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That is to say, at the New Cock and the Cheshire Cheese its extrema vestigia may be traced. But that is all.
The above celebrities whom we have named as frequenters of Dick's did not all dine there. But many of them were members of a club which met there every night for nine years, known as the Rambler. The club session was from the 1st of November to about the middle of June, and for these eight months the members, who never numbered more than two- or three-andtwenty, and seldom mustered on any one night more than nine or ten, continued to meet every evening after dining downstairs in the coffee-room without ever getting tired of each other. Like Addison, the Rambler "met his party" at Dick's, and we fear, too, that, like Addison, he often sat late into the night. This goodly fellowship was broken up about thirty years ago; but less than ten years ago about a dozen survivors were found to meet together at dinner, but, alas! not at Dick's. That historic temple of Bacchus and the
Muses had fallen upon evil days. Its successive stages of decadence reminded me of the well-known life of a racehorse, "The High-mettled Racer," who, after undergoing various indignities, died between the shafts of a dung-cart. However, the house is now pulled down. The crooked passage down which so many brilliant wits and scholars had lurched into Fleet Street is dust and rubbish. Not long ago we took a last look at the old coffee-room window, now dark and dirty, from Hare Court, and thought of the many merry meetings we had known there; of the many genial comrades who started on the race of life at the same time as ourselves, "fellows of infinite jest," who are now in their graves, and spared one long-drawn sigh for the fate of the dear old tavern whose glories had ended so ignobly.
Another club of much the same kind, which met, however, only once a-week, had its home at one of the Covent Garden taverns. Here came Professor Masson, Samuel Lucas of the
Times,' Shirley Brooks, Hepworth Dixon, Sir Charles Taylor, and others whose names I have forgotten. Another such was the Fielding, but I don't know whether a club of this nature is entitled to a place in any sketch of tavern life, because of this dinner or supper was an essential part; and I don't think "The Club" either dined, supped, or drank anything to speak of. Many other clubs of the same description might be mentioned, but they hardly come within the scope of this article.
But the Cave of Harmony and the Back Kitchen deserve more than a passing notice. The first represented Evans's and the second the Cider Cellars. Both presented many of the features of genuine tavern life. Bardolph, described by Thackeray in "A Night's Pleasure," must have been a familiar figure in the taverns of the eighteenth century. He had a great contempt for the majority of the company, as being ignorant of Greek; and with some reason, as the old wretch, says Thackeray, could still turn a slang song into Greek iambics, or a police report into the language of Herodotus.
The waiters knew when to bring him his fresh noggin, and after five or six of these he would reel home to his chambers in the Temple, where he lived in solitary bachelorhood, sustained to the last by the proud consciousness of that superiority to the vulgar herd which his classical scholarship conferred upon him. Bardolph was not an imaginary character. The present writer has seen him. He was a fellow of a college, a double first, and a highly cultivated man in general. Yet this was the life he led, and this was the kind of man for whom the tavern life of the last century was made.
Both at the Cider Cellars and at Evans's the company, we needn't say, was very mixed. The former was rather more patronised by the "young swell," who used to come there in evening dress from "Lady Whiston's"; the latter by journalists, actors, and dramatists.
Not but what there was a mixture of all four both at the Cave and the Kitchen. We have seen Lord Hopetoun and "Cherry Angel" come into the Cider Cellars at two o'clock in the morning to listen to such well-known moral songs as "Sam Hall" or "Joe Muggins," while at the same table would be the lawyer's clerk, described by Dickens, who "goes half-price to the Adelphi, dissipates majestically at the Cider Cellars afterwards, and is a dirty caricature of the fashion which expired six months ago." As for the supper, there was more variety at the Cellars. I remember in particular the salmi of wild-duck one used to get there. Ye gods, how good it was! If we remember right, at Evans's the menu was limited to steaks, chops, and kidneys; and here might be seen Buckstone, Sergeant Ballantyne, poor Frank Talfourd, Billy Hale, Albert Smith, and other birds of the same feather, it being considered almost as great a privilege to sit at "the Ser-. geant's" table as it was to be admitted to another Sergeant's room by the sleek Mr Mallard. At the Cider Cellars Colonel Newcome, who remembered it a very different kind of place, volunteered to sing "Wapping Old Stairs," which was listened to quite respectfully. Private individuals were allowed to sing at either place if they chose; and I remember a literary gentleman of Scottish extraction striking up "Bonnie Dundee at Evans's, which he sang at the top of his voice to a tune of his own, to the great amuse
ment of the whole room, and Paddy Green in particular, who never offered to interrupt him.
It was a good thing to see Evans's some forty years ago at the time of the cattle show. The farmers took possession of the place; and to see their jolly round red faces on the broad grin over some decidedly broad ballad, or nudging one another when anything particularly racy caught their ears, was to the student of mankind a treat. But all this kind of thing is quite over now. The Cider Cellars have long ago emptied their last barrel, and Evans's, instead of dying game-qualis erat-like its contemporary, degenerated into something little better than a music-hall. In spite of the undesirable quality of the songs with which Mr Sharp, or Mr Ross, or Mr Moody were requested to oblige the company, we have a kindly feeling for these old taverns still, where, as Lady Agnes Foker said, you met "all the wits and authors, people who are not in society, you know, but whom it is a great privilege and pleasure for Harry to meet." For Lady Agnes was of the same period as Major Pendennis, in whose time, as he expressed himself, "poetry and genius and all that kind of thing were devilish disreputable." So they took refuge at the Cave of Harmony.
In our notice of Fleet Street taverns we have as yet said nothing of the Rainbow. This was originally one of the old coffee-houses, and is mentioned
by Macaulay in his account of them at the time of the Revolution. In the 16th No. of the 'Spectator,' written by Addison, there is mention of the Rainbow, but the allusions to it in the eighteenth-century essayists are extremely rare, and its career as a modern dininghouse dates from 1820.
We have found Mr Callow's a useful book of reference; but, as might be expected, there are some omissions in it, and it is rather a handbook like Peter Cunningham's than any account of tavern life. But it is very well done, and should henceforth be the standard work upon the subject. We fear, however, that the rising generation, nurtured in clubs, and "wallowing," as Thackeray says, in easy-chairs, will not retain much interest in the old convivial world of which we have here given a few glimpses. All the more reason why this should be done while there are still some survivors who can appreciate them. With the old tavern life have disappeared its riotous Bohemianism and reckless orgies: "the gipsy and the Mohawk" have vanished from the literary profession; the punch-bowl and the dicebox are seldom either seen or heard in a house of public entertainment; but with these evils have disappeared also a good deal of hearty good-fellowship, of frank sociability and fearless originality, on whose grave, while we welcome the salutary change, "one human tear may drop and be forgiven." HARE COURT.
THE WAR OPERATIONS IN SOUTH AFRICA.—II.
BY A MILITARY CONTRIBUTOR.
THE "theatre of the war has, from the commencement of the campaign, been situate in northern Natal; but towards the end of November it had extended to Cape Colony, where it touches the boundary of the Free State on the west, with the entire breadth of that country, about 300 miles in extent, separating it from Natal.
It had been apparent from the first that the strategy of the campaign would move in this direction. Cape Town was the first port of call for the transports; there was direct railway communication between it and Kimberley or Pretoria, which, although it was certain to be interrupted the farther it was from Cape Town, would still be available from thence to within almost striking distance of the Transvaal-say, for 500 miles. The mountains which enclose the Free State on the east are left behind. The only obstacle then between Cape Colony and the Free State is the Orange river, a mighty flood at times, now low, flowing through several snag-encumbered channels, between great banks of sand and mud, spanned by substantial bridges which, if they were found to have been destroyed, could soon be rendered passable for troops.
The country through which the Orange river flows is flat, stony veldt, with numerous scat
tered koppjes: it has been compared with the Soudan, the chief difference being that the one is stony sand, the other stony veldt. Farms are scattered widely, each house substantially built, surrounded by gum-trees. From the southern boundary of the Free State, as far north as Pretoria, the veldt is well adapted for the movements of a British force provided with cavalry and field artillery: the transport, which would be mules and oxen drawing light waggons, could move parallel to the column almost everywhere, and subsistence for the cattle is invariably to be found by the wayside. It is, on the other hand, unsuited to Boer tactics, which depend largely on the existence of boulders. An advance through the Free State would be self-supporting to a large extent: the farms there are larger and better stocked than are those in the northwest of Cape Colony or in the Transvaal. Again, from a strategic point, an advance from the west, threatening Bloemfontein, would be almost certain to detach a large number of Boers round Ladysmith; for with Bloemfontein in our hands we should be on the direct line to Pretoria, 250 miles distant, and in a position to cut the communications with their base, the country before us being level and open, with no obstacle except the
Vaal river, which is crossed by many "drifts."
The intention to move a column by this western route was carefully concealed from the public, until it leaked out that a relief column had arrived at Orange River Station on the 8th November, and that Gough had found the Boers in force, with some guns, in a strong position seven miles east of Belmont; and having gained a knowledge of their strength and dispositions, had retired to Orange River Station with the loss of Colonel Keith - Falconer, who was shot while making a sketch, three officers and three privates killed or wounded. Orange River Station commands many points of strategical importance besides the bridge over the Orange river, and had been gradually formed into a military camp which may be considered the key of the western border.
On the 12th November General Methuen arrived, and on the 21st inst. moved out with a light flying column, to effect the relief of Kimberley, seventy-five miles north. No tinned rations were carried, fresh meat being relied upon during the march, which usually began at 3 A.M., breakfast on cocoa, pitch camp near the best water, and dine when the transport arrived. It was this column that was destined to exercise a considerable influence on coming events.
The night of 21st they slept at Witteputs, eight miles from Orange river, and continued the next morning in the direction of Belmont.
At an early hour on the 23rd inst. the division moved off towards the Boer position, and after a five-mile nightmarch, the Guards Brigade, which was leading, came upon it. They found the Boers on a line of koppjes, a few miles east of Belmont Station, and attacked at once the Scots and Grenadier Guards had advanced to within fifty yards when the Boers opened a scathing rifle-fire which staggered them, forcing them to take cover, and much independent fire took place till day broke, and our artillery were able to come into action. The Guards then climbed the koppje, still under a heavy fire which the Boers had reserved, and at 4.10 A.M. the position was captured. Immediately in rear of it was another line of koppjes, which was defended in the same determined manner. Then the Coldstream Guards, with the 1st Northumberland and 2nd Northampton regiments in support, under a fierce cross-fire, rushed up this second ridge, and with the assistance of the artillery, urged forward by loud cheers, carried it, the Boers flying in confusion, when a third ridge in rear again gave them the opportunity for a final stand; a rush was made and the position carried-the Naval Brigade coming into action for the first time with four guns. The 9th Lancers were sent in pursuit, but were not able to account for many of the fugitives, owing to the rocky nature of the ground to which the Boers clung with tenacity. Their laager, with stores, horses, and