Page images
PDF
EPUB

left me and Mrs Pringle standing on the wharf, and went himself to bring a hackney for us and our luggage. They were, in their way to Captain Sabre's in Baker Street, to set me down at the lodging-house in Norfolk Street, Strand, where they had been civilly treated while living there when up about their great legacy," but ance awa aye awa. Long and wearily did Mrs Pringle and me wait, and no word of the Doctor coming back. The Mistress at last grew uneasy, and I was terrified, suffering more than tongue can tell, till the Doctor made his appearance in a coach, as pale as ashes, and the sweat hailing from his brow. He had lost his road; and, rambling about in quest of it, and likewise of a coach, was mobbit by a pack of ne'erdo-weels and little-worth women in a place called Ratcliffe Highway, and in the hobbleshow his watch was picket out of his pocket by a pocket-picker, and his life might have been ta'en, but for the interference of a creditable looking man, who rescued him out of their hands.

This was a sore sample to me of the Londoners; and I quaked inwardly when, as we drove along the street in the hackney, I saw the multitudes flowing onward without end, like a running river, thronger than the Trongate on a Wednesday, especially when I thought of the crowd that was expected to be at the Coronation. However, nothing happened, and I was set down with my trunk at the door of

the Doctor's old lodging in Norfolk Street, Strand, where the landlady was most glad to see the Doctor and the Mistress looking so well, but her house was taken up with foreigners from different parts of the country come to see the King crowned, and she could not accommodate me therein. However, as I was a friend of the Doctor's, she invited me to step into her parlour, and she would send to a neighbour in Howard Street that had a very comfortable bed-room to let. So I bade my fellow-passengers good day, and, stepping in, was in due season accommodated, as was expected, in the house of Mrs Damask, a decent widow woman, that made her bread by letting lodgings to sin gle gentlemen.

Having thus narrated the occasion and voyage of my coming to London, I will now pause, in order to digest and methodize such things as it may be entertaining to the courteous reader to hear, concerning my exploits and observes in the metropolitan city; for it is no my intent to enter upon the particularities of buildings and curiosities, but only to confine my pen to matters appertaining to the objects of business that drew me thither, with such an account of the coronation as may naturally be expected from one who had so many advantages at the same as I had; not, however, would I have it supposed, that I paid any greater attention to the pageantry thereof, than was becoming a man of my years and sobriety of character.

London being, as is well known, a place of more considerable repute than Greenock, or even Port Glasgow, upon which I have so fully enlarged in my foregoing voyages, it seems meet that I should be at some outlay of pains and particularities in what I have to indite concerning it; and, therefore, it is necessary to premise, by way of preface, to appease critical readers, that my observations were not so full and satisfactory as they might have been, because of the hubbub of his Majesty's royal coronation, which happened to take place while I was there. It's true that I had an inkling, by the newspapers, before my departure from Glasgow, that the solemnity might be performed about the time I counted on being in London, but every body knows

PART. IL-THE PREPARATIONS.

it was a most uncertain thing; and as for the King's own proclamation anent the same, is it not written in the Bible, "Put not your trust in princes?" However, scarcely had Mrs Damask shewn me the bed-room that was to be mine, and I had removed our sederunt, after settling terms, to her parlour, where she was to get me a chop of mutton for my dinner, than she began to inquire if I wasna come to see the coronation. But I said to her, which was the fact, "I am come on business; no that I object to look at the crowning the King, if its possible, but it would be an unco like thing o' a man at my years of discretion to be running after ony sic-like proformity."

She was, however, very much like my own landlady, Mrs M‘Lecket, a

thought dubious of my sincerity on that point, and the mair I said to convince her that I had a very important matter in hand, the less did she look as if she believed me. But she said nothing, a thing which I must commend as the height of prudence, and as a swatch of good breeding among the Englishers; for there is not a Scotch landlady, who, in such a case, would not have shaken her head like a sceptic, if she did na charge me with telling an even doun lee.

proper purposes, as may be found set forth in "The Picture of London," a book which I bought on the recommend ation of Mrs Damask, and in which there is a prodigality of entertainment. But the thing which struck me most, as I passed by, was the cloth-shop of one Mr Solomon, a Jew man, in the window of which were many embroidered waistcoats, and other costly but old-fashioned garments; with swords of polished steel, and cockit hats, and a parapharnalia sufficient to have furnished the best playhouse with garbs for all the ancient characters of the tragedies and comedies.

When I was sitting at my dinner, there arose a great tooting of horns in the street, most fearful it was to hear them; and I thought that an alarm must be somewhere; so ringing the bell, Mrs Damask came into the room, saying it was but the evening newspapers, with something about the coronation, the which raised my curiosity, and I thought that surely the said something must be past ordinaire, to occasion such a rippet; and, therefore, I sent out and paid a whole shilling for one of the papers, but it contained not a word of satisfaction. It, however, had the effect of causing me, when I had finished my chack of din ner, to resolve to go out to inspect the preparations that were making at Westminster Hall and the Abbey. Accordingly, Mrs Damask telling me how I was to direct myself, I sallied forth in quest of the same; and after getting into that street called the Strand, found that I had nothing to do but flow in the stream of the people; and I soon made an observe, that the crowd in London are far more considerate than with us at Glasgow-the folk going one way, keep methodically after one another; and those coming the other way do the same, by a natural instinct of civilization, so that no confusion ensues, and none of that dinging, and bumping, and driving, that happens in the Trongate, especially on a Wednes day, enough to make the soberest man wud at the misleart stupidity of the folk, particularly of the farmers and their kintra wives, that have creels with eggs and butter on their arms.

On entering the multitude, I was conveyed by them to the Cross, where there is an effigy of a king, no unlike, in some points, our King William; and winding down to the left, I saw divers great houses and stately fabrics, of various dimensions, suited to their

VOL. X.

Seeing such a show of bravery, I stoppit to look; and falling into a converse with a gentleman, he told me when I said that surely Mr Solomon did not expect to get many customers for such old shop-keepers that what I saw were court dresses, and were lent with swords and buckles, and all other necessary appurtenances to the bargain, for five guineas a-piece to gentlemen going to the levees and drawing-rooms, and that they were there displayed for hire to those who intended to see the ceremonies in Westminster Hall. This I thought a very economical fashion, but it did not make so much for the cloth trade as the old custom of folks wearing their own apparel, and it seemed to me that it would have been more for the advantage of business had the Privy Counsellors, and those who had the direction of the Coronation, ordered and commanded all gentlemen to wear new dresses of a new fashion, instead of those curiosities of antiqui ty, that make honest people look like the pictures of Philip, Earl of Chesterfield, Knight of the Garter, which may be seen in one of the volumes of my very old Magazine, wherein there is a full and particular account of the late coronation, the which was the cause of my bringing the book in my trunk from Glasgow, in order to enable me to make comparisons.

I had not travelled far towards the Abbey of Westminster, when I had good reason to see and note, that, considering all things, it was very lucky for me to have got to London when I did, for there was such a vast preparation that it could not, I think, have been in the King's power, with any sort of respect for his people, to have postponed his royal Coronation. The sight,

B

indeed, was such as is not to be told hundreds of men were as busy as bees working at their bikes, building lafts and galleries for spectators, by which the owners expected to make a fortune, it being certain that money at the time of a coronation, as the old song sings “Flies like the dust in a summer's day.” However, there were sedate persons among the crowd, with whom I entered into discourse; and they told me, as indeed the matter came truly to pass, that the Babel-builders of the scaffolds were over-doing the business, for, that although great prices for seats may have been given at the old King's solemnity, the like would not happen again, the space now around the Abbey, and all the way the procession was to march, being greatly enlarged compared to what it was in former times, and so capable of accommoda ting a far greater multitude than of old.

This observe made me look about me; and to touch here and there on the generalities of the subject to other persons, who, having a civil look, encouraged me, though a stranger, to break my mind to them.

I fell in, among the rest, with a most creditable elderly man, something of a Quaker it would seem, by the sobriety of his attire, the colour was a brown mixture,-and he said to me that he thought the Coronation a most ill-timed proceeding, to which I replied that surely in a season of great distress throughout the kingdom, it was not well counselled.

"I don't speak of THE DISTRESSES," said he, in a dry manner, "because that is what should be--the landlords in parliament cannot expect to have high rents and regular paying tenants if they reduce their customers to half pay. But it is the Queen, sir-the Queen's case is what makes it most imprudent-all these poor people, with their scaffolds and booths, will be ruined by it-nobody will come to see the Coronation, for it is feared there will be a riot."

you that have ruined the Queen's cause What have you to do with her guilt or innocence, you-baggage-you?'

The woman looked at him very severely; and as I was only a stranger in London, I thought it best to make nimble heels from the scene to another heard her at him, banning the faintpart, and before I was well away I heartedness of him and all his like, for false friends to the queen.

The next I spoke to was a young genteel man, with a most methodical gravat, prejinctly tied, and I inquired at him what was his opinion. "It will be a wery fine thing; his Majesty, you see, vill go halong that there platform, vith trumpets, and the ouse of peers; then he vill come by this ere place, and get into the Habbey there, where the Harshbishop vill hanoint in vith the hoil, and put the crown hon is ead. Then he vill come back; hand hout that rection yonder, the champion, hall in armour, vill ride into the all, and challenge to single combat his Majesty's henemies."

"God bless you, sir, you are one of the protectors of innocence, I can see that," cried a randy-like woman, with a basket selling grozets, overhearing our conversation." Get about your own affairs, hussy!" exclaimed my sober looking friend-" It is such as

"You may say that, now that Boney's gone," cried a pawkey young lad, who was the companion of this gentle tleman; “but, it's my opinion, the whole will be a most confounded bore. Give me a review for a show. How can old men, judges, and privy counsellors, with gouty toes, and shaking heads, make else than a caricature of solemnities ?"

66

Very just," interposed a man in a suit of shabby black, of a clerical cut. "The ceremony has survived the uses which gave it sanctity in the eyes of the people. It will now pass like a pa geant of the theatre, and be no longer impressive on its own account, but merely on account of the superior quantity of the silk and lace that may be shewn in the dresses. Had the spirit of the age been consulted by his Majesty, the thing would have been different. It would have been shewn in some royal act of grace and favour, such as the foundation of a noble institution, where courses of lectures might be given by men of genius and literature, qualified to do justice to the topics." I supposed the gentleman was a professor of lecturing himself; and dreading that he might open on me, I walked to another part of the edificial preparations, where I met with a man of a very sound understanding, who

described to me how the floor of the platform was to be covered with broad cloth, which both of us agreed was a most commendable encouragement of trade, on the part of his most gracious majesty; and we thought, likewise, that the expence, both by the King, and the spectators, was a spreading of money, that would augment the means of spending to those employed, and, through them, give encouragement to the dealers in all desirable commodities. The very outlay for ale and strong drink, will encourage the brewers, and the colonies, and the traders in wines, from which farmers and merchants will draw profit; and all traders so heartened, will increase the braws of their wives and families, to the great advantage of the manufacturers and those in the fancy line.

While we were thus speaking on the beneficial consequences of the coronation, a most termagant rioter came up, bawling one minute, "The Queen for ever!" and then turning his tongue in his cheek, and roaring, "God save the King!" I really thought the rank and dignity of both their majesties suffered greatly by this proceeding, and I wonder the ministers did not, by a proclamation, forbid all such irrever ence anent the characters of the King and Queen. Saying this to a stiff and dry man, of a pale metaphysical look, and a spare habit of body, he said to me," that the coronation did not concern personalities, but was a solemn recognition of the monarchical principle in the Constitution, and that they were vulgar fools who considered it as a custom, which any sensible man confounded with two such mere puppets as the individuals we call King and Queen." Surely this was the saying of a dungeon of wit, and I would fain have gone deeper into the matter with him; but just as we were on the edge of something of a very instructive na ture, a gang of rankringing enemies of blackguard callants came bawling among us, and I was glad to shove my self off in another direction.

two, roaring full of strangers and wayfaring people, within the very bounds and precincts of the coronation palace! I there forgathered with a batch of decent looking folk, moralizing on the scene. Some thought the booths and benches were very handsome; and certainly such of them as were hung with the red durant, and serge and worsted fringes, might deserve a commendation, as they could not but prove to the profit of business; but as for those that were ornamented with paper and paintings, though they might cast a show of greater splendour, they were undoubtedly of a very gaudy nature, and not at all suitable to the solemn occasion of a Royal Coronation.

When I had, by this itinerancy of the preparations, pacified my curiosity, I returned homeward to the house of Mrs Damask to get a cup of tea, and to consult with her as to what was best to be done about getting admittance to the Hall or the Abbey; for by this time it was growing dark, and there was but the Wednesday between and the day fixed, which made me resolve, as I did upon her advice, to postpone all serious thoughts of business until after the ceremony,-people's heads being turned, and nobody in a state to talk with sobriety on any other matter or thing.

The first place where I again fell in with other conversible visitants was near to a side-door of WestminsterHall, where I was greatly chagrined to find two public-houses within the same -what would our provost think of even one change-house within the entrance of the new court-houses? and here were

While we were thus conversing, and the tea getting ready, a chaise, with a footman behind it, came to the door, and a knocking ensued with the knocker that was just an alarm to hear,— and who should this be but that worthy man Doctor Pringle, in his gudeson's, the Captain Sabre's, carriage, come to assist me how I could best see the show. "Knowing," said he, "Mr Duffle, that you are a man of letters, and may be inclined to put out a book on the Coronation, I couldna but take a pleasure in helping you forward to particulars. Mrs Pringle herself would have come with me; but this being the first night with her dochter Rachel, who is not so near her time as we expectit, she couldna think of leaving her, so I came by myself to let you know, that we have a mean in our gude-son to get tickets baith to see the Hall and the Abbey, so you may set yourself easy on that head. But, Mr Duffle, there's a great impediment, I doubt, to be overcome; for it's ordered by authority, that gentlemen aro

to be in Court dresses, and I fear ye'll think that o'er costly, being so far from your own shop, where you could get the cloth at the first hand; over and above which, the Coronation is so near, that I doubt it is not in the power of nature for any tailor to make the garb in time."

I need not say how well pleased I was with this complimentary attention of Doctor Pringle; and when I told him of Mr Solomon and the old-fashioned clothes, we had a most jocose laugh about the same; and he said, that, as soon as I had taken my tea, we would go together in the Captain's carriage to Mr Solomon's shop, and get a suit of Court clothes for me. As for the Doctor, he stood in no need of such vanity; having brought up his gown and bands with him, in case of being obligated to preach any charity sermons, as he was in his legacy visit to London, and he was told, that clergymen were to be admitted in their gowns. "Indeed," said the Doctor, "Rachel wrote to her mother of this when she pressed us to come to see the Coronation, which was the cause of Mrs Pringle putting the gown in the portmanty; but, you know, if I preach in another's pulpit, there is never an objection to lend either gown or bands."

The Doctor then went to the window, and, opening the same, said to the coachman, that he might put up his horses for a season at a changehouse, and come back in half an hour; but I could discern that the flunkies were draughty fellows, though they seemed to obey him; for when they, at the end of the time, came back with the carriage for us, the horses were reeking hot, and when we stepped in, to go to Mr Solomon's at Charing Cross, the first thing the Doctor laid his hand on was a lady's ridicule, and how it could have come into the carriage was past all comprehension. But the footman took charge of it, and said he knew the owner, so the Doctor gave it to him; but when I came to reflect at leisure on this, I thought it was very soft of the Doctor to give it up without an examination.

By the time we got to Mr Solomon's shop, it was full of strangers, on the same errand as ourselves, and it was long before we could be served. At last, however, the Doctor and me were

persuaded by the man to take a skyblue silk suit, richly flowered, with an embroidered white satin waistcoat, adorned with glass buttons. I would fain myself have had one of the plain cloth sort, such as I saw the generality of gentlemen preferring, but I was overly persuaded, particularly by the man offering me the loan for a guinea less than the others were let for. The Doctor, too, in this was partly to blame; for he greatly insisted, that the gayer the apparel the more proper it was for the occasion,-although I told him, that a sky-blue silk dress, with great red roses and tulips, and glass buttons, was surely not in any thing like a be coming concordance with the natural douceness of my character. However, persuaded I was; and we brought the dress away,-sword, and cockit-hat, with all the other parapharnalia,—and the Doctor and me had great sport at my lodgings about the spurtle-sword, for we were long of finding out the way to put it on,-for it was very incommodious to me on the left side, as I have been all my days Katy-handed. Indeed, we were obligated to call up both Mrs Damask and the footman to instruct us; and I thought the fellow would have gone off at the head with laughing, at seeing and hearing the Doctor's perplexity and mine. However, we came to a right understanding at last; and the Doctor wishing me good-night went home to his gudeson's, with a promise to come down to me betimes in the morning.

After he was departed, I began to consider of the borrowed dress, and I was not at all satisfied with myself for the gaiety thereof; I thought also that it must surely be one very much out of fashion, or it would never have been so much pressed upon me at a moderate rate. But Mrs Damask thought it most handsome, so submitting my own judgment to the opinion of others, I reasoned myself into contentment, and getting a mutchkin of London porter in, and a partan, which to me was dainties, I made a competent supper, and retired to my bed, where I slept as comfortable as could be till past eight o'clock next morning, when I rose and had my breakfast, as I had bargained with Mrs Damask, for the which I was to pay her at the rate of seven shillings per week, a price not out of the way,

« PreviousContinue »