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Dobson, Austin / De Libris: Prose and Verse
Charles Aldarondo, Keren Vergon, Sjaani and the Online Distributed Proofreaders





DE LIBRIS PROSE & VERSE

BY AUSTIN DOBSON



Vt Mel Os, sic Cor Melos afficit, & reficit. _Deuteromelia_.

A mixture of a _Song_ doth ever adde Pleasure. BACON (_adapted_).

MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON 1908


_Copyright 1908 by The Macmillan Company_




_PROLOGUE_

_LECTOR BENEVOLE!_--FOR SO
THEY USED TO CALL YOU, YEARS AGO,--
I CAN'T PRETEND TO MAKE YOU READ
THE PAGES THAT TO THIS SUCCEED;
NOR COULD I--IF I WOULD--EXCUSE
THE WAYWARD PROMPTINGS OF THE MUSE
AT WHOSE COMMAND I WROTE THEM DOWN.

I HAVE NO HOPE TO "PLEASE THE TOWN."
I DID BUT THINK SOME FRIENDLY SOUL
(NOT ILL-ADVISED, UPON THE WHOLE!)
MIGHT LIKE THEM; AND "TO INTERPOSE
A LITTLE EASE," BETWEEN THE PROSE,
SLIPPED IN THE SCRAPS OF VERSE, THAT THUS
THINGS MIGHT BE LESS MONOTONOUS.

THEN, _LECTOR,_ BE _BENEVOLUS!_




[_The Author desires to express his thanks to Lord Northcliffe, Messrs.
Macmillan and Co., Messrs. Smith, Elder and Co., Mr. William Heinemann,
and Messrs. Virtue and Co., for kind permission to reprint those pieces
in this volume concerning which no specific arrangements were made on
their first appearance in type._]




CONTENTS


Prologue
On Some Books And Their Associations
An Epistle To An Editor
Bramston's "Man Of Taste"
The Passionate Printer To His Love
M. Rouquet On The Arts
The Friend Of Humanity And The Rhymer
The Parent's Assistant
A Pleasant Invective Against Printing
Two Modern Book Illustrators--I. Kate Greenaway
A Song Of The Greenaway Child
Two Modern Book Illustrators--Ii. Mr. Hugh Thomson
Horatian Ode On The Tercentenary Of "Don Quixote"
The Books Of Samuel Rogers
Pepys' "Diary"
A French Critic On Bath
A Welcome From The "Johnson Club"
Thackeray's "Esmond"
A Miltonic Exercise
Fresh Facts About Fielding
The Happy Printer
Cross Readings--And Caleb Whitefoord
The Last Proof
General Index




_ILLUSTRATIONS_


* THE OTTER HUNT IN THE "COMPLEAT ANGLER." From an unpublished
pen-drawing by Mr. Hugh Thomson _Frontispiece_

*GROUP OF CHILDREN. From the original pen-drawing by Kate Greenaway for
_The Library,_ 1881

*PENCIL-SKETCHES, by the same (No. 1)

*PENCIL-SKETCH, by the same (No. 2)

*PENCIL-SKETCHES, by the same (No. 3)

*PENCIL-SKETCH, by the same (No. 4)

THE BROWN BOOK-PLATE. From the original design by Mr. Hugh Thomson in
the possession of Mr. Ernest Brown

*SIR ROGER DE COVERLEY AT THE ASSIZES. From a first rough pencil-sketch,
by the same, for _Days with Sir Roger de Coverley,_ 1886

PEN-SKETCHES, by the same, on the Half-Title of the _Ballad of Beau
Brocade,_ 1892. From the originals in the possession of Mr. A.
T.A. Dobson

*PEN-SKETCH (TRIPLET), by the same, on a Flyleaf of _Peg Woffington,_
1899

EVELINA AND THE BRANGHTONS, by the same. From the Cranford _Evelina,_
1903

LADY CASTLEWOOD AND HER SON, by the same. From the Cranford _Esmond_,
1905

MERCERY LANE, CANTERBURY, by the same. From the original pencil-drawing
for _Highways and Byways in Kent_, 1907

_The originals of the illustrations preceded by an asterisk are in the
possession of the Author._




ON SOME BOOKS AND THEIR ASSOCIATIONS


New books can have few associations. They may reach us on the best
deckle-edged Whatman paper, in the newest types of famous presses, with
backs of embossed vellum, with tasteful tasselled strings,--and yet be
no more to us than the constrained and uneasy acquaintances of
yesterday. Friends they may become to-morrow, the day after,--perhaps
"hunc in annum et plures" But for the time being they have neither part
nor lot in our past of retrospect and suggestion. Of what we were, of
what we like or liked, they know nothing; and we--if that be
possible--know even less of them. Whether familiarity will breed
contempt, or whether they will come home to our business and
bosom,--these are things that lie on the lap of the Fates.

But it is to be observed that the associations of old books, as of new
books, are not always exclusively connected with their text or
format,--are sometimes, as a matter of fact, independent of both. Often
they are memorable to us by length of tenure, by propinquity,--even by
their patience under neglect. We may never read them; and yet by reason
of some wholly external and accidental characteristic, it would be a
wrench to part with them if the moment of separation--the inevitable
hour--should arrive at last. Here, to give an instance in point, is a
stained and battered French folio, with patched corners,--Mons. N.
Renouard's translation of the _Metamorphoses d'Ovide_, 1637, "_enrichies
de figures a chacune Fable_" (very odd figures some of them are!) and to
be bought "_chez Pierre Billaine, rue Sainct Iacques, a la Bonne-Foy,
deuant S. Yues_." It has held no honoured place upon the shelves; it has
even resided au rez-de-chaussee,--that is to say, upon the floor; but it
is not less dear,-- not less desirable. For at the back of the
"Dedication to the King" (Lewis XIII. to wit), is scrawled in a
slanting, irregular hand: "_Pour mademoiselle de mons Son tres humble et
tres obeissant Serviteur St. Andre._" Between the fourth and fifth word,
some one, in a smaller writing of later date, has added "_par_" and
after "St. Andre," the signature "_Vandeuvre_." In these irrelevant (and
unsolicited) interpolations, I take no interest. But who was Mlle. de
Mons? As Frederick Locker sings:

Did She live yesterday or ages back?
What colour were the eyes when bright and waking?
And were your ringlets fair, or brown, or black,
Poor little Head! that long has done with aching![1]

"Ages back" she certainly did _not_ live, for the book is dated "1637,"
and "yesterday" is absurd. But that her eyes were bright,--nay, that
they were particularly lively and vivacious, even as they are in the
sanguine sketches of Antoine Watteau a hundred years afterwards, I am
"confidous"--as Mrs. Slipslop would say. For my theory (in reality a
foregone conclusion which I shrink from dispersing by any practical
resolvent) is, that Mile. de Mons was some delightful
seventeenth--century French child, to whom the big volume had been
presented as a picture-book. I can imagine the alert, strait-corseted
little figure, with ribboned hair, eagerly craning across the tall
folio; and following curiously with her finger the legends under the
copper "figures,"--"Narcisse en fleur," "Ascalaphe en hibou," "Jason
endormant le dragon,"--and so forth, with much the same wonder that the
Sinne-Beelden of Jacob Cats must have stirred in the little Dutchwomen
of Middelburg. There can be no Mlle. de Mons but this,--and for me she
can never grow old!

Note:

[1] This quatrain has the distinction of having been touched upon by
Thackeray. When Mr. Locker's manuscript went to the Cornhill Magazine
in 1860, it ran thus:

Did she live yesterday, or ages sped?
What colour were the eyes when bright and waking?
And were your ringlets fair? Poor little head!
--Poor little heart! that long has done with aching.


Sometimes it comes to pass that the association is of a more far-fetched
and fanciful kind. In the great Ovid it lies in an inscription: in my
next case it is "another-guess" matter. The folio this time is the
_Sylva Sylvarum_ of the "Right Hon. Francis Lo. Verulam. Viscount St.
Alban," of whom some people still prefer to speak as Lord Bacon. 'Tis
only the "sixt Edition"; but it was to be bought at the Great Turk's
Head, "next to the Mytre Tauerne" (not the modern pretender, be it
observed!), which is in itself a feature of interest. A former
possessor, from his notes, appears to have been largely preoccupied with
that ignoble clinging to life which so exercised Matthew Arnold, for
they relate chiefly to laxative simples for medicine; and he comforts
himself, in April, 1695, by transcribing Bacon's reflection that "a Life
led in _Religion_ and in _Holy Exercises_" conduces to longevity,--an
aphorism which, however useful as an argument for length of days, is a
rather remote reason for religion. But what to me is always most
seductive in the book is, that to this edition (not copy, of course) of
1651 Master Izaak Walton, when he came, in his _Compleat Angler_ of
1653, to discuss such abstract questions as the transmission of sound
under water, and the ages of carp and pike, must probably have referred.
He often mentions "Sir Francis Bacon's" _History of Life and Death_,
which is included in the volume. No doubt it would be more reasonable
and more "congruous" that Bacon's book should suggest Bacon. But there
it is. That illogical "succession of ideas" which puzzled my Uncle Toby,
invariably recalls to me, not the imposing folio to be purchased "next
to the Mytre Tauerne" in Fleet Street, but the unpretentious
eighteenpenny octavo which, two years later, was on sale at Richard
Marriot's in St. Dunstan's churchyard hard by, and did no more than
borrow its erudition from the riches of the Baconian storehouse.

Life, and its prolongation, is again the theme of the next book (also
mentioned, by the way, in Walton) which I take up, though unhappily it
has no inscription. It is a little old calf-clad copy of Lewis Cornaro's
_Sure and Certain Methods of attaining a Long and Healthful Life_, 4th
ed., 24mo, 1727; and was bought at the Bewick sale of February, 1884, as
having once belonged to Robert Elliot Bewick, only son of the famous old
Newcastle wood-engraver. As will be shown later, it is easy to be misled
in these matters, but I cannot help believing that this volume, which
looks as if it had been re-bound, is the one Thomas Bewick mentions in
his _Memoir_ as having been his companion in those speculative
wanderings over the Town Moor or the Elswick Fields, when, as an
apprentice, he planned his future _a la_ Franklin, and devised schemes
for his conduct in life. In attaining Cornaro's tale of years he did not
succeed; though he seems to have faithfully practised the periods of
abstinence enjoined (but probably not observed) by another of the "noble
Venetian's" professed admirers, Mr. Addison of the _Spectator_.

If I have admitted a momentary misgiving as to the authenticity of the
foregoing relic of the "father of white line," there can be none about
the next item to which I now come. Once, on a Westminster bookstall,
long since disappeared, I found a copy of a seventh edition of the
_Pursuits of Literature_ of T.J. Mathias, Queen Charlotte's Treasurer's
Clerk. Brutally cut down by the binder, that _durus arator_ had
unexpectedly spared a solitary page for its manuscript comment, which
was thoughtfully turned up and folded in. It was a note to this couplet
in Mathias, his Dialogue II.:--

From Bewick's magick wood throw borrow'd rays
O'er many a page in gorgeous Bulmer's blaze,--

"gorgeous Bulmer" (the epithet is over-coloured!) being the William
Bulmer who, in 1795, issued the _Poems of Goldsmith and Parnell_. "I"
(says the writer of the note) "was chiefly instrumental to this
ingenious artist's [Bewick's] excellence in this art. I first initiated
his master, Mr. Ra. Beilby (of Newcastle) into the art, and his first
essay was the execution of the cuts in my Treatise on Mensuration,
printed in 4to, 1770. Soon after I recommended the same artist to
execute the cuts to Dr. Horsley's edition of the works of Newton.
Accordingly Mr. B. had the job, who put them into the hands of his
assistant, Mr. Bewick, who executed them as his first work in wood, and
that in a most elegant manner, tho' spoiled in the printing by John
Nichols, the Black-letter printer. C.H. 1798."

"C.H." is Dr. Charles Hutton, the Woolwich mathematician. His note is a
little in the vaunting vein of that "founder of fortun's," the excellent
Uncle Pumblechook of _Great Expectations_, for his services scarcely
amounted to "initiating" Bewick or his master into the art of engraving
on wood. Moreover, his memory must have failed him, for Bewick, and not
Beilby, did the majority of the cuts to the _Mensuration_, including a
much-praised diagram of the tower of St. Nicholas Church at Newcastle,
afterwards a familiar object in the younger man's designs and
tail-pieces. Be this as it may, Dr. Hutton's note was surely worth
rescuing from the ruthless binder's plough.

Between the work of Thomas Bewick and the work of Samuel Pepys, it is
idle to attempt any ingenious connecting link, save the fact that they
both wrote autobiographically. The "Pepys" in question here, however, is
not the famous _Diary_, but the Secretary to the Admiralty's "only other
acknowledged work," namely, the privately printed _Memoires Relating to
the State of the Royal Navy of England, for Ten Years, 1690_; and this
copy may undoubtedly lay claim to exceptional interest. For not only
does it comprise those manuscript corrections in the author's
handwriting, which Dr. Tanner reproduced in his excellent Clarendon
Press reprint of last year, but it includes the two portrait plates by
Robert White after Kneller. The larger is bound in as a frontispiece;
the smaller (the ex-libris) is inserted at the beginning. The main
attraction of the book to me, however, is its previous owners--one
especially. My immediate predecessor was a well-known collector,
Professor Edward Solly, at whose sale in 1886 I bought it; and he in his
turn had acquired it in 1877, at Dr. Rimbault's sale. Probably what drew
us all to the little volume was not so much its disclosure of the
lamentable state of the Caroline navy, and of the monstrous toadstools
that flourished so freely in the ill-ventilated holds of His Majesty's
ships-of-war, as the fact that it had once belonged to that brave old
philanthropist, Captain Thomas Coram of the Foundling Hospital. To him
it was presented in March, 1724, by one C. Jackson; and he afterwards
handed it on to a Mr. Mills. Pasted at the end is Coram's autograph
letter, dated "June 10th, 1746." "To Mr. Mills These. Worthy Sir I
happend to find among my few Books, Mr. Pepys his memoires, w'ch I
thought might be acceptable to you & therefore pray you to accept of it.
I am w'th much Respect Sir your most humble Ser't. THOMAS CORAM."

At the Foundling Hospital is a magnificent full-length of Coram, with
curling white locks and kindly, weather-beaten face, from the brush of
his friend and admirer, William Hogarth. It is to Hogarth and his
fellow-Governor at the Foundling, John Wilkes, that my next jotting
relates. These strange colleagues in charity afterwards--as is well
known--quarrelled bitterly over politics. Hogarth caricatured Wilkes in
the _Times_: Wilkes replied by a _North Briton_ article (No. 17) so
scurrilous and malignant that Hogarth was stung into rejoining with that
famous squint-eyed semblance of his former crony, which has handed him
down to posterity more securely than the portraits of Zoffany and
Earlom. Wilkes's action upon this was to reprint his article with the
addition of a bulbous-nosed woodcut of Hogarth "from the Life." These
facts lent interest to an entry which for years had been familiar to me
in the Sale Catalogue of Mr. H.P. Standly, and which ran thus: "The
NORTH BRITON, No. 17, with a PORTRAIT of HOGARTH in WOOD; _and a severe
critique on some of his works: in Ireland's handwriting_ is the
following--'_This paper was given to me by Mrs. Hogarth, Aug. 1782, and
is the identical North Briton purchased by Hogarth, and carried in his
pocket many days to show his friends_.'" The Ireland referred to (as
will presently appear) was Samuel Ireland of the _Graphic
Illustrations_. When, in 1892, dispersed items of the famous Joly
collection began to appear sporadically in the second-hand catalogues, I
found in that of a well-known London bookseller an entry plainly
describing this one, and proclaiming that it came "from the celebrated
collection of Mr. Standly, of St. Neots." Unfortunately, the scrap of
paper connecting it with Mrs. Hogarth's present to Ireland had been
destroyed. Nevertheless, I secured my prize, had it fittingly bound up
with the original number which accompanied it; and here and there, in
writing about Hogarth, bragged consequentially about my fortunate
acquisition. Then came a day--a day to be marked with a black
stone!--when in the British Museum Print Room, and looking through the
"--Collection," for the moment deposited there, I came upon _another_
copy of the _North Briton_, bearing in Samuel Ireland's writing a
notification to the effect that it was the Identical No. 17, etc., etc.
Now which is the right one? Is either the right one? I inspect mine
distrustfully. It is soiled, and has evidently been folded; it is
scribbled with calculations; it has all the aspect of a _venerable
vetuste_. That it came from the Standly collection, I am convinced. But
that other pretender in the (now dispersed) "--Collection"? And was
not Samuel Ireland (_nomen invisum_!) the, if not fraudulent, at least
too-credulous father of one William Henry Ireland, who, at eighteen,
wrote _Vortigern and Rowena_, and palmed it off as genuine Shakespeare?
I fear me--I much fear me--that, in the words of the American showman,
I have been "weeping over the wrong grave."

To prolong these vagrant adversaria would not be difficult. Here, for
example, dated 1779, are the _Coplas_ of the poet Don Jorge Manrique,
which, having no Spanish, I am constrained to study in the renderings of
Longfellow. Don Jorge was a Spaniard of the Spaniards, Commendador of
Montizon, Knight of the Order of Santiago, Captain of a company in the
Guards of Castile, and withal a valiant _soldado_, who died of a wound
received in battle. But the attraction of my volume is, that, at the
foot of the title-page, in beautiful neat script, appear the words,
"Robert Southey. Paris. 17 May 1817,"--being the year in which Southey
stayed at Como with Walter Savage Landor. Here are the _Works_ of
mock-heroic John Philips, 1720, whose _Blenheim_ the Tories pitted
against Addison's _Campaign_, and whose _Splendid Shilling_ still shines
lucidly among eighteenth-century parodies. This copy bears--also on the
title-page--the autograph of James Thomson, not yet the author of _The
Seasons_; and includes the book-plate of Lord Prestongrange,--that
"Lord Advocate Grant" of whom you may read in the _Kidnapped_ of
"R.L.S." Here again is an edition (the first) of Hazlitt's _Lectures on
the English Comic Writers_, annotated copiously in MS. by a contemporary
reader who was certainly not an admirer; and upon whom W.H.'s
cockneyisms, Gallicisms, egotisms, and "_ille_-isms" generally, seem to
have had the effect of a red rag upon an inveterately insular bull. "A
very ingenious but pert, dogmatical, and Prejudiced Writer" is his
uncomplimentary addition to the author's name. Then here is Cunningham's
_Goldsmith_ of 1854, vol. i., castigated with equal energy by that
Alaric Alexander Watts,[2] of whose egregious strictures upon Wordsworth
we read not long since in the _Cornhill Magazine_, and who will not
allow Goldsmith to say, in the _Haunch of Venison_, "the porter and
eatables followed behind." "They could scarcely have followed
before,"--he objects, in the very accents of Boeotia. Nor will he pass
"the hollow-sounding bittern" of the _Deserted Village_. A barrel may
sound hollow, but not a bird--this wiseacre acquaints us.

Note:

[2] So he was christened. But Lockhart chose to insist that his
second pre-name should properly be "Attila," and thenceforth he was
spoken of in this way.


Had the gifted author of _Lyrics of the Heart_ never heard of rhetorical
figures? But he is not Goldsmith's only hyper-critic. Charles Fox, who
admired _The Traveller_, thought Olivia's famous song in the _Vicar_
"foolish," and added that "folly" was a bad rhyme to "melancholy."[3] He
must have forgotten Milton's:--

Bird that shunn'st the noise of folly,
Most musicall, most melancholy!

Or he might have gone to the other camp, and remembered Pope on Mrs.
Howard:--

Not warp'd by Passion, aw'd by Rumour,
Not grave thro' Pride,, or gay thro' Folly,
An equal Mixture of good Humour,
And sensible soft Melancholy.

Note:

[3] _Recollections_, by Samuel Rogers, 2nd ed., 1859, 43.




AN EPISTLE TO AN EDITOR


"Jamais les arbres verts n'ont essaye d'etre bleus."--
THEOPHILE GAUTIER.


"A new Review!" You make me tremble
(Though as to that, I can dissemble
Till I hear more). But is it "new"?
And will it be a _real_ Review?--
I mean, a Court wherein the scales
Weigh equally both him that fails,
And him that hits the mark?--a place
Where the accus'd can plead his case,
If wrong'd? All this I need to know
Before I (arrogant!) say "Go."

"We, that are very old" (the phrase
Is STEELE'S, not mine!), in former days,
Have seen so many "new Reviews"
Arise, arraign, absolve, abuse;--
Proclaim their mission to the top
(Where there's still room!), then slowly drop,

Shrink down, fade out, and _sans_ preferment,
Depart to their obscure interment;--
We should be pardon'd if we doubt
That a new venture _can_ hold out.

It _will_, you say. Then don't be "new";
Be "old." The Old is still the True.
Nature (said GAUTIER) never tries
To alter her accustom'd dyes;
And all your novelties at best
Are ancient puppets, newly drest.
What you must do, is not to shrink
From speaking out the thing you think;
And blaming where 'tis right to blame,
Despite tradition and a Name.
Yet don't expand a trifling blot,
Or ban the book for what it's not
(That is the poor device of those
Who cavil where they can't oppose!);
Moreover (this is _very_ old!),
Be courteous--even when you scold!

Blame I put first, but not at heart.
You must give Praise the foremost part;--
Praise that to those who write is breath
Of Life, if just; if unjust, Death.
Praise then the things that men revere;
Praise what they love, not what they fear;
Praise too the young; praise those who try;
Praise those who fail, but by and by
May do good work. Those who succeed,
You'll praise perforce,--so there's no need
To speak of that. And as to each,
See you keep measure in your speech;--
See that your praise be so exprest
That the best man shall get the best;
Nor fail of the fit word you meant
Because your epithets are spent.
Remember that our language gives
No limitless superlatives;
And SHAKESPEARE, HOMER, _should_ have more
Than the last knocker at the door!

"We, that are very old!"--May this
Excuse the hint you find amiss.
My thoughts, I feel, are what to-day
Men call _vieux jeu_. Well!--"let them say."
The Old, at least, we know: the New
(A changing Shape that all pursue!)
Has been,--may be, a fraud.
--But there!
Wind to your sail! _Vogue la galere!_



BRAMSTON'S "MAN OF TASTE"

Were you to inquire respectfully of the infallible critic (if such
indeed there be!) for the source of the aphorism, "Music has charms to
soothe a savage beast," he would probably "down" you contemptuously in
the Johnsonian fashion by replying that you had "just enough of learning
to misquote";--that the last word was notoriously "breast" and not
"beast";--and that the line, as Macaulay's, and every Board School-boy
besides must be abundantly aware, is to be found in Congreve's tragedy
of _The Mourning Bride_. But he would be wrong; and, in fact, would only
be confirming the real author's contention that "Sure, of all
blockheads, _Scholars_ are the worst." For, whether connected with
Congreve or not, the words are correctly given; and they occur in the
Rev. James Bramston's satire, _The Man of Taste_, 1733, running in a
couplet as follows:--

Musick has charms to sooth a savage beast,
And therefore proper at a Sheriff's feast.

Moreover, according to the handbooks, this is not the only passage from
a rather obscure original which has held its own. "Without
black-velvet-britches, what is man?"--is another (a speculation which
might have commended itself to Don Quixote);[4] while _The Art of
Politicks_, also by Bramston, contains a third:--

What's not destroy'd by Time's devouring Hand?
Where's _Troy_, and where's the _May-Pole_ in the _Strand_?

Polonius would perhaps object against a "devouring hand." But the
survival of--at least--three fairly current citations from a practically
forgotten minor Georgian satirist would certainly seem to warrant a few
words upon the writer himself, and his chief performance in verse.

The Rev. James Bramston was born in 1694 or 1695 at Skreens, near
Chelmsford, in Essex, his father, Francis Bramston, being the fourth son
of Sir Moundeford Bramston, Master in Chancery, whose father again was
Sir John Bramston, Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, generally
known as "the elder."[5]James Bramston was admitted to Westminster
School in 1708. In 1713 he became a scholar at Christ Church, Oxford,
proceeding B.A. in 1717, and M.A. in 1720. In 1723 he was made Vicar of
Lurgashall, and in 1725 of Harting, both of which Sussex livings he held
until his death in March 1744, ten weeks before the death of Pope. His
first published verses (1715) were on Dr. Radcliffe. In 1729 he printed
_The Art of Politicks_, one of the many contemporary imitations of the
_Ars Poetica_; and in 1733 _The Man of Taste_. He also wrote a mediocre
variation on the _Splendid Shilling_ of John Philips, entitled _The
Crooked Sixpence_, 1743. Beyond a statement in Dallaway's _Sussex_ that
"he [Bramston] was a man of original humour, the fame and proofs of
whose colloquial wit are still remembered"; and the supplementary
information that, as incumbent of Lurgashall, he received an annual
_modus_ of a fat buck and doe from the neighbouring Park of Petworth,
nothing more seems to have been recorded of him.

Notes:

[4] Whose _grand tenue_ or holiday wear--Cervantes tells us--was "a
doublet of fine cloth and _velvet breeches_ and shoes to match." (ch. 1).

[5] Sir John Bramston, the younger, was the author of the "watery
incoherent _Autobiography_"--as Carlyle calls it--published by the Camden
Society in 1845.


_The Crooked Sixpence_ is, at best, an imitation of an imitation; and as
a Miltonic _pastiche_ does not excel that of Philips, or rival the more
serious _Lewesdon Hill_ of Crowe. _The Art of Politicks_, in its turn,
would need a fairly long commentary to make what is only moderately
interesting moderately intelligible, while eighteenth-century copies of
Horace's letter to the Pisos are "plentiful as blackberries." But _The
Man of Taste_, based, as it is, on the presentment of a never extinct
type, the connoisseur against nature, is still worthy of passing notice.

In the sub-title of the poem, it is declared to be "Occasion'd by an
Epistle of Mr. Pope's on that Subject" [i.e. "Taste"]. This was what is
now known as No. 4 of the _Moral Essays_, "On the Use of Riches." But
its first title In 1731 was "Of Taste"; and this was subsequently
altered to "Of False Taste." It was addressed to Pope's friend, Richard
Boyle, Earl of Burlington; and, under the style of "Timon's Villa,"
employed, for its chief illustration of wasteful and vacuous
magnificence, the ostentatious seat which James Brydges, first Duke of
Chandos, had erected at Canons, near Edgware. The story of Pope's
epistle does not belong to this place. But in the print of _The Man of
Taste_, William Hogarth, gratifying concurrently a personal antipathy,
promptly attacked Pope, Burlington, and his own _bete noire_,
Burlington's architect, William Kent. Pope, to whom Burlington acts as
hodman, is depicted whitewashing Burlington Gate, Piccadilly, which is
labelled "Taste," and over which rises Kent's statue, subserviently
supported at the angles of the pediment by Raphael and Michelangelo. In
his task, the poet, a deformed figure in a tye-wig, bountifully
bespatters the passers-by, particularly the chariot of the Duke of
Chandos. The satire was not very brilliant or ingenious; but its meaning
was clear. Pope was prudent enough to make no reply; though, as Mr. G.S.
Layard shows in his _Suppressed Plates_, it seems that the print was, or
was sought to be, called in by those concerned. Bramston's poem, which
succeeded in 1733, does not enter into the quarrel, it may be because of
the anger aroused by the pictorial reply. But if--as announced on its
title-page,--it was suggested by Pope's epistle, it would also seem to
have borrowed its name from Hogarth's caricature.

It was first issued in folio by Pope's publisher, Lawton Gilliver of
Fleet Street, and has a frontispiece engraved by Gerard Vandergucht.
This depicts a wide-skirted, effeminate-looking personage, carrying a
long cane with a head fantastically carved, and surrounded by various
objects of art. In the background rises what is apparently intended for
the temple of a formal garden; and behind this again, a winged ass
capers skittishly upon the summit of Mount Helicon. As might be
anticipated, the poem is in the heroic measure of Pope. But though many
of its couplets are compact and pointed, Bramston has not yet learned
from his model the art of varying his pausation, and the period closes
his second line with the monotony of a minute gun. Another defect,
noticed by Warton, is that the speaker throughout is made to profess the
errors satirised, and to be the unabashed mouthpiece of his own fatuity,
"Mine," say the concluding lines,--

Mine are the gallant Schemes of Politesse,
For books, and buildings, politicks, and dress.
This is _True Taste_, and whoso likes it not,
Is blockhead, coxcomb, puppy, fool, and sot.

One is insensibly reminded of a quotation from P.L. Courier, made in the
_Cornhill_ many years since by the once famous "Jacob Omnium" when
replying controversially to the author of _Ionica_, "_Je vois_"--says
Courier, after recapitulating a string of abusive epithets hurled at him
by his opponent--"_je vois ce qu'il veut dire: il entend que lui et moi
sont d'avis different; et c'est la sa maniere de s'exprimer_." It was
also the manner of our Man of Taste.

The second line of the above quotation from Bramston gives us four of
the things upon which his hero lays down the law. Let us see what he
says about literature. As a professing critic he prefers books
with notes:--

Tho' _Blackmore's_ works my soul with raptures fill,
With notes by _Bently_ they'd be better still.

Swift he detests--not of course for detestable qualities, but because he
is so universally admired. In poetry he holds by rhyme as opposed to
blank verse:--

Verse without rhyme I never could endure,
Uncouth in numbers, and in sense obscure.
To him as Nature, when he ceas'd to see,
_Milton's_ an _universal Blank_ to me ...
_Thompson _[_sic_] write blank, but know that for that reason
These lines shall live, when thine are out of season.
Rhyme binds and beautifies the Poet's lays
As _London_ Ladies owe their shape to stays.

In this the Man of Taste is obviously following the reigning fashion.
But if we may assume Bramston himself to approve what his hero condemns,
he must have been in advance of his age, for blank verse had but sparse
advocates at this time, or for some time to come. Neither Gray, nor
Johnson, nor Goldsmith were ever reconciled to what the last of them
styles "this unharmonious measure." Goldsmith, in particular, would
probably have been in exact agreement with the couplet as to the
controlling powers of rhyme. "If rhymes, therefore," he writes, in the
_Enquiry into Polite Learning_,[6] "be more difficult [than blank
verse], for that very reason, I would have our poets write in rhyme.
Such a restriction upon the thought of a good poet, often lifts and
encreases the vehemence of every sentiment; for fancy, like a fountain,
plays highest by diminishing the aperture."[7]

Notes:

[6] Ed. 1759, p. 151.

[7] Montaigne has a somewhat similar illustration: "As _Cleanthes_ The
Man of Taste's idol, in matters dramatic, is said, that as the voice
being forciblie pent in the narrow gullet of a trumpet, at last issueth
forth more strong and shriller, so me seemes, that a sentence cunningly
and closely couched in measure-keeping Posie, darts it selfe forth more
furiously, and wounds me even to the quicke".
(_Essayes_, bk. i. ch. xxv. (Florio's translation).


The Man of Taste's idol, in matters dramatic, is Colley Cibber, who,
however, deserves the laurel he wears, not for _The Careless Husband_,
his best comedy, but for his Epilogues and other Plays.

It pleases me, that _Pope_ unlaurell'd goes,
While _Cibber_ wears the Bays for Play-house Prose,
So _Britain's_ Monarch once uncover'd sate,
While _Bradshaw_ bully'd in a broad-brimmed hat,--

a reminiscence of King Charles's trial which might have been added to
Bramston stock quotations. The productions of "Curll's chaste press" are
also this connoisseur's favourite reading,--the lives of players in
particular, probably on the now obsolete grounds set forth in Carlyie's
essay on Scott.[8] Among these the memoirs of Cibber's "Lady Betty
Modish," Mrs. Oldfield, then lately dead, and buried in Westminster
Abbey, are not obscurely indicated.

Note:

[8] "It has been said. 'There are no English lives worth reading except
those of Players, who by the nature of the case have bidden Respectability
good-day.'"

In morals our friend--as might be expected _circa_ l730--is a
Freethinker and Deist. Tindal is his text-book: his breviary the _Fable
of the Bees_;--

T' Improve In Morals _Mandevil_ I read,
And _Tyndal's_ Scruples are my settled Creed.
I travell'd early, and I soon saw through
Religion all, e'er I was twenty-two.
Shame, Pain, or Poverty shall I endure,
When ropes or opium can my ease procure?
When money's gone, and I no debts can pay,
Self-murder is an honourable way.
As _Pasaran_ directs I'd end my life,
And kill myself, my daughter, and my wife.

He would, of course, have done nothing of the kind; nor, for the matter
of that, did his Piedmontese preceptor.[9]

Note:

[9] Count Passeran was a freethinking nobleman who wrote _A
Philosophical Discourse on Death_, in which he defended suicide, though
he refrained from resorting to it himself. Pope refers to him in the
_Epilogue to the Satires_, Dialogue i. 124:--

If Blount despatch'd himself, he play'd the man,
And so may'st thou, illustrious Passeran!


_Nil admirari_ is the motto of the Man of Taste in Building, where he is
naturally at home. He can see no symmetry in the Banqueting House, or in
St. Paul's Covent Garden, or even in St. Paul's itself.

Sure wretched _Wren_ was taught by bungling _Jones_,
To murder mortar, and disfigure stones!

"Substantial" Vanbrugh he likes-=chiefly because his work would make
"such noble ruins." Cost is his sole criterion, and here he, too, seems
to glance obliquely at Canons:--

_Dorick, Ionick,_ shall not there be found,
But it shall cost me threescore thousand pound.

But this was moderate, as the Edgware "folly" reached L250,000. In
Gardening he follows the latest whim for landscape. Here is his
burlesque of the principles of Bridgeman and Batty Langley:--

Does it not merit the beholder's praise,
What's high to sink? and what is low to raise?
Slopes shall ascend where once a green-house stood,
And in my horse-pond I will plant a wood.
Let misers dread the hoarded gold to waste,
Expence and alteration show a _Taste_.

As a connoisseur of Painting this enlightened virtuoso is given over to
Hogarth's hated dealers in the Black Masters:--

In curious paintings I'm exceeding nice,
And know their several beauties by their _Price_.
_Auctions_ and _Sales_ I constantly attend,
But chuse my pictures by a _skilful Friend_,
Originals and copies much the same,
The picture's value is the _painter's name_.[10]

Of Sculpture he says--

In spite of _Addison_ and ancient _Rome_,
Sir _Cloudesly Shovel's_ is my fav'rite tomb.[11]
How oft have I with admiration stood,
To view some City-magistrate in wood?
I gaze with pleasure on a Lord May'r's head
Cast with propriety in gilded lead,--

the allusion being obviously to Cheere's manufactory of such popular
garden decorations at Hyde Park Corner.

Notes:

[10]: See _post_, "M. Ronquet on the Arts," p. 51.

[11]: "Sir _Cloudesly Shovel's_ Monument has very often given me great
Offence: Instead of the brave rough English Admiral, which was the
distinguishing Character of that plain, gallant Man, he is represented
on his Tomb [in Westminster Abbey] by the Figure of a Beau, dressed in a
long Perriwig, and reposing himself upon Velvet Cushions under a Canopy
of State" (_Spectator_, March 30, 1711).


In Coins and Medals, true to his instinct for liking the worst the best,
he prefers the modern to the antique. In Music, with Hogarth's Rake two
years later, he is all for that "Dagon of the nobility and gentry,"
imported song:--

Without _Italian_, or without an ear,
To _Bononcini's_ musick I adhere;--

though he confesses to a partiality for the bagpipe on the ground that
your true Briton "loves a grumbling noise," and he favours organs and
the popular oratorios. But his "top talent is a bill of fare":--

Sir Loins and rumps of beef offend my eyes,[12]
Pleas'd with frogs fricass[e]ed, and coxcomb-pies.
Dishes I chuse though little, yet genteel,
_Snails_[13] the first course, and _Peepers_[14] crown the meal.
Pigs heads with hair on, much my fancy please,
I love young colly-flowers if stew'd in cheese,
And give ten guineas for a pint of peas!
No tatling servants to my table come,
My Grace is _Silence_, and my waiter _Dumb_.

He is not without his aspirations.

Could I the _priviledge_ of _Peer_ procure,
The rich I'd bully, and oppress the poor.
To _give_ is wrong, but it is wronger still,
On any terms to _pay_ a tradesman's bill.
I'd make the insolent Mechanicks stay,
And keep my ready-money all for _play_.
I'd try if any pleasure could be found
In _tossing-up_ for twenty thousand pound.
Had I whole Counties, I to _White's_ would go,
And set lands, woods, and rivers at a throw.
But should I meet with an unlucky run,
And at a throw be gloriously undone;
My _debts of honour_ I'd discharge the first,
Let all my _lawful creditors_ be curst.

Notes:

[12] As they did those of Goldsmith's "Beau Tibbs." "I hate your
immense loads of meat ... extreme disgusting to those who are in the
least acquainted with high life" (_Citizen of the World_, 1762, i.
241).

[13]: The edible or Roman snail (_Helix pomatia_) is still
known to continental cuisines--and gipsy camps. It was introduced into
England as an epicure's dish in the seventeenth century.

[14]: Young chickens.


Here he perfectly exemplifies that connexion between connoisseurship and
play which Fielding discovers in Book xiii. of _Tom Jones_.[15] An
anecdote of C.J. Fox aptly exhibits the final couplet in action, and
proves that fifty years later, at least, the same convenient code was in
operation. Fox once won about eight thousand pounds at cards. Thereupon
an eager creditor promptly presented himself, and pressed for payment.
"Impossible, Sir," replied Fox," I must first discharge my debts of
honour." The creditor expostulated. "Well, Sir, give me your bond." The
bond was delivered to Fox, who tore it up and flung the pieces into the
fire. "Now, Sir," said he, "my debt to you is a debt of honour," and
immediately paid him.[16]

Notes:

[15] "But the science of gaming is that which above all others
employs their thoughts [i.e. the thoughts of the 'young gentlemen of our
times']. These are the studies of their graver hours, while for their
amusements they have the vast circle of connoisseurship, painting,
music, statuary, and natural philosophy, or rather _unnatural_, which
deals in the wonderful, and knows nothing of nature, except her monsters
and imperfections" (ch. v.).

[16] _Table Talk of Samuel Rogers_ [by Dyce], 1856, p. 73.


But we must abridge our levies on Pope's imitator. In Dress the Man of
Taste's aim seems to have been to emulate his own footman, and at this
point comes in the already quoted reference to velvet
"inexpressibles"--(a word which, the reader may be interested to learn,
is as old as 1793). His "pleasures," as might be expected, like those of
Goldsmith's Switzers, "are but low"--

To boon companions I my time would give,
With players, pimps, and parasites I'd live.
I would with _Jockeys_ from _Newmarket_ dine,
And to _Rough-riders_ give my choicest wine ...
My ev'nings all I would with _sharpers_ spend,
And make the _Thief-catcher_ my bosom friend.
In _Fig_, the Prize-fighter, by day delight,
And sup with _Colly Cibber_ ev'ry night.

At which point--and probably in his cups--we leave our misguided fine
gentleman of 1733, doubtless a fair sample of many of his class under
the second George, and not wholly unknown under that monarch's
successors--even to this hour.



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