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two on the Niger, were profusely Jerdan in the rooms. Jerdan illustrated by his pencil.
asked the Bishop, very deferen
tially, if he felt justified in abanTHE ROYAL SOCIETY OF doning an undertaking which he LITERATURE.
had received the sovereign's comI had the following account of mission to promote, and after some the origin of the Society, verballyconversation it was resolved to from Jerdan, the editor of the endeavour to ascertain the sentiLiterary Gazette. The Society had ments of the King on the subject. a hard struggle to maintain its Some time elapsed before an opground, and was in fact nearly portunity occurred, but, at last, strangled in its birth. George IV. during the King's
King's visit to gave a commission to the Bishop Brighton, a person of rank in the of Salisbury to form it, and many Royal suite ventured on the exmeetings took place at Ridgways', periment. His Majesty said that and at the rooms of some public Sir Walter was not likely to institution, for the purpose of favour a scheme in which he bringing it into being. A letter, had not a prominent part, and however, which Sir Walter Scott the friends of it ought not to be addressed to Lord Sidmouth, then deterred merely because a minister Home Secretary, had the effect of of state was adverse to it. From making that nobleman adverse to that moment the promoters of the the scheme, and, in consequence, undertaking rallied, and relaxed many other peers and influential not in their efforts until their persons withdrew their patronage object was attained. It is painful from the undertaking. At last a to add that the munificent endow. meeting took place at which the ment by George IV. of the InstiBishop of Salisbury and the Bishop tution, providing for the comfort of Bangor (Majendie) were pre- of the literary veterans of his sent, and at which it was proposed country, was cancelled by his sueby the latter prelate that the pro- cessor. The Society, however, ject should be abandoned; but by still flourishes under the excellent way of doing so gracefully, that a management of the Council and medal should be struck-probably Secretary. for distribution among the projectors. Jerdan, with reference to WILLIAM BECKFORD, one of the proposed objects of the
OF FONTHILL. Society, namely, to stem the tide This extraordinary man, whom of immoral and otherwise objec- Croly once described to me as one tionable literature, and in reply to whom in physical and mental to the Bishop of Bangor, remarked gifts Nature had been prodigal, that his lordship might as well I had frequently seen at Mr. Jenattempt to stem the tide of the nings', the publisher in CheapThames by hanging a penny piece side, where he was in the habit of over the centre arch of London calling two or three times a week. Bridge. The good humoured pre- At last, however, I was formally late, so far from being offended at introduced to him; and I will the retort, shook hands with Jer transcribe, verbatim, the notes dan, and complimented him on which I made, from time to time, the aptness of his illustration. of our interviews. The body of the meeting then 1837. Dec. 16. After some dispersed, leaving the Bishop of little conversation on the subject Salisbury, Prince Hoare, and of the Portugal volume of the “Landscape Annual ” which I Cheapside to Park Lane (where he had engaged to write, the subject lives) in twenty minutes. of Fonthill was introduced, when 1837. Dec. 21. Mr. Beckford's I ventured to ask him if the house greeting was:
greeting was: “Ah, sir, your little was a large one. His answer was poem has made me laugh finely, “Enormous, although," he added,
and a good laugh in these gloomy “it does not justify the reports days is worth something. It is a commonly current of the magnifi- delicious poem. The transitions cence of my style of living—for from scene to scene are most rapid instance, I never sat down alone and admirably managed, and the to forty dishes!” I asked him if dénouement most cleverly contrived. Fonthill Abbey was built after his The notion, too, of the little old own plan. He said, “No. I have
woman, and the equestrians in the sins enough to answer for, without civic procession was delightful, having that laid to my charge; although I scarcely think that you Wyatt had a splendid opportunity will be elected to any of the civic of raising a monument to his fame, honours on the strength of it.” but he missed it." He acknow- Landseer's picture (the engraving) ledged, however, that much of the
“Bolton Abbey," and Wilkie's interior decoration was after his “Maid of Saragossa" were hangdesign. Referring to the recent ing in the room. He spoke in annual festival at Guildhall, he raptures of the first; but con, said he could have entertained as demned the other in no measured large a company at Fonthill, in
terms. Speaking of Collins, who which there was a hall 302 feet
had gone abroad or was said to be long, and 153 feet high. Speaking about to do so, to pursue his art, of his present place, Lansdown Mr. Beckford said, "He had better (Bath), he said that he had there have stayed at home-England
books, and considerably will furnish him with better submore works of art and vertu than jects—see what happened to Wilhe had at Fonthill. I ventured to
kie!” referring to the change ask his acceptance of a little Pin
which came over the spirit of that daric doggerel, entitled a "Royal painter's dream, when he abanDream,” suggested by the Queen's doned comedy for tragedy and visit to the City on the last Lord portrait painting. He mentioned Mayor's Day. He accepted it very that he once asked Wyatt if some graciously, and opening the book
one (I forget who) had any taste. he quoted from it, in a voice of
“ Yes," was the reply, “a great thunder:
deal, and all bad.” He spoke of “Fe, fo, fum,"
Croly, and said,
« Ah! he is a and with an air of mock tragedy, splendid fellow—the Martin of which while it startled me Poetry.” He said that he had a very amusing. Mr. Beckford, I terrace at Lansdown which had should say, judging from his ap- not its equal in Europe. A genpearance, between seventy
tleman stated that Lord Fitzand eighty years old ; remarkably william had given £15,000 for a handsome—his eye full of fire and picture (Titian's“Venus," I think), expression, and his voice, although quoting as his authority the curahe has lost many of his teeth, tor of the gallery. “Don't believe remarkably clear and distinct, but him,” said Beckford, “ househis articulation somewhat rapid. keepers and curators always exHe had, he told me, on the previous aggerate. I have often had letters evening, ridden on horseback from from persons inquiring if I really
gave , a naming some preposterous price I may purchase in my rambles." which my people had attached to He added that he never used it." On the subject of dumb spectacles, which I could readily animals, he said, “I love all dumb understand, as I have heard him animals." I remarked that his read from the smallest type, and horses looked as if they were well the faintest pencilling with apcared for. “Ah,” said he, “ they parent facility. He quoted to me are fine creatures.” Alluding to from a modern poet, as a fine the celebrated picture of the “ Pet specimen of bathos : Lamb," which the butcher is about
“ Where the foul fungus stiffens." to carry away from some children its playmates, Mr. Beckford said, " That is of the mushroom school “I cannot bear to look at it—it is of poetry," I remarked.
“ Toadpainful; there are real miseries
stool, my dear sir, toadstool," he enough in the world without ima- rejoined. gining new ones.” We agreed 1840. April. Jennings produced that it was easy enough to harrow to-day a portfolio of very fine enthe feelings both in painting and
gravings from an old master which writing.
he had just published. Mr. Beck1838. Jan. 26. Mr. Beckford, ford looked very carefully through in the most graceful manner, pre- them, and remarked, of a very sented me with a splendidly bound fine specimen of French engraving, set of his works,“ Letters from “This is very fine-the perfection Spain and Italy," and "Alcobaça of engraving, but differs from the and Batalha." Referring to his original picture in that the enpalace at “Cintra," he expressed graver could not refrain from himself very indignant that it had throwing in a little French taste. been supposed to have been built
A Frenchman always does this by himself. " The fact of the he cannot help it.” On turning matter,” he said, “is this : on my over the prints we came upon some first visit to Portugal I saw the indifferent impressions of some place, which was a beautiful
rather singular subjects. “What Claude-like edifice, surrounded by is the matter here ?" exclaimed a most enchanting country.
It Mr. Beckford. There was little in belonged to a Mr. De Visme, a the words, but the manner of their merchant, from whom, at the time, utterance was very striking. The I could not obtain it. Afterwards, greater part of the collection was however, he pulled it down, and
purchased in our presence by a built another in barbarous Gothic. gentleman, who had no sooner On my return I rented it of him, departed than Mr. Beckford asked for although he had knocked down
who he was. “A Mr. Smith, a the old edifice he could not levei brewer of Romford," was the rethe hills nor root up the woods. ply. “Well done, brewer! well I build it!” he exclaimed.
done, brewer!” exclaimed Mr. was built by a carpenter from Beckford, “his purchase shews Falmouth." I asked him if he his taste, although he has bought did not find horse exercise some rubbish with his gems." He fatiguing. “Fatigue!” he said. shewed me an engraver's proof on “I never felt fatigue; I can walk India paper-not laid down-of from twenty to thirty miles a day, the “Virgin and Child” (by Carlo and I only use my carriage on Dolce, I think engraved by Rafaccount of its being convenient to faelle Morghen), about an inch and
a-half wide, by an inch broad, for Partridge's portrait of the Queen which he had given three guineas was the subject of remark. Reand a-half. It was a gem, cer- ferring to Her Majesty, he said her tainly, and, as regards the im- manner was most fascinating, and pression, probably unique. He her voice charming, but he seemed spoke, to-day, in high terms of the to think her Court too German. advance made by the Scotch Of George III., he said that when painters, instancing Duncan's pic- “he put on the king,” he was the ture of "Charles Stuart's Entry personification of dignity. “No into Edinburgh, after the Battle man,” he added, in his emphatic of Preston,” which I had seen a way, “could stand before him. I few days before, at Moore's, and remember during the riots of 1780, admired exceedingly. He added Sir George Howard, then Comthat he had had a very favourable mander-in-Chief, and who married aceount of the state of art in my aunt, once said to me, I am Edinburgh from his grandson. going to the King, who will be “The Earl of Lincoln ?" I asked. pleased to see his friends about “No," was the reply, “although him at such a time, and you shall he has very good taste-I mean go with me.' Accordingly we the Marquis of Douglas; a fine went, and were admitted to the young man, with very many noble King's closet. Well, Sir George,' qualities, and withal without a was the Royal greeting, as he taint of affectation." I remarked advanced with a dignity which he that simplicity of character in man well knew how to assume, have or woman was the grand charm. you peppered 'em ?' Sir George, “ And Douglas,” he rejoined,“ has
a fine looking man, it in perfection : you will see a though somewhat pompous withal, portrait of him by Pickersgill, in replied, “Your Majesty, my regithe Academy this year.” He said ment has done its duty ;' and that that he had read the “Ingoldsby particular regiment was very active Legends," on the recommendation on the occasion. The King then, of the Marquis, and spoke in high in one of his transitions from the terms of them.
dignified to the trifling which 1841. March. Mr. Beckford has were common to him, and perhaps returned to town, and I met him were indicative of the malady to-day at Jennings'. He renewed under which he finally sank, his thanks for a little brochure turned to me and said, Well, I "The Comet of Many Tales,” suppose
chickens which I had sent to him at Lans- dead!' alluding to the fact of my down, and which he acknowledged father, the Alderman, having at the time in
roofed his house with copper, letter :
which the King had predicted “Lansdown, 18 Nov., 1840.
would infallibly kill all beneath “Excellent sport! I enjoy it ex
it, with verdigris." Mr. Beckford ceedingly, and to be induced to laugh
added that he was introduced at at anything during these serious and Court at sixteen, and that he owed gloomy times is no slight benediction. the partiality of the King to the Receive, therefore, my dear sir, sin- high favour in which his aunt, , cere and hearty thanks from your whom Sir George Howard margrateful and obedient servant,
ried, she being at the time a " W. B.
widow and a countess, was held at “W. H. Harrison, Esq."
Court, “for," said Mr. Beckford, “ he well knew that my father was
anything but favourably disposed of the Sunday Times, and other towards him.” He said that Queen newspapers, told me that he was Charlotte was very agreeable in invited by Phillips, the auctioneer, her manner, and well informed, to spend a few days at the Abbey but remarkably plain. He added during the preparation for the that the heart of George III. was sale of its contents. It happened not exactly in the right place, and that shortly before bedtime they that he was the cause of the Revo- were all in a gallery, the name of lution in France; probably at- which I forget, when the younger tributing that event to the example Phillips, by way of a frolic, blew of American revolution, the result out the light, and left the others of George's obstinate adherence to to find their way to the rooms in the Tea Tax.
the dark; he being perfectly Mr. Beckford once asked me my familiar with the way, and foropinion of a novelist, who was a getting that the gallery was full great dandy, and dined on the of precious and fragile works of occasion on which I met him in art, china, etc., betook himself to lemon-coloured kid gloves. I said rest. Gaspey groped his way to he was undoubtedly clever, but a the end of the gallery, and there cockscomb. “Yes,” was the reply, found a staircase, which, instead "a cultivated one, and has blown of leading to the bedrooms, landed double." Conversing one day on him in the open air on the roof of the projected Government expedi- the gallery. Retracing his steps he tion to the Niger, I mentioned the found a flight of stairs, at the armament of the vessels. Mr. Beck- other end of the gallery, which ford recommended their taking led to his room. Before, however, some arch-blunderbusses: “There he retired to rest, he knocked at are arch-dukes,” he said, “why young Phillips's door, and told him should there not be arch-blunder- that he did not know what misbusses ?” When Haytor, the chief he had done, for while clerk of the works during the groping his way in the dark he erection of Fonthill Abbey, was had come in contact with a pile of on his deathbed, he sent for Mr. what he conceived to be china, and Beckford, and told him he wished from the crash that ensued, he to relieve his mind of a burthen supposed he had done no end of which had long oppressed him. mischief. No light was then proHe went on to say that he had curable, and Mr. Phillips was suggested the turning of an arch rewarded for his practical joke under the tower; but Wyatt by being kept awake all night in laughed at the notion. "That
an agony of doubt and fear, from tower," said the dying man," which he was only relieved when make a curtsey some day.” The daylight shewed him that all things prediction, long after Beckford were in statu quo.
It was comtold me the story, was fulfilled—it monly believed that many articles made, not a curtsey, but a bow to of furniture, art, and vertu sold as the ground, as all the world knows.
part of the “ genuine articles " had Fonthill_Abbey was sold to Mr. been purchased by Phillips, and James Farquhar for £350,000, put into the catalogue. Be that and one of his executors told me as it may, when I once remarked they did not realise
that there must have been some £150,000 for it. Mr. Gaspey, the gems sold at the sale, Beckford author of “The Lollards," and said, “Yes! but many of them
George Godfrey," and the editor were gems from the Philippine