Highways and Byways in Sussex/Chapter 17
A decline in interest—The storied past of Brighton—Dr. Russell's discovery—The First Gentleman in Europe—The resources of the Steyne—Promenade Grove—A loyal journalist—The Brighton bathers—Smoaker and Martha Gunn—The Prince and cricket—The Nonpareil at work—Byron at Brighton—Hazlitt's observation—Horace Smith's verses—Sidney Smith on the M.C.—Captain Tattersall—Pitt and the heckler—Dr. Johnson in the sea—Mrs. Pipchin and Dr. Blimber—The Brighton fishermen—Richard Jefferies on the town—The Cavalier—Mr. Booth's birds—Old Pottery.
Brighton is interesting only in its past. To-day it is a suburb, a lung, of London; the rapid recuperator of Londoners with whom the pace has been too severe; the Mecca of day-excursionists, the steady friend of invalids and half-pay officers. It is vast, glittering, gay; but it is not interesting.
To persons who care little for new towns the value of Brighton lies in its position as the key to good country. In a few minutes one can travel by train to the Dyke, and leaving booths and swings behind, be free of miles of turfed Down or cultivated Weald; in a few minutes one can reach Hassocks, the station for Wolstonbury and Ditchling Beacon; in a few minutes one can gain Falmer and plunge into Stanmer Park; or, travelling to the next station, correct the effect of Brighton's hard brilliance amid the soothing sleepinesses of Lewes; in a few minutes on the western line one can be at Shoreham, amid ship-builders and sail-makers, or on the ramparts of Bramber Castle, or among the distractions of Steyning cattle market, with Chanctonbury Ring rising solemnly beyond. Brighton, however, knows little of these homes of peace, for she looks only out to sea or towards London.
Brighton was, however, interesting a hundred years ago; when the Pavilion was the favourite resort of the First Gentleman in Europe (whose opulent charms, preserved in the permanency of mosaic, may be seen in the Museum); when the Steyne was a centre of fashion and folly; coaches dashed out of Castle Square every morning and into Castle Square every evening; Munden and Mrs. Siddons were to be seen at one or other of the theatres; Martha Gunn dipped ladies in the sea; Lord Frederick Beauclerck played long innings on the Level; and Mr. Barrymore took a pair of horses up Mrs. Fitzherbert's staircase and could not get them down again without the assistance of a posse of blacksmiths.
Brighton was interesting then, reposing in the smiles of the Prince of Wales and his friends. But it is interesting no more,—with the Pavilion a show place, the Dome a concert hall, the Steyne an enclosure, Martha Gunn in her grave, the Chain Pier a memory, Mrs. Fitzherbert's house the headquarters of the Young Men's Christian Association, and the Brighton road a racing track for cyclists, motor cars and walking stockbrokers. Brighton is entertaining, salubrious, fashionable, what you will. Its interest has gone.
The town's rise from Brighthelmstone (pronounced Brighton) a fishing village, to Brighton, the marine resort of all that was most dashing in English society, was brought about by a Lewes doctor in the days when Lewes was to Brighton what Brighton now is to Lewes. This doctor was Richard Russell, born in 1687, who, having published in 1750 a book on the remedial effects of sea water, in 1754 removed to Brighton to be able to attend to the many patients that were flocking thither. That book was the beginning of Brighton's greatness. The seal was set upon it in 1783, when the Prince of Wales, then a young man just one and twenty, first visited the town.
The Prince's second visit to Brighton was in July 1784. He then stayed at the house engaged for him by his cook, Louis Weltje, which, when he decided to build, became the nucleus of the Pavilion. The Prince at this time (he was now twenty-two) was full of spirit and enterprise, and in the company of Colonel Hanger, Sir John Lade of Etchingham, and other bloods, was ready for anything: even hard work, for in July 1784 he rode from Brighton to London and back again, on horse-back, in ten hours. One of his diversions in 1785 is thus described in the Press: "On Monday, June 27, His Royal Highness amused himself on the Steyne for some time in attempting to shoot doves with single balls; but with what result we have not heard, though the Prince is esteemed a most excellent shot, and seldom presents his piece without doing some execution. The Prince, in the course of his diversion, either by design or accident, lowered the tops of several of the chimneys of the Hon. Mr. Windham's house." The Prince seemed to live for the Steyne. When the first scheme of the Pavilion was completed, in 1787, his bedroom in it was so designed that he could recline at his ease and by means of mirrors watch everything that was happening on his favourite promenade.
The Prince was probably as bad as history states, but he had the quality of his defects, and Brighton was the livelier for the presence of his friends. Lyme Regis, Margate, Worthing, Lymington, Bognor—these had nothing to offer beyond the sea. Brighton could lay before her guests a thousand odd diversions, in addition to concerts, balls, masquerades, theatres, races. The Steyne, under the ingenious direction of Colonel Hanger, the Earl of Barrymore, and their associates, became an arena for curious contests. Officers and gentlemen, ridden by other officers and gentlemen, competed in races with octogenarians. Strapping young women were induced to run against each other for a new smock or hat. Every kind of race was devised, even to walking backwards; while a tame stag was occasionally liberated and hunted to refuge.
To the theatre came in turn all the London players; and once the mysterious Chevalier D'Eon was exhibited on its stage in a fencing bout with a military swordsman. The Promenade Grove, which covered part of the ground between New Road, the Pavilion, North Street and Church Street, was also an evening resort in fine weather (and to read about Brighton in its heyday is to receive an impression of continual fine weather, tempered only by storms of wind, such as never failed to blow when Rowlandson and his pencil were in the town, to supply that robust humorist with the contours on which his reputation was based). The Grove was a marine Ranelagh. Masquers moved among the trees, orchestras discoursed the latest airs, rockets soared into the sky. In the county paper for October 1st, 1798, I find the following florid reference to a coming event in the Grove:—"The glittering Azure and the noble Or of the peacock's wings, under the meridian sun, cannot afford greater exultation to that bird, than some of our beautiful belles of fashion promise themselves, from a display of their captivating charms at the intended masquerade at Brighton to-morrow se'nnight."
In another issue of the paper for the same year are some extempore lines on Brighton, dated from East Street, which end thus ecstatically:—
Nature's ever bounteous hand
Sure has bless'd this happy land.
'Tis here no brow appears with care,
What would we be, but what we are?
Before leaving this genial county organ I must quote from a paragraph in 1796 on the Prince himself:—"The following couplet of Pope may be fitly applied to his Royal Highness:—
If to his share some manly errors fall,
Look on his face and you'll forget them all."
What could be kinder? A little earlier, in a description of these anodyne features, the journalist had said of his Royal Highhess's "arch eyes," that they "seem to look more ways than one at a time, and especially when they are directed towards the fair sex."
Quieter and more normal pastimes were gossip at the libraries, riding and driving, and bathing in the sea. Bathing seems to have been taken very seriously, with none of the present matter-of-course haphazardness. In an old Guide to Brighton, dated 1794, I find the following description of the intrepid dippers of that day:—"It may not be improper here to introduce a short account of the manner of bathing in the sea at Brighthelmston. By means of a hook-ladder the bather ascends the machine, which is formed of wood, and raised on high wheels; he is drawn to a proper distance from the shore, and then plunges into the sea, the guides attending on each side to assist him in recovering the machine, which being accomplished, he is drawn back to shore. The guides are strong, active, and careful; and, in every respect, adapted to their employments."
Chief of the bathing women for many years was Martha Gunn, whose descendants still sell fish in the town; chief among the men was the famous Smoaker (his real name, John Miles) the Prince of Wales's swimming tutor. There is a story of his pulling the Prince back by the ear, when he had swum out too far against the old man's instructions; while on another occasion, when the sea was too rough for safety, he placed himself in front of his obstinate pupil in a fighting attitude, with the words, "What do you think your father would say to me if you were drowned? He would say, 'This is all owing to you, Smoaker. If you'd taken proper care of him, Smoaker, poor George would still be alive.'" Another of the pleasant stories of the Prince refers to Smoaker's feminine correlative—Martha Gunn. One day, being in the act of receiving an illicit gift of butter in the pavilion kitchen just as the Prince entered the room, she slipped the pat into her pocket. But not quite in time. Talking with the utmost affability, the Prince to edge her closer and closer to the great fire, pocket side nearest, and there he kept her until her sin had found her out and dress and butter were both ruined. Doubtless his Royal Highness made both good, for he had all the minor generosities.
An old book, quoted in Mr. Bishop's interesting volume A Peep into the Past, gives the following scrap of typical conversation between Martha and a visitor:—"'What, my old friend, Martha,' said I, 'still queen of the ocean, still industrious, and busy as ever; and how do you find yourself'? 'Well and hearty, thank God, sir,' replied she, 'but rather hobbling. I don't bathe, because I a'nt so strong as I used to be, so I superintend on the beach, for I'm up before any of 'em; you may always find me and my pitcher at one exact spot, every morning by six o'clock.' 'You wear vastly well, my old friend, pray what age may you be'? 'Only eighty-eight, sir; in fact, eighty-nine come next Christmas pudding; aye, and though I've lost my teeth I can mumble it with as good relish and hearty appetite as anybody.' 'I'm glad to hear it; Brighton would not look like itself without you, Martha,' said I. 'Oh, I don't know, it's like to do without me, some day,' answered she, 'but while I've health and life, I must be bustling amongst my old friends and benefactors; I think I ought to be proud, for I've as many bows from man, woman, and child, as the Prince hisself; aye, I do believe, the very dogs in the town know me.' 'And your son, how is he'? said I. 'Brave and charming; he lives in East Street; if your honour wants any prime pickled salmon, or oysters, there you have 'em.'"
On the Prince's birthday, and on the birthday of his royal brothers, Brighton went mad with excitement. Oxen were roasted whole, strong beer ran like water, and among the amusements single-wicket matches were played. One of the good deeds of the Prince was the making of a cricket ground. Before 1791, when the Prince's ground was laid out, matches had been played on the neighbouring hills, or on the Level. The Prince's ground stood partly on the Level as it now is, and partly on Park Crescent. In 1823, it became Ireland's Gardens, upon whose turf the most famous cricketers of England played until 1847. In 1848 the Brunswick ground at Hove was opened, close to the sea, into which the ball was occasionally hit by Mr. C. I. Thornton. The present Hove ground dates from 1871. I like to think that George IV., though no great cricketer himself (he played now and then when young "with great condescension and affability"), is the true father of Sussex cricket. He may deserve all that Lamb, Leigh Hunt, and Thackeray said of him, but without his influence and patronage the history of cricket would be the poorer by many bright pages.
Where Montpellier Crescent now stands, was, eighty years ago, the ground on which Frederick William Lillywhite, the Nonpareil, used to bowl to gentlemen young or old who were prepared to put down five shillings for the privilege. Little Wisden acted as a long stop. Lillywhite was the real creator of round-arm bowling, although Tom Walker of the Hambledon Club was the pioneer and James Broadbridge an earlier exponent. It was not until 1828 that round-arm was legalised. "Me bowling, Pilch batting, and Box keeping wicket—that's cricket," was the old man's dictum; or "When I bowls and Fuller bats," a variant has it, bowl being pronounced to rhyme with owl, "then you'll see cricket." He was thirty-five before he began his first-class career, he bowled fewer than a dozen wides in twenty-seven years, and his myriad wickets cost only seven runs a-piece.
Brighton in its palmiest days was practically contained within the streets that bear boundary names, North Street, East Street, West Street, and the sea, with the parish church high on the hill. On the other side of the Steyne were the naked Downs, while the Lewes road and the London Road were mere thoroughfares between equally bare hills, with a few houses here and there.
During the town's most fashionable period, which continued for nearly fifty years—say from 1785 to 1835—everyone journeyed thither; and indeed everyone goes to Brighton to-day, although its visitors are now anonymous where of old they were notorious. I believe that Robert Browning is the only eminent Englishman that never visited the town. Perhaps it does little for poets; yet Byron was there as a young man, much in the company of a charming youth with whom he often sailed in the Channel, and who afterwards was discovered to be a girl.
Solvitur acris hyems gratâ vice veris.
Now fruitful autumn lifts his sunburnt head,
The slighted Park few cambric muslins whiten,
The dry machines revisit Ocean's bed,
And Horace quits awhile the town for Brighton.
The cit foregoes his box at Turnham Green,
To pick up health and shells with Amphitrite,
Pleasure's frail daughters trip along the Steyne,
Led by the dame the Greeks call Aphrodite.
Phoebus, the tanner, plies his fiery trade,
The graceful nymphs ascend Judea's ponies,
Scale the west cliff, or visit the parade,
While poor papa in town a patient drone is.
Loose trowsers snatch the wreath from pantaloons;
Nankeen of late were worn the sultry weather in;
But now, (so will the Prince's light dragoons,)
White jean have triumph'd o'er their Indian brethren.
Here with choice food earth smiles and ocean yawns,
Intent alike to please the London glutton;
This, for our breakfast proffers shrimps and prawns,
That, for our dinner, South-down lamb and mutton.
Yet here, as elsewhere, death impartial reigns,
Visits alike the cot and the Pavilion,
And for a bribe with equal scorn disdains
My half a crown, and Baring's half a million.
Alas! how short the span of human pride!
Time flies, and hope's romantic schemes, are undone;
Cosweller's coach, that carries four inside,
Waits to take back the unwilling bard to London.
Ye circulating novelists, adieu!
Long envious cords my black portmanteau tighten;
Billiards, begone! avaunt, illegal loo!
Farewell old Ocean's bauble, glittering Brighton.
Long shalt thou laugh thine enemies to scorn,
Proud as Phoenicia, queen of watering places!
Boys yet unbreech'd, and virgins yet unborn,
On thy bleak downs shall tan their blooming faces.
I believe that the phrase "Queen of Watering Places" was first used in this poem.
An odd glimpse of a kind of manners (now extinct) in Brighton visitors in its palmy days is given in Hazlitt's Notes of a Journey through France and Italy. Hazlitt, like his friends the Lambs, when they visited Versailles in 1822, embarked at Brighton. That was in 1824. He reached the town by coach in the evening, in the height of the season, and it was then that the incident occurred to which I have referred. In Hazlitt's words:—"A lad offered to conduct us to an inn. 'Did he think there was room?' He was sure of it. 'Did he belong to the inn?' 'No,' he was from London. In fact, he was a young gentleman from town, who had been stopping some time at the White-horse Hotel, and who wished to employ his spare time (when he was not riding out on a blood-horse) in serving the house, and relieving the perplexities of his fellow-travellers. No one but a Londoner would volunteer his assistance in this way. Amiable land of Cockayne, happy in itself, and in making others happy! Blest exuberance of selfsatisfaction, that overflows upon others! Delightful impertinence, that is forward to oblige them!"
Brighton's decline as a fashionable resort came with the railway. Coaches were expensive and few, and the number of visitors which they brought to the town was negotiable; but when trains began to pour crowds upon the platforms the distinction of Brighton was lost. Society retreated, and the last Master of Ceremonies, Lieut. Col. Eld, died. It was of this admirable aristocrat that Sydney Smith wrote so happily in one of his letters from Brighton: "A gentleman attired point device, walking down the Parade, like Agag, 'delicately.' He pointed out his toes like a dancing-master; but carried his head like a potentate. As he passed the stand of flys, he nodded approval, as if he owned them all. As he approached the little goat carriages, he looked askance over the edge of his starched neckcloth and blandly smiled encouragement. Sure that in following him, I was treading in the steps of greatness, I went on to the Pier, and there I was confirmed in my conviction of his eminence; for I observed him look first over the right side and then over the left, with an expression of serene satisfaction spreading over his countenance, which said, as plainly as if he had spoken to the sea aloud, 'That is right. You are low-tide at present; but never mind, in a couple of hours I shall make you high-tide again.'"Beyond its connection with George IV. Brighton has played but a small part in history, her only other monarch being Charles II., who merely tarried in the town for awhile on his way to France, in 1651, as we have seen. The King's Head, in West Street, claims to be the scene of the merry monarch's bargain with Captain Nicholas Tattersall, who conveyed him across the Channel; but there is good reason to believe that the inn was the George in Middle Street, now demolished, but situated on the site of No. 44. The epitaph on Tattersall in Brighton old parish church contains the following lines:—
When Charles ye great was nothing but a breath
This valiant soul stept betweene him and death....
Which glorious act of his for church and state
Eight princes in one day did gratulate.
The episode of the captain's cautious bargaining with the King, of which Colonel Gunter tells in the narrative from which I have quoted in an earlier chapter, is carefully suppressed on the memorial tablet.
Another famous Brighton character and friend of George IV. was Phebe Hessel, who died at the age of 106, and whose tombstone may be seen in the old churchyard. Phebe had a varied career, for having fallen in love when only fifteen with Samuel Golding, a private in Kirk's Lambs, she dressed herself as a man, enlisted in the 5th Regiment of Foot, and followed him to the West Indies. She served there for five years, and afterwards at Gibraltar, never disclosing her sex until her lover was wounded and sent to Plymouth, when she told the General's wife, and was allowed to follow and nurse him. On leaving hospital Golding married her, and they lived, I hope happily, together for twenty years. When Golding died Phebe married Hessel.
In her old age she became an important Brighton character, and attracting the notice of the Prince was provided by him with a pension of eighteen pounds a year, and the epithet "a jolly good fellow." It was also the Prince's money which paid the stone cutter. When visited by a curious student of human nature as she lay on her death-bed, Phebe talked much of the past, he records, and seemed proud of having kept her secret when in the army. "But I told it to the ground," she added; "I dug a hole that would hold a gallon and whispered it there." Phebe kept her faculties to the last, and to the last sold her apples to the Quality by the sea, returned repartees with extraordinary verve and contempt for false delicacy, and knew as much of the quality of Brighton liquor as if she were a soldier in earnest.
One ought to mention Pitt's visit to Brighton, in 1785, as an historical event, if only for the proof which it offers that Sussex folk have an effective if not nimble wit. I use Mr. Bishop's words: "Pitt during his journey to Brighton, in the previous week, had some experience of popular feeling in respect of the obnoxious Window Tax. Whilst horses were being changed at Horsham, he ordered lights for his carriage; and the persons assembled, learning who was within, indulged pretty freely in ironical remarks on light and darkness. The only effect upon the Minister was, that he often laughed heartily. Whilst in Brighton, a country glove-maker hung about the door of his house on the Steyne; and when the Minister came out, showed him a hedger's cuff, which he held in one hand, and a bush in the other, to explain the use of it, and asked him if the former, being an article he made and sold, was subject to a Stamp Duty? Mr. Pitt appeared rather struck with the oddity and bluntness of the man's question, and, mounting his horse, waived a satisfactory answer by referring him to the Stamp Office for information."
Brighton's place in literature makes up for her historical poverty. Dr. Johnson was the first great man of letters to visit the town. He stayed in West Street with the Thrales, rode on the Downs and, after his wont, abused their bareness, making a joke about our dearth of trees similar to one on the same topic in Scotland. The Doctor also bathed. Mrs. Piozzi relates that one of the bathing men, seeing him swim, remarked, "Why, sir, you must have been a stout-hearted gentleman forty years ago!"—much to the Doctor's satisfaction.
It was, I always think, in Hampton Place that Mrs. Pipchin, whose husband broke his heart in the Peruvian mines, kept her establishment for children and did her best to discourage Paul Dombey. How does the description run?
This celebrated Mrs. Pipchin was a marvellous ill-favoured, ill-conditioned old lady, of a stooping figure, with a mottled face, like bad marble, a hook nose, and a hard grey eye, that looked as if it might have been hammered at on an anvil without sustaining any injury. Forty years at least had elapsed since the Peruvian mines had been the death of Mr. Pipchin; but his relict still wore black bombazeen, of such a lustreless, deep, dead, sombre shade, that gas itself couldn't light her up after dark, and her presence was a quencher to any number of candles. She was generally spoken of as "a great manager" of children; and the secret of her management was, to give them everything that they didn't like, and nothing that they did—which was found to sweeten their dispositions very much. She was such a bitter old lady, that one was tempted to believe there had been some mistake in the application of the Peruvian machinery, and that all her waters of gladness and milk of human kindness had been pumped out dry, instead of the mines.
The Castle of this ogress and child-queller was in a steep bye-street at Brighton; where the soil was more than unusually chalky, flinty, and sterile, and the houses were more than usually brittle and thin; where the small front-gardens had the unaccountable property of producing nothing but marigolds, whatever was sown in them; and where snails were constantly discovered holding on to the street doors, and other public places they were not expected to ornament, with the tenacity of cupping-glasses. In the winter-time the air couldn't be got out of the Castle, and in the summer-time it couldn't be got in. There was such a continual reverberation of wind in it, that it sounded like a great shell, which the inhabitants were obliged to hold to their ears night and day, whether they liked it or no. It was not, naturally, a fresh-smelling house; and in the window of the front parlour, which was never opened, Mrs. Pipchin kept a collection of plants in pots, which imparted an earthy flavour of their own to the establishment. However choice examples of their kind, too, these plants were of a kind peculiarly adapted to the embowerment of Mrs. Pipchin. There were half-a-dozen specimens of the cactus, writhing round bits of a lath, like hairy serpents; another specimen shooting out broad claws, like a green lobster; several creeping vegetables, possessed of sticky and adhesive leaves; and one uncomfortable flower-pot hanging to the ceiling, which appeared to have boiled over, and tickling people underneath with its long green ends, reminded them of spiders—in which Mrs. Pipchin's dwelling was uncommonly prolific, though perhaps it challenged competition still more proudly, in the season, in point of earwigs.
From Mrs. Pipchin's Paul Dombey passed to the forcing-house of Dr. Blimber, Mrs. Blimber, Miss Blimber and Mr. Feeder, B.A., also at Brighton, where he met Mr. Toots. "The Doctor's," says Dickens, "was a mighty fine house, the sea. Not a joyful style of house within, but quite the contrary. Sad-coloured curtains, whose proportions were spare and lean, hid themselves despondently behind the windows. The tables and chairs were put away in rows, like figures in a sum; fires were so rarely lighted in the rooms of ceremony, that they felt like wells, and a visitor represented the bucket; the dining-room seemed the last place in the world where any eating or drinking was likely to occur; there was no sound through all the house but the ticking of a great clock in the hall, which made itself audible in the very garrets; and sometimes a dull cooing of young gentlemen at their lessons, like the murmurings of an assemblage of melancholy pigeons."—Dr. Blimber's must have been, I think, somewhere in the neighbourhood of the Bedford Hotel.
Among other writers who have found Brighton good to work in I might name the authors of The Strange Adventures of a Phaeton and A System of Synthetic Philosophy. Mr. William Black was for many years a familiar figure on the Kemp Town parade, and Brighton plays a part in at least two of his charming tales—The Beautiful Wretch, and an early and very sprightly novel called Kilmeny. Brighton should be proud to think that Mr. Herbert Spencer chose her as a retreat in which to come to his conclusions; but I doubt if she is. Thackeray's affection is, however, cherished by the town, his historic praise of "merry cheerful Dr. Brighton" having a commercial value hardly to be over-estimated. Brighton in return gave Thackeray Lord Steyne's immortal name and served as a background for many of his scenes.
Although Brighton has still a fishing industry, the spectacle of its fishermen refraining from work is not an uncommon one. It was once the custom, I read, and perhaps still is, for these men, when casting their nets for mackerel or herring, to stand with bare heads repeating in unison these words: "There they goes then. God Almighty send us a blessing it is to be hoped." As each barrel (which is attached to every two nets out of the fleet, or 120 nets) was cast overboard they would cry:—
Watch, barrel, watch! Mackerel for to catch,
White may they be, like a blossom on a tree.
God send thousands, one, two, and three,
Some by their heads, some by their tails,
God sends thousands, and never fails.
When the last net was overboard the master said, "Seas all!" and then lowered the foremast and laid to the wind. If he were to say, "Last net," he would expect never to see his nets again.
"There are more handsome women in Brighton than anywhere else in the world," wrote Richard Jefferies some twenty years ago. "They are so common that gradually the standard of taste in the mind rises, and good-looking women who would be admired in other places pass by without notice. Where all the flowers are roses you do not see a rose." (Shirley Brooks must have visited Brighton on a curiously bad day, for seeing no pretty face he wrote of it as "The City of the Plain.") Richard Jefferies, who lived for a while at Hove, blessed also the treelessness of Brighton. Therein he saw much of its healing virtue. "Let nothing," he wrote, "cloud the descent of those glorious beams of sunlight which fall at Brighton. Watch the pebbles on the beach; the foam runs up and wets them, almost before it can slip back, the sunshine has dried them again. So they are alternately wetted and dried. Bitter sea and glowing light, bright clear air, dry as dry—that describes the place. Spain is the country of sunlight, burning sunlight; Brighton is a Spanish town in England, a Seville."
The principal inland attraction of Brighton is still the Pavilion, which is indeed the town's symbol. On passing through its very numerous and fantastic rooms one is struck by their incredible smallness. Sidney Smith's jest (if it were his; I find Wilberforce, the Abolitionist, saying something similar) is still unimproved: "One would think that St. Paul's Cathedral had come to Brighton and pupped." Cobbett in his rough and homely way also said something to the point about the Prince's pleasure-house: "Take a square box, the sides of which are three feet and a half, and the height a foot and a half. Take a large Norfolk turnip, cut off the green of the leaves, leave the stalks nine inches long, tie these round with a string three inches from the top, and put the turnip on the middle of the top of the box. Then take four turnips of half the size, treat them in the same way, and put them on the corners of the box. Then take a considerable number of bulbs of the crown-imperial, the narcissus, the hyacinth, the tulip, the crocus, and others; let the leaves of each have sprouted to about an inch, more or less according to the size of the bulb; put all these, pretty promiscuously, but pretty thickly, on the top of the box. Then stand off and look at your architecture."
To its ordinary museum in the town Brighton has added the collection of stuffed birds made by the late Mr. E. T. Booth, which he housed in a long gallery in the road that leads to the Dyke. Mr. Booth, when he shot a bird in its native haunts, carried away some of its surroundings in order that the taxidermist might reproduce as far as possible its natural environment. Hence every case has a value that is missing when one sees merely the isolated stuffed bird. In one instance realism has dictated the addition of a clutch of pipit's eggs found on the Bass Rock, in a nest invisible to the spectator. The collection in the Natural History Museum at South Kensington is of course more considerable, and finer, but some of Mr. Booth's cases are certainly superior, and his collection has the special interest of having been made by one man.
Brighton has another very interesting possession in the collection of old domestic pottery in the museum: an assemblage (the most entertaining and varied that I know) of jugs and mugs, plates and ornaments, all English, all quaint and characteristic too, and mostly inscribed with mottoes or decorated with designs in celebration of such events as the battle of Waterloo, or the discomfiture of Mr. Pitt, or a victory of Tom Cribb. Others are ceramic satires on the drunkard's folly or the inconstancy of women. Why are the potters of our own day so dull? History is still being made, human nature is not less frail; but I see no genial commentary on jug or dish. Is it the march of Taste?