Born: Sanzio Raffaelle, painter, 1483, Urbino;
Dr. John Lightfoot, Scripture commentator, 1602, Stoke-upon-Trent; Joseph Ignace
Guillotin, physician, originator of the guillotine in France, 1738, Xaintes;
Marshal Jean de Dieu Soult, Duke of
Dalmatia, 1769, St. Amand-du-Tarn; Sir Edward Geoffrey Stanley, fourteenth Earl of
Derby, statesman, 1799.
Died: Pope Stephen X, 1058, Florence; Raymond
Lally, 'the enlightened doctor,' 1315, Majorca; Henry Percy, third Earl of
Northumberland, killed at the battle of Towton, 1461; Archbishop Tobias Matthew,
1629, York; Theophilus Bonet, eminent
Genevese physician, 1689; Captain Thomas Ceram, originator of the Foundling
Hospital in London, 1751; Emanuel
Swedenborg, 1772, Coldbath Fields, London; Gustavus III of Sweden,
1792, Stockholm.; Charles Dignum, singer, 1827; Sir
William Drummond, learned historian, 1828; Thomas Harrison, of Chester, architect,
1829; Lieutenant Stratford, R.N., editor of the Nautical Almanac, 1853.
Feast Day: Saints Jonas, Barachisius, and their
companions, martyrs, 327. St. Mark, Bishop of Arethusa, in Syria, 4th
century. Saints Armogastes, Archinimus, and Satur, martyrs, 457. St. Gundleus, a
Welsh King, 5th
century. St. Eustasius (or Eustachius), abbot of Luxe, 625.
THOMAS PARKYNS�CORNISH WRESTLING
Sir Thomas Parkyns, Bart., of Bunny Park,
Nottinghamshire, who died on the 29th of March 1741, was the author of
a curious work, entitled The Inn Play, or Cornish Hugg
Wrestler. Nor was he a mere writer on
wrestling; he was an able and skilful athlete himself, as well as a ripe scholar,
subtle disputant, and energetic country magistrate. Slightly eccentric, he was
equally at home in the wrestling ring or on the magisterial bench; and it was said
that he could throw an antagonist,
combat a paradox, quote the classics, and lay down the law at quarter sessions,
with any man in all England. It was when a boy, under the famous Dr. Busby, at
Westminster School, that the attention of Sir Thomas was first attracted to
wrestling, by his having to construe the
well-known epigram of Martial, commencing with the line:
Rure morans, quid agam? respondi panca, rogatus,'
which has been thus translated:
'When to my farm retired, how do I live?
If any ask, this short account I give;
The gods, at the first light, I do adore,
And place this care all other cares before.
My grounds I visit then, and servants call,
And their just tasks I do impose on all.
I study next, rouse my poetic vein;
My body then anoint, and gently strain
With some meet exercise; exult in mind
At every turn, myself both free to find
From crimes and debts; last,
I bathe, sup, laugh, drink,
Jest, sing, rest, and, on all that passes, think.
A little lamp the while sends forth a ray,
Which to my nightly studies makes a day.'
From Westminster, Sir Thomas went to Cambridge, where
his principal study was mathematics and mechanics, in their applications to feats
of strength and dexterity. We next find him a student at Gray's-inn, relieving the
dry study of the law by
instructions in wrestling, boxing, and fencing, from the best masters that the
metropolis could produce. Succeeding to the title early in life, he settled down
on his ancestral estate at Bunny, and established an annual wrestling match in his
park, open to all comers. The prize
was a gold-laced hat, value twenty-two shillings, and three shillings for the
second best. The amount was small, but the glory was great. Sir Thomas was no idle
patron of the contests; he never objected to go in for a fall with the best man on
the ground, and often won and wore
the gold-laced hat himself. His servants were all upright, muscular, young
fellows, and good wrestlers. Indeed, his favourite coachman and footman had
defeated the baronet himself in the wrestling ring, throwing him on his back in
such consummate style, that his heart warmed to
them at once, and, like Robin Hood
of yore, he immediately took them into his service. There was a policy in this,
for he well knew that a good and powerful wrestler could be no other than a sober
man. 'Whoever would be a complete
wrestler,' says Sir Thomas, 'must avoid being overtaken in drink, which very much
enervates, or, being in a passion at the sight of his adversary, or having
received a fall, in such cases he is bereaved of his senses, not being master of
himself is less of his art, but sheweth
too much play, or none at all, or rather pulleth, kicketh, and ventureth beyond
all reason and his judgment when himself.
That man's a fool, that hopes for good,
From Hewing bowls and feverish blood.'
He also further informs us, that the greatest of
wrestling masters is one Bacchus, who has many assistants, among others: 'Brandy a
Frenchman, Usquebaugh an Irishman, Rum a Molossonian masters teach mostly the
trip, which I assure you is no safe
and sound play. You may know them by their walkings and gestures, they stagger and
reel, and cross legs, which I advise my scholars to avoid, and receive many a foul
fall in the sink or kennel: and were your constitutions of porphyry, marble, or
steel, they will make you yield to
your last and only fair fall.'
Speaking of the antiquity of wrestling, he says Though
at the beginning of the preface I take notice that wrestling was in vogue, great
credit, reputation, and estimation in Martial the poet's days, wrestling without
all doubt is of greater
antiquity, as appears by Genesis, Jacob wrestled with an angel. Whether it was
real and corporeal, or mystical and spiritual in its signification, I leave the
divines to determine. But I advise all my scholars to avoid wrestling with angels;
for, though they may maintain the
struggle till break of day, and seem to lay their adversaries supine and on their
backs, yet they will have the fall and be out of joint with Jacob's thigh.'
A good specimen of what may be termed the wrestling
style of Sir Thomas is found in the following directions for giving an opponent
the throw called by adepts:
'THE FLYING HORSE'
'Take him by the right hand with your left, your
palm being upwards as if you designed only to shake him by the hand in a
friendly manner in the beginning, and twist it outwards, and lift it upwards to
make way for your head, and put your head
under his right arm-pit, and hold his hand down to your left side, hold. your
head stiff backwards, to hold him out of his strength, then put your right arm
up to the shoulder between his grainings, and let your hand appear behind past
his breech, but if you suspect they will
cavil at that arm, as a breeching, lay your arm along his belly, and lift him up
as high as your head and in either hold, when so high, lean backward, and throw
him over your head.'
There is a good-humoured quaintness in the description
of this encounter. How placidly it commences with taking the opponent's hand 'in a
friendly manner,' reminding us of Izaak Walton's
words, 'use him as though you loved him,' when directing how to impale a wretched
frog on a fishing-hook. Anon, the plot thickens, until, at last, the astonished
novice finds himself performing the flying-horse�the spread eagle the Americans
more analogically term it�over his
One of the wrestling baronet's
whims was to form a collection of stone coffins; and a rare and probably
unexampled collection he did form, and keep with
great nicety, in the churchyard at Bunny. It was not from any antiquarian tastes,
however, that he made this collection; neither was it for the mere empty desire of
possessing a few score stone coffins. He was one who loved to read a moral in all
around him; to find tongues in
trees, books in the running brooks, and good in everything. The coffins ranged
before him were emblems of mortality, teaching the athletic champion of the
wrestling ring that the great wrestler Death would inevitably overcome him in the
end. And to carry this impression of
humility even into the house of prayer, he caused his own monument�the marble
effigies of Sir Thomas Parkyns, as he termed it�to be
placed opposite his pew in the chancel�his own chancel �of Bunny Church, that he
might look on it every Lord's day, and
say�What is life! This monument was carved out of a 'fair piece of marble,' in his
own great barn, by his own domestic chaplain; and from what remains of it now, we
may hope that the chaplain was a much better clergyman than a sculptor.
On this monument Sir Thomas is depicted in the centre,
standing in his wrestling dress, potent and postured, ready for either
flying-horse or Cornish-hug. His attitude is the first position of wrestling, as
well as a moralising posture, and
emblematises 'the divine and human struggle for the glorious mastery.' On one side
is a well limbed figure lying above the scythe of time, the sun rising gloriously
over it, showing that the strong man and wrestler is in the prime of youth. On the
other side we see the same
figure stretched in a coffin, with Time, scythe in hand, standing triumphantly
over it; the sun gone down, marking the darkness of the tomb, the fate of all,
strong or feeble. There are some Latin verses on the monument, that have been
translated as follows:
'At length, by conquering Time subdued,
Lo! here Britannia's wrestler lies;
Till now he still unshaken stood,
Whene'er he strove, and gain'd the prize.
Long was the doubtful strife�beset
With years, he long eludes the fall;
Nor yet inglorious his defeat,
O'ermatch'd by Him who conquers all.
To life restored, the day will come,
When he, though now he faint and fail,
Shall rise victorious from the tomb,
Oover Time himself prevail.'
Thus did Sir Thomas Parkyns moralise in marble, and
decorate with solemn emblems the church at Bunny.
Though no training will enable a man to wrestle
successfully against a century, still temperance, wholesome toil, and manly
exercise, will carry him bravely over several scores of years. Sir Thomas Parkyns
never knew a day's illness until his
seventy-eighth year, when death at last gave him the backfall, and he died
universally beloved and lamented. The wrestling matches he instituted were
annually kept up for many years after his death, and were not finally done away
with till about the year 1810. His monument,
though considerably dilapidated, is still to be seen in the chancel of Bunny
Church; we had almost forgotten to say that, having selected one of his stone
coffins for his own use, he left the remainder to such parishioners of Bunny as
might choose to be interred in them.
THE FOUNDLING HOSPITAL
Captain Thomas Coram
was born at Lyme Regis, in Dorsetshire, in 1668. He emigrated to Massachusetts,
where, after working
a while as a shipwright, he became master of a trading vessel, made some money,
and at last settled in London. In 1720, when living at Rotherhithe, and walking to
and from the city early in the morning and late at night, his feelings were often
keenly tried in coming across
infants exposed and deserted in the streets. His tender heart at once set his head
devising some remedy. 'There were hospitals for foundlings in France and Holland,
and why not in England?'
Coram was an honest mariner, without much learning or
art of address; but he had energy and patience, and for seven-teen years he spent
the most of his time in writing letters and visiting in advocacy of a home for
foundlings. After long striking,
a spark caught the tinder of the fashionable world; such an institution was voted
a necessity of the age; and in 1739, the Foundling Hospital was established by
Royal Charter. Subscriptions poured freely in, and in 1741 the Lamb's Conduit
estate of 56 acres was bought as a site
and grounds for �5,500. It was a fortunate investment.
London rapidly girdled the Hospital, which now lies at
its very centre, and from the leases of superfluous outskirts the Hospital draws
an annual income equal to the original purchase-money. Hogarth
was a great friend of the Hospital, and was one of its earliest Governors. For its
walls he painted Coram's portrait, 'one of the first,' he writes, 'that I did the
size of life, and with a particular desire to excel.' He and other painters
displayed their works in the rooms of
the Foundling, and out of the practice grew the first Exhibition of the Royal
Academy in the Adelphi, in 1760. The show of pictures drew 'the town' to the
Hospital, and its grounds became the morning lounge of the belles and beaux of
London in the last years of George II.
Handel also served the Foundling nobly. To its chapel
he presented an organ, and for eleven years, from 1749 to his death in 1759, he
conducted an oratorio for its benefit, from which sums varying from �300 to �900
were annually realized. The
original score of his 'Messiah' is preserved among the curiosities of the
The Governors commenced work in a house in Hatton
Garden on 25th March 1741, having exhibited a notice the previous day,
that 'Tomorrow at 8 o'clock in the evening this house will be opened for the
reception of 20 children.' Any person
bringing a child rang the bell at the inner door, and waited to hear if there were
no objections to its reception on account of disease. No questions were asked as
to whom the infant belonged to, or why it was brought. When the full number of
babes had been received, a board was
hung out over the door, 'The House is full.' Sometimes a hundred children were
brought when only twenty could be admitted, and in the crush for precedence riots
ensued; in consequence, a ballot was instituted, and the women drew out of a bag,
white, red, and black balls. Those
who drew black had to go away, those who drew white were accepted, and those who
drew red remained in case the child of any woman who had drawn white should be
found ineligible from infectious disease.
The fame of the charity spread far and wide, and the
country began to consign foundlings to its care. A tinker was tried at Monmouth
for drowning a child he had received to carry to London. Seven out of eight
infants a waggoner undertook to bring
to town were found dead at the end of the journey. One man with five in a basket
got drunk on his way, fell asleep on a common, and when he awoke three of his
charge were suffocated. A horseman from Yorkshire was asked on Highgate Hill what
he carried in his panniers, and he
shewed two infants, saying that he got eight guineas for the trip, but that others
were offering to do it cheaper.
In 1754, the governors moved into the present
Hospital, erected from the designs of architect Jacobson, with 600 children, whom
they were supporting at an expense of five times the amount of their income! In
their distress they applied to
Parliament for aid, which voted them �10,000, but plunged them into new
difficulties by ordering the reception of all infants that might be brought to
them, and opening country branches. At one of these, Ackworth, near Pontefract,
cloth was made, in suits of which some of the
patrons of the Hospital appeared at the annual festivals. At another, Aylesbury,
John Wilkes, M.P., was treasurer, and when he left the
kingdom in 1764, it was found that he was in possession of some of the funds.
In compliance with the Act of Parliament a basket was
hung at the gate of the Hospital, in which the foundling was deposited, and a bell
rung to give notice to the officers in attendance.
From 1741 to 1756 the Governors had accepted the
charge of 1384 children, but under the new parliamentary arrangement the traffic
developed amazingly. On the 2nd of June 1756, the first day of the
basket, 117 infants were put into it.
In 1757, bills were posted through the streets, a-uprising the public of their
privilege. The work-houses got rid of all their infantile encumbrances in the
convenient basket. Women stood at the gate, stripped their babies naked, popped
them into the basket, and rang the bell. In
the first year, 3,296 were put in; in the second, 4,025; in the third, 4,229; and
in ten months of the fourth, 3,324. Out of the total of 14,874, it is scarcely
surprising, however horrible, to learn that only 4,000 lived to be apprenticed, a
mortality of 70 per cent! The expense
of the charity thus far was nearly �500,000. Of course results like these alarmed
the most Quixotic, and in 1760 Parliament revoked the order for indiscriminate
admission, and agreed to bear the charge of the children who had flooded the
charity at their invitation. Warned by
this terrible experience, the Governors were content to work with much humbler
aims. They still accepted any infant that might be brought, if a purse of �100 was
given with it, but even this privilege they felt it wise to abolish in 1801.
The annual revenue of the Hospital at this day from
its estate and funded property is nearly �11,000, and with this sum 460 boys and
girls are maintained and educated, from infancy until their fifteenth year. The
Queen is a donor of fifty guineas
annually, following the precedent set by George II. The conditions of admission
now are 'that the child be illegitimate, except that the father be a soldier or
sailor killed in the service of his country, and that the mother shall have borne
a good character previous to her
misfortune, and that she be poor and have no relations able or willing to maintain
her child.' The object of the Governors is to hide the shame of the mother, as
well as to preserve the life of her child, and dismiss her with the charge, 'Sin
no more.' The average admissions are
thirty-seven annually. No infant is received older than twelve months. The
treasurer gives each babe a name, and when christened it is sent into the country
to nurse, and on the attainment of its third year is brought to the Hospital in
London. There all receive a plain education
in reading, writing, and arithmetic. The girls, taught sewing and household work,
are put out to domestic service in respectable families. There is a constant
demand, much in excess of the supply, for servants bred at the Foundling. The boys
are apprenticed to various trades, and
about fifty of them are instructed in music, and draughted into the bands of the
army and navy. The children on the whole turn out well in the world, and generally
bear the home of their youth in kindly remembrance.
From Handel the Foundling has inherited a high musical
reputation. Several blind children, received during the years of indiscriminate
admission, were trained as a choir, and their sweet voices were a great attraction
to the chapel. Mr. Grenville,
the organist, Mr. Printer, Jenny Freer, and Miss Thetford, noted singers, were all
blind foundlings. On Sundays the chapel is usually filled in every corner by
crowds who come to hear the excellent music, which is led by professionals, and
supported by the voices of 500 children.
The pew rents, and collections at the door, average from �600 to �900 a year,
after paying all expenses. The altar-piece, 'Christ presenting a Child,' is by
'West, who retouched the picture in 1816. From the pulpit Sterne and
Sidney Smith, not to run
over other names, have
pleaded for the charity.
The collection of pictures at the Foundling is worth
seeing. They are nearly all gifts, and illustrate very fairly the state of British
art in the third quarter of last century. There is Hogarth's portrait of Comm, of
which he said that 'it had
stood the test of twenty years' competition, notwithstanding the first painters in
the kingdom exerting all their talents to vie with it;' also his March to
Finchley, and his Moses brought to Pharaoh's Daughter. There is a portrait of Lord
Dartmouth, by Sir
of George II, by Shackleton; of Handel, by
Kneller; of Dr. Mead, by Allan Ramsay;
views of various London hospitals, by Gainsborough, Richard Wilson, Haytley, and
Wale; three sacred subjects by Hayman,
High-more, and Wills; a bas-relief by Rysbrack, and a bust of Handel by Roubiliac.
Captain Coram's fortune appears never to have been
large, and his credit in the institution of the Foundling lay, not in any
pecuniary endowment, but in the undaunted pertinacity with which he fought down
public apathy, and at last induced wealth
and power to work out his philanthropic design. Two years before his death it was
discovered that he had lost all his means. His friends thereon bestirred
themselves to raise him to independence by subscription; and in order that the
good old man might not be offended, Dr.
Brocklesby broke to him the project. His answer was, ' I have not wasted the
little money I once had in self-indulgence or vanity, and am not ashamed to
confess that in my old age I am poor.' In 1749 they secured him an annuity of
�170. He happily did not live to see the charity
he had founded, in the years of its frightful efflorescence. He died on the
29th of March 1751, aged eighty-four, when the Hospital which preserves
his memory was in course of erection; and in the new stone catacombs of the chapel
his body was the first to be laid.
There, also, Lord Tenterden was buried in 1832 �the Canterbury barber's boy, who
rose to be Lord Chief Justice of England. An excellent statue of Coram, by Calder
Marshall, was set up at the gates of the Hospital in 1856; but the stone out of
which it is cut has already proved so
friable, that it has had to be painted over to save it from destruction.
'March 29th, 1679,' is the date of a
baronetcy conferred on a Berkshire gentleman, William
Kenrick, of Whitley, which, however, expired with the second generation
about the close of the century. The second
baronet left his property to an only daughter, who is understood to have soon
after disposed herself in marriage in a very extraordinary way.
Tradition and a contemporary broadside ballad concur
in representing this young gentlewoman as paid court to by many, but refusing all,
and keeping her affections disengaged, until, attending a wedding at Reading, she
met a young and handsome but
poor attorney, named Benjamin Child, with whom she
fell violently in love on the spot.
For some days she reasoned with herself on the
subject, trying to shake herself free of this sudden passion, but all in vain.
Then, feeling that something must be done, but unable from confusion of mind to
devise a proper course, she took the
extraordinary step of sending the young man a letter, demanding satisfaction for
injuries she alleged he had inflicted on her, and appointing time and place for a
hostile meeting. Mr. Child was much surprised, and quite at a loss to conceive who
the challenger could be. By the
advice of a friend, however, he resolved to attend. The meeting may be described
in the words of the ballad:
Early on a summer's morning,
When bright Phaebus was adorning
Every bower with his beams,
The fair lady came, it seems.
At the bottom of a mountain,
Near a pleasant crystal fountain,
There she left her gilded coach,
While the grove she did approach.
Covered with her mask, and walking,
There she met her lover, talking
With a friend that he had brought,
So she asked him whom he sought.
"I am challenged by a gallant
Who resolves to try my talent;
Who he is I cannot say,
But I hope to shew him play."
"It is I that did invite you;
You shall wed me, or I'll fight you
Underneath those spreading trees;
Therefore choose from which you please.
"You shall find I do not vapour,
have sought my trusty rapier;
Therefore take your choice," said she:
"Either fight or marry me!
Said he, "Madam, pray what mean you?
In my life I've never seen you;
Pray unmask, your visage shew
Then I'll tell you ay or no."
"I will not my face uncover
Till the marriage ties are over;
Therefore choose you which you will,
Wed me, sir, or try your skill.
"Step within that pleasant bower
With your friend one single hour;
Strive your thoughts to reconcile,
And I'll wander here the while."
While this beauteous lady waited,
The young bachelors debated
What was best for to be done.
Quoth his friend, " The hazard run;
"If my judgment can be trusted,
Wed her first, you can't be worsted;
If she's rich you'll rise to fame,
If she's poor, why, you're the same."
He consented to be married;
All three in a coach were carried.
To a church without delay,
Where he weds the lady gay.
Though sweet pretty Cupids hover'd
Round her eyes, her face was cover'd
With a mask,�he took her thus,
Just for better or for worse.'
The ballad goes on to state that the pair went in her
coach to the lady's elegant mansion, where, leaving him in a parlour, she
proceeded to dress herself in her finest attire, and by and by broke upon his
vision as a young and handsome woman and
his devoted wife:
Now he's clothed in rich attire,
Not inferior to a squire;
Beauty, honour, riches' store,
What can man desire more?'
It appears that Mr. Child took a position in society
suitable to the fortune thus conferred upon him, and was high sheriff of the
county in 1714.
29th March 1837, died at Brighton, Mrs.
Fitzherbert, at the age of eighty-one. Born Mary Anne Smythe (daughter of Walter
Smythe, Esq., of Brambridge, in the county of Hants), she was first married to Edward Weld,
Esq., of Lulworth Castle, Dorsetshire; secondly to Thomas Fitzherbert, Esq., of Swinnerton,
Staffordshire. She was a second time a widow, living on a handsome jointure, and
greatly admired in society on account of her beauty and accomplishments,
when, in 1785, being twenty-nine years of age, she became acquainted with the
Prince of Wales, who was six years younger. He fell distractedly in love with her,
and was eager to become her third husband; but she, well aware that the royal
marriage-act made the possibility of
anything more than an appearance of decent nuptials in this case extremely
doubtful, resisted all his importunities.
It has been stated, on good authority, that, to
overcome her scruples, he caused himself one day to be bled, put on the appearance
of having made a desperate attempt on his own life, and sent some friends to bring
her to see him. She was thus
induced to allow him to engage her with a ring in the presence of witnesses; but
she afterwards broke off, went abroad, and for a long time resisted all the
efforts he made to induce her to return. It is told, as a curious fact in this
strange love history, that one of the chief
instruments in bringing about the union of the ill-assorted pair, was the
notorious Duke of Orleans (Philip Egalit�)
Towards the close of 1785, it became known that the
heir-apparent of the British crown was about to marry a Catholic widow lady named
Mrs. Fitzherbert. Charles
Fox, to whose party the prince had
attached himself, wrote to his royal highness on the 10th of December,
a long letter, pointing out the dangerous nature of the course he was following.
'Consider,' said he, 'the circumstances in which you stand; the King not feeling
for you as a father ought; the Duke
of York professedly his favourite, and likely to be married to the King's wishes;
the nation full of its old prejudices against Catholics, and justly dreading all
disputes about succession.' Then the marriage could not be a real one. 'I need
not,' said he, 'point out to your good
sense what a source of uneasiness it must be to you, to her, and above all, to the
nation, to have it a matter of dispute and discussion whether the Prince of Wales
is or is not married.' The whole letter, written in a tone of sincere regard for
the prince, was highly creditable
to the wisdom of the writer.
The prince answered on the instant, thanking Mr. Fox
for his advices and warnings, but assuring them they were needless. 'Make yourself
easy, my dear friend; believe me, the world will now soon be convinced that there
not only is [not], but never
was, any ground for those reports which have of late been so malevolently
Ten days after the date of this letter, namely, on the
21st of December, the Prince and Mrs. Fitzherbert were married by an
English clergyman, before two witnesses. Mr. Fox, misled by the Prince, took it
upon him to deny the fact of the
marriage in the House of Commons; but society was never blinded on the subject.
Mrs. Fitzherbert lived for several years with great openness, as the wife of the
Prince of Wales, and in the enjoyment of the entire respect of society, more
especially of her husband's brothers. A
separation only took place about 1795, when the prince was about to marry (for the
payment of his debts) the unfortunate Caroline of Brunswick. Mrs. Fitzherbert
survived this event forty-two years, and never during the whole time ceased to be
'visited.' The case is a very
peculiar one, from its standing in so dubious a position both with respect to law