FLEET STREET TRIBUTARIES SOUTH.
Worthy Mr. Fisher—Lamb's Wednesday Evenings—Persons one would wish to have seen—Ram Alley—Serjeants' Inn—The Daily News—"Memory" Woodfall—A Mug-House Riot—Richardson's Printing Office—Fielding and Richardson—Johnson's Estimate of Richardson—Hogarth and Richardson's Guest—An Egotist Rebuked—The King's "Housewife"—Caleb Colton: his Life, Works, and Sentiments.
Falcon Court, Fleet Street, took its name from
an inn which bore the sign of the "Falcon." This
passage formerly belonged to a gentleman named
Fisher, who, out of gratitude to the Cordwainers'
Company, bequeathed it to them by will. His
gratitude is commonly said to have arisen from the
number of good dinners that the Company had
given him. However this may be, the Cordwainers
are the present owners of the estate, and are under
the obligation of having a sermon preached annually at the neighbouring church of St. Dunstan, on
the 10th of July, when certain sums are given to
the poor. Formerly it was the custom to drink sack
in the church to the pious memory of Mr. Fisher,
but this appears to have been discontinued for a
considerable period. This Fisher was a jolly fellow,
if all the tales are true which are related of him,
as, besides the sack drinking, he stipulated that
the Cordwainers should give a grand feast on the
same day yearly to all their tenants. What a quaint
picture might be made of the churchwardens in
the old church drinking to the memory of Mr.
Fisher! Wynkyn de Worde, the father of printing
in England, lived in Fleet Street, at his messuage
or inn known by the sign of the Falcon. Whether
it was the inn that stood on the site of Falcon
Court is not known with certainty, but most probably it was.
Charles Lamb came to 16, Mitre Court Buildings in 1800, after leaving Southampton Buildings,
and remained in that quiet harbour out of Fleet
Street till 1809, when he removed to Inner Temple
It was whilst Lamb was residing in Mitre Court
Buildings that those Wednesday evenings of his
were in their glory. In two of Mr. Hazlitt's papers
are graphic pictures of these delightful Wednesdays
and the Wednesday men, and admirable notes of
several choice conversations. There is a curious
sketch in one of a little tilt between Coleridge and
Holcroft, which must not be omitted. "Coleridge
was riding the high German horse, and demonstrating the 'Categories of the Transcendental
Philosophy' to the author of The Road to Ruin,
who insisted on his knowledge of German and
German metaphysics, having read the 'Critique
of Pure Reason' in the original. 'My dear Mr.
Holcroft,' said Coleridge, in a tone of infinitely
provoking conciliation, 'you really put me in mind
of a sweet pretty German girl of about fifteen, in
the Hartz Forest, in Germany, and who one day,
as I was reading "The Limits of the Knowable
and the Unknowable," the profoundest of all his
works, with great attention, came behind my chair,
and leaning over, said, "What! you read Kant?
Why, I, that am a German born, don't understand him!"' This was too much to bear, and
Holcroft, starting up, called out, in no measured
tone, 'Mr. Coleridge, you are the most eloquent
man I ever met with, and the most troublesome
with your eloquence.' Phillips held the cribbagepeg, that was to mark him game, suspended in his
hand, and the whist-table was silent for a moment.
I saw Holcroft downstairs, and on coming to the
landing-place in Mitre Court he stopped me to
observe that he thought Mr. Coleridge a very
clever man, with a great command of language,
but that he feared he did not always affix very
proper ideas to the words he used. After he was
gone we had our laugh out, and went on with the
argument on 'The Nature of Reason, the Imagination, and the Will.' . . . . It would make a
supplement to the 'Biographia Literaria,' in a
volume and a half, octavo."
It was at one of these Wednesdays that Lamb
started his famous question as to persons "one
would wish to have seen." It was a suggestive
topic, and proved a fruitful one. Mr. Hazlitt, who
was there, has left an account behind him of the
kind of talk which arose out of this hint, so lightly
thrown out by the author of "Elia," and it is
worth giving in his own words:—
"On the question being started, Ayrton said,
'I suppose the two first persons you would choose
to see would be the two greatest names in English
literature, Sir Isaac Newton and Locke?' In this
Ayrton, as usual, reckoned without his host.
Everyone burst out a laughing at the expression of
Lamb's face, in which impatience was restrained
by courtesy. 'Y—yes, the greatest names,' he
stammered out hastily; 'but they were not persons—not persons.' Not persons?' said Ayrton,
looking wise and foolish at the same time, afraid his
triumph might be premature. 'That is,' rejoined
Lamb, 'not characters, you know. By Mr. Locke
and Sir Isaac Newton you mean the "Essay on
the Human Understanding" and "Principia,"
which we have to this day. Beyond their contents,
there is nothing personally interesting in the men.
But what we want to see anyone bodily for is
when there is something peculiar, striking in the
individuals, more than we can learn from their
writings and yet are curious to know. I dare say
Locke and Newton were very like Kneller's portraits
of them; but who could paint Shakespeare?'
'Ay,' retorted Ayrton, 'there it is. Then I suppose you would prefer seeing him and Milton
instead?' 'No,' said Lamb, 'neither; I have seen
so much of Shakespeare on the stage.' . . . . 'I
shall guess no more,' said Ayrton. 'Who is it, then,
you would like to see "in his habit as he lived,"
if you had your choice of the whole range of
English literature ?' Lamb then named Sir
Thomas Brown and Fulke Greville, the friend of
Sir Philip Sydney, as the two worthies whom he
should feel the greatest pleasure to encounter on
the floor of his apartment in their night-gowns
and slippers, and to exchange friendly greeting with
them. At this Ayrton laughed outright, and conceived Lamb was jesting with him; but as no one
followed his example he thought there might be
something in it, and waited for an explanation in
a state of whimsical suspense. . . . .
"When Lamb had given his explanation, some
one inquired of him if he could not see from the
window the Temple walk in which Chaucer used
to take his exercise, and on his name being put
to the vote I was pleased to find there was a
general sensation in his favour in all but Ayrton,
who said something about the ruggedness of the
metre, and even objected to the quaintness of the
orthography. . . . .
"Captain Burney muttered something about
Columbus, and Martin Burney hinted at the
Wandering Jew; but the last was set aside as
spurious, and the first made over to the New
"'I should like,' said Mr. Reynolds, 'to have
seen Pope talking with Patty Blount, and I have
seen Goldsmith.' Everyone turned round to look
at Mr. Reynolds, as if by so doing they too could
get a sight of Goldsmith. . . . .
"Erasmus Phillips, who was deep in a game of
piquet at the other end of the room, whispered to
Martin Burney to ask if Junius would not be a
fit person to invoke from the dead. 'Yes,' said
Lamb, 'provided he would agree to lay aside his
"We were now at a stand for a short time, when
Fielding was mentioned as a candidate. Only one,
however, seconded the proposition. 'Richardson?' 'By all means; but only to look at him
through the glass-door of his back-shop, hard at
work upon one of his novels (the most extraordinary contrast that ever was presented between an
author and his works), but not to let him come
behind his counter, lest he should want you to turn
customer; nor to go upstairs with him, lest he
should offer to read the first manuscript of "Sir
Charles Grandison," which was originally written in
twenty-eight volumes octavo; or get out the letters
of his female correspondents to prove that "Joseph
Andrews" was low.'
"There was but one statesman in the whole of
English history that any one expressed the least
desire to see—Oliver Cromwell, with his fine, frank,
rough, pimply face and wily policy—and one
enthusiast, John Bunyan, the immortal author of
'The Pilgrim's Progress.'. . . .
"Of all persons near our own time, Garrick's
name was received with the greatest enthusiasm.
He presently superseded both Hogarth and
Handel, who had been talked of, but then it was
on condition that he should sit in tragedy and
comedy, in the play and the farce,—Lear and
Wildair, and Abel Drugger. . . . .
"Lamb inquired if there was any one that was
hanged that I would choose to mention, and I
answered, 'Eugene Aram.'"
The present Hare Place was the once disreputable Ram Alley, the scene of a comedy of
that name, written by Lodowick Barry and dramatised in the reign of James I.; the plot Killigrew
afterwards used in his vulgar Parson's Wedding.
Barry, an Irishman, of whom nothing much is
known, makes one of his roystering characters say,—
"And rough Ram Alley stinks with cooks' shops vile;
Yet, stay, there's many a worthy lawyer's chamber
'Buts upon Ram Alley."
As a precinct of Whitefriars, Ram Alley enjoyed the mischievous privilege of sanctuary for
murderers, thieves, and debtors—indeed, any class
of rascals except traitors—till the fifteenth century.
After this it sheltered only debtors. Barry
speaks of its cooks, salesmen, and laundresses;
and Shadwell classes it (Charles II.) with Pye
Corner, as the resort of "rascally stuff." Lord
Clarendon, in his autobiography, describes the
Great Fire as burning on the Thames side as far as
the "new buildings of the Inner Temple next to
Whitefriars," striking next on some of the buildings which joined to Ram Alley, and sweeping
all those into Fleet Street. In the reign of
George I. Ram Alley was full of public-houses,
and was a place of no reputation, having passages
into the Temple and Serjeants' Inn. "A kind of
privileged place for debtors," adds Hatton, "before
the late Act of Parliament (9 & 10 William III.
c. 17, s. 15) for taking them away." This useful
Act swept out all the London sanctuaries, those
vicious relics of monastic rights, including Mitre
Court, Salisbury Court (Fleet Street), the Savoy,
Fulwood Rents (Holborn), Baldwin's Gardens
(Gray's Inn Lane), the Minories, Deadman's Place,
Montague Close (Southwark), the Clink, and the
Mint in the same locality. The Savoy and the
Mint, however, remained disreputable a generation
or two later
Serjeants' Inn, Fleet Street, now deserted by the
faithless serjeants, is supposed to have been
given to the Dean and Chapter of York in 1409
(Henry IV.) It then consisted of shops, &c. In
1627 (Charles I.) the inn began its legal career
by being leased for forty years to nine judges and
fifteen serjeants. In this hall, in 1629, the judges
in full bench struck a sturdy blow at feudal privileges by agreeing that peers might be attached
upon process for contempt out of Chancery. In
1723 (George I.) the inn was highly aristocratic,
its inmates being the Lord Chief Justice, the Lord
Chief Baron, justices, and serjeants. In 1730,
however, the fickle serjeants removed to Chancery
Lane, and Adam, the architect of the Adelphi,
designed the present nineteen houses and the
present street frontage. On the site of the hall
arose the Amicable Assurance Society, which in
1865 transferred its business to the Economic, and
the house is now the Norwich Union Office. The
inn is a parish in itself, making its own assessment,
and contributing to the City rates. Its pavement,
which had been part of the stonework of Old
St. Paul's, was not replaced till 1860. The conservative old inn retained its old oil lamps long
after the introduction of gas.
The arms of Serjeants' Inn, worked into the
iron gate opening on Fleet Street, are a dove and a
serpent, the serpent twisted into a kind of true
lover's knot. The lawyers of Serjeants' Inn, no
doubt, unite the wisdom of the serpent with the
guilelessness of the dove. Singularly enough Dr.
Dodd, the popular preacher, who was hanged, bore
arms nearly similar.
Half way down Bouverie Street, in the centre of
old Whitefriars, is the office of the Daily News.
The first number of this popular and influential
paper appeared on January 21, 1846. The publishers, and part proprietors, were Messrs. Bradbury & Evans, the printers; the editor was Charles
Dickens; the manager was Dickens's father, Mr.
John Dickens; the second, or assistant, editor,
Douglas Jerrold; and among the other "leader"
writers were Albany Fonblanque and John Forster,
both of the Examiner. "Father Prout" (Mahoney)
acted as Roman correspondent. The musical critic
was the late Mr. George Hogarth, Dickens's fatherin-law; and the new journal had an "Irish Famine
Commissioner" in the person of Mr. R. H. Horne,
the poet. Miss Martineau wrote leading articles in
the new paper for several years, and Mr. M'Cullagh
Torrens was also a recognised contributor. The
staff of Parliamentary reporters was said to be the
best in London, several having been taken, at an
advanced salary, off the Times.
"The speculative proprietorship," says Mr.
Grant, in his "History of the Newspaper Press,"
was divided into one hundred shares, some of
which were held by Sir William Jackson, M.P.,
Sir Joshua Watkins, and the late Sir Joseph Paxton.
Mr. Charles Dickens, as editor, received a salary
of £2,000 a year."
The early numbers of the paper contained
instalments of Dickens's "Pictures from Italy;"
yet the new venture did not succeed. Charles
Dickens and Douglas Jerrold took the night-work
on alternate days; but Dickens, who never made
politics a special study, very soon retired from
the editorship altogether, and Jerrold was chief
editor for a little while till he left to set up his
Weekly Newspaper. Mr. Forster also had the
editorship for a short period, and the paper then
fell into the hands of the late Mr. Dilke, of the
Athenæum, who excited some curiosity by extensively
advertising these words: "See the Daily News of
June 1st." The Daily News of June 1, 1846
(which began No. 1 again), was a paper of four
pages, issued at 2½d., which, deducting the stamp,
at that time affixed to every copy of every newspaper, was in effect three halfpence. One of th
features of the new plan was that the shee
should vary in size, according to the requirement
of the day—with an eye, nevertheless, at all
times to selection and condensation. It was a
bold attempt, carried out with great intelligence
and spirit; but it was soon found necessary to put
on another halfpenny, and in a year or two the
Daily News was obliged to return to the usual
price of "dailies" at that time—fivepence. The
chief editors of the paper, besides those already
mentioned, have been Mr. Eyre Evans Crowe,
Mr. Frederick Knight Hunt, Mr. Weir, and Mr.
Thomas Walker, who retired in January, 1870, on
receiving the editorship of the London Gazette. The
journal came down to a penny in June, 1868.
THE DORSET GARDENS THEATRE, WHITEFRIARS (see page 140.)
ATTACK ON A WHIG MUG-HOUSE (see page142).
The Daily News, at the beginning, inspired
the Times with some dread of rivalry; and it is
noteworthy that, for several years afterwards, the
great journal was very unfriendly in its criticisms
on Dickens's books.
There is no doubt that, over sanguine of success,
the Daily News proprietors began by sinking too
much money in the foundations. In 1846, the
Times' reporters received on an average only five
guineas a week, while the Daily News gave seven;
but the pay was soon of necessity reduced. Mr.
Grant computes the losses of the Daily News for
the first ten years at not much less than £200,000.
The talent and enterprise of this paper, during the
recent (1870) German invasion of France, and the
excellence of their correspondents in either camp,
is said to have trebled its circulation, which
Mr. Grant computes at a daily issue of 90,000.
As an organ of the highest and most enlightened
form of Liberalism and progress, the Daily News
now stands pre-eminent.
Many actors, poets, and authors dwelt in Salisbury Court in Charles II.'s time, and the great Betterton, Underhill, and Sandford affected this neighbourhood, to be near the theatres. Lady Davenant
here presided over the Dorset Gardens Company;
Shadwell, "round as a butt and liquored every
chink," nightly reeled home to the same precinct,
unsteadily following the guidance of a will-o'-thewisp link-boy; and in the square lived and died Sir
John King, the Duke of York's solicitor-general.
If Salisbury Square boasts of Richardson, the
respectable citizen and admirable novelist, it must
also plead guilty to having been the residence of that
not very reputable personage, Mr. John Eyre, who,
although worth, as it was said, some £20,000, was
transported on November 1, 1771 (George III.)
for systematic pilfering of paper from the alderman's chamber, in the justice room, Guildhall.
This man, led away by the thirst for money, had
an uncle who made two wills, one leaving Eyre
all his money, except a legacy of £500 to a
clergyman; another leaving the bulk to the clergyman, and £500 only to his nephew. Eyre, not
knowing of the second will, destroyed the first, in
order to cancel the vexatious bequest. When the
real will was produced his disappointment and
selfish remorse must have produced an expression
of repressed rage worthy of Hogarth's pencil.
In Salisbury Square Mr. Clarke's disagreeable
confessions about the Duke of York were publicly
burned, on the very spot (says Mr. Noble) where
the zealous radical demagogue, Waithman, subsequently addressed the people from a temporary
platform, not being able to obtain the use of
St. Bride's Vestry. Nor must we forget to chronicle
No. 53 as the house of Tatum, a silversmith, to
whom, in 1812, that eminent man John Faraday
acted as humble friend and assistant. How often
does young genius act the herdsman, as Apollo did
when he tended the kine of Admetus!
The Woodfalls, too, in their time, lent celebrity
to Salisbury Square. The first Woodfall who
became eminent was Henry Woodfall, at the
"Elzevir's Head" at Temple Bar. He commenced
business under the auspices of Pope. His son
Henry, who rose to be a Common Councilman and Master of the Stationers' Company,
bought of Theophilus Cibber, in 1736–37, onethird of a tenth share of the London Daily
Post, an organ which gradually grew into the
Public Advertiser, that daring paper in which the
celebrated letters of Junius first appeared. Those
letters, scathing and full of Greek fire, brought
down Lords and Commons, King's Bench and Old
Bailey, on Woodfall, and he was fined and imprisoned. Whether Burke, Barrè, Chatham, Horne
Tooke, or Sir Philip Francis wrote them, will now
probably never be known. The stern writer in the
iron mask went down into the grave shrouded in
his own mystery, and that grave no inquisitive eyes
will ever find. "I am the sole depository of my
secret," he wrote, "and it shall perish with me."
The Junius Woodfall died in 1805. William Woodfall, the younger brother, was born in 1745, and
educated at St. Paul's School. He was editor and
printer of the Morning Chronicle, and in 1790 had
his office in Dorset Street, Salisbury Square (Noble).
"Memory" Woodfall, as William was generally
called, acquired fame by his extraordinary power of
reporting from memory the speeches he heard in the
House of Commons. His practice during a debate
(says his friend Mr. Taylor, ot the Sun) was to
close his eyes and lean with both hands upon his
stick. He was so well acquainted with the tone
and manner of the several speakers that he seldom
changed his attitude but to catch the name of a
new member. His memory was as accurate as
it was capacious, and, what was almost miraculous,
he could retain full recollection of any particular
debate for a full fortnight, and after many long
nights of speaking. Woodfall used to say he could
put a speech away on a corner shelf of his
mind for future reference. This is an instance of
power of memory scarcely equalled by Fuller, who,
it is said, could repeat the names of all the shops
down the Strand (at a time every shop had a sign)
in regular and correct sequence; and it even surpasses "Memory" Thompson, who used to boast he
could remember every shop from Ludgate Hill
to the end of Piccadilly. Yet, with all his sensitively
retentive memory, Woodfall did not care for slight
interruptions during his writing. Dr. Johnson
used to write abridged reports of debates for the
Gentleman's Magazine from memory, but, then,
reports at that time were short and trivial. Woodfall was also a most excellent dramatic critic—slow to censure, yet never sparing just rebuke.
At the theatre his extreme attention gave his countenance a look of gloom and severity. Mr. J.
Taylor, of the Sun, describes Kemble as watching
Woodfall in one of those serious moods, and saying to a friend, "How applicable to that man is
the passage in Hamlet,—'thoughts black, hands
Finding himself hampered on the Morning
Chronicle, Woodfall started a new daily paper,
with the title of the Diary, but eventually 'he was
overpowered by his competitors and their large
staff of reporters. His eldest son, who displayed
great abilities, went mad. Mr. Woodfall's hospitable parties at his house at Kentish Town are
sketched for us by Mr. J. Taylor. On one particular occasion he mentions meeting Mr. Tickel,
Richardson (a partner in "The Rolliad"), John
Kemble, Perry (of the Chronicle), Dr. Glover (a
humorist of the day), and John Coust. Kemble
and Perry fell out over their wine, and Perry was
rude to the stately tragedian. Kemble, eyeing
him with the scorn of Coriolanus, exclaimed, in the
words of Zanga,—
"A lion preys not upon carcases."
Perry very naturally effervesced at this, and war
would have been instantly proclaimed between the
belligerents had not Coust and Richardson
promptly interposed. The warlike powers were
carefully sent home in separate vehicles.
Mr. Woodfall had a high sense of the importance
of a Parliamentary reporter's duties, and once,
during a heavy week, when his eldest son came
to town to assist him, he said, "And Charles Fox
to have a debate on a Saturday! What! does he
think that reporters are made of iron?" Woodfall
used to tell a characteristic story of Dr. Dodd.
When that miserable man was in Newgate waiting sentence of death he sent earnestly for
the editor of the Morning Chronicle. Woodfall, a
kind and unselfish man, instantly hurried off, expecting that Dodd wished his serious advice. In
the midst of Woodfall's condolement he was stopped
by the Doctor, who said he had wished to see him
on quite a different subject. Knowing Woodfall's
judgment in dramatic matters, he was anxious to
have his opinion on a comedy which he had
written, and to request his interest with a manager
to bring it on the stage. Woodfall was the more
surprised and shocked as on entering Newgate he
had been informed by Ackerman, the keeper of
Newgate, that the order for Dr. Dodd's execution
had just arrived.
Before parting with the Woodfall family, we may
mention that it is quite certain that Henry Sampson Woodfall did not know who the author of
"Junius" was. Long after the letters appeared
he used to say,—"I hope and trust Junius is not
dead, as I think he would have left me a legacy;
for though I derived much honour from his
preference, I suffered much by the freedom of his
The grandson of William, Henry Dick Woodfall, died in Nice, April 13, 1869, aged sixty-nine,
carrying to the grave (says Mr. Noble) the last
chance of discovering one of the best kept secrets
The Whig "mug-house" of Salisbury Court deserves notice. The death of Queen Anne (1714)
roused the hopes of the Jacobites. The rebellion
of 1715 proved how bitterly they felt the peaceful
accession of the Elector of Hanover. The northern
revolt convinced them of their strength, but its failure
taught them no lesson. They attributed its want
of success to the rashness of the leaders and the
absence of unanimity in their followers, to the outbreak not being simultaneous; to every cause,
indeed, but the right one. It was about this time
that the Whig gentlemen of London, to unite their
party and to organise places of gathering, established "mug-houses" in various parts of the City.
At these places, "free-and-easy" clubs were held,
where Whig citizens could take their mug of ale,
drink loyal toasts, sing loyal songs, and arrange
party processions. These assemblies, not always
very just or forbearing, soon led to violent retaliations on the part of the Tories, attacks were
made on several of the mug-houses, and dangerous riots naturally ensued. From the papers of
the time we learn that the Tories wore white roses,
or rue, thyme, and rosemary in their hats, flourished
oak branches and green ribbons, and shouted
"High Church;" "Ormond for ever;" "No
King George;" "Down with the Presbyterians;"
"Down with the mug-houses." The Whigs, on
the other side, roared "King George for ever,"
displayed orange cockades, with the motto,—
"With heart and hand
By George we'll stand,"
and did their best on royal birthdays and other
thanksgivings, by illuminations and blazing bonfires
outside the mug-house doors, to irritate their adversaries and drive them to acts of illegal violence.
The chief Whig mug-houses were in Long Acre,
Cheapside, St. John's Lane (Clerkenwell), Tower
Street, and Salisbury Court.
Mackey, a traveller, who wrote "A Journey
through England" about this time, describes the
mug-houses very lucidly:—
"The most amusing and diverting of all," he
says, "is the 'Mug-House Club,' in Long Acre,
where every Wednesday and Saturday a mixture of
gentlemen, lawyers, and tradesmen meet in a great
room, and are seldom under a hundred. They
have a grave old gentleman in his own grey hairs,
now within a few months of ninety years old, who
is their president, and sits in an armed-chair some
steps higher than the rest of the company, to keep
the whole room in order. A harp always plays all
the time at the lower end of the room, and every
now and then one or other of the company rises
and entertains the rest with a song; and, by-the-by,
some are good masters. Here is nothing drank
but ale; and every gentleman hath his separate
mug, which he chalks on the table where he sits
as it is brought in, and everyone retires when he
pleases, as in a coffee-house. The room is always so
diverted with songs, and drinking from one table
to another to one another's healths, that there is no
room for politics, or anything that can sour conversation. One must be up by seven to get room,
and after ten the company are, for the most part,
gone. This is a winter's amusement that is agreeable enough to a stranger for once or twice, and
he is well diverted with the different humours when
the mugs overflow."
An attack on a Whig mug-house, the "Roebuck,"
in Cheapside, June, 1716, was followed by a still
more stormy assault on the Salisbury Court mughouse in July of the same year. The riot began on
a Friday, but the Whigs kept a resolute face, and the
mob dwindled away. On the Monday they renewed
the attack, declaring that the Whigs were drinking
"Down with the Church," and reviling the memory
of Queen Anne; and they swore they would level
the house and make a bonfire of the timber in the
middle of Fleet Street. But the wily Whigs, barricading the door, slipped out a messenger at a back
door, and sent to a mug-house in Tavistock Street,
Covent Garden, for reinforcements. Presently a
band of Whig bludgeon-men arrived, and the Whigs
of Salisbury Court then snatched up pokers, tongs,
pitchforks, and legs of stools, and sallied out on
the Tory mob, who soon fled before them. For
two days the Tory mob seethed, fretted, and
swore revenge. But the report of a squadron of
horse being drawn up at Whitehall ready to ride
down on the City kept them gloomily quiet. On
the third day a Jacobite, named Vaughan, formerly
a Bridewell boy, led them on to revenge; and on
Tuesday they stormed the place in earnest. "The
best of the Tory mob," says a Whig paper of the
day, "were High Church scaramouches, chimneysweeps, hackney coachmen, foot-boys, tinkers, shoeblacks, street idlers, ballad singers, and strumpets."
The contemporaneous account will most vividly
describe the scene.
The Weekly Journal (a Whig paper) of July 28,
1716, says: "The Papists and Jacobites, in pursuance of their rebellious designs, assembled a
mob on Friday night last, and threatened to attack
Mr. Read's mug-house in Salisbury Court, in Fleet
Street; but, seeing the loyal gentlemen that were
there were resolved to defend themselves, the
cowardly Papists and Jacobites desisted for that
time. But on Monday night the villains meeting
together again in a most rebellious manner, they
began first to attack Mr. Goslin's house, at the sign
of the 'Blew Boar's Head,' near Water Lane, in
Fleet Street, breaking the windows thereof, for no
other reason but because he is well-affected to his
Majesty King George and the present Government.
Afterwards they went to the above-said mug-house
in Salisbury Court; but the cowardly Jacks not
being able to accomplish their hellish designs that
night, they assembled next day in great numbers
from all parts of the town, breaking the windows
with brick-bats, broke open the cellar, got into the
lower rooms, which they robb'd, and pull'd down
the sign, which was carried in triumph before the
mob by one Thomas Bean, servant to Mr.
Carnegie and Mr. Cassey, two rebels under sentence of death, and for which he is committed to
Newgate, as well as several others, particularly one
Hook, a joyner, in Blackfriars, who is charged with
acting a part in gutting the mug-house. Some of
the rioters were desperately wounded, and one
Vaughan, a seditious weaver, formerly an apprentice in Bridewell, and since employed there, who
was a notorious ringleader of mobs, was kill'd at
the aforesaid mug-house. Many notorious Papists
were seen to abet and assist in this villanous
rabble, as were others, who call themselves Churchmen, and are like to meet with a suitable reward in
due time for their assaulting gentlemen who meet
at these mug-houses only to drink prosperity to the
Church of England as by law established, the
King's health, the Prince of Wales's, and the rest of
the Royal Family, and those of his faithful and
loyal Ministers. But it is farther to be observed
that women of mean, scandalous lives, do frequently
point, hiss, and cry out 'Whigs' upon his Majesty's
good and loyal subjects, by which, raising a mob,
they are often insulted by them. But 'tis hoped
the magistrates will take such methods which may
prevent the like insults for the future.
"Thursday last the coroner's inquest sat on the
body of the person killed in Salisbury Court,
who were for bringing in their verdict, wilful
murder against Mr. Read, the man of the mughouse; but some of the jury stick out, and will
not agree with that verdict; so that the matter is
deferr'd till Monday next."
"On Tuesday last," says the same paper
(August 4, 1716), "a petition, signed by some of
the inhabitants of Salisbury Court, was deliver'd
to the Court of Aldermen, setting forth some late
riots occasioned by the meeting of some persons
at the mug-house there. The petition was referr'd
to, and a hearing appointed the same day before
the Lord Mayor. The witnesses on the side of
the petition were a butcher woman, a barber's
'prentice, and two or three other inferior people.
These swore, in substance—that the day the man
was killed there, they saw a great many people
gathered together about the mug-house, throwing
stones and dirt, &c.; that about twelve o'clock
they saw Mr. Read come out with a gun, and shoot
a man who was before the mob at some distance,
and had no stick in his hand. Those who were
call'd in Mr. Read's behalf depos'd that a very
great mob attacked the house, crying, 'High
Church and Ormond; No Hanover; No King
George;' that then the constable read the Proclamation, charging them to disperse, but they
still continued to cry, 'Down with the mug-house;'
that two soldiers then issued out of the house, and
drove the mob into Fleet Street; but by throwing
sticks and stones, they drove these two back to
the house, and the person shot returned at the
head of the mob with a stick in his hand flourishing, and crying, 'No Hanover; No King George;'
and 'Down with the mug-house.' That then Mr.
Read desired them to disperse, or he would shoot
amongst them, and the deceased making at him,
he shot him and retired indoors; that then the
mob forced into the house, rifled all below stairs,
took the money out of the till, let the beer about
the cellar, and what goods they could not carry
away, they brought into the streets and broke to
pieces; that they would have forced their way
up stairs and murdered all in the house, but that
a person who lodged in the house made a barricade
at the stair-head, where he defended himself above
half an hour against all the mob, wounded some
of them, and compelled them to give over the
assault. There were several very credible witnesses
to these circumstances, and many more were ready
to have confirmed it, but the Lord Mayor thought
sufficient had been said, and the following gentlemen, who are men of undoubted reputation and
worth, offering to be bail for Mr. Read, namely,
Mr. Johnson, a justice of the peace, and Colonels
Coote and Westall, they were accepted, and accordingly entered into a recognisance."
Five of the rioters were eventually hung at Tyburn
Turnpike, in the presence of a vast crowd. According to Mr. J. T. Smith, in his "Streets of London,"
a Whig mug-house existed as early as 1694. It has
been said the slang word "mug" owes its derivation
to Lord Shaftesbury's "ugly mug," which the beer
cups were moulded to resemble.
In the Flying Post of June 30, 1716, we find a
doggerel old mug-house ballad, which is so characteristic of the violence of the times that it is
"Since the Tories could not fight,
And their master took his flight,
They labour to keep up their faction;
With a bough and a stick,
And a stone and a brick,
They equip their roaring crew for action.
"Thus in battle array
At the close of the day,
After wisely debating their deep plot,
Upon windows and stall,
They courageously fall,
And boast a great victory they have got.
"But, alas! silly boys,
For all the mighty noise,
Of their 'High Church and Ormond for ever,'
A brave Whig with one hand,
At George's command,
Can make their mightiest hero to quiver."
Richardson's printing office was at the northwest corner of Salisbury Square, communicating
with the court, No. 76, Fleet Street. Here the
thoughtful old citizen wrote "Pamela," and here,
in 1756, Oliver Goldsmith acted as his "reader."
Richardson seems to have been an amiable and
benevolent man, kind to his compositors and servants and beloved by children. All the anecdotes
relating to his private life are pleasant. He used
to encourage early rising among his workmen by
hiding half crowns among the disordered type, so
that the earliest comer might find his virtue rewarded; and he would frequently bring up fruit
from the country to give to those of his servants
who had been zealous and good-tempered.
Samuel Richardson, the author of "Pamela" and
"Clarissa," was the son of a Derbyshire joiner. He
was born in 1689, and died in 1761. Apprenticed
to a London printer, he rose by steady industry
and prudence to be the manager of a large
business, printer of the Journals of the House of
Commons, Master of the Stationers' Company, and
part-printer to the king. In 1741, at the age of
fifty-two, publishers urging the thriving citizen to
write them a book of moral letters, Richardson
produced "Pamela," a novel which ran through
five editions the first year, and became the rage of
the town. Ladies carried the precious volumes to
Ranelagh, and held them up in smiling triumph
to each other. Pope praised the novel as more
useful than twenty volumes of sermons, and Dr.
Sherlock gravely recommended it from the pulpit.
In 1749 Richardson wrote "Clarissa Harlowe," his
most perfect work, and in 1753 his somewhat tedious
"Sir Charles Grandison" (7 vols.) In "Pamela"
he drew a servant, whom her master attempts to
seduce and eventually marries, but in "Clarissa"
the heroine, after harrowing misfortunes, dies unrewarded. Richardson had always a moral end in
view. He hated vice and honoured virtue, but
he is too often prolix and wearisome. He
wished to write novels that should wean the young
from the foolish románces of his day. In "Pamela"
he rewarded struggling virtue; in "Clarissa" he
painted the cruel selfishness of vice; in "Sir
Charles" he tried to represent the perfect Christian
gentleman. Coleridge said that to read Fielding
after Richardson was like emerging from a sick
room, heated by stoves, into an open lawn on a
breezy May morning. Richardson, indeed, wrote
more for women than men. Fielding was coarser,
but more manly; he had humour, but no moral
purpose at all. The natural result was that Fielding
and his set looked on Richardson as a grave, dull,
respectable old prig; Richardson on Fielding as a
low rake, who wrote like a man who had been an
ostler born in a stable, or a runner in a sponginghouse. "The virtues of Fielding's heroes," the
vain old printer used to say to his feminine clique,
"are the vices of a truly good man."
FLEET STREET, THE TEMPLE, ETC., FROM A PLAN PUBLISHED BY RALPH AGGAS, 1563.
Dr. Johnson, who had been befriended by
Richardson, was never tired of depreciating Fielding
and crying up the author of "Pamela." "Sir," he
used to thunder out, "there is as much difference
between the two as between a man who knows
how a watch is made and a man who can merely
tell the hour on the dial-plate." He called Fielding
a "barren rascal." "Sir, there is more knowledge of the heart in one letter of Richardson's
than in all 'Tom Jones.'" Some one present here
mildly suggested that Richardson was very tedious.
"Why, sir," replied Johnson, "if you were to
read Richardson for the story, your impatience
would be so great that you would hang yourself.
But you must read him for the sentiment, and
consider the story as only giving occasion to the
sentiment." After all, it must be considered that,
old-fashioned as Richardson's novels have now
become, the old printer dissected the human heart
with profound knowledge and exquisite care, and
that in the back shop in Salisbury Court, amid the
jar of printing-presses, the quiet old citizen drew
his ideal beings with far subtler lines and touches
than any previous novelist had done.
FLEET STREET, THE TEMPLE, ETC., FROM A MAP OF LONDON, PUBLISHED 1720.
On one occasion at least Hogarth and Johnson
met at Richardson's house.
"Mr. Hogarth," says Nichols, "came one day
to see Richardson, soon after the execution of
Dr. Cameron, for having taken arms for the
house of Stuart in 1745–46; and, being a warm
partisan of George II., he observed to Richardson that certainly there must have been some
very unfavourable circumstances lately discovered
in this particular case which had induced the
king to approve of an execution for rebellion so
long after the time it was committed, as this had the
appearance of putting a man to death in cold blood,
and was very unlike his majesty's usual clemency.
While he was talking he perceived a person standing at a window in the room shaking his head
and rolling himself about in a ridiculous manner.
He concluded he was an idiot, whom his relations
had put under the care of Mr. Richardson as a very
good man. To his great surprise, however, this
figure stalked forward to where he and Mr.
Richardson were sitting, and all at once took up
the argument, and burst out into an invective
against George II., as one who, upon all
occasions, was unrelenting and barbarous; mentioning many instances, particularly that, where
an officer of high rank had been acquitted by
a court martial, George II. had, with his own
hand, struck his name off the list. In short,
he displayed such a power of eloquence that
Hogarth looked at him in astonishment, and
actually imagined that this idiot had been at the
moment inspired. Neither Johnson nor Hogarth
were made known to each other at this interview."
Boswell tells a good story of a rebuke that
Richardson's amiable but inordinate egotism
on one occasion received, much to Johnson's
secret delight, which is certainly worth quoting
before we dismiss the old printer altogether.
"One day," says, Boswell "at his country house
at Northend, where a large company was assembled at dinner, a gentleman who was just returned from Paris, wishing to please Richardson,
mentioned to him a flattering circumstance, that he
had seen his 'Clarissa' lying on the king's brother's
table. Richardson observing that part of the company were engaged in talking to each other, affected
then not to attend to it; but by and bye, when
there was a general silence, and he thought that
the flattery might be fully heard, he addressed himself to the gentleman: 'I think, sir, you were
saying somewhat about'—pausing in a high flutter
of expectation. The gentleman provoked at his
inordinate vanity resolved not to indulge it, and
with an exquisitely sly air of indifference answered,
'A mere trifle, sir; not worth repeating.' The
mortification of Richardson was visible, and he
did not speak ten words more the whole day.
Dr. Johnson was present, and appeared to enjoy
At one corner of Salisbury Square (says Mr.
Timbs) are the premises of Peacock, Bampton,
& Mansfield, the famous pocket-book makers,
whose "Polite Repository" for 1778 is "the
patriarch of all pocket-books." Its picturesque
engravings have never been surpassed, and their
morocco and russia bindings scarcely equalled.
In our time Queen Adelaide and her several maids
of honour used the "Repository." George IV.
was provided by the firm with a ten-guinea housewife (an antique-looking pocket-book, with goldmounted scissors, tweezers, &c.); and Mr. Mansfield relates that on one occasion the king took
his housewife from his pocket and handed it
round the table to his guests, and next day the
firm received orders for twenty-five, "just like the
In St. Bride's Passage, westward (says Mr.
Timbs), was a large dining-house, where, some forty
years ago, Colton, the author, used to dine, and
publicly boast that he wrote the whole of his
"Lacon; or, Many Things in Few Words," upon
a small rickety deal table, with one pen. Another
frequenter of this place was one Webb, who seems
to have been so well up in the topics of the day
that he was a sort of walking newspaper, who was
much with the King and Queen of the Sandwich
Islands when they visited England in 1825.
This Caleb Colton, mentioned by Mr. Timbs,
was that most degraded being, a disreputable
clergyman, with all the vices but little of the
genius of Churchill, and had been, in his flourishing
time, vicar of Kew and Petersham. He was educated at Eton, and eventually became Fellow of
King's College, Cambridge. He wrote "A Plain
and Authentic Narrative of the Stamford Ghost,"
"Remarks on the Tendencies of 'Don Juan,'" a
poem on Napoleon, and a satire entitled "Hypocrisy." His best known work, however, was
"Lacon; or, Many Things in Few Words," published in 1820. These aphorisms want the terse
brevity of Rochefoucauld, and are in many
instances vapid and trivial. A passion for gaming at
last swallowed up Colton's other vices, and becoming involved, he cut the Gordian knot of debt in
1828 by absconding; his living was then seized
and given to another. He fled to America, and
from there returned to that syren city, Paris,
where he is said in two years to have won no
less than £25,000. The miserable man died by
his own hand at Fontainebleau, in 1832. In the
"Lacon" is the subjoined passage, that seems
almost prophetic of the miserable author's miserable fate:—
"The gamester, if he die a martyr to his profession, is doubly ruined. He adds his soul to
every loss, and by the act of suicide renounces
earth to forfeit heaven." . . . . "Anguish of
mind has driven thousands to suicide, anguish of
body none. This proves that the health of the
mind is of far more consequence to our happiness
than the health of the body, although both are
deserving of much more attention than either of
And here is a fine sentiment, worthy of Dr.
"There is but one pursuit in life which it is
in the power of all to follow and of all to attain.
It is subject to no disappointments, since he that
perseveres makes every difficulty an advancement
and every contest a victory—and this the pursuit
of virtue. Sincerely to aspire after virtue is to gain
her, and zealously to labour after her wages is to
receive them. Those that seek her early will find
her before it is late; her reward also is with her,
and she will come quickly. For the breast of a
good man is a little heaven commencing on earth,
where the Deity sits enthroned with unrivalled
influence, every subjugated passion, 'like the wind
and storm, fulfilling his word.'"