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The mackerel season is one of great interest on the coast, where these beautiful fish are caught. The going out and coming in of the boats are really “sights.” The prices of mackerel vary according to the different degrees of success. In 1807, the first Brighton boat of mackerel, on the 14th of May, sold at Billingsgate, for forty guineas per hundred, seven shillings each, the highest price ever known at that market. The next boat that came in reduced their value to thirteen guineas per hundred. In 1808, these fish were caught so plentifully at Dover, that they sold sixty for a shilling. At Brighton, in June, the same year, the shoal of mackerel was so great, that one of the boats had the meshes of her nets so completely occupied by them, that it was impossible to drag them in. The fish and nets, therefore, in the end sank together; the fisherman thereby sustaining a loss of nearly sixty pounds, exclusive of what his cargo, could he have got it into the boat, would have produced. The success of the fishery in 1821, was beyond all precedent. The value of the catch of sixteen boats from Lowestoff, on the 30th of June, amounted to 5,252l. 15s. 14d., being an average of 328i. 5s. 114d. per each boat; and it is supposed that there was no less a sum than 14,000l. altogether realized by the owners and men concerned in the fishery of the Suffolk coast.f
* Journal des Debats. t Daniel's Rural Sports.
And the jessamine faint, and sweet tuberose,
And all rare blossoms from every clime,
To the Editor of the Every-Day Book.
I read your account of this unfortunato Being, and his forlorn piece of self-history, with that smile of half-interest which the Annals of Insignificance excite, till I came to where he says “I was bound apprentice to Mr. William Bird, an eminent writer and Teacher of languages and Mathematics,” &c.—when I started as one does on the recognition of an old acquaintance in a supposed stranger. This then was that Starkey of whom I have heard my Sister relate so many pleasant anecdotes; and whom, never having seen, I yet seem almost to remember. For nearly fifty years she had lost all sight of him—and behold the gentle Usher of her youth, grown into an aged Beggar, dubbed with an opprobrious title, to which he had no pretensions; an object, and a May game ! To what base purposes may we not return What may not have been the meek creature's sufferings—what his wanderings—before he finally settled down in the comparative comfort of an old Hospitaller of the Almonry of Newcastle? And is poor Starkey dead?—
I was a scholar of that “eminent writer” that he speaks of; but Starkey had quitted the school about a year before I came to it. Still the odour of his merits had left a fragrancy upon the recollection of the elder pupils. The school-room stands
where it did, looking into a discoloured dingy garden in the passage leading from Fetter Lane into Bartlett's Buildings. It is still a School, though the main . alas ! has fallen so ingloriously; and bears a Latin inscription over the entrance in the Lane, which was unknown in our humbler times. Heaven knows what “languages” were taught in it then; I am sure that neither my Sister nor myself brought any out of it, but a little of our native English. By “mathematics,” reader, must be understood “cyphering.” It was in fact a humble day-school, at which reading and writing were taught to us boys in the morning, and the same slender erudition was communicated to the girls, our sisters, &c. in the evening. Now Starkey presided, under Bird, over both establishments. In my time, Mr. Cook, now or lately a respectable Singer and Performer at Drury-lane Theatre, and Nephew to Mr. Bird, had succeeded to him. I well remember Bird. He was a squat, corpulent, middle-sized man, with something of the gentleman about him, and that peculiar mild tone—especially while he was inflicting punishment —which is so much more terrible to children, than the angriest looks and gestures. Whippings were not frequent; but when they took place, the correction was performed in a private room adjoining, whence we could only hear the plaints, but saw nothing. This heightened the decorum and the solemnity. But the ordinary public chastisement was the bastinado, a stroke or two on the palm with that almost obsolete weapon now— the ferule. A ferule was a sort of flat ruler, widened at the inflicting end into a shape resembling a pear, -but nothing like so sweet—with a delectable hole in the middle, to raise blisters, like a cupping-glass. I have an intense recollection of that disused instrument of torture— and the malignancy, in proportion to the apparent mildness, with which its strokes were applied. The idea of a rod is accompanied with something, ludicrous; but by no process can I look back upon this blister-raiser with any thing but unmingied horror.—To make him look more formidable—if a pedagogue had need of these heightenings—Bird wore one of those flowered Indian gowns, formerly in use with schoolmasters; the strange figures upon which we used to interpret into ..o. of pain and suffering. But boyish fears apart—Bird I believe was in the main a humane and judicious master. O, how I remember our legs wedged in to those uncomfortable sloping desks, where we sat elbowing each other—and the injunctions to attain a free hand, unattainable in that position; the first copy I wrote after, with its moral lesson “Art improves Nature;” the still earlier pothooks and the hangers some traces of which I fear may yet be apparent in this manuscript; the truant looks side-long to the garden, which seemed a mockery of our imprisonment; the prize for best spelling, which had almost turned my head, and which to this day I cannot reflect upon without a vanity, which I ought to be ashamed of our little leaden inkstands, not separately subsisting, but sunk into the desks; the bright, punctually-washed morning fingers, darkening gradually with another and another inkspot: what a world of little associated circumstances, pains and pleasures mingling their quotas of pleasure, arise at the reading of those few simple words— “Mr. William Bird, an eminent Writer and Teacher of languages and mathematics in Fetter Lane, Holborn 1” Poor Starkey, when young, had that poly stamp of old-fashionedness in his ace, which makes it impossible for a beholder to predicate any particular age in the object. You can scarce make a guess between seventeen and seven and thirty. This antique cast always seems to promise ill-luck and penury. Yet it
seems, he was not always the abject thing he came to. My Sister, who well remembers him, can hardly forgive Mr. Thomas Ranson for making an etching so unlike her idea of him, when he was a youthful teacher at Mr. Bird's school. Qld age and poverty—a life-long poverty she thinks, could at no time have so effaced the marks of native gentility, which were once so visible in a face, otherwise strikingly ugly, thin, and care-worn. From her recollections of him, she thinks that he would have wanted bread, before he would have begged or borrowed a halfpenny. If any ; the girls (she says) who were my school-fellows should be reading, through their aged spectacles, tidings from the dead of their youthful friend Starkey, they will feel a pang, as I do, at ever having teased his gentle spirit. They were big girls, it seems, too old to attend his instructions with the silence necessary; and however old age, and a long state of beggary, seem to have reduced his writing faculties to a state of imbecility, in those days, his language occasionally rose to the bold and figurative, for when he was in despair to stop their chattering, his ordinary phrase was, “Ladies, if you will not hold your peace, not all the F. in heaven can make you.” Once
e was missing for a day or two; he had run away. . A little old unhappy-looking man brought him back—it was his father —and he did no business in the school that day, but sate moping in a corner, with his hands before his face; and the girls, histormentors, in pity for his case, for the rest of that day forbore to annoy him. I had been there but a few months (adds she) when Starkey, who was the chief instructor of us girls, communicated to us as a profound secret, that the tragedy of “Cato" was shortly to be acted by the elder boys, and that we were to be invited to the representation. That Starkey lent a helping hand in fashioning the actors, she remembers; and but for his unfortunate person, he might have had some distinguished part in the scene to enact; as it was, he had the arduous task of prompter assigned to him, and his feeble voice was heard clear and distinct, repeating the text during the whole performance. She describes her recollection of the cast of characters even now with a relish. Martia, by the handsome Edgar Hickman, who afterwards went to Africa, and of whom she never afterwards heard tidings, Lucia, by Master Walker, whose