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the Knight called a waiter to him, and bade him carry the remainder to the waterman that had but one leg. I perceived the fellow stared upon him at the oddness of the message, and was going to be saucy; upon which I ratified the Knight's commands with a peremptory look. As we were going out of the garden, my old friend thinking himself obliged, as a member of the quorum, to animadvert upon the morals of the place, told the mistress of the house, who was at the bar, that he should be a better customer to her garden, if there were more nightingales and fewer strumpets."
The allusion to the nightingales at Vauxhall sounds strange to modern ears, but we have additional evidence how much they abounded here in the reign of Queen Anne. Swift writes to Stella, on the 17th of May 1711:-"I was this evening with Lady Kerry and Mrs. Pratt at Vauxhall, to hear the nightingales; but they are almost past singing."
In 1732, we find Vauxhall Gardens under the management of Jonathan Tyers, who subsequently became the purchaser of the property in 1752. It is to this person that Fielding pays so high a compliment in his exquisite novel, "Amelia." "The extreme beauty and elegance of this place," he says, "is well known to almost every one of my readers; and happy it is for me that it is so, since to give an adequate idea of it would exceed my power of description. To delineate the particular beauties of these gardens would indeed require as much
pains, and as much paper too, as to rehearse all the good actions of their master; whose life proves the truth of an observation which I have read in some other writer, that a truly elegant taste is generally accompanied with an excellency of heart; or, in other words, that true virtue is indeed nothing else but true taste." Under the management of Tyers, the Gardens appear to have greatly improved in taste and splendour. An organ was placed in the orchestra, the chisel of Roubiliac was employed to execute a statue of Handel, and the pencil of Hogarth to embellish the boxes.
Before the days when the introduction of steamvessels on the Thames rendered its navigation dangerous for small vessels, we scarcely find a notice of a pleasure-party visiting Vauxhall Gardens that they did not proceed thither by water. Many of our readers, indeed, may remember the enjoyment which they have experienced in gliding along the Thames on a summer-night, on their way to this once popular place of entertainment.
One of the most charming scenes in “Amelia ” takes place in Vauxhall Gardens, on which occasion the heroine and her party, having previously attended divine worship in St. James's Church, proceed to the Gardens by water, where the effect of the brilliant scene on the mind of Amelia, who now witnessed it for the first time, is admirably described by the great novelist.
"Amelia" was published in 1751, and, about eight years afterwards, we find Goldsmith, in his
"Citizen of the World," placing the following panegyric in the mouth of the Chinese philosopher:
"The illuminations began before we arrived, but I must confess that upon entering the gardens I found every sense overpaid with more than expected pleasure: the lights everywhere glimmering through scarcely-moving trees,-the full-bodied concert bursting on the stillness of night, the natural concert of the birds in the more retired part of the grove, vying with that which was formed by art,the company gaily dressed, looking satisfaction, and the tables spread with various delicacies,—all conspired to fill my imagination with the visionary happiness of the Arabian lawgiver, and lifted me into an ecstacy of admiration. Head of Confucius,' cried I to my friend, this is fine! this unitesrural beauty with courtly magnificence."" At this period, the principal object of attraction appears to have been the water-works, the commencement of which, at nine o'clock, was announced by the ringing of a bell, as in the case of the fireworks being let off at the present day, when persons were to be seen hurrying towards the spot from all parts of the gardens.
Evelina's first visit to, and disagreeable adventure in the "dark walks" at Vauxhall, as related in Madame D'Arblay's charming novel, are doubtless familiar to most of our readers. "As to the way we should go," writes Evelina, "some were for a boat, others for a coach, and Mr. Branghton himself was for walking; but the boat at length
was decided upon. Indeed this was the only part of the expedition that was agreeable to me; for the Thames was delightfully pleasant. The garden is very pretty, but too formal; I should have been better pleased had it consisted less of straight walks, where
Grove nods at grove, each alley has its brother.
"The trees, the numerous lights, and the company in the circle round the orchestra made a most brilliant and gay appearance; and had I been with a party less disagreeable to me, I should have thought it a place formed for animation and pleasure. There was a concert; in the course of which a hautbois concerto was so charmingly played, that I could have thought myself upon enchanted ground, had I had spirits more gentle to associate with. The hautbois in the open air is heavenly. As we were walking about the orchestra, I heard a bell ring; and in a moment, Mr. Smith, flying up to me, caught my hand, and, with a motion too quick to be resisted, ran away with me many yards before I had breath to ask his meaning, though I struggled, as well as I could, to get from him. At last, however, I insisted upon stopping. Stopping, Madam!' cried he, 'why, we must run on or we shall lose the cascade?' And then again he hurried me away, mixing with a crowd of people, all running with so much velocity, that I could not imagine what had raised such an alarm. We were soon followed by the rest of the party;
and my surprise and ignorance proved a source of diversion to them all, which was not exhausted the whole evening. The scene of the cascade I thought extremely pretty, and the general effect striking and lively."
Having attempted to convey a notion of the glories of Vauxhall in the olden time, it may be expected that we should accompany it with a short notice of Ranelagh, although the latter was situated in a very different locality. Ranelagh, a spot associated in our minds with so many scenes of gaiety and splendour belonging to the last age,was first opened with a public breakfast, on the 5th of April 1742. Horace Walpole writes to Sir Horace Mann on the 22nd of that month ;— "I have been breakfasting this morning at Ranelagh Garden they have built an immense amphitheatre, with balconies full of little alehouses: it is in rivalry of Vauxhall, and costs above 12,000l. The building is not finished; but they get great sums by people going to see it, and breakfasting in the house. There were yesterday no less than three hundred and eighty persons, at 1s. 6d. a-piece. You see how poor we are, when, with a tax of four shillings in the pound, we are laying out such sums for cakes and ale."
Again, Walpole writes to Sir Horace Mann on the 26th of the following month: "Two nights ago Ranelagh Gardens were opened, at Chelsea; the Prince, Princess, Duke, much nobility, and much mob besides, were there. There is a vast amphitheatre, finely gilt, painted, and