THE HOUSE-WARMING!!: A LEGEND OF BLEEDING-HEART YARD.
Did you ever see the Devil dance?-- OLD QUERY.
Sir Christopher Hatton he danced with grace,
He'd a very fine form and a very fine face,
And his cloak and his doublet were guarded with lace,
And the rest of his clothes,
As you well may suppose,
In taste were by no means inferior to those;
He'd a yellow-starched ruff,
And his gloves were of buff,
On each of his shoes a red heel and a rose,
And nice little moustaches under his nose;
Then every one knows
How he turned out his toes,
And a very great way that accomplishment goes,
In a Court where it's thought, in a lord or duke, a
Disgrace to fall short in 'the Brawls'-- (their Cachouca).
So what with his form, and what with his face,
And what with his velvet cloak guarded with lace,
And what with his elegant dancing and grace,
His dress and address
So tickled Queen Bess
That her Majesty gave him a very snug place;
And seeing, moreover, at one single peep, her
Advisers were, few of them, sharper or deeper,
(Old Burleigh excepted), she made him Lord Keeper!
I've heard, I confess with no little surprise,
English history called a farrago of lies,
And a certain Divine,
A connexion of mine,
Who ought to know better, as some folks opine,
Is apt to declare,
Leaning back in his chair,
With a sort of a smirking, self-satisfied, air,
That 'all that's recorded in Hume, and elsewhere,
'Of our early "Annales"
A trumpery tale is,
Like the "Bold Captain Smith's," and "the luckless Miss Bayley's"--
That old Roger Hoveden, and Ralph de Diceto,
And others (whose names should I try to repeat o-
ver, well I'm assured you would put in your veto),
Though all holy friars,
Were very great liars,
And raised stories faster than Grissel and Peto --
That Harold escaped with the loss of a 'glim'--
-- That the shaft which killed Rufus ne'er glanced from a limb
Of a tree, as they say, but was aimed slap at him,--
'That Fair Rosamond never was poisoned or spitted,
But outlived Queen Nell, who was much to be pitied;--
That Nelly her namesake, Ned Longshanks's wife,
Ne'er went Crusading at all in her life,
Nor suck'd the wound made by the poison-tipped knife!
For as she,
O'er the sea,
Towards far Galilee
Never, even in fancy, march'd carcass or shook shanks,
Of course she could no more suck Longshanks than Cruikshanks,
But, leaving her spindle-legged liege-lord to roam,
Staid behind, and suck'd something much better at home,--
That it's quite as absurd
To say Edward the Third,
In reviving the Garter, afforded a handle
For any Court-gossip, detraction, or scandal,
As 'twould be to say,
That at Court 'tother day,
At the fête which the newspapers say was so gay,
His Great Representative then stole away
Lady Salisbury's garters as part of the play.--
-- That as to Prince Hal's being taken to jail,
By the London Police, without mainprize or bail,
For cuffing a judge,
It's a regular fudge;
And that Chief-Justice Gascoigne, it's very well known,
Was kicked out the moment he came to the throne.--
-- Then that Richard the Third was a 'marvellous proper man'--
Never killed, injured, or wrong'd of a copper, man!--
Ne'er wished to smother
The sons of his brother,--
Nor ever stuck Harry the Sixth, who, instead
Of being squabashed, as in Shakspeare we've read,
Caught a bad influenza, and died in his bed,
In the Tower, not far from the room where the Guard is
(The octagon one that adjoins Duffus Hardy's).
-- That, in short, all the "facts" in the Decem Scriptores,
Are nothing at all but sheer humbugging stories.'
Then if, as he vows, both this country and France in,
Historians thus gave themselves up to romancing,
Notwithstanding what most of them join in advancing
Respecting Sir Christopher's capering and prancing,
'Twill cause no surprise
If we find that his rise
Is not to be solely ascribed to his dancing!
The fact is, Sir Christopher, early in life,
As all bachelors should do, had taken a wife,
A Fanshawe by family,-- one of a house,
Well descended, but boasting less 'nobles' than nous;
Though e'en as to purse
He might have done worse,
For I find, on perusing her Grandfather's will, it is
Clear she had 'good gifts beside possibilities,' <1>
Owches and rings,
And such sort of things,
Orellana shares (then the American Stocks),
Jewell'd stomachers, coifs, ruffs, stilk-stockings with clocks,
Point-lace, cambric handkerchiefs, nightcaps, and -- socks --
(Recondite apparel contained in her box),
-- Then the height of her breeding
And depth of her reading
Might captivate any gay youth, and, in leading
Him on to 'propose,' well excuse the proceeding:
Truth to tell, as to 'reading,' the Lady was thought to do
More than she should, and know more than she ought to do;
Her maid, it was said,
Declared that she read
(A custom all staid folks discourage) in bed;
And that often, o' nights,
Odd noises and sights
In her mistress's chamber had giv'n her sad frights,
After all in the mansion had put out their lights,
And she verily thought that hobgoblins and sprites
Were there, kicking up all sorts of devil's delights;--
Miss Alice, in short, was supposed to 'collogue'-- I
Don't much like the word -- with the subtle old rogue, I
've heard call'd by so many names -- one of them's 'Bogy'--
Indeed 'twas conceived,
And by most folks believed,
-- A thing at which all of her well-wishers griev'd --
That should she incline to play such a vagary,
Like sage Lady Branxholm, her contempo-rary,
(Excuse the false quantity, reader, I pray),
She could turn a knight into a waggon of hay,
Or two nice little boys into puppies at play,
Raison de plus, not a doubt could exist of her
Pow'r to turn 'Kit Hatton' into 'Sir Christopher;'
But what 'mighty magic,' or strong 'conjuration,'
Whether love-powder, philtre, or other potation
She used, I confess,
I'm unable to guess,--
Much less to express
By what skill and address
She 'cut and contrived' with such signal success,
As we Londoners say, to 'inwiggle' Queen Bess,
Inasmuch as I lack heart
To study the Black Art;
Be that as it may,-- it's as clear as the sun,
That, however she did it, 'twas certainly done!
Now, they're all very well, titles, honour, and rank,
Still we can't but admit, if we choose to be frank,
There's no harm in a snug little sum in the Bank!
An old proverb says,
'Pudding still before praise!'
An adage well known I've no doubt in those days,
And George Colman, the Younger, in one of his plays,
Makes one of his characters loudly declare
That 'a Lord without money,'-- I quote from his 'Heir-
At-Law'--''s but a poor wishy-washy affair!'--
In her subsequent conduct I think we can see a
Strong proof the Dame entertain'd some such idea,
For, once in the palace,
We find Lady Alice
Again playing tricks with her Majesty's chalice
In the way that the jocose, in
Our days, term 'hocussing;'
The liquor she used, as I've said, she kept close,
But, whatever it was, she now doubled the dose!
(So true is the saying,
'We never can stay, in
Our progress, when once with the foul fiend we league us.')
-- She 'doctor'd' the punch, and she 'doctor'd' the negus,
Taking care not to put in sufficient to flavour it,
Till, at every fresh sip
That moisten'd her lip,
The Virgin Queen grew more attach'd to her Favourite.
'No end' now he commands
Of money and lands,
And, as George Robins says, when he's writing about houses,
'Messuages, tenements, crofts, tofts, and outhouses,'
Parks, manors, chases, She 'gives and she grants,
To him and his heirs, and his uncles and aunts;'
Whatever he wants, he has only to ask it,
And all other suitors are 'left in the basket,'
Till Dudley, and Rawleigh
Began to look squally,
While even grave Cecil, the famous Lord Burleigh,
Himself, 'shook his head,' and grew snappish and surly.
All this was fine sport,
As our authors report,
To dame Alice, become a great Lady at Court,
Where none than her Ladyship's husband look'd bigger,
Who 'led the brawls' <2> still with the same grace and vigour,
Though losing a little in slimness and figure;
For eating and drinking all day of the best
Of viands well drest,
With 'Burgess's Zest,'
Is apt, by degrees, to enlarge a man's vest;
And, what in Sir Christopher went to increase it, he
'd always been rather inclined to obesity;
-- Few men in those times were found to grow thinner
With beefsteaks for breakfast, and pork-pie for dinner.
Now it's really a difficult problem to say
How long matters might have gone on in this way,
If it had not unluckily happened one day
That Nick,-- who, because
He'd the gout in his claws,
And his hoofs -- (he's by no means so young as he was,
And is subject of late to a sort of rheumatic a
ttack that partakes both of gout and sciatica,)--
All the night long had twisted and grinn'd,
His pains much increased by an easterly wind,
Which always compels him to hobble and limp,
Was strongly advised by his Medical Imp
To lie by a little, and give over work,
For he'd lately been slaving away like a Turk,
On the Guinea-coast, helping to open a brave trade
In Niggers, with Hawkins <3> who founded the slave-trade,
So he call'd for his ledger, the constant resource
Of your mercantile folk, when they're 'not in full force;'
-- If a cold or catarrh makes them husky and hoarse,
Or a touch of gout keeps them away from 'the Bourse,'
They look over their books as a matter of course.
Now scarce had Nick turn'd over one page, or two,
Ere a prominent item attracted his view,
A Bill!-- that had now been some days overdue,
From one Alice Hatton, nêe Fanshawe -- a name
Which you'll recognise, reader, at once as the same
With that borne by Sir Christopher's erudite dame!
The signature -- much more prononcêe than pink,
Seem'd written in blood -- but it might be red ink --
While the rest of the deed
He proceeded to read,
Like ev'ry 'bill, bond, or acquittance' whose date is
Three hundred years old, ran in Latin,--'Sciatis
(Diaboli?) omnes ad quos hæc pervenient --'
-- But courage, dear Reader, I mean to be lenient,
And scorn to inflict on you half the 'Law-reading'
I picked up 'umquhile' in three days' special-pleading,
Which cost me -- a theme I'll not pause to digress on --
Just thirty-three pounds six-and-eightpence a lesson --
'As I'm stout, I'll be merciful,' therefore, and sparing
All these technicalities, end by declaring
The Deed so correct
As to make one suspect,
(Were it possible any such person could go there)
Old Nick had a Special Attorney below there:
'Twas so framed and express'd no tribunal could shake it,
And firm as red wax and black ferret could make it.
By the roll of his eye
As Old Nick put it by,
It was clear he had made up his mind what to do
In respect to the course he should have to pursue,
When his hoof would allow him to put on a shoe!!
No, although the Lord Keeper held under the crown, house
And land in the country -- he'd never a Town-house,
And, as we have seen,
His course always had been,
When he wanted a thing, to solicit the Queen,
So now, in the hope of a fresh acquisition,
He danced off to Court with his 'Humble Petition.'
'Please your Majesty's Grace,
I have not a place,
I can well put my head in, to dine, sup, or sleep!
Your Grace's Lord Keeper has nowhere to keep,
So I beg and intreat,
At your Majesty's feet,
That your Grace will be graciously pleas'd for to say,
With as little delay
As your Majesty may,
Where your Majesty's Grace's Lord Keeper's to stay --
-- And your Grace's Petitioner ever will pray!'
The Queen, when she heard
This petition preferr'd,
Gave ear to Sir Christopher's suit at a word;--
Odds Bobs, my good Lord!' was her gracious reply,
I don't know, not I,
Any good reason why
A Lord Keeper, like you, should not always be nigh
To advise -- and devise -- and revise -- our supply --
A House! we're surprised that the thing did not strike
Us before -- Yes!-- of course!-- Pray, whose House would you like!
When I do things of this kind, I do them genteelly,
A House?-- let me see! there's the Bishop of Ely!
A capital mansion, I'm told, the proud knave is in,
Up there in Holborn, just opposite Thavies' Inn --
Where the Strawberries grow so fine and so big,
Which our Grandmother's Uncle tucked in like a pig,
King Richard the Third, which you all must have read of --
The day,-- don't you know?-- he cut Hastings' head off --
And mark me, proud Prelate!-- I'm speaking to you,
Bishop Heaton!-- you need not, my lord, look so blue --
Give it up on the instant! I don't mean to shock you,
Or else by --! (The Bishop was shocked!) -- I'll unfrock you!!'
The Queen turns abruptly her back on the group,
The Courtiers all bow as she passes, and stoop
To kiss, as she goes, the hind flounce of her hoop,
And Sir Christopher, having thus danced to some tune,
Skips away with much glee in his best rigadoon!
While poor Bishop Heaton,
Who found himself beaten,
In serious alarm at the Queen's contumelious
And menacing tone, at once gave him up Ely House
With every appurtenance thereto belonging,
Including the strawberry beds 'twas so strong in;
Politely he bow'd to the gratified minion,
And said, 'There can be, my good lord, in opinion
No difference betwixt yours
And mine as to fixtures,
And tables, and chairs --
We need no survey'rs --
Take them just as you find them, without reservation,
Grates, coppers, and all, at your own valuation!'
Well! the object is gain'd!
A good town-house obtained,
The next thing to be thought of, is now
The 'house-warming' party -- the when and the how --
The Court ladies call,
One and all, great and small,
For an elegant 'Spread,' and more elegant Ball,
So, Sir Christopher, vain as we know of his capering,
No sooner had finished his painting and papering,
Than he sat down and wrote,
A nice little pink note
To every great Lord, whom he knew, and his spouse,
From our poor place on Holborn-hill (late Ely House),
Lord Keeper and Dame Alice Hatton request,
Lord So-and-so's (name, style, or title exprest)
Good company on
The next Eve of St. John,
Viz: Friday week, June 24th, as their guest,
To partake of pot-luck,
And taste a fat buck.
N.B. Venison on table exactly at 3,
Quadrilles in the afternoon.
R. S. V. P.
For my good Lord of So-and-so these, and his wife;
Ride! ride! for thy life! for thy life! for thy life!'
Thus, courtiers were wont to indorse their expresses
In Harry the VIIIth's time, and also Queen Bess's.
The Dame, for her part, too, took order that cards
Should be sent to the mess-rooms of all the Hussards,
The Household troops, Train-bands, and horse and foot Guards.
Well, the day for the rout
At length came about,
And the bells of St. Andrew's rang merrily out,
As horse-litter, coach, and pad-nag, with its pillion,
(The mode of conveyance then used by 'the Million,')
All gallant and grand,
Defiled from the Strand,
Some through Chancery (then an unpaved and much wetter) Lane,
Others through Shoe (which was not a whit better) Lane,
Others through Fewtar's (corrupted to Fetter) Lane;
Some from Cheapside, and St. Mary-le-Bow,
From Bishopsgate Street, Dowgate Hill, <4> and Budge Row,
They come and they go,
Squire and Dame, Belle and Beau,
Down Snore Hill (which we have since whitewashed to Snow),
All eager to see the magnificent show,
And sport what some call 'a fantastical toe;'
In silk and in satin,
To batten and fatten
Upon the good cheer of Sir Christopher Hatton,
A flourish, trumpets!-- sound again!--
He comes, bold Drake, the chief who made a
Fine hash of all the pow'rs of Spain,
And so serv'd out their Grand Armada:
With him come Frobisher and Hawkins,
In yellow ruffs, rosettes, and stockings.
Room for my Lord!-- proud Leicester's Earl
Retires a while from courtly cares,
Who took his wife, poor hapless girl!
And pitch'd her neck and heel down stairs;
Proving, in hopes to wed a richer,
If not her 'friend,' at least her 'pitcher.'
A flourish, trumpets! strike the drums!
Will Shakspeare, never of his pen sick,
Is here -- next Doctor Masters comes,
Renown'd afar for curing men sick,--
Queen's Serjeant Barham <5> with his bums
And tipstaves, coif, and wig forensic;
(He lost, unless Sir Richard lies, his
Life at the famous 'Black Assizes.')
Room! Room! for great Cecil!-- place, place, for his Dame!--
Room! Room! for Southampton -- for Sidney, whose name
As a Preux Chevalier, in the records of Fame
'Beats Banagher'-- e'en now his praises, we all sing 'em,
Knight, Poet, Gentleman!-- Room for sage Walsingham!
Room for Lord Hunsdon!-- for Sussex!-- for Rawleigh!--
For Ingoldsby!! Oh! it's enough to appal ye!
Dear me! how they call!
How they squall! how they bawl!
This dame has lost her shoe -- that one her shawl --
My lord's got a tumble -- my lady a fall!
Now a Hall! a Hall!
A Brawl! a Brawl!
Here's my Lord Keeper Hatton, so stately and tall,
Has led out Lady Hunsdon to open the Ball!
Fiddlers! Fiddlers! fiddle away!
Resin your catgut! fiddle and play!
Obey! obey!-- hear what they all say!
Hip!-- Music!-- Nosey!!-- play up there!-- play!'
Never was any thing half so gay
As Sir Christopher Hatton's grand holiday!
The clock strikes twelve!-- Who cares for the clock?
Who cares for -- Hark!-- What a loud Single-knock!
Dear me! dear me!
Who can it be?--
Why, who can be coming at this time of night,
With a knock like that honest folk to affright?--
'Affright?'-- yes, affright!-- there are many who mock
At fear, and in danger stand firm as a rock,
Whom the roar of the battle-field never could shock,
Yet quail at the sound of a vile 'Single-knock!'
Hark?-- what can the Porter be thinking of?-- What!--
If the booby has not let him in I'll be shot!--
Dear me! how hot
The room's all at once got!--
And what rings through the roof?--
It's the sound of a hoof!--
It's some donkey a-coming upstairs at full trot!
Stay!-- the folding-doors open! the leaves are thrown back,
And in dances a tall Figurant -- ALL IN BLACK!!
Gracious me what an entrechat! Oh, what a bound!
Then with what an a-plomb he comes down to the ground!
Look there! look there!
Now he's up in the air!
Now he's here!-- now he's there -- now he's no one knows where!--
See! see!-- he's kick'd over a table and chair!
There they go!-- all the strawberries, flowers, and sweet herbs,
Turn'd o'er and o'er,
Down on the floor,
Ev'ry caper he cuts oversets or disturbs
All the 'Keen's Seedlings' and 'Wilmot's Superbs!'
There's a pirouette!-- we're
All a great deal too near!
A ring!-- give him room or he'll 'shin' you -- stand clear!
There's a spring again!-- oh! 'tis quite frightful!-- oh dear!
His toe's broke the top of the glass chandelier!!
Now he's down again!-- look at the congees and bows
And salaams which he makes to the Dame of the House,
Lady Alice, the noble Lord Treasurer's spouse!
Come, now we shall view
A grand pas de deux
Perform'd in the very first style by these two
-- But no!-- she recoils -- she could scarce look more pale if
Instead of a Beau's 'twas the bow of a Bailiff!--
He holds out his hand -- she declines it, and draws
Back her own -- see!-- he grasps it with horrid black claws,
Like the short, sharp, strong nails of a Polar Bear's paws!!
Then she 'scream'd such a scream!'
Such another, I deem,
As, long after, Miss Mary Brown <6> scream'd in her dream,
Well she might! for 'twas shrewdly remark'd by her Page,
A sharp little boy about twelve years of age,
Who was standing close by
When she utter'd her cry,
That the whole of her arm shrivell'd up, and grew dry,
While the fingers and thumb of the hand he had got
In his clutches became on the instant RED HOT!!
Now he whirls and he twirls
Through the girls in their curls
And their rouge, and their feathers, and diamonds, and pearls;
Now high,-- now low,--
Now fast, and now slow,
In terrible circumgyration they go;
The flame-coloured Belle and her coffee-faced Beau!
Up they go once! and up they go twice!--
Round the hall!-- round the hall!-- and now up they go thrice!
Now one grand pirouette, the performance to crown!
Now again they go up!!-- and they NEVER COME DOWN!!!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The thunder roars!
And the rain it pours!
And the lightning comes in through the windows and doors!
Then more calling, and bawling,
And squalling, and falling,
Oh! what a fearful 'stramash' they are all in!
Out they all sally,
The whole corps de ballet --
Some dash down Holborn-hill into the valley,
Where stagnates Fleet Ditch at the end of Harp Alley,
Some t'other way, with a speed quite amazing,
Nor pause to take breath till they get beyond Gray's Inn.
In every sense of the word, such a rout of it,
Never was made in London, or out of it!
When they came the next day to examine the scene,
There was scarcely a vestige of all that had been;
The beautiful tapestry, blue, red, and green,
Was all blacken'd and scorch'd, and look'd dirty and mean.
All the crockery broken, dish, plate, and tureen!
While those who look'd up could perceive in the roof,
One very large hole in the shape of a hoof!
Of poor Lady Hatton, it's needless to say,
No traces have ever been found to this day,
Or the terrible dancer who whisk'd her away;
But out in the court-yard -- and just in that part
Where the pump stands -- lay bleeding a LARGE HUMAN HEART!
And sundry large stains
Of blood and of brains,
Which had not been wash'd off notwithstanding the rains,
Appear'd on the wood, and the handle, and chains,
As if somebody's head with a very hard thump,
Had been recently knock'd on the top of the pump.
That pump is no more!-- that of which you've just read,--
But they've put a new iron one up in its stead,
And still, it is said,
At that 'small hour' so dread,
When all sober people are cosey in bed,
There may sometimes be seen on a moonshiny night,
Standing close by the new pump, a Lady in White,
Who keeps pumping away with, 'twould seem, all her might,
Though never a drop comes her pains to requite!
And hence many passengers now are debarr'd
From proceeding at nightfall through Bleeding Heart Yard!
Fair ladies attend!
And if you've a 'friend
At Court,' don't attempt to bamboozle or trick her!
-- Don't meddle with negus, or any mix'd liquor!--
Don't dabble in 'Magic!' my story has shown,
How wrong 'tis to use any charms but your own!
Young Gentlemen, too, may, I think, take a hint,
Of the same kind, from what I've here ventured to print,
All Conjuring's bad! they may get in a scrape,
Before they're aware, and whatever its shape,
They may find it no easy affair to escape.
It's not every body that comes off so well
From leger-de-main tricks as Mr. Brunel.
Don't dance with a Stranger who looks like a Guy,
And when dancing don't cut your capers too high!
Depend on't the fault's in
Your method of waltzing,
If ever you kick out the candles -- don't try!
At a ball or a play,
Or any soirée,
When a petit souper constitutes the 'Après,'
If strawb'ries and cream with CHAMPAGNE form a part,
Take care of your HEAD!-- and take care of your HEART!
If you want a new house
For yourself and your spouse,
Buy, or build one,-- and honestly pay, every brick, for it!
Don't be so green as to go to old Nick for it --
-- Go to George Robins -- he'll find you 'a perch,'
(Dulce domum's his word,) without robbing the Church!
The last piece of advice which I'd have you regard
Is, 'don't go of a night into Bleeding Heart Yard,'
It's a dark, little, dirty, black, ill-looking square,
With queer people about, and unless you take care,
You may find when your pocket's clean'd out and left bare,
That the iron one is not the only 'PUMP' there?
1. 'Seven hundred pounds and possibilities is good gifts.'-- Sir Hugh Evans. Back.
2. The grave Lord Keeper led the brawls,
The seals and maces danced before him.-- Gray. Back.
3. Sir John Hawkins for 'his worthye attempts and services,' and because 'in the same he had dyvers conflights with the Moryans and slew and toke dyvers of the same Moryans' received from Elizabeth anhonourable augmentation to his coat armour, including, for his crest, 'A Demi-Moor sable, with two manacles on each arm, or.' Back.
4. Sir Francis Drake's house, 'the Arbour,' stood here. Back.
5. Called by Sir Richard Baker 'The famous Lawyer.'-- See his Chronicle. Back.
6. Vide the celebrated ballad of 'Giles Scroggins.'-- Catnach's ed. 7 Dials, Lond., 1841. Back.
Back to Introduction