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A Druid's sacred form he bore,
Whene'er the fatal day shall come, His robes a girdle bound :
For come, alas ! it must, Deep vers'd he was in ancient lore,
When this good 'squire must stay at home, In customs old, profound.
And turn to antique dust; A stick torn from that hallow'd tree
The solemn dirge, ye Owls, prepare, Where Chaucer us'd to sit,
Ye Bats, more hoarsly
screek ; And tell his tales with leering glee,
Croak, all ye Ravens, round the bier, Supports his tott'ring feet.
And all ye Church-mice squeak.
But gloomy dark within ;
The Rev.W. Cole says, “ Browne Willis
had a most passionate regard for the
town of Buckingham, which he repreCrude, undigested, half-devour'd,
sented in Parliament one session, or part
occasion, and particularly in endeavour
ing to get a new charter for them, and to No prophet he, like Sydrophel,
get the bailiff changed into a mayor; by Could future times explore ;
unwearied application in getting the But what had happen'd, he could tell, assizes held once a year there, and proFive hundred years and more.
curing the archdeacon to hold his visitA walking Alm’nack he appears,
ations, and also the bishop there, as Stept from some mouldy wall,
often as possible; by promoting the Worn out of use thro' dust and years,
building of a jail in the town; and, above Like scutcheons in his hall.
all, by procuring subscriptions, and him
self liberally contributing, to the raising His boots were made of that cow's hide, the tower of the church 24 feet higher. By Guy of Warwick slain ;
As he cultivated an interest opposite to Time's choicest gifts, aye to abide
the Temple family, they were never upon Among the chosen train.
good terms; and made verses upon each Who first receiv'd the precious boon,
other on their several foibles."
The same Mr. Cole, by way of
notes on the preceding poem, relates the And then, as lawful heir,
following anecdotes of Dr. Willis, which Browne claim'd and seiz’d the precious spoil, are subjoined to it by Mr. Nichols. The spoil of many a year.
“Mr. Willis never mentioned the adored His car himself he did provide,
town of Buckingham without the addition To stand in double stead;
of county-town. His person and dress That it should carry him alive,
were so singular, that, though a gentleAnd bury him when dead.
man of 1000l. per annum, he has often
been taken for a beggar. An old leathern By rusty coins old kings ne'd trace, girdle or belt, always surrounded the two And know their air and mien :
or three coats he wore, and over them an King Alfred he knew well by face,
old blue cloak. He wrote the worst Tho' George he ne'er had seen.
hand of any man in England,-such as This wight th' outside of churches lov’d, he could with difficulty read himself, and Almost unto a sin ;
what no one, except his old correspondSpires Gothic of more use he prov'd ents, could decipher. His boots, which Than pulpits are within.
he almost always appeared in, were not
the least singular part of his dress. I Of use, no doubt, when high in air,
suppose it will not be a falsity to say they A wand'ring bird they'll rest, Or with a Bramin's holy care,
were forty years old, patched and vamped Make lodgments for its nest.
up at various times. They are all in
wrinkles, and don't come up above half Ye Jackdaws, that are us'd to talk,
way of his legs. He was often called in Like us of human race,
the neighbourhood, Old Wrinkle Boots. When nigh you see Browne Willis walk They are humorously historized in the Loud chatter forth his praise.
above poem. The chariot of Mr. Willis
was so singular, that from it he was called servant.” Cole's letter with this account himself, The old Chariot. It was his he consented that Mr. Steevens should wedding chariot, and had his arms on allow Mr. Nichols to use, adding that he brass plates about it, not unlike a coffin, gave the permission on a presumption, and painted black. He was as remark. that there was nothing disrespectful tó able probably for his love to the walls and the memory of Mr. Willis; for what I structures of churches, as for his variance said I don't recollect.” On this, Mr. with the clergy in his neighbourhood. He Nichols remarks, “ The disrespect was built, by subscription, the chapel at Fenny certainly levelled at the mere external Stratford ; repaired Bletchley church very foibles of the respectable antiquary, whose elegantly, at a great expense; repaired goodness of heart, and general spirit of Bow-Brickill church, desecrated and not philanthropy were amply sufficient to used for a century, and added greatly to bear him out in those whimsical. peculithe height of Buckingham church tower. arities of dress, which were irresistible He was not well pleased with any one, sources of ridicule.” who in talking of, or with him, did not call him Squire. I wrote these notes when I was out of humour with him for
Cole, however, may be suspected to some of his tricks. God rest his soul,
have somewhat exaggerated, when he so and forgive us all. Amen!" Cole and generalized his description of Dr. Willis, Willis were friends. Our antiquary pre
as to affirm that “ he had more the apsented a living to Mr. Cole, who appears pearance of a mumping beggar than of a to have been very useful to him as a gentleman.” Miss Talbot, of whom it transcriber, seeker after dates, and col
was said by the duchess of Somerset to lector of odds and ends. In erudition, lady Luxborough, “ she censures nobody, discrimination, arrangement, and literary
she despises nobody, and whilst her own powers, Cole was at an immense distance life is a pattern of goodness, she does not from him. Dr. Willis's writing he calls exclaim with bitterness against vice,"seems, “the worst hand of any man in England.” in her letter to the lady of quality before This was not the fact. Cole's « hand” cited, to have painted Dr. Willis to the was formal, and as plain as print; it was
life. She says, “ With one of the honest
est hearts in the world, he has one of the the only qualification he possessed over Dr. Willis, whose writing is certainly pe
oddest heads that ever dropped out of
the moon, culiar, and yet, where it seems difficult, is
Extremely well versed in readily decipherable by persons accus
coins, he knows hardly any thing of mantomed to varieties of method, and is to kind, and you may judge what kind of
education such an one is likely to give to be read with ease by any one at all ac
four girls, who have had no female di. quainted with its uniform character.
rectress to polish their behaviour, or any
other habitation than a great rambling On Dr. Willis's personal appearance,
mansion-house in a country village.” Mr. Cole says, in a letter to Mr. Steevens, to the credit of Mr. Cole, that she adds,
It must be allowed, notwithstanding, When I knew him first, about 35 years “He is the dirtiest creature in the world;" ago, he had more the appearance of a mumping beggar than of a gentleman ;
but then, with such a character from the and the most like resemblance of his mouth of a fine lady,the sex and breeding of figure that I can recollect among old the affirmant must be taken into the acprints, is that of Old Hobson the Cam- count,especially as she assigns her reasons, bridge carrier. He then, as always, was
“It is quite disagreeable," she says, “ to sit dressed in an old slouched, hat, more
by him at table : yet he makes one suit of brown than black, a weather-beaten large then his great coat has been transmitted
clothes serve him at least two years, and wig, three or four old-fashioned coats, all tied round by a leathern belt, and over all down, I believe, from generation to genean old blue cloak, lined with black fus- ration, ever since Ncah.” Thus there may tian, which he told me he had new made be something on the score of want of when he was elected member for the fashion in her estimate. town of Buckingham about 1707." Cole retained affection for his memory : he Miss Talbot's account of Dr. Willis's adds “ I have still by me as relics, this daughters is admirable. “ Browne discloak and belt, which I purchased of his tinguishes his four daughters into the
lions and the lambs. The lambs are very thousand times for the invention of Scapin, good and very insipid ; they were in town and I would have made no scruple of as about ten days, that ended the beginning suming the character, and inspiring my of last week; and now the lions have suc- friends with the laudable spirit of rebelceeded them, who have a little spirit of lion. I have picked out some of the rebellion, that makes them infinitely more dullest of their traits to tell you. They agreeable than their sober sisters. The pressed us extremely to come and breaklambs went to every church Browne pleased fast with them at their lodgings, four every day; the lions came to St. James's inches square, in Chapel-street, at eight church on St. George's day, (which to o'clock in the morning, and bring a stayBrowne was downright heresy, for reasons maker and the bishop of Gloucester with just related.) The lambs thought of no us. We put off the engagement till eleven, higher entertainment than going to see sent the stay-maker to measure them at some collections of shells ; the lions would nire, and Mrs. Secker and I went and see every thing, and go every where. found the ladies quite undressed; so that, The lambs dined here one day, were instead of taking them to Kensington thought good awkward girls, and then Gardens, as we promised, we were forced, were laid out of our thoughts for ever. for want of time, to content ourselves The lions dined with us on Sunday, and with carrying them round Grosvenorwere so extremely diverting, that we spent square into the Ring, where, for want of all yesterday morning, and are engaged better amusement, they were fain to fall to spend all this, in entertaining them, upon the basket of dirty sweetmeats and and going to a comedy, that, I think, has cakes that an old woman is always teizing no ill-nature in it; for the simplicity of you with there, which they had nearly these girls has nothing blameable in, it, despatched in a couple of rounds. It and the contemplation of such unassisted were endless to tell you all that has inex. nature is infinitely amusing. They follow pressibly diverted me in their behaviour Miss Jenny's rule, of never being strange and conversation.” in a strange place; yet in them this is not boldness."
Miss Talbot says, she could give “a thousand traits of the Mr. Nichols contents himself with calllions," " but she merely adds, “I won- ing Miss Talbot's letter“ a very pleasant dered to have heard no remarks on the one”-it is delightfully pleasant: that its prince and princess; their remarks description may not be received in an ill on every thing else are admirable. As sense, he carefully remarks, that “it they sat in the drawing-room before din- would be thought highly satirical in any ner, one of them called to Mr. Secker, body else,” but he roguishly affirms that 'I wish you would give me a glass of “ Dr. Taylor could tell a thousand such sack!'
. The bishop of Oxford (Secker) stories of Browne Willis and his family;" came in, and one of them broke out very and then he selects another. abruptly, · But we heard every word of the summer of 1740, after Mr. Baker's the sermon where we sat ; and a very death, his executor came to take possesgood sermon it was,' added she, with a sion of the effects, and lived for some time decisive nod. The bishop of Gloucester in his chambers at college. Here Browne gave them tickets to go to a play; and Willis waited upon him to see some of the one of them took great pains to repeat to MSS. or books; and after a long visit, to him, till he heard it, I would not rob find and examine what he wanted, the old you, but I know you are very rich, and bed-maker of the rooms came in; when can afford it; for I ben't covetous, indeed the gentleman said, 'What noise was that I an't covetous.' Poor girls ! their father I heard just as you opened the door?' (he will make them go out of town to-morrow, had heard the rustling of silk)—'Oh !' says and they begged very hard that we would Browne Willis, it is only one of my all join in entreating him to let them stay daughters that I left on the staircase. a fortnight, as their younger sisters have This, we may suppose, was a lamb, by done; but all our entreaties were in vain, her patient waiting; else a lion would and to-morrow the poor lions return to have been better able to resist any petty their den in the stage-coach. Indeed, in rudenesses.'” Afterwards we have anohis birth-day tie-wig he looked so like ther“ trait” of the same kind : "Once,
the father in the farce Mrs. Secker after long teasing, the young ladies prewas so diverted with, that I wished a vailed on him to give them a London
jaunt; unluckily the lodgings were (un- sameness of a country situation. He reknown to them) at an undertaker's, the presented me at parting, to Mr. Carte irregular and late hours of whose business wright, as one incorrigible, and lost bewas not very agreeable to the young yond all hopes of recovery to every thing ladies : but they comforted themselves with truly valuable in learning, by having unthe thoughts of the pleasure they should fortunately let slip that I preferred, and have during their stay in town; when to feared I ever should prefer, one page of their great surprise and grief, as soon Livy or Tacitus, Sallust or Cæsar, to all as they had got their breakfast, the old the monkish writers, with Bede at the family coach rumbled to the door, and the head of them. father bid them get in, as he had done the business about which he came to town." Aut quotquot aliis erunt in annis.
quot sunt quotve fuerunt Poor girls !
Sic explicit Historiola de Brownio Willisio !"
*The late Rev. John Kynaston, M. A., An Itinerary of Browne Willis “in fellow of Brazen-nose college, who had search of the antique," must have been seen the preceding paragraphs, writes to excessively amusing. ' Among the inMr. Nichols, “ Your anecdotes of the lions numerable stories that are told of him, and and the lambs have entertained me pro- the difficulties and rebuffs he met with in digiously, as I well knew the grizzly sire his favourite pursuits, the following may of both. Browne Willis was indeed an suffice as a specimen :-One day he deoriginal. I met with him at Mr. Cart- sired his neighbour, Mr. Lowndes, to go wright's, at Aynhoe, in Northamptonshire, with him to one of his tenants, whose old in 1753, where I was at that time chap- habitation he wanted to view. A coach lain to the family, and curate of the parish. driving into the farm-yard sufficiently Browne came here on a visit of a week alarmed the family, whó betook themthat summer. He looked for all the world selves to close quarters; when Browne like an old portrait of the era of queen Willis, spying a woman at a window, Elizabeth, that had walked down out of thrust his head out of the coach, and cried its frame. He was, too truly, the very out, Woman, I ask if you have got no dirty figure Miss Talbot describes him to arms in your house.” As the transaction be; which, with the antiquity of his dress, happened to be in the rebellion of 1745, · rendered him infinitely formidable to all when searches for arms were talked of, thé the children in the parish. He often called woman was still less pleased with her upon me at the parsonage house, when I visitor, and began to talk accordingly. happened not to dine in the family; hav- When Mr. Lowndes had enjoyed enough ing a great, and as it seemed, a very of this absurdity, he said, “ Neighbour, it favourite point to carry, which was no less is rather cold sitting here; if you will let than to persuade me to follow his example, me put my head out, I dare
we shall and to tum all my thoughts and studies do our business much better. So the to venerable antiquity; he deemed that late Dr. Newcome, going in his coach the summum bonum, the height of all hu- through one of the villages near Camman felicity. I used to entertain Mr. and bridge, and seeing an old mansion, called Mrs. Cartwright highly, by detailing to out to an old woman, · Woman, is this a them Browne's arguments to debauch me religious house?' 'I don't know what from the pursuit of polite literature, and you mean by a religious house,' retorted such studies as were most agreeable to the woman; but I believe the house is my turn and taste; and by parcelling out as honest an house as any of yours at every morning after prayers (we had daily Cambridge.'' prayers at eleven in the church) the pro On another occasion, Riding over gress Browne had made the day before in Mendip or Chedder, he came to a church the arts of seduction. I amused him with under the hill, the steeple just rising above such answers as I thought best suited to them, and near twenty acres of water behis hobby-horse, till I found he was going longing to Mr. Cox. He asked a countryto leave us; and then, by a stroke or two man the church's name> Emburrough.' of spirited raillery, lost his warm heart and • When was it dedicated ?'
• Talk Enghis advice for ever. My egging him on lish, or don't talk at all.'
" When is the served us, however, for a week's excellent level or wake?' The fellow thought, as entertainment, amid the dulness and were was a match at quarter-staff for a
hat in the neighbourhood, he intended to had for places more immediately set apart make one; and, struck with his mean ap- for religious duties, it is needless to menpearance besides, challenged him in a tion what his many public works, in build. rude way, and so they parted. This ing, repairing, and beautifying churches, anomalous proposition must have been as are standing evidences of. In the time of embarrassing as the situation presumed in health he called his family together every the play, ' Dr. Pangloss in a tan n,with evening, and, besides his private devoa terrier between his legs!'”
tions in the morning, he always retired into his closet in the afternoon at about
four or five o'clock. In his intercourse There is a very characteristic anecdote with men, he was in every respect, as far of Browne Willis, and Humfrey Wanley, as I could judge, very upright. He was a man of singular celebrity, and library a good landlord, and scarce ever raised keeper to the literary earl of Oxford: it his rents; and that his servants, likewise, is of Wanley's own relation in his Diary. have no reason to complain of their mas“Feb. 9, 1725-6. Mr. Browne Willis ter, is evident from the long time they came, wanting to peruse one of Holmes's generally lived with him. He had many MSS. marked L, and did so; and also valuable and good friends, whose kind
And L 2, L 3, and L 4, without finding what ness he always acknowledged. he expected. He would have explained though, perhaps, he might have some to me his design in his intended book dispute, with a few people, the reason of about our cathedrals; but I said I was
which it would be disagreeable to enter about my lord's necessary business, and into, yet it is with great satisfaction that had not leisure to spend upon any matter I can affirm that he
reconciled foreign to that. He wanted the liberty
with every one.
He was, with regard to to look over Holmes's MSS. and indeed himself, peculiarly sober and teinperate; over all this library, that he might collect and he has often told me, that he denied materials for amending his former books, himself many things, that he might be and putting forth new ones. I signified
stow them better. Indeed, he appeared to him that it would be too great a work; to me to have no greater regard to money and that I, having business appointed me
than as it furnished him with an opporby my lord, which required much de- tunity of doing good.
He supplied spatch, could not in such a case attend yearly three charity schools at Whaddon, upon him. He would have teazed me Bletchley, and Fenny-Stratford : and be here this whole afternoon, but I would sides what he constantly gave at Christnot suffer him. At length he departed in mas, he was never backward in relieving great anger, and I hope to be rid of him.” his poor neighbours with both wine and It is reported of the lion, that he is money when they were sick, or in any scared by the braying of the least noble of kind of distress. Thus, then, may end the beasts.
the few memorials that have been thrown together regarding an estimable though
eccentric gentleman “ of the old school." The Rev. Mr. Gibberd performed the If he did not adorn society by his “man“ last offices” at the funeral of his friend ners," he enriched our stores of know. Dr. Willis, who parted from life“ with- ledge, and posterity have justly conferred out the usual agonies of death." This on his memory a reputation for antiquagentleman says, “ He breathed almost rian attainments which few can hope to his last with the most earnest and ardent acquire, because few have the industry to wishes for my prosperity: 'Ah! Mr, cultivate so thorough an intimacy with Gibberd, God bless you for ever, Mr. the venerable objects of their acquaintGibberd !' were almost the last words of ance. my dying friend." Mr. Gibberd's character of him may close these notices. “ He was strictly religious, without any An " antiquary” is usually alarming. mixture of superstition or enthusiasm. Those who are not acquainted with him The honour of God was his prime view personally, imagine that he is necessarily in almost every action of his life. He dull, tasteless, and passionless. Yet this was a constant frequenter of the church, conception might be dissipated by referand never absented himself from the holy ence to the memoirs of the eminent decommunion; and as to the reverence he parted, or by courting the society of the