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Every one conversant with London notabilities some thirty or forty years ago, must have a lively reminiscence of a portly gentleman who in garb as inoffensive as his looks—that is to say, surtout closed to the extent of three buttons, plaid trousers, and black cravat—was invariably to be seen, between the hours of four and six, P.M., in Bond-street, Piccadilly, or St. James's, at all events within half a mile radius of Crockford's and White's. This gentleman was Mr. Thomas Raikes, the eldest son of a rich City merchant, who early in life “having,” says his biographer, "a marked preference for social and literary pursuits," exchanged the east for the west end of the town, became a member of the fashionable clubs, and mixed largely in what is, by "a somewhat questionable courtesy, denominated the best society." Mr. Raikes' decided peculiarity was placidity of countenance ; there was a remarkable smoothness of the skin of his face, an absence of all furrowing, and an uniformity of expression that imparted ideas of anything but cunning, or wisdom, or decision of character. This was Mr. Raikes' ægis. His fortune, education, and good manners probably contributed, with his own exertions, to gain him friends among the distinguished men of the day, but it must have been that placid countenance that won him the confidence of such men as the Duke of Wellington. Yet was the owner of that countenance observing, treasuring up facts in his memory, and placing them on record all the time. A great admirer of Talleyrand, he was for a brief space of time the Talleyrand en petit of his own coterie; and many will be surprised to find that that “nice, smooth-faced fellow Raikes," so often the butt of their ridicule, was all the time laughing at them in his sleeve, and that he has committed their deeds and sayings to the literæ scriptæ qui manent.
As a politician, Mr. Raikes is to be admired for his consistency. His journal commences in that stirring spring-time of politics and of the year when the Reform Bill was passed. This is the keystone to his public sentiments, and of his aversion to all progress and changes. To a Grey or Melbourne administration, to Peel seceding from his party to save a country, to a citizen king, or to anything or all that affected liberalism, or savoured of innovation, placid Mr. Raikes was not energetically—for that was not in his character-but most passively opposed. He had a horror of parvenus, an abhorrence of all that was not decorous in society, great exclusiveness in his associations—his ideas, in fact, moved only within a certain circle ; as a consequence, he had also a great dread of going out of the world in an indecorous manner, and if one thing more than another characterises the first two volumes of his journal, it is the numerous narratives of singular duels and of fearful crimes and suicides which evidently deeply interested the narrator.
Mr. Kaikes was not the kind of man to become a hero-worshipper. The mere excitement would have outraged his ideas of decorum. Had such, however, been possible, the “ Iron Duke” would have been the object :
* A Portion of the Journal kept by Thomas Raikes, Esq., from 1831 to 1837. Two Vols. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans. 1856.
The more (he says, under date of July 24th, 1832) I see of this extraordinary man, the more I am struck with his singularly quick apprehension, the facility with which he seizes the real gist of every subject, separates all the dross and extraneous matter from the real argument, and places his finger directly on the point which is fit to be considered. No rash speculations, no verbiage, no circumlocution ; but truth and sagacity, emanating from a cool and quickly apprehensive judgment, fortified by great experience, and conversant with each and every subject, and delivered with a brevity, a frankness, a simplicity of manner, and a confidential kindness, which, without diminishing that profound respect which every man must feel for such a character, still places him at his ease in his society, and almost makes him think he is conversing with an intimate friend.
His whole mind seems engrossed by the love of his country. He said, we have seen great changes; we can only hope for the best; we cannot foresee what will bappen, but few people will be sanguine enough to imagine that we shall ever again be as prosperous as we have been. His language breathed no bitterness, neither sunk into despondency; he seemed to me aware of everything that was going on, watching, 'not without anxiety, the progress of events, and constantly prepared to deliver his sentiments in the House of Peers on all subjects which affected the interests of England. His health appeared much im. proved, and I trust that, however his present retirement may be a loss, to his country, it
be a benefit to himself. That the Duke could tell a good story we have an example from Sudbourne, Lord Hertford's : Three or four of us were sitting round the fire, before went
to dress for dinner; amongst whom was the Duke, who amused us much with several anecdotes of the late king. He was in a very gay, communicative humour, and having seen so much of George IV., one story brought on another. He said that, among other peculiarities of the king, he had a most extraordinary talent for imitating the manner, gestures, and even voice of other people. So much so, that he could give you the exact idea of any one, however onlike they were to himself. On his journey to Hanover, said the Duke, he stopped at Brussels, and was received there with great attention by the King and Queen of the Netherlands. A dinner was proposed for the following day at the palace of Laacken, to which he went; and a large party was invited to meet him. His majesty was placed at table, between the king and queen. “I," said the Duke, “sat a little way from them, and next to Prince Frederick of Orange. The dinner passed off very well; but, to the great astonishment of the company, both the king and queen, without any apparent cause, were at every moment breaking out in violent convulsions of laughter. There appeared to be no particular joke, but every remark our king made to his neighbours threw them into fits. Prince Frederick questioned me as to what could be going on. I shrewdly suspected what it might be, but said nothing: it turned out, however, to be as I thought. The king had long and intimately known the old stadtholder when in England, whose peculiarities and manner were at that time a standing joke at Carlton House, and of course the object of the prince's mimicry, who could make himself almost his counterpart. At this dinner, then, he chose to give a specimen of his talent ; and at every word he spoke, he so completely took off the stadtholder, that the king and queen were thrown off their guard, and could not maintain their composure during the whole of the day. He was indeed,” said the Duke," the most extraordinary compound of talent, wit, buffoonery, obstinacy, and good feeling-in short, a medley of the most opposite qualities
, with a great preponderance of good—that I ever saw in any character in my life."
The two foreigners most known at that time in London, he remarks, were Montrond and Count d'Orsay. Of the first he says:
Montrond must be near sixty-five years old, a protégé of Talleyrand, and constant guest at his table. He has lived through the different scenes of the French Revolution, always keeping up a certain scale of expense, is received into all the best houses in London, and is witty and entertaining, though his ton is rather tranchant. He plays high, and generally wins; is full of anecdotes ; tells them well; great epicure and connoisseur at the table; enters into all the gaieties and pursuits of the young English dandies, who look up to him and admire his sallies. He was notorious in Paris as a roué; grand brétailleur ; and fought one duel with the elder Greffulhe, which did not end so fatally as some others. He married the Duchesse de Fleury; a beautiful woman with a fortune, which he spent. Old age has now mellowed the more riotous traits in his character; he feels less independent in a foreign country than in his own; and a life of quiet self-indulgence seems now his only ambition.
The other morning, he elsewhere relates, Montrond, coming out of Sefton's house, met De Ros, and said to him, “ Ce pauvre Sefton, il est si méchant, si bossu aujourd'hui, ça fait pitié.”
The same personage was subject to poplectic fits, one of which attacked him after dinner at Talleyrand's. While he lay on the floor in convulsions, Mr. Raikes relates, scratching the carpets with his hands, his benign host remarked, with a sneer, “C'est qu'il me paraît qu'il veut absolument descendre."
The visitation of cholera, in the autumn of 1832, evidently disturbed the equanimity of our journalist. Not only are the daily reports of the Board of Health duly entered, but any striking cases that occurred, more especially among the better classes of society, are recorded, as also that the fear of the pestilence caused a neglect of entrées, champagne, ices, and fruits, at the cost of plain meats, port, and sherry. With the advent of winter, the siege of Antwerp came to divert the thoughts from the progress of a gloomy malady. How far the feelings of the Tories were interested in this proceeding is attested by a hundred passages ; but one will suffice for an example:
On Wednesday last, at our Tory dinner at the Carlton Club, the earliest arrivals were Lord Glengall
, Sir H. Cooke, Messrs. Herries, Hook, and myself. We were reading the evening papers, wherein it was mentioned that a British sailor, who had served in many engagements abroad, had been carried before Mr. Justice Conant, charged with being drunk in the streets, with having abused the ministers, and with swearing aloud that the British flag was disgraced by sailing in company with the French tricolor. The poor wretch, having no respondents, was fined by Mr. Conant thirty shillings, or, in default, to two months' imprisonment in Coldbath-fields. On hearing his doom, he only replied,
Sir, you may send me to prison, but the British flag is not the less disgraced.”
Our natural impulse was immediately to subscribe the trifling fine to liberate him, which Sir H. Cooke transmitted the next morning; but even this early interference was too late, the committee of Lloyd's Coffee-house had already anticipated our feelings, and rescued the poor drunken patriot. I need not add, that this coffee-house is the resort of all the great underwriters, and the donation was merely an act of strong public feeling.
Here is a portrait of Talleyrand, for which the veteran sat in his morning dressing-gown:
I was rather amused to-day at White's with Sefton's description of his visit this morning to Prince Talleyrand. He is very intimate with him, and is received at all hours ; a privilege which he avails himself of very frequently at
present, to hear the latest intelligence from Paris and Antwerp, now so generally interesting
This morning he was ushered into the dressing-room of this celebrated octogenarian, who was under the hands of two valets de chambre, while a third, who was training for the mysteries of the toilette, stood looking on with attention to perfect himself in his future duties. The prince was in a loose flannel gown, his long locks (for it is no wig), which are rather scanty, as may be supposed, were twisted and crépés with the curling-iron, saturated with powder and pomatum, and then with great care arranged into those snowy ringlets which have been so much known and remarked all over Europe. His under attire was a flannel pantaloon, loose and undulating, except in those parts which were restrained by the bandages of the iron bar which supports the lame leg of this celebrated cul de jatte.
After some interesting evidence of Lord Londonderry's mind having given way under too great application and over-excitement, we have the following pleasing anecdote of the then King of Sweden :
General Sir Alured Clarke was making a tour of pleasure on the Continent, and arrived at Stockholm, when he wished to be presented to the king. A private audience was granted, as a matter of course, to an English general officer. When presented to Carl Johann, Sir Alured was very much astonished to find that the King of Sweden, instead of a formal reception, folded him in his arms and kissed him on the cheek. He was confounded at this distinction, and more so when the king asked him if he could not recollect him. In this, as his memory was quite defective, he could only express his regrets. To which the king replied, "I am not surprised that you do not recognise in me the Corporal Bernadotte, who became your prisoner at Pondicherry, when you commanded the English army in India, to whom you showed the greatest kindness while in your power, and who now is most anxious to return the obligation in every way that may be most agreeable to you during your stay in his dominions."
This is followed by a curious instance of second sight, given as authenticated ; and then a notice, that “The other day a large party dined at the Pavilion. Among the guests was the American minister. The king was seized with his fatal habit of making a speech; in which he said, that it was always a matter of serious regret to him that he had not been born a free, independent American, so much he respected that nation, and considered Washington the greatest man that ever lived."
Early in 1833, the newly established Carlton Club became possessed of a new cook—a remarkable event thus duly chronicled :
They have hired a French cook for the Carlton Club from Paris, who lived formerly with the Duc d'Escars, premier maítre d'hôtel of Louis XVIII., and who probably made that famous páté de saucissons which killed his master. It was served at breakfast at the Tuileries to the king, who with the duke partook so voraciously of it, that the former was attacked with a dangerous fit of indigestion, from which he with difficulty recovered, and the latter absolutely died from the excess on the following day. One of the French journals, remarkable for its facéties, announced the event in the following terms: “Hier sa Majesté très Chrétienne a été attaquée d'une indigestion dont M. le Duc d'Escars est mort le lendemain.”
Having at that dull period of the year nothing very particular for his diary, Mr. Raikes fell back to reminiscences of the Duke and Duchess of York, of both of whom he speaks in the highest possible terms. The duchess especially he describes as not only å très grande dame in the
fullest sense of the word, but a woman of the most admirable sound sense and accurate judgment, with a heart full of kindness, beneficence, and charity. The duchess, it is well known, was particularly fond of animals ; around the pool which joins the grotto in the park of Oatlands may still be seen the gravestones and epitaphs of her favourites.
The duchess, in her morning walks at Oatlands, often visited the farmyard and amused herself with noticing the different animals and their families, among which was a sow that had lately farrowed some beautiful pigs. A few days afterwards at dinner some person asked her if she would eat some roasted pig. Her answer was: “ “No, I thank you, I never eat my acquaintance.”
A few days before her demise, Lord Lauderdale, who had long ranked among the duchess's friends, went down to Oatlands to inquire after her health. She could not see him, but sent him from her bed the following note.
Mon cher Lord L., Je fais mes paquets, je m'en vais incessamment. Soyez toujours persuadé de l'amitié que je vous porte.
Votre affectionnée amie,
F. It can easily be understood that the Reform Parliament was not to the taste of the Tory journalist. He chronicles Sir Robert Peel's opinion of it with evident gusto, and the description is not without truthfulness :
Sir Robert Peel said to me that he was very much struck with the appearance of this new Parliament, the tone and character of which seemed quite different from any other he had ever seen ; there was an asperity, a rudeness, a vulgar assumption of independence, combined with a fawning deference to the people out of doors, expressed by many of the new members, which was highly disgusting. My friend R—, who has been a thick-and-thin Reformer, and voted with the Government throughout, owned to me this evening that he began to be frightened.
Elsewhere he puts on record, in reference to the bill for the emancipation of the Jews, that it has been pleasantly said of the Whig government, “ that it is impossible to ravish them, because they concede everything."
Embarrassments of the house with which Mr. Raikes was connected compelled him to break up his establishment in London in the autumn of 1833, and to settle for a time in Paris. It will be readily imagined that the court of the Citizen King no more suited his Tory predilections than the reformed parliament at home.
I was amused by hearing an account of the balls now given by Louis Philippe at the Tuileries, which are very splendid as to decorations, but not very select as to company. In order to gain popularity, a certain number of tickets are sent to each of the ten legions of the National Guard. Great part of the society, is, therefore, composed of the shopkeepers of Paris, who, even in this scene of festivity, do not lose sight of their own interest. It is said that a lady happened to complain the other night that her shoe pinched her, when her partner immediately presented his card of address as cordonnier du roi, and offered to wait upon her the next morning.
Upon another occasion he relates :
There was a grand ball last night at the Tuileries ; near 4000 persons were present, the apartments were splendidly illuminated, and the supper very mag