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Charles Heathcote Tatham (1772-1842)

Fragment of Autobiography

(1826 Begun August finished December same year).

I was born Feb 8. 1772 in Duke St. Westminster the son of Ralph Tatham and Elizabeth Bloxham. My father was a private Gentleman of a good family from Stockton in Durham, he had received a Liberal Education, from Dr. Tatham, a rich paternal Uncle, a Physician. My father had a taste for poetry — he wrote several pieces for the amusement of his friends. He came to London having offended his Uncle in search of his Fortunes, & met with my Mother at a Ball at the Mansion House. She was the daughter of a wealthy wholesale Hosier in Cateaton Street who gave her £10,000 in marriage, a very large sum in those days. With this Fortune my Father embarked in a large House and Farm called Havering Park in Essex as a Gentleman Farmer, but not succeeding, he engaged himself as private Secretary to his friend, Capt. afterwards, Lord Rodney, but died suddenly at the age of 50 of Cholera Morbus, at the Castle & Falcon in Aldersgate St. in his way to join the Ship at Portsmouth, leaving my respected Mother a widow with 5 boys out of 13 children, of whom I was the youngest, with a small Income of less than £200 per annum, left to her by her Uncle (a wealthy coachmaker of the name of Butler who built the present State Coach). (I was born 7th son at 7 o'clock in the year 1772 & about the seventh day of the month. 4 sevens. Oh ye astrologers, divine these sevens!!)

She brought us all up by her frugality & management to man's estate. She was a woman of great prudence, working willingly with her hands, 'rising while it was yet light' her character is truly described in the last chapter of the Proverbs. She died in honour and in comparative affluence after many vicissitudes in a good old age — 'Her children rise up and call her blessed'.

In my infancy I was inoculated by the famous Dr. Pitcairn which nearly proved fatal, it left me severely marked with small pox for life. In the early part of my youth I had two narrow escapes. Once I fell through the pavement of my Father's Hall at Havering Park in Essex down into the cellar underneath, & although the marble square fell with me, I received no hurt. At another time I fell through the ice in a large piece of water at Morgan's Park near Hertford, & had sunk twice, but was rescued by my brother John by the skirt of my jacket, & taken to recover at a neighbouring Farm House. In my boyhood I used to wear like others, leather lambskin breeches. Oh! what a fright with my hair curled in papers!

I received the chief of my education at Louth Grammar School in Lincolnshire, where I continued upwards of three years making such progress in the Classics, that my friends assisted by an Uncle (The Revd. Dr. Shepherd, Archdeacon of Bedford) determined me for the Church, to which I was much averse, preferring some branch or other connected with the fine Arts, having a taste for drawing, which I cultivated at my leisure hours. I had made some dozens, chiefly caricatures for some of school fellows & others, many were preserved by the family of the Ansells at whose hospitable mansion at North Grimsby I always passed my holidays, the distance from London and the straitness of my mother's purse prevented my ever going home during the whole of the time I was at school at Louth.

(Since I wrote these recollections I addressed a letter to Miss Ansell from Trinity Hospital East Greenwich to have some of my caricatures. They kindly sent me all they had.)

(It was here that I ran after a huge Turkey Cock & with difficulty caught him in the farm yard & ducked his head in the pond — because I fancied that I never entered the yard without his insulting me with his Gobble, Gobble, Gobble.)

At Ormesby Abbey lived an old sporting Gentleman & a Magistrate, of the name of Allenby, who became a foster father to me. His eldest daughter was married to Mr. Ansell, a wealthy Gentleman Farmer who resided at the High House as it was termed, in the same Parish in good style. The Ansells had three daughters, & our intercourse was that of Brothers & Sisters for my brother Henry who was at School at Louth with me during the two first years, received with me the singular kindnesses of this truly generous family. They took us up from the fortunate circumstance of two of the female Branches of the family happening to travel in the Spilsby Diligence with us when we were going friendless to Louth School, and they continued their kindnesses ever afterwards. Two ladies of the family only are now living in the town of Louth. At Ormesby I narrowly escaped being worried to death by a Mastiff dog who had got me down, & left scars upon my body which I shall carry to my grave. I walked on Crutches many weeks after this catastrophe.

My Uncle, Dr. Shepherd of whom I have spoken wrote several prose & other works, the best were his Bampton Lectures, he lived expensively after marrying my Mother's sister with an equal fortune to her own, & became so involved as to live for years in exclusion and in disgrace, having his two livings in Suffolk sequestered. He managed at length to arrange with his creditors & died at his Parsonage advanced in years, a wreck in fortune & fame, a disappointed, ambitious man. He also wrote a Sermon on recognition in a future state which made a great impression in the Literary World. He assisted me in the Classics, & from him I received notice at 16 that a Parson I must be, and I made up my mind to it, and studied so hard that I rose high in the School, and was esteemed for my industry & conduct by the head Master, The Revd. Dr. Emeris, as well as by the 3rd Master of the school, The Revd. Mr. Walter.

On one occasion I was through the artifice of another Boy misrepresented, & was taken into the School Library to be flogged. A stout boy was even ordered to horse me for the infliction, & methinks I hear the master with his great big wig, down with your breeches, Sir! In this humbling position I made such an appeal to him of my innocence that he desisted applying the rod, from a conviction that I told the Truth, thanks to my successful energies under the dread of disgrace. In the sequel the right boy suffered the penalty. Never shall I forget the distress arising from the sense of shame I long felt afterwards notwithstanding my acquittal, as into the great long & lofty school, with the eyes of all the Boys fixed on me, my legs hardly carried me. The case as well I recollect was for some disrespectful noise issuing from my form & disturbing the head Master. I was the head Boy of the form. He was in an ill humour that day.

At school I was of a choleric Temper, easily provoked, & had no small tincture of blustering Cowardice. Yet I knew how to defend myself from aggressions & fought two pitched battles, one with James Bourne, the other with Henry Shepherd, my cousin, now a Revd. Dr. I came to each scratch con amore, & beat my antagonists in both encounters. One incident I well recollect, in the winter season the Grammar School Boys formed themselves in masses to fight the Town Boys with fisty cuffs, sticks & snowballs. On one of these occasions, I appeared in the front of a desperate affray, brim-full of Courage, by some accident I & another near me slipped down. I saw my Comrade caught by the enemy who filled his Breeches and Waistcoat with dirty snow, this paralized every effort I made to recover myself. In endeavouring to regain my legs I slipped & slipped again fearing the same unwelcome treatment & I should certainly have come in for a plentiful portion had not the enraged enemy been driven back luckily at the very crisis by a strong reinforcement. I was amazed the whole of the afternoon reflecting upon my fortunate escape.

I had a certain portion of drollery about me, & I may say, frankness of heart, that made me liked by many of my Schoolfellows before whom I played irresistable pranks. I was head Boy of the Boarding House kept by old Dame Beaty where some dozen or more lodged, & where also was a son of the celebrated Dr. Langhorne. This chap once gave me a sound drubbing for replying (when asked) that I saw him with a loaded gun in a neighbouring Gentleman's grounds. I ever after had a horror of the fellow. He was as big as Hercules & was of a savage temper. I have no recollection of having a disgust to any other Boy but him, who I perfectly hated, & often drew him in caricature.

I had a few choice chum favourites, Robinson, Fawcet and Calvert, the former is a clergyman with a large family, and is the only one now living. Fawcet was a Physician, Calvert a Cadet. On a certain half-holiday I went out crows nesting (I always strung my eggs in festoons) with one Jack Wilkinson, a Tin­man's son of the Town, whose shape was like a puncheon bottom upwards, he being an expert hand, notwithstanding his inelegant person. At sport, he climbed a high Elm Tree after a prize, & when he was at the top, and in the very act of putting his hand into the nest, & I calling out from underneath what luck? How many eggs, Jack? the bough broke & down he came nest, eggs & all into a muddy ditch. I thought he was assuredly planted for want of a better term. As soon as I could extricate him out of the mud, I said Jack are you hurt, no, said he, but alas! all his eggs were broken to smashes. This poor unlucky fellow was soon after drowned while skating, an exercise I was a great adept at, the ice giving way with him.

I was at length suddenly called home to London. The Master the Revd. Mr. Emeris presented me with two Guineas as a token of his esteem, the third Master the Revd. James Walter presented me with a pocket Book in which he inscribed in his own hand the following honourable Testimonial 'Carolo H. Tatham hoc pro suis benemeritis blandisque meribus donavit sub magister, Jacobus Walter'. Mrs. Beaty, the mistress of the boarding House, presented a silver pocket piece in memory of her regard, & the three first boys of my Class clubbed together for a pencil case on which they had engraved the initials of their names, R.F.C. Robinson, Fawcett, Calvert. All these esteemed tokens I shall retain till my death and are now in a private box.

I left the Town on horseback by a Cross Road with an attendant walking by my side to take the Diligence at Spilsby, several of the boys accompanying me a few miles during which some deep sighs and unaffected Tears of regret were mutually shed. I had much ado to sit my saddle, however we parted, & I trotted off, with the exception of Robinson I have never seen the face of any since that time. They were all Lincolnshire youths of good families. Upon a summing up of my school days, they were assuredly my happiest. I then knew nothing of the care of provision & but little of the crafts & subtleties of the world. What I did wrong, I did secretly. I avoided Eclat. I was a pharisee of pharisees & was much in love with myself.

I remember carrying an Owl about the Town the whole of one holiday dressed up with Banns in ridicule of the famous preacher Wesley who frequently came on his extensive journeys & preached in the market place of Louth his followers were nicknamed Culimites (After Mr. David Culy, an honest & good man who resided in Lincolnshire).

On my arrival in London under 17 years of age Dr. Shepherd, my Uncle & other relatives abandoned making a Parson of me. It was proposed that I should immediately go into the counting house of one Mr. Coles, a Timber Merchant in Westminster, then to a Coachmaker because of my taste for drawing, to this I made no objection. At length nothing being settled after some months of ennuie, during which I learnt the mathematics in a little Court in Fleet Street, an old relative Mr. Linnell of Berkeley Square, an upholsterer of eminent skill and taste in his line, & to whom I am ever indebted for my best instructions in Drawing and Designing, got me placed with a Mr. Cockerell, an Architect & Surveyor of Stratton Street Piccadilly, engaging me to live three years in his house without fee or indenture, to be an office clerk & to board in his kitchen. I was to give all my services for that time gratuitously & to pick up information as well as I could.

This Gentleman, though afterwards becoming rich, had at that time but little employment in the building Art. He chiefly occupied me in copying & writing out leases & counterparts for the Pulteney Estate for which he acted as Surveyor. I dragged on this heavy work a year & upwards and stole my Hours for drawing Architecture & ornaments as well as I could. I was compelled to light two fires which I did well by 8 o'clock every winter morning, for I made the grates shine & kept the boards of the floors & the desks very clean. All this I did, often crying in secret, and should have continued to do for the remainder of my time, had my Master not desired me one day to assist at waiting at his parlour door for a large dinner party, one of whom was the celebrated Warren Hastings, this was the climax I ran away & could not be found. I could bear this bondage no longer — for as I never mixed with his servants after meal times, I passed hour after hour a prisoner in the office walls after business time, lamenting over the hard change of my lot, & ardently preferring the lowest Form in Louth Grammar School to such an insufferable imprisonment unproductive of any good whatever Body or Mind.

My dear Mother took great offence & received me harshly, of necessity I was obliged to take up my abode with her at her apartments in Bridge St. Westminster and as my former Master knew there was no chance of getting me back again, I was let alone & I passed one whole solitary year copying from Chambers's plates the five orders of Architecture & copying from the celebrated French ornaments Le Pautre daily I thought there was a cloud hanging over me. All my four Brothers were in good employment, two in respectable trades, Tom with the great upholsterer Linnell in Berkeley Square, John in the Law, Henry a Gunmaker, William in the Navy, notwithstanding these appearances, things were working well, and it so turned out in the sequel.

For upon my drawings being shown by a friend to Mr. Holland, the Prince of Wales's Architect he instantly proposed & generously determined to receive me into his Office without salary & to provide myself. This event produced the congratulations of all my friends & I entered at his House in Hans Place, Sloane St. the same day with a young man of the name of John Ogle with whom I formed a close intimacy & friendship on account of his gentlemanly demeanour. He had a taste for poetry, but none for Drawing, beside which he was inflicted with the most inveterate Idleness, & love of ease and pleasure, yet not a profligate. He sang his own songs to perfection with an uncommon fine voice he was a youth of very extraordinary personal accomplishments. He was an Apollo in figure with a handsome countenance. All these things in the gross gave me an advantage over him in the Office that proved his loss & my gain, for what was assigned to his department frequently fell to my lot to accomplish. This youth afterwards quitted the profession entirely and went into the Tower Hamlets Militia, when he married a lady of property, but his fortunes have ended in a dark cloud. The last time I saw him by accident a wreck in figure and in very tattered Habiliments — poor John Ogle!

At the end of the first year my Master presented me with Ten Guineas in Gold which I carried home to my honoured Mother. She kept it as if intentionally for a week or more — at length I found it upon the table of my chamber enclosed with a note of commendation & praise, & desiring me to apply it to my own use.

During the second year I became so useful in the drawing & writing department that at the expiration of it my master presented me with an additional twenty Guineas in gold.

My third year was a grand Harvest for my Master & for myself, for he was engaged to rebuild Drury Lane Theatre, & also that of Covent Garden, & I was employed to design & draw at large all the ornamental decorations to the former, which I did working day & night The whole Proscenium with the Kings Arms were done by my own hand, & pricked off from my drawings by Catton who painted my designs in fresco. I had to walk all weathers from my Mothers house in South Street, Grosvenor Sq. and to be at my post in the office at Hans Place, Sloane St. by 8 o'clock every morning summer and winter, after guzzling a bason of milk, & eating my bread as I walked along in my hand, only on one occasion was I ever beyond time when my Master took out his watch & shewed me the face — it was about 5 minutes past 8 o'clock. This he did ironically, although it made me blush as I took it for a reproof. I every day put a shilling in my pocket for my dinner & remained in the office till 8 at night & often until 10.

I was in the habit of shewing annually to my Master his total expenditure in a copious abstract under the respective heads and trades. On one occasion I foolishly handed over his private pocket book in which were important memoranda in order to get one similar from the Stationer for the year following. When this came to his knowledge he swore at me & I ran to Faulkners in Bond St. for the old book as fast as my legs would carry me, convinced of my foolishness.

My engagement nearly expiring with my Master, I secretly resolved to travel to Rome even though I bought an organ & played myself over there.

At the end of the third year about which time, 1793 I came of age my Master presented me with 40 Guineas in gold making in all during three years the sum of 70 Guineas which were gratuitous presents for my conduct & usefulness. I may safely add that his generosity suffers no depreciation when I aver that I laboured hard to deserve rewards by incessant attention to his interest & my duties & I was frugal & kept free of debt. At this important juncture with tears of gratitude in my eyes I then communicated my intentions, & my fixed resolves formed upon a sort of promise my old relative Mr. Linnell had made that he would advance me one hundred pounds. My generous Master instantly said, then I will allow you besides this sum 60 .£ per annum for two years. My heart leaped for joy. I ran home as quick as my pins could carry me to communicate the flattering news to my good Mother.

After retreating from office duties & waiting some time in suspense, my old relative either from needy circumstances, or thinking my Masters contribution was enough declined the assistance. Thus had I good reason to fear all my visions were blasted. I nevertheless stuck to my resolutions, & while between wind & water I received an invitation from John Birch, Surgeon Extraordinary to the King of New Street Spring Gardens, the brother of a single lady called Miss Ann Birch, most intimate with my Mother, to dine with him. At dinner he put an order of £100 upon Hammersleys into my hands & afterwards took me in his carriage to the Opera. I returned to my little lodgings at a Farriers shop in Park Lane, for which I paid unfurnished £10 per annum, for I had been a year quite off my Mother's hands. I knelt down in thankfulness to GOD & retired to rest as well as my heated imagination & excited nerves would let me.

Shortly after my return from Rome the old lady died and bequeathed me £100, a watch & a valuable collection of prints. I instantly returned the £100 to Mr. John Birch.

I soon set to work in earnest to pack up & take my departure which I at length accomplished in May 1794 having entered my twenty-second year. I engaged a Berth in a trading Vessel called The Brothers for Leghorn for £20 in company with Mr. Joseph Gandy who has since signalized himself as a Draftsman, during the voyage I was greatly afflicted with sea-sickness nevertheless by the help of an Italian Dictionary & a Grammar & a Genoese Sailor luckily on board & often at the helm I so far taught myself the language that when I landed at Leghorn I was able to make my requirements known to the natives, & had the bore of interpreting for my fellow travellers wants.

The vessel touched at Gibraltar, where I landed & traversed the Rock three days with great delight. I took a view of that fine promontary. Here I fell and sprained my wrist from which I did not recover for several weeks. We then sailed up the Mediterranean for Corsica where we landed two whole days. I rode into the interior mounted upon an immense Mule. Here desirous of bathing in the sea, I fastened a rope round my body & giving the end of it into the hands of the Genoese, I jumped over the side of the Vessel. I was afterwards informed it was a dangerous adventure on account of the sharks, but I came to no harm and did not repeat the prank.

Just at this period the Captain's health which had declined became alarming. I was under the necessity of rendering peculiar necessity in the vessel when sailing between Corsica & Leghorn we encountered a gale of wind amounting to a Hurricane. All hands were employed for the safety of the vessel. At this distressing juncture the Captain breathed his last, unknown to any of us at the moment. As soon as it was discovered & the weather becoming more calm, we held a Council & resolved to commit the body to the deep, fearing a quarantine at the Port of Leghorn. The ceremony was duly performed at 4 o'clock in the morning, the Body having been previously sewn up in a Hammock with a weight of coals enclosed to sink it. The Burial Service was read by myself in sight of a deep Waterspout at a short distance which produced a prodigious sublime effect falling upon the sea.

In ten days we anchored in the Bay of Leghorn, & by addressing a faithful statement to the Government Officers relative to the loss of our Captain, in which my smattering of the Italian Language was of great use, we were permitted to land after a voyage of six weeks. From the sufferings I endured on board ship I resolved to return by land to England. I managed to keep a daily journal which I have since destroyed very foolishly.

At Leghorn we rested three days, & then engaged a Vetturino at a cheap rate to convey myself & Mr. Gandy to Rome via Siena, proposing to visit Florence on my return through Italy, which subsequent political Disasters prevented. After a journey of three days & three nights, we safely arrived at the celestial City in July 1794.

On approaching the city at a short distance & first perceiving the Dome of St. Peters together with the Columns of Trajan & Antoninus & other majestic buildings my heart beat with gratification & surprize. It was a fine evening, our Vetturino was surrounded at the Porta del Popolo by a crowd of lacquays, one or two of whom conducted us just as they pleased to an Hotel where the first night was passed.

Early in the morning I discovered from my bed the top of Trajan's Column & the height of the Capitol. The sublime view animated me. I rose & disengaged myself in the Hotel from my travelling companion whose habits & mine but little accorded. I soon equipped myself & was shortly afterwards presented to my Banker Jenkins to whom I gave my letters of credit. He was a reputed rich old rogue originally a portrait painter of great mediocrity, & became an extensive dealer in Virtu and a Banker. (This man fled from Rome during the subsequent Revolution & coming to England, died in the packet between Calais & Dover. He left immense wealth to a nephew at Falmouth.) He was good enough to introduce me to very pleasant apartments at the house of Signer Giocchino Falcioni in the Strada Babuino, who with his elderly wife & a man servant made up all the Inmates. The apartments were spacious & had been occupied by Fuseli before me, also by Nasmyth the Landscape Painter (Fig. 86). I was supplied most comfortably with every necessary, my washing excepted, for a sum equal to £40 per annum.

Here I continued till I quitted Rome, the old people formed a great affection for me. I gave them no trouble & kept good hours. They had a sort of Turnspit dog who answered to the name of Asopo. This dog went to Mass daily with the old lady, & contributed to my amusement for his singular shape being bandy legged to perfection. Falcioni was a retired Sculptor. He was an original in figure. He wore a frizzled powdered wig & long tail silk Coat, embroidered Vest, large silver knee & shoe buckles his fingers covered with rings. I went by the name of Signer Carluccio. The Signora was Zantippe personified & awfully humped in the back.

It was some weeks before I could compose my mind to adopt any schemes of study. I gave myself up to wandering about the antiquities & viewing the Vatican Gallery, etc. At length I made some sketches in the Villa Borghese & then settled my mind to collect chiefly useful materials in ornamental Architecture, keeping in view the contracted means afforded me both as to finance & time. I avoided much intercourse with my Artist Countrymen & happily became introduced to Signer Mario Asprucci, Architect to the Prince Borghese. He proved a young man of the soundest morals, good taste & skill. (This dear young man died from unskilful treatment of a bilious fever two years after I left Rome. The portrait he gave me is now in my study and will have a place there to the end of life I trust. It will be found placed in the reminiscences.) We agreed to draw and copy the Antiquities in company exchanging each others works by tracings.

I had farther the good luck to add to us a Spanish Architect of the name of Don Isidore Velasquez, a youth of equal merit with the former, he was a pensioner from the Academy at Madrid. We thus made for our mutual service in a few months a very considerable Collection of Drawings of great value to each of us respectively. I had a veneration for Asprucci's character, he never failed attending Mass, & often put down his pencil for that pious purpose in the midst of the most interesting pursuits. I often accompanied him, & knelt before the Altar stammering such effusions to the GOD of my fathers in gratitude & praise as I was able to do. 'Oh GOD Thou are not confined to Temples made with hands.' 'My Son! give me thine heart'.

I brought to Rome letters of introduction to the Abbate Carlo Bonomi (From his brother Mr. Bonomi, an Architect in practice in London) who was a professor of Theology to the College of the Propoganda Fede. This most excellent Christian Minister & learned man, laid the foundation of great good to my mind. He invited me to pass a couple of hours with him every Sunday morning & to take my chocolate in his apartments at the Palazzo Justiniani, he forming as he did a part of the Prince's establishment, & there he opened to me such principles of moral philosophy & the Christian religion (for I never failed attending even one Sunday afterwards) that I should certainly have embraced the Roman Catholic Faith had I continued at Rome as a resident; he composed for my express use a work of upwards of 100 pages in Defence of Christianity & Roman Catholicism & gave it to me on my quitting Rome with embraces & good counsels such as I trust will never be obliterated from my mind, & putting into my hands a small mosaic composed of a Flame in a Quiver entwined with a serpent emblematic as he said of Prudence & Wisdom. My love & admiration for this good man was intense. He had a Levèe of learned men twice a week in his Library of evenings. He was highly esteemed as a Professor in the Propoganda College. This good man suffered materially in his finances when the French Army entered Rome, & the flight of the Pope which happened a few months after I quitted the City in 1797. I sent him the small sum of 10 .£ all I could scrape together after my return to England. He was however soon translated to Glory, & bade adieu to the clatter of Arms & turmoils of life to live forever with his Crucified & Glorified Lord at the foot of whose Cross he laid Body and Soul.

As I write from recollection I proceed to narrate that I also became acquainted with Madame Angelica Kaufmann, the celebrated Historical Painter, who manifested such polite regard that she gave me a general invitation to dine with her & her husband every Sunday on the Trinita da Monte, which I gladly accepted. There I met many learned & ingenious men at her conversaziones. This lady had amassed a fortune by her paintings. She was a German by birth, her works are found in many of the houses of principle nobility. She kept her carriage & lived in good style. In gratitude for her kindness to me I made a design for a temple & dedicated & presented it to her. Here I became known to Signer Bossi, a Venetian, an historical painter, a young man of immense stature of fine talents & a most particular friend of Canova. This artist produced subsequently several noble Works & was in high reputation. Canova executed his Bust which is published amongst his works. He was created a Cavaliere by the Pope after his restoration & died at Rome a few years ago in the zenith of his reputation & vigour of mind, a great Artist, unmarried.

With the celebrated Sculptor Canova I became particularly acquainted. He gave access to his studio at all times. He visited me, & one day found me drawing the famous arabesque pilaster of the Villa Medici, he called it the Apollo of ornaments. He looked at the drawing, & patted my cheek and said 'Bravo, bravo ben copiato'. He presented me with four sketches of studies of the human figure on each of which he wrote the following 'Al buon amico Sig Carlo H. Tatham Antonio Canova diede queste Segni Roma 1795'.

He & Signor D'Este his Secretary, myself, & Abbate Bonomi made a party to visit the Country Palazzo of the Principe Giustiniani about 20 miles distant from Rome. I fell asleep in the carriage he took up my hand & said he would take a cast from it. After dinner we retired into the Gardens where we all played Leap frog with the exception of Bonomi whose spine was deformed. We signed each of our names at my request in my Sketch Book which I have carefully preserved. I often found Canova cutting marble from the life. He was a man of a heavenly mind. I conceive him to have been one of the happiest of mortals, enthusiastic in the fine Arts, successful in their practise & esteemed by the whole world of taste & refinement. He had a weak stomach & took frequent but light refreshment. Dyspepsia killed him at last as it will me.

I obtained an introduction to the Prince Augustus (Duke of Sussex) & had the honour to meet him at some conversaziones & musical parties, also at one or two balls. I remember a ball given by the Principessa Santa Croce at which was the Prince Augustus & several English, and amongst them was Miss Knight, an old maiden Lady daughter of Admiral Knight. She was a person of considerable acquirements. She stood up to dance with a foreign gentleman. She was the very life to Hogarths tall figure in his celebrated Print of grown up persons learning to dance. Her figure too to the Prince was irresistibly droll. He took up the skirt of his coat in mock imitation of her going down the middle. She unluckily discovered his mimicry, & went up & curtsied to him with ineffable contempt & flew out of the room in a tangent. (This lady was afterwards preceptress to the lamented Princess Charlotte.) The Prince in vain attempted to apologize. She entered her calash & drove home.

This Prince has opened an excavation 5 miles from Rome in quest of antiquities, & very kindly desired me to view the Cava. One evening an Irish gentleman of fortune, a Mr. Denis, promised to take me in his phaeton & as we were driving there the Prince passed us in his, accompanied by an Abbate dressed all fine in black silk & powdered hair having dined with His Royal Highness he wore his chapeau de bras under his arm. I think I see the complacency & exquisite expression of delight manifested by the Abbate. Both carriages nearly arrived together upon the spot. There was a basket of eggs for the use of the labourers placed near the brink of the cava. The Prince discovered it & instantly conceived a practical joke. He winked first to me, in order to arrest my attention. Mr. Denis was blind with one eye, but the other was a piercer. He pretended to have discovered the leg of a Statue appearing amongst the mould, & desired the Abbate to come to him, having first secured an egg. He exclaimed 'Ecco il gamba' 'dove' replied the Abbate 'in giu giu.' The Abbate stooped to view the discovery & at that instant the Prince smashed the egg on his powdered & tonsured pate. No tongue can describe the Abbate's surprise mixed with horror & rage. He took out his handkerchief & wiped his head, as well as he could, & requested my assistance, exclaiming 'O che cosa' Ah, Signor Principe'.

At length he was by us all as much purified as well as he could be from the filth. The Prince cheering him, he ascended the Phaeton & was driven back to Rome via the Corso, where there were a Hundred carriages with ladies, all amazed & amused at the expense of the wretched state of the Abbates head, the Prince driving amongst them as fast as he could. In this Cava was discovered a magnificent Tazza which I published in my etchings, and sundry other tolerable good fragments of Sculpture.

My Padrone had missed some gold Zecchini out of his secretaire & suspected his manservant. He called me to him to witness a private mark he put upon a couple of them, which he duly deposited. Only a few days expired when detection followed. In the interim I was awoke in the middle of the night by a lamp held over me. I saw it was Giuseppe. I suppressed my alarm and calmly enquired what he was seeking. He left the room in confusion. In the morning I missed nothing. However, he was happily soon afterwards dismissed by my Padrone with all his plunder about him. I remonstrated at the lenity my padrone showed to the villain — who was a Genoese & they are reputed accomplished thieves. He replied that had he confronted him with the theft of the Zecchini he would have sought an opportunity for giving him a coltellato or stab. I indignantly assured him that such things were not so easily passed over in England. There said he the common people do not wear private stilettos. Stilettos were subsequently forbidden by the French to be worn on pain of death. I made it a maxim to realize the old proverb 'do as they do at Rome'.

Consequently I partook of the usual viands & beverages and reposed upon my Couch after dinner at I o'clock during the heat of the summer, for a couple of hours. I therefore had no interruption to my studies, and was never indisposed one day — enjoying perfect health in all heats & sciroccos. One afternoon I had resumed my work, for I used to attend the Vatican & galleries at early morning hours, when my attention was drawn to music & dancing under a large arched gateway at the back of my Studio. There were a dozen or more fine young men and women smartly dressed, dancing the Tarantella. I looked on till I was satisfied & sat down to my table.

Shortly after I heard a violent scream, & upon jumping out of my seat, saw that a desperate & sanguinary quarrel had taken place between two of the men who in jealous rage were fighting with their stilettos. One of the combatants was stabbed mortally. He had run when wounded into the street in front & fell dead. A Capuchin accidentally passing soon appeared with a handful of candles which he lighted & stuck round the body. They remained till Vespers when the body was removed by relatives & friends. I made four drawings of this bloody work, the dance, the fight, the death blow, & the Candles scene — all of which I presented to the late Frederick, Earl of Carlisle.

My bed chamber was the last of a suite of rooms in the front of the house. One night I was awaked by a noise in the Street which proceeded from a parcel of dogs. I opened the window & endeavoured to scold them away, to no avail. The supper things happened to be left in the adjoining apartment, & I threw plate after plate at the delinquants with no success, for I could hardly see, it was dark. Rendered desperate by the nuisance, & noise, & the heat of the weather, I descended two flights of stone steps en Chemise & slippers & ran into the street armed with the last plate. I chased them into the Corso through a bye street, & then returned to my padrone's house.

At Chocolate time in the morning about 10 o'clock I confessed the demolition of plates & related the cause. My padrone & his cara sposa both stared & said it was well I was not seen by the pope's picquet of soldiers for had I, they would have conveyed me, nudo as I was to the Guard House for a mad-man & deservedly too perhaps.

At Mrs. John Hollands conversazione I met with Mr. Douglas, now Marquess of Queensberry. He was a strong, muscular young man, & the topic at one end of the Drawing room fell upon walking exercise. Mr. D proposed to me to accompany him on foot to Tivoli, d'ariccia, Albano etc. his man carrying our changes. Mrs. J. Holland said that it was impossible for me to perform it. I accepted the invitation & betted Zecchino that I could, which she accepted. The night immediately one following this evening she was to have another Conversazione, & it was agreed we both were to make our appearance by 9 o'clock in the evening in her Drawing room.

So in the morning we started together very early, a little after 4 o'clock, the man carrying our changes. It was in the Autumn. We arrived at Lariccia, a distance of 30 miles at sun-set coming, took each a warm foot bath and retired upon eggs & bread & a little wine at the Osteria, slept in two beds in one large room, we again rose early, paid our reckoning & went for the lake of Albano. Then Tivoli, where we refreshed, then the Campagnia di Roma — & home, which we reached at 7 o'clock in the Evening, having performed full 60 miles. I made for my Padrone's & changed my dress with my Gala one after the necessary ablutions, & I made my appearance in propria personae, in the Salone before Mr. Douglas had arrived. Mrs. John Holland & some ladies discredited the performance which I related very faithfully. Mr. D's appearance dissipated the delusion & I was paid the wager. I never afterwards saw my fellow traveller as he quitted Rome for a tour in Greece.

Mr. Day, who now exhibits the fine plaister Casts in Piccadilly invited my Padrone, his cara sposa & myself to an English tea party. He afterwards introduced punch, a beverage they had never tasted before. It delighted them & they took a cheerful glass. We had to descend the thousand steps of the Trinita di Monte, when it began to take effect upon us all. I had great difficulty in keeping the old folks upon their legs. They declared the steps moved up & down. I laughed immoderately, & had to put them to bed. They swore their pillows jumped about also, 'gira, gira, gira quanto girano gli scagli'. I laughed for a week at 'il punch e il Diavolo'.

My linen was absolutely washed by the two daughters of the celebrated Painter, Pompeo Battone. They supported their aged Mother by this & other humiliating employments. The vicissitudes of that extraord­inary man were very great. He had entertained Princes at his Hotel & was visited & employed by Sovereigns. Notwithstanding his high patronage, he died insolvent. I often visited the ladies, who after certain hours never appeared but in good costume, concealing the former occupations of the day. I was scrupulous in paying them personally. It was an afflicting sight to behold, the aged Widow Lady in her chair so fallen into poverty. She was dignified & I always made a point of paying the family the highest respect & consideration.

By the introduction of my friend Asprucci I became acquainted with Signer Camuccini, a young historical painter. He was then engaged upon a large picture of Julius Caesar, I saw it finished. His reputation has risen & he has been created a Cavalieri by the Pope. Through a travelling friend he made enquiries about me a few months ago. He made two portraits of me, one for Asprucci, the other at the front of this book, and also one of Asprucci for me and gave me several drawings by his own hand (Figs. 87, 88). He is now living at Rome & is President of the Academy of St. Luke & very rich.

My old Master Mr. Holland commissioned me to collect antique fragments, relating to ornamental Architecture for his use, & gave me 'carte blanches'. I set to work at leisure hours, & at length I selected a noble assemblage. Some were fragments of the highest class of art. I deposited them in 8 cases at the Palace of the Venetian Ambassador for security dreading the irruptions of the French armies & the sackage that might follow. They remained hidden for the space of two years, & were at last brought to England by an Admiralty Order of the Earl Spencer who was then First lord in a frigate from the Port of Civita Vecchia. I subsequently published them in a separate work from my own collection of ornamental Architecture.

Since the death of Mr. Holland (who had previously offered them to me at a price I could not afford), they now embellish the fine collection of Antiquities in the Museum of Sir John Soane, the Architect in Lincolns Inn Fields, called the Soanian Museum — where are also several of my original drawings made at Rome for my Master, Mr. Holland.

I saw a man hanged in the Piazza del Popolo for stabbing his sweetheart in a fit of jealously while she was sitting with other females in the act of spinning silk thread. He was instantly handed over to the Police, tried in the Courts & condemned to death. I attended the execution & placed myself very near the arched Gateway in which was the culprit, preparatory to the awful ceremony. Surrounded by Priests & one or two pious gentlemen who voluntarily attended to offer spiritual advice and consolation, I heard the malefactor distinctly say 'Today shall I be with Christ in Paradise'. Jack Ketch the executioner was an enormous sized man, his dress was purple velvet jacket & breeches with gold knee bands, white vest & stockings with high coloured clocks, an immense pair of silver buckles down to his toes, his hair was enclosed in a silk net, & a gold laced cocked hat on his head, his brawny neck was open with a silk handkerchief loosely tied under a black beard; he proceeded to the archway at a signal given, having duly adjusted a low gallows against which he placed a ladder.

Being admitted he took the miserable man, who was short in stature, under his arm & deliberately walked up the ladder a few steps, by the aid of an assistant the rope was fastened round the neck, he then threw off the man & sprang instantly upon his shoulders like a Tiger, with the whole of his weight, & there stuck for several minutes, which was truly a hideous sight. The man was left hanging until Vespers when the Body was removed and the gallows taken down. I made drawings of the whole scene which I presented also to the late Lord Carlisle who became a great patron to me in after life.

Every time I visited St. Peters Church, the building increased in vastness to my eye. The mind at first receives a confused impression on entering this wonderful & expansive structure, which in time subsides, & then it is you feel a just conception of the great work of Michael Angelo's Dome 'lomo divino'. The circular Colonnades by Bernini are very expressive of the arms of the Church extending themselves to receive the Faithful.

Assassinations were common in Rome. A youth was found dead opposite to my Studio. I went out early in the morning & took his netted cap off the ground which I brought to England.

I was invited to the Prince Ghigi's concert, which was held in a magnificent Salon, and there I heard the late Mrs. Billington whose singing made the Italians already 'pazzo per la musica' enthusiastic in their expressions of admiration. She received large presents of rings & jewellery from the Italian nobility who could not advance the cash. I had heard her sing in the Beggars Opera for I was free of the Theatres, a little before I left home.

I became introduced to the eldest son of the Prince Altieri, who with his Father were both blind. I became intimate with the young nobleman. My acquaintance ended in the old Prince offering me for 5,000 Scudi the two famous large Claudes, painted by that great Artist, expressly for a Pope, his ancestor. They were placed in a Gallery where the surbase was decorated with Bassorelievos worked in Ivory. Poverty & the depression of the Times added to just apprehension of the French armies induced him to make this offer tacitly to me. I wanted spirit (for which Mr. Holland greatly blamed me, & for not applying to him) to embrace the offer chiefly on account of my own poverty & slight connections with the monied world. The French having taken Mantua, the key of Italy, they were taken down & rolled up & for a long while secreted. By some means or other they reached Naples the poor Prince having been compelled to sell them to a Mr. Pagan, an Irishman & painter, who became consul to the English there, & they were ultimately put on board a King's ship for England, where they were sold to Mr. Beckford of Fonthill Abbey for £10,000. This Pagan afterwards shot himself.

Shortly after my return to England I received a letter from the poor Prince who had some how heard of the great price his pictures had produced, entreating me to intercede with the vendor if he could be found, for a bonus, urging his poverty, & the fairness of such an appeal, as he conceived himself robbed of these chef doeuvres. Tresham the Painter & friend of Beckford, who I met at dinner at Lord Carlisles, begged the loan of the letter for that gentleman's inspection, which I could never get returned to me again. I wrote a brief but faithful statement of the facts which I inserted in the Gentleman's Magazine in the year 1799.

I was frequently amused with Improvisatori Poets in the public streets, a curious race of men who spout extempore in rhime for a few baiocchi. They will continue their effusions to great lengths keeping their points & metres with facility.

The Capuchin Friars frequently preached in the Streets, with great zeal & vehemence. They hold the Testament in one hand & a little Crucifix in the other. I had then no taste for such exhibitions & passed by unmoved. Christ was then to me foolishness for I possessed a proud, self-righteous, hardened, pharisaical heart.

Twelve months had expired when looking over time & finance I resolved to proceed to Naples, & also to Paestum. I therefore took a conge of my dear friends the Bonomis, the Aspruccis, the Kauffmans & Canova & engaged half a Vetturino with a stranger of whom I knew nothing. He turned out to be a Missionary Capuchin pretty well advanced in life with Cowl, beard, dirty feet & sandals all in perfect character. Popes lines ran constantly in my head 'Thy faithful dog shall bear thee company'. He was the best & safest of all accidental companions, & amused me with his travels in Africa and the coast of the Mediterranian. My impression was that his character was apostolic and pious. At that time there was not much fear of Banditti. Had we been attacked my padre would have been a passport.

On arriving at Naples late in the evening my padre gave me his blessing & we parted. I engaged an apartment at a suitable Hotel in the Chiaja from whence I had a view of Vesuvius & the Bay, it was Christmas time & very cold. I was compelled to indulge in a wood fire.

Having engaged a Guide I proceeded to view Pausilippo Virgils Tomb (& brought to England some leaves of the laurels planted by votive travellers around it which I gave to the late Mrs. Chevalier & others) the Sulfatara & the Antiquities on the shore, also Pompeii, Herculaneum & Vesuvius, over the Crater of which I straddled my legs. I inspected the Royal Museum & other Collections, & made a few slight sketches of objects as they interested me, particularly the fine baptismal Font I found in a Church which is given in my publication of ancient ornamental Architecture.

After a residence of three weeks during which I once only went to the Theatre of San Carlo the finest in the world, I engaged a Vetturino for Paestum with the Master of the Hotel for my Compagnon de Voyage who turned out an excellent English hearted fellow.

We passed the first night in a wretched Inn, & laid down in our cloathes & pistols by our sides. There was an uncouth set of people within the walls who did not inspire me with much confidence. We remained safely, & slept at intervals amidst noise & confusion, & started early in the morning in quest of the Temples. We were overtaken by a storm. It was in the month of January. We weathered it with difficulty the horizon however cleared as if on purpose to salute my eye with the most perfect coup d'oeul of sublime effect. We found ourselves within a short distance of the Temples, about which buffaloes were feeding, with a fine background of blue sky, the blue sea on the left and the Appenines on the right. I arose from my seat & exclaimed Dio mio!. After alighting & approaching the Temples, my mind became so much expanded from the contemplation of Columns of such grand dimensions that I received an impression I have never forgotten. The Greeks were a wonderful people. They knew too well how simplicity with vastness & continuousness produced sublimity. How calculated are the Fine Arts to elevate the soul when reflected through a pure medium!

I returned safely to Naples & presented my credentials to Sir William Hamilton the Ambassador who gave me an invitation to dine, & introduced me to the famous Lady Hamilton. In the evening was a little dance & her Ladyship took my hand very courteously for a partner. She afterwards retired with Sir W. H. & myself only & exhibited her attitudes. She requested I would give her a visit the following morning, which I did not fail to do. She then showed me her private apartments. This lady lies buried in a field in the neighbourhood of Calais where she died in extreme poverty after imprisonment for debt. 'Sic transit gloria mundi'.

Thus unlamented pass the proud away
The gaze of fools, & pageant of today
To lowly rests without a stone or name
Which once had beauty titles wealth & fame.
How loved how honoured once avails thee not,
To whom related or by whom forgot
A heap of dust alone remains of thee
'Tis all thou art & all the proud shall be
Pope.

She was good enough to invite me to Caserta the royal palace there to pass a few days with herself & Sir William Hamilton the Ambassador. I accepted but took up my abode in lodgings near the Palace. Here I became acquainted with Phillip Hackert, the famous Landscape Painter to the King. He took a great fancy to me & insisted upon my quitting my lodgings & sojourning with him in his apartments in the Palace.

This I readily did as it best suited my purse. I remained 10 days at Caserta, every day dining with Sir William & Lady Hamilton and taking my bed at Hackerts. I passed my time here in perfect luxury & idleness. Hackert was a fine fat intelligent fellow working by day out of doors & by night at home. During my stay the King [sent] him an immense wild boar which had been killed in the chase near Caserta with a command that he should paint it the size of the original. At parting I kissed his hand with gratitude, as I had much reason to do.

I had already taken my conge at Sir Williams and was waiting at the open window of my first lodging with a young Irishman whose name I forget. He was learning to sing at Naples & was patronized by the English Ambassador when her Ladyship as if by accident to her Balcony, & said 'Don't go yet to Naples, for I am going to send you over a collazione'. I waited therefore while she stood conversing at the opposite Balcony, for the immediate space between us was very narrow; after a while the servant in red livery brought in a tray covered with a large napkin. I rejoiced at the sight of it but to my great surprise & regret down he triped at the step of the door & all fell scattered before him. Instead of good things there was a horses skull & other trumpery. I did not relish the joke nor did I change countenance. She was watching the whole of this farce & at its consummation laughed immoderately. I could not in the midst of my surprise guess whether this hoax was intended for me or the Irish singer.

I began to look out for my travelling things, & to take my departure; she then exclaimed Stop! Stop! don't be out of sorts. You shall have something really good, and taking her funny Ladyship at her word, I sat myself contentedly on the couch & in came the same man first to clear up the filthy fragments. He afterwards appeared loaded with cold ham, figs & choice wines. I in revenge made a good repast, made my bow to the opposite balcony & set off in my calash to return to Naples. Of Lady Hamiltons morals my opinion was formed.

I had by this time consumed six weeks but to little profit & took my departure for Rome having seen all the Museums & Vesuvius. The bay is the finest in the world. I saw the celebrated statue of the Hercules Farnese, & the whole of the Portici Museum, consisting of bronzes chiefly, some of which I presented to the public in my publication of etchings. Of course, I could know but little of the people. I made no other acquaintance & deeply regretted my finances would not allow me to proceed from thence to Athens.

On my return to Rome, I completed my collection of drawings with Asprucci & Velasquez, & they with me. I arranged the packing up of my fragments which I have before related & bought a few useful books for which I had scraped a little cash together beside that queer Nobleman half Bishop half Earl Lord Bristol had given me a small commission for which he paid me five Zecchinos in gold. I dined with him & left him inebriated with his head upon the table at the Palace he occupied on the Trinita di Monte.

Eighteen months out of the twenty-four were gone never more to return, beside the troubles on the continent were gathering like a dense cloud threatening dismay, & I came to a fixed resolution to provide for my ultimate departure from the papal states.

By Aspruccis help I got two large canisters made, 4 feet long in which I rolled drawings of 1500 subjects more or less in July 1796. I disengaged myself of all useless & incommoding things for personal use, retaining little more than a change of clothes I had on my back, & took the buttons off my coat & had privately sewed on instead of them as many Zecchinos of gold covered with the cloth to cut off at emergency.

I made my conge to Angelica & Canova, both of whom expressed their sincere friendship & hearty good wishes for my future welfare. Canova in return for his former present requested me to send him some english pencils which I promised & duly performed.

My Padrone and his wife wept bitterly at my taking leave of them. They kissed me on both cheeks & blessed me in the name of 'Padre, Figlio e Spirito Santo'. Poor Asopo the turnspit dog seemed to feel the pangs too at parting. He rubbed round my feet & I believe I dropped a tear upon him.

I have already described the heart burnings I experienced in bidding farewell to the inestimable Bonomi the last Sunday morning. I remained in my study the rest of the day in melancholy mood. If there is a future recognition may we meet again.

With Asprucci it was no less pungent, his fine dark face became reddened. We promised to correspond for life, & as usual in Italy, we kissed each others cheeks by clinging over each others shoulders. He cheered me by saying he would come to me in England, but he is gone to another & a better country from whence no traveller returns.

With Velasquez my heart was touched especially as he feared his pension from the Court of Spain would be withdrawn, which I afterwards had the pain of ascertaining from, himself had been the case. He became a fugitive & reached Malta by some means from which he wrote to me twelve months afterwards proposing to come to me. I replied to Malta, but alas! heard no more of him. He & Asprucci were exquisite draftsmen, real artists & good straightforward honest men.

I left Rome without a debt of a single baioccho & a character untarnished.

The work I performed at Rome during the eighteen months were as follows.
(ENDS)


Owner/SourceFamily papers
Linked toCharles Heathcote Tatham

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