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believe, influenced the whole of Marlborough's career, which caused his turnings and windings, his opportune fidelity and treason, stopped his army almost at Paris gate, and landed him finally on the Hanoverian side — the winning side: I get, I say, no truth, or only a portion of it, in the narrative of either writer, and believe that Coxe's portrait, or Swift's portrait, is quite unlike the real Churchill. I take this as a single instance, prepared to be as sceptical about any other, and say to the Muse of History, "O venerable daughter of Mnemosyne, I doubt every single statement you ever made since your ladyship was a Muse! For all your grave airs and high pretensions, you are not a whit more trustworthy than some of your lighter sisters on whom your partisans look down. You bid me listen to a general's oration to his soldiers : Nonsense! He no more made it than Turpin made his dying speech at Newgate. You pronounce a panegyric of a hero: I doubt it, and say you flatter outrageously. You utter the condemnation of a loose character: I doubt it, and think you are prejudiced and take the side of the Dons. You offer me an autobiography: I doubt all autobiographies I ever read ; except those, perhaps, of Mr. Robinson Crusoe, Mariner, and writers of his class. These bave no object in setting themselves right with the public or their own consciences; these have no motive for concealment or halftruths ; these call for no more confidence than I can cheerfully give, and do not force me to tax my credulity or to fortify it by evidence. I take up a volume of Dr. Smollett, or a volume of the Spectator, and say the fiction carries a greater amount of truth in solution than the volume which purports to be all true. Out of the fictitious book I get the expression of the life of the time; of the manners, of the movement, the dress, the pleasures, the laughter, the ridicules of society the old times live again, and I travel in the old country of England. Can the heaviest historian do more for me?”
As we read in these delightful volumes of the Tatler and Spectator the past age returns, the England of our ancestors is revivified. The Maypole rises in the Strand again in London ; the churches are thronged with daily worshippers ; the beaux are gathering in the coffee-houses; the gentry are going to the Drawing-room ; the ladies are thronging to the toy-shops; the chairmen are jostling in the streets ; the footmen are running with links before the chariots, or fighting round the theatre doors. In the country I see the young Squire riding to Eton with his servants behind him, and Will Wimble, the friend of the family, to see him safe. To make that journey from the Squire's and back, Will is a week on horseback. The coach takes tive days between London and Bath. The judges and the bar ride the circuit. If my lady comes to town in her postchariot, her people carry pistols to fire a salute on Captain Macheath if he should appear, and her couriers ride ahead to prepare apartments for her at the great caravanserais on the road; Boniface receives her under the creaking sign of the “ Bell” or the “ Ram," and he and his chamberlains bow her up the great stair to the state-apartments, whilst her carriage rumbles into the court-yard, where the “ Exeter Fly” is housed that performs the journey in eight days, God willing, having achieved its daily tlight of twenty miles, and landed its passengers for supper and sleep. The curate is taking his pipe in the kitchen, where the Captain's man — having hung up his master's half pike – is at his bacon and eggs, bragging of Ramillies and Malplaquet to the town's-folk, who have their club in the chimney-corner. The Captain is ogling the chambermaid in the wooden gallery, or bribing her to know who is the pretty young mistress that has come in the coach. The pack-horses are in the great stable, and the drivers and ostlers carousing in the tap. And in Mrs. Landlady's bar, over a glass of strong.waters, sits a gentleman of military appearance, who travels with pistols, as all the rest of the world does, and has a rattling gray mare in the stables which will be saddled and away with its owner half an hour before the “ Fly" sets out on its last day's flight. And some five miles on the road, as the “ Eseter Fly" comes jingling and creaking onwards, it will suddenly be brought to a halt by a gentleman on a gray mare, with a black vizard on his face, who thrusts a long pistol into the coach window, and bids the company to hand out their purses. It must have been no small pleasure even to sit in the great kitchen in those days, and see the tide of humankind pass by. We arrive at places now, but we travel no more. Addison talks jocularly of a difference of manner and costume being quite perceivable at Staines, where there passed a young fellow is with a very tolerable periwig,” though, to be sure, his hat was out of fashion, and had a Ramillies cock. I would have liked to travel in those days (being of that class of travellers who are proverbially pretty easy coram latronibus) and have seen my friend with the gray mare and the black vizard. Alas ! there always came a day in the life of that warrior when it was the fashion to accompany him as he passed — without his black mask, and with a nosegay in his hand, accompanied by halberdiers and attended by the sheriff, — in a carriage without
springs, and a clergyman jolting beside him, to a spot close by Cumberland Gate and the Marble Arch, where a stone stiil records that here Tyburn turnpike stood. What a change in a century ; in a few years! Within a few yards of that gate the fields began : the fields of his exploits, behind the hedges of which he lurked and robbed. A great and wealthy city has grown over those meadows. Were a man brought to die there now, the windows would be closed and the inhabitants keep their houses in sickening horror. A hundred years back, people crowded to see that last act of a highwayman's life, and make jokes on it. Swift laughed at him, grimly advising him to provide a Holland shirt and white cap crowned with a crimson or black ribbon for his exit, to mount the cart cheerfully - shake hands with the hangman, and so farewell. Gay wrote the most delightful ballads, and made merry over the same hero. Contrast these with the writings of our present humorists! Compare those morals and ours those manners and ours !
We can't tell — you would not bear to be told the whole truth regarding those men and manners. You could no more suffer in a British drawing-room, under the reign of Queen Victoria, a fine gentleman or fine lady of Queen Anne's time, or hear what they heard and said, than you would receive an ancient Briton. It is as one reads about savages, that one contemplates the wild ways, the barbarous feasts, the terrific pastimes, of the men of pleasure of that age. We have our fine gentlemen, and our fast men ; permit me to give you an idea of one particularly fast nobleman of Queen Anne's days, whose biography has been preserved to us by the law reporters.
In 1691, when Steele was a boy at school, my Lord Mohun was tried by his peers for the murder of William Mountford, comedian. In “Howell's State Trials,” the reader will find pot only an edifying account of this exceedingly fast nobleman, hut of the times and manners of those days. My lord's friend, a Captain Hill, smitten with the charms of the beautiful Mrs. Bracegirdle, and anxious to marry her at all hazards, determined to carry her off, and for this purpose hired a hackneycoach with six horses, and a half-dozen of soldiers, to aid him in the storm. The coach with a pair of horses (the four leaders being in waiting elsewhere) took its station opposite my Lord Craven's house in Drury Lane, by which door Mrs. Bracegirdle was to pass on her way from the theatre. As she passed in company of her mamma and a friend, Mr. Page, the Captain seized her by the hand, the soldiers hustled Mr. Page and attacked him sword in hand, and Captain Hill and his noble friend endeavored to force Madam Bracegirdle into the coach. Mr. Page called for help: the population of Drury Lane rose: it was impossible to effect the capture; and bidding the soldiers go about their business, and the coach to drive off, Hill let go of his prey sulkily, and waited for other opportunities of revenge. The man of whom he was most jealous was Will Mountford, the comedian ; Will removed, he thought Mrs. Bracegirdle might be his : and accordingly the Captain and his lordship lay that night in wait for Will, and as he was coming out of a house in Norfolk Street, while Mohun engaged him in talk, Hill, in the words of the Attorney-General, made a pass and ran bim clean through the body.
Sixty-one of my lord's peers finding him not guilty of mur. der, while but fourteen found him guilty, this very fast nobleman was discharged: and made his appearance seven years after in another trial for murder when he, my Lord Warwick, and three gentlemen of the military profession, were concerned in the fight which ended in the death of Captain Coote.
This jolly companţ were drinking together at “ Lockit’s ” in Charing Cross, when angry words arose between Captain Coote and Captain French ; whom my Lord Mohun and my Lord the Earl of Warwick * and Holland endeavored to pacify. My Lord Warwick was a dear friend of Captain Coote, lent him a hundred pounds to buy his commission in the Guards ; once when the captain was arrested for 131. by his tailor, my lord lent him five guineas, often paid his reckoning for him, and showed him other offices of friendship. On this evening the disputants, French and Coote, being separated whilst they were upstairs, unluckily stopped to drink ale again at the bar of
* The husband of the Lady Warwick who married Addison, and the father of the young Earl, who was brought to his step-father's bed to see "how a Christian could die.” He was amongst the wildest of the nobility of that day; and in the curious collection of Chap-Books at the British Museum, I have seen more than one anecdote of the freaks of the gay lord. He was popular in London, as such daring spirits have been in our time. The anecdotists speak very kindly of his practical jokes. Mohun was scarcely out of prison for his second homicide, when he went on Lord Macclesfield's embassy to the Elector of Hanover, when Queen Anne sent the garter to H. E. Highness The chronicler of the expedition speaks of his lordship as an amiable young man, who had been in bad company, but was quite repentant and reformed. He and Macartney afterwards murdered the Duke of Hamilton between them, in which act Lord Mohun died This amiable baron's name was Charles, and not Henry, as a recent nor elist has christened him.
“ Lockit's.” The row began afresh — Coote lunged at French over the bar, and at last all six called for chairs, and went to Leicester Fields, where they fell to. Their lordships engaged on the side of Captain Coote. My Lord of Warwick was severely wounded in the hand, Mr. French also was stabbed, but honest Captain Coote got a couple of wounds — one especially, a wound in the left side just under the short ribs, and piercing through the diaphragma," which did for Captain Coote. Hence the trials of my Lords Warwick and Mohun: hence the assemblage of peers, the report of the transaction, in which these defunct fast men still live for the observation of the curious. My Lord of Warwick is brought to the bar by the Deputy Governor of the Tower of London, having the axe carried before him by the gentleman gaoler, who stood with it at the bar at the right hand of the prisoner, turning the edge from him ; the prisoner, at his approach, making three bows, one to his Grace the Lord High Steward, the other to the peers on each hand ; and his Grace and the peers return the salute. And besides these great personages, august in periwigs, and nodding to the right and left, a host of the small come up out of the past and pass before us the jolly captains brawling in the tavern, and laughing and cursing over their cups - the drawer that serves, the bar-girl that waits, the bailiff on the prowl, the chairmen trudging through the black lampless streets, and smoking their pipes by the railings, whilst swords are clashing in the garden within. ** Help there! a gentleman is hurt!” The chairmen put up their pipes, and help the gentleman over the railings, and carry him, ghastly and bleeding, to the Bagnio in Long Acre, where they knock up the surgeon - a pretty tall gentleman : but that wound under the short ribs has done for him. Surgeon, lords, captains, bailiffs, chairmen, and gentleman gaoler with your axe, where be you now? The gentleman axeman's head is off his own shoulders ; the lords and judges can wag theirs no longer; the bailiff's writs have ceased to run ; the honest chairmen's pipes are put out, and with their brawny calves they have walked away into Hades — all as irrecoverably done for as Will Mountford or Captain Coote. The subject of our night's lecture saw all these people — rode in Captain Coote's company of the Guards very probably — wrote and sighed for Bracegirdle, went home tipsy in many a chair, after many a bottle, in many a tavern fled from many a bailiff.
In 1709, when the publication of the Tatler began, our great-great-grandfathers must have seized upon that new and