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of some of our provinces," appeared in The Times of April 6, 1860, which is there signed by "Aloys Serafino, apostolical curser, and Philippus Ossani, magister curser.' The correct meaning of the titles of these two officers gave rise to an amusing discussion between Sir George Bowyer and a correspondent signing himself "Precurser." See The Times of April 7, 9, 10, 11, 1860.]
GAINSBOROUGH'S "BLUE BOY."
It was fully expected before this time to have seen in your columns a reply from MR. TOMLINSON, or some other believer in the "undoubted originality" and superior merits of the Westminster "Blue Boy," in answer to my last communication on the subject which appeared in "N. & Q." (p. 237), but none has as yet appeared. This looks as if great, if not insurmountable difficulty, had been experienced in obtaining the information necessary to prove the Westminster case, or to attack successfully the case made out on behalf of the other blue-clad boy.
In the absence of such a reply, and provided that your space will admit, perhaps the following particulars of the "Blue Boy" question as it stands at present may be interesting to your readers.
It will be in their recollection that it has been previously shown in "N. & Q.," (1) that the history of the Westminster "Blue Boy," which purports to emanate from the records of the Grosvenor gallery through different authors, is erroneous as regards Hoppner, the man from whom the picture was said to be purchased, although it is likely to be correct with reference to the purchase of a 'Blue Boy" by the first Earl Grosvenor; (2) that its known or public history commenced at an auction-room sale in Ryder's Court, Leicester Square; (3) that if bought some time after this sale by the first Earl Grosvenor, who died Aug. 5, 1802, it could not possibly be the original "Blue Boy," which was known to be in Mr. Hoppner's possession in 1806, if not also in 1808, but must be another one; (4) that if both the "Blue Boys" were painted by Gainsborough, then the least known one is the finest work of art; and (5) that if one of them be a replica of the other, then it was most probable that the Westminster "Blue Boy" would be the replica.
The information since received, and the searching examinations which the least known "blue clad" has undergone, materially strengthen these deductions, if not entirely confirm them.
History. Having in a previous number shown that the Hoppner portion of the so-called history of the Westminster "Blue Boy" was erroneous, it
will now be shown that the Nesbitt part thereof (see 4th S. iii. 576) is also wrong. Indeed it appears that the Westminster history of the picture is a compound of a grain of truth and a bushel of error: the truth being the names of Messrs. Nesbitt and Hoppner, who necessarily possessed the original "Blue Boy," and the error being another picture altogether. According to this history, "at Mr. Buttall's death the 'Blue Boy' was purchased by Mr. Nesbitt"; but so far there appears no reason to think that Mr. Buttall ever did possess the original "Blue Boy." On the contrary, there is proof that it belonged at an early period of its lifetime to George Prince of Wales.
In Thornbury's Life of Turner an interesting anecdote is told how, and from whom, Mr. Nesbitt obtained the "Blue Boy":
"Many years ago," says the narrator, "there resided at Heston a Mr. Nesbitt, a person of substance in his younger days, and a companion of George Prince of Wales. He once possessed Gainsborough's Blue Boy,' and in the following way. He was dining with the Prince: Nesbitt,' said the Prince, that picture shall be yours.' At first he thought the Prince was joking; but finding he was decidedly serious, Nesbitt, who was a beau of the first water, made all suitable acknowledgments for his R. H.'s generosity, and next morning the Blue Boy' arrived; followed in due time by a bill of 3001, which he had the satisfaction of paying. I heard Mr. Nesbitt, many years ago, tell the story at my father's table."
This anecdote forms a portion of an able essay on art and artists contributed by that amateur artist, the Rev. J. S. Trimmer, Vicar of Marstonon- -Dove, in Derbyshire, and a descendant of Gainsborough's bosom friend Sir Joshua Kirby. To the reverend gentleman we are indebted for several instructive letters bearing on the anecdote, and also on the difficulty of copying Gainsborough's works: for usually, he says, such copies are defective in figures or in the landscapes, or in both, as appears to be the case between the two "Blue Boys," with the usual defects observable in the Westminster picture. He also mentions his own youthful devotion to art, and especially to all that concerned, or was said about, the family hero Gainsborough. At the stage of life when youths store up for life-long remembrance matters in which they take a deep interest, the reverend gentleman heard his father's guest tell the story at Heston Vicarage, where it became a family anecdote as communicated to Mr. Thornbury for publication. Perhaps in losing Mr. Trimmer, the fine arts lost a devotee who might have become a bright and a shining star.
Further research to discover who Mr. Nesbitt was, has shown that he belonged to the Lismore family of Nesbitts; that he was the John Nesbitt, Esq., M.P., who for about twenty years represented in Parliament either Winchelsea, Gatton, or Bodmin; that he inherited the property and
fine old paintings of his uncle, Arnold Nesbitt, M.P. for Cricklade, who died in 1774; that his brother Arnold was chaplain to the Prince Regent; that the Prince and John Nesbitt were on the best of terms"; and that Mr. Nesbitt lived at Heston from about 1815 to 1820.
As regards this new phase in the history of the "Blue Boy," namely, its having formerly belonged to the then Prince of Wales, there is not only the direct testimony of Mr. Nesbitt, but also the following corroborative considerations: (1) That the prince was a patron of the great painter when living, and after his death, we are told by the Rev. Mr. Trimmer that he sent for and condoled with his widow on the loss of her talented husband; (2) That it was about the hanging of the portraits of the Princess Royal, and the Princesses Augusta and Elizabeth, painted on commission for the prince, that Gainsborough quarrelled with the R.A.s and exhibited no more pictures at the Royal Academy; (3) That if Master Buttall was the painter's subject or model, he would be paid the usual fee, so that it is extremely improbable that either he or his father ever became the owner of the finished picture, which owed all its celebrity and value to the extraordinary skill of the painter; (4) That a picture rendered doubly famous by artistic skill and a professional dispute was very likely to attract the notice of the painter's royal patron, and be chased for his gallery, where its fame would be extended, as it was extended, amongst the highest of the land; (5) That it may be owing to the "Blue Boy" having been in a royal gallery, that no trace of its public exhibition has yet been found by the writer during the end of the last century or the beginning of this one; and (6) that the first authentic records of the "Blue Boy" yet met with since it left the artist's studio are, a description of it when in Mr. Nesbitt's collection of paintings, and a brief editorial reference to it
in The Times.
Through the courtesy and urbanity of the present head of the Lismore family, Alexander Ñesbitt, Esquire, T.C., we are enabled to quote the following admirable description of the original "Blue Boy" from a catalogue of his great-uncle's choice paintings, and which speaks for itself:
"No. 63. Gainsborough. A whole-length Figure, with a finc Landscape in the Back-Ground. This most incomparable performance ranks this very celebrated Master among the First Class of Painters, Ancient and Modern. It has the Grace and Elegance of Van Dyck in the Figure, with a Countenance as forcibly expressed and as rich as Murillo, with the Management of a Titian. It is a Picture which cannot be too highly spoken of or too much admired."
This graphic description of a picture about which The Times asks, "Where a superior to Gainsborough in a fancied portrait ?" becomes of obvious importance as a standard whereby to com
pare the leading features of the two claimants to be that picture. Glowing as is this early description, it is nevertheless as applicable to the leastknown "Blue Boy" now" barring," perhaps, some slight foot-prints" of time and dried varnish- -as it was to the picture in Mr. Nesbitt's collection at the beginning of this century. A striking proof of this is furnished by a recentlywritten, but brief outline of the least known "blue-clad" boy by Richard James Lane, Esq., R.A.E., the great-nephew of Gainsborough, an acknowledged authority on his works, and an artist highly spoken of by Allan Cunningham as one "in whom much of his great uncle's spirit survives." In the same spirit, it may be added, that his daughter, Miss Lane, seems to inherit not a little of Gainsborough's artistic skill, as an inspection of her art-productions will show. Mr. Lane writes:
"I have carefully examined the picture. The figure is more elegant than the Grosvenor picture-the character of the face far more pleasing the minutest touches of the subordinate parts palpably Gainsboro's. The comparative smoothness of the painting of the face might suggest the hand of Dupont, his nephew, who worked for him, but would not interfere with the integrity of the work as Gainsborough's."
Now, when Mr. Lane wrote, he had no knowledge of the early artistic description of the "Blue Boy" written upwards of sixty years previously, neither did he contemplate writing an artistic character of the least known "blue-clad " which he could so well do, but simply to convey to the writer (whom he had not even seen) his opinion of the integrity of the picture as Gains
But notwithstanding the disadvantage to Mr. Lane of comparing his inartistic touches with the early artistic pen-and-ink portrait, there is
found in both of them the same reference to eleit not, then, be fairly held that this gance of figure and attractiveness of face. May remarkvery from their reference to the same picture, but at able community of ideas and expressions arises widely different periods of its lifetime?
by Richard Redgrave, Esq., R.A.E., and his In that able work, A Century of Painters, brother Samuel Redgrave, Esq., it is fully, clearly, and convincingly argued that the light, touchy, sketchy, off-hand style so often attributed to Gainsborough had little or no foundation to rest upon. On the contrary, it is shown by examples and contrasts that he could and did paint carefully and durably, of which the face and figure of the least known "blue-clad " may be cited as other examples.
In Sir Joshua Reynolds's tribute to Gainsborough, another characteristic is mentioned, namely, "the eager desire Gainsborough always expressed that his pictures should be seen near, as well as at a distance"-a criterion which is
applicable to the least known "Blue Boy." To non-professionals, at least, it certainly appears that the nearer the observer and the picture are to an ordinary conversational distance apart, on the same, or nearly the same level, the more life-like appears the face and figure of the handsome, dark-eyed, fresh-coloured, "blue-clad" youth.
The talented author of Modern Painters, John Ruskin, M.A., contends that Gainsborough is the finest colourist of the English school; that his power of colour is capable of taking rank beside that of Rubens; that his forms are all grand, simple, and English, and that he never lost sight of a picture as a whole. Now, it would require a Ruskin to do justice to the power of colouring in the face and figure of the least known "blueclad," but this much may be said, that, as a whole, the picture is a fine illustration of Mr. Ruskin's conclusions. J. S.
(To be continued.)
THE DUNMOW FLITCH.
The institution of this old custom is attributed to Sir Reginald Fitzwalter in the 13th century, who, in a rustic garb and with his bride, appeared before the prior of the convent of Dunmow and received a flitch of bacon as a reward for his constancy,* The second claim on record was made in the 7th of Edward IV., and the fliteh bestowed on Steven Samuel and his wife (of Little Easton, Essex, on our Lady-day in Lent, sworn before Roger Bulcott, then prior), and the third in that of Henry VIII. In these three records there is no mention of the lady, and she does not seem to have been sworn.† There is a reference to the custom in Piers Plowman:
"Many a couple, since the pestilence, have plighted themselves together, and the fruit they bring forth are foul words, jealousy without happiness, and quarrelling; in bed they have no children but strife, and if they go to
The first record of the ceremony is in 1445, and in the chartulary of the priory in the Cottonian MSS. :
"Memorandum.-That one, Richard Wright, of Badbourge, near the city of Norwich, in the county of Norfolk, yeoman, came and required the Bacon of Dunmow, on the 27th day of April, in the 23rd year of the reign of King Henry V., and according to the form of the charter, was sworn before John Cannon, prior of this place, and the convent, and many other neighbours, and there was delivered to him, the said Richard, one flitch of bacon."
In the first of these three records a flitch of bacon is mentioned as the reward, but in the last two (1468 and 1510) it is a gammon. The oath administered to Thomas Shakeshaft and Ann his wife, in 1751, runs :
"A whole gammon of bacon you shall receive,
And bear it hence with love and good leave; For this is our custom at Dunmow well known; Though the pleasure be ours the bacon's your own." It made all the difference whether they received a gammon (gamba, a leg) or a fitch (Saxon, flicce; Danish, flekke, to cleave or slit), the side of a hog.
Before the revival of the custom in 1855, the last delivery of the flitch occurred on the 20th of June, 1751. David Ogborne painted a very accurate picture of this on the spot, which is now in the possession of Captain Lucas, of Hatfield Peveril. From this the well-known prints were taken. Mr. Harrison Ainsworth, in the preface to his tale The Flitch of Bacon, says that a custom almost precisely similar to that of Dunmow existed at Whichenoure, in Staffordshire. Pennant, who visited Whichenoure House in 1780, states that it was "remarkable for the painted wooden bacon flitch, still hung up over the hall chimney, in memory of the singular tenure by which Sir Philip de Somervile, in the time of Edward III., held the manor. The oath ran as follows:
"Hear ye, Sir Philip de Somervile, lord of Whichenoure, maintainer and giver of this bacon, that I, A., syth and at wylle, by a yere and a daye after our marryage, wedded B., my wife, and syth I had her in my keeping would not have changed for none other, fare ne fowler, richer ne powrer, ne for none other descended of gretter lynage, sleeping ne waking at noo time; and if the said B. were sole and I sole, I would take her to be my wyfe before all the wymen of the worlde, of what condytions soever they be, good or evyle, as helpe me God, and his seyntys, and this flesh and all fleshes."
If the claimant were a villeyn, corn and cheese horse was likewise provided to take him out of the were given him in addition to the flitch, and a limits of the manor, all the free tenants thereof conducting him on his way with "trompets, tabourets, and other manoir of mynstralcie." Pennant observes that it has "remained untouched from the first century of its institution to the present." The custom of the flitch has been practised in France and Germany. At one abbey the custom was observed for 600 years; and Dr. Bell states that at the abbey of Wier hung a flitch of bacon with the following lines:
"Is there to be found a married man
That his marriage him doth not rue,
JAMES BISSETT. (4th S. iii. 32, 206.)
I knew James Bissett well, as I have great reason to remember him. My father bought me a poem by him called the "Orphan Boy," now above seventy years ago. I have the fifteenth edition before me; it contains one hundred and sixty
lines. I then being very fond of it retained it in my memory, and can now repeat it although in my eighty-first year. I have the greatest reason also to remember it, as, by repeating it to relations and friends, I obtained sixteen spade-ace guineas, and with this amount paid for the only boarding-school education I had at a Mr. Magnis', Barr, near Walsall, now I think a nunnery.
Nearly sixty years ago I called on Mr. Bissett, who had then removed to Leamington, near Warwick, where he had a public exhibition-room of paintings, antiquities, coins, medals, &c. He then had a protégée of the name of Ann Hathaway, said to be a descendant of Shakespeare, and certainly there was a great likeness to his portraits. It was a favour to obtain a kiss, but if this was granted it was expected that you gave her a shilling. I was one of the (then as I thought) happy ones, and went away rejoicing. (Qy. Can any of your numerous correspondents say if the said Ann Hathaway is still living ?) I would here remark that about three years ago, when on a visit to Atherstone, Warwickshire, near Mr. Dugdale's lodge gates, I met with a very old man (above eighty), and being anxious to know of the inhabitants, &c., of the neighbourhood, in course of conversation I found he was born at Stratford-on-Avon, and his name was "William Shakespeare"; he was then living at Grendon, and had for a long time been working on the roads. I could get nothing from him as to his early life: he left with his mother when very young. As in the case of Ann Hathaway, I really thought the likeness was very like the Shakespeare profile. (Qy. Is he living?) Perhaps Sir George Chetwynd of Grendon Hall might be able to give some
Why does these fleas torment me so ?
I'll catch them with my forefinger,
of myself; his name was Fletcher Norton, Esq., of Elton Manor, near Bottesford, whose ancestor, Sir Fletcher Norton, came from Norton Conyers, near Ripon, in Yorkshire. The motto is "I have fought the good fight." He was Speaker of the House of Commons. I cannot at this moment say the exact quarterings of the seal, one of which a brother of mine has. This Fletcher Norton died about four years ago; I was at the funeral. His lady died some two years after; and I do not know any other of the name of Norton now living. My great-grandfather, grandfather, and mother's name was Norton. One of the family died at Croydon about seventy years ago, leaving a large property. His name was the same as my own— viz. Christopher Norton. This property my grandfather, then living at Drayton in the county of Stafford, enjoyed, and lived to spend it all.
Make what use (if any) of these notes and queries, abridge or alter at your pleasure, and excuse the liberty taken by an octogenarian. CHRISTOPHER NORTON WRIGHT. 50, Addison Street, Nottingham.
"What crowds of patients the town-doctor kills, Or how last fall he raised the weekly bills." I have not been able to find any more passages, and as it is not in Nares's Glossary nor in the short indices which Gifford and Dyce have added to their editions of our dramatists, and as it pro
While on a visit at 'a farm-house at Baddesley-bably would have been so had it occurred more Ensor, I frequently heard the old farmer say to the maid and sometimes to the other servants"Come hackle" (or hackele or hackel), "for bed." I have not met with the word hackle in " N. & Q." Can any reader of "N. & Q." say where it may be found? On a barber's sign as I passed I read this curious request "Come to the poll and assist, &c." The name I forget.
frequently, it must be a somewhat rare word, though there is no doubt from these instances that it is one of the many old English words which were taken out to America, and there more fondly retained than in the mother country, and which have of late years been called Americanisms, simply from the strange ignorance which compilers of dictionaries in this country have shown of our old dramatists and old writers generally.
Where can I find this quotation ?—
It seems curious if more instances will not be found, for there is no reason why fall should not be used as much as spring, and it is, I believe, like many of our old English words, still in currency among the peasantry.
In Shakspere (teste Mrs. Cowden Clarke) we have it only in the full form, "fall of the leaf," in Rich. II. Act III. Sc. 4, but there it is in exact opposition to spring, and should perhaps be pointed
In "N. & Q." (4th S. iii. 342) I find some notes of the Norton motto, "God us ayde," "The fate of the Nortons," &c.; and a MR. STEPHEN JACKSON of the Flatts, Malham Moor, Craven, says, 46 some years ago another family of the same name was resident in or near Nottingham or Northampton (I forget which), and whose arms and motto were the same.' "9 This is a mistake. The Norton he alludes to was a distant relation
"FALL" FOR "AUTUMN."
Let me add to the passages which ST. T. has brought forward one in Dodsley's Old Plays, v. 22, "Take physic at the spring and at the fall." Johnson quotes one from Dryden's Juvenal
"He that hath suffer'd this disorder'd spring, Hath now himself met with the fall, of leaf": spring being in full the spring of the leaf.
"Fall come to you at the farthest, In the very end of harvest."
This would make admirable sense-"May you get all your crops in before any bad weather of autumn." The explanation of this would be that the printer, or printer's boy, did not understand the word fall (as, though not unused, it seems rare), and seeing that some season was wanted, and that summer, autumn, or winter would be one syllable too much, put in spring on his own responsibility; and as in those days there was no revision of the press, a printer could do what he liked with an author.
The Collier MS. reads rain, which is unsatisfactory (as most of its readings are) for three reasons: (1) rain is such a very indefinite word; (2) I think we want clearly a season; (3) one does not quite see how rain would have been changed into spring in this passage. There are, to be sure, three letters in common.
After all, the old reading will stand in the sense that the winter would be so mild and genial that they would have eternal spring and summer. We must remember we are in a masque and an enchanted country. ERATO HILLS. Trin. Coll. Cambridge. P.S. I am sorry I did Prof. Gervinus unintentional injustice in my second letter on "the Third Murderer of Banquo." He only mentions the notion I spoke of to partially condemn it. I fell into my mistake from not following Captain Cuttle (though quite a disciple of his), and so quoted from memory.
CHARLES DIBDIN'S MSS. (4th S. iv. 488.) Being a descendant of Charles Dibdin, and therefore naturally interested in anything which may be said concerning him, may I be allowed to query LIOM. F. as to what he means by saying that "his friend, a granddaughter of Mr. Dibdin, has in her possession all her grandfather's manuscripts"? I should have perfectly understood him if he had said that she possessed a collection of his autograph letters, for such writings of any man, however insignificant, are almost always preserved by those to whom they are written; but it is not at all likely that a man who wrote with great rapidity, and for the purpose of earning a livelihood, should ever think of preserving a second copy of what he composed, and the first would of Course be destroyed by the printers, unless that
race of people were very different in those days to what they are now. It is true that the lady of whom he speaks may possess works of Dibdin's in MSS. which have not yet been given to the public. This, however, is a very unlikely and unsatisfactory solution of the difficulty.
Finally, if LIOM. F. can without breach of confidence confide to me, either through the medium of "N. & Q." or privately, the name of the lady in question, and the line of her descent from Charles Dibdin, he will exceedingly oblige EDWARD RIMBAULT DIBDIN.
DOUGLAS AND CLYDESDALE (3rd S. xii. 71.)-I have a letter dated "Grosvenor Place, March ye 11th, 1815," and signed very distinctly "Douglas and Clydesdale." Is it the same family?
P. A. L.
DATE OF ENTRY AND FIRST PUBLICATION OF WORKS BY DANIEL DEFOE (4th S. iv. 477.)ARTHUR HALL directs attention to the unusual period that elapsed between the entry of Moll Flanders in the books at Stationers' Hall, and the date I have given as that of its publication. He also notices the fact that it was entered in the name of Thos. Edlin, "as the proprietor of the whole copyright."
I cannot account for the difficulty MR. HALL has raised, except on the supposition that he must have alighted upon the entry at Stationers' Hall of the third edition, or of a fourth unknown to me. The date of entry he gives is January 12, 172, which, as he knows, would now be the same as 1723, while the first edition is stated by me to have been published by W. Chetwood on January 27 in the preceding year, and the titlepage is actually dated 1721. Any earlier edition, by Edlin, is therefore out of the question.
If I briefly explain how I obtained the dates of publication of a great portion of the books and pamphlets issued between 1680 and 1735, Defoe's among the rest, MR. HALL will see that I could scarcely fall into error. I left no accessible newspaper or journal during that period unexamined, and took notes of the advertisements ante, passant, and post publication. The announcements would frequently be-" Next week," "In a few days," "On Tuesday next," or "To-morrow will be published," &c. Then, of the same work, the advertisement would be "This day is published," &c., followed on succeeding days by "Yesterday," "On Tuesday last," or "A few days since was published," &c.
MR. HALL will find, on reference to The Post Boy of January 27, 1722, and to the same and other journals of several preceding days, that the first edition of Moll Flanders was published when and as stated in the Chronological Catalogue of Daniel Defoe's Works. If he should wish to see the book itself, there is a copy in the British Museum (Bib. Gren. 13,539.)