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bathing; while there is “ample room and verge enough” for all the sports and delights which “swimmers only know.” It is no where so deep as five feet, and on one side only three ; the experienced and the inexperienced are alike safe. There is likewise a capacious cold-bath in an adjacent building, for the use of those who prefer a temperature below that of the atmosphere.
Peerless Pool is distinguished for having been one of the ancient springs that supplied the metropolis with water, when our ancestors drew that essential element from public conduits; that is to say, before the “old” water-works at Londonbridge “commenced to be,” or the “New River” had been brought to London by sir Hugh Myddelton. The streams of this “pool” at that time were conveyed, for the convenience of the inhabitants near Lothbury, through pipes terminating “ close to the south-west corner of the church.” Stow speaks of it as a “cleere water, called Perilous Pond, because,” says our chronicler, “divers youths, by swimming therein, have been drowned.” + “Upon Saterday the 19 of January, 1633, sixe pretty young lads, going to sport themselves upon the frozen Duckingpond, neere to Clearkenwell, the ice too weake to support them, fell into the water, concluding their pastime with the lamentable losse of their lives: to the great griefe of many that saw them dying, many more that afterward saw them dead, with the in-expressible griefe of their parents.”f In consequence of such accidents, and the worthy inhabitants of Lothbury having obtained their water from other sources, Perilous Pond was entirely filled up, and rendered useless, till Mr. William Kemp, “ an eminent jeweller and citizen of London,” “after ten years' experience of the temperature” of this water, and “the happy success of getting clear of a violent pain of the head by bathing in it, to which he had for many years been subject, was generously led for public benefit” to open the spring in the year 1743, and “to form the completest swimming-bath in the whole
world;” and “in reference to the improvements he had made on the ruins of that once Perilous Pond, and by a very natural transition, he changed that disagreeable appellation of Perilous,” that is,” says Maitland, “dangerous, or kazardous, to the more agreeable name of Peerless Pool, that is, Matchless Bath, a name which carries its own reason with it.” Maitland says, that Kemp “spared no expense nor contrivance to render it quite private and retired from public inspection, decent in its regulation, and as genteel in its furniture as such a place could be made.” He added a cold-bath, “generally allowed,” says Maitland, “to be the largest in England, being forty feet long, and twenty feet broad; this bath is supplied by a remarkably cold spring, with a convenient room for dressing.” The present cold-bath, faced with marble and paved with stone, was executed by sir William Staines, when he was a journeyman mason. He was afterwards lord mayor of London, and often boasted of this, while he smoked his pipe at the Jacob's-well in Barbican, as amongst his “best work.” Kemp's improvements provided an entrance to it across a bowling-green on the south side, through a neat marble pavilion or saloon, thirty feet long, with a large gilt sconce over a marble table. Contiguous to this saloon were the dressing apartments, some of which were open, others were private with doors. There was also a green bower on each side of the bath, divided into other apartments for dressing. At the upper end was a circus-bench, capable of accommodating forty persons, under the cover of a wań. twelve feet high, surmounted on one side by a lofty bank with shrubs, and encircled by a terrace-walk planted with limetrees at the top. The descent to the bath was by four pair of marble stairs, as it still is, to a fine gravel-bottom, through which the springs gently bubbled and supplied, as they do at this time, the entire basin with the crystal fluid. Hither many a “lover and preserver” of health and long life, and many an admirer of calm retreat, resorted “ever and anon:”—
And in hyghe sommer eueriche daye I wene,
Where auncient trees shut owht escorchyng shene;
f Stow's Survey, edit. 1633, p. 11.
i Ibid. p. 782.
At the head of the fish-pond, westward, stood the house that Kemp built for his own residence, with a garden and orchard of pears and *. and walled round. It was a handsome old-country’squire-like building, very similar to the resent parsonage-house of St. Luke's in
elmet-row; the back-front looked upon the water, and had an arch in the embankment on that side, beneath which two boats, kept for the accommodation of i. of the rod and line, were
wn in at night.
Mr. Kemp expired before his lease; but he left property to his family, and his son in possession of the “Pool,” and of his lease. He was not so successful as his father; and after him the premises were held by a person named Taylor, and subsequently l, one Crewe. At the expiration of his lease, a new lease upon building terms was obtained of St. Bartholomew's hospital, at a rental of 600l. per annum, by Mr. Joseph Watts, the resent occupier and proprietor of the
ths, who, to remunerate himself, set about “improving,” by draining the fish}. pulling down Kemp's house, and elling the trees. He built Baldwyn-street on the site of the fish-pond; Bath-buildings on the ground of Kemp's orchard; and erected other adjoining streets; preserving the baths as he found them, and in many respects improving them. The pleasure-bath is still a pleasant spot, and
both that and the cold-bath retain their ancient capabilities. Indeed, the attractions to the pleasure-bath are undiminished. Its size is the same as in Kemp's time, and trees enough remain to shade the visitor from the heat of the sun while on the brink, irresolute whether to plunge gloriously in, or ignobly walk down the steps. On a summer evening it is amusing to survey the conduct of the bathers: some boldly dive; others “timorous stand,” and then descend step by step, “unwillingly and slow.” Choice swimmers attract attention by divings and somersets, and the whole sheet of water sometimes rings with merriment. Every fine Thursday and Saturday afternoon in the summer, columns of blue-coat boys, more than three score in each, headed by their respective beadles, arrive, and some half-strip themselves ere they reach their destination; the rapid plunges they make into the pool, and their hilarity in the bath, testify their enjoyment of the tepid fluid.
Mr. John Cleghorn, of Chapman-street, Islington, the architectural draftsman and
engraver, was resident near Peerless Pool
many years. There being no representation of the fish-pond and house, as they remained within the recollection of himself and the editor of the Every-Day Book, this gentleman, whose taste and knowledge of perspective have by the pencil
The great earthquake, on the first of November, 1755, which destroyed seventy thousand human beings at Lisbon, and swallowed up the greatest part of the city, affected Peerless Pool. I Dr. Birch, then secretary to the Royal Society, authenticated the fact, and records it in the “Philosophical Transactions.” It appears, that on reports that the agitation of the waters observed in ". parts of England, Ireland, Scotland, Holland, &c. on that day, had likewise been noticed in Peerless Pool, Dr. Birch, being desirous of as accurate and circumstantial an account as possible of a fact which he had not heard to have been remarked in any other part of London or its suburbs, himself went thither, on Saturday, December the 6th, 1755, and there took
down the particulars from the mouth of one of the two waiters, who were eyewitnesses of it. This waiter said, that having been engaged, between ten and eleven in the morning, with his fellowwaiter, near the wall which enclosed the ground of the fish-pond, he accidentally cast his eye on the water, and was surrised to see it greatly moved without the east apparent cause, as the air was quite calm. He called to his companion to take notice of it, who at first neglected, but being urged to attend to so extraordinary an appearance, he was equally struck with the sight of it. Large waves rolled slowly to and from the bank nea, them for some time, and at last left the bed of the pond dry for several feet, and in their reflux overflowed the bank ten of twelve feet, as they did the opposite one, which was evident from the wetness of the ground about it. This motion having continued for five or six minutes, the two waiters stepped to the cold-bath near the fish-pond, to see what passed there; but no motion was observed in it by them, or by a gentleman who had been in it, and was then dressing himself, and who, on being told of the agitation in the fishpond, went directly thither with the waiters, and was a third witness of it. On the ceasing of it, they all three went to the pleasure-bath, between which and the fish-pond the cold-bath was situated; they found the pleasure-bath then motionless, but to have been agitated in the same manner with the fish-pond, the water having left plain marks of its having overflown the banks, and risen to the bushes on their sides. The motion in the fish-pond had also been observed by some persons in Mr. Kemp's house. disgusting, exhibition of brutality, took place, at a late hour on Tuesday evening, at Warwick;ond, except that it was even still more offensive and cruel than was anticipated, the result was purely that which had been predicted in The Times newspaper. The show was got up in an extensive enclosure, called the “Old Factory-yard,” just in the suburbs of Warwick, on the road towards Northampton; and the cage in which the fight took place stood in the centre of a hollow square, formed on two sides by ranges of empty workshops, the windows of which were fitted up with planks on barrels as seats for the spectators; and, in the remaining two, by the whole of Mr. Wombwell's wild “collection,” as they have been on show for some days past, arranged in their respective dens and travelling carriages. In the course of the morning, the dogs were shown, for the fee of a shilling, at a public-house in Warwick, called the “Green Dragon.” Eight had been brought over originally; but, by a mistake of locking them up together on the preceding night, they had fallen out among themselves, and one had been killed entirely; a second escaping only with the loss of an ear, and a portion of one cheek. The guardian of the beasts being rebuked for this accident, declared he could not have supposed they would have fought each other—being “all on the same side:” six, however, still remained in condition, as Mrs. Heidelberg expresses it, for the “runcounter.” The price of admission demanded in the first instance for the fight seemed to have been founded on very gross miscalculation. Three guineas were asked for seats at the windows in the first, second, and third floors of the unoccupied manufactory; two guineas for seats on the fourth floor of this building; one guinea for places at a still more distant point; and half-a-guinea for standing room in the square. The appearance of the cage when erected was rather fragile, considering the furious struggle which was to take place within it. It measured fifteen feet square, and ten feet high, the floor of it standing about six feet from the ground. The top, as well as the sides, was composed merely of iron bars, apparently slight, and placed at such a distance from each other that the dogs might enter or escape between, but too close for the lion to follow. Some doubts were ex
On this day oysters come in; by act of parliament they are prohibited until its arrival. It is a vulgar superstition, that whoever eats oysters on St. James's day will never want money. The indifference to industry which such notions engender in many minds, can be testified by some of themselves, who falsify the frivolous legend by their present abodes in workhouses.
Apples were blessed on this day by the priest. There is a special form for blessing them in the manual of the church of Sarum. A greater blessing is conferred at Cliff, in Kent, by the rector there: by an old custom he distributes “ at his parsonage-house on St. James's day, annually, a mutton pye and a loaf to as many as choose to demand it, the expense of which amounts to about 15l. per annum.”
* Brand, from Hasted's Kent.
pressed about the sufficiency of this last precaution—merely because a number of “ladies,” it was understood, would be present; but the ladies in general escaped that disgrace, for not a single female came; and, at all events, the attendant bear-wards swore in the most solemn way—that is to say, using a hundred imprecations instead of one—that the security of the whole was past a doubt. Towards afternoon the determination as to “prices” seemed a little to abate; and it was suspected that, in the end, the speculator would take whatever prices he could get. The fact became pretty clear, too, that, no real match, nor any thing approaching to one, was pending; be: cause the parties themselves, in their printed notices, did not settle any circumstances satisfactorily, under which the contest could be considered as concluded. Wheeler, Mr. Martin's agent, who had come down on Monday, applied to the local authorities to stop the exhibition; but the mayor, and afterwards, as we understood, a magistrate of the name of Wade, declined interfering, on the ground that, under Mr. Martin's present act, no steps could be taken before the act constituting “cruelty” had been committed. A gentleman, a quaker,who resides near Warwick, also went down to the menagerie, in person, to remonstrate with Mr. Wombwell; but, against the hope of letting seats at “three guineas” a-head, of course his mediation could have very little chance of success.
In the mean time, the unfortunate lion lay in a caravan by himself all day, in front of the cage in which he was to be baited, surveying the preparations for his own annoyance with great simplicity and apparent good humour; and not at all discomfited by the notice of the numerous persons who came to look at him. In the course of the day, the dogs who were to fight were brought into the menagerie in slips, it being not the least singular feature of this combat that it was to take place immediately under the eyes of an immense host of wild beasts of all descri tions (not including the human spectators); three other lions; a she wolf, with cubs; a hyaena; a white bear; a lioness; two female leopards, with cubs; two zebras, male and female; a large assortment of monkeys; and two wild asses; with a variety of other interesting foreigners, being arranged within a few yards of the grand stand.