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BARN-ELMS.

JACOB TONSON.

43

sions. The Count and Countess were come down stairs, and about to enter the coach, when the servant rushed forth, and fired a pistol at the Count, the ball of which did not kill him. The wretch, with a stiletto, then struck him between the shoulders! The Count, in this dreadful situation, ran up stairs, it is supposed for fire-arms, but there fell dead on the floor! The Countess, who in the mean time was at the carriage, wondering the man was not there to open the door, peevishly asked the reason of it; when he advanced as for that purpose. But be instantly stabbed her in the breast to the hilt of his weapon, when she reeled a few yards, and expired ! 'The villain fled up stairs, and cut his throat! The whole of this tragedy was perpetrated in five minutes, and the only assignable reason was, that the servant, the preceding evening, overheard that the Count and Countess intended to dismiss him from their service. Unparalleled depravity!

At Barnes, soine years ago, we passed a few days mest pleasantly with a very respectable family belonging to my congregation, who resided there during the summer season, The hospitality with which we were treated, as well as the rural beauties of the village, have left an indelible impression on the memory. The kind attention of friends should never fail to rouse the grateful emotions of the heart.

Not far from the church is that pastoral spot BarnElms, its majestic trees having conferred this appellation. In an ancient mansion, called Queen Elizabeth's Dairy, lived and died Jacob Tonson, bookseller to Pope

KIT-CAT CLUB.

and other wits of that day. Here he built a gallery, at the time he was secretary, for the accommodation of those noblemen, gentlemen, and geniuses known by the name of the Kit-cat Club, Christopher Kat being the landlord of the house where they assembled. Sir Godfrey Kneller painted the portraits of all the members which decorated the gallery ; being three-length portraits ; those of that size are known by this appellation.

A modern pedestrian gives an interesting account of a visit to this spot:-“ A lane in the north-west corner of the common brought me to Barnes Elms, where now resides a Mr. Hoare, a banker of London. The family were not at home, but on asking the servants if that was the house of Mr. Tonson, they assured me with great simplicity that no such gentleman lived there. I named the Kit-cat Club as accustomed to assemble here; but the oddity of the name excited their ridicule, and I was told that no such club was held there; but perhaps, said one to the other, the gentleman means the club that assembles at the public house on the common. Knowing, however, that I was at the right place, I could not avoid expressing my vexation that the periodical assemblage of the first men of the age should be so entirely forgotten by those who now reside on the spot; when one of them exclaimed, I should not wonder if the gentleman means the philosopher's room.' Aye,' rejoined his comrade, “I remember somebody coming once before to see something of this sort, and

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KIT-CAT CLUB. sent him there.' I requested then to be shewn this room, when I was conducted across a detached garden and brought to a handsome structure, in the architectural style of the early 'part of the last century, evidently the establishment of the Kit-cat Club. A walk covered with bushes, thistles, nettles, and high grass led from the remains of a gateway in the gardenwall to the door which opened into the building. Ah! thought I, along this desolate avenue the finest geniuses in England gaily proceeded to meet their friends, yet within a century how changed, how deserted, how revolting! A cold chill seized me as the man unfastened the decayed door of the building, and as I beheld the once elegant hall filled with cobwebs, a fallen ceiling, and accumulating rubbish. On the right the present proprietor had erected a copper, and converted one of the parlours into a wash-house; the door on the left led to a spacious and once superb staircase, now in ruins, filled with dense cobwebs, which hung from the lofty ceiling and seemed to be deserted even by the spiders. The entire building, for want of ventilation, having become food for the fungus called dry rot, the timber had lost its cohesive powers ; I ascended the staircase, therefore, with a feeling of danger to which the man would not expose himself; but I was well requited for my pains. Here I found the Kil-cat room nearly as it existed in the days of its glory. It is 18 feet high, and 40 long by 20 wide. The mouldings and ornaments were in the post superb fashion of its age, but the whole was

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KIT-CAT CLUB PORTRAITS.

falling to pieces from the effects of the dry rot. My attention was chiefly attracted by the faded clothhanging of the room, whose red colour once set off the famous portraits of the club that hung round it; theit marks and size were still visible, and the numbers and names remained as written in chalk for the guidance of the hanger. Thus was I as it were, by those still legible names, bronght into personal contact with AdDISON and Steele and Congreve and South and DRYDEN and with many hereditury nobles, rewembered only because they were patrons of those natural nobles; I read their names aloud; I invoked their departed spirits ; I was appalled by the echo of my own voice. The holes in the floor, the forests of cobwebs in the windows, and a swallow's nest in the corner of the ceiling proclaimed, that I was viewing a vision of the dreamers of a past age; that I saw realized before me the speaking vanities of the anxious career of man! On rejoining Mr. Hoare's man in the hall below, and expressing my grief that so interesting a building should be suffered to go to decay for want of attention, he told me that his master intended to pull it down and unite it to an adjoining barn so as to form of the two a riding-house; and I learn that this design has since been executed. The Kit-cat pictures were painted early in the 181li century, and about the year 1710 were brought to this spot, but the room and house I have been describing was not built till ten or fifteen years afterwards. They were forty-two in number, and were presented by the

BARN-ELMS.

HEIDEGGER.

-17

members to the elder Tonson, who died in 1736; he left them to his great nephew, also an eminent bookseller, who died in 1767. They were then removed from this building to the house of his brother at Water Oakley, near Windsor, and on his death to the house of Mr. Baker, of Hertingfordbury, where they now remain, and where I lately saw them splendidly lodged and in fine preservation.”*

That eminent statesman. Sir Francis Walsingham entertained at Barn Elms Queen Elizabeth and her whole court; and here it was that Heidegger, master of the revels to George the Second, gratified his majesty in a singular manner. His Majesty had told him he should sup with him one evening, and that he would come by water from Richmond. Heidegger's profession was to create surprise; the king's attendants, who were in the secret, took care that he should not reach Barn Elms before night, so that it was with difficulty he found his way up the avenue to the house.' Coming to the door, and finding all dark, he was angry at his reception. Heidegger suffered his Majesty to vent his displeasure, and affected to make some awkward apologies, when in an instant the house and avenue were in a blaze! Lamps artfully disposed were lit up as by magical incantation. The king laughed heartily at the device, and went away pleased with the entertainment. But this well known änee

* See an amusing Volume, entitled-A Morning Walk from London to Kew, by Sir Richard Phillips.

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