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for after a while I returned to Mr. Sbatford and eventually contracted a partnership with him in the management at Salisbury.
This outline of the early part of my career will enable the reader to understand the anecdotes and reminiscences which I am about to string together. But I forgot to mention the poetical turn which I had taken during my residence with my uncle. Indeed this taste for committing the sin of rhyme has adhered to me through life and will not, 1 fear, be separated but by death. Among others, having an utter detestation of such characters, I wrote the following
A fop oft strutted through a farmer's yard,
* I never saw your ugly face before!'
"But I've seen thine (said Hodge) this month, I swear."
* A month, you clown! I've been but nine days here 1' "Nine days! not see? ah, now the cause I find—
"Puppies (quoth Hodge) be always nine days blind."
But fops were not the only objects of my detestation, I had, strange to say, an invincible aversion to many of the domestic duties which have frequently been the theme of the muse's displeasure. In sooth, I know of nelhing so utterly inimical to poetry as the sights and sounds and smells that auuoy us on the days of cleansing and sweeping, in my opinion, infinitely more to he deprecated than the worst of purifying penances in the worst days of Popery. My indignant muse gave vent to her feelings in such a strain as the following.
My pen I snatch and try to write plain prose, Some burning tag-rag stuff offends my nose; For purer air I'm each apartment seeking, But noxious vapours every where are reeking! Put to strange shifts, and numerous shifts while trying, I'm shivering wet, while all things round are drying. 'Tis worse, far worse, than standing with hare feet, At Christmas, doing penance in a sheet!
I pace the garden, heavy as a sledge, "Linen (as Falstaflf says) on every hedge." There fringed curtains wave, like clouds in air, Each ruffled shirt's "a ravell'd sleeve of care." Vainly I muse on poesy divine, A dismal gloom is thrown o'er every line. Winds as they blow, long trains of terror spread, Frill'd caps and gown-tails flap against my head! My path-way's stopt—to find the track is puazling— I'm clasp'd by calicoe, or wrapt in muslin! Walking, I stoop to 'scape the flying evils, IVhere long-prong'd sticks stand up like forked devils I Eiicli holly-bush, tall shrub, or painted post, A pallid spectre seems or green-eyed ghost!
From boughs suspended, bodied gowns I see,
My house once more T enter—all annoy?,
In this little peem 1 mention a Mr. Bateman. This gentleman, a pattern to all true lovers—suspended himself from the bough of a tree, in the garden belonging to the young lady who was the object of his passion.
Mr. Bateman's biographers differ in one respect:
Some say that he committed the rash act at the chamber door of his mistress, and others, that he hung himself on a cherry-tree! now a third party (the commentators) start an idea, which is probably the truth, as it reconciles both the former accounts; and which is. That the unfortunate Mr. Bateman hung himself twice; once at the chamber door, and secondly on an apple-tree !— They go so far as to add (but whether true or not we cannot say) that the particular tree on which he hung himself, bore that species of fruit called the AppleJohn; and that it derived its name from this circumstance; for, on consulting the parish registar, it is found that his christian name. was John, the son of Joannes Bateman. Thus it appears, that to the fate of Mr. John Bateman we owe the denomination of that delicious fruit called the Apple-John! a fruit, of which the lady in question was very fond. But to proceed: In the first instance, wken Mr. Bateman suspended himself at the chamber door, the noise very naturally alarmed the lady; who, coming out in time, cut him down with her scissars, which she happened just then to be using, her left hand being thrust into a silk stocking, with a
new Whitechapel needle stuck therein This peculiar
incident was categorically noticed at the coroner's inquest, and considered of very material consequence :— The lady however not relaxing in her cruelly, Mr. Bateman's " tragic job" was the next day completed in the orchard!
There is no doubt but the account here given is the true one; and the reason why it has been hitherto suppressed, is, because it reflects hardly upon the lady, and perhaps is the only part of her conduct that is reprehensible; for, say what we will, if she did not mean to give his passion a suitable return, why did she feed him with, hopes even to the last ?—for was not this feeding him with hopes ?—false hopes ?_Let any lover imagine himself hung up in the same manner and thus cut down by the fair hand of his mistress!—on reviving, would not hope be the first thing he would catch hold of ?_. would not he naturally say to himself, Ah! she wishes me to live !—she has indeed saved my life! and consequently means to make me happy !—Alas! alas! Mr. Bateman (like most lovers) argued wrongly! Poor dear man! He remains a memorable example of illfated love, and his mistress a remarkable instance of implacable cruelty !_Mr. Bateman was not a frivolous every-day lover; but such a one as all moderate minded young ladies would wish for! His was real affection! no mimicking, make-belief, counterfeit passion; but downright, doleful, deep, desponding, pensive, pining, poring, solemn, sighing, sobbing, serious, sentimentality!!
"He who hangs or knocks out his brains,
But to my narrative again —
I was in London at the time Mr. John Palmer first opened the Royally Theatre: 1 had been several times to see it while building. The first performance was "As you like it!" From the opposition raised against it by the Patentees of the other Theatres, the regular Drama was here prohibited, and soon after the house was opened for the performance of such pieces as Burlettas, Pantomimes, &c. which were supposed not to be within reach of the prescriptive powers of the winter managers.
This opinion always struck me (though no lawyer) as a mere fallacy; it has prevailed for years, and its effects even at the present time are not wholly exploded.
A pamphlet was published by me many years ago, in which I stated that if such a prescription were Patentee-law, it must be very illogical and inconclusive, not to say most ridiculous! What would be the reasoning on the subject, if carried on to its consequences? Why thus—That Shakspeare's Hamlet might legally play upon the pipe he exhibits, but if he should dare