Born: William Henry, Duke of Portland, statesman, 1738; Dr. George Gregory, miscellaneous writer, 1754, Dublin.
Died: Richard Nevill, Earl of Warwick (the King maker), killed, 1471, Barnet; Earl of Bothwell,
husband of Mary Queen of Scots, 1577; Thomas Otway, poet, 1685, London; Madame de Sévigné (Letters), 1696, Grignan; Madame Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV, 1764; John Gilbert
Cooper, poet, 1769; Rev. James Granger (Biographical History of England), 1776, Shiplake; William Whitehead, 1785, London.
Feast Day: Saints Tiburtius, Valerian, and Maximus, martyrs in Rome, 229. Saint Carpus of Thyatira, and others, 251. St. Benezet, patron of Avignon,
1184. Saints Antony, John, and Eustachius, martyrs, about 1342. B. Lidwina, of Schiedam, 1433.
WARWICK, THE KING MAKER
Richard Nevill, Earl of Warwick, may be looked upon as the hero of the wars of the Roses. He was the eldest son of the Richard Nevill who had obtained
through his marriage with the heiress of the Montacutes the earldom of Salisbury, and who stood high in court favour in the earlier part of the reign of Henry VI. The other sons of
the Earl of Salisbury were Thomas John, afterwards created Marquis of Montagu, and George, who became Archbishop of York. The eldest
brother, Richard, who had married the heiress of the Beauchamps, Earl of Warwick, inherited their estates, and was created Earl of Warwick in 1449. Both earls, Salisbury and
Warwick, espoused warmly the cause of the house of York, and were bitter opponents of the Queen's favourite, the Duke of Suffolk, and of the Duke of Somerset, who succeeded him. At
the beginning of the year 1452, the Duke of York, alarmed by the intrigues at court, withdrew to his castle of Ludlow, in Shropshire, where he assembled his forces, and maybe said
to have commenced the civil war. He no doubt reckoned on the support of Salisbury and Warwick, who, however, were not with him on this occasion; but, when he was again obliged to
assemble his friends at Ludlow in the beginning of 1455, they joined him there with their forces, as well as the Duke of Norfolk and other great feudal barons.
Marching thence direct to London, they came upon the king's army at St. Albans by surprise, and the first victory of the Yorkists
was gained there on the 22nd March, in a great measure by the military talents of the Earl of Warwick. The Duke of York was again made protector of the kingdom, and he
immediately made Salisbury Lord Chancellor, and gave the important post of Captain-General of Calais to the Earl of Warwick. The Duke of Somerset and other Lancastrian lords had
been slain in the battle; but the courage and activity of the queen soon restored the court party to its strength. The battle of St. Albans had excited personal animosities among
the feudal barons which left little hopes of peace, though both parties hesitated long in commencing the war.
At length, at a council held at Coventry at the end of the month of February, an outward reconciliation was effected, which was concluded at a general
meeting of the great lords in London, about a fortnight afterwards. Some of the terms of this reconciliation shew how much of the personal feelings of the chiefs were mixed up in
the old feudal wars. The Yorkist chiefs were to pacify the families of the lords slain in the battle of St. Albans by expenditure of blood-money, of which the Duke of York was to
pay to Somerset's widow and children five thousand marks, the Earl of Warwick to Lord Clifford a thousand marks, and Salisbury to Lord Egremont a similar consideration, while all
three were to build at their own expense a chapel for the souls of the slain lords. In the solemn procession which took place on the 25th of March, to confirm this
reconciliation, the Duke of York walked hand in hand with the queen, the Earl of Salisbury with the Duke of Somerset, and the Earl of Warwick with the Duke of Exeter, and all
hostile feelings appeared to be laid aside. It was soon, however, seen how hollow are all such reconciliations.
The Earl of Warwick was now looked upon as the real head of the Yorkist party, and he furnished the occasion of the first outward breach of the late
reconciliation. He had repaired to his government at Calais, where his power and popularity were unlimited, and which he had now made his headquarters. In the month of May, he
considered himself justified in attacking a large fleet of ships which was proceeding from the Hanse Towns to Spain, which he defeated, sinking some and capturing others. The
Hanseatic League complained, and Warwick was called upon for explanations. The earl did not hesitate in presenting himself at court to answer the charges brought against him; but
his reception seems to have been such as to give him suspicion of personal danger. On the 9th of November 1455, when Warwick was attending the court at Westminster, he
was attacked by some of the queen's household, and escaped with difficulty to his barge on the Thames, in which he immediately dropped down the river and made the best of his way
It was soon after so evident to the Yorkist lords that the queen was concerting measures for their destruction, that they determined on providing for their
own defence. We find them in the autumn of 1459 mustering in the north and west of England, fighting, dispersing temporally, finally reassembling in great force in the summer of
1460. Warwick was then able to enter London, and soon after (July 10) to overthrow the royal forces at Northampton. The imbecile Henry being here taken
prisoner, and his queen and their son driven to seek refuge in Scotland, York first definitely advanced his claim to the crown. Soon after, fortune deserted him at the battle of
Wakefield (Dec. 30, 1460), when he and the Earl of Salisbury's second son, Sir Thomas Nevill, were slain, and the Earl of Salisbury himself taken prisoner and
beheaded. Warwick was defeated in a second battle of St. Albans, fought on the 17th February 1461; but the success of the young Duke of York at
Mortimer's Cross had turned the tide again in favour of that house; the queen again retired to the north; young Edward, joined by Warwick, marched to London, and was proclaimed
king, under the title of Edward IV (March 4, 1461); and three weeks after, by the bloody defeat of Towton, the hopes of the house of Lancaster appeared extinguished.
There could be no doubt that to the Earl of Warwick Edward owed his throne, and for a while he appeared to reign only under the earl's protection. Rewards,
honours, places of emolument were monopolised by the family and friends of Warwick. At this time he was perhaps the most potent noble that had ever lived in feudal England.
He dwelt in his palace in London, known as Warwick House, occupying the site of what is now called Warwick-lane, in a style of princely magnificence, and
with profuse hospitality, which we can now hardly understand. When he came to London,' the old chronicler tells us, 'hee helde such an house, that sixe oxen were eaten at a
breakefast, and everie taverne was full of his meate, for who that had any acquaintance in that house, he should have as much sodden and rest as he might carry upon a long dagger.'
The earl became thus extremely popular among the commonalty, but the young king grew gradually weary of the sort of tutelage in which he was held, and
gathered round him friends who were not likely to encourage him to bear it. While Edward sought to escape from the thrall of the great earl, and began to distribute his favours
among his new friends, Warwick appears to have become personally more ambitious, and perhaps more imperious. He had two daughters, Isabel and Anne, and he evidently aimed at
approaching nearer to the crown by marrying the eldest to the Duke of Clarence, the king's brother, who was then heir presumptive to his throne, and over whom he had gained great
influence. Edward, however, refused his consent to this match, and Warwick is said to have taken further offence at the king's marriage with Elizabeth
Wydville, in 1464, and with the influence gained by her relatives. Still, though greatly dissatisfied, Warwick continued in appearance the friend of the king of his own making,
and who had loaded him with honours and wealth, for he was at the same time Prime Minister, Commander-in-Chief, and Admiral of England, besides a multitude of other lucrative
The first subject of open disagreement arose out of a foreign marriage, the heir of the Duke of Burgundy having solicited the hand of Edward's sister
Margaret, while Louis XI of France also demanded her for one of his sons. Warwick advocated the latter, and went as negotiator with great pomp to France, and had many familiar and
secret interviews with Louis, at which were said to have been discussed less the terms of the marriage than the means of a reconciliation between Warwick and the Lancastrian party.
During his absence, Edward yielded to other influence, and concluded the match with the heir of Burgundy. Warwick, on his return, complained bitterly of the way in which he had
been treated, and retired to his castle of Middleham, in Yorkshire. A reconciliation was effected through the intercession of the Archbishop of York, and the great earl returned to
court; but the time he spent there was occupied chiefly by intrigues on both sides, with which we are very imperfectly acquainted. In spite of the king's opposition, the Duke of
Clarence was married to the Lady Isabel Nevill, at Calais, in July 1469, the Archbishop of Canterbury performing the ceremony; and there can be little doubt that at this time
Warwick contemplated the design of dethroning Edward and placing the crown on the head of his son-in-law Clarence.
During their absence serious insurrections broke out in England, and the king was reduced to such distress that he called them urgently to his assistance.
Warwick and Clarence had, however, no sooner arrived, than the king found himself placed under restraint, and was carried as a virtual prisoner to the castle of Middleham. Both
kings were now prisoners at the same time, for Henry VI was confined in the Tower of London. Towards the end of 1469, after Warwick and his friends had
exacted various grants and conditions, Edward was set at liberty, and another hollow reconciliation took place. In the mouth of February 1470, an entertainment was given by
Warwick's brother, the archbishop, at the Moor, in Hertfordshire, to the king, the earl, and the Duke of Clarence; when, as Edward was washing his hands before supper, an attendant
whispered some words of suspicion into his ear, which caused him to slip out of the room, take horse, and fly in haste to the castle of Windsor. The King and the earl were
reconciled again, by the intermediation of Edward's mother, the Duchess of York, but this reconciliation was shorter even than the former.
Popular insurrections broke out, which Edward believed to be secretly promoted by Warwick and his friends, and his suspicions were further excited by the
slowness with which they proceeded against the rebels. Edward hastily raised a considerable army, defeated the rebels, and then marched against his minister and brother, and
Warwick and Clarence were now compelled to seek safety in flight. They succeeded in getting to France, where they were well received by Louis XI. This crafty monarch seized upon
the occasion to carry into effect a new plan of his own contriving. Warwick was introduced secretly to Queen Margaret, and these two bitter enemies became reconciled, Warwick
undertaking to dethrone Edward, and restore Henry VI, under certain conditions, one of which was the marriage of his second daughter, Anne, to the youthful Prince of Wales. He thus
secured, in any event, a fair prospect of one of his daughters becoming Queen of England; and he had sufficient influence over the Duke of Clarence to induce him to join in this
King Edward's fears appear to have been lulled by the treacherous professions of Warwick's two brothers, the Marquis of Montagu and the Archbishop of York,
and he made no preparations against the impending danger. Warwick, with assistance from the King of France, set sail, and landed on the coast of Devon on the 13th of
September 1470, while Edward was in the north, drawn thither by reports of an insurrection of the Nevills. The earl had thus time to carry out his plans in the south. He was
speedily joined by his friends, took possession of the capital, and directed his march northwards with a powerful army to meet his opponent. Edward, on the other hand, was deserted
by many of the chief men in attendance upon him, who were kinsmen or friends of Warwick, and in despair he took ship and fled to Holland, to seek a temporary refuge at the court of
Burgundy. So rapid was the succession of events, that, on the 6th of October, Warwick returned to London in triumph, and, taking King Henry from the Tower, replaced him
on the throne. On this occasion, he did not forget to reserve to himself all the offices and quite as much power as he had held under the reign of his Yorkist sovereign.
The triumph, however, was a short one. Edward, aided by the Duke of Burgundy, landed at Ravenspur, in Yorkshire, on the 15th of March 1471.
Warwick advanced to meet him as far as Coventry; but there he experienced the uncertainty of such alliances as he had been making. No sooner did the rival armies come into each
other's presence at Coventry, than the Duke of Clarence, who is believed to have been secretly tampered with, led away his troops from Warwick's army, and joined his brother, King
Edward. The earl was now obliged to retire, and Edward succeeded in placing himself between him and the capital. The decisive battle was fought on Easter Sunday, the 14th
of April, and the result is well known. The Lancastrians were defeated with great slaughter, and the Earl of Warwick, and his brother, the Marquis of Montagu, were both among the
slain. The French historian of these events, Commines, tells us that it was the custom of the Earl of Warwick never to fight on foot, but that his manner was, when he had
dismounted to lead his men to the charge, to remount again immediately, so that if the fortune of the day was against him, he could ride away in time. The historian adds, that on
this occasion the Earl had been persuaded by his brother, the Marquis of Montagu, to send away his horse, so that when he left the field he was soon overtaken and slain. His death
left King Edward far more firmly established on the throne than when he had held it under the protection of the King-maker.
It is to be noted that the 14 day of April, and the morrow after Easter Day (1360), King Edward [III] with his host lay before the city of Paris; which day
was full dark of mist and hail, and so bitter cold, that many men died on their horsebacks with the cold; wherefore unto this day it hath been called the Black Monday.'—Stow's
ACCESSION OF A BOURBON PRINCE TO THE SPANISH THRONE
Philip, the grandson of Louis XIV, being called to the throne of Spain by the will of the preceding monarch, Charles II, made his entry into Madrid on the
14th of April 1701. To receive him with the more magnificence, they had prepared a splendid auto-da-fé for his arrival, at which several Jews were ready to be burnt; but
the new sovereign declared firmly that he had no wish to behold any such ceremony, and signalised his accession to the throne by an act of clemency which must have seemed very
extraordinary to his subjects.
On the same day ten years after, died Monseigneur, the father of this young sovereign. It is told of him that when he heard of the brilliant destiny opening
for his second son, he remarked that he had never wished to be able to say more than the king my father, and the King my son; fine words, if they had not been prompted by indolence
more than by moderation. Nothing was more common for many years before his death than to hear people saying of him, 'Fils de roi, p'ere de roi, jamais roi.' The event seemed
to favour the credulity of those who have faith in such predictions; but the saying was founded on the obvious fact that his father, King Louis, from superior constitution and
health, was likely to outlive him.
The Gazelle of April 14, 1684, contains an order suppressing all mountebanks, rope-dancers, and ballad-singers, who had not taken a licence from the Master
of the Revels, and particularly Samuel Rutherford, — Irish, Willian Bevel, and Richard 0lsworth. The Master of the Revels was at this time the
celebrated player Killigrew, who was thus allowed, by favour of the king, to tax all makers of fun but those of his own order, and whose function seems to have been of an
oppressive character, strangely at issue with its festive appellation.
The mountebank and the merry - andrew played their fantastic tricks in country towns within memory; but scarcely with such state as a hundred and forty
years since, when they were thus sketched in A Tour through England (1723):
'I cannot leave Winchester without telling you of a pleasant incident that happened there. As I was sitting at the George Inn, I saw a coach with six bay
horses, a calash and four, a chaise and four, enter the inn, in a yellow livery turned up with red; four gentlemen on horseback, in blue, trimmed with silver; and as yellow is
the colour given by the dukes in England, I went out to see what duke it was; but there was no coronet on the coach, only a plain coat-of-arms on each, with this motto:
"ARGENTO LABORAT FABER"
Upon inquiry, I found this great equipage belonged to a mountebank, and that his name being Smith, the motto was a pun upon his name. The footmen in
yellow were his tumblers and trumpeters, and those in blue his merry-andrew, his apothecary, and spokesman. He was dressed in black velvet, and had in his coach a woman that
danced on the ropes. He cures all diseases, and sells his packets for sixpence a-piece. He erected stages in all the market towns twenty miles round; and it is a prodigy how so
wise a people as the English are gulled by such pick-pockets. But his amusements on the stage are worth the sixpence, without the pills. In the morning he is dressed up in a fine
brocade night-gown, for his chamber practice, when he gives advice, and gets large fees.'
Cowper, in describing the newspaper of his day, adverts to one of this class of vagabonds in a well-remembered couplet:
And Katerfelto, with his hair on end
At his own wonders, wondering for his bread.'
Task: the Winter Evening.
Cowper probably wrote this passage in 1782; the Task was published complete in 1785. But, who was Katerfelto?
In a pamphlet on quackery, published at Kingston-upon-Hull, in 1805, it is stated that Dr. Katerfelto practised on the people of London in the influenza of
1782; that he added to his nostrums the fascinations of hocus-pocus; and that with the services of some extraordinary black cats he astonished the vulgar. In 1790 or 1791, he
visited the city of Durham, accompanied by his wife and daughter. His travelling equipage consisted of an old rumbling coach, drawn by a pair of sorry hacks; and his two black
servants wore green liveries with red collars. They were sent round the town, blowing trumpets, and delivering bills of their master's performances. These were—in the day-time, a
microscope; in the evening, electrical experiments, in which the black cats—'the Doctor's devils' played their parts in yielding electric sparks; tricks of legerdemain concluded
He was a tall, thin man, dressed in a black gown and square cap; he is said to have been originally a soldier in the Prussian service. In one of his
advertisements he states that he was a Colonel in the 'Death's Head ' regiment of Hussars, a terrific prognostic of his ultimate profession. He had many mishaps in his conjuring
career: once he sent up a fire-balloon, which, falling upon a haystack, set it on fire, and it was consumed, when Katerfelto was sued for its value, and was sent to prison in
default of payment. And, not long before his death, he was committed by the Mayor of Shrewsbury to the House of Correction in that city as a vagrant and impostor.
Katerfelto mixed up with his quackery some real science, and by aid of the solar microscope astonished the world with insect wonders. In one of his
advertisements in the Morning Post, of July 1782, he says that by its aid the insects on the hedges will be seen larger than ever, and those insects which caused the late influenza
will be seen as large as a bird; and in a drop of water the size of a pin's head there will be seen above 50,000 insects; the same in beer, milk, vinegar, blood, flour, cheese,
&c., and there will be seen many surprising insects in different vegetables, and above 200 other dead objects.' He obtained good prices for his show: The admittance to see these
wonderful works of Providence is only—front seats, three shillings; second seats, two shillings; and back seats, one shilling only, from eight o'clock in the morning till six in
the afternoon, at No. 22, Piccadilly.'
He fully understood the advantages of puffing, and one of his advertisements commences with a story of 'a gentleman of the faculty belonging to Oxford
University, who, finding it likely to prove a fine day, set out for London purposely to see those great wonders which are advertised so much by that famous philosopher, Mr.
Katerfelto; 'that the said gentleman declared 'if he had come 300 miles on purpose, the knowledge he had then received would amply reward him; and that he should not wonder that
some of the nobility should come from the remotest part of Scotland to hear Mr. Katerfelto, as the people of that country in particular are always searching after knowledge.' He
elsewhere declares himself 'the greatest philosopher in this kingdom since Sir Isaac Newton.' 'And Mr. Katerfelto, as a divine and moral philosopher, begs leave to say that all
persons on earth live in darkness, if they are able to see, but will not see his wonderful exhibition.'
A still more famous quack flourished in London at the same time. This was Dr. Graham, who opened what he called a Temple of Health, in the Adelphi, in which
he expatiated on the advantages of electricity and magnetism. He says in one of his advertisements that he will explain 'the whole art of enjoying health and vigour of body and
mind, and of preserving and exalting personal beauty and loveliness; or in other words, of living with health, honour, and happiness in this world, for at least a hundred years.'
One of the means for ensuring this was the frequent use of mud-baths; and that the doctor might be observed to practise what he preached, he was to be seen,
on stated occasions, immersed in mud to the chin; accompanied by a lady to whom he gave the name of Vestina, Goddess of Health, and who afterwards became celebrated as the wife of
Sir William Hamilton, and the great counsellor and friend of Lord Nelson. At this time she had only recently ceased to be a nurse-maid; but her
beauty attracted general attention in London. It is to be remarked that while she remained in the mud-bath, she had her hair elaborately dressed in the prevailing fashion, with
powder, flowers, feathers, and ropes of pearl; the doctor appearing in an equally elaborate wig.
From the Adelphi Graham removed to Schomberg House, Pall Mall, which he christened the Temple of Health and Hymen, and fitted up with much magnificence. The
admittance was five shillings, yet the place was crowded by a silly audience, brought together by his audacious puffs and impudent lectures on subjects now impossible to be alluded
to. One of them may be a sufficient sample of the whole:
'If there be one human being, rich or poor, male or female, in or near this great metropolis of the world, who has not had the good fortune and the
happiness of hearing the celebrated lecture, and of seeing the grand celestial state bed, the magnificent electrical apparatus, and the supremely brilliant and unique decorations
of this magical edifice, of this enchanting Elysian palace! where wit and mirth, love and beauty—all that can delight the soul, and all that can ravish the senses, will hold
their court, this, and every evening this week in chaste and joyous assemblage! let them now come forth, or for ever afterwards let them blame themselves, and be-wail their
Graham engaged the services of two gigantic porters, whom he stationed at the door in the showiest liveries covered with gold lace. His rooms at night were
superbly lighted by wax, and nothing spared to attract visitors. The doctor alternated his lectures with those of the lady just alluded to, and thus he advertised her performances:
'Vestina, the rosy Goddess of Health, presides at the evening lecture, assisting at the display of the celestial meteors, and of that sacred vital fire
over which she watches, and whose application in the cure of diseases she daily has the honour of directing. The descriptive exhibition of the apparatus in the daytime is
conducted by the officiating junior priest.'
This latter office was performed by a young medical man, who afterwards became Dr. Mitford, and was father to the famed authoress. Graham's expenses, always
large, continued when his popularity waned, and he died poor in the neighbour-hood of Glasgow. He may fairly be considered as the last of the unblushing quack-doctors.
We get a very good and clear account of mountebanks, as existing in Venice in the beginning of the seventeenth century, from that extraordinary compound of
sense and oddity, Tom Coryat, who then travelled over Europe and into India, and published an account of his adventures under the modest, yet not very
inappropriate name of Coryat's Crudities. He first tells us that mountebanks are common throughout Italy, but more especially abundant in Venice, the name being of the
language of that country: Mantâ inbanco, to mount a bench, 'because these fellows do act their part upon a stage, which is compacted of benches or forms.
The principal place where they act is the first part of St. Mark's street that reacheth betwixt the west front of St. Mark's church and the opposite front
of St. Germinian's church. Twice a day, that is in the morning and in the after-noon, you may see five or six several stages erected for them. . .
These mountebanks at one end of their stage place their trunk, which is replenished with a world of new-fangled trumperies. After the whole rabble of them
is gotten up to the stage,—whereof some wear vizards like fools in a play, some that are women are attired with habits according to that person that they sustain,—the music begins;
sometimes vocal, sometimes instrumental, sometimes both.
'While the music plays, the principal mountebank opens his trunk and sets abroad his wares. [Then] he maketh an oration to the audience of half an hour
long, wherein he doth most hyperbolically extol the virtue of his drugs and confections—though many of them are very counterfeit and false. I often wondered at these natural
orators; for they would tell their tales with such admirable volubility and plausible grace, extempore, and seasoned with that singular variety of elegant jests and witty
conceits, that they did often strike great admiration into strangers [He then] delivereth his commodities by little and little, the jester still playing his part, and the
musicians singing and playing upon their instruments. The principal things that they sell are oils, sovereign waters, amorous songs printed, apothecary drugs, and a commonweal of
other trifles. The head mountebank, every time he delivereth out any-thing, maketh an extemporal speech, which he cloth eftsoons intermingle with such savoury jests (but spiced
now and then with singular scurrility), that they minister passing mirth and laughter to the whole company, which may perhaps consist of a thousand people.'
Coryat saw a mountebank one day play with a viper; another he saw cut and gash his arm till the blood streamed, and heal it all up in a few minutes. There
was one who had been born and still continued blind, who was noted for his extemporal songs, 'and for a pretty kind of music which he made with two bones betwixt his fingers.' The
scene would last a couple of hours, when, having cloyed the audience with their jests, and sold as many of their wares as they could, they would ' remove their trinkets and stage
till the next meeting.'
Ben Jonson in his comedy of Volpone; or, the Fox, has given in full the scene of a mountebank's stage at Venice, and the
speech of the quack, who vends his medicines in a style singularly like that adopted by ' Cheap Jack ' at country fairs in the present day. Thus he says:
'You all know, honourable gentlemen, I never valued this ampulla, or vial, at less than eight crowns; but for this time I am content to be deprived of it
for six: six crowns is the price, and less in courtesy I know you cannot offer me. Take it or leave it, however both it, and I, am at your service! Well! I am in a humour at this
time to make a present of the small quantity my coffer contains: to the rich in courtesy, and to the poor for God's sake. Wherefore, now mark: I asked you six crowns, and six
crowns at other times you have paid me; you shall not give me six crowns, nor five, nor four, nor three, nor two, nor one, nor half a ducat. Sixpence it will cost you, (or six
hundred pounds); expect no lower price, for I will not bate.'
The latter part of this speech might pass for a short-hand report of a modern speech at a fair, the words with which bargains are still sold being identical
with those Ben Jonson puts into the mouth of his Volpone.
The Earl of Rochester whose vices and eccentricities made him famous in the days of Charles the Second, on one occasion personated a mountebank doctor, and
delivered a speech which obtained some celebrity. His example was followed by the legitimate comedians. Thus Leveridge and Penkethman appeared at fairs as 'Doctor Leverigo, and his
Jack-Pudding Pinkanello,' and the still more famous actor Joe Haines as 'Watho Van Claticrbank, High German Doctor.' His burlesque speech was published as a broadside, with an
engraving representing his temporary stage, which we here copy.
The scene is Tower-hill, then a rendezvous of mountebanks:
Joe is represented delivering his speech, medicine in hand; beside him is a harlequin; behind, his 'Jack-Pudding' sounds lustily on the trumpet to call
attention to his work. A gouty patient is seated in the operating chair; behind are boxes of medicines and phials for 'retail trade.'
Patients on sticks hobble towards the stage; an itinerant vendor of 'strong waters,' in days when no excise interfered with extreme indulgence in cheap
liquors, keeps up the courage of one waiting his turn on the stage for cure. A mass of all kinds of people are in front, among them a juvenile pickpocket. It is a perfect
transcript of the genuine mountebank's stage of the days of Queen Anne; his speech burlesques their high-flown pretensions and inflated verbosity. He calls himself 'High German
Doctor, Chymist, and Dentifricator, native of Arabia Deserta, citizen and burgomaster of the City of Brandipolis, seventh son of a seventh son, unborn doctor of above sixty
years' experience. Having studied over Galen, Hypocrates, Albumazar, and Paracelsus, I am now become the Esculapius of the age; having been educated at twelve universities, and
travelled through fifty-two kingdoms, and been counsellor to the counsellors of several monarchs.
'By the earnest prayers and entreaties of several lords, earls, dukes, and honourable personages, I have been at last prevailed upon to oblige the world
with this notice. That all per-sons, young and old, blind or lame, deaf or dumb, curable or incurable, may know where to repair for cure, in all cephalalgias, paralytic
paroxysms, palpitations of the pericardium, empyemas, syncopes, and nasieties; arising either from a plethory or a cachochymy, vertiginous vapours, hydrocephalous dysenteries,
odontalgic, or podagrical inflammations, and the entire legion of lethiferous distempers.
'This is Nature's palladium, health's magazine; it works seven manner of ways, as Nature re-quires, for it scorns to be confined to any particular mode of
operation; so that it effecteth the cure either hypnotically, hydrotically, cathartically, poppismatically, pneumatically, or synedochically; it mundifies the hypogastrium,
extinguishes all supernatural fermentations and ebullitions, and, in fine, annihilates all nosotrophical morbific ideas of the whole corporeal compages. A drachm of it is worth a
bushel of March dust; for, if a man chance to have his brains beat out, or his head dropped off, two drops—I say two drops! gentlemen, seasonably applied, will recall the
fleeting spirits, re-enthrone the deposed archeus, cement the discontinuity of the parts, and in six minutes restore the lifeless trunk to all its pristine functions, vital,
natural, and animal; so that this, believe me, gentlemen, is the only sovereign remedy in the world.
- Venienti occurite morb.—Down with your dust.
- Principiis obsta.—No cure no money
- Quaerenda pecunia primum.—Be not sick too late.'
One of the last, if not the very last of the genuine foreign mountebank doctors, was a German, known as Doctor Bossy; who had considerable reputation, and
ended as a practitioner in a good house with a fair competence. He used to mount his stage in the early part of the pre-sent century, on alternate days at Tower-hill or Covent
Garden Market, that the East and West of London might alike avail themselves of his services. There is a story of Colonel Kelly's famous parrot once disconcerting the doctor; when
he had induced an old woman to mount his stage in the market, and narrate the wonderful cures he had effected with her. The parrot had learnt much coarse language in that locality,
which was sometimes applied as if intentionally. The old lady having concluded her narrative, 'Lying old —!' exclaimed the bird. The doctor, for the moment discomfited by the roar
of laughter from his audience, soon gravely stepped forth with his hand on his heart, and said with due solemnity: It is no lie, you wicked bird!—it is all true as is de Gospel!'
Very few of these practitioners now remain. Where they do exist it is in very humble form, and they sell little else than corn-plasters and cheap cough
medicines. The author of this paper saw one at York three years ago, who aspired somewhat higher, and sold medicines on a stage in the old style, but without the merry-andrew or
the music; he presented himself in shabby black clothes, with a dirty white neckcloth. The genuine mountebank doctor, with his roomy phaeton, his band of music behind, and his
jester on the box, is only to be met with in the country towns of the south of France, or in Italy.
The writer remembers one at Marseilles, who shared his duties with his wife; the lady occasionally drawing the teeth of persons who mounted the phaeton, and
whose cries were drowned by the brass band seated in the rear. The best idea of an Italian travelling doctor of this sort was afforded to opera-goers by the late Signor Lablache,
in his whimsically humorous personation of Doctor Dulcamara in the popular opera of L'Elisor d'Amore. His gorgeous equipage, with its musical and other attendants; his vast size,
and still vaster pomposity; the exuberance of his dress, and the greater exuberance of his style when descanting on his nostrums, left nothing to desire in perfecting the picture
of a full-blown quack and mountebank.
Lysons, in his Environs of London, gives a singular account of one Russell, a native of Streatham, who, as appears by the register, was buried on the 14th
of April 1772, the following passage being annexed to the entry:
'This person was always known under the guise or habit of a woman, and answered to the name of Elizabeth, as registered in this parish, Nov. 21st
1669, but on death proved to be a man.'
John Russell, his father, had three daughters, and two sons, William and John, who were baptized respectively in 1668 and 1672. 'There is little doubt,
therefore, that the person here recorded was one of the two,' and must consequently have been either 100 or 104 years of age at the time of his death; but he himself used to aver
that he was 108 years old. Early in life he associated with gipsies, and he accompanied the celebrated Bampfylcle Moore Carew in many of his rambles. He also visited most parts of
the Continent as a stroller and vagabond; and having acquired a knowledge of astrology and quackery, he returned to England, and practised both arts with much profit. This was
after his assumption of the female garb, and Lysons remarks that 'his long experience gained him the character of a most infallible doctress; 'he was likewise 'an excellent
sempstress, and celebrated for making a good shirt.'
In 1770, he applied for a certificate of his baptism, under the name of his sister Elizabeth, who had been christened in November 1669. About the same time
he became a resident of his native place, where his extraordinary age obtained him the charitable notice of many respectable families, and among others that of Mr. Thrale, at whose
house Dr. Johnson, who found him a shrewd sensible person, with a good memory, was very fond of conversing with him.' He died suddenly, and his true sex was then discovered, to the
extreme surprise of all the neighbourhood.