« НазадПродовжити »
of streets, obstructions in them, ornaments, &c.—Chap. 10. The ecclesiastical architecture of London.-Chap. 11. Sculpture and painting.–Chap. 12. Sketch of the present state of society in London.'
· "List of Plates. ' Foundling Hospital : Bancroft's Almshouse: The Small Pox Hospital : The Plates of dress (chronologically): Croyden Palace : Brick Gateway near Bromley: The Views of Ancient and Modern Houses : Westminster Abbey (two plates) : The Altar Pieces : The General Views.'
Such is the bill of fare which the industry of Mr. Mal. colm bas prepared: in which perhaps the generality will find many agreeable dishes and savoury ingredients. It is, however, rather a confused medly than a well assorted, or nicely selected entertainment. - Mr. Malcolm has very industriously perused the public papers, periodical works, &c. of the last century; and from these he has culled as much matter as with his own head and tail. pieces of remark, ex. planation and connection, composed an ample quarto of 490 pages. It is impossible to give any thing like a complete analysis of a work, which is made up of insulated facts, and in which there is litue method or continuity. All that we can do is to offer sonje. detached:specimens of the performance or to make a sélection of such particulars as we think most likely to excite atièrition or w.gratify curiosity. In traversing the pages of this bulky volume, we have sometimes been instructed and often amăsed; but on the whole we have experienced sensations of bedrousness and languor, which the author will perhaps iinpute to our squeamishness of appetite or apathy of teinperament; but which we are more willing to ascribe to the prolixity of the work: When the reader has taken the trouble to go through the book, we shall leave him to deterinine whether the critic be insensible, or the author occasionally dull. We should be unwilling to accuse Mr, Malcolm of practising the art of book-inaking, or of inserting every piece of information which came in his way relative to the manners, &c, of the metropolis in the eighteenth century; but we would willingly have dispensed with many of his details in which there is nothing either to edify or amuse.
In the first chapter Mr. Malcolm favours us with some information respecting the persons of the aborigines of this island, before the physical deterioration which he seems to
suppose that they underwent from an admixture of foreign blood, whether from Roman, from Saxon, or Danish veins.
*Then,' says Mr. Malcolm (meaning before the invasion of Cæsar) the hardy native stood erect in the full dignity and grace of nature, perfect from the hands of the Creator, and tinted with those pure colours which vary with the internal feelings. Cæsar doubtless found the males muscular and full of energy, the females graceful in their forms, and both wild and unrestrained in his estie mation of manners; though probably they were such as we now admire in the savage, sincerity unpolished, and kindness roughly demonstrated.'
This, which by the bye, has little relation to the state of London in the eighteenth century, may serve as a specimen of that affected, stiff, and verbose style in which Mr. Malo colm sometimes thinks proper to indulge, and on which, we should fail in our duty to the public if we did not fix the seal of our utter reprobation. Perspicuity and ease, are among those constituent principles of good writing, which we should be unwilling to sacrifice for any of the starched re. finements and elaborate perplexities of modern composition. When Mr. Malcolm tells us that Cæsar found the abori. gines of Britain tinted with those pure colours ivhich vary with the internal feelings,' he seems to have forgotten that Cæsar himself tells us (B.G. lib. v.) that he found these hardy natives' and perfect forms,' bedizened with a coat of paint. And we leave our modern fine ladies to inform Mr. Malcolm whether this artificial discoloration were likely to serve as a mirror for the varying emotions of the breast.
In p. 4, Mr. Malcolm tell us, what we suppose he discovered after many nights of sleepless meditation, that
"There are in every buman circle persons whose patriotism may be lulled; and glittering ornaments of dress and indolence soon produce unfavourable comparisons between the former and a naked limb, and the exertions of what is termed savage and the more refined conceptions of quiet life. .
Without staying to make any remarks on the phraseology or the structure of this sentence, we shall proceed to shew Mr. Malcolm as a collector of curious anecdotes and amus. ing details; in which he appears to much more advantage than as a philosopher or a rhetorician.
The greater mortality which formerly prevailed among the infant poor of the metropolis, and consequently the
more cruel and injudicious treatment which they experi. enced in the middle of the last century, than ai present, may be estiinated by the following circumstance, that 'of the children born in workhouses or parish-houses or received at and under 12 months old in the year 1763 and following the same into 1764 and 1765, only seven in one hundred survived this short period.' This great mortality among the parish poor in the metropolis appears to have been considerably diminished by a parliamentary regulation that the parish infant poor within the bills of mortality should be sent into the country to be nursed at a distance not less than a certain number of miles from any part of the town.' From a return inserted in the journals of the house of commons in 1778, it appears ibat ip 15 parishes and in the preceding eleven years out of 9217 children under six years old only 2012 had died; or rather more than one in five. The institution of the Foundling hospital, the first stone of which was laid in 1742 perhaps contributed to lessen the mortality among the infant population of the metropolis. This foundation owed its origin to the active benevolence of Captain Coram. It would be impossible for us barely to enumerate all the acts of public and of private charity which Mr. M. recapitulates in his first chapter. We can select only a few ; but we have perused the whole with that serenity of delight which the contemplation of beneficence seldom fails to inspire. Public institutions, such as hospitals, asylums, &c. which were founded by the charity of the last century, and are supported by that of the present, must strike the eye, if they do not soften the heart of every person who visits the metropolis. They need not our commemoration ; but there are some acts of private charity of which we shall be happy to make our journal the means of reviving the recollection.
In the year 1764 some Germans to the number of 600 had left their native country under the promise of being conveyed to the island of St. John and Le Croix in America, where they were to be established at the expense of the person who had encouraged them to emigrate. But the contriver of this scheme instead of conveying them to the place of destination, had brought them to England and left them to perish in the neighbourhood of London. Some of them lay during the heavy rains in the open fields adjacent to the metropolis, without money, clothes, or food ; and exposed to all the extremities of hunger and disease, A party of these famishing strangers were languishing in the fields near Bow, where it is asserted that they had not eaten for two days, when a baker passing along the road with a basket on his shoulder, containing 28 two-penny Joaves, threw it down and observed that his customers must fast a little longer that day, while he distributed the bread among this afficled and grateful group. Mr. Wachsel, minister of the German Lutheran church, in Little Ayliffe. street, Goodmans fields, exerted himself with exemplary diligence in favour of his suffering countrymen, who altogether amounted to six'hundred, men, women, and chila dren. Subscriptions were opened ; food and necessaries were provided for these poor emigrants; a sum was raised sufficient to convey them to America ; and government appropriated lands in South Carolina for their support. • The parting between these poor people and their guardian Wachsel was exceedingly affecting; nor were their expressions of gratitude to the inhabitants of London less fervent who accompanied them in boats.' M. Mahomet, a Turk, and a valet de chambre to George 1. is said to have discharged near 300 persons from prison for small sums since his coming into England. In August, 1717, a person unkdown' released thirty persons from Whitechapel prison, cloathed them, gave them a dinner, and 2s, 6d. each ; six months afterwards the same benevolent unknown repealed, his charities at Whitechapel, and released all confined for small debts, one of whom was imprisoned near six months for 5s. Od. which had been swelled by charges and fees to 40s.' In 1719, the saine beneficent unknown released Thirty-five poor deblors al Whitechapel, besides giving them money as before. In 1720, on an examination of the Marshalsea books, it appeared that 'upwards of eleven hundred persons, confined for small debis, had been discharged within three years by the charitable contributions of Roman Catholics.' . Faith may be of many sects, but CHARITY IS OP None.
We shall pass rapidly over chapter 11. which contains anecdotes of depravity, for the last century. It is the general supposition, that the present times are worse than the preceding, and that there was more virtue in the days of our grandfathers and grandmothers than in our own. We have never entertained this opinion ; and we think that this chap. ter in the work of Mr. Malcolm will prove that it is not true. If we compare the present population of the metropolis with that in the beginning of the last century, we shall find that the instances of depravily are altogether less frequent; and that so!ne vices were more prevalent among our ancestors than among us. Amongst these we may reckon drunkenness, obscenity of language, which seems, at that
time, to have been almost essential to give a zest to the dialogue of the theatres, and which we may be certain was much more frequent than at present in the lidiom of private conversation, the practice of cruel sports, which are now almost disused, as cock-fighting, bear-baiting, bull-baiting, cudgel playing, &c.
In the year 1700 the number of persons who were condemned at the Old Bailey, in the space of four years, amounted to 696, of whom 991 were reprieved, and 301 executed.
• In the mayorally of Sir Francis Child, 1732, five hundred and two persons were indicted at the Old Bailey, seventy of whom received sentence of death ; 208 of transportation ; eight were fined, imprisoned, or pilloried; four burnt in the hand ; fuur whipped, and 288 acquitted.'
the pro have bebcentive. Positioning,
Common begging, fortune-telling, necromancy, guineadropping, quackery, swindling, gaming, pocket-picking, and every species of fraud, imposition, and outrage, aided by those powerful incentives to immorality called gin-shops, seem to have been practised with more frequency than in the present period. Manners were more gross, education was less common; and whatever the croaking hypochondriacs of the present day may say to the contrary, virtue rather than vice is always the effect of a diffused literature, and an increasing civilization. Even gaming, which is certain. Jy one of our crying sins, was yet, perhaps, more rife in the times of which we are speaking. In 1718, this vice was so prevalent, that the leet jury of Westminster presented no less than thirty-five houses to the justices, for prosecution. The present “ society for the suppression of vice," no doubt, think that they have to do with a degenerate race, “ pejor avis;" but the society for the reformation of manners,' in the early part of the eighteenth century, seem to have had stronger reason to make the same complaint. For, from a statement of their proceedings, it appears that they had prosecuted from December 1, 1724, to December 1, 1795, two thousand five hundred and six persons for keeping lewd and disorderly houses, swearing, drunkenness, gaming, and proceeding in their usual occupation on Sundays. The total amount of their prosecutions for thirty-four years amount. ed to the amazing number of ninety.one thousand eight hundred and ninety-nine.'
Anong bis instances of depravity Mr. Malcolm classes the Cock-lane ghost, because the knockings of the celebrated ventriloquist Miss Fanny Parsons were designed lo encourage the belief that Mr; -, had poisoned a woman with