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REMINISCENCES

OF

HENRY ANGELO.

SECTION I.

a

VAUXHALL.-I remember the time when Vauxhall (in 1776, the price of admission being then only one shilling) was more like a bear garden than a rational place of resort, and most particularly on the Sunday mornings. It was then crowded from four to six with gentry, girls of the town, apprentices, shop-boys, &c. &c. Crowds of citizens were to be seen trudging home with their wives and children. Rowlandson the artist and myself have often been there, and he has found plenty of employment for his pencil.

The chef d'auvre of his caricatures, which is still in print, is his drawing of Vauxhall, in which he has introduced a variety of characters known at the time, particularly that of my

old

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schoolfellow, Major Topham, the macaroni of the day. One curious scene he sketched on the spot purposely for me. It was this. A citizen and his family are seen all seated in a box eating supper, when one of the riffraff in the gardens throws a bottle in the middle of the table, breaking the dishes and the glasses. The old man swearing, the wife fainting, and the children screaming, afforded full scope

for his humorous pencil.

Such night scenes as were then tolerated are now become obsolete. Rings were made in every part of the gardens to decide quarrels; it now no sooner took place in one quarter, than, by a contrivance of the light-fingered gentry, another row was created in another quarter to attract the crowd away.

Mrs. Weichsell (Mrs. Billington's mother) was the principal female singer. were Joe Vernon, of Drury Lane Theatre, &c.; Barthelemon, leader of the band; Fisher, hautboy; and Mr. Hook, conductor and composer. The dashers of that day, instead of returning home in the morning from Vauxhall, used to go to the Star and Garter, at Richmond.

One morning I was with a party going over Westminster Bridge, when, seeing a boat, one of them proposed taking it to go to the Tower, and to go by the Margate hoy. Two of us,

The men

however, preferred going home to our beds. These were the freaks of folly fifty years ago. On week days, I have seen many of the nobility, particularly the Duchess of Devonshire, &c. &c., with a large party, supping in the rooms facing the orchestra-French horns playing to them all the time.

MARY-LA-BONNE GARDENS, though far inferior to Vauxhall, had still some attractions; but they were adapted to the gentry, rather than the haut ton. Here there was no distinction of nights. Old Charles Bannister, Tom Low, of Sadler's Wells, Reynolds, and Mrs. Thompson, of Covent Garden, were the singers. The exhibition of fireworks, under the direction of Signor Torri, was at one time a great inducement to company to frequent these gardens. Signor Torri also introduced a scene representing Vulcan and the Cyclops at work. On the stage erected for this, a burletta was performed, called the “ Serva Padrona,” in which Mrs. Thompson was the heroine. Where Mary-la-bonne Gardens stood is now the bottom of Harley Street.

RANELAGH. --Of all the public places known at that time or since, Ranelagh had most decidedly the preference. I have often seen a line of carriages extending from Tattersall's to Chelsea, where the rotunda was built. The price of admission was two shillings and sixpence. It was the custom for gentlemen to buy, in the anti-room, nosegays, myrtles, hyacinths, roses, &c. &c.; not only to wear them themselves, but also to present some of them to ladies. There were no cropped heads, trowsers, or shoe-strings seen here-such dresses would not have been admitted. Ranelagh was the élite of fashion. The gentlemen wore powder, frills, ruffles, and had gold-headed canes, &c. &c., forming a great contrast to the dandyism of the present day. On entering the rotunda the coup d'æil was magnificent, and would have astonished the most fastidious foreigner, or those who were never there before.

When I was at Paris, in 1775, there was an imitation of this place, called the Collisé ; but it was as inferior to Ranelagh as Mary-la-bonne Gardens were to Vauxhall. On several occasions the fireworks at Ranelagh were under my father's direction. On the late king's birth day, he once also gave a Venetian spectacle. In the garden there was a large sheet of water, on which were a number of boats, full of men, armed with long poles. The boats were then divided into two parties, an equal number of men in each, and the amusement consisted in endeavouring to push one another into the water. The victory was won by those who succeeded in ducking most of their opponents.

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