BiRTHPLACE OF THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON.
If it be legally as well as poetically true that “every child that’s born at sea belongs to the parish of Stepney,” we congratulate the good people of Stepney on a somewhat distinguished parishioner. It has always been stated that the great Duke of Wellington was born either at Lord Mornington’s residence in Dublin, or at Dangan Castle, county Meath; and even Burke accepts as an established fact his nativity on Irish soil. The Duke, it is well known, would never say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when questioned on the matter in the later years of his life.
We are in a position to state, upon evidence that admits of no dispute, that the Great Duke was born neither in Ireland nor in England: he was a Stepneian — a genuine child of the ocean. The Countess of Mornington, his mother, was taken with the pains of labour whilst crossing in a sailing-boat from Holyhead to Dublin. The wind was adverse, and the future conqueror of Waterloo first saw the light on board a packet, about halfway between the coasts of Wales and Ireland.
The late Lady Mary Temple, daughter of the Marquis of Buckingham, who was Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland when “Arthur Wesley” obtained his first commission, used to say that she had often heard him joked, and had joked him herself, at her father’s vice-regal table, on the place and circumstances of his birth. The Duke, as A.D.C. to the lady’s father, could not well be angry then with Lady Mary; but he begged her, in after-life, never to mention the subject again in his presence. The story, however, is confirmed by the fact of the Duke having been baptised in Dublin, in May, 1769, on the 1st of which month his birth is said to have happened. At all events, if the Great Duke was really a native of Stepney, it would seem as if a grateful nation had “passed” his ashes after death to the neighbourhood of the parish to which he belonged.
Campbell the poet was led home one evening, from the Athenaeum Club, by a friend of mine. There had been a heavy storm of rain, and the kennels were full of water. Campbell fell into one of them, and pulled my friend after him, who exclaimed, in allusion to a well-known line of the poet’s, “It is not Iser rolling rapidly, but Weser.”
The late Duke of Rutland, meeting Theodore Hook at an evening party, offered to take him home. When in the hall, Hook missed his hat, and kept the duke waiting.
“Come along,” said his grace, “never mind your hat.”
—”Why, to be sure,” replied Hook, “my beaver (Belvoir) is not quite of so much consequence as your grace’s.”
The late James Smith, one of the authors of “Rejected Addresses,” being asked whom George Robins, the celebrated auctioneer, had married, replied:
“Why Lot’s wife, to be sure.”
At a public dinner, three clergymen stood up at the same moment to say grace. Sydney Smith, who was present, called them “the Three Graces.”
Bobus Smith, who was not a very good looking man, was one day talking with Talleyrand, and some how or other he brought in the beauty of his (Smith’s) mother: “C’fitoit done votre pere qui n’Stoit pas bien,” said Talleyrand.
When George Grenville one night in the House of Commons was taken ill, and fainted, George Selwyn cried out: “Why don’t you give him the Journals of the House to smell to?”
Pitt’s Death-bed.—Pitt died at his house on Putney Heath, near the spot where Canning and Castlereagh fought their duel, and in a very neglected state, none of his family or friends being with him at the time. One, who was sincerely attached to him, hearing of his illness, rode from London to see him. Arriving at his house he rang the bell at the entrance-gate, but no one came.
Dismounting, he made his way to the hall-door, and repeatedly rang the bell, which no one answered. He then entered the house, wandered from room to room, till at last he discovered Pitt on a bed — dead, and entirely neglected. It is supposed, that such was his poverty, he had not been able to pay the wages of his servants, and that they had absconded, taking with them what they could.
Skeleton Strata. — The skeletons in our crowded London graveyards lie in layers which are quite historical in their significance, and which would be often startling if the circumstances of their juxta-position could be made known.
A cutting from an old London newspaper (title and date uncertain), and which exists in the well known repertory of Mr. Green of Covent Garden, contains an example of skeleton contact which is unusually curious, if reliable. It is there stated that Dr. Sacheverell is buried in St. Andrew’s, Holborn, and that the notorious Mother Needham of Hogarth is lying above him, and above her again is interred Booth the actor — a strange stratification of famous or notorious clay.
Scotch To The Back-bone. —The terrace behind Fife House, Whitehall, which looks upon the Thames, is made entirely of gravel brought up by sea from Banffshire; the old Earl of Fife, when he was made a British peer some century ago, having vowed that if he was forced to live in London half the year, at all events he would always walk on Scottish soil.
A Word About Hungerford Market. —Our readers probably know that Hungerford Market derives its name, in some way or other, from a member of the Hungerford family. They may not, however, be aware that Sir Edward Hungerford, the worthy knight who built and endowed Hungerford Market, lived in three centuries, having been born in 1596, and having died in 1711, at the great age of 115 years. As the market stands upon the site of the old town-house of the family, we are at liberty to imagine that the Thames smelt purer and ran with a more silvery and salubrious stream in the days of good old Sir Edward than in the present age. The ancient and noble family of Hungerford at one time held very large possessions in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, the principal seat and residence being at Farley Castle, Wilts, not far from Bath.
CORNWALLIS AND PiTT ON THE DuKE OF Wellington. —The opinion of Cornwallis on the Duke of Wellington is expressed in a letter to Sir John Shore (Cornwallis Correspondence), so early as June 10th, 1796.
“Dear Sir,—I beg leave to introduce to you Colonel Wesley, who is lieutenant-colonel of my regiment. He is a sensible man, and a good officer; and will, I have no doubt, conduct himself in a manner to merit your approbation.”
The Marquis Wellesley, in a letter addressed to the late John Wilson Croker, and which was privately printed, details an account of his last interview with Pitt, then dying at Putney Hill, in which Pitt said of his brother Arthur, “I never met any military officer with whom it was so satisfactory to converse. He states every difficulty before he undertakes any service, but none after he has undertaken it.”
The Marquis, coming away from Pitt’s death-bed, met Colonel Shawe in the Park, and told him, in addition to the statements in this letter, that Pitt congratulated himself on now having found a General to pit against Napoleon Bonaparte.
Longevity Among The Peerage. —It is not a little singular that of the score or so of peers who have died since the commencement of the year, there are sixteen whose united ages amount to no less than 1229 years, giving an average of 76 years and a-half to each.
The list of noble Lords is as follows:—
The Earl of Aylesford (aged 72);
Lord Northwick (81);
the Earl of Ilipon (76);
the Marquis of Bristol (89);
the Earl of Devon (81);
the Bishop of Bangor (86);
the Duke of Leeds (60);
the Earl of Moray (63);
the Earl of Tankerville (83);
Earl Cathcart (76);
the Earl of Harborough (62);
the Earl of Minto (76);
Viscount St. Vincent (92);
the Earl of Jersey (86);
the Earl of Westmorland (75);
and Earl Waldegrave (71).