A Letter from Master JACKY CURIOUS, in London, to his Mamma in the Country, giving a Description of the Tower, Monument, and St. Paul's Church.

            Honoured Madam,

AT my departure, I remember you ordered me to send you accounts of every thing I saw remarkable in London; I will obey your commands as well as I can; but pray excuse my defects, and let my will plead for my inability, to entertain my absent friends.

I am just now come from seeing the tower, monument and St. Paul's cathedral, (places which I remember to have heard much talk of in the country, and which scarce any body that comes to London omits seeing).  The tower, which stands by the Thames, is a large strong building, surrounded with a high wall, about a mile in compass, and a broad ditch supplied with water out of the River Thames.  Round the outward wall are guns planted, which on extraordinary occasions are fired.  At the entrance, the first thing we saw was a


collection of wild beasts, viz. lions, panthers, tygers [sic], &c. also eagles and vultures: These are of no sort of use, and kept only for curiosity and shew.  We next went to the mint, (which is in the tower observe) where we saw the manner of coining money, which is past my art, especially in the compass of a letter, to describe.  From thence we went to the jewel room, and saw the crown of England, and other regalia, which are well worth seeing, and gave me a great deal of pleasure.  The next is the horse armory, a grand sight indeed; here are fifteen of our English monarchs on horseback, all dressed in rich armour, and attended by their guards; but I think it not so beautiful as the next thing we saw, which was the small armory:  This consists of pikes, muskets, swords, halberts [sic], and pistols, sufficient, as they told us, for three-score thousand men;  and are all placed in such different figures, representing the sun, star and garter, half moons, and such like, that I was greatly delighted with it; and they being all kept clean and scowered, made a most brilliant appearance.  Hence we went and saw the train of artillery, in the grand storehouse, as they call it, which is filled with cannon and mortars, all extremely fine:  Here is also a diving-bell, with other curiosities too tedious to mention; which having examined, we came away and went to the monument, which was built in remembrance of the fire of London: It is a curious lofty pillar, 200 feet high, and on the top a gallery, to which we


went by tedious winding stairs in the inside: from this gallery we had a survey of the whole city:  And here having feasted our eyes with the tops of houses, ships, and multitude of boats on the River Thames, we came down and went to St. Paul's Cathedral, which is a most magnificent pile, and stands on high ground, near the centre of the city.  This noble building struck me with surprise, and is admired by the whole world, as well for its beautiful architecture as height and magnitude; it has a grand awful [awe-inspiring] choir, chapel, a dome finely painted by that masterly hand Sir J. Thornhill, a whispering gallery, and other curiosities, with which I conclude my first letter, and am,
                             Your very dutiful son,
                                           JOHN CURIOUS.


       Honoured Madam,

I NOW proceed to acquaint you with my next excursion, in search of the curiosities of this famous city; which was to Westminster Abbey.  This is really a magnificent ancient building; but what most surprised me, was the vast number of beautiful monuments and figures with which the inside is adorned.  Among such as were pointed out to me, as being remarkable either for their costliness or


beauty, I remember were those of the Duke of Newcastle, a magnificent and expensive piece, Sir Isaac Newton, General Stanhope, the Earl of Chatham, General Wolf, and that exquisite statue of Shakepeare, which, I am told, is inimitable.  When I had for some time enjoyed the pleasure of gazing at these, I was conducted into that part of the church where the Royal monuments are placed.  These, I thought, were exceeding grand.  But nothing surprised and delighted me so much as King Henry the Seventh's chapel, which, for beauty and magnificence, I am told, far surpasses any thing of that kind in Europe.   Here too I saw the chair in which the Kings of England are crowned, which, I believe, is more regarded for its antiquity, and the honourable use it is assigned to, than for any great beauty it has, at least that I could discover.

The next sight that entertained me, was the effigies of King William and Queen Mary in wax, as large as the life, standing in their coronation robes; they are said to be very well done, and to bear a great resemblance to the life.  Queen Anne, the Duchess of Richmond, the Duke of Buckingham, &c. all of the same composition, and richly dressed, are there also.  In short, there are so many curiosities contained in this venerable repository, that, to describe one half of them would as far exceed the compass of a letter, as of my abilities to do justice to them:  However, I shall just mention some which appeared to me most


worthy of notice.  But these must be the subject of a future letter, from,
                                      Honoured Madam,
                                                    Your, &c.


           Honoured Madam,

AS I have the pleasure to find that my letters, however mean in themselves, are agreeable to my dear parent, I shall continue my account of some of those many curiosities which I saw in Westminster-Abbey.  Among the monuments of our ancient Kings is that of Henry V. whose effigy has lost its head, which being of silver, I am told, was stolen in the civil wars.

Here are two coffins covered with velvet, in which are said to be the bodies of two Ambassadors, detained here for debt; but what were their names, or what Princes they served, I could not learn.

Our guide next showed us the body of King Henry the Fifth's Queen, Catherine, in an open coffin, who is said to have been a very beautiful Princess; but whose shrivelled skin, much resembling discoloured parchment, may now serve as a powerful antidote to that vanity with which frail beauty is apt to inspire its possessors.


Among the waxen effigies, I had almost forgot to mention King Charles II. and his faithful servant General Monk, whose furious aspect has something terrible in it.

Not far from these is the figure of a lady, one of the Maids of Honour to Queen Elizabeth [Queen Elizabeth I, of course], who is said to have bled to death by only pricking her finger with a needle [probably hemophilia].

I must now return to those monuments, which are in the open part of the church, and free to every one's sight; for those I have been speaking of are inclosed [sic], and not to be seen without a small gratuity to the conductor.

Among these, then, on the north side, stands a magnificent monument erected to Lady Carteret, for whose death some reports assign a cause something odd, viz. the late French King Louis the XIV.'s saying, That a lady (whom one of his Nobles compared to Lady Carteret) was handsomer than she [can anyone shed light on this?].

Near this stands a grand monument of Lord De Courcy, with an inscription, signifying that one of his ancestors had obtained a privilege of wearing his hat before the King.

Next these follow a groupe [sic] of  Statesmen, Warriors, Musicians, &c. among whom is Col. Bingfield, who lost his head by a cannon ball, as he was remounting the Duke of Marlborough, whose horse had been shot under him.

The famous musicians Purcell, Gibbons, Blow, and Crofts, have here their respective monuments and inscriptions; as has also that eminent painter Sir Godfrey Kneller, with an


elegant epitaph by Mr. Pope.  As you enter the west door of the church, on the right hand stands a monument with a curious figure of Secretary Craggs, on whom likewise Mr. Pope has bestowed a beautiful epitaph.  On the south side is a costly monument, erected by Queen Anne to the memory of that brave Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovel, who was shipwrecked on the rocks of Scilly.  In the same aisle, and nearly opposite to this, is a beautiful monument of white marble, to the memory of Thomas Thynne, of Long-Leat, in the county of Wilts, Esq. who was shot in his coach, on Sunday the 12th of February, 1682:   In the front is cut the figure of him in his coach, with those of the three assassins who murdered him.  At the end of this aisle, and on one side of what is called the Poets' Row, lies covered with a handsome monument, and his effigy a large as the life, the very famous Dr. Busby, Master of Westminster School, whose strict discipline and severity are every where so much talked of.

I must now take notice of the Poets, whose monuments stand mostly contiguous.  Here are the ancient monuments of Chaucer and Spencer, with those of Ben Johnson, Drayton, Milton, and Butler; also of the great Dryden, the ingenious Phillips, the divine Cowley, the harmonious Prior, and the inimitable Shakespeare, of whose curious effigy I have spoken before: nor must I omit the gentle Mr. John Gay, to whose memory his Grace the Duke of Queensberry has erected a noble monument,


which Mr. Pope has adorned with a very elegant inscription in verse.  I must here end my remarks, but cannot take leave of this venerable place, without observing, that it has many curious painted windows, a noble choir, a fine organ, and a magnificent altar-piece.

                   I am, Honoured Madam, &c.

A memorable Saying of the Duke de ORLEANS, at the Surrender of Gravelling, with a generous Action of that Prince.

WHEN Gravelling was surrendered to the Duke of Orleans, just as he entered into town he was heard to say these words:  "Let us endeavour, by generous actions, to win the hearts of all men; so we may hope for a daily victory.  Let the French learn from me this new way of conquest, to subdue men by mercy and clemency." [Many states of our day and age could benefit from this advice!]

With what a matchless virtue did this Prince dismiss a gentleman that was hired to murder him!  This assassin was suffered to pass into the Duke's bedchamber one morning early, pretending business of grave moment from the Queen.  As soon as the Duke cast his eyes on him, he spoke thus:  "I know thy business, friend: thou art sent to take away my life.  What hurt have I done thee?  It is now in my power, with a word, to have thee cut in pieces before my face.  But I pardon thee; go thy way, and see my face no more."


The gentleman, stung with his own guilt, and astonished at the excellent nature of this Prince, fell on his knees, confessed his design, and who employed him; and having promised eternal gratitude for his Royal favour, departed without any other notice taken of him; and fearing to tarry in France, entered himself into the service of the Spanish King.  It was his fortune afterwards to encounter the Duke of Orleans in a battle in Flanders.  The Duke, at that instant, was oppressed with a crowd of Germans, who surrounded him; and, in the conflict, he lost his sword; which this gentleman perceiving, nimbly stept to him, and delivered one into the Duke's hand, saying withal, "Now reap the fruit of thy former clemency.  Thou gavest me my life, now I put thee in a capacity to defend thy own."  The Duke by this means at length escaped the danger he was in; and that day the fortune of war was on his side.  The French had a considerable victory.

You see by this, that heroic actions have something divine in them, and attract the favours of Heaven.  No man was a loser by good works; for though he be not presently rewarded, yet, in length of time, some happy emergency arises to convince him, "That virtuous men are the darlings of Providence."


The remarkable Story of GIOTTO, an Italian Painter, and his Crucifix.

IT was a cruel and inhuman caprice of an Italian Painter (I think his name was Giotto), who designing to draw a crucifix to the life, wheedled a poor man to suffer himself to be bound to the cross an hour, at the end of which he should be released again, and receive a considerable gratuity for his pains.  But instead of this, as soon as he had him fast on the cross, he stabbed him dead, and then fell to drawing.  He was esteemed the greatest master in all Italy at that time; and having this advantage of a dead man hanging on a cross before him, there is no question but he made a matchless piece of work on't.

As soon as he had finished his picture he carried it to the Pope, who was astonished, as at a progidy [sic] of art, highly extolling the exquisiteness of the features and limbs, the languishing pale deadness of the face, the unaffected sinking of the head:  In a word, he had drawn to the life not only that privation of sense and motion which we call death, but also the very want of the least vital symptom.

This is better understood than expressed. -- Every body knows that it is a master-piece to represent a passion or a thought well and natural. -- Much greater is it to describe the total absence of these interior facilities, so as to dis-


tinguish the figure of a dead man from one that is only asleep.

Yet all this, and much more, could the Pope discern in the admirable draught which Giotto presented him.  And he liked it so well, that he resolved to place it over the altar of his own chapel.  Giotto told him, since he liked the copy so well he would shew him the original, if he pleased.

What dost thou mean by the original, said the Pope? [odd punctuation]  Wilt thou shew me Jesus Christ on the cross in his own person?  No, replied Giotto, but I'll shew your Holiness the original from whence I drew this, if you will absolve me from all punishment.  The good old father suspecting something extraordinary from the painter's thus capitulating with him, promised, on his word, to pardon him, which Giotto believing, immediately told him where it was; and attending him to the place, as soon as they were entered, he drew a curtain back which hung before the dead man on the cross, and told the Pope what he had done.

The Holy Father, extremely troubled at so inhuman and barbarous an action, repealed his promise, and told the painter he should surely be put to an exemplary death.

Giotto seemed resigned to the sentence pronounced upon him, and only begged leave to finish the picture before he died, which was granted him.  In the mean while a guard was set upon him to prevent his escape.  As soon as the Pope had caused the picture to be delivered


into his hands, he takes a brush, and dipping it into a sort of stuff he had ready for that purpose, daubs the picture all over with it, so that nothing now could be seen of the crucifix, for it was quite effaced in all outward appearance.

This made the Pope stark mad; he stamped, foamed, and raved like one in a phrenzy: he swore the painter should suffer the most cruel death that could be invented, unless he drew another full as good as the former, for if but the least grace was missing, he would not pardon him; but if he would produce an exact parallel he should not only give him life, but an ample reward in money.

The painter, as he had reason, desired this under the Pope's signet, that he might not be in danger of a second repeal; which was granted him; and then he took a wet sponge, and wiped off the varnish he had daubed on the picture, and the crucifix appeared the same in all respects as it was before.

The Pope, who looked upon this as a great secret, being ignorant of the arts which the painters use, was ravished at the strange metamorphosis.  And to reward the painter's triple ingenuity, he absolved him from all his sins, and the punishment due them; ordering moreover his steward to cover the picture with gold, as a farther gratuity for the painter.  And, they say, this crucifix is the original, by which the most famous crucifixes in Europe are drawn.


FABLE of the HARE and many FRIENDS.

By Mr. GAY.

Hare and friends

FRIENDSHIP, like love, is but a name,
  Unless to one you stint the flame,
The child whom many fathers share,
Hath seldom known a father's care;
'Tis thus in friendship; who depend
On many, rarely find a friend.
   A hare, who, in a civil way,
Complied with ev'ry thing, like Gay,
Was known by all the bestial train
Who haunt the wood, or graze the plain;
Her care was, never to offend,
And ev'ry creature was her friend.


  As forth she went at early dawn,
To taste the dew-besprinkled lawn,
Behind she hears the hunter's cries,
And from the deep-mouth'd thunder flies;
She starts, she stops, she pants for breath;
She hears the near advance of death;
She doubles to mislead the hound,
And measures back her mazy round;
'Till, fainting in the public way,
Half dead with fear she gasping lay.
  What transports in her bosom grew,
When first the horse appear'd in view!
  Let me, says she, your back ascend,
And owe my safety to a friend;
You know my feet betray my flight,
To friendship every burden's light.
  The horse replied, poor honest puss,
It grieves my heart to see thee thus;
Be comforted, relief is near,
For all your friends are in the rear.
  She next the stately bull implor'd,
And thus replied the mighty lord;
Since every beast alive can tell
That I sincerely wish you well,
I may, without offence, pretend
To take the freedom of a friend;
Love calls me hence; a fav'rite cow
Expects me near yon barley mow;
And when a lady's in the case,
You know all other things give place.
To leave you thus might seem unkind,
But see, the goat is just behind.

  The goat remark'd her pulse was high,
Her languid head, her heavy eye;
My back, says he, may do you harm;
The sheep's at hand, and wool is warm.
  The sheep was feeble, and complain'd
His sides a load of wool sustain'd,
Said he was slow, confest his fears;
For hounds eat sheep as well as hares.
  She now the trotting calf addrest,
To save from death a friend distrest.
  Shall I, says he, of tender age,
In this important care engage?
Older and abler past you by;
How strong are those!  how weak am I!
Should I presume to bear you hence,
Those friends of mine may take offence:
Excuse me then.  You know my heart,
But dearest friends, alas, must part!
How shall we all lament:  Adieu!
For see the hounds are just in view. 

[Pretty depressing - I was expecting a happy ending!]


The dying Words and Behaviour of three great
Men, when just quitting the Stage of Life.

SIR Francis Walsingham, towards the end of his life, grew very melancholy, and writ to the Lord Burleigh to this purpose: "We have lived long enough to our country,. to our fortunes, and to our Sovereign;  it is high time we begin to live to ourselves, and to our God."

Sir Henry Wotton, who had gone on several embassies, and was intimate with the greatest Princes, chose to retire from all, saying,  The utmost happiness a man could attain to, was to be at leisure to be, and to do good;  never reflecting on his former years, but with tears, he would say, "How much time have I to repent of! and how little to do it in!"

Philip III. King of Spain, seriously reflecting upon the life he had led in the world, cried out upon his death-bed, How happy were I, had I spent those twenty-three years that I have held my kingdom, in a retirement!  saying to his confessor, "My concern is for my soul, not my body."




A Museum for Young Gentlemen and Ladies - late 1790s