Born: John Jackson, learned English divine, 1686, Thirsk, Yorkshire.
Died: St. Ambrose, 397, Milan; Pope Nicolas IV., 1292; Sir Robert Naunton, 1634; Simon Episcopius (Bisschop), Dutch theological writer, 1643, Amsterdam; Robert Ainsworth (Latin Dictionary), 1743, Poplar; Oliver Goldsmith, poet and
miscellaneous writer, 1774, Temple, London; Lloyd Kenyon, Lord Chief Justice of England, Lord Kenyon, 1802, Bath; Lalande, French mathematician, 1807; Andrea Massena, Duke of Rivoli, Marshal of France, 1817, Ruel; Rev. John Campbell, missionary to South Africa, 1840.
Feast Day: St. Isidore, bishop of Seville, 606 St. Plato, abbot, 813.
SAINT AMBROSE AND THE EMPEROR
The election of Ambrose to the bishopric of Milan is, perhaps, unequalled in the singularity of all its circumstances. He was carefully educated when young for the civil service, became an advocate, and practised with such success that, at the age
of thirty-one, he was appointed governor of Liguria. In this capacity he had resided five years at Milan, and was renowned for his prudence and justice, when Auxentius the bishop died, A.D. 374.
The city was at that time divided between Arians and Orthodox. Party disputes ran high respecting the election of a new bishop, and a tumult appeared imminent, when Ambrose, hearing of these things, hastened to the church where the people had
assembled, and exhorted them to peace and submission to the laws. His speech was no sooner ended than an infant's voice was heard in the crowd, 'Ambrose is Bishop.' The hint was taken at once, and the whole assembly cried out, 'Ambrose shall be the man!'
The contending factions agreed, and a layman whose pursuits seemed to exclude him altogether from the notice of either party, was suddenly elected by universal consent. It was in vain he refused, affected an immoral course of life, and twice fled
from the city: the emperor seconded the choice of the people, and Ambrose was at length compelled to yield. Valentinian gave thanks to God that it had pleased Him to make choice of the very person to take care of men's souls whom he had himself before appointed to preside over
their temporal concerns. And Ambrose, having given all his property to the church and the poor, reserving only an annual income for his sister Marcellina, set about his new duties with a determination to honestly discharge them.
The most striking instance of the manner in which he executed this resolve is found in his treatment of the Emperor Theodosius. This august person was naturally hot tempered. And it so happened that, in a popular tumult in Thessalonica, A.D. 390, Botherie,
the imperial officer, was slain. This was too much for the emperor's forbearance, and he ordered the sword to be let loose upon them. Seven thousand were massacred in three hours, without distinction and without trial. Ambrose wrote him a faithful letter, reminding him of the
charge in the prophecy, that, if the priest does not warn the wicked, he shall be answerable for it. 'I love you,' he says, 'I cherish you, I pray for you, but blame not me if I give the preference to God.' On these principles he refused to admit Theodosius into the church at
The emperor pleaded that David had been guilty of murder and adultery. 'Imitate him then,' said the zealous bishop, 'in His repentance as well as his sin.' He submitted, and kept from the church eight months. Ruffinus, the master of the offices, now
undertook to persuade the bishop to admit him. He was at once reminded of the impropriety of his interference, inasmuch as he, by his evil counsels, had been in some measure the author of the massacre. 'The emperor,' he said, 'is coming.' 'I will hinder him,' said Ambrose, 'from
entering the vestibule: yet if he will play the king, I shall offer him my throat.' Ruffinus returned and informed the emperor. 'I will go,' he exclaimed, 'and receive the refusal which I desire:' and as he approached the bishop, he added, 'I come to offer myself to submit to
what you prescribe.' Ambrose enjoined him to do public penance, and to suspend the execution of all capital warrants for thirty days in future, that the ill effects of intemperate anger might be prevented.
The writings of St. Ambrose, many of which breathe a touching eloquence, were collected in two volumes, folio, 1691.
That exhibition of serio-comic sprightliness and naive simplicity which gives a peculiar character to Goldsmith's works, showed itself equally in his life. In his writings it amuses us. But when we think of the poverty, and hardship, and drudgery which
fell to his lot, we cannot smile at the man with the same hearty goodwill. Still the ludicrous element remains. Even in his outward appearance his biographer, Mr. Forster, has to admit it, and make the best of it. 'Though his complexion was pale, his face round and pitted with
the small-pox, and a somewhat remarkable projection of his forehead and his upper lip suggested excellent sport for the caricaturists, the expression of intelligence, benevolence, and good humour predominated over every disadvantage, and made the face extremely pleasing.'
At school and at college he shewed all the symptoms of a dunce, and many of those of a fool. Then, after idling some time, he succeeded in failing utterly in a very fair number of attempts to set up in life, as much out of sheer negligence and simplicity,
as incapacity; and when his friends had pretty well given him up, he set out, with a flute in his hand, and nothing in his pocket, to see the world. He passed through many countries, and much privation; and finally returned, bringing with him a degree in medicine, some medical
knowledge, and that wide experience of manners which ever fed his genius more than reading or books. Now he became usher in a school, apothecary's journeyman, poor physician, press-corrector, and other things, alternately or simultaneously starving and suffering: thought of going
to Mount Sinai to interpret the inscriptions; but at length became reviewer. He made one attempt more to escape from bond-age; got an appointment as medical officer at Coromandel; lost it; and then finally settled down to the profession of author. Fame soon came to the side of
Sorrow, and Pleasure often joined them; till death, fifteen years later, tools him away by disease arising from sedentary habits. He was buried in the Temple burial-ground, and Johnson wrote the Latin epitaph in Westminster Abbey.
Undoubtedly, Goldsmith's greatest works are those which were labours of love. The Traveller and The Deserted Village stand first, with their graceful simplicity, without humour. Then, The Vicar of Wakefield, which joins shrewd humour
to simplicity. His comedies proved most remunerative. In all his works, self chosen, or dictated by necessity, his style remains attractive.
He preserved his independence and honesty through much drudgery and many vexations, which tried him even in his best days. Yet, after all the laments about the sufferings of authors, many of his might by common sense and prudence have been avoided. He
failed in these. He was all innocence, humour, good-nature, and sensibility. To be a simpleton is not a necessary qualification of an author. Goldsmith has accurately sketched himself: 'Fond of enjoying the present, careless of the future, his sentiments those of a man of sense,
his actions those of a fool; of fortitude able to stand unmoved at the bursting of an earthquake, yet of sensibility to be affected by the breaking of a tea-cup.' Prosperity added to his difficulties as well as to his enjoyments: the more money he had, the more thoughtlessly he
expended, wasted, or gave it away.
Yet his heart was right, and right generous. He squandered his money quite as often in reckless benevolence as in personal indulgence. When at College, and in poverty, he would write ballads, and sell them for a few shillings; then give
the money to some beggar on his way home. This habit continued through his life. He would borrow a guinea, to give it away; he would give the clothes off his own bed. In private life, or at the famous Literary Club, where he figured both in great and little, in wisdom, wit, and
blue silk, his friends, who laughed at him, loved and valued him. Edmund Burke, the gentle Reynolds, Johnson, Hogarth,—all but jealous Bozzy,—delighted in him. When he died, it was
'Poor Goldy!' Burke wept. Reynolds laid his work aside. Johnson was touched to the quick: 'Let not his failings be remembered: he was a very great man.'
His failings have been dragged to light more than need have been. He spoke out every thought, and so occasionally foolish ones. Therefore Garrick (though but in joke) must write this:
'Here lies Nolly Goldsmith, for shortness called Noll,
Who wrote like an angel, but talked like poor Poll.'
He liked to appear to advantage on great occasions, and had a child's eye for colour; so his tailor's bills have been hunted up and paraded, revealing glimpses of 'Tyrian bloom, satin-grain, and garter-blue silk breeches ' (£8, 2s. 7d.); or when Bozzy
gives a dinner, 'a half dress suit of ratteen, lined with. satin, a pair of silk stocking breeches, and a pair of bloom-coloured ditto,' costing £16. Yet a man less unsophisticated could easily have concealed such weaknesses as Goldsmith indulged.
One thing is strange. Not a trace of love or love-making in forty-six years, save one obscure tale of his being with difficulty dissuaded from 'carrying off and marrying' a respectable needle-woman, probably as a kindness; and a guess that he might have
had that sort of fancy for a young lady friend, at whose house he often visited, and who, when he was dead, begged, with her sister, a lock of his brown hair.
LADY BURLEIGH AND HER THREE LEARNED SISTERS
In the reign of Elizabeth, and even from an earlier period, it was customary for ladies to receive a classical education. The 'maiden Queen' herself was a good Greek scholar, and could speak Latin with fluency. But amongst the learned ladies of that day,
the four daughters of Sir Anthony Cooke, the preceptor of Edward VI, were preeminent. Mildred, his eldest daughter, married William Cecil, afterwards Lord Burleigh. She was equally remarkable for learning, piety, and
benevolence. She could read with critical accuracy Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. She presented a Hebrew Bible to the University of Cambridge, and accompanied it with a letter written by herself in Greek. She had not only read most of the Greek and Latin classics, but the chief works
in those languages by early Christian writers, from some of which she made very able English translations.
She was a general patroness of literature; she supported two poor students at St. John's College, Cambridge; made large presents of books to both universities, and provided various facilities for the encouragement of learning. Amongst her acts of
benevolence, she provided the Haberdashers' Company with the means of lending to six poor tradesmen twenty pounds each, every two years: and a similar charity for the poor people of Waltham and Cheshunt in Hertfordshire; four times every year she relieved all the poor prisoners
in London; and expended large sums in other acts of benevolence and charity, far too numerous to specify. She lived forty-three years with her husband, who speaks of her death, which occurred 4th April 1589, as the severest blow he had ever experienced, but says, 'I
ought to comfort myself with the remembrance of hir manny vertuouss and godly actions wherein she contynued all her lift.'
Anna, the second daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke, was also a good Latin and Greek scholar, and well acquainted with some of the continental languages. At an early age she translated twenty-five sermons from the Italian of Barnardine Ochine, which were
published in an octavo volume. From the Latin she translated Bishop Jewel's Apology for the Church of England, which was so faithfully and skilfully executed, that the bishop, on revising the manuscript, did not find it necessary to alter a single word. On sending her
translation of the Apology to the bishop, she wrote him a letter in Greek, which he answered in the same language. She married Sir Nicholas Bacon, and was the mother of the famous Sir Anthony Bacon, and the still more famous
Francis Bacon, created Lord Verulam.
Elizabeth, the third daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke, was equally remarkable for her learning. She wrote epitaphs and elegies on her friends and relations in Greek, in Latin, and in English verse; and published an English translation from a French work. She
married, first, Sir Thomas Hobby, of Bisham, Hoicks, and accompanied him to France, when he went thither as ambassador from Queen Elizabeth, and where he died in 1566. She brought his body back to Bisham, and, building there a sepulchral chapel, buried.
him and his brother Sir Philip therein, and wrote epitaphs on them in Greek, Latin, and English. She next married John, Lord Russell, and surviving him, wrote epitaphs on him in the same languages, for his tomb in Westminster Abbey.
Katherine, fourth daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke, was famous for her scholarship in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin; and for considerable talent in poetry. She married Sir Henry Killegrew, and was buried in the Church of St. Thomas
the Apostle, in Vintry Yard, London, where a hand-some monument was erected to her memory, inscribed with the following epitaph, written by herself:
'To God I sleep, but I in God shall rise,
And, in the flesh, my Lord and Saviour see.
Call me not dead, my soul to Christ is fled,
And soon both soul and body joined shall be.'
There is a curious ghost story about Lady Russell. She was buried at Bisham by the remains of her first husband, Sir Thomas Hobby, and in the adjoining mansion still hangs her portrait, representing her in
widow's weeds, and with a very pale face. Her ghost, resembling this portrait, is still supposed to haunt a certain chamber; which is thus accounted for by local tradition. Lady Russell had by her first husband a son, who, so unlike herself, had a natural antipathy to every kind
of learning, and such was his obstinate repugnance to learning to write, that he would wilfully blot over his copybooks in the most slovenly manner. This conduct so irritated his refined and intellectual mother, that to cure him of the propensity, she beat him again and again
severely, till at last she beat him to death. As a punishment for her cruelty, she is now doomed to haunt the room where the fatal catastrophe happened, and as her apparition glides through the room it is always seen with a river passing close before her, in which she is over
trying, but in vain, to wash off the blood-stains of her son from her hands. It is remarkable that about twenty years ago, in altering a window-shutter, a quantity of antique copy-books were discovered pushed into the rubble between the joists of the floor, and one of these books
was so covered with blots, that it fully answered the description in the story.
There is generally some ground for an old tradition. And certain it is that Lady Russell had no comfort in her sons by her first husband. Her youngest son, a posthumous child, especially caused her much trouble, and she wrote to her brother-in-law, Lord
Burleigh, for advice how to treat him. This may have been the naughty boy who was flogged to death by his mamma, though he seems to have lived to near man's estate.
HAYDON THE PAINTER AND TOM THUMB
It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that poor Hayden, the historical painter, was killed by Tom Thumb. The lucky dwarf was 'the feather that broke the back' of the unhappy artist. Of that small individual it is not necessary here to say much. He was
certainly, from his smallness, a great natural curiosity; nor could it be denied that, with a happy audacity, surprising in one so young, he exhibited some cleverness, and a few rather extraordinary attainments.
Haydon had from boyhood entertained a noble estimate of the province or art, and strove to rise to eminence in the highest form of painting, instead of descending to mere portraiture. The world, however, never gave him credit for such an amount of genius
or ability as he believed himself to possess, although he was everywhere recognized as a remarkable and deserving artist. He was one of' those men who make enemies for themselves. Conceited, obstinate, and irritable, he was always quarrelling—now with the Royal Academy, now with
individuals, and gradually relapsed into the conviction that he was an ill-understood and ill-used man. In 1820 he produced a large picture, 'Christ entering Jerusalem,' and he gained a considerable sum of money by exhibiting it to shilling visitors, in London and throughout the
provinces. After this, however, his troubles began; his historical pictures were too large for private mansions, and failed to meet with purchasers.
Few diaries are more sad than that which Hayden kept, and which accumulated at length to twenty-six large MS. volumes. Despondency marked nearly every page. At one time he mourned over the absence of customers for his pictures; at another, of some real or
fancied slight he had received from other painters, while his entries made repeated reference to debts, creditors, insolvencies, applications to friends for loans, and appeals to ministers for Government supply. One great and honourable ambition he had cherished—to illustrate the
walls of the new Houses of Parliament with historical pictures; but this professional eminence was denied to him, as he believed, through unworthy favouritism.
Such was the mental condition of the unhappy painter in the early part of the year 1846, when the so-called General Tom Thumb came to England. Haydon had then just finished a large picture on which he had long been engaged, 'The Banishment of Aristides.'
He hoped to redeem his fallen fortunes, and to relieve himself of some of his debts, by exhibiting the picture. He engaged a room at the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, under the roof where the dwarf was attracting his crowds, and sent hundreds of invitations to distinguished
persons and critics to attend a private view. An entry in his diary on April 4th was 'the beginning of the end,' shewing how acutely the poor man felt his comparative want of success:—'Opened; rain hard; only Jerrold,
Baring, Fox Maule, and Hobhouse came. Rain would not have kept them away twenty-six years ago. Comparison
1st day of 1820 "Christ entering Jerusalem," £19 16 0
1st day of 1846 "Banishment of Aristides," £1 1 6
I trust in God, Amen!' Soon afterwards he wrote, 'They rush by thousands to see Tom Thumb. They push, they light, they scream, they faint, they cry " Help I" and " Murder I" They see my bills and caravan, but do not read them; their eyes are on them, but
their sense is gone. It is an insanity, a rabies furor, a dream, of which I would not have believed England could have been guilty.' He had exhibited his 'Aristides' as an appeal to the public against the Commissioners for the Houses of Parliament, who had reported slightingly of
his cartoons for a series of large pictures; and now the public gave hardly any response whatever to his appeal. About a fortnight after the opening of his exhibition he recorded in his diary, with few but bitter words, the fact that in one week 12,000 persons had paid to see Tom
Thumb, while only 1332 (the fraction being doubtless a child at half-price) paid to see the 'Aristides.' After five weeks' struggle he closed the Exhibition, with a positive loss of more than a hundred pounds; and thus, in the midst of poverty and misery, relieved only by a kind
of pious tenderness which distinguished him in his domestic relations, he renewed work upon the fondly cherished series of pictures intended by him for the House of Lords. One piteous entry in his diary was to the effect=—'Oh, God! let it not be presumptuous in me to call for thy
blessing on my six works!' The end was not long delayed. One morning in June, the hapless man was found in his painting-room, prostrate in front of his picture of ' Alfred the Great and the First British Jury.' His diary, a small portrait of his wife, his prayer-book, his watch,
and letters to his wife and children, were all orderly arranged; but, for the rest—a pistol and a razor had ended his earthly troubles.
MARRIAGE ARRANGEMENTS IN OLD TIMES
Such of our ancestors as possessed rank and wealth had a very arbitrary mode of arranging the alliances of their children. So late as the reign of James I, the disposal of a young orphan heiress lay with the monarch on the throne, by whom it was generally
deputed to some favourite possessed of sons to whom the marriage might be important. The union of the ward to a son of that person, or some other person chosen by him, was then inevitable. No one, hardly even the young persons themselves, appear even to have entertained a doubt
that this arrangement was all in the natural and legitimate course of things. The subordination of the young in all respects to their seniors was, indeed, one of the most remarkable peculiarities of social life two or three centuries ago.
There is preserved the agreement entered into on the 4th April 1528, between Sir William Sturton, son and heir apparent of Edward Lord Sturton, on the one part, and Walter Hungerford,
squire of the body to the king, on the other, for the disposal of Charles, the eldest son of the former, in marriage to one of the three daughters of the latter, Elinor, Mary, or Anne, whichever Sir William might choose. It was at the same time agreed that Andrew, the second son
of Sir William Sturton, should marry another of the young ladies. The terms under which the covenant was made give a striking idea of the absolute rigour with which it would be carried out. Hungerford was to have the custody of the body of Charles Sturton, or, in case of his
death, of Andrew Sturton, in order to make sure of at least one marriage being effected. On the other hand, the father of the three girls undertook to pay Sir William eight hundred pounds, two hundred 'within twelve days of the deliverance of the said Charles,' and the remainder
at other specified times.
The covenant included an arrangement for the return of the money in case the young gentleman should refuse the marriage, or if by the previous decease of Sir William the wardship of his sons should fall to the crown.'
Funny Joe Haines, a celebrated comedian, who flourished in the latter part of the seventeenth century, was the first to introduce the absurd, but mirth-provoking performance of delivering a speech from the back of an ass on the stage. Shuter, Liston,
Wilkinson, and a host of minor celebrities have since adopted the same method of raising the laughter of an audience. When a boy, at a school in St. Martin's Lane, the abilities and ready wit of Haines induced some gentlemen to send him to pursue his studies at Oxford, where he
became acquainted with Sir Joseph Wilkinson; who, when appointed Secretary of State, made Joe his Latin secretary. But the wit, being incapable of keeping state secrets, soon lost this honourable situation, finding a more congenial position as one
of the king's company of actors at Drury Lane. Here he was in his true element, the excellence of his acting and brilliancy of wit having the effect, in that dissolute era, of causing his society to be eagerly sought for by both men and women of high rank. The manners of the
period are well indicated by the fact that a noble Duke, when going as an ambassador to France, took Haines with him as-an agreeable companion. In Paris, the actor assumed a new character. Dubbing himself Count Haines, he commenced the career of sharper and swindler, which
afterwards gave him a high position in the extraordinary work of Theophilus Lucas, entitled The Lives of the Gamesters.
When he could no longer remain in France, Haines made his escape to London, and returned to the stage. Subsequently he went to Rome, in the suite of Lord Castlemaine, when that nobleman was sent by James II on an embassy to the Pope. Here Haines professed
to be a Roman Catholic, but, on his return to England, after the Revolution, he made a public recantation — sufficiently public, it must be admitted, since it was read on the stage. Nor did the indecorum of this exhibition prevent it from being one of the most popular
performances of the day.
Haines was the author of but one play, entitled The Fatal Mistake, but he wrote many witty prologues and epilogues, and a Satire against Brandy has been ascribed to him. Numberless anecdotes are related of his practical jokes, swindling tricks, and
comical adventures, but the only one fit to appear here is the following adventure with two bailiffs and a bishop.
One day Joe was arrested by two bailiffs for a debt of twenty pounds, just as the Bishop of Ely was riding by in his carriage. Quoth Joe to the bailiffs, 'Gentlemen, here is my cousin the Bishop of Ely; let me but speak a word to him, and he will pay the
debt and costs.' The bishop ordered his carriage to stop, whilst Joe close to his ear whispered: 'My lord, here are a couple of poor waverers, who have such terrible scruples of conscience that I fear they will hang themselves!' 'Very well,' replied the bishop. So, calling to the
bailiffs, he said—'You two men, come to me to-morrow, and I will satisfy you.' The bailiffs bowed, and went their way. Joe (tickled in the midriff, and hugging himself with his device) went his way too. In the morning the bailiffs repaired to the bishop's house. 'Well, my good
men,' said his reverence, 'what are your scruples of con-science?'—'Scruples! ' replied the bailiffs, we have no scruples; we are bailiffs, my lord, who yesterday arrested your cousin, Joe Haines, for twenty pounds. Your lordship promised to satisfy us today, and we hope you will
be as good as your word.' The bishop, to prevent any further scandal to his name, immediately paid the debt and costs.
Haines's choice companion was a brother actor, named Mat Coppinger, a man of considerable abilities. Coppinger wrote a volume of Poems, Songs, and Love Verses, which he dedicated to the Duchess of Portsmouth; and all that can be
said of them is, that they are exactly what might have been written by such a man to such a woman. Coppinger one night, after personating a mock judge in the theatre, took the road in the character of a real highwayman. The con-sequence was that, a few days afterwards, the
unfortunate Mat found himself before a real judge, receiving the terrible sentence of death. The town was filled with indignation and dismay; for a paltry 'watch, and seven pounds in money,' the amusing Coppinger was to lose his precious life! Petitions poured in from every
quarter; expressing much the same sentiments as those of ancient Pistol:
'Let gallows gape for dog, let man go free,
And let not hemp his windpipe suffocate.'
But in vain: a stave of an old song tells us that
'Mat didn't go dead, like a sluggard in bed,
But boldly in his shoes, died of a noose
That he found under Tyburn Tree.'
Haines died in 1701, at the age of fifty-three. As with all the notorieties of the time, his decease was commemorated by poetical honours, as is thus testified by
An Elegy on the Death of Mr. Joseph Haines, the late
Famous Actor, in the King's Play-house.
Lament, ye beaus and players, every one,
The only champion of your cause is gone;
The stars are surly, and the fates unkind,
Joe Haines is dead, and left his ass behind.
Ah! cruel fate, our patience thus to try,
Must Haines depart, while asses multiply?
If nothing but a player down should go,
There's choice enough, without great Haines the beau!
In potent glasses, when the wine was clear,
His very looks declared his mind was there.
Awful majestic on the stage at night,
To play, not work, was all his chief delight;
Instead of danger, and of hateful bullets,
He liked roast beef and goose, and harmless pullets!
Here lies the famous Actor, Joseph Haines,
Who while alive in playing took great pains,
Performing all his acts with curious art,
Till Death appeared, and smote him with his dart.'
LORD KENYON ON FORESTALLERS
Considering how completely the British public is now emancipated from the illusion that there is any harm to them from what was called forestalling and regrating, it sounds strange that a judge so recent as Chief Justice Kenyon presided at various trials
where punishment was inflicted for this imaginary offence. In charging a jury in the case of one Rushy, who was indicted for purchasing a quantity of oats and selling them at a profit on the same day, his lordship adverted with scorn to the doctrines of Adam Smith. 'I wish,' said
he, 'Dr. Smith had lived to hear the evidence of today. If he had been told that cattle and corn were brought to market, and there bought by a man whose purse happened to be longer than his neighbour's, so that the poor man who walks the streets and earns his daily bread by his
daily labour could get none but through his hands, and at the price he chooses to demand; that it had been raised 3rd, 6d., 9d., 1s., 2s., and more a quarter on the same day, would he have said there is no danger from such an offence?'
On a verdict of guilty being pronounced, the judge added: 'Gentlemen, you have done your duty, and conferred a lasting obligation on your country.' Sydney Smith remarks that 'this absurdity of
attributing the high price of corn to combinations of farmers and the dealings of middlemen was the common nonsense talked in the days of my youth. I remember when ten judges out of twelve laid down this doctrine in their charges to the various grand juries on their circuits.'
Mr. W. S. Gilpin, a nephew of the well-known author of various works on the picturesque, practised the business of a landscape gardener at Painesfield, East Sheen, till his death at an advanced age on the 4th April, 1843. 'When, in the course of
a conversation upon the crowded state of all professions, it was casually remarked to Mr. Gilpin that his profession at least was not numerous, he quietly remarked, "No, there is but one." He afterwards admitted that there was one Pontet, a gardener, in Derbyshire.'—Gentleman's
Magazine, August 1843.
James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, used to relate with much humorous relish a similar anecdote of the author of The Excursion. At a meeting in the house of Professor Wilson, on Windermere, in the autumn of 1817, where Wordsworth, Hogg, and several
other poets were present, the evening became distinguished by a remarkably brilliant bow of the nature of the aurora borealis across the heavens. The party came out to see it, and looked on for some time in admiration. Hogg remarked, 'It is a triumphal arch got up to celebrate
this meeting of the poets.' He afterwards heard the future poet-laureate whispering unconsciously to himself— 'Poets—poets! what does the fellow mean? Where are they?' In his conception there was but one poet present.