Old and New London: Volume 2. Originally published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin, London, 1878.
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The Grey Friars in Newgate Street—The Origin of Christ's Hospital—A Fashionable Burying-Place—The Mean Conduct of Sir Martin Bowes— Early Private Benefactors of Christ's Hospital—Foundation of the Mathematical School—Rebuilding of the South Front of Christ's Hospital—The Plan of Christ's Hospital—Famous Pictures in the Hall—Celebrated Blues—Leigh Hunt's Account of Christ's Hospital— The "Fazzer"—Charles Lamb—Boyer, the Celebrated Master of Christ's Hospital—Coleridge's Experiences—Erasmus—Singular Legacies—Numbers in the School—The Education at Christ's Hospital—Eminent Blues—The Public Suppers—Spital Sermons—Ceremony on St. Matthew's Day—University Exhibitions—The Diet—"Gag-eaters"—The Rebuilding in 1803.
Lives there a Londoner who has not, at some stray hour or other, leant against the tall iron gates in Newgate Street, and felt his golden youth return, as he watched the gambols of the little bareheaded men in blue petticoats and yellow stockings? Can any man of thought, however hurried Citywards, but stop a moment to watch and see the "scrouge," the mad rush after the football, the dashing race to rescue prisoners at the bases? Summer or winter, the yellow-legged boys form a pleasant picture of perpetual youth; nor can one ever pass a strapping young Grecian in the streets without feeling some veneration for the successor of Coleridge and Charles Lamb, Hazlitt and Leigh Hunt.
Where the fine old school now stands was the site of a convent of Grey (or Mendicant) Friars, who, coming to London in the thirteenth century, after a short stay in Holborn and Cornhill, were, in 1225, housed on the north side of Newgate Street, on a good plot of ground next St. Nicholas Shambles, by John Ewin, a pious and generous mercer, who eventually became a lay brother. The friars of St. Francis, aided by men like Ewin, throve well on the scraps of Holborn and Cheapside, and their chapel soon grew into a small church, which was rebuilt in 1327 with great splendour. The Grey Friars' church, says Pennant, was reckoned "one of the most superb of the conventual establishments of London," and alms poured fast into its treasury. It received royal offerings and sheltered royal dead. In 1429 the immortal Whittington built the studious friars of Newgate Street a library, 129 feet long and 31 broad, with twenty-eight desks, and eight double settles. In three years it was filled with books, costing £556 10s., whereof Richard Whittington gave £400, and Dr. Thomas Winchilsey, one of the friars, the rest, adding an especial 100 marks for the writing out the works of D. Nicholas de Lyra, in two volumes, to be chained there. Among the royal contributors to the Grey Friars we may mention Queen Margaret, second wife of Edward I., who gave in her lifetime 2,000 marks, and by will 100 marks, towards building a choir; John Britaine, Earl of Richmond, gave £300 towards the church building, besides jewels and ornaments; Mary, Countess of Pembroke, sent £70, and Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, twenty great oak beams from his forest at Tunbridge and £20; the good Queen Philippa, wife of Edward III., £62; and Isabel, queen-mother of Edward III., £70.
The founder of the school is by most people supposed to have been Edward VI., but it was really his father, Henry VIII., and it was one of the few works of mercy which originated in that cruel tyrant. At the dissolution, when sacramental cups and crucifixes were being melted down by the thousand, to maintain a bad king in his sumptuous splendour, the English Sultan, in one of his few good moments, near the end of his reign, gave the Grey Friars' church to the City, to be devoted to the relief of the poor. The building had previously been used as a storehouse for plunder taken from the French. The gift, confirmed by the pious young king, Edward VI., was announced by Dr. Ridley, Bishop of Rochester, at a public sermon at Paul's Cross. The parishes of St. Ewin, St. Nicholas, and part of St. Sepulchre's were at this time compressed into one large parish, and called Christ Church.
The good work remained in abeyance, till, in 1552, the worthy Ridley, preaching before the young king, his subject being "mercy and charity," made, says Stow, "a fruitful and godly exhortation" to the rich to be merciful to the poor, and also to move those who were in authority to strive, by charitable ways and means, to comfort and relieve them. The young king, always eager to do good, hearing that London swarmed with impoverished and neglected people, at once sent for the bishop to come to him after sermon. The memorable interview between Ridley and Edward took place in a great gallery at Westminster, where the king and bishop were alone. A chair had been already provided for the bishop, and the king insisted on the worthy prelate remaining covered. Edward first gave the bishop hearty thanks for his good sermon and exhortation, and mentioned the special points which he had noted. "'Truely, truely,' remarks Ridley (for that commonly was his oath), 'I could never have thought that excellency to have been in his Grace, but that I beheld and heard it in him.' At the last the king's majestie much commended him for his exhortation for the reliefe of the poore. 'For, my lord,' quoth he, 'you willed such as are in authority to bee careful thereof, and to devise some good order for theire reliefe, wherein I think you mean mee; for I am in highest place, and therefore am the first that must make answer unto God for my negligence, if I should not be careful therein, knowing it to bee the expresse commandment of Almighty God to have compassion of his poore and needy members, for whom we must make an account unto him. And truely, my lord, I am (before all things else) most willing to travaile that way, and doubting nothing of your long and approved wisdome and learning, who have such good zeale as wisheth health unto them; but also that you have had some conference with others what waies are best to be taken therein, the which I am desirous to understand; I pray you therefore to say your minde.'"
The bishop, amazed to hear the wisdom and earnest zeal of the child-king, confessed that he was so astonished that he hardly knew what to reply; but after a pause, he urged the special claims of the poor of London, where the citizens were wise, and, he doubted not, pitiful and merciful, and would carry out the work. The king, not releasing Ridley till his letter to the mayor was written, signed, and sealed, sent his express commandment to the mayor that he should inform him how far he had proceeded. Ridley, overjoyed at such youthful zeal, went that night to Sir Richard Dobbes, the Lord Mayor, and delivered the king's letter and message. The mayor, honoured and pleased, invited the bishop to dine the next day with two aldermen and six commoners, to discuss the charitable enterprise. On the mayor's report to the king, Edward expressed his willingness to grant a charter to the new governors, and to be proclaimed as founder and patron of the new hospital. He also confirmed his father's grant of the old Grey Friars' monastery, and endowed it (to bring the charity at once into working order) with lands and tenements that had belonged to the Savoy, of the yearly value of about £450. He also consented to the City's petition that they might take, in mortmain or otherwise, without licence, lands to the yearly value of —. Edward filled up the blank with the words "4,000 marks," and then, before his whole council, exclaimed, with his usual pious fervour, "Lord, I yield Thee most hearty thanks that Thou hast given me life thus long, to finish this work to the glory of Thy name."
Edward, says the Rev. W. Trollope, the historian of Christ's Hospital, lived about a month after signing the Charter of Incorporation of the Royal Hospitals. The citizens, roused by the king's fervour, and touched by his untimely death, set to work with gold and steel, and in six months the old Grey Friars' monastery was patched up sufficiently to accommodate 340 boys, a number increased to 380 by the end of the year.
As the Grey Friars' churchyard was thought, in the Middle Ages, to be peculiarly free from incubi and flying demons of all sorts, it soon became a fashionable burying-place, and almost as popular as the great abbey even with royalty. Four queens lie there, among countless lords and ladies, brave knights, and godly monks—Margaret, second wife of Edward I., and Isabella, the infamous wife and part murderess of Edward II., both, as we have before mentioned, benefactors to the hospital; Joan, daughter of Edward II. and wife of David Bruce, King of Scotland; and, lastly, Isabella, wife of William, Baron Fitzwarren, titular Queen of Man. The English Queen Isabella, as if to propagate an eternal lie, was buried with the heart of her murdered husband on her breast. Her ghost, according to all true "Blues," still haunts the cloisters.
Here, also, rest other knights and ladies, almost equally illustrious by birth; among others, Isabella, daughter of Edward III. and wife of Ingelram de Courcy, Earl of Bedford; John Hastings, the young Earl of Pembroke, slain by accident at a Christmas tournament in Woodstock Park, 1389; John, Duke of Bourbon, one of the noble French prisoners taken at Agincourt, who had been a prisoner in the Tower eighteen years; Walter Blunt, Lord Mountjoy, Lord Treasurer to Edward IV., and the "gentle Mortimer," the wretched paramour of Queen Isabella, who was hung at Tyburn, and left two days withering on the gallows. Lastly, those two rapacious favourites of Richard II., Sir Robert Tresilian, Chief Justice of England, and Sir Nicholas Brembre, Lord Mayor of London, both hung at Tyburn. Tradition goes that they could not hang Tresilian till they had removed from his person certain magic images and the head of a devil.
The friars'churchyard seems also to have been fashionable with state criminals of the Middle Ages, for here also lies Sir John Mortimer, an unhappy Yorkist, hung, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn by the Lancastrian party in 1423 (the second year of the reign of the child-king, Henry VI.) To the same bourne also came a victim of Yorkist cruelty, Thomas Burdet, for speaking a few angry words about a favourite white buck which Edward IV. had carelessly killed. A murderess, too, lies here, a lady named Alice Hungerford, who, for murdering her husband in 1523, was carted to Tyburn, and there hung. All these ancient monuments and tombs were basely and stupidly sold, in 1545, by Sir Martin Bowes, Lord Mayor, for a poor fifty pounds. The Great Fire of 1666 destroyed the Grey Friars' church, which Wren shortly afterwards rebuilt, a little further to the east; and in the old church perished the tomb of the beautiful Lady Venetia Digby, whom Ben Jonson celebrated, and who, it was absurdly supposed, perished from viper-broth, administered by her husband to heighten her beauty.
One of the earliest private benefactors of this hospital was Sir William Chester, Lord Mayor in 1554, who built the walls adjoining to St. Bartholomew's Hospital; and the next was John Calthrop, draper, who, at his own expense, arched and vaulted the noisome town ditch, from Aldersgate to Newgate. Nor must we forget that worthy though humble benefactor, Castell, the shoemaker, from his early habits generally known as "the Cock of Westminster," who left to the hospital £44 a year from his hard-earned store. The greater part of the school (except the venerable cloisters) so often echoing with the merry shouts of boyish happiness, was rebuilt by Sir Christopher, In 1673, Charles II., at the suggestion of our old friend Pepys, Sir Robert Clayton, and Lord Treasurer Clifford, founded a mathematical school for the instruction of forty boys in navigation, and appointed Pepys one of the governors. King Charles endowed the school with £1,000 for seven years, and added an annuity of £370 out of the Exchequer, for the educating and sending to sea ten boys annually, five of whom pass an examination before the Elder Trinity Brothers every six months. These boys used to be annually presented by the president to the king, upon New Year's Day, when that festival was observed at court, and afterwards, upon the queen's birthday. They wear, says Mr. Trollope, a badge upon the left shoulder, the figures upon which represent Arithmetic, with a scroll in one hand, and the other placed upon a boy's head; Geometry, with a triangle in her hand; and Astronomy, with a quadrant in one hand and a sphere in the other. Round the plate is inscribed, "Auspicio Caroli secundi Regis, 1673." The dye is kept in the Tower.
Mr. Stone, a governor, to supplement the king's grant, left a legacy for the maintenance of a preliminary class of twelve boys, who were to be taught navigation. The "Twelves" wear a badge on the right shoulder, the king's boys wearing theirs on the left. Sir Robert Clayton, after a severe illness, in 1675, built the south front of the hospital, which had been in ruins since the Great Fire, and, on the death of his partner, Mr. Morrice, who had offered to halve the expense, Sir Robert secretly paid the whole £5,000, which was not known till the Tories had deprived him of the mayoralty and of the governorship of the hospital.
In 1680 Sir John Frederick, the president, rebuilt the great hall, which the Fire had injured, at a cost of more than £5,000; and, three years after, the governors erected a branch building at Hertford (where all the younger children are educated), to which a large hall was added in 1800. In 1694 Sir John Moore, alderman, built a writingschool. The good work went on, for, in 1724, Samuel Travers gave the hospital an estate for the maintenance of forty or fifty sons of lieutenants, to be educated for the navy. Later, John Stock, Esq., left £3,000 to the school, for the maintenance of four boys, children of naval lieutenants, to be educated two as sailors and two as tradesmen. In 1783 John Smith, Esq., left money to build a new grammar-school, and several masters' houses were afterwards pulled down, and a good entrance made from Little Britain.
This re-disposition of the ground made room for three playgrounds—the ditch, the garden, and the new playground. The site of the grammarschool was taken from the south side of the ditch. The following used to be a sufficiently accurate account of the school premises:—On the south side of the entrance from Little Britain is the treasurer's house, and the other houses in this playground are occupied by the matron, masters, and beadles. Proceeding in an easterly direction leads to the south-east entrance from Butcher Hall Lane, Newgate Street, and in this space (which is called the counting-house yard) stands the counting-house, and several other houses, which are inhabited by the clerks and some of the masters. The treasurer has also a back entrance to his house, at the end of the counting-house, and his garden runs at the back of all the houses on the east side of this yard. The opposite building is occupied by the boys, and in a niche in the centre, fronting the door of the counting-house, is a statue of King Edward (considered the most perfect one), which represents his majesty, who stands on a black marble slab, in the act of delivering the charter.
The mathematical school is over the old west entrance, now closed up, and was built by Wren, with a ward for the foundation boys over it. A robed statue of Charles II., dated 1672, stands over the gateway. The entrance leads to the north-west corner of the cloisters, which form the four shady sides of the garden playground, and have porticoes, with Gothic arches all round. The walls are supported by abutments of the old priory. Wren repaired the cloisters, which are useful to the young blue monks for play and promenade in wet weather.
The great dining-hall is every way worthy of the grand old City school. It was erected from designs of John Shaw, architect, and stands partly on the foundations of the ancient refectory, and partly on the site of the old City wall. The style is pure Gothic, and the southern or principal front is built of Portland stone with cloisters of Heytor granite, running beneath a portion of the dininghall. Nine large and handsome windows occupy the entire front. On the ground storey are the governors' room, the wardrobe, the buttery, and other offices; and the basement storey contains, besides cellars, &c., a spacious kitchen, 69 feet long by 33 feet wide, supported by massive granite pillars. The hall itself, with its lobby and organgallery, occupies the entire upper storey, which is 187 feet long, 51½ feet wide, and 46½ feet high. It was at one time (and perhaps still is) famous for its rats, who, attracted by the crumbs and fragments of food, foraged about after dark in hundreds. It used to be the peculiar pride of an old "Blue" to catch these rats with his hands only, traps being considered cowardly aids to humanity and unworthy of the hospital. The old dusty pictureframes are favourite terraces for these vermin.
The two famous pictures in the hall—neither of them of much real merit, but valuable for their portraits—are those of Edward VI. renewing his father's gift of the hospital, and of St. Thomas and Bridewell, to the City, falsely ascribed to Holbein, who died seven or eight years before it took place; and "sprawling" Verrio's picture of James II. receiving an audience of Christ's Hospital boys and girls. The pseudo-Holbein and the painting by Verrio are both well described by Malcolm. The so-called Holbein "adorns the west wall, and is placed near the entrance, at the north end of the hall. The king is seated on a throne, elevated on two steps, with two very clumsy brackets for arms, on which are fanciful pilasters, adorned with carving, and an arch; on the left pilaster, a crowned lion holding a shield, with the letter 'E'; a dragon on the other has another inscribed 'R.' Two angels, reclining on the arch, support the arms of England. The hall of audience is represented as paved with black and white marble; the windows are angular, with niches between each. As there are statues in only two of those, it seems to confirm the idea that it is an exact resemblance of the royal apartment.
"The artist has bestowed his whole attention on the young monarch, whose attitude is easy, natural, and dignified. He presents the deed of gift with his right hand, and holds the sceptre in his left. The scarlet robe is embroidered, and lined with ermine, and the folds are correctly and minutely finished. An unavoidable circumstance injures the effect of this picture, which is the diminutive stature of the infant-king, who shrinks into a dwarf, compared with his full-grown courtiers; unfortunately, reversing the necessary rule of giving most dignity and consequence to the principal person in the piece.
"The chancellor holds the seals over his crossed arms at the king's right hand. This officer and three others are the only standing figures. Ridley kneels at the foot of the throne, and shows his face in profile with uplifted hands. On the right are the mayor and aldermen, in scarlet robes, kneeling. Much cannot be said in praise of those worthies. The members of the Common Council, &c., on the other side, are grouped with more skill, and the action is more varied. The heads of the spectators are generally full of anxious attention.
"But five of twenty-eight children who are introduced in the foreground turn towards the king; the remainder look out of the picture. The matron on the girls' side (if a portrait) was chosen for her mental and not her personal qualifications. Such are the merits and defects of this celebrated painting, which, though infinitely inferior to many of Holbein's Dutch and Italian contemporaries, is a valuable, and in many respects an excellent, historic composition.
"Verrio's enormous picture" of James II. and the Bluecoat children "must originally have been in three parts: the centre on the end wall, and the two others on the adjoining sides. Placed thus, the perspective of the depths of the arches would have been right; as it is at present, extended on one plane, they are exactly the reverse. The audience-chamber is of the Ionic order, with twenty pilasters, and their entablatures and arches. The passage, seen through those, has an intersected arched ceiling. The king sits in the centre of the painting, on a throne of crimson damask, with the royal arms embroidered on the drapery of the canopy, the front of which is of fringed white cloth of gold. The footstool is of purple cloth of gold, and the steps of the throne are covered by a rich Turkey carpet, not remarkably well painted. The king holds a scroll in his left hand, extends the right, and seems to address a person immediately before him. The position of his body and the fore-shortened arm are excellent, and the lace and drapery are finely drawn and coloured. On the sides of the throne are two circular portraits.
"The painter has committed a strange error in turning the king's face from the Lord Mayor, who points in vain to an extended map, a globe, and all the kneeling figures, exulting in the progress of their forty boys in the mathematics, who are busily employed in producing their cases and definitions. Neither in such an attitude could the king observe fourteen kneeling girls, though their faces and persons are handsome and graceful, and the matron and her assistant seem eager to place them in the monarch's view. Verrio has stationed himself at the extreme end of the picture, and his expression appears to inquire the spectators' opinion of his performance. On the opposite side a yeoman of the guard clears the way for some person, and a female seems alarmed at his violence, but a fulldressed youth before him looks out of the picture with the utmost indifference. There is one excellent head which speaks earnestly to a boy. Another figure, probably the master or steward, pulls a youth's hair with marks of anger. Several lords-in-waiting are correct and good figures.
"At the upper end of the room, and on the same west wall, is a large whole-length of Charles II. descending from his throne, a curtain from which is turned round a pillar. The king holds his robe with his right hand, and points with the left to a globe and mathematical instruments.
"Some years past"—the date of Malcolm's writing is 1803—"an addition was made to the hall, by taking part of the ward over the south cloister into it. In this are several portraits. Queen Anne, sitting, habited in a gown of cloth of gold with a blue mantle laced with gold and lined with ermine. Her black hair is curled, and without ornament; the arms are too small, but the neck and drapery are good. She holds the orb in her left hand, rested on the knee; the right crosses her waist."
"Although Christ's Hospital is, and has been from its foundation, in the main a commercial seminary," says Mr. Howard Staunton, "the list of 'Blues' who have acquired celebrity in what are called the 'liberal professions' would confer honour upon a school of much loftier pretensions. Notably among the earliest scholars are the memorable Jesuit, Edmund Campion, a man whose unquestionable piety and marvellous ability might well have saved him from a horrible and shameful death; the great antiquary, William Camden, though the fact of his admission is not satisfactorily authenticated; Bishop Stillingfleet (according to the testimony of Pepys); David Baker, the ecclesiastical historian; John Vicars, a religious controversialist of considerable learning and indefatigable energy, but whose fanaticism and intolerance have obtained him an unenviable notoriety from the pen of the author of 'Hudibras;' Joshua Barnes, the Greek scholar; John Jurin, another scholar of great eminence, and who was elected President of the College of Physicians; Jeremiah Markland, a man of distinction, both as scholar and critic; Richardson, the celebrated novelist; Bishop Middleton, of Calcutta; Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Robert Allen.
"In the present century Christ's Hospital can boast of Thomas Mitchell, the well-known translator of Aristophanes; William Henry Neale, Master of Beverley School; Leigh Hunt, Charles Lamb, George Dyer, James White, James Scholefield, Regius Professor of Greek in Cambridge; the Rev. George Townsend; and Thomas Barnes, a late editor of the Times, 'than whom,' Leigh Hunt tells us, 'no man, if he had cared for it, could have been more certain of distinction.'
"In the cloisters," says Leigh Hunt, "a number of persons lie buried, besides the officers of the house. Among them is Isabella, wife of Edward II., the 'she-wolf of France.' I was not aware of this circumstance then; but many a time, with a recollection of some lines in Blair's 'Grave' upon me, have I run as hard as I could, at night-time, from my ward to another, in order to borrow the next volume of some ghostly romance. In one of the cloisters was an impression resembling a gigantic foot, which was attributed by some to the angry stamping of the ghost of a beadle's wife!"
"Our dress," says the same pleasant author, "was of the coarsest and quaintest kind, but was respected out of doors, and is so. It consisted of a blue drugget gown, or body, with ample skirts to it; a yellow vest underneath, in winter-time; smallclothes of Russia duck; worsted yellow stockings; a leathern girdle; and a little black worsted cap, usually carried in the hand. I believe it was the ordinary dress of children in humble life, during the reign of the Tudors. We used to flatter ourselves that it was taken from the monks; and there went a monstrous tradition that at one period it consisted of blue velvet with silver buttons. It was said, also, that during the blissful era of the blue velvet we had roast mutton for supper, but that the smallclothes not being then in existence, and the mutton suppers too luxurious, the eatables were given up for the ineffables. . . .
"Our routine of life was this: We rose to the call of a bell at six in summer and seven in winter; and after combing ourselves and washing our hands and faces, went at the call of another bell to breakfast. All this took up about an hour. From breakfast we proceeded to school, where we remained till eleven, winter and summer, and then had an hour's play. Dinner took place at twelve. Afterwards was a little play till one, when we again went to school, and remained till five in summer and four in winter. At six was the supper. We used to play after it in summer till eight: in winter we proceeded from supper to bed. On Sundays, the school-time of the other days was occupied in church, both morning and evening; and as the Bible was read to us every day before every meal and on going to bed, besides prayers and graces, we rivalled the monks in the religious part of our duties. . . .
"When I entered the school," says Leigh Hunt, speaking of the Grecians, "I was shown three gigantic boys—young men, rather (for the eldest was between seventeen and eighteen)—who, I was told, were going to the university. These were the Grecians. They were the three head boys of the grammar-school, and were understood to have their destiny fixed for the Church. The next class to these—like a college of cardinals to those three popes (for every Grecian was in our eyes infallible)—were the deputy-Grecians. The former were supposed to have completed their Greek studies, and were deep in Sophocles and Euripides. The latter were thought equally competent to tell you anything respecting Homer and Demosthenes."
The "fazzer," in Leigh Hunt's time, was the mumbo-jumbo of the hospital. "The fazzer," says author, "was known to be nothing more than one of the boys themselves. In fact, he consisted of one of the most impudent of the bigger ones; but as it was his custom to disguise his face, and as this aggravated the terror which made the little boys hide their own faces, his participation of our common human nature only increased the supernatural fearfulness of his pretensions. His office as fazzer consisted in being audacious, unknown and frightening the boys at night, sometimes by pulling them out of their beds, sometimes by simply fazzing their hair ('fazzing' meant pulling or vexing, like a goblin); sometimes (which was horriblest of all) by quietly giving us to understand, in some way or other, that the 'fazzer was out,' that is to say, out of his own bed, and then being seen (by those who dared to look) sitting, or otherwise making his appearance, in his white shirt, motionless and dumb."
Charles Lamb talks of the earlier school in a different vein, and with more poetry and depth of feeling. "I must," he says, "crave leave to remember our transcending superiority in those invigorating sports, leapfrog and basting the bear; our delightful excursions in the summer holidays to the New River, near Newington, where, like otters, we would live the long day in the water, never caring for dressing ourselves when we had once stripped; our savoury meals afterwards, when we came home almost famished with staying out all day without our dinners; our visits, at other times, to the Tower, where, by ancient privilege, we had free access to all the curiosities; our solemn processions through the City at Easter, with the Lord Mayor's largess of buns, wine, and a shilling, with the festive questions and civic pleasantries of the dispensing aldermen, which were more to us than all the rest of the banquet; our stately suppings in public, when the well-lighted hall, and the confluence of well-dressed company who came to see us, made the whole look more like a concert or assembly than a scene of a plain bread and cheese collation; the annual orations upon St. Matthew's Day, in which the senior scholar, before he had done, seldom failed to reckon up among those who had done honour to our school, by being educated in it, the names of those accomplished critics and Greek scholars, Joshua Barnes and Jeremiah Markland (I marvel they left out Camden, while they were about it). Let me have leave to remember our hymns and anthems, and well-toned organ; the doleful tune of the burial anthem, chanted in the solemn cloisters upon the seldom-occurring funeral of some schoolfellow; the festivities at Christmas, when the richest of us would club our stock to have a gaudy-day, sitting round the fire, replenished to the height with logs, and the penniless and he that could contribute nothing partook in all the mirth and some of the substantialities of the feasting; the carol sung by night at that time of the year, which, when a young boy, I have so often lain awake to hear, from seven (the hour of going to bed) till ten, when it was sung by the older boys and monitors, and have listened to it in their rude chanting, till I have been transported in fancy to the fields of Bethlehem, and the song which was sung at that season by angels' voices to the shepherds.
"Nor would I willingly forget any of those
things which administered to our vanity. The
hem-stitched bands and town-made shirts, which
some of the most fashionable among us wore;
the town girdles, with buckles of silver or shining
stone; the badges of the sea-boys; the cots, or
superior shoe-strings, of the monitors; the medals
of the markers (those who were appointed to hear
the Bible read in the wards on Sunday morning
and evening), which bore on their obverse, in
silver, as certain parts of our garments carried,
in meaner metal, the countenance of our founder,
that godly and royal child, King Edward the Sixth,
the flower of the Tudor name—the young flower
that was untimely cropt, as it began to fill our land
with its early odours—the boy-patron of boys—the
serious and holy child, who walked with Cranmer
and Ridley, fit associate, in those tender years, for
the bishops and future martyrs of our Church, to
receive or (as occasion sometimes proved) to give
'But, ah! what means the silent tear?
Why, e'en mid joy, my bosom heave?
Ye long-lost scenes, enchantments dear!
Lo! now I linger o'er your grave.
'Fly, then, ye hours of rosy hue,
And bear away the bloom of years!
And quick succeed, ye sickly crew
Of doubts and sorrows, pains and fears!
Still will I ponder Fate's unalter'd plan,
Nor, tracing back the child, forget that I am man.'"
Of the hospital good Lamb says:—"I remember L— at school, and can well recollect that he had some peculiar advantages which I and others of his schoolfellows had not. His friends lived in town, and were near at hand; and he had the privilege of going to see them, almost as often as he wished, through some invidious distinction, which was denied to us. The present worthy subtreasurer to the Inner Temple can explain how that happened. He had his tea and hot rolls in a morning, while we were battening upon our quarter of a penny loaf— our 'crug'—moistened with attenuated small beer, in wooden piggins, smacking of the pitched leathern jack it was poured from. Our Monday's milk porridge, blue and tasteless, and the pease-soup of Saturday, coarse and choking, were enriched for him with a slice of 'extraordinary bread and butter' from the hot loaf of the Temple. The Wednesday's mess of millet, somewhat less repugnant—(we had three banyan to four meat days in the week)—was endeared to his palate by a lump of double-refined, and a smack of ginger (to make it go down the more glibly), or the fragrant cinnamon. In lieu of our half-pickled Sundays, or quite fresh boiled beef on Thursdays (strong as caro equina), with detestable marigolds floating in the pail, to poison the broth—our scanty mutton scrags on Fridays, and rather more savoury but grudging portions of the same flesh, rotten roasted or rare, on the Tuesdays (the only dish which excited our appetites and disappointed our stomachs in almost equal proportion)—he had his hot plate of roast veal, or the more tempting griskin (exotics unknown to our palates), cooked in the paternal kitchen (a great thing), and brought him daily by his maid or aunt! I remember the good old relative (in whom love forbade pride), squatted down upon some odd stone in a by-nook of the cloisters, disclosing the viands (of higher regale than those cates which the ravens ministered to the Tishbite), and the contending passions of L— at the unfolding. There was love for the bringer; shame for the thing brought and the manner of its bringing; sympathy for those who were too many to share in it, and, at top of all, hunger (eldest, strongest of the passions!) predominant, breaking down the strong fences of shame, and awkwardness, and a troubling overconsciousness. . . . .
"Under the stewardship of Perry, can L— have forgotten the cool impunity with which the nurses used to carry away openly, in open platters, for their own tables, one out of two of every hot joint which the careful matron had been seeing scrupulously weighed out for our dinners? . . . .
"I was a hypochondriac lad; and the sight of a boy in fetters, upon the day of my first putting on the blue clothes, was not exactly fitted to assuage the natural terrors of initiation. I was of tender years, barely turned of seven, and had only read of such things in books, or seen them but in dreams. I was told he had run away. This was the punishment for the first offence. As a novice, I was soon after taken to see the dungeons. These were little square Bedlam cells, where a boy could just lie at his length upon straw and a blanket—a mattress, I think, was afterwards substituted—with a peep of light, let in askance, from a prison orifice at top, barely enough to read by. Here the poor boy was locked in by himself all day, without sight of any but the porter, who brought him his bread and water, who might not speak to him, or of the beadle, who came twice a week to call him out to receive his periodical chastisement."
"The culprit who had been a third time an offender, and whose expulsion was at this time deemed irreversible, was brought forth, as at some solemn auto da fe, arrayed in uncouth and most appalling attire, and all trace of his late 'watchet weeds' being carefully effaced, he was exposed in a jacket resembling those which London lamplighters formerly delighted in, with a cap of the same. The effect of this divestiture was such as the ingenious devisers of it must have anticipated. With his pale and frightened features, it was as if some of those disfigurements in Dante had seized upon him. In this disguisement he was brought into the hall (L—'s favourite stateroom), where awaited him the whole number of his schoolfellows, whose joint lessons and sports he was henceforth to share no more; the awful presence of the steward, to be seen for the last time; of the executioner-beadle, clad in his state robe for the occasion; and of two faces more, of direr import, because never but in these extremities visible. These were governors, two of whom, by choice or charter, were always accustomed to officiate at these ultima supplicia—not to mitigate (so, at least, we understood it), but to enforce the uttermost stripe. Old Bamber Gascoigne and Peter Aubert, I remember, were colleagues on one occasion, when the beadle turning rather pale, a glass of brandy was ordered to prepare him for the mysteries. The scourging was, after the old Roman fashion, long and stately. The lictor accompanied the criminal quite round the hall. We were generally too faint with attending to the previous disgusting circumstances to make accurate report with our eyes of the degree of corporal suffering inflicted. After scourging he was made over, in his san benito, to his friends, if he had any, or to his parish officer, who, to enhance the effect of the scene, had his station allotted to him on the outside of the hall gate."
Of Boyer, the celebrated master of Christ's Hospital, Leigh Hunt says:—"The other master, the upper one, Boyer—famous for the mention of him by Coleridge and Lamb—was a short, stout man, inclining to punchiness, with large face and hands, an aquiline nose, long upper lip, and a sharp mouth. His eye was close and cruel. The spectacles which he wore threw a balm over it. Being a clergyman, he dressed in black, with a powdered wig. His clothes were cut short; his hands hung out of the sleeves, with tight wristbands, as if ready for execution; and as he generally wore grey worsted stockings, very tight, with a little balustrade leg, his whole appearance presented something formidably succinct, hard, and mechanical. In fact, his weak side, and undoubtedly his natural destination, lay in carpentry, and he accordingly carried, in a side-pocket made on purpose, a carpenter's rule.
"Jeremy Boyer had two wigs, both pedantic, but of different omen—the one, serene, smiling, fresh-powdered, betokening a mild day; the other, an old, discoloured, unkempt, angry caxon, denoting frequent and bloody execution. Woe to the school when he made his morning appearance in his passy, or passionate wig. No comet expounded surer. Jeremy Boyer had a heavy hand. I have known him double his knotty fist at a poor trembling child (the maternal milk hardly dry upon its lips), with a 'Sirrah, do you presume to set your wits at me?' Nothing was more common than to see him make a headlong entry into the schoolroom, from his inner recess or library, and, with turbulent eye, singling out a lad, roar out, 'Od's my life, sirrah!'—his favourite adjuration,—'I have a great mind to whip you;' then, with as sudden a retracting impulse, fling back into his lair, and, after a cooling lapse of some minutes (during which all but the culprit had totally forgotten the context), drive headlong out again, piecing out his imperfect sentence, as if it had been some devil's litany, with the expletory yell, 'and I will, too!'"
Of Coleridge at school Charles Lamb says:— "Come back into memory, like as thou wert in the dayspring of thy fancies, with hope, like a fiery column, before thee—the dark pillar not yet turned—Samuel Taylor Coleridge, logician, metaphysician, bard! How have I seen the casual passer through the cloisters stand still, entranced with admiration (while he weighed the disproportion between the speech and the garb of the young Mirandula), to hear thee unfold, in thy deep and sweet intonations, the mysteries of Jamblichus or Plotinus (for even in those years thou waxedest not pale at such philosophic draughts), or reciting Homer in his Greek, or Pindar, while the walls of the old Grey Friars re-echoed to the accents of the inspired charity-boy! Many were the 'witcombats' (to dally awhile with the words of old Fuller) between him and C. V. Le Grice, 'which, too, I behold, like a Spanish great galleon and an English man-of-war. Master Coleridge, like the former, was built far higher in learning, solid, but slow in his performances. C. V. L., with the English man-of-war, lesser in bulk, but lighter in sailing, could turn with all tides, tack about, and take advantage of all winds, by the quickness of his wit and invention.'"
"The discipline at Christ's Hospital, in my time," says Coleridge, in his "Table-Talk," in 1832, "was ultra-Spartan; all domestic ties were to be put aside. 'Boy!' I remember Boyer saying to me once, when I was crying, the first day of my return after the holidays, 'boy! the school is your father; boy! the school is your mother; boy! the school is your brother; the school is your sister; the school is your first cousin, and your second cousin, and all the rest of your relations. Let's have no more crying!' No tongue can express good Mrs. Boyer. Val Le Grice and I were once going to be flogged for some domestic misdeed, and Boyer was thundering away at us by way of prologue, when Mrs. B. looked in, and said, 'Flog them soundly, sir, I beg!' This saved us. Boyer was so nettled at the interruption, that he growled out, 'Away! woman, away!' and we were let off."
"The upper grammar-school was divided into four classes, or forms. The two under ones were called Little and Great Erasmus; the two upper were occupied by the Grecians and Deputy-Grecians. We used to think the title of Erasmus taken from the great scholar of that name; but the sudden appearance of a portrait among us, claiming to be the likeness of a certain Erasmus Smith, Esq., shook us terribly in this opinion, and was a hard trial of our gratitude. We scarcely relished this perpetual company of our benefactor, watching us, as he seemed to do, with his omnipresent eyes. I believe he was a rich merchant, and that the forms of Little and Great Erasmus were really named after him. It was a poor consolation to think that he himself, or his great uncle, might have been named after Erasmus. Little Erasmus learned Ovid; Great Erasmus, Virgil, Terence, and the Greek Testament. The Deputy-Grecians were in Homer, Cicero, and Demosthenes; the Grecians in the Greek plays and the mathematics."
"I have spoken," says Leigh Hunt, speaking of Charles Lamb, "of the distinguished individuals bred at Christ's Hospital, including Coleridge and Lamb, who left the school not long before I entered it. Coleridge I never saw till he was old. Lamb I recollect coming to see the boys, with a pensive, brown, handsome, and kindly face, and a gait advancing with a motion from side to side, between involuntary consciousness and attempted ease. His brown complexion may have been owing to a visit in the country; his air of uneasiness, to a great burden of sorrow. He dressed with a quaker-like plainness. I did not know him as Lamb; I took him for a Mr. 'Guy,' having heard somebody address him by that appellative, I suppose in jest."
Soon after the foundation of the schools, says the latest writer on the subject, we find lands and legacies pouring in for the benefit of the charity; many, however, of the gifts being for the blind and aged, for exhibitions, for apprenticing, and for many other objects not strictly attached to the hospital, considered merely as a school. In the same manner many persons left estates and moneys to the governors, on condition that a certain number of scholars should be taken from the ranks of certain City companies, or from certain particular parishes, or should be nominated by some public body, fixed by the donor. From these causes the present property of the trust is encumbered with many charges for purposes which, in the present day, are unnecessary, and often impracticable. Thus, one person left a legacy on condition that a certain number of boys should receive pairs of gloves, on which should be printed, "Christ is risen," and these were to be worn in the various processions in which the school took part in Easter week. The gloves are still given, but instead of being printed on the glove, a little badge is worn, with the words required by the founder. A certain Mary Hunt gave £100, that £3 yearly should be expended for a dinner of boiled legs of pork, while several other persons left moneys to be expended on roast beef and mutton, one of them expressly stating that his gift was to be in addition to the ordinary meat provided for the scholars. If Charles Lamb is to be believed—and he himself was a "Blue"—the gifts of extra meat were, at that date, very much needed; and we are also told that in addition to the quantity being small, the quality also was then far from good. No such complaints can be made in the present day. Many of the contributions given for the hospital were very large, that of Lady Mary Ramsey, wife of a Lord Mayor of London, being now worth over £4,000 a year; and within the last ten years Mr. Richard Thornton bequeathed a large sum to the charity. One cannot, therefore, be astonished to find, particularly when we remember that the school is especially connected with the Corporation of London, that the present gross income of Christ's Hospital is now about £70,000 per annum, of which about £42,000 is expended on education.
The Schools' Inquiry Commissioners hesitate to disturb the old dress, which Charles Lamb has declared it would be a kind of sacrilege to change; it is, however, very distasteful to the "Grecians," or senior boys.
The number of boys in the school at present is, as a rule, about 1,200, of whom somewhat less than 800 are at the premises in Newgate Street; the remainder—the younger boys—being kept at Hertford for from one to three years before being sent to the London institution. As a general rule the boys are supposed to leave at fifteen years of age, the Grecians and Deputy-Grecians, with a few of the King's scholars, who require a further time for their studies, remaining longer in the school. The age of admission is seven, the boys, as is well known, being nominated by the various members of the governing body. In addition to the fixed body of governors there are a large number of presentation governors, who have each paid £500 to the funds of the charity. This payment, indeed, is not supposed necessarily to cause the donor to be elected a governor, but as the privilege has rarely been withheld, it is practically the fact that such a gift will, in all reasonable probability, secure an appointment as governor with its corresponding benefits. It has been calculated that a governor so appointed has, in twelve years from his appointment, through his nominees, received a benefit of over £900 from the charity. Whether the charity was founded with this intention, we leave our readers to judge. No doubt, in many cases the quasi-purchased presentations relieve distressed parents, but there can be no doubt that many of the children in the school (we might almost say the larger number) belong to a class of persons perfectly able to support them, without any appeal to the funds of the charity.
The education given at the hospital is of a superior class, and many of the past students have taken high honours at both universities. Between twenty and thirty masters are employed as the London staff, of whom we remark that the head master receives what appears a very small sum for such a position.
The eminent "Blues" of former times, whom we have before epitomised, deserve a word or two to themselves. Edmund Campian, the celebrated Jesuit, after a quiet life as a professor of rhetoric in a Catholic college at Prague, came to England proselytising, but being seized by Walsingham, Elizabeth's zealous Secretary of State, was tried, found guilty, and hung at Tyburn, in 1581. William Camden, that patriarch of English antiquaries, whose indefatigable researches and study of Saxon rendered his work of special value, was finally appointed by Sir Fulke Greville, his friend, to a post in the Heralds' College. Camden, as a herald, was consulted by Bacon as to the ceremonies for creating him viscount. In his old age Camden founded a history lecture at Oxford, and died at his house at Chiselhurst, in Kent (afterwards occupied by the French ex-emperor), in 1623. Camden's papers relative to ecclesiastical affairs belonged to Archbishop Laud, and were, it is supposed, destroyed by Prynne and Hugh Peters. Camden seems to have been an easy, unruffled man. He was accused by his enemies of borrowing too freely, and without acknowledgment, from his predecessor, Leland. He wrote some by no means indifferent Latin poetry, and an epitaph on Mary Queen of Scots. Joshua Barnes, Greek professor at Cambridge, was another shining light of the Bluecoats. His editions of Homer and Anacreon were in their time celebrated. He died in 1712, and on the old scholar's monument it is recorded that he had read his small English Bible through 121 times. Dr. Bentley used to say of Joshua Barnes that "he understood as much of Greek as an Athenian cobbler." In Emmanuel Library great bundles of Barnes's Greek verses fade and gather dust, together with part of a Latin-Greek lexicon never finished. Jeremiah Markland, a learned scholar and critic, was another memorable "Blue." He vindicated Addison's character against Pope's satire, was sneered at by Warburton, and edited many editions of classical works. Latterly, this worthy scholar lived in retirement, near Dorking, and twice refused the Greek professorship. Poor George Dyer, Lamb's friend, a true "Blue" indeed, was originally a reporter and private tutor. He wrote some weak poems, and edited Valpy's unsuccessful Delphin classics. Dr. Middleton, Lord Bishop of Calcutta, another "Blue," was early in life vicar of St. Pancras. Val Le Grice, mentioned so lovingly by Charles Lamb, afterwards became a perpetual curate of Penzance, where he helped to found a geological society, and was an opponent of the Methodist revival. James White, another "Blue" of this epoch, for some time filled a post in the hospital country house. His "Letters of Falstaff" were much applauded by the Lamb set. Meyer, nephew of Hoppner, an eminent engraver, was placed in the hospital by Boydell's interest. He was an eminent portrait-painter, and a friend of George Dyer. Another great credit to the Bluecoat School was the Rev. Thomas Mitchell, the admirable translator and commentator upon the plays of Aristophanes. Previous to his dexterous rendering, only two out of the fifty-four comedies of Aristophanes had been translated into English.
Among the pictures in the dining-hall we should not forget a simple-hearted representation of Sir Brook Watson (Lord Mayor) escaping when a boy from the shark that bit his leg off while bathing. This is the work of Copley, the father of Lord Lyndhurst. A wit of the time had the cruelty, from personal knowledge of this worthy Lord Mayor, to observe that if the shark had got hold of Sir Brook Watson's skull, instead of his leg, the shark would have got the worst of it.
There is a curious history attached to the portrait of a Mr. John St. Arnaud, the grandfather of a benefactor to the hospital, which hangs in the treasury. By the terms of James St. Arnaud's will all the money he left passes to the University of Oxford, if this picture is ever lost or given away; and the same deprivation occurs if this picture is not produced once a year at the general court, and also shown, on requisition, to the Vice-Chancellor or his deputy. As the St. Arnauds had intermarried, in the reign of Henry III., with the luckless Stuarts, there is a tradition in the school that this picture is the portrait of the Pretender, but this is an unfounded notion.
A very old feature of Christ's Hospital is the public suppers on the seven Sunday evenings preceding Easter, for which pleasant sight the treasurer and governors have the right of issuing tickets. It is a pretty, quaint ceremony of the old times, and was witnessed by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, in 1845. The long tables are laid with cheese in wooden bowls, beer, in wooden piggins, poured out from black leather jacks, and the bread is borne in in huge baskets. The interesting ceremony commences by the steward rapping a table three times with a hammer. The first stroke is for taking places, the second for silence, the third is the signal for a Grecian to read the evening lesson from the pulpit, which lesson is followed by appropriate prayers. The Lord Mayor, as President, is seated in a state chair made of oak from old St. Katherine's Church. A psalm is then sung, which is followed by a short grace. The "amen" at the end of the prayers, pronounced by nearly 800 voices, has an electrical effect. The visitors walk between the tables, and mark the happy, excited faces and the commensurate appetite of youth. After supper, about which there is no "coy, reluctant, amorous delay," an anthem is sung, and the boys then pass before the president's chair in procession, bow, and retire.
The wards are each headed by their special nurses, who formerly, when the public suppers began at Christmas and ended at Easter, were each preceded by a little Bluecoat holding two high candlesticks, the "trade boys" of each ward carrying the piggins and jacks, the bowls, candlesticks, tablecloths, bread-baskets, and knife-baskets. It was a prettier sight with lights than it is now by daylight, and it makes one young again to see it.
The Spital sermons, says Mr. Timbs, are preached in Christchurch, Newgate Street, on Easter Monday and Tuesday, before the Lord Mayor and corporation, and the governors of the five royal hospitals; the bishops in turn preaching on Monday, and usually his lordship's chaplain on Tuesday. On Monday the children, headed by the beadle, proceed to the Mansion House, and return in procession to Christchurch, with the Lord Mayor and the City authorities, to hear the sermon. On Tuesday the children again go to the Mansion House, and pass through the Egyptian Hall before the Lord Mayor, each boy receiving a glass of wine, two buns, and a shilling, the monitors half-acrown each, and the Grecians a guinea. They then return to Christchurch, as on Monday. The boys formerly visited the Royal Exchange on Easter Monday, but this has been discontinued since the burning of the last Exchange in 1838.
"At the first drawing-room of the year," says the same writer, "forty 'mathematical boys' are presented to the sovereign, who gives them £8 8s. as a gratuity. To this other members of the Royal Family formerly added smaller sums, and the whole was divided among the ten boys who left the school in the year. During the illness of George III. these presentations were discontinued, but the governors of the hospital continued to pay £1 3s., the amount ordinarily received by each, to every boy on quitting. The practice of receiving the children was revived by William IV."
Each of the "mathematical boys," having passed his Trinity House examination, and received testimonials of his good conduct, is presented with a watch worth from £9 to £13, in addition to an outfit of clothes, books, mathematical instruments, a Gunter's scale, a quadrant, and sea-chest.
On St. Matthew's Day (Sept. 21) the Grecians deliver orations before the Lord Mayor, corporation, governors, and their friends, this being a relic of the scholars' disputations in the cloisters. "Christ's Hospital," says an author we have already quoted, "by ancient custom possesses the privilege of addressing the sovereign, on the occasion of his or her coming into the City, to partake of the hospitality of the corporation of London. On the visit of Queen Victoria in 1837 a booth was erected for the hospital boys in St. Paul's Churchyard, and on the royal carriage reaching the cathedral west gate the senior scholar, with the head master and treasurer, advanced to the coach-door and delivered a congratulatory address to Her Majesty, with a copy of the same on vellum."
The annual amount of salaries in London and Hertford was about £5,000. About 200 boys, says Mr. Timbs in 1868, are admitted annually. By the regulations passed at a court in 1809 it was decreed "that no children of livery servants (except they be freemen of the City of London), and no children who have any adequate means of being educated or maintained, and no children who are lamed, crooked, or deformed, or suffering from any infectious or incurable disease, should be admitted. Also, that a certificate from a minister, churchwarden, and three principal inhabitants of the parish be required with every child, certifying its age, and that it has no adequate means of being educated or maintained." How far this rule of the old charity has been carried out, and in what way the rigour of such a binding form has been evaded, it is not for us to say; but one thing is certain, that at least one-half of the boys brought up in Christ's Hospital are the sons of well-to-do gentlemen. It is no use denying the disagreeable but certain fact that Christ's Hospital was originally a charity intended to educate dependent children, and it is now a gratuitous school for the sons of professional men.
Mr. Howard Staunton, writing in 1869, says: "On an average four scholars are annually sent to Cambridge with an Exhibition of £80 a year, tenable for four years, and one to Oxford with £100 a year for the like period. Besides these there are the 'Pitt Club' Scholarship and the 'Times' Scholarship, each of £30 a year for four years, which are awarded by competition to the best scholar in classics and mathematics combined, and held by him in addition to his general Exhibition. Upon proceeding to the university each Grecian receives an allowance of £20 for books, £10 for apparel, and £30 for caution-money and settling-fees."
The dietary of the boys is still somewhat monastic. The breakfast, till 1824, was plain bread
and beer, and the dinner three times a week consisted only of milk-porridge, rice-milk, and peasoup. The old school-rhyme, imperishable as the
"Sunday, all saints;
Monday, all souls;
Tuesday, all trenchers;
Wednesday, all bowls;
Thursday, tough Jack;
Friday, no better;
Saturday, pea-soup with bread and butter."
The boys, like the friars in the old refectory, still eat their meat off wooden trenchers, and ladle their soup with wooden spoons from wooden bowls. The beer is brought up in leather jacks, and retailed in small piggins. Charles Lamb, as we have seen before, does not speak highly of the food. The small beer was of the smallest, and tasted of its leather receptacle. The milk-porridge was blue and tasteless; the pea-soup coarse and choking. The mutton was roasted to shreds; the boiled beef was poisoned with marigolds.
There was a curious custom at Christ's Hospital in Lamb's time never to touch "gags" (the fat of the fresh boiled beef), and a "Blue" would have blushed, as at the exposure of some heinous immorality, to have been detected eating that forbidden portion of his allowance of animal food, the whole of which, while he was in health, was little more than sufficient to allay his hunger. The same, or even greater refinement, was shown in the rejection of certain kinds of sweet cake. What gave rise to these supererogatory penances, these self-denying ordinances? The gag-eater was held as equivalent to a ghoul, loathed, shunned, and insulted. Of a certain juvenile monster of this kind Lamb tells us one of his most charming anecdotes, droll and tender as his own exquisite humour. A gag-eater was observed to carefully gather the fat left on the table, and to secretly stow away the disreputable morsels in the settle at his bedside. A dreadful rumour ran that he secretly devoured them at midnight; but he was watched again and again, and it was not so. At last, on a leave-day, he was marked carrying out of bounds a large blue check handkerchief. That, then, was the accursed thing. It was suggested that he sold it to beggars. Henceforward he moped alone. No one spoke to him; no one played with him. Still he persevered. At last two boys traced him to a large worn-out house inhabited by the very poor, such as then stood in Chancery Lane, with open doors and common staircases. The gag-eater stole up four flights of stairs, and the wicket was opened by an old woman meanly clad. Suspicion being now certainty, the spies returned with cruel triumph to tell the steward. He investigated the matter with a kind and patient sagacity, and the result was, that the supposed mendicants turned out to be really the honest parents of the brave gag-eater. "This young stork, at the expense of his own good name, had all this while been only feeding the old birds." "The governors on this occasion," says Lamb, "much to their honour, voted a present relief to the family, and presented the boy with a silver medal. The lesson which the steward read upon rash judgment, on the occasion of publicly delivering the medal, I believe would not be lost upon his auditory. I had left school then, but I well remember the tall, shambling youth, with a cast in his eye, not at all calculated to conciliate hostile prejudices. I have since seen him carrying a baker's basket. I think I heard he did not do so well by himself as he had done by the old folks."
"There were some school-rhymes," says Leigh
Hunt, "about 'pork upon a fork,' and the Jews
going to prison. At Easter a strip of bordered
paper was stuck on the breast of every boy, containing the words, 'He is risen.' It did not give
us the slightest thought of what it recorded; it
only reminded us of an old rhyme which some of
the boys used to go about the school repeating—
'He is risen, he is risen,
All the Jews must go to prison.'
A beautiful Christian deduction! Thus has charity itself been converted into a spirit of antagonism; and thus it is that the antagonism, in the progress of knowledge, becomes first a pastime and then a jest.
"When a boy," says the same writer, "entered the upper school, he was understood to be in the road to the university, provided he had inclination and talents for it; but, as only one Grecian a year went to college, the drafts out of Great and Little Erasmus into the writing-school were numerous. A few also became Deputy-Grecians without going farther, and entered the world from that form. Those who became Grecians always went to the university, though not always into the Church, which was reckoned a departure from the contract. When I first came to school, at seven years old, the names of the Grecians were Allen, Favell, Thomson, and Le Grice, brother of the Le Grice above mentioned, and now a clergyman in Cornwall. Charles Lamb had lately been DeputyGrecian, and Coleridge had left for the university."
In 1803 it was resolved by degrees to rebuild Christ's Hospital. Part of the revenues were laid aside for a building-fund, and £1,000 was given by the corporation. The first stone of the great Tudor dining-hall was laid by the Duke of York, April 28, 1825, John Shaw being the architect. The back wall stands in the ditch that surrounded old London, and is built on piles driven twenty feet deep. In excavating, some Roman coins and a pair of Roman sandals were discovered. The southern front, facing Newgate Street, is supported by buttresses, and has an octagonal tower at each extremity, and is embattled and pinnacled in a trivial and unreal kind of way. The great metal gates of the playground are enriched with the arms of the hospital, argent, a cross gules in the dexter chief, a dagger of the first on a chief azure between two fleurs-de-lis, or, a rose argent. Behind the hall is the large infirmary, built in 1822, and on the east and west sides of the cloisters are the dormitories.
"In the year 1552," says Stow, "began the repairing of the Grey Friars' house, for the poor fatherless children; and in the month of (23) November, the children were taken into the same, to the number of almost four hundred. On Christmas Day, in the afternoon, while the Lord Mayor and aldermen rode to Paules, the children of Christ's Hospital stood from St. Lawrence Lane end, in Cheape, towards Paules, all in one livery of russet cotton, three hundred and forty in number; and in Easter next they were in blue at the Spittle, and so have continued ever since."
A dinner given the other day to Mr. Tice, late head beadle of the hospital, to present him with a purse of seventy guineas, strongly marks the brotherhood that prevails among old "Blues." The first toast drank was to the grand old words—"The religious, royal, and ancient foundation of Christ's Hospital. May those prosper who love it, and may God increase their number." One of the speakers said—" Mr. Tice had an immense amount of patronage in his hands, for he promoted him to be 'lavatory-boy' and 'jack-boy,' till at last he rose to the height of his ambition, and was made 'beer-boy.' He remembered there was a tradition amongst all the boys who went to Peerless Pool, that unless they touched a particular brick they would inevitably be drowned. The grandest days of all, though, were the public suppings, at which Mr. Tice had to precede the Lord Mayor in the procession, and people used to be always asking who he was. He was taken for the French Ambassador, for Garibaldi, and indeed for everybody but Mr. Tice."
"The School Inquiry Commissioners," says a London paper of the day, "propose to abolish the Hertford School, on which £11,000 a year is expended, and devote this sum to the establishment of good day-schools in various districts of the metropolis. The present London school they will preserve, making, however, the places in it only to be gained by merit, the time to be spent in the school being shortened. The Endowed School Commissioners have been for some time treating with the governing body, but as yet it is feared without much success, although Mr. Forster stated in the House of Commons last year that it was hoped some agreement would, before long, be successfully carried out. Whether £42,000 a year ought not to do more than it at present does, is a question which many good judges have, for many years, answered in the affirmative."