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• Then send me not, mine Uncle dear, oh! send me not, I pray,
The class was called at morning tide, and Master Tom was there ;
hand she took,And bless us all, both great and small,- and keep us from Nell Cook!
THE LATE THOMAS HILL,* ESQ.
Poor . Tom Hill!'- for by that familiar appellation he was ever spoken of by all who knew and loved him—is gone from among us. We say not that a “star has fallen from Heaven,' yet has one of the kindliest of spirits taken its flight from earth ; one than which none ever existed composed of gentler elements, or more attuned to all social affections. No individual, perhaps, who has shared the com. mon lot of humanity during the year which has just closed upon us, will be more extensively or more sincerely regretted than Mr. Hill; for in the literary, and theatrical world especially, no one was better known or more beloved.
Mr. Hill was born at Lancaster, in May, 1760, and came very early in life to London, where he carried on an extensive business as a dry salter, at Queenhithe. While thus actively engaged, however, he found leisure to cultivate a taste for literature, and accumulated a very fine collection of old books, chiefly old poetry, which after. wards, when misfortunes overtook him, was valued at about six thousand pounds,--a noble library! He was also the especial and
* Mr. Aill died at his chamber in the Adelphi, Dec. 20, and was buried in the catacombs under St. Martin's Church, Dec. 28, ult.
generous patron of two unfriended poets, Bloomfield and Kirke White. "The Farmer's Boy” of the former was read and admired by him in manuscript, and was recommended to a publisher. By his influence in society, moreover, the public attention was drawn to its merits.
Mr. Hill established a clever periodical publication called The Monthly Mirror, which brought him much into connection with dramatic poets, actors, and managers He never omitted witnessing the first representation of any new play when in town. At his house in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, but more especially at his cottage at Sydenham, he was delighted to collect around him the most bril. liant wits, poets, actors, dramatists, and other men of genius of his time. John and Charles Kemble used generally to dine at his house in Henrietta Street on the first night of any new play in which they took a part, and went thence to the theatre. Many yet remain who well remember the agreeable symposia at his rural villa. Mrs. Mathews, in her entertaining Memoirs of her gifted husband, makes the following remarks on these social meetings :
“ I might aptly have quoted, in allusion to the happy days in which I shared at the Merry Bachelor's' cottage at Sydenham for so many years, the lines in one of O'Keefe's operas,
• Of all the days that I have seen,
I dearly love but one day-
The Saturday and Monday;' for then our little carriage was in readiness, early in the afternoon, to convey us to this rustic dwelling--all simplicity without, all brillian. cy within. There, hebdomadally, were found a knot of the first talents of the day; and, amongst the perpetual advantages I derived from being the wife of a clever man, i was allowed the delight of al. ways being a partaker of these intellectual treats. Our excellent and kind friend, Mr. Thomas Hill's well-regulated hospitality was the theme of everybody's praise and pleasure who ever visited him; and, with the one exception just made, his house was the resort of the highest order of intellect and literary acquirement. The accom- , modation of Mr. Hill's house and table did not, luckily, admit of more than could conduce to their mutual pleasure. Each party was well chosen and assorted, never exceeding a dozen; and I had the honour to occupy the only spare room, all other guests, who were too fas. tidious to be content with the accommodation of the neighbouring inn, returning to town. Now and then a lady would share my short interval of drawing-room retirement; but this did not so often occur as it otherwise would, had the distance from London been less, or the cottage possessed more accommodation in the way of beds. Thus five times out of six I was the only lady; and I monopolised all the advantage of such a position, being pressed always to outstay custom, and afterwards seldom finding myself waiting tea for the gentlemen, whose courtesy was strained to answer generally the first
** Kirke White became a contributor to the Monthly Mirror, and was thus intro. duced to Mr. Thomas Hill, the proprietor of that work, a gentleman who was himself a lover of English literature, and who possessed one of the most copious collections of English poetry in existence. This encnuragement induced him about the close of the year 1802 to commit a little volume of poetry to the press."-SOUTHEY's Life of Kirke White.
summons from the drawing.room. What happy days were those! -days of unmixed pleasure, laid up in grateful memory of the friend who dispensed so much happiness to my early years, although only for the sake of my dear husband, whom he had known from his boyhood. Those who, like myself, have survived the Sydenhum Sundays, will, like me, remember them with retrospective gratification; for, though I was the only one present that did not contribute to the treat, yet those who did were not without their reward.”
In his friend, Mr. Hook's clever novel, “Gilbert Gurney," we find the following sketch, which will be instantly identified as a portrait of Mr. Hill.
“His plump rosy cheeks were purpled with warmth and kindness as he held out his hand to take mine, and protested that I was the very man he wanted most particularly to see. Hull was a very extraordinary person. He knew the business of everybody in London better than the people themselves. He happened to know every: thing that was going forward in all circles-mercantile, political, fashionable, literary, or theatrical ; in addition to all matters connected with military and naval affair, agriculture, finance, art and science -everything came alike to him---to his inquiring eye no mystery continued undiscovered ;—from his attentive ear no secret remained concealed. He was plump-short-with an intelligent countenance, and near-sighted-with a constitution and complexion fresh enough to look forty, at a time when I believed him to be at least four times the age; we had a joke against him in those days as to his antiquity, in which he heartily and good-naturedly joined, until at last we got him to admit-and I almost think, believe--that he sold gunpowder to King Charles the Second, and dined more than once with the witty Lord Rochester.
"* Wanted you to come and meet a few friends at my cottage at Mitcham,' said Hull-all plain and simple-good wine, I promise you, and pleasant company--but you are such a fellow, my dear friend. Pooh, pooh! don't tell me—there's no catching you-eh, I say--I have heard all about the cakes, the cow, and the Countess, the Pandeans in the pavilion, and the dead dace in the drawing-room.'"What do you mean ? said I, not imagining, it possible that events which had so recently occurred should have already obtained such publicity.—'O you dog,' said Hull, 'I happen to know--my dear Gurney —it's no use trying to hoax me--I say-Daly did it--he, he !-you know it-eh! Not I. upon my honour,' said l; which was true, do
you know Daly?—Know hiin!' exclaimed my friend linow Daly ! - why, my dear sir, I have known him these forty years.'—
Daly!' said I, 'why he is not thirty years old!'- Perhaps not forty,' said Hull; 'but I knew his father more than forty years ago. You dined with Daly yesterday at his lodgings ??—I did,' said I, staring; 'but how did you find that out?'— Find it out, my dear friend !'re plied Hull,—I do nothing in the world but find out. I saw the boil. ed leg of lamb and spinach which you had for dinner-eh!-wasn't it so ?'— Do you dine with him frequently ?' said 1.–Never, my dear friend; never dined with him in my life,' said Hull; 'but I know where he gets his hock-six guineas and a half the dozen. Come down to Mitcham; you shall taste some of the very same baich. Great creature, Daly-magnificent style, I'm told-splendid service of plate, and all that.'— Plate !' said I.--'Superb,' said Hull. 'I
happen to know the fact.'— My dear sir,' said I, • I should say a dozen spoons and forks were the extent of his service, as you call it.—'Well, said Hull, what does he want with more? Too bad- the cakes,eh! —and the cow—all over town. However, now to business, as I have done work for to-day: when will you come to Mitcham ? Name your time.'—'I shall be very happy,' said I ; 'but what do you mean by having done work ??—'Here,' said he, drawing from one of his pockets a very small, dirty, black•letter book, this is all I shall do to-day. My pursuit, you know—eh!.-old books-rare books. I don't care what I give so as I can secure them. This is a tract of 1486—seventeen pages originally--five only wanting--two damaged-got it for seventytwo pounds ten shillings- Caxton-only one other copy extant—that in the British Museum.'-And what is it about ?' said I, innocently. - Why, I do not happen to know that,' said Hull.— Then why buy it ?' said I.-- Buy !' exclaimed he, looking at me through his glass with an expression of astonishment, — 1 buy thousands of books !-pooh! pooh! millions, my dear sir, in the course of a year, but I never think of reading them. My dear friend, I have no time to read.' I confess I did not exactly comprehend the character of bibliomania which appeared to engross my friend.
“ As for his hospitable invitation, I resolved to accept it, and fix an early day. Mine is but a box,' said Hull, all humble and lowly. There will be a bed for you at the inn, and a garden full of gooseberries and currants to stroll about.'— And pleasant pastime, too,' said I. *I, for ope, think the despised fruits of our country are amongst the most delicious.'— Despised !' said Hull,-pooh! pooh! nobody can despise gooseberries and currants like mine-I have thousands of them !pooh! pooh! currants as big as marbles! and gooseberries larger than hens' eggs !—I'll try them, depend upon it,' said I. 'What say you to to.morrow ?'-—'My dear friend, the very day I was going to fix,' said Hull. “I knew your friend Daly was gone-went out of town by eight this morning-eh!-come down to Mitcham. You'll meet one of your Haymarket friends -'Ah!' said I, •Mr. Hull, that's a sore point. That infernal farce of mine!
I shall never get over it.'—' Infernal! said Hull. What d'ye mean by infernal ? I wish we had more people who could write such farces-infernal in. deed!'-'Yet,' said I, it was condemned.'— Umph!' said Hull, low. ering bis voice, and whispering in my ear, 'I could tell you something about that. I happen to know, and so do you.'— Indeed I don't, said I.— Don't you know something about the “Wag in the Windmill,” ” said Hull, "coming out the week after next ?'—'Not I.'— Pooh! pooh! don't tell me,' said Hull. I happen to know the author.'— Do you?' said I. •I don't.'—'Come-come, you dog! that won't do,' said he. • What did the Chronicle mean the day before yesterday. Did you see the allusion ??— No,' said I; I never see the Chronicle.'- Never see the Chronicle !' exclaimed Hull, don't tell me-that won't do-you see all the papers. My dear friend, the allusion to you is plain as a pikestaff.' – I give you my word,' said I,
that I have written not one line since my failure, nor ever will write again.'— How could they have got hold of it, I wonder ?' said Hull, archly. • I'll find out before I go into the city. However, to-morrow you come to me. Dine punctually at five. Early folks in the country-none of your supper-time dinners there. Remember, a bed for yourself-capital stables for your horses at the inn-civil people
very attentive to all my guests--know it would not do if they were not,-hundreds of people go there in the course of the summer from my cottage. Good day! good day! you won't come any farther with me, I know you won't-city work don't suit you-God bless you! pooh! pooh! remember five!'
“And away he went, leaving me amazed at the activity of his mind and the universality of his information. As my acquaintance with Hull increased in age, I had many opportunities of convincing myself of the inherent kindness of his disposition, and his readiness to do what he imagined to be a service to his friends whenever it lay in his power. The following is a continuation of the sketch :
“When I drove up to the gate of Hull's house, I saw his goodna. tured face peering over the hedge which separated his garden from the road, like a rose in June,' flowering on its native stem. In a moment he was at his gate, and in another I had set my foot in his domain, a little bijou of neatness, niceness, prettiness, and sweetness. I saw com. pany in the garden, heard laughter in the bowers, and casting my eyes through two French windows which opened on the lawn, beheld a table covered for eight. The roses, the mignionette, the heliotropes, all combined their fragrance to refresh the air; and although, from its proximity to the highway, Hull's servant had to brush the plants as he did his coat, every morning, to get rid of the dust, it was what the most fastidious critic must have pronounced a delightful little place.
“Some of the assembled party were unknown to me, although none of them were unknown to fame ; an enthusiastic poet, a witty and agreeable barrister, the editor of a weekly newspaper, a fashionable preacher, and an opulent city merchant, then one of the sheriffs of London, added to one of the popular actors with whom I was previously acquainted, formed a society which, from its miscellaneous character, promised to be a great treat to one who like myself, at that time of my life, professed to be only a listener. The sequel, however, was a disappointment. Every one of the guests was celebrated for something, and each one was jealous of his neighbour. Hull, who pooh poohed them about in his best style, endeavoured to draw them out, and force every man to say or do something to contribute to the general amusement; but it was evidently an effort. The poet had a sovereign contempt for the barrister, and whenever he fired a pun preserved the most imperturbable gravity. The barrister, who was moreover a critic, irritated the actor, who hated the newspaper editor for the tone he had adopted in his theatrical reviews. The clergyman kept aloof from any controversy with the Thespian; and the Sheriff, who was worth a couple of hundred thousand pounds, despised the whole party, and set them down as a parcel of paupers, who were obliged to get their bread by the exercise of their talents.
"Here's turbot, Mr. Bucklesbury, fresh from Billingsgate this morning. Sunday makes no difference with me. I happen to know the most eminent salesman in the market. Bless your soul, he wouldn't mind sending a boat express to Torbay for a turbot for me.'~Very fine fish indeed,' said, or rather snorted, Bucklesbury.- Fine !' exclaimed Hull. Nothing at all, my dear sir, to what you have at home--eh ?-I happen to know there's no man so particular about his fish as you.'—I like it good when I has it,' said Bucklesbury. 'Is there any lobster sauce ?'—' Any ! cried Hull. “My dear friend, there are loads of lobsters-thousands. Here, you stupid dog, bring some of those sauce tureens to the Sheriff.'