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Memoirs of William Hazlitt
Ch. I 1821
Thomas Pittman to William Hazlitt; 16 July 1821

Chap. I 1778-1811
Ch. II: 1791-95
Ch. III 1795-98
Ch. IV 1798
Ch. V 1798
Ch. VI 1792-1803
Ch. VII 1803-05
Ch. VIII 1803-05
Ch. IX
Ch. X 1807
Ch. XI 1808
Ch. XII 1808
Ch. XII 1812
Ch. XIV 1814-15
Ch. XV 1814-17
Ch. XVI 1818
Ch. XVII 1820
Ch. XX 1821
Ch. I 1821
Ch. II 1821-22
Ch. III 1821-22
Ch. IV 1822
Ch. V 1822
Ch. VI 1822
Ch. VII 1822-23
Ch. VIII 1822
Ch. IX 1823
Ch. X 1824
Ch. XI 1825
Ch. XII 1825
Ch. XIII 1825
Ch. XIV 1825
Ch. XV 1825
Ch. XVI 1825-27
Ch. XVII 1826-28
Ch. XVIII 1829-30
Ch. XX
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[July 16, 1821.]

“In the old palace of King Ethelbert, in the ancient monastery of St. Augustine are—two Racket-Players! who have found the true city of God, the court in respect whereof St. James’s with the approaching ceremony is nought. A massy stone wall of thirteen hundred years’ duration, even as a board placed by the hand of modern art, fair and smooth as Belphœbe’s forehead, forms its point. No holes or crannies throw out the well-directed ball. No jutting rocks or pendent precipices spoil the hit and the temper. All is smooth. Eleven yards from each other are two abutments, round which monks formerly prayed or seemed to pray, and courtiers lied, and seemed to speak the truth. These bound the court, and form delicious side walls; but alas! they terminate abruptly before they have proceeded five yards. Endless, however, is the variety these quicklyending walls occasion. Of chalky foundation, firm, even, and hard is the ground; eighty-six feet in length, ever widening as it recedes from the wall. Close behind the court, but not too close, and down a slight descent, is a large square bowling-green, encompassed by old cloister walls covered with vines and trees, and edged with flowers of all sorts, the rose being one. Immense arches, ivy-covered towers, time mutilated, at magnificent distances—the house itself, like one of those chapels
which we see adjoining cathedrals—all show the real forte of a monk to have been architecture, not divinity. The keep, the straggling abutments, all, all declare that—
The way they still remembered, of King Nine,
Of old Assaracus and Inachus divine.
But nothing gloomy, all cheerful, lively, pleasing, gay,
In spot more delicious, though but feigned,
Long or Joe Davis never played, or Spines
Or Hazlitt vollied.

“The inhabitants are not altogether unworthy of the place. For country people they are excellent. Racket is a great humanizer of the species, and ought to be encouraged.
Tonbridge is decent, Cooper hath a heart,
And Austin ale, the which he will impart
With liberal hand to all who pay.

“They are, in fact, very civil. Our coming has revived the game, stirred up the ashes of a cheerful fire, inspirited the players. Many matches are in embryo, and the coronation is forgotten.

“Many Margate, Ramsgate, and Dover coaches go from the Bricklayers’ Arms at a quarter before eight every morning—and all through Canterbury, to which the fare on the outside is only 14s.

“Do come. You never saw so pretty a place. It beats Netley Abbey, and is older. The court is really admirable, and has the property of drying in two hours after the longest succession of hard rains. Good chalk has no fellow. The only false hops are in the beer,
which is damnable; everything else is fair. Do come, and inquire for ‘John Austin, at The Old Palace;’ he is our landlord, where we have bed and board, and he keeps the court. That ever I should live in a Fives Court! Come, and you will see fine play from

“Yours very truly,
“Thomas Pittman.

“One of the old racket-players here says: ‘Jack Davis was the finest player I ever saw; and, by God, there is nobody can come near him.’

“William Hazlitt, Esq.,
“No. 9, Southampton Buildings,
“Chancery Lane, London.”