Old and New London: Volume 3. Originally published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin, London, 1878.
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In this section
- CHAPTER XXXII.
- CHAPTER XXXIII.
COVENT GARDEN AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD (continued).
'[Agopa 'y Athhyais Chaire]
St. Paul's Church first built—Destroyed by Fire and rebuilt—Dispute between the Earl of Bedford and the Vicar of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields—Horace Walpole's Criticism of the Building—Extracts from the Parish Register—Notabilities interred in the Churchyard—The Parish Ratebooks and Church Registers—"King's" Coffee House—The Westminster Elections—The Duchess of Devonshire and Lady Duncannon's Patriotism—Fox "chaired" as the Man for the People—"Treasonable Practices" of the "Independent Electors"—Excitement consequent on the Westminster Elections—Morals of Covent Garden in the Seventeenth Century—Suicide of Mr. Damer—Arrest of the Muscovite Ambassador, and his Detention in the "Black Raven"—The "Finish"—The "Museum Minervæ"—The Marquis of Worcester and the Convent Garden—Noted Residents of Covent Garden—Tavistock Street—Tavistock Row—Charles Macklin's Residence—The Murder of Miss Ray.
The parish church of St. Paul, Covent Garden, on the west side of the market, as we have said, was built by Inigo Jones, in 1633, at the expense of the ground-landlord, Francis, Earl of Bedford. It was consecrated by Juxon, Bishop of London, on the 27th of September, 1638; repaired, in 1727, by the Earl of Burlington; totally destroyed by fire on the 17th of September, 1795; and rebuilt (John Hardwick, architect) on the plan and in the proportions of the original building. The great delay between the period of erection and that of consecration was owing to a dispute between the Earl of Bedford and Bray, the Vicar of St. Martin'sin-the-Fields, on the right of presentation; the earl claiming it as his own, because he had built it at his own expense, and the vicar claiming it as his own, because, not being then parochial, it was nothing more than a chapel-of-ease to St. Martin's. The matter was heard by the King in Council on the 6th of April, 1638, and judgment given in favour of the earl.
The architecture of St. Paul's Church was not to the taste of Horace Walpole, who criticises it in his usual caustic style:—"The arcade of Covent Garden, and the church—two structures of which I want taste to see the beauties. In the arcade there is nothing remarkable; the pilasters are as errant and homely stripes as any plasterer would make. The barn roof over the portico of the church strikes my eyes with as little idea of dignity or beauty as it could do if it covered nothing but a barn. In justice to Inigo, one must own that the defect is not in the architect, but in the order: who ever saw a beautiful Tuscan building? Would the Romans have chosen that order for a temple? Mr. Onslow, the late Speaker, told me an anecdote that corroborates my opinion of this building. When the Earl of Bedford sent for Inigo, he told him he wanted a chapel for the parishioners of Covent Garden, but added he would not go to any considerable expense. 'In short,' said he, 'I would have it not much better than a barn.' 'Well, then,' replied Jones, 'you shall have the handsomest barn in England.' The expense of building was £4,500."
The parish register records the baptism of Lady Mary Wortley Montague, and the marriage (1764) of Lady Susan Strangways to O'Brien, the handsome actor.
In the churchyard hard by lie buried many eminent persons: amongst others, Robert Carr, Earl
of Somerset, who died in 1645; Sir Henry Herbert
(whose "office book," as "Master of the Revels,"
throws so much light on the history of our stage
and drama in the time of Charles I.), brother to
Lord Herbert of Cherbury and George Herbert,
who died in 1673. Not far off rests Samuel Butler,
the author of "Hudibras." Butler died in Rose
Street, of consumption, on the 25th of September,
1680, and was buried, "according to his owne
appointment," as Aubrey tells us in his "Lives,"
"in the churchyard of Covent Garden; sc. in
the north part next the church at the east end.
His feet touch the wall. His grave 2 yards distant
from the pilaster of the dore (by his desire), 6
foot deepe. About 25 of his old acquaintance at
his funerall: I myself being one." It is a "moot
point" whether Samuel Butler was buried at the
eastern or the western end of the north wall of the
churchyard, the accounts of two individuals who
might be presumed to be best acquainted with the
exact spot where he lies being in conflict on this
matter of detail. "Subsequently," says Mr. J. H.
Jesse, "some persons unknown to fame erected
a monument to the memory of the poet, in the
churchyard, but apparently no trace of it now
remains." Here, too, lies buried Sir Peter Lely,
the painter, who died in the Piazza in 1680. His
monument of white marble, which shared the fate
of the church when destroyed by fire in 1795, was
adorned with a bust of the great artist between two
Cupids, as well as with fruit, foliage, and other
devices, executed by Gibbons: the inscription
alone has been preserved. Near him lie Dick
Estcourt, the actor and wit, who died in 1711–12,
and Edward Kynaston, the celebrated actor of
female parts at the Restoration—a complete female
stage-beauty, "that it has since been disputable
among the judicious, whether any woman that
succeeded him so sensibly touched the audience
as he." (fn. 1) Here too rests William Wycherley, the
dramatist, who died in Bow Street in 1715; Pierce
Tempest, who drew the "Cries of London," known
as "Tempest's Cries," and who died in 1717;
and Grinling Gibbons, the sculptor and carver in
wood, who died in 1721. Not far off are Mrs.
Centlivre, author of The Busybody and The Wonder,
and Robert Wilkes (the original "Sir Harry Wildair," celebrated by Steele for acting with the easy
frankness of a gentleman), who died in 1731. Near
him are James Worsdale, the painter, who carried
Pope's letters to Curll, and, dying in 1767, was buried
in the churchyard, with an inscription (removed
in 1848) of his own composing; also John Wolcot,
the "Peter Pindar" of the reign of George III.,
whom he lashed, as well as his minister Pitt, with
merciless vigour and persistency. He became the
popular satirist of the day, and the fluency of his
pen was equalled by its grossness and obscene
vulgarity. Those who remember him when he
lived in the neighbourhood say that he was a gross
sensualist, in spite of his moral mission as a satirist,
and that he whimsically lay in bed nearly all day
because it was easier to exist when his body weighed
only a few ounces than when he had to carry some
fifteen stone about. He died in January, 1819,
and deserves mention here on account of his eccentricities, of which it were much to be wished that
they could be called harmless ones. But he was
the enemy of others as well as of himself, and no
one cares to say a good word on his behalf. Here
also may or might be seen a curious epitaph upon
Mr. Button, who kept the noted coffee-house in
"Odds fish, and fiery coals,
Are graves become Button-holes!"
In St. Paul's Church is buried, in a nameless grave, a lady, who died in James Street, in this parish, in March, 1720, and who was described at the time simply as "the unknown." This mysterious person is described by Mr. J. Timbs, in his "Romance of London," as "middle-sized, with dark brown hair, and very beautiful features, and the mistress of every accomplishment of fashion. Her circumstances," he continues, "were affluent, and she possessed many rich trinkets set with diamonds. A Mr. John Ward, of Hackney, published several particulars of her in the newspapers, and amongst others said that a servant had been directed by her to deliver to him a letter after her death; but, as no servant appeared, he felt himself required to notice those circumstances, in order to acquaint her relations that her death occurred suddenly after a masquerade, where she declared that she had conversed with the king; and it was remembered that she had been seen in the private apartments of Queen Anne, though, after the queen's death, she lived in obscurity. 'The unknown' arrived in London in 1714 from Mansfield, in a carriage drawn by six horses. She frequently said that her brother was a nobleman, but that her elder brother dying unmarried, the title was extinct; adding that she had an uncle living from whom she had expectations. It was conjectured," adds Mr. Timbs, though he does not tell us why, "that she was the daughter of a Roman Catholic, who had consigned her to a convent." But the rumours "lacks confirmation."
Mr. J. H. Jesse, in his "London," pronounces St. Paul's Church as "unquestionably the most interesting spot in Covent Garden;" and possibly it might be so had not the old church been destroyed by fire at the end of the last century. "Few persons," he writes, "who are in the habit of passing by this heavy-looking building, are aware that, with the exception of Westminster Abbey, here lie the remains of more men of genius than, apparently, in any other church in London." He adds, however, that "except a small tablet to the memory of Macklin, the actor, it contains no monumental memorials of the dead;" a fact, we should have thought, which would have been very fatal to its claim to be the "most interesting spot" of the neighbourhood. We want to see these mute memorials with our eyes, and to read the names inscribed upon them, in order to realise, save in the faintest sense, the local and personal interest which clings to such places.
The rectory of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, is in the patronage of the Duke of Bedford; and, curiously enough, the parish is entirely surrounded by that of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, from which it was cut off.
The rate-books of this parish are kept carefully arranged in streets, like a Post-office Directory; and they contain the name of every householder from the first formation of the parish down to the present day. The church registers also are kept with scrupulous care.
Close under the portico of the church was a common kind of shed, "once well known," says Arthur Murphy, "to all gentlemen to whom beds are unknown," facetiously termed "King's Coffee House." "It was kept," writes Peter Cunningham, "by a person of the name of Tom King, and it forms a conspicuous feature in Hogarth's print of 'Morning.'" Of this print we give an engraving on page 253. The coffee-house has, however, long since been swept away.
As the hustings for the Westminster elections, from time immemorial to a recent date, have been fixed before the east end of St. Paul's Church, that side of Covent Garden has often witnessed the most exciting scenes. But never was witnessed, either there or elsewhere, an election more exciting than that of May, 1784, when the Tory party moved heaven and earth to exclude the Whig leader, Charles James Fox, from the representation of Westminster. As, day after day, the inhabitants of the metropolitan parishes had polled, and the numbers were nearly even, the task of beating up the outlying voters in the suburbs was undertaken with a heart and a will by Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and her sister, Lady Duncannon. "These ladies," writes Sir N. W. Wraxall, "being furnished with lists of the outlying voters, drove in their carriages to their respective dwellings, sparing neither entreaties nor promises. In some instances even personal caresses were said to have been permitted in order to prevail on the sulky and inflexible; and there can be no doubt of common mechanics having been conveyed to the hustings by the Duchess in her own coach." The effect of such a powerful intervention soon showed itself. Fox was soon a hundred votes ahead of his opponent, Sir Cecil Wray, and in spite of the counter efforts of the Countess of Salisbury, at the close of the poll he had a clear majority of 235. It was on this occasion that an Irish costermonger, if we may believe the story, came up to Her Grace of Devonshire, who was one of the leading beauties of the day, and respectfully and wittily entreated to be allowed to "light his pipe at her ladyship's eye." It is on record that Her Grace of Devonshire used regularly, on the occasion of an election, to hire a first-floor in Henrietta Street in order that she might witness the proceedings, and lend at least her countenance to the Whig party. From the hustings at Covent Garden a procession was formed, and Fox was "chaired," as the man of the people, through the chief streets of Westminster to Carlton House, the gates of which were thrown open to the excited multitude; the ostrich plumes carried in front of him denoting the patronage of the Whig cause by the Prince of Wales; while another flag was inscribed with the words, "Sacred to Female Patriotism," in allusion to the Duchess of Devonshire. The intense feelings excited on this occasion are thus summed up by a contemporary writer:—"All minor interests were swallowed up in this struggle, which held not only the capital, but also the nation, in suspense, while it rendered Covent Garden and its neighbourhood, during three successive weeks, a scene of outrage and even of blood."
The Westminster elections would seem generally to have been conducted with very bitter feelings on both sides. We are told by Wright, in a footnote to the letters of Horace Walpole, how the keeper of the "White Horse" in Piccadilly, being at a dinner among the "independent electors," taking notes in pencil, was beaten and cuffed by them, being supposed to be an informer against their treasonable practices. These practices appear to have consisted in offensive toasts. "On the king's health being drunk, every man held a glass of water in his left hand, and waved a glass of wine over it with his right."
Down to the passing of the first Reform Bill the voting continued for fourteen days, during which the whole of London was kept in a state of violent excitement. Mr. H. C. Robinson, in his "Diary," speaks of a Westminster election as "a scene only ridiculous and disgusting. The vulgar abuse of the candidates from the vilest rabble," he adds, "is not rendered endurable by either wit or good temper."
"I saw," writes Cyrus Redding, "the election for Westminster, when Sheridan and Paull were rivals. Among other ridiculous things, a kind of stage was brought from Drury Lane Theatre, supported on men's shoulders; upon this there were four tailors busily at work, with a live goose and several huge cabbages; they came close up to the hustings, before Paull, amidst roars of laughing. The joke was, that Paull's father had been a tailor. A voter called out to Sheridan that he had long supported him, but should, after that, withdraw his countenance from him. 'Take it away at once—take it away at once,' cried Sheridan from the hustings; 'it is the most villainous-looking countenance I ever beheld!'"
As to the morals of Covent Garden in the
seventeenth century, we may leave them to be
inferred from the following couplet in the epilogue
to Dryden's Limberham:—
"This town two bargains has not worth one farthing,
A Smithfield horse, and wife of Covent Garden."
And that the tastes of its inhabitants were alike loose and extravagant may be gathered from Wycherley, who speaks of "an ill-bred City dame, whose husband has been broke by living in Covent Garden."
In a tavern at Covent Garden, the husband of the exquisite sculptress, the Hon. Mrs. Damer, shot himself in 1776. Mr. Damer's suicide was hastened, and indeed provoked, by the refusal of his father, Lord Milton, to discharge his debts. Horace Walpole, after entering at length into this matter in a letter to Sir Horace Mann, in August, 1776, gives the following circumstantial account:—"On Thursday Mr. Damer supped at the 'Bedford Arms,' in Covent Garden, with four ladies and a blind fiddler. At three in the morning he dismissed his seraglio, ordering his Orpheus to come up again in half an hour. When he returned he found his master dead, and smelt gunpowder. He called: the master of the house came up; and they found Mr. Damer sitting in a chair dead, with one pistol beside him and another in his pocket. The ball had not gone through his head or made any report. On the table lay a scrap of paper with these words, 'The people of the house are not to blame for what has happened; it was my own act. …' What a catastrophe for a man at thirty-two, heir to two-and-twenty thousand a year!" Horace Walpole remarks, with his usual cynicism on this affair, that "Five thousand a year in present, and £22,000 in reversion, are not, it would seem, sufficient for happiness, and cannot check a pistol."
The following curious circumstance is mentioned in the "Life of Queen Anne," where, under date of 1708, we read that "the Muscovite Ambassador having had his audience of leave of the Queen, Mr. Morton, a laceman in Covent Garden, and some others of his creditors, caused him to be arrested, on the 21st of July, as he was riding in his coach. The bailiffs thrust themselves into the coach, took away his sword and cane, and carried him to a spunging-house, called the 'Black Raven.' Here the Ambassador sent to one of the Secretaries of State to acquaint him with his being insulted in that manner, but no secretaries could be found; and only Mr. Walpole, an undersecretary, came to him (as the Czar observes in his letter) to be witness to his disgrace; for, instead being discharg'd, he was compell'd to put in bail to the action. It seems the debt was but £50, and all the debts he ow'd did not amount to £300, which still renders the crime more unpardonable; and after all, no punishment adequate to the offence either way or (as 'tis said) could be inflicted on the offender by the laws of this kingdom. The Imperial, and Prussian, and other Foreign Ministers, looking upon themselves concern'd in this affair, demanded satisfaction for the outrage. Indeed, Morton and some others of the creditors, with the attorney and bailiffs, were summoned before the Council, and committed to custody for the present, and an information ordered to be preferred against them; but when the case came to be argued, the Court could not discover any law they had offended."
Among the notorieties of "the Garden" was the
well-known night house called "The Finish." It
stood on the south side of the market sheds,
and was kept at the beginning of the present
century by a Mrs. Butler. There, according to
"Tom Cribb's Memorial to Congress," the "gentlemen of the road" used to divide their spoil in the
grey dawn of the morning, when it was time for
the night birds to fly to their roost. Hence
Tommy Moore, who frequented this place, whimsically says that the "Congress" is—
"Some place that's like the 'Finish,' lads!
Where all your high pedestrian pads
That have been up and out all night
Running their rigs among the rattlers,
At morning meet, and, honour bright,
Agree to share the blunt and tatters."
One of the earliest records of the artistic fame of Covent Garden is that of Charles I. establishing, in the house of Sir Francis Kynaston, an academy called the "Museum Minervæ," for the instruction of gentlemen in arts and sciences, knowledge of metals, antiquities, painting, architecture, and foreign languages. Was this the first faint foreshadowing of the Royal Academy?
An amusing story in connection with Covent Garden—more especially with reference to the derivation of its name from Convent Garden—is told respecting the old Marquis of Worcester. His lordship being made prisoner, was committed to the custody of the Black-Rod, who then lived in Covent Garden; the noble Marquis, says the historiographer, demanded of Dr. Bayly and others in his company, "What they thought of fortunetellers?" It was answered, "That some of them spoke shrewdly." Whereupon the Marquis said, "It was told me by some of them, before ever I was a Catholic, that I should die in a Convent, but I never believed them before now; yet I hope they will not bury me in a Garden."
Lady Muskerry, the Princess of Babylon of De Grammont's "Memoirs," was living here in 1676, according to Mr. P. Cunningham, in the north-west angle, at the corner of James Street. Nicholas Rowe, the dramatic poet, was residing in Covent Garden in 1716; and close by lived and died Thomas Southern, the author of Oroonoko and of the Fatal Marriage, whose remains are interred in the Church of St. Paul hard by. In Covent Garden there was, at all events, one auction-room for the sale of prints, &c., that of the elder Langford, the same who is introduced by Foote as "Mr. Puff" in his farce of The Mirror.
Of Tavistock Street, which forms the south side of Covent Garden, Mr. Walker writes thus in "The Original:"—"The standard of wealth is no less changed than the standard of safety. Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, was once a street of fashionable shops, what Bond Street was till lately, and what Bond Street and Regent Street together are now. I remember hearing an old lady say that in her young days the crowd of handsome equipages in Tavistock Street was considered one of the sights of London. I have had the curiosity to stride it. It is about one hundred and sixty yards long, and, before the footways were widened, would have admitted three carriages abreast."
The only memory that Mr. Cunningham recalls to us in his generally exhaustive "Handbook of London" concerning this street, is the fact that in it the celebrated singer, Leveridge, kept a publichouse after retiring from the stage, and also brought out a collection of songs with music. At No. 4, in the north-west corner of Tavistock Row, the same house in which Miss Ray lived, was the last residence of Charles Macklin, the comedian and centenarian, who died here in July, 1797. And here, says Mr. Cunningham, "the elder Mathews was called upon to give the aged actor a taste of his boyish taste for the stage."
To Tavistock Street or Row properly belongs the story of the murder of Miss Ray by the Rev. Mr. Hackman. Though referred to by Horace Walpole as "among the strangest that he had ever heard, and one which he could scarcely bring himself to believe," it has been often told, but by no one better than by Mr. John Timbs in his "Romance of London." It appears that the gay Earl of Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty under Lord North's administration, whilst passing through Covent Garden, espied one day a pretty milliner at No. 4, on the southern side, at the corner of Tavistock Street. Her name was Martha Ray; according to one account, her parents were labourers at Elstree, on the borders of Hertfordshire; though others say that they were staymakers in Holywell Street. Be this as it may, she had served her time as an apprentice with a mantuamaker in Clerkenwell Close; and when Lord Sandwich first saw her she was very young. (fn. 2) He removed her from her shop, had her education completed, and took her as his mistress, though he was old enough to be her father. In spite of his countess being alive, Lord Sandwich introduced her to his family circle at Hinchinbrooke, his seat in Huntingdonshire; and she charmed the county families around—especially the ladies, and even the bishop's wife—by her charming, yet modest, manners, and her beautiful voice. And we have the authority of Mr. Cradock for saying that in her situation she was a pattern of discretion; for when a lady of rank, between one of the acts of the oratorio, advanced to converse with her, she expressed her embarrassment; and Lord Sandwich, turning privately to a friend, said, "As you are well acquainted with that lady, I wish you would give her a hint that there is a boundary line in my family that I do not wish to see exceeded." She was already the mother of a young family by the earl, when she made the acquaintance of a certain Captain Hackman, an officer in a foot regiment, then quartered at Huntingdon, whom she soon inspired with the same passion as that which had brought Lord Sandwich to her feet. Hackman (whom Mr. Cradock met at Hinchinbrooke, the hospitable seat of Lord Sandwich) at once proposed marriage to her, but she told him that "she did not choose to carry a knapsack." Her new admirer therefore resolved to exchange the army for the Church, and became vicar of Wyverton, in Norfolk. Half inclined, probably, to marry Hackman, she appears now to have complained that no settlement had been made upon her, adding that she was anxious to relieve his lordship of expense, and to have even thought of taking an engagement as a singer at the Italian Opera, where she had an offer of £3,000 and a free benefit. Lord Sandwich, in some doubt as to the real mind of his mistress, now placed Miss Ray under the charge of a duenna; while Hackman grew jealous, and appears to have resolved to destroy either himself or Miss Ray, or both. On the evening of the 7th of April, 1779, Miss Ray went, with a female attendant, to Covent Garden Theatre, to see Love in a Village. She had declined to tell Mr. Hackman how she was engaged that evening; he appears, therefore, to have watched her movements, and saw her carriage drive by a coffeehouse in Cockspur Street, where he had posted himself. As the carriage drove on, Hackman followed, at a quick pace, to the theatre. The ladies sat in a front box, and three gentlemen, all connected with the Admiralty, occasionally paid their compliments to them. Mr. Hackman, too, was sometimes in the lobby and sometimes in an upper side-box, and more than once called at the "Bedford Coffee-house" to take a glass of brandy and water, but still was unable, on returning to the theatre, to obtain an interview with Miss Ray. The upshot was that after the piece was over, when the crowd was beginning to pour out, Hackman rushed out of the door of the coffee-house, just opposite to that of the theatre, and as a gentleman was handing the lady into her carriage, drew forth a pistol and shot her through the head. He then drew another pistol to shoot himself; but the ball grazed without penetrating his head, and he then endeavoured to beat out his own brains with the butt-end of the pistol. In this attempt on his own life, however, he was prevented, and was carried off as a prisoner by the Bow Street "runners" to the Bridewell at Tothill Fields.
Horace Walpole gives us some additional particulars concerning the murder of Miss Ray in one of his letters to his acquaintance:—"Miss Ray, it appears, has been out of order, and abroad but twice all the winter. She went to the play on Wednesday night, for the second time, with Galli the singer. During the play the desperate lover was at the 'Bedford' Coffee-house, and behaved with great calmness, and drank a glass of capillaire. Towards the conclusion he sallied out into the Piazza, waiting till he saw his victim handed to her carriage by Mr. Macnamara, an Irish Templar, with whom she had been seen to coquet during the performance in the theatre. Hackman came behind her, pulled her by the gown, and, on her turning round, clapped the pistol to her forehead and shot her through the head. With another pistol he then attempted to shoot himself. … Now, is not the story full as strange as ever it was? Miss Ray has six children; the eldest son is fifteen; and she was at least three times as much."
The real fact, however, is that Miss Ray had borne to Lord Sandwich no less than nine children, five of whom were then living. One of these afterwards attained distinction, Mr. Basil Mon tague, Q.C., eminent both as a lawyer and as a man of letters, who died in 1851, and whose early success at the bar, it is said, was very greatly a result of his having contradicted the then Lord Chancellor on a point of law, and being told by his lordship next day that he was right in his view. But to return to Miss Ray's assassination. Hackman was tried at the Old Bailey for the murder, and the fact that he had two pistols instead of one compelled the jury to believe that it was not suicide only that he had contemplated as he sat that evening in the window of the hotel in Cockspur Street, but that his assassination of Miss Ray was a cool and deliberate act. Accordingly he was found guilty, sentenced to death, and hung at Tyburn, being accompanied in the coach by Lord Carlisle and by James Boswell, who, like George Selwyn, was fond of being present at executions.
A curious book, it may here be remarked before quitting the subject, arose out of this tragical story. In the following year was published an octavo volume pretending to contain the correspondence of Hackman and Miss Ray. It was entitled "Love and Madness; or a story too true, in a series of letters between parties whose names would perhaps be mentioned were they less known or less lamented." The book, appealing as it did to the sensational element in nature, soon ran through several editions. The real author of it was Sir Herbert Croft. Walpole, as if puzzled what to make of it, writes, "I doubt whether the letters are genuine; and yet, if fictitious, they are well executed, and enter into his character: hers appear less natural; and yet the editors were certainly more likely to be in possession of hers than of his. It is not probable that Lord Sandwich should have sent to the press what he found in her apartments; and no account is pretended to be given of how they came to light."
It was said that when Miss Ray's body was brought into the "Shakespeare" Tavern, George Selwyn put on a long black cloak, and sat in the room with the corpse, as a mourner; but the story "lacks confirmation."
COVENT GARDEN AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD (continued).
Distinguished Inhabitants of James Street—Henrietta Street—Sir Robert Strange, the Historical Engraver—Duel between Sheridan and Mathews—Formation of the Society of Arts—King Street—D'Urfey's Allusion to the "Three Kings"—Hutchins' and Paterson's Auction Rooms—"The Essex Serpent"—Samuel Taylor Coleridge—The Garrick Club—Collection of Theatrical Portraits—Rose Street—Samuel Butler, the Author of "Hudibras"—Assault of Dryden—The "Pope's Head" and Curll the Bookseller—New Street—Dr. Johnson's Dinner—Artists in Long Acre—Wedgwood—Removal of Signboards—Bedford Street—An Old Tea Shop—Garrick in Southampton Street—The old Welsh Alehouse—Danby and Marvell—Voltaire—Turner—Quarrel between Hogarth and Churchill—The "Cider Cellars"—Chandos Street—Bedfordbury—Sir F. Kynaston and the Museum Minervæ.
Continuing our desultory tour, we next come to James Street, which runs out of Covent Garden on the north, and connects it with Long Acre: it shows the date of its erection by its name, being called after the Duke of York, afterwards James II. It is mentioned casually in the Spectator, No. 266, and has had at all events one distinguished inhabitant—Sir James Thornhill, the painter. The house is to be identified by the help of the European Magazine for 1804, which speaks of it as situated on the eastern side of the street, with back offices and a painting-room abutting on Langford's (then Cock's) auction-rooms, in the Piazza. Here, too, according to Mr. P. Cunningham, lived Sir Henry Herbert, the last Master of the Revels at the Stuart Court; and also the engraver, Charles Grignion. In other respects the street seems to have enjoyed but little celebrity in comparison with the neighbouring thoroughfares.
Henrietta Street, which connects the south-west corner of Covent Garden with Bedford Street, was built in 1637, and named after Henrietta Maria, queen of Charles I. Indeed, it may be said that all the streets around Covent Garden, except those named after the Russell family, bespeak by their names—all borrowed from our Stuart princes—the dates of their erection. Strafford, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, was one of the earliest aristocratic inhabitants of this street. In 1640 Sir Robert Strange, the engraver, was living at the "Golden Head," in this street, when he published his proposals for engraving by subscription three historical prints. Two other interesting reminiscences belong to this street. It was at the "Castle" Tavern, in Henrietta Street, that Sheridan fought a duel with Mathews, his rival in the affections of Miss Linley; and at Bawthmell's Coffee-house that the Society of Arts was formed, in 1754.
King Street, the thoroughfare running parallel
with Henrietta Street, and forming an outlet from
the north-west corner of Covent Garden, was built
at the same time as Henrietta Street. Lenthall,
the Speaker of the House of Commons during the
Commonwealth, lived in this street, in a house the
site of which is now covered by the "Westminster
Fire-office." Here was the residence of the three
Indian kings mentioned in the Tatler and Spectator,
and who lodged in the house of Mr. Arne, an
upholsterer. This Mr. Arne was the father of the
celebrated Dr. Arne, the composer. In after times
an inn, called after these three Oriental sovereigns,
would appear to have been established there; to it,
probably, Tom D'Urfey alludes in his collection
of songs, published in 1719:—
"Farewell, 'Three Kings,' where I have spent
Full many an idle hour;
Where oft I won, but never lost,
If it were in my power.
Farewell, my dearest Piccadill,
Notorious for great dinners;
Oh, what a tennis-court was there!
Alas! too good for sinners.
Now, God bless all that will be blest;
God bless the Inns of Court,
And God bless D'Avenant's Opera,
Which is the sport of sport."
From an early date King Street would appear to have been a favourite haunt for the auctioneers. Here were the sale-rooms of Hutchins, and of Paterson, to whose son Dr. Johnson stood as godfather, and for whom he wrote letters of recommendation to Sir Joshua Reynolds. In these two sale-rooms large collections of prints and pictures were constantly passing under the auctioneer's hammer; and among the crowds of purchasers were such men as Gough, the editor of Camden's "Britannia," with his formal-cut coat and waistcoat, and high boots, and carrying in his hand a "swish-whip" instead of a walking-stick; Dr. Lort, chaplain to the Duke of Devonshire, and the correspondent of "Old Cole," with his thick worsted stockings and "Busby" wig; Caleb Whiteford, witty and well dressed, after the fashion of the Garrick school; Dr. Gossett, Captain Baillie, Mr. Baker, Mr. Woodhouse, Mr. Musgrave, Mr. Pitt, and Mr. Woodhall—all of them keen-scented collectors of articles of vertu, and of prints by celebrated artists such as Hogarth, Cipriani, and Rowlandson.
In King Street there was lately, and perhaps still is, the sign of "The Essex Serpent." Mr. Larwood suggests that this sign is an allusion to a fabulous monster recorded in a broadside of 1704, from which we learn that before Henry II. died a dragon of marvellous bigness was discovered at St. Osyth, in Essex. In the absence of any more probable hypothesis, we may accept this suggestion as plausible, if not as satisfactory.
In King Street also lived the philosophical poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, from 1799 down to 1802, whilst he was earning his livelihood as an unknown writer on political subjects for the Morning Post.
The Garrick Club was originally established in King Street, at No. 35, about the middle of the north side, in 1834; and here its fine gallery of theatrical and literary portraits remained until the opening of its new and permanent home in Garrick Street, in 1864.
Garrick Street is the name given to a wide and spacious thoroughfare which was driven about the year 1860 across the site of Rose Street and a nest of close and crowded alleys, between King Street and St. Martin's Lane. It takes its name from the Garrick Club, which occupies a noble building erected for its members by Mr. Marrable, and in which is to be seen the finest collection of theatrical portraits in the kingdom. It was first made by the elder Charles Mathews, at his residence in Kentish Town. It includes authentic likenesses of most of the theatrical celebrities of the past two centuries—Foote, Quin, Garrick, Nell Gwynne, Mrs. Billington, Nancy Dawson, Colley Cibber—some in costume, and others in private dress. The gallery is allowed to be viewed on every Wednesday morning (except during September) by any one personally introduced by a member. Among the pictures, which cover nearly the whole of the walls of the various rooms set apart for the use of the members, may be specially mentioned the half-length portrait of Mrs. Oldfield, by Sir Godfrey Kneller; Mrs. Siddons, by Harlow; a fine picture of King; and Mr. and Mrs. Baddeley in The Clandestine Marriage, by Zoffany; Macklin as "Sir Pertinax Macsycophant," by De Wilde; Mathews, in five characters, by Harlow; Garrick between Tragedy and Comedy; Mrs. Bracegirdle; Mrs. Abington as "Lady Bab," by Hickey; the screen scene from the School for Scandal, as originally cast; Rich as harlequin (1753); King as "Touchstone," by Zoffany; C. Kemble and Fawcett in Charles II., by Clint; Garrick as "Richard III.," by the elder Morland. Since the removal of the club to Garrick Street the number of pictures has been greatly augmented; among the more recent additions being a choice collection of water-colour full-length portraits of theatrical celebrities painted by Mr. John Leech. Upon the walls of the smokingroom there are a few large paintings by Clarkson Stanfield, Louis Haigh, and David Roberts. In the coffee-room there are some objects of interest to the curious, independent of the paintings upon the walls—namely, the jewels, &c., presented to Garrick and worn by him upon the stage. Among the busts, of which there are several in the Club, especially in the library, may be particularly noticed one of Thackeray; one of Mrs. Siddons and her brother; and one of Shakespeare, which was formerly bricked up in a wall, but was discovered and brought again to light during the demolition of the old Lincoln's Inn Theatre, in 1848.
Old Rose Street, which ran north and south from the western end of King Street, has been so altered within the last few years by the advancing spirit of clearance and ventilation that its original aspect has been almost entirely swept away. Previous to the year 1859, when many of its old and dilapidated tenements were pulled down in order to form the broad thoroughfare of Garrick Street, which now crosses it, here might be seen low gambling-houses; floors let out to numerous families with fearful broods of children; sundry variations of the magisterial permission "to be drunk on the premises;" strange, chaotic trades, to which no one skilled contribution imparted a distinctive character; and, by way of a moral drawn from the far-off pure air of open fields and farmyards, a London dairy, professing to be constantly supplied with fresh butter, cream, and new milk from the country: these were some of the special features of a thoroughfare which was marked by a tablet upon one of its houses bearing the superscription, "This is Red Rose Street, 1623." If the appearance of the street as above indicated, were all it could boast of, Rose Street might go down into dust without a word by way of epitaph. But there are circumstances connected with it which will render it immortal in our annals, when its very site shall have become a matter of doubt hundreds of years hence; for Samuel Butler, the author of "Hudibras," died here in 1680, of a complication of ailments and miseries, the most urgent of which was want.
We may here say that in this dark and narrow alley, too—for Rose Street is, or rather was, scarcely anything better—Dryden the poet was attacked by three hired assailants, and beaten, to use the expressive phrase, "within an inch of his life." This attack has become almost historical. Some of his biographers tell us that when the ferocious assault was made upon him he was going home to his house in Gerrard Street, from "Will's Coffee-house" in Russell Street, Covent Garden, which he was in the habit of frequently attending. This statement has given rise to much controversy, which the late Mr. Robert Bell, in the first volume of Once a Week, was at considerable pains to set at rest. The assault took place on the night of the 18th of December, 1679, so that the poet could not be making his way at the time to Gerrard Street, for that street, it is alleged, was not built till some two years later. Dryden is stated, on the authority of the rate-books of the parish, to have lived in Fleet Street from 1673 to 1682, when he removed to a house in Long Acre, exactly facing the dismal embouchure of Rose Street. Here he lived till 1686, when he went farther westward to the house 43, Gerrard Street, where he died on the 1st of May, 1700. "If these dates be correct," says the writer above referred to, "there would be no difficulty in determining where Dryden was living at the time; … for we find that while the rate-books of St. Bride's are quoted to show that in 1679 he was living in Fleet Street, the ratebooks of St. Martin's are relied upon with equal confidence to prove that at the same time he was living in Long Acre. The biographers who have escaped the dilemma by sending him on to Gerrard Street at once may therefore turn out to be right, after all. Fleet Street, at all events, is put out of court. We know from the contemporary account of the circumstance that he was going from Covent Garden; and if he were going home, as must be inferred from the lateness of the hour, he could not have been going to Fleet Street, which would take him in the opposite direction, while the way both to Gerrard Street and Long Acre lay direct through this unsavoury Rose Avenue. To one or other of these places he must have been going. "Perhaps," the writer naïvely adds, "most readers will be of opinion that it is not very material which date is correct, or to what house he was wending his way at the time." The important event is the assault itself, and the circumstance that it occurred in Rose Street.
At the "Rose" Tavern, in or close to Rose Street, as Mr. John Timbs tells us, the "Treason Club" met, at the time of the Revolution, to consult with Lord Colchester, Mr. Thomas Wharton, and many others; and it was on this occasion resolved that the regiment under Lieutenant-Colonel Langdale's command should desert entire, as in fact it did in November, 1688.
In Rose Street lived the notorious bookseller, Edmund Curll, at the "Pope's Head," a sign which he had set up, not, certainly, out of affection for Alexander Pope, but rather from an opposite feeling. "After the quarrel which arose out of Curll's piratical publication of Pope's library correspondence," says Mr. Larwood, in his "History of SignBoards," "Curll addressed, in May, 1735, a letter of thanks to the House of Lords, ending thus: 'I have engraved a new plate of Mr. Pope's head from Mr. Jervas's painting, and likewise intend to hang him up in effigy for a sign to all spectators of his falsehood and my veracity, which I will always maintain, under the Scotch motto, 'Nemo me impune lacesset.'"
New Street, which forms the continuation from King Street to St. Martin's Lane, was a favourite rseort of Dr. Johnson. His first lodgings were at the house of Mr. Norris, a staymaker, in Exeter Street, adjoining Catherine Street, in the Strand. "I dined," said he, "very well for eightpence, with very good company, at the 'Pine Apple,' in New Street, just by. Several of them had travelled. They expected to meet every day, but did not know one another's names. It used to cost the rest a shilling, for they drank wine; but I had a cut of meat for sixpence, and bread for a penny, and gave the waiter a penny; so that I was quite well served—nay, better than the rest, for they gave the waiter nothing." In the reign of Charles II. New Street was very fashionably inhabited; for, as Mr. Peter Cunningham tells us, the Countess of Chesterfield, the lady with whom Van Dyck was in love, occupied a house on the south side in 1660. Flaxman, the famous sculptor, was living here in the years 1771 and 1772.
The neighbourhood to the east of St. Martin's Lane up to Long Acre northwards a century ago formed the centre for artists of every class and their allies. The great Sir Joshua Reynolds, as we have seen in an earlier chapter, held his court in Leicester Square; the old Life Academy had been for years in a house at the top of a court in "the Lane," as it was at that time familiarly styled; and "in Long Acre itself were congregated the colour-makers, goldbeaters, artists' tool-makers, modellers, and journeymen of every kind," as Miss Meteyard tells us in her "Life of Wedgwood." Here, at the corner of Newport Street and of St. Martin's Lane, in a house with a double frontage into either thoroughfare, in 1768–74, were the show-rooms of Josiah Wedgwood's pottery-ware and porcelain, before he settled down in Greek Street, Soho, where we found him in a previous chapter. As Miss Meteyard remarks, "Newport Street and its neighbourhood have undergone, since then, so great an amount of alteration as to show at this day few, if any, vestiges of its old condition; but, judging by our present ideas relative to space, light, and accessibility, it must have been a gloomy and confined situation for such a shrine of the arts, and one so resorted to by the noblest in intellect and rank in the land." Although the house thus celebrated is no longer standing in its entirety, it may be of some interest to state, on the same authority, that whilst the ground-floor was a shop for the sale of ordinary goods, where "the public entered in and out at pleasure," the first-floor suite formed a gallery or repository into which only Mr. Wedgwood's wealthy and aristocratic patrons were admitted; and the second-floor formed the home of Mr. Wedgwood and his family when in town. Josiah himself thus describes the house in a letter to Bentley: "It is at the top of St. Martin's Lane, a corner house, 60 feet long; the streets are wide which lye to it, and carriages may come to it either from Westminster or the City without being incommoded with drays full of timber and coals, which are always pouring in from the various wharfs, and making stops in the Strand, very disagreeable and sometimes dangerous. The rent is … 100 guineas a year. My friends in town tell me that it is the best situation in London for my rooms."
Another fact relating to the neighbourhood of
Covent Garden and St. Martin's Lane may as well
be noticed here. It was the first in the West End
of London to dispense with the old sign-boards
which used to project over the pathways. A daily
paper of November, 1762, tells us, as a piece of
news, that "the signs in Duke Court, St. Martin's
Lane, are all taken down, and affixed to the front
of the houses." Thus the City of Westminster
began the innovation by procuring an Act of Parliament with powers for that purpose. Other West-End parishes, including that of Marylebone, copied
the example; the City of London in due course
followed suit, and long before the end of the last
century the picturesque signs were superseded by
plain and prosaic numbers. Along with the signs,
of course, went the sign-posts. Mr. J. Larwood
tells us, in his "History of Sign-Boards," that this
removal of the sign-posts, and the paving of the
streets at the same time with Scotch granite, gave
rise to the following epigram:—
"The Scottish new pavement deserves well our praise;
To the Scotch we're obliged, too, for mending our ways:
But this we can never forget, for they say
As that they have taken our posts all away."
Bedford Street, which runs northwards from the Strand to the west of the churchyard of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, can at all events boast of some ancient memories. Strype describes it as "a handsome, broad street, with very good houses," adding that since the Fire of London the latter are generally taken up by tradesmen of the better class, such as mercers, drapers, and lacemen; but these have given way to large second-hand booksellers and printsellers. The houses on the western side, Strype remarks, are better than those on the east. The upper part of the street dates from 1637; and on one of the houses on the western side is a plain tablet with an inscription, "This is Bedford Street." In this street resided Quin the actor; Chief Justice Richardson; Sir Francis Kynaston, the poet; the Earl of Chesterfield; and Thomas Sheridan, the father of Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Whyte, in his "Miscellanea Nova," tells us how one day when there he looked out up Henrietta Street—opposite to which Mr. Sheridan lived—and saw Dr. Johnson walking "with a peculiar solemnity of deportment and an awkward sort of measured step, and laying his hands, as he went along, upon the top of each of the stone posts with chains which served, in the absence of flag-stones, to guard pedestrians from horses and carriages."
We find the following advertisement respecting the newly-introduced luxury of tea in the Tatler of March, 1710:—"The finest Imperial Tea, 18s.; Bohee, 12s., 16s., 20s., and 24s.; all sorts of Green, the lowest 12s. To be had of R. Tate, at the 'Star' in Bedford Court, near Bedford Street, Covent Garden." Tea had been introduced into England more than half a century before; but even at the date to which reference is here made it was evidently still a costly and rare article, if we may judge from the prices given in the above advertisement.
In consequence of the removal of house-signs (of which we have already spoken), the difficulty of finding out a house at night was greatly increased, and therefore other means were resorted to, as we learn from an advertisement of "Doctor James Tilbrough, a German doctor," who resided "over against the New Exchange in Bedford Street, at the sign of the Peacock, where you shall see at night two candles burning within one of the chambers before the balcony, and a lanthorn with a candle in it upon the balcony." We have mentioned in a preceding chapter that it is to Covent Garden that London is indebted for the introduction of "balconies."
Southampton Street is the name of the thoroughfare which connects the southern side of Covent Garden with the Strand. Garrick at one time lived in Southampton Street. Mr. Cradock, who knew him well, tells us several good stories about him. Garrick was a great mimic, and by his power of imitation could make Johnson seem extremely ridiculous. He could put on the doctor's rough and uncouth manners, and growl out four or five lines of Gray's "Bard," without, however, articulating the words. This he could do at his suppers to the entertainment of his friends, but not to the satisfaction of Dr. Johnson. Another anecdote, related likewise by Mr. Cradock, introduces Mrs. Garrick:—"My apartments," he tells us, "were at that time in Southampton Street, opposite to Mr. Garrick, who sometimes would divert a few friends with a ludicrous story at my expense, 'That I had stayed out so very late one night at the "Piazza" Coffee-house; and that at my return I had disturbed Mrs. Garrick and his whole neighbourhood; so much so, indeed, that he was afraid he must have called for the watch.' Part of this story might be correct; but Mrs. Garrick owned to whom it was indebted for its embellishments. The whole truth was, that the lady of the house where I lodged was built on a very large scale, and in her hurry to let me in, by some accident or other fell down in the passage, and could not readily be got up again; and I believe that, growing rather impatient, I possibly might call out very vociferously, till the lady could be safely removed; and that the husband, who was seriously disturbed, became angry, and absolutely declared that his wife at no future time should sit up so late for a lodger." From Southampton Street Garrick removed to his house in Adelphi Terrace, at the solicitation of his friend Lord Mansfield. The houses on the Terrace, from the beauty of their prospect, had been selected by his lordship for particular friends. The centre house was allotted to the great actor, but none of them, Mr. Cradock tells us, were quite suited to him, as his health was then declining, and the bleak situation was ill contrasted with the warm and sheltered apartments in Southampton Street which he had left. In Southampton Street lived and died old Gabriel Cibber, and here his son Colley Cibber was born.
Extending from Southampton Street to Bedford Street, about midway between the Strand and Henrietta Street, is Maiden Lane, on which we have already slightly touched in a previous chapter. We may add, however, that the well-known tavern here, called the "Old Welch Ale House," which stood on the site of the "Bedford Head," and which was pulled down in 1870, has risen, phœnixlike, in a new building, which has returned to its old designation so far as to style itself the "Bedford Tavern." It stands next door to the house of Andrew Marvell, the poet and patriot, where he was lodging when Lord Danby climbed his stairs with a message and bribe from the king, but found him too honest and too proud to accept it. It is said that he was dining off the pickings of a muttonbone when Lord Danby called, and that as soon as he was gone he was obliged to send to a friend to borrow a guinea. Two doors off, at an old French perruquier's, at the sign of the "White Peruke," Voltaire lodged when young, and when busy in publishing his "Henriade;" he was a constant visitor at the "Bedford," where his bust still adorns a room. Voltaire had been imprisoned in the Bastile for a libel, and after his release came over to London, where he procured many subscriptions towards publishing his poem. He remained here several years, becoming acquainted with Pope, Congreve, Young, and other celebrated literary men of his time; and tradition says that they frequently resorted to this tavern together of an evening. When Turner lived in this street (prior, that is, to 1800) he would often spend an evening at the "Bedford." "In the parlour of the 'Bedford,' " says Mr. J. H. Jesse, in his "London," "met the 'Shilling Rubber Club,' of which Fielding, Hogarth, Goldsmith, and Churchill were members. It was at one of their meetings here that the quarrel arose between Hogarth and Churchill which induced the latter to satirise his friend, and the former to retaliate upon him with his unrivalled pencil. The 'Epistle to Hogarth' is comparatively forgotten; but Churchill will still live as 'Bruin' when his verse shall have passed into oblivion." The present tavern, which has resumed its ancient name, is well and respectably conducted, and still keeps up the literary traditions of the vicinity by being the home of a literary and artistic club called the "Reunion," which meets three times a week for the discussion of subjects of general interest.
Exactly opposite, on the south side, was a part of the premises of Messrs. Godfrey and Cooke, of Southampton Street, the oldest chemists and druggists in London, having been established in 1680. But these premises have lately been absorbed into a handsome Catholic church, with schools and presbytery attached, dedicated to the Sacred Heart, and solemnly opened by Archbishop Manning in the autumn of 1874. A hundred years ago, or a little more, Mr. Ambrose Godfrey, one of the firm, proposed to extinguish fires by a "new method of explosion and suffocation," thereby anticipating the "Fire Annihilator" of our own day.
On the south side, nearer to the west end of the street, is a house which since 1864 has been a "School of Arms and of Athletic Exercises." It was previously a place notoriously of bad reputation as the "Cider Cellars"—a place of low and not very moral amusement for the fast young "swells" of the City and West End after the theatres were closed, and rivalling the "Coal Hole" and the "Judge and Jury" in their special characteristics of immorality. It had been devoted to the muse of song for a century and a half at the least.
Maiden Lane is said by Mr. Isaac D'Israeli, in his "Curiosities of Literature," to have received its name from a statue of the Virgin Mary, "which in Catholic days adorned the corner of the street, as Bagford writes to Hearne," who also says that the frequent sign of "the Maidenhead" denoted "Our Lady's Head." But this may be a fanciful conjecture, as the sober and honest chronicler, John Stow, tells us that its original designation was "Ingene" or "Ing" Lane.
Chandos Street, which leads from Maiden Lane towards the lower end of St. Martin's Lane, was so called after Brydges, Lord Chandos, the ancestor of the "princely" Duke of Chandos. It was built in the reign of Charles I. In the Harleian Miscellany we are told that at the corner of Chandos Street was the sign of a Balcony, "which country people were wont much to gaze on." A balcony—or, as it was sometimes called, a "belle-coney"—was at that time (as we have already remarked) a novel invention, and may, therefore, well have attracted the attention of country folks.
At the "Three Tuns," a bagnio in this street, the Honourable John Finch was stabbed, in a fit of jealousy, by a celebrated personage, Sally Pridden, whose portrait was painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller. She was called "Sally Salisbury," on account of a fancied resemblance to the then Countess of Salisbury. She died in Newgate whilst undergoing her sentence for the above deed of violence, "leaving behind her," says Caulfield, in his "Memoirs of Remarkable Persons," "the character of the most notorious woman that ever infested the hundreds of Old Drury or Covent Garden either."
Bedfordbury is the name given to a district containing a few small and narrow streets lying between St. Martin's Lane, on the west side, and Bedford Street, Covent Garden, on the east. It was built about the year 1635, and was once the residence of well-to-do families. It has, however, but few historical or literary associations; though Mr. Peter Cunningham records the fact that in 1636 Sir Francis Kynaston, the accomplished scholar and poet, was living hereabouts, "on the east side of the street towards Berrie," and he supposes that his name is still perpetuated in Kynaston's Alley adjoining. The whole district is now occupied by a nest of low, dark, and crowded streets and alleys, which form a blot and disgrace on our metropolitan administration, and in the centre of which is a mission-chapel with schools attached to it.
Of Sir Francis Kynaston some interesting details will be found in Faulkner's "History of Chelsea." It appears that during the prevalence of the plague in London, in 1636, Sir Francis, at that time Regent of the Museum Minervæ, presented to the king a petition requesting permission to remove his institute to Chelsea College, and the king granted his request. "The Museum Minervæ," adds Faulkner, "was an academy instituted in the eleventh year of King Charles I., and established at a house in or near Covent Garden, purchased for the purpose by Sir Francis Kynaston, and furnished by him with books, manuscripts, paintings, statues, musical and mathematical instruments, &c.,' and every requisite for a polite and liberal education. Only the nobility and gentry were admissible into the academy. Sir Francis Kynaston was chosen president or regent of the new institution, and professors were appointed to teach the various arts and sciences. The constitutions of the Museum Minervæ were published in London in 1626, in quarto." The authorities of Chelsea College, however, remonstrated against this royal concession, and so the grant never took effect. Sir Francis and his colleagues accordingly were obliged to content themselves with other quarters, at Little Chelsea. The subsequent history of the Museum Minervæ we have not been able to trace; but it is worth mentioning here in connection with the borderland of Covent Garden and St. Martin's Lane, as in all probability it furnished some hints towards the first foundation—or, at all events, to the first rough outline—of the Royal Academy. It is supposed by Allibone that Sir Francis did not long survive the transaction here recorded, but died about the year 1642. He was the author of a Latin verse translation of Chaucer's "Troilus and Cressida," and of a poem entitled "Leoline and Sydanis, an Heroic Romance of the Adventures of two Amorous Princes," together with sundry affectionate addresses to his mistress under the name of "Cynthia." Sir Francis is mentioned in terms of appreciation in George Ellis's "Specimens of Early English Poets," and in the "Censura Literaria."