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other receptacles of the same kind, with gardens laid out in miniature taste, are to be found within the compass of two or three fields; together with Sadler's Wells, a small theatre for the summer evening exhibition of tumbling, rope-dancing, and other drolls, in vulgar style.” On the 15th of October 1807, Sadler's Wells theatre was the scene of a fearful catastrophe. A cry of “fire” having been raised, the terrified audience in the gallery made a simultaneous rush to the doors. The avenues becoming blocked up, several persons were crushed to
, death, while others, in a fit of desperation, flung themselves into the pit. No fewer than eighteen persons were killed, and several others were seriously injured.
At Sadler's Wells, in front of the Sir Hugh Myddleton Tavern, is laid the scene of Hogarth’s “Evening.” For many years the theatre was celebrated for its aquatic exhibitions, which were contrived by removing the boards from the stage, and introducing a flow of water from the New River. Here, also, for many years, the famous Grimaldi performed his inimitable antics. Under the auspices of, and by the refined taste of Mr. Phelps, Sadler's Wells theatre has been converted to worthier purposes, and is now deservedly popular with those who prefer the plays of Shakespeare and Massinger to a monster concert at Covent Garden, or an exhibition of horsemanship or wild beasts at Drury Lane.
Immortalized in the Spectator, and by Pope,
Gay, and Fielding, the once famous Hockley in the Hole, near Clerkenwell Green, would seem to require a passing notice. Little, however, need be said of it, but that, from the days of Charles the Second, nearly to our own time, it continued to be the favourite resort of those whose passion was bull-baiting, dog-fighting, and pugilistic encounters, not only between men, but between women; in fact, every vulgar diversion which tends to lower man to the nature of brutes.
HOLBORN, ST. ANDREW'S CHURCH,
GRAY'S INN LANE, &c.
COCK LANE GHOST.-HOLBORN. - WILLIAM DOBSON-DEATH OF JOIN
LANE. -HATTON GARDEN. ELY HOUSE.-SOUTHAMPTON BUILDINGS. ST. ANDREW'S CHURCH. BROOK STREET. GRAY'S INN LANE. CELEBRATED RESIDENTS THERE. BLUE BOAR INN.
ANECDOTE OF CHARLES THE FIRST AND CROMWELL.
SAVAGE.-KING STREET.JOHN BAMPFYLDE.
DESCENDING from Smithfield towards Holborn, on the left band is Cock Lane, the scene of the vagaries of the celebrated Cock Lane Ghost. The person, to whom the apparition was said to have presented itself, was a girl of twelve years of age, of the name of Parsons, the daughter of the parish clerk of St. Sepulchre, who resided in a wretched hovel, since demolished, about half way down Cock Lane, on the north side. The ghost was said to be that of a young lady, who had been poisoned by her husband, and who lay buried in the vaults of the church of St. John, Clerkenwell.
The extraordinary sensation created by this impudent imposition, and the credulity of persons of all ranks of society, almost exceed belief. IIorace Walpole writes to George Montagu, on the 2d of February 1762, “I went to hear the ghost, for it is not an apparition, but an audition. We set out from the Opera, changed our clothes at Northumberland House, the Duke of York, Lady Northumberland, Lady Mary Coke, Lord Hertford, and I, all in one hackney coach, and drove to the spot; it rained torrents, yet the lane was full of mob, and the house so full we could not get in; at last they discovered that it was the Duke of York, and the company squeezed themselves into one another's pockets, to make room for us. The house, which is borrowed, and to which the ghost has adjourned, is wretchedly small and miserable; when we opened the chamber, in which were fifty people, with no light but one tallow candle at the end, we tumbled over the bed of the child to whom the ghost comes, and whom they are murdering by inches, in such insufferable heat and stench. At the top of the room are ropes to dry clothes. I asked if we were to have rope-dancing between the acts? We had nothing. They told us, as they would at a puppetshow, that it would not come that night till seven in the morning, that is, when there are only 'prentices and old women. We stayed, however, till half an hour after one. The Methodists have promised them contributions; provisions are sent in like forage, and all the taverns and alehouses in the neighbourhood make fortunes.” The affair of the gbost story ended in the detection and punishment of the persons concerned in it. Boswell mentions, that Dr. Johnson took great credit to himself for the share which he had in exposing the imposition.*
The somewhat steep descent of Snow Hill leads us into Holborn, which derives its name from the Saxon words, old bourne, or old river.
The great painter, Vandyke, was one day passing down Snow Hill, when his attention was attracted by a picture which was exposed for sale in one of the shop-windows. Struck with its merits, he made enquiries respecting the artist, who, he was informed, was then employed at his easel, in a miserable apartment in the attics. Vandyke ascended the stairs; and thus took place his first introduction to William Dobson, then a young man unknown to fame, but whose celebrity as a portrait-painter was afterwards second only to that of Vandyke. The great artist generously released him from a condition so unworthy his merits, and subsequently introduced him to Charles the First, who, after the death of Vandyke, conferred on him the appointments of Sergeant-painter, and Groom of the Chamber. His prosperity, however, lasted but a short time. The decline of the royal cause, and his own addiction to a life of pleasure, occasioned his falling into difficulties, and to his being thrown into gaol. From hence, he was released by the generosity of a Mr. Vaughan, of the Exchequer; but he died shortly afterwards, at the early age of thirty-six.
At the sign of the “Star” on Snow Hill, then the residence of his friend Mr. Strudwick, a grocer,
* See Croker’s “ Boswell,” p. 138, 585. Ed. 1840.