Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

Honnor's Home, for decayed freemen of the Company, their widows and daughters, at Spring Grove, Hounslow.

Sadler's Wells, between the New River HEAD and St. JOHN STREET ROAD, ISLINGTON, a well-known place of public amusement; first a music house, then a theatre, and so called from a spring of mineral water, discovered by a surveyor of the highways named Sadler, who, in 1683, opened in connection with it a public music-room, and called it by his own name as “Sadler's Wells Music House," but they were more generally known as “Islington Wells." A pamphlet was published in 1684 giving an account of the discovery, with the virtues of the water, which is there said to be of a ferruginous nature, and much resembling in quality and effects the water of Tunbridge Wells.

People may talk of Epsom Wells
Of Tunbridge Springs which most excells :
I'll tell you by my ten years' practice
Plainly what the matter of fact is:
Those are but good for one disease,
To all distempers this gives ease.

A Morning Ramble, or Islington Wells Burlesqt, 1684. Misson, writing in 1697, describes Islington as “a large village, half a league from London, where you drink waters that do you neither good nor harm, provided you don't take too much of them.” The theatre was in an outlying neighbourhood, and the playbills as late as the middle of the last century commonly announce, whenever a great performance took place, that “a horse patrol will be sent in the New Road that night for the protection of the nobility and gentry who go from the squares and that end of the town," and "that the road also towards the city will be properly guarded.” For a time the place was a fashionable resort.

August 7, 1732.--Poor Lady Sunderland goes constantly to Islington Wells, where she meets abundance of good company. These waters are rising in fame, and already pretend to vie with Tunbridge. If they are as good it will be very convenient to all Londoners to have a remedy so near at hand.—Mrs. Delany, vol. i. p. 367.

“For some years," says Dodsley, writing a few years later, it “was honoured by the constant attendance of the Princess Amelia and many persons of quality, who drank the waters." The Princess, it is said, was always received with a salute of twenty-one guns. The charge for drinking the waters was “ 3d. for each person," or half a guinea for the season. This place for the water drinkers was at this time called “Islington Wells,” and near it was the “house of entertainment called Sadler's Wells, where, during the summer season, people are amused with balance-masters, walking on the wire, rope dancing, tumbling, and pantomime entertainments.” 2 In this “Long Room opposite to Sadler's Wells,” July 1765, George Alexander Stevens delivered his Lecture on Heads. The popularity of the Wells was declining when, 1 Ambulator, 1782, p. 118.

2 Dodsley, 1761, vol. iii. p. 262,

in 1770, it was made the subject of George Colman's farce, The Spleen, or Islington Spa. The theatre continued to be only a summer house till near the end of the century.

At this time also [Easter week] opens a theatre for tumbling, rope-dancing, etc., at Saddler's Wells, Islington, and contemnes all the summer. Admittance 3s. 6d., 2s. and is. Each person has allowed him for his money a pint of wine or punch. Trusler's London Adviser and Guide, 12mo, 1790, p. 175.

"I was afterwards," says Winifred Jenkins, “ of a party at Sadler's Wells, where I saw such tumbling and dancing upon ropes and wires that I was frightened and ready to go into a fit” (Smollett). It was on this occasion that Humphry Clinker rescued her from the gentleman who “offered for to treat me with a pint of wind.”

Sadler's Wells, writes John Britton, who at the time lived close by and was a constant attendant at the theatre, “at the end of the last century and beginning of the present, was truly a suburban theatre, being surrounded by fields. . . . There were not any public lamps, and men and boys with flambeaus were in attendance on dark nights to light persons across the fields to the nearest streets of Islington, Clerkenwell, and Gray's Inn Lane.” At this time was introduced the “real water" novelty, which for many years was the special attraction of Sadler's Wells.

Now the New River's current swells
The reservoir of Saddler's Wells,
And in some melodrame of slaughter
Floats all the stage with real water.

Luttrell's Julia, Letter iii. The New River flowed past the theatre and means were taken to introduce “a large body of water from it to a tank beneath the floor of the stage." This floor being taken up, a broad sheet of water was displayed to the audience, and rendered very effective in naval spectacles, pantomimes, and burlettas, which were written and adapted to exhibit aquatic scenes. Among the apparently perilous and appalling incidents thus exhibited, was that of a heroine falling from the rocks into the water, and rescued by her hero-lover ; a naval battle, with sailors escaping by plunging into the sea from a vessel on fire ; a child thrown into the water by a nurse, who was bribed to drown it, but rescued by a Newfoundland dog.-John Britton's Autobiography, vol. i. p. 103.

Sensational scenes were not unknown eighty or ninety years ago. A great painter has given his impression of the aquatic drama as it was presented here a few years later.

September 14, 1812.-I have been to Sadler's Wells to see the aquatic scene that is so much talked of. Excepting by Grimaldi (the clown), I was very little entertained. I take but little delight in pantomime changes, which, to do them justice, they manage here in the greatest perfection. The afterpiece was a melodrama, the dialogue of which was in blank verse, with now and then a foolish rhyme coming out in order to call it recitative. [Then necessary to evade the penalties for infringment of the patent rights of the two great theatres.] The water scene pleased me better than I expected ; it represented a castle with a moat and drawbridge: the castle of course attacked by troops who came on in boats. Many of the combatants contrived to get themselves into the water by the breaking of the drawbridge, where they fought up to their chins. This theatre is quite small, and ornamented in the most showy manner, with a plentiful lack of taste. — C. R. Leslie to his Sister (Autob., vol. ii. p. 22).

Here Belzoni, the Egyptian traveller, exhibited his prodigious feats of strength as “the Patagonian Samson " (1803). Grimaldi, the most famous of clowns, achieved here his greatest triumphs (1819-1828). In 1832 T. P. Cooke made his first appearance as William in BlackEyed Susan. The theatre fell into disrepute, but was restored to credit and fame under the admirable management of Mr. Phelps, who made it during many years (1844-1862) “the home of the legitimate drama."

After being for some time closed the theatre was rebuilt in 1879 on a larger scale from the designs of Mr. C. J. Phipps, the architect of many of the theatres recently built in London and the provinces. New Sadler's Wells Theatre was for a short time under the management of Mrs. Bateman, when the performance of the Shakesperian drama was made the leading feature. For some years past the theatre has had a very fitful existence, and has only been opened at intervals. Of the earlier houses there are views in Wilkinson's Londina Illustrata. The scene of Hogarth's Evening is laid at Sadler's Wells, in front of the Sir Hugh Myddelton public-house, which still exists and has a large music hall attached.

Saffron Hill, a densely inhabited neighbourhood between HolBORN and CLERKENWELL. It was formerly a part of Ely Gardens (see Ely House], and derives its name from the crops of saffron which it bore. It runs from Field Lane into Vine Street, so called from the vineyard attached to old Ely House. So bad was the reputation of the locality thirty or forty years ago that the clergymen of St. Andrew's, Holborn (the parish in which the purlieu lies), were obliged, when visiting it, to be accompanied by policemen in plain clothes. Dickens described Saffron Hill and its purlieus with his darkest colours, but not darker than those who knew the neighbourhood of old felt to be deserved.

[ocr errors]

Thence into Little Saffron Hill, and so into Saftron Hill the Great. ... A dirtier or more wretched place he had never seen. The street was very narrow and muddy, and the air was inpregnated with filthy odours. ... The sole places that seemed to prosper amid the general blight of the place were the public houses, and in them the lowest orders of Irish were wrangling with might and main. Covered ways and yards, which here and there diverged from the main street, disclosed little knots of houses where drunken men and women were positively wallowing in filth; and from several of the doorways great ill-looking fellows were cautiously emerging, bound, to all appearance, on no very well-disposed or harmless errands.-Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, 1838, chap. viii.

The street is not very clean nor very fragrant even now, nor is the appearance of its occupants reassuring, but it is a very different place to what it was when Dickens wrote. Part of it has been cleared away for the Clerkenwell improvements, and the rest has been partially cleansed and purified and brought under stricter police supervision. The church, St. Peter's, was designed 1830-1832 by Mr. (afterwards Sir Charles) Barry, and was one of his earliest works in Gothic architecture.

The Duke of Muscovy declared war against Poland, because he and his nation had been vilified by a Polish poet : but the author of the Ecclesiastical Politie would, it seems, disturb the peace of Christendom for the good old cause of a superannuated chanter of Saffron Hill and Pye Corner, Andrew Marvell, Rehearsal Transprosed, 1674, pt. ii. p. 65.

Salisbury Court, FLEET STREET, or, as it is now written, SALISBURY SQUARE, lies to the west of St. Bride's Church, and occupies the site of the courtyard of Salisbury, or, as it was afterwards called, Dorset House. There is now a Salisbury Court as well as a Salisbury Square. In The Squire of Alsatia, by Shadwell (who was an inhabitant of the court), “Salisbury Court” and “Dorset Court" are used indiscriminately one for the other. Salisbury House was the residence of the Bishops of Salisbury, and as Seth Ward, who held the see from 1667 to 1689, told Aubrey, was got from them by the Lord Treasurer Buckhurst (d. 1608), “in exchange for a piece of land near Cricklade in Wilts, I think called Marston, but the title was not good, nor did the value answer his promise.”

March 25, 1611. - Confirmation to Richard Earl of Dorset of a grant of the manor of Salisbury Court, together with Salisbury House, alias Sackville Place, alias Dorset House, and divers messuages in St. Bride's and St. Dunstan's on his compounding for defective titles.-Cal. State Pap., 1611-1618.

In 1634 Bulstrode Whitelocke, when urged by his wife to have a town residence as well as one in the country, took a house in Salisbury Court. Whitelocke was absent in France when his wife died, and Edward Hyde (afterwards Lord Clarendon), writing to him about his affairs, says of his child, “My little friend at Salisbury Court is lusty, and shall give you comfort.” He gave up the house on his return. In 1655 the ambassador sent from Sweden to the Protector was lodged in Salisbury Court. Here Whitelocke frequently dined with him, the ambassador complaining of feeling solitary. The large building on the south side, the Salisbury Hotel and Farmers' Club, was erected by the Agricultural Hotel Company, 1863-1864, at a cost of over £23,000, from the designs of John Giles, architect. It has about 1oo rooms.

Eminent Inhabitants. — Betterton, Harris, Cave, Underhill, and Sandford the actors, next the Duke's Theatre in Dorset Gardens; Shadwell, the poet; Lady Davenant, the widow of Sir William Davenant; John Dryden ;1 Samuel Richardson, the novelist. “He took a range of old houses, eight in number, which he pulled down, and built an extensive and commodious range of warehouses and printing offices.”? His dwelling-house was No. 11, in the north-west corner of the square, and his printing office and warehouse in Blueball Court, on the east side of the square.

My first recollection of Richardson was in the house in the centre of Salisbury Square, or Salisbury Court, as it was then called ; and of being admitted as a playful child into his study, where I have often seen Dr. Young and others. ... I

with hudged 055 the you ca

1 Rate-books of St. Martin's,

2 Nichols's Lit. Anec., vol. iv. p. 594.

windocessions, with the many riots in ine.

recollect that he used to drop in at my father's, for we lived nearly opposite, late in the evening to supper; when, as he would say, he had worked as long as his eyes and nerves would let him, and was come to relax with a little friendly and domestic chat.-Mrs. — to Mrs. Barbauld (Richardson's Correspondence, vol. i. p. 183).

It is said to have been a common practice with Richardson to hide half a crown among the types, that it might reward the diligence of the workman who should be first in the office in the morning; on the other hand, he was so sensible of his own warmth of temper that all his admonitions to his workmen were given in writing!! Here Richardson wrote his Pamela. Here, for a short time—1757, in the interval between his practice as a "physician in a humble way” on the Bankside and his becoming an usher at Peckham-Goldsmith sat as presscorrector to Richardson. And here was printed Maitland's London folio, 1739, the imprint on the title page being “ London : Printed by Samuel Richardson, in Salisbury Court, near Fleet Street, 1739." Mrs. Delany notes, October 30, 1754, that “Richardson is very busy, removing this very day to Parson's Green. Dr. Delany called yesterday at Salisbury Court.” 2 Here, in August 1732, died Mrs. Daffy, preparer of the elixir known by her name. 3

In 1716 there were many riots in the City, mobs gathering together in processions, with the cry of “High Church and Ormond,” breaking windows which were not illuminated when the cry was raised, and “demolishing houses, especially those houses then called Mug-houses, where those who were for King George used to hold societies.” 4 One of the most noted of the Mug-houses was in Salisbury Court, and a Jacobite mob, led by one Bean, pulled down the sign-post, and then breaking into the house, tore down the bar and benches, plundered the cellar and wrecked the premises. In attempting to defend his house Robert Read, the landlord, shot one of the assailants, a weaver named Vaughan, dead. Read was tried for manslaughter and acquitted ; but five of the rioters were tried at the Old Bailey, September 7, 1716, for “demolishing” Read's house, found guilty,

and all five hanged in Fleet Street, at the end of Salisbury Court." 18 Salisbury Court Theatre, SALISBURY Court, FLEET STREET, was built in 1629, by Richard Gunnell and William Blagrove, players, and was originally the “ barn” or granary at the lower end of the great back yard or court of Salisbury House.

In the yere one thousand sixe hundred [and] twenty-nine, there was builded a new faire Play-house, near the White-Fryers. And this is the seauenteenth stage or common Play-house which hath beene new made within the space of threescore yeres within London and the suburbs. — Howes, ed. 1631, p. 1004.

The Play-house in Salisbury Court, in Fleete Streete, was pulled down by a company of souldiers, set on by the Sectaries of these sad times, on Saturday, the 24th day of March, 1649.---MS. Notes from Howes, quoted in Collier's Life of Shakespeare, p. ccxlii.

1 Nichols's Lit. A nec., vol. iv. p. 597.
2 Delany Corr., vol. iii. p. 296.
3 Historical Register for 1732; The Tatler, by

Nichols, vol. vi. p. 41.

4 Burton's New Vicw, 1730. 5 Ibid.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »