London Souvenirs

London Souvenirs

Author:
Charles William Heckethorn
Author:
Charles William Heckethorn
Format:
epub
language:
English

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Author: Heckethorn, Charles William
London (England) — Description and travel
London (England) — History — 1800-1950
London Souvenirs

LONDON SOUVENIRS

BY

CHARLES WILLIAM HECKETHORN

AUTHOR OF

‘THE SECRET SOCIETIES OP ALL AGES,’

‘LINCOLN’S INN FIELDS,’ ETC.

LONDON

CHATTO & WINDUS

1899

CONTENTS

I. GAMBLING-CLUBS AND HIGH PLAY

II.
WITTY WOMEN AND PRETTY WOMEN

III.
OLD LONDON COFFEE-HOUSES

IV.
OLD M.P.S AND SOME OF THEIR SAYINGS

V.
FAMOUS OLD ACTORS

VI.
OLD JUDGES AND SOME OF THEIR SAYINGS

VII.
SOME FAMOUS LONDON ACTRESSES

VIII.
QUEER CLUBS OF FORMER DAYS

IX.
CURIOUS STORIES OF THE STOCK EXCHANGE

X.
WITS AND BEAUX OF OLD LONDON SOCIETY

XI.
LONDON SEEN THROUGH FOREIGN SPECTACLES

XII.
OLD LONDON TAVERNS AND TEA-GARDENS

       I.
THE GALLERIED TAVERNS OF OLD LONDON

      II.
OLD LONDON TEA-GARDENS

XIII.
WILLIAM PATERSON AND THE BANK OF ENGLAND

XIV.
THE OLD DOCTORS

XV.
THE LOST RIVERS OF LONDON

XVI.
ROGUES ASSORTED

XVII.
BARS AND BARRISTERS

XVIII.
THE SUBLIME BEEFSTEAKERS AND THE KIT-KAT AND ROTA CLUBS

XIX.
HAMPTON COURT PALACE AND ITS MASTERS

LONDON SOUVENIRS

I.

GAMBLING-CLUBS AND HIGH PLAY.

Philosophers may argue, and moralists preach,
the former against the folly, and the latter
against the wickedness of gambling, but, as may
be expected, their remonstrances pass but as a gentle
breeze over the outwardly placid ocean of play, causing
the fishes—the familiars of the gambling world—languidly
to raise their heads, and mildly to inquire:
‘What’s all that row about?’ Gambling is one of the
strongest passions in the human breast, and no warning,
no exhibition of fatal examples, will ever stop the
indulgence in the excitement it procures. It assumes
many phases; in all men have undergone disastrous
experiences, and yet they repeat the dangerous and
usually calamitous experiments. In no undertaking
has so much money been lost as in mining; prizes have
occasionally been drawn, but at such rare intervals as to
be cautions rather than encouragements; and yet, even
at the present day, with all the experience of past
failures, sanguine speculators fill empty shafts with
their gold, which is quickly fished up by the greedy
promoters.

Some of the now most respectable West End clubs
originally were only gambling-hells. They are not so
now; but the improvement this would seem to imply is
apparent only. Our manners have improved, but not
our morals; the table-legs wear frilled trousers now,
but the legs are there all the same, even the blacklegs.
But it is the past more than the present we wish to
speak of.

Early in the last century gaming was so prevalent
that in one night’s search the Leet’s Jury of
Westminster discovered, and afterwards presented to the
justices, no fewer than thirty-five gambling-houses.
The Society for the Reformation of Manners published
a statement of their proceedings, by which it appeared
that in the year beginning with December 1, 1724, to the
same date in 1725, they had prosecuted 2,506 persons
for keeping disorderly and gaming houses; and for
thirty-four years the total number of their prosecutions
amounted to the astounding figure of 91,899. In 1728
the following note was issued by the King’s order: ‘It
having been represented to his Majesty that such felons
and their accomplices are greatly encouraged and
harboured by persons keeping night-houses … and that
the gaming-houses … much contribute to the
corruption of the morals of those of an inferior rank
… his Majesty has commanded me to recommend it, in his
name, in the strongest manner to the Justices of the
Peace to employ their utmost care and vigilance in the
preventing and suppressing of these disorders, etc.’

This warning was then necessary, though as early as
1719 an order for putting in execution an old statute
of Henry VIII. had been issued to all victuallers, and
others whom it might concern. The order ran: ‘That
none shall keep or maintain any house or place of
unlawful games, on pain of 40s. for every day, of forfeiting
their recognisance, and of being suppressed; that none
shall use or haunt such places, on pain of 6s. 8d. for
every offence; and that no artificer, or his journeyman,
husbandman, apprentice, labourer, mariner, fisherman,
waterman, or serving-man shall play at tables, tennis,
dice, cards, bowls, clash, coiting, loggating, or any other
unlawful game, out of Christmas, or then out of their
master’s house or presence, on pain of 20s.’

There were thus many attempts at controlling the
conduct of the lower orders, but the gentry set them a
bad example. The Cocoa-Tree Club, the Tory
chocolate-house of Queen Anne’s reign, at No. 64, St. James’s
Street, was a regular gambling-hell. In the evening of
a Court Drawing-room in 1719, a number of
gentlemen had a dispute over hazard at that house; the
quarrel became general, and, as they fought with their
swords, three gentlemen were mortally wounded, and
the affray was only ended by the interposition of the
Royal Guards, who were compelled to knock the parties
down with the butt-ends of their muskets indiscriminately,
as entreaties and commands were disregarded.
Walpole, in his correspondence, relates: ‘Within this
week there has been a cast at hazard at the Cocoa-Tree,
the difference of which amounted to £180,000.
Mr. O’Birne, an Irish gamester, had won £100,000 of a
young Mr. Harvey, of Chigwell, just started from a
midshipman into an estate by his elder brother’s death.
O’Birne said: “You can never pay me.” “I can,” said
the youth; “my estate will sell for the debt.” “No,”
said O’Birne, “I will win £10,000; you shall throw for
the odd £90,000.” They did, and Harvey won.’ It is
not on record whether he took the lesson to heart.
The house was, in 1746, turned into a club, but its
reputation was not improved; bribery, high play, and
foul play continued to be common in it.

Another chocolate-house was White’s, now White’s
Club, St. James’s Street. As a chocolate-house it was
established about 1698, near the bottom of the west
side of St. James’s Street; it was burnt down in 1773.
Plate VI. of Hogarth’s ‘Rake’s Progress’ shows a room
full of players at White’s, so intent upon play as neither
to see the flames nor hear the watchmen bursting into
the room. It was indeed a famous gambling and
betting club, a book for entering wagers always lying
on the table; the play was frightful. Once a man
dropped down dead at the door, and was carried in;
the club immediately made bets whether he was dead
or only in a fit; and when they were going to bleed
him the wagerers for his death interposed, saying it
would affect the fairness of the bet. Walpole, who
tells the story, hints that it is invented. Many a
highwayman—one is shown in Hogarth’s picture above
referred to—there took his chocolate or threw his main
before starting for business. There Lord Chesterfield
gamed; Steele dated all his love news in the
Tatler
from White’s, which was known as the rendezvous of
infamous sharpers and noble cullies, and bets were laid
to the effect that Sir William Burdett, one of its
members, would be the first baronet who would be
hanged. The gambling went on till dawn of day; and
Pelham, when Prime Minister, was not ashamed to
divide his time between his official table and the piquet
table at White’s. General Scott was a very cautious
player, avoiding all indulgence in excesses at table,
and thus managed to win at White’s no less than
£200,000, so that when his daughter, Joanna, married
George Canning he was able to give her a fortune of
£100,000.

Another club founded specially for gambling was
Almack’s, the original Brooks’s, which was opened in
Pall Mall in 1764. Some of its members were
Macaronis, the fops of the day, famous for their long
curls and eye-glasses. ‘At Almack’s,’ says Walpole,
‘which has taken the
pas of White’s … the young
men of the age lose £10,000, £15,000, £20,000 in an
evening.’ The play at this club was only for rouleaux
of £50 each, and generally there was £10,000 in gold
on the table. The gamesters began by pulling off their
embroidered clothes, and put on frieze garments, or
turned their coats inside out for luck. They put on
pieces of leather to save their lace ruffles; and to guard
their eyes from the light, and to prevent tumbling
their hair, wore high-crowned straw hats with broad
brims, and sometimes masks to conceal their emotions.
Almack’s afterwards was known as the ‘Goose-Tree’
Club—a rather significant name—and Pitt was one of
its most constant frequenters, and there met his
adherents. Gibbon also was a member, when the
club was still Almack’s—which, indeed, was the name
of the founder and original proprietor of the club.

Another gaming-club was Brooks’s, which at first
was formed by Almack and afterwards by Brooks, a
wine-merchant and money-lender. The club was opened
in 1778, and some of the original rules are curious:
’21. No gaming in the eating-room, except tossing up
for reckonings, on penalty of paying the whole bill of
the members present. 30. Any member of this society
that shall become a candidate for any other club
(old White’s excepted) shall be
ipso facto excluded.
40. Every person playing at the new quinze-table shall
keep fifty guineas before him. 41. Every person
playing at the twenty-guinea table shall keep no less than
twenty guineas before him.’ According to Captain
Gronow, play at Brooks’s was even higher than at
White’s. Faro and macao were indulged in to an
extent which enabled a man to win or to lose a
considerable fortune in one night. George Harley
Drummond, a partner in the bank of that name, played
only once in his life at White’s, and lost £20,000 to
Brummell. This event caused him to retire from the
banking-house. Lord Carlisle and Charles Fox lost
enormous sums at Brooks’s.

At Tom’s Coffee House, in Russell Street, Covent
Garden, there was playing at piquet, and the club
consisting of seven hundred noblemen and gentlemen, many
of whom belonged to the gay society of that day (the
middle of the last century), we may be sure the play
was high.

Arthur’s Club, in St. James’s Street, so named after
its founder (who died in 1761), was a famous gambling
centre in its day. A nobleman of the highest position
and influence in society was detected in cheating at
cards, and after a trial, which did not terminate in his
favour, he died of a broken heart. This happened in
1836.

The Union, which was founded in this century, was a
regular gambling-club. It was first held at what is
now the Ordnance Office, Pall Mall, and subsequently
in the house afterwards occupied by the Bishop of
Winchester.

In the early days of this century the most notorious
gambling-club was Crockford’s, in St. James’s Street.
Crockford originally was a fishmonger, and occupied the
old bulk-shop west of Temple Bar. But, having made
money by betting, ‘he gave up,’ as a recent writer on
‘The Gambling World’ says, ‘selling soles and salmon,
and went in for catching fish, confining his operations
to gudgeons and flat-fish’; or, in other words, he
established a gambling-house, first by taking over Watier’s
old club-house, where he set up a hazard bank, and won
a great deal of money; he then separated from his
partner, who had a bad year and failed. Crockford
removed to St. James’s Street, where he built the
magnificent club-house which bore his name. It was
erected at a cost of upwards of £100,000, and, in its
vast proportions and palatial decorations, surpassed
anything of the kind ever seen in London. To support
such an establishment required a large income; yet
Crockford made it, for the highest play was encouraged
at his card-tables, but especially at the hazard-tables,
where Crockford nightly took his stand, prepared for
all comers. And he was successful, and became a
millionaire. When he died he left £700,000, and he
had lost as much in mining and other speculations. His
death was hastened, it is said, by excessive anxiety over
his bets on the turf. He retired from the management
of the club in 1840, and died in 1844. The club was
soon after closed, and after a few years’ interval was
reopened as the Naval, Military, and Civil Service Club.
It was then converted into dining-rooms, called the
Wellington. Later on it was taken by a joint-stock
company as an auction-room, and now it is again a
club-house, known as the Devonshire Club.

We referred above to Watier’s Club. It was established
in 1807, at the instigation of the Prince of Wales,
and high play was the chief pursuit of its members.
‘Princes and nobles,’ says Timbs in his ‘Curiosities of
London,’ ‘lost or gained fortunes amongst themselves.’ But
the pace was too fast. The club did not last under
its original patronage, and it was then, when it was
moribund, taken over by Crockford. At this club, also,
macao was the favourite game, as at Brooks’s.

One of the most objectionable results of promiscuous
gambling is the disreputable company into which it
often throws a gentleman.

‘That Marquis, who is now familiar grown
With every reprobate about the town….
Now, sad transition! all his lordship’s nights
Are passed with blacklegs and with parasites..
The rage of gaming and the circling glass
Eradicate distinction in each class;
For he who scarce a dinner can afford
Is equal in importance with my lord.’
 

This is just what happened when gambling-hells were
openly flourishing in London, and what happens now
when gambling-clubs abound, and are almost daily
raided by the police, when some actually respectable
people are found mixed up with the rascaldom which
supports these clubs. A perfect mania seems to have
seized the lower orders of our day to gamble; but
formerly, for instance, in Walpole’s time, in the latter
half of the last century, the upper classes were the worst
offenders, of which the just-mentioned statesman and
epistolary chronicler of small-beer, which, however, by
long keeping has acquired a strong and lasting flavour,
gives us many proofs. ‘Lord Sandwich,’ he reports,
‘goes once or twice a week to hunt with the Duke [of
Cumberland], and, as the latter has taken a turn of
gaming, Sandwich, to make his court—and fortune—carries
a box and dice in his pocket; and so they throw
a main whenever the hounds are at fault, upon every
green hill and under every green tree.’ Five years later,
at a magnificent ball and supper at Bedford House,
‘the Duke was playing at hazard with a great heap of
gold before him. Somebody said he looked like the
prodigal son and the fatted calf both.’ Under such
circumstances it could not fail that swindlers
par
excellence
sometimes found their way among the royal
and noble gamblers. There was a Sir William Burdett,
whose name had the honour of being inscribed in the
betting-room at White’s as the subject of a wager that
he would be the first baronet who would be hanged.
He and a lady, ‘dressed foreign, as a Princess of the
House of Brandenburg,’ cheated Lord Castledurrow
(Baron Ashbrook) and Captain Rodney out of a
handsome sum at faro. The noble victim met the Baronet
at Ranelagh, and addressed him thus: ‘Sir William,
here is the sum I think I lost last night. Since then I
have heard that you are a professed pickpocket, and
therefore I desire to have no further acquaintance with
you.’ The Baronet took the money with a respectful
bow, and then asked his Lordship the further favour to
set him down at Buckingham Gate, and without further
ceremony jumped into the coach. Walpole writes to
Mann, in 1750, that ‘Jemmy Lumley last week had a
party of whist at his own house: the combatants, Lucy
Southwell, that curtseys like a bear, Mrs. Bijean, and
Mrs. Mackenzy. They played from six in the evening
till twelve next day, Jemmy never winning one rubber,
and rising a loser of £2,000…. He fancied himself
cheated and would not pay. However, the bear had no
share in his evil surmises … and he promised a dinner
at Hampstead to Lucy and her sister. As he went to
the rendezvous his chaise was stopped, and he was advised
by someone not to proceed. But proceed he did, and
in the garden he found Mrs. Mackenzy. She asked him
whether he was going to pay, and, on his declining to
do so, the fair virago took a horsewhip from beneath
her hoop, and fell upon him with the utmost vehemence.’

Members of clubs were fully aware of the nefariousness
of their devotion to gambling. When a waiter at
Arthur’s Club was taken up for robbery, George Selwyn
said: ‘What a horrid idea he will give of us to the
people in Newgate?’ Certes, some of the highwaymen
in that prison were not such robbers and scoundrels as
some of the aristocratic members of those clubs. When,
in 1750, the people got frightened about an earthquake
in London, predicted to happen in that year, ‘Lady
Catherine Pelham,’ Walpole tells us, ‘Lady James
Arundell, and Lord and Lady Galway … go this
evening to an inn ten miles out of town, where they are
going to play at brag till five in the morning, and then
come back, I suppose, to look for the bones of their
husbands and families under the rubbish.’ When the
rulers of the nation on such an occasion, or any other
occasion of public terror, possibly caused by their own
mismanagement of public affairs, hypocritically and
most impertinently ordered a day of fasting and humiliation,
the gambling-houses used to be filled with officials
and members of Parliament, who thus had a day off.

There was one famous gambling-house we find we
have not yet mentioned, viz., Shaver’s Hall, which
occupied the whole of the southern side of Coventry
Street, from the Haymarket to Hedge Lane (now
Oxenden Street), and derived its name from the barber
of Lord Pembroke, who built it out of his earnings.
Attached to it was a bowling-green, which sloped down
to the south. The place was built about the year 1650,
and the tennis-court belonging to it till recently might
still be seen in St. James’s Street.

II.

WITTY WOMEN AND PRETTY WOMEN.

Certain waves of sentiment or action, or both
combined, have at various times passed over the
face of European society. A thousand years ago
the Old Continent went madly crusading to snatch the
Holy Sepulchre from the grasp of the pagan Sultan,
who, sick man as he is, still holds it. The movement
had certain advantages: it cleared Europe of a go

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