“Reproach, scorn, infamy, and hate,
On all thy future steps shall wait;
Thy furor be loath’d by every eye,
And every foot thy presence fly.”
We here see this child of misfortune fallen from her high estate! Her magnificent apartment is quitted for a dreary lodging in the purlieus of Drury-lane; she is at breakfast, and every object exhibits marks of the most wretched penury: her silver tea-kettle is changed for a tin pot, and her highly decorated toilet gives place to an old leaf table, strewed with the relics of the last night’s revel, and ornamented with a broken looking-glass. Around the room are scattered tobacco-pipes, gin measures, and pewter pots; emblems of the habits of life into which she is initiated, and the company which she now keeps: this is farther intimated by the wig-box of James Dalton, a notorious street-robber, who was afterwards executed. In her hand she displays a watch, which might be either presented to her, or stolen from her last night’s gallant. By the nostrums which ornament the broken window, we see that poverty is not her only evil.
The dreary and comfortless appearance of every object in this wretched receptacle, the bit of butter on a piece of paper, the candle in a bottle, the basin upon a chair, the punch-bowl and comb upon the table, and the tobacco-pipes, &c. strewed upon the unswept floor, give an admirable picture of the style in which this pride of Drury-lane ate her matin meal. The pictures which ornament the room are, Abraham offering up Isaac, and a portrait of the Virgin Mary; Dr. Sacheverell and Macheath the highwayman, are companion prints. There is some whimsicality in placing the two ladies under a canopy, formed by the unnailed valance of the bed, and characteristically crowned by the wig-box of a highwayman.
When Theodore, the unfortunate king of Corsica, was so reduced as to lodge in a garret in Dean-street, Soho, a number of gentlemen made a collection for his relief. The chairman of their committee informed him, by letter, that on the following day, at twelve o’clock, two of the society would wait upon his majesty with the money. To give his attic apartment an appearance of royalty, the poor monarch placed an arm-chair on his half-testered bed, and seating himself under the scanty canopy, gave what he thought might serve as the representation of a throne. When his two visitors entered the room, he graciously held out his right hand, that they might have the honour of — kissing it!
A magistrate, cautiously entering the room, with his attendant constables, commits her to a house of correction, where our legislators wisely suppose, that being confined to the improving conversation of her associates in vice, must have a powerful tendency towards the reformation of her manners. Sir John Gonson, a justice of peace, very active in the suppression of brothels, is the person represented. In a View of the Town in 1735, by T. Gilbert, fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge, are the following lines:
“Though laws severe to punish crimes were made,
What honest man is of these laws afraid?
All felons against judges will exclaim,
As harlots tremble at a Gonson’s name.”
Pope has noticed him in his Imitation of Dr. Donne, and Loveling, in a very elegant Latin ode. Thus, between the poets and the painter, the name of this harlot-hunting justice, is transmitted to posterity. He died on the 9th of January, 1765.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55