved. But Beckford’s carriage was too well-known to escape observation. It was soon rumoured among the domestics that the coachman’s wife used her master’s carriage—nothing less would content her. They soon contrived that the intelligence should reach the master’s ears. His passionate temper known,
a tremendous explosion was expected to break over the devoted pair. The tidings were conveyed to the master, no doubt with all likely to rouse his anger. But the master was perfectly calm. Much less things had been known to put him into an intolerable passion. It was probable, too, for there never was a kinder master, that he noticed malice in the mode in which the intelligence was conveyed to him. He, therefore, showed no anger, but ordered his steward to engage a footman for six months, and to give him a whimsical suit of livery. When his orders were obeyed, the coachman and his wife were sent for, and told that, as they were so aspiring as to require his carriage when they paid their visits, it was not consistent they should be without an attendant in the house, that he had provided them a footman, who, he insisted, should duly attend upon them at table, and act towards them as usual in such cases, from that day forward. Not a word of excuse would have been permitted. The astounded coachman and his wife withdrew. The footman was kept in his place for some months. The ridicule this caused in the establishment, it cannot he doubted, was a punishment every way sufficient for the offence.

In like manner his steward was punished, being condemned to sleep on a down bed all his life. His master enjoyed the costly joke. It appeared, that he had not received a douceur from the upholder who had furnished Fonthill. As usual with servants in such cases, the man depreciated the goods to his master; and declared the beds were stuffed with quills. He could not sleep on his own bed, it was impossible. His master sent for the tradesman, who declared he had provided none but
the best feathers procurable, exactly the same as with the other beds. The thing was seen through.

“Pray, is there anything softer than feathers, Mr. H——?” said Mr. Beckford.

“I know, Sir, of nothing but down.”

“Poor fellow! he gets no rest, in consequence of his hard bed! Change the feathers; send him a down bed of the softest kind—I must take care of a good servant.”

The bed came, and the steward was made to sleep upon it to the day of his death, encountering ridicule enough for the mode he took to extort his toll.

I had been in Bath for some considerable time before I knew Mr. Beckford. During the little time longer that I remained, I called about once a week at Lansdowne. The conversation nearly always turned upon literature and art. He had no opinion of Mr. Hope’s abilities, but as a good “furniture man,” until he blazed forth so unexpectedly in “Anastatius.” It surprised him—“the world was full of miracles.”

He read all new works of moment, but complained of the novels that inundated society, as destroying historical truth. He spoke of some of Hook’s, as diverting, by the situations of his characters; and of Bulwer, and of “Pompeii.” We talked of Bonnivard, and Chillon, of Mount Edgcumbe, and of some of the English coast scenery. He bought Gibbon’s library, at Lausanne—above six thousand volumes—to amuse himself when he passed that way. The most valuable work was the “Eustathius.” He nearly read himself blind there, and never used the library afterwards, but gave it to his physician, Dr. Scholl. He boasted that Horace Walpole feared, if his Strawberry-Hill collection
were to be sold, it would come into his,
Beckford’s, hands, and so he tied it up. “But I have outlived his object, and have secured specimens of his treasures.” Beckford pretended to jest about the heralds and heraldry, when I spoke of them, as become rubbish, since the visitations. He fully admitted it; but he was a great stickler for ancestry, notwithstanding. It was a lever to his pride, and when young, he had studied heraldry, and imagined himself descended from John of Gaunt; and in after life, he did not shake off the impress of these notions.

I sent Beckford, at Lansdowne, a catalogue of Sanscrit and Eastern books, given me by Sir William Ouseley, and a copy of a poem of my own, of which not many got into the world. It was but a few days before I quitted Bath. He wrote me in return:

Mr. Beckford thanks Mr. Redding for the catalogue (book-learned and curious), but ten times more for ‘Gabrielle,’ which so vividly recalls the Alps to his imagination.

Mr. Beckford will feel much pleasure in looking over this fervid and most impressive little poem with its author, any morning (between twelve and two) that might happen to suit Mr. Redding’s convenience.

“Lansdowne, Sept. 16, 1835.”

He read and commented upon different passages as he proceeded—pencil in hand. He wondered I did not publish it more extensively. I explained my reason. I said that Campbell and Rogers thought well of it, but that I was not satisfied with some portions, about which I could not please myself, He bade me not lose time
in what I intended to do; delays were not prudent. He was then composing a work on the peerage, rather caustic, which he called his “Liber Veritatis.”

When I left Bath, he informed me he had a house in Park Lane, where, when in town, he should be happy to see me. I thanked him, and took my leave. One day, calling in Park Lane with a copy of “Huarte” in my pocket I had picked up at a book-stall, I left it with him. I saw, to my surprize, in the “Morning Chronicle,” a paragraph so much akin to a subject on which we had been conversing the day before, that I thought myself bound to express, in a note, my utter ignorance of its concoction. Mr. Beckford wrote me in reply:—

“There is nothing to pick off that dry bone, ‘Huarte;’ but the passage noted is really curious.

“The little paragraph squeezed into the ‘M. Chronicle,’ I am told, was copied literatim et verbatim from the ‘Herald.’ Who sent it thither, I cannot conjecture, but I am almost certain, from internal evidence, it was not you.

“If you happen to be disengaged next Sunday morn, about twelve, pray come to me, and I will read part of the ‘Vathek’ episodes to you. Those I may possibly soon publish, but cannot bring myself to let out the ‘Liber Veritatis’—ce n’est pas toute vérité qui est bonne à dire.

“Your’s ever most gratefully,
“W. B.”

I was surprised to hear him read these episodes
through, without spectacles, on a gloomy February day, and in a room by no means well-windowed. He waited an hour before he began for the
Duke of Hamilton, who had promised to come and hear them, but did not arrive. They bore much of the “Vathek” character, and were written in French. One depicted a beautiful female, a half mortal, half angel, abstraction, coloured in the author’s richest Oriental manner. He told me I should not know Lansdowne again. He had crowned it with a forest, the trees being planted by his old gardener, Vincent. “Vincent came to me and said—

“‘Now, there is only one thing wanting on Lansdowne.’

“You want a job, Vincent, what is it?”

“‘Why, there is no shade—the sun shines very hot there in summer; it should be planted, that you might walk in shade all the way up.’

“Nonsense; before the trees grow up, where will you and I be?” Vincent was then seventy and above.

“‘Don’t say that, your honour; you shall walk up under the shade of your own trees next spring. If your honour will find the money, I will answer for the trees.’

“Why, then, go to work, Vincent—get the trees.”

“I have been out with the work-people planting. I have renewed my old habits; you will see Lansdowne Forest when you next come to Bath.” He told me of the death of his favourite dog. I recorded other portions of his conversation in Park Lane elsewhere, a short time after his decease, in the “New Monthly.”

After his funeral, in 1844, I went down to see, before they were dispersed, the place and rarities he had
left behind him. I spent half a day at the tower. While I was there, the
King of Saxony came to see it; but he was not admitted. I could not but admire anew the taste that selected and adorned the spot, and be struck with the wreck that must soon take place of the rare and precious things deposited in his domains. This singular man now rests, after his own fancy, in a granite block, like a pre-Adamite king, in one of the most charming sites for a cemetery in England. The last three or four hours I spent there, the domestic, who kept the tower, was the only individual besides in the grounds. There was a speaking silence everywhere around. I left the place in a melancholy mood. On such occasions, something occult oppresses us in the foreshadowing of the conclusion of our own mortal history.

When on the continent, any extraordinary sights had been certain to attract Beckford’s attention—anything like conjuring or magic rousing his curiosity. In Paris, about the revolutionary time, 1789, he stated that he met with an individual who said he could introduce him to a real magician. Everybody then believed in supernatural things. The personage in question was an old man, who lived in a remote part of the city. He described the approach to the man’s residence as being through a carpenter’s-yard, apparently deserted. Passing on, he entered a large apartment, in which he was met by the owner, in a magician’s garb. There was tapestry on the walls, which were decorated with a number of tasteful ornaments. At the back of the room was a garden, the descent to which was by stone steps. On the summit of these stood a large vase, apparently filled with spring water. After a little ordi-
nary conversation, the stranger desired his visitor to look into the vase.

“Was the water transparent—clear?”


The exhibitor then uttered some kind of abracadabra, and the water seemed to become at once full of the most extraordinary creatures, in all sorts of animal combinations. The apartment, too, suddenly appeared full of appearances of the same description. He was astounded, and drew back, hardly knowing whether it was reality or deception. He had scarcely recovered from his surprize and admiration, when the whole of the creatures disappeared; even the old man had taken himself off. It was the most mysterious thing he had ever encountered. He was certain it was a trick; but how performed, and why, as he paid nothing for the exhibition, he never discovered; for he never saw the chief performer afterwards.

Nelson being at Fonthill, he proposed to give the hero a drive through his grounds. He had a ride, from fifteen to twenty miles in extent, through his plantations. He drove four very gentle animals, of which he had a perfect command. Nelson took a place by his side, but, observing the horses a little lively, he became uneasy, and, in a few moments, requested his host to pull up, he “could not bear it any longer.” This is a singular instance of the effect of habit in a brave man, of whom a battery of cannon quickened the courage, and who dreaded no foe, sword in hand.

At a flower show in Sidney Gardens, early one morning, before the public were admitted, I found Mr. Beckford.


“Good morning, Mr. Redding.”

“Good morning.”

“Is there any literary news?”

“I know of none, Mr. Beckford; swallowed up in politics, I have no time to refresh with literary works.”

“I have been reading novels lately. What is Mr. Bulwer about—anything new?”

“I don’t know, I hear nothing of what is doing in town except from the newspapers.”

“True enough, I dare say—all bustle just now with electioneering—I have just finished reading Bulwer’sPompeii,’ I was pleased with it, but there was a fault in it, that its author might have easily rectified, if his attention had been drawn to it.”

“To what do you allude?”

“To the advantage he would have gained in throwing more sturdiness and energy into his characters, for he is dealing with Romans. He has power to delineate well when he pleases.”

“It did not perhaps strike him at the moment.”

“It is very probable—we do not always discover in our own labours that which would render them more efficient. We annex to the Roman character a degree of stoicism and hardihood, more it is possible, than it really possessed. Our associations lead us to form opinions that facts might not justify. I have been looking, too, into a novel of Hook’s. He has no depth, but sometimes displays great ingenuity in the situations in which he places his characters. I cannot read his books twice. I was amused at the entrance of a stranger upon the choice grounds of an individual who
took a great pride in them, bustling about as if the place was his own. When called to account, he persuaded the owner he was a railway engineer, come to survey the place. That there was a company about to run a railway through his gardens, and close under his parlour windows. The description of the man on receiving the intelligence was well conceived, and his mode of showing his fear, anger, and mortification. It is in this sort of trickery that Hook appears best. He has no sterling qualities, all is jest, comedy, not power. He is amusing to those who seek to kill a lounge, without the trouble of carrying off what they read.”

I do not recollect to what novel of Hook’s Beckford alluded.

In my interviews in Park Street, the conversation turned for the most part upon the events of the day. He spoke of his age and good health, and with a philosophic resignation about death. I perceived at times, a struggle in his mind between pride and attachment to what he had imbibed in early youth, in fact his early predilections, and his sense of truth. Proud, attached to heraldry and its groundless claims to esteem, unless, where useful for tracing descents, he would affect to believe it a mere amusement, an idle thing to one person, but to another, who was of the common notion on such matters, he would treat the study as one of great consequence. There were nearly sixty years between his first and latest publication.

The cause of the fall of Fonthill Tower was the disgraceful conduct of the architect Wyatt. A man who was ill, and at the point of death expressed a wish to see Beckford. He paid no attention to the application
at first, a second pressing message came; he went and found that the sick man had been foreman of the works at Fonthill. He asked its recent owner, if he did not believe that the Abbey Tower was built on an arched foundation. Mr. Beckford said he knew it, for he had paid for it to the tune of nearly twenty thousand pounds.

“You were deceived,” replied the dying man, “it is built on the sand, and will some day fall down.”

Mr. Beckford at once posted off to Mr. Farquhar, who had just bought the building, to tell him of the relief of the man’s conscience, and the fear he entertained. Mr. Farquhar replied coolly, it would last his time. It did fall soon afterwards, fortunately without mischief.

“It was well I was not crushed,” said Mr. Beckford, “like a lobster in my shell.”

He was of an impatient disposition, furious when in anger, but soon pacified, and then hardly knew how to make sufficient restitution. One day he told old Vincent to shift some seats in his grounds, which he called toadstools, because they consisted of a round seat fixed to a stake driven into the ground. Vincent wished his master should be satisfied with the spot himself, to which they were removed, and, therefore, placed the tops loosely upon the stakes, to have his satisfactory opinion as to the site chosen. Going into his grounds one morning and seeing the seats, he at once seated himself on one of them, and fell sprawling on the turf, seat and all. He sprang up in a furious passion, his dignity was offended, his cane was in his hand, and he struck at old Vincent with it, who speedily retreated among the young trees, his master after him
in a rage. It was a curious thing to see two persons both beyond seventy, pursued and pursuing. It came to nothing more than a short race. Vincent dodged among the trees, and his master recollecting himself ceased the pursuit. The next morning he sent five pounds to Vincent, who said he should like such a race every day upon the same terms.

Beckford had a genuine love of a little mischief even to the last. He was well aware that he was followed by more than one ignoramus at the picture exhibitions, who wanted to learn the opinion of so eminent a connoisseur. He would begin to praise aloud a very inferior picture, to the wonder of the friend who was showman to him. One day the question was put, why he praised a very poor performance so extravagantly. “Did not you see that fool—following me to get my opinion? He will buy that trumpery performance.” The ignorant dealer really did buy it, and Beckford was delighted, hating all such pretenders to a knowledge of art, as he did.

He related that Cosway, the artist, was a man not a little wrapped up in mental delusions. “I was once told,” he observed, “that a friend invited Cosway to dinner. He had an idea that he knew something of magic, and agreed to the invitation, if his friend would consent to his going away at an early hour. On a promise of secrecy, Cosway said he was going that night to meet the Wandering Jew, who had arrived in London. Asking Cosway to permit him also to meet the wanderer, he refused, and soon after wished him good evening. Turning into one of the theatres, after the painter’s departure, he saw there
Cosway, seated quietly in one of the boxes. He watched him home to his residence in Stratford Place when the performance was over. The next day he asked the painter what he had seen.

“‘O,’ he replied, ‘wonders beyond all conception—but I am forbidden to communicate them.’

“He then told the painter where he had seen him. Cosway denied it with great indignation, and said it was a spirit that had assumed his shape; that such a thing had often happened to him.”

Beckford reverted to his youth as the agreeable part of his life. He said, “Everything then was so fresh and vivid, I continually fancied myself an inspired child of nature.” He could not travel like other people, on and on. “When I saw a point from which there was probably a finer view, I used to leave the carriage and scramble away to it, no matter how arduous the task.” Even then, at seventy-six, he said he should not be able to travel over new scenery like other people, for he should ramble off to enjoy every charming bit of nature he might chance to light upon.

He related to me how he had served, in the time of my own recollection, that bold woman the Duchess of Gordon. I had met her once at a ball in the city. She was then old and painted an inch thick—the paint crumbled off her neck. “You remember having seen her? Well, I played the managing mamma a trick which I shall never forget, for many reasons.”

He had a great horror of meanness, particularly in pecuniary matters, and always expressed his feeling on the subject, no matter whom it concerned. He was in consequence plundered by agents and servants enor-
mously. This mean attempt of the Mother-Duchess to get her child a hold upon his fortune, made him resolve to give her a lesson.

“At that time everybody talked of Mr. Beckford’s enormous wealth, and everything around me was proportionately exaggerated. She imagined my house was a Potosi. How desirable I was for her daughter! I received a hint from London of the honour to be done me by this daughter-selling mamma. I might have been aged and impotent, it was of no consequence if she could have got my property. I determined to give her a lesson. Fonthill was put into such order as might not be unworthy the reception of royalty itself. I determined to raise her cupidity to the highest pitch, by the display I made, and then not to see her. My major-domo was ordered to say that Mr. Beckford had desired her grace to be received, he feared in a manner not equal to the occasion; but, he added, that unfortunately not aware of the exact day of her grace’s intended arrival, he had shut himself up. It was more than any official’s place was worth to disturb him. The duchess admired everything, and conducted herself with wonderful equanimity. She slept the first night amid her honours, and the next morning the question her grace first put was: ‘Do you think I can see Mr. Beckford to-day?’

“The reply was indecisive, of course. In the meanwhile, all that could attract in the way of show and splendour was placed before her. My master of the ceremonies did not know what to make of my whims, the perseverance of the duchess, or the part he was to play in the farce.


“‘Perhaps Mr. Beckford will be visible to-morrow.’

“‘Possibly, your grace, but it is uncertain.’

“She remained in this way six or seven days, and went off to town furious with disappointment, circulating about me in every society the grossest scandals.

“Think of such a woman’s rage for the lesson I gave her—a lady who never suffered anything to interfere with her objects of cupidity or vengeance.”

The author of “Vathek” lived, during the latter part of his life, in a sphere of his own creation. The world did not understand him. The most atrocious calumnies were heaped upon him, which he scorned; for he possessed untameable haughtiness of spirit. Seldom gloomy, exceedingly sarcastic, sometimes prejudiced, but open to conviction, he was admired and feared, to all which his inaccessibility contributed. Yet a more kind-hearted man never lived, for a spoiled child of fortune. He gave away large sums, but would not allow his name to go forth in charity lists: if the donor must be mentioned, he would have A. B. or C. D. He refused to receive even thanks. “When I give, I don’t exchange the gift for any one’s thanks,” he used to say. He was often played upon; but it made no difference in his charity. His servants remained with him from youth to age. His recollection and sight were perfect to the last. He stooped but very slightly after his eightieth year. When he was eighty-three his horse ran away with him. His groom followed, but could not overtake him; but he contrived to sit firmly, and, when he had stopped the animal,
coolly said to his man, “Did you ever see anything so well done as that?”

Jewels, and costly articles of all kinds, lay in open drawers about his house; and, being told he might be robbed, he replied he knew all his servants too well to fear that; and, as to burglars, “I am in no fear of them. All my servants are great guns in their way, and I am a prodigious large blunderbuss myself.” One lot of diamonds he had unset. They lay loose in an ancient tazza. These he named his “cat diamonds,” because a relation of his, who kept a number of cats, to which, when a boy, he pretended to be very partial, bequeathed them to him out of gratitude for his attention to her favourite grimalkins.

Beckford’s mother had a fixed prejudice against our universities. He said, in consequence of that, he was sent to Geneva at seventeen years of age, and there studied civil law under M. Naville. There, too, he became intimate with Saussure and Bonnet. He was much noticed by Huber the naturalist, so well known for his work, “Nouvelles Observations sur les Abeilles.” He visited Voltaire at Ferney. Going through the village to the house, he passed the chapel, over the entrance of which was the inscription “Deo Optimo Maximo.” The people said that the philosopher of Ferney, as they called him, had once or twice preached there; but the officiating minister in general was the Père Adam, who lived at Ferney, whom Voltaire described so often to his guests in “Quoiqu’il fût le père Adam, il n’était pas le premier des hommes.” At the Château, Madame Denis received Beckford with his
tutor, and announced them to Voltaire as he entered the apartment—a very dark-complexioned, shrivelled and thin man, hardly above the middle height. His large piercing eyes were the most striking of his features. He received his visitors in the manner of a finished gentleman. “See,” he said, “un pauvre octogénaire about to quit this world.” “He then alluded to my
father,” said Beckford, “whom he had probably seen, asked a few questions about England, how I liked Geneva, and a few similar things, standing all the time, as well as his visitors. He concluded humorously, alluding to our royal speeches: ‘My Lords and gentlemen, many thanks for your visit here. Pray take some refreshment; then, if it will amuse you, look into my garden and my situation; and now give me leave to retire.’ A cold collation was laid before us by Madame Denis, and we took our leave.”

The author of “Vathek” told me he hated cruelty to animals. He said he abhorred the senseless sport of fox-hunting, and killing tame deer with savage hounds for mere amusement. “Can there be anything more absurd than that men, or rather brutes, should occupy themselves in this cruel manner?”

In his “Liber Veritatis,” mentioned in the foregoing note, one passage I remember, bitterly sarcastic upon noblemen who affect to support their order, and marry anybody’s daughters, or rather their money. This inconsistency and meanness he severely lashed. A carcass butcher in the city, who had accumulated great wealth, had two daughters who were picked up by a brace of noblemen. He described the father as pressing
the hides of the animals with his fingers, smoothing their sleek sides, trying how the fat lay on their ribs, and taking them off the grazier’s hands to conduct them to the fragrant purlieus of Smithfield, and at last how the illustrious parent was deposited in the family vault at Shadwell, “his remains followed to the grave by two of the beasts he had purchased.”

Unfortunately his visits to London were short. I did not always know when he was in town, or was often absent myself, and, therefore, saw less of him than I should otherwise have done. One of his commissions to Mr. Smith, the celebrated dealer in engravings, in Lisle Street, where he often lounged, was to discover who had written a certain review of his Italian travels, and on his Alcobasa and Batalha. I must give it in Mr. Smith’s own words.

“‘Good heaven, here is one man that really understands me. He has caught the very best parts of my Italy, and I would give the world to know who he is. Can you find out for me? It is really a good work, though of my own production, but I don’t think the fools of the present day are able to appreciate it. This man’s criticism gives me a better idea of modern literature. As Pope said of Dr. Johnson, no matter who he is, he will soon be déterré.’

“Day after day he asked me,” said Mr. Smith, “if I had found out who the critic was, but at last he discovered by some means or another that it was written by Mr. Redding, who he told me some time afterwards he had met in Bath.”

This was the secret there is no doubt of Mr. Beckford’s civilities to me, of the cause of which at the
time I knew nothing. When I was aware of it I confess I felt flattered, for the author of “
Vathek” was no every day individual, as being one of the few whom he admitted among his treasures. It was very difficult to obtain access to him, but when once received, if an individual took with him, he was perfectly affable, open, and free of hauteur. After the decease of this eminent man, having omitted to question him about the machinery of “Vathek,” which all acquainted with Eastern literature must know is a mixture of the Arabian and Hindoo mythology, I had observed that some of the impersonations are not to be found in the “Arabian Nights,” I was at a loss to conjecture where the author had seen them thus blended. It happened that during the Strawberry Hill sale, he wrote to his agent to purchase “No. 65, ‘Memoirs of Whiston,’ and the ‘Adventures of Abdallah,’ curious cuts—a trifling lot, but which I want particularly.”

A copy of the Adventures, thus alluded to, fell into my hands by accident some time afterwards. It was the second edition, the date 1730. There were only two out of eight cuts remaining. The Adventures date in the reign of Shah Jehan, father of Arungzebe. Fuzel Khan is mentioned in them. The Brahmins, Fakirs, the Hindoo god Ram, and similar characters from the Hindoo mythology there mingle with Arabian and Mahommedan creed and custom. Fion, King of Gor, Peris and Perises, Divs and Dives, Genius and Ginne, the country of Ginnestan, Gian and his sword, the mountain Kaf, Nour, and similar names with Mr. Beckford’s desire to possess a book once familiar to him leads me to believe from the singular mixture of Hindoo
and Mahommedan mythology, that he had used it in addition to the portion of the work he took from old Fonthill House, and the real characters in domestic service there. I lament I did not know of this work until after his death.

Among the anecdotes of Mr. Beckford, after his decease, was an allusion to some remarks he made respecting George III. and Hannah Lightfoot the quakeress, who was seduced by him when Prince George, and never again heard of by her friends. In the Gentleman’s and other Magazines there have been many allusions, for three parts of a century, to this subject from time to time by unknown correspondents. Soon after the notes respecting Mr. Beckford appeared, in an article not written by me, I received the following letter, my name being appended to the articles I wrote. When nearly a century had elapsed from the event to which it alludes, it was in all events singular. I have the writer’s name and address, but he did not wish them to be appended.


Hannah Lightfoot’s maiden name was Wheeler, and at the time of her daughter’s mysterious disappearance—for disappear she did, and the family never saw her more—she was staying with her brother or nephew, a linen-draper named Wheeler, at the corner of Market Street, St. James’s Market. Her brother or nephew kept the shop during his life, and was succeeded by his sons. Not knowing exactly when the death of the former took place, I was unable to state precisely which had the shop at the time in question, but that is
immaterial. Hannah Lightfoot’s mother lived near Richmond, and
Prince George’s admiration of her was known to the people there, as well as to her own family. By some persons well acquainted with the Prince’s admiration of her, the well known song of ‘The Lass of Richmond Hill’ was written. Hannah’s mother visited at St. James’s Market with her daughter, remaining often for some time as was the case on her daughter’s disappearance. Hannah was standing with a little girl about ten years of age, at one of the drawing-room windows over the shop, when a carriage drove by and Hannah immediately making an excuse to the little girl who was with her, and who was her cousin, for going away from her, and putting on her things, left the house by the front door, in place of going through the shop. She left a note behind, telling her mother not to be uneasy about her as in twelve months she should hear from her again, but not before. The mother never did hear of her again, and died of a broken heart. It happened that Hannah had a lover, not a quaker, who after her disappearance gave her family much trouble, imagining they had sent her away to break off their intimacy.

“The only intimation her family ever had about her subsequently, was from a gentleman they knew, who happening to be in Germany, and at a ball, saw a female who had with her two boys, whom he at once recalled to memory as Hannah Lightfoot. He endeavoured to speak to her, but finding she was recognized, she left the room, and he was unsuccessful in tracing her out.

“The little girl with her at the time she disappeared,
was afterwards my grandmother. From her I heard the story, little expecting ever to see it in print. I can find a person, a generation older than myself, who also heard it from her lips. The shop in St. James’s Market was kept by one of the Wheelers, up to the time it was pulled down to make way for Regent Street. I often heard one of the Wheeler’s sisters speak of notice being taken of some of the family by
George III. and his queen, when they chanced to see them at Kew or Kensington.

“I am, &c., &c.

George III. had several illegitimate children, according to rumour. The remark of Mr. Beckford must have referred to one of the redoubtable Mrs. Serres’ tales. It has served, however, to bring out the truth. Hannah most probably ended her days, after Prince George grew tired of her, in that petty state of Germany which Lord Chatham called the “millstone round the neck of England.”

Mr. Beckford wrote, in 1783, a work full of genius and talent, printed in quarto, entitled “Dreams, waking thoughts, and incidents in a series of letters from various parts of Europe.” When printed it was suppressed from the absurd fear of his friends that from its imaginativeness, when he went into parliament, they might think he would not attend to solid business, and they persuaded him to destroy the entire edition, which was done. He wrote a short burlesque entitled “A Catalogue of Books to be sold by Maister Thomas Dibdin,” while the bibliomania prevailed.


I quitted Bath not without regret, for the tranquillity of the city without the inconvenience of a country town, in remaining comparatively unnoticed in your own pursuit, and the mildness of the climate compared to the metropolis, made me feel partial to the place. It was much changed within my remembrance. Though the visitors were not as numerous as before, the number of residents had increased. There was much dissipation, and much moral strictness observable—much profession of religion, and as much worldly-mindedness as in general accompanies it when in extremes. There was also no want of quiet gentility, and generally courteous and polite manners. I met here Miss W——, a lady who was a natural daughter of Fox, and, like her father, dark complexioned, with black hair and eyebrows, very agreeable in manners. She visited Mrs. Fox, and Lord John Russell once a year. She was sensible and well informed. Since I left the city, she has departed to the world of spirits.

A country curate here wrote me a letter of a character which seemed to bear internal evidence of truth. Having the writer’s name, I used it. Soon afterwards I received a letter from the Bishop of Gloucester on the subject, exceedingly Christian like and reasonable. His lordship expressed a wish to know the writer. I replied that with me there was no concealment. In it a reflection was cast upon his lordship which he denied to be true, and he had a right to justice. I sent him the original letter, under the promise of returning it to me, which he did, with a polite acknowledgment, and an assurance that the statements it
contained as to his own motives and conduct, were entirely unfounded.

Bath was then a place of resort for idle Irish clergymen, who eat, drank, slept, and played whist, to some tune, curates doing the duty at home, in certain cases to the clerk and the sexton for want of a congregation. In some of the parishes the curacies were sinecures. All this, too, while a Reverend clergyman a friend of mine, the Reverend Mr. Liddiard, who had a living in Ireland, being a conscientious man, and having solemnly pledged himself, as the law required, to keep a school in his parish, a thing evaded in too many cases by the Irish clergy, got a master and opened a school accordingly. Finding the Protestant scholars too few for the master’s time, he made friends with the catholic priest, and they selected what should be taught so as to avoid controversy; the school flourished. The moment so excellent a plan was known among his clerical brethren, he was beset by them, and the hateful spirit of Orangeism set to malign him. He determined to quit the country, and making his son his curate came back to England. A few years afterwards, the government adopted the selfsame plan in the public schools there, which he had been driven from the island for adopting in his parish. Not a dozen years ago, I saw advertised in an Irish paper the sale of the effects of a defunct Irish clergyman as follows:

“Abundance of hay, oats, potatoes; innumerable sheep, pigs, and cattle; thirteen draught horses; eight mules, one Spanish; five donkeys; forty thorough-bred hunters; a cap phaeton, travelling chariot, drag, inside
car; two fishing boats, carriage and tackling (to fish for souls?). In the house sundry rocking chairs, sofas to match of various forms; down cushions for limbs attacked with gout, a collection of paintings, principally hunting scenes, &c. Very choice wines, and a large quantity of fine old whiskey!”

I do not say a man should not have all these things if he pleases and can afford them, but it is an imposture that the man who derives them from the exercise of a sacred profession, based upon the very opposite to the use of such luxuries, and the coarse and vicious (in him) indulgencies they involve. Shades of St. Peter and St. Paul, of the fishermen on the Lake of Tibieras, how mean was your fare, how scanty your indulgencies compared to such a cormorant as this. In the meanwhile the poor curates, who do the duty, are kept upon the most miserable stipends, I displeased some persons by my remarks on a similar subject, but I had the commendation of some excellent if humble clergymen of the church for my comments.

Prior Park, the residence of “humble Allen,” and of the author of the “Divine Legation,” had become a catholic seminary when I visited it. It was marked by no peculiarity except its pleasant site. Pope’s walk, near by, still retained its name. I walked over Lansdowne to Sir Bevil Granville’s monument, and seated on a barrow-hillock, fancied his headstrong charge up hill to the spot where he fell. The fresh breeze sweeping by, I almost imagined in its rushing, I heard whispers of the deeds of the past. It is one of those solitary spots where voices, not mortal, may be supposed to remind us of the
flight of time, and the change of things, of the waste and renewal of all that the scenes of earth present in the glass of memory, of the wrecks of perished grandeur, and the quenching of the great spirits of their time for ever.