click here to go the the stamp domain main index
Stamp Domain Home Page

Biography of Sir Rowland Hill

from the book

"Sir Rowland Hill, the Story of a Great Reform"

Told by his daughter. Eleanor Caroline Smyth
published in 1907
Eleanor C Smyth

This is a rare book and not many collectors will have access to the book. The "Introductory" (pages 1 to 38) is a 10,490 word biography of Sir Rowland Hill written by his own daughter. I have scanned the text of this chapter and reproduce it here in its entirety without any amendment or correction apart from layout. In the book this chapter took up 38 pages and the notes appeared as footnotes on the relevant pages. As this is not practical here all the notes appear at the end of the chapter.

Eleanor Smyth was born on 7 March 1831 and died on 31 December 1926.

Dr I D Hill, a great-great grandson of Sir Rowland's brother Arthur, writes (on 23/02/2010):

Although this account is generally accurate, its first three sentences are quite wrong. Eleanor Smyth is muddling our family with a different Hill family, with which there is no known connection.  The other three Rowland Hills, Lord Mayor, preacher and general, belonged to this different family. The earliest known ancestor of Sir Rowland in the Hill line is the landowner who married twice and left his money to the offspring of his second marriage.  The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, in its biography of Thomas Wright Hill, calls him Walter Hill of Abberley who died in 1693, but gives no evidence of where such information originates.

Following him we have:

Walter Hill, hatter of Kidderminster

John Hill, 1702-1782, tailor of Kidderminster, married 1723 Hannah Dalton

James Hill, 1724-?, baker of Kidderminster, married 1759 Sarah Symonds, 1733-1801

Thomas Wright Hill, 1763-1851, married 1791 Sarah Lea, 1765-1842

Rowland Hill
Sir Rowland Hill, KCB, DCL, FRS, FRAS


The earliest of the postal reformer’s forefathers to achieve fame that outlives him was Sir Rowland Hill, mercer, and Lord Mayor of London in 1549, a native Hodnet, Shropshire, who founded a Grammar School at Drayton, benefited the London Blue Coat School, as a builder of bridges, and is mentioned by John Stowe. From his brother are descended the three Rowland Hills famous in more modern times — the preacher, the warrior, and the author of Penny Postage. Some of the preacher’s witticisms are still remembered, tough they are often attributed to his brother cleric, Sydney Smith; Napier, in his “Peninsular War,” speaks very highly of the warrior, who, had Wellington fallen at Waterloo, would have taken the Duke’s place, and who succeeded him as Commander-in-Chief when, 1828, Wellington became Prime Minister. A later common ancestor of the three, a landed proprietor, married twice, and the first wife’s children were thrown upon the world to fight their way as best as they could, my paternal grandfather’s great-grandfather being one the dispossessed. But even the blackest cloud has its silver lining; and the fall, by teaching the young people self-help, probably brought out the latent good stuff that was in them. At any rate, family tradition preserves memory of not a few men and women— Hills, or of the stocks with which they married—of whom their descendants have reason to be proud.

There was, for example, John Hill, who served among “the twelve good men and true” on a certain trial, was the only one of them who declined to accept a bribe, and, the fact becoming known, was handsomely complimented by the presiding judge. Thenceforth, whenever the Assizes in that part of the country came round again, John used to be asked after as “the honest juror.” At least two of my father’s forebears, a Symonds and a Hill, refused to cast their political votes to order, and were punished for their sturdy independence. The one lived to see a hospital erected in Shrewsbury out of the large fortune for some two hundred years ago of £3o,ooo which should have come to his wife, the testator’s sister; the other, a baker and corn merchant, son to “the honest juror,” saw his supply of fuel required to bake his bread cut off by the local squire, a candidate for Parliament, for whom the worthy baker had dared to refuse to vote. Ovens then were heated by wood, which in this case came from the squire’s estate. When next James Hill made the usual application, the faggots were not to be had. He was not discouraged. Wood, he reflected, was dear; coal—much seldomer used then than now—was cheap. He mixed the two, and found the plan succeed, lessened the proportion of wood, and finally dispensed with it altogether. His example was followed by other people: the demand for the squire’s firewood languished, and the boycotted voter was presently requested to purchase afresh. “An instance,” says Dr Birkbeck Hill “of a new kind of faggot.”

Another son of “the honest juror” was the first person to grow potatoes in Kidderminster. Some two centuries earlier “the useful tuber” was brought to England; but even in times much nearer our own, so slowly did information travel, that till about 1750 the only denizen of that town who seems to have known of its existence was this second John Hill. When the seeds he sowed came up, blossomed, and turned to berries, these last were cooked and brought to table. Happily no one could eat them; and so the finger of scorn was pointed at the luckless innovator. The plants withered, unheeded; but later, the ground being wanted for other crops, was dug up, when, to the amazement of all beholders and hearers, a plentiful supply of fine potatoes was revealed.

On the spindle side also Rowland Hill’s family could boast ancestors of whom none need feel ashamed. Among these was the high - spirited, well - dowered orphan girl who, like Clarissa Harlowe, fled from home to escape wedlock with the detested suitor her guardians sought to force upon her. But, unlike Richardson’s hapless heroine, this fugitive lived into middle age, maintained herself by her own handiwork—spinning— never sought even to recover her lost fortune, married, left descendants, and fatally risked her life while pre­paring for burial the pestilence - smitten neighbour whose poor remains his own craven relatives had aban­doned. Though she perished untimely, recollection of her married name was preserved to reappear in that of a great-grandson, Matthew Davenport Hill. The husband of Mrs Davenport’s only daughter, William Lea, was a man little swayed by the supersti­tions of his time, as he showed when he broke through .a mob of ignorant boors engaged in hounding into a pond a terrified old woman they declared to be a witch, strode into the water, lifted her in his arms, and, heedless of hostile demonstration, bore her to his own home to be nursed back into such strength and sanity as were recoverable. A son of William Lea, during the dreadful cholera visitation of 1832, played, as Provost of Haddington, a part as fearlessly unselfish as that of his grandmother in earlier days, but without losing his life, for his days were long in the land. His sister was Rowland Hill’s mother.

On both sides the stocks seem to have been of stern Puritan extraction, theologically narrow, inflexibly honest, terribly in earnest, of healthy life, fine physique - nonagenarians not infrequently. John Symonds, son to him whose wife forfeited succession to her brother, Mr Millington’s fortune, because both men were sturdily obstinate in the matter of political creed, was, though a layman, great at extempore prayer and sermon-making. When any young man came a-woo­ing to one of his bonnie daughters, the father would take the suitor to an inner sanctum, there to be tested as to his ability to get through the like devotional exercises. If the young man failed to come up to the requisite standard he was dismissed, and the damsel reserved for some more proficient rival—James Hill being one of the latter sort. How many suitors of the present day would creditably emerge from that ordeal?

Through this sturdy old Puritan we claim kin­ship with the Somersetshire family, of whom John Addington Symonds was one, and therefore with the Stracheys; while from other sources comes a collateral descent from “Hudibras” Butler, who seems to have endowed with some of his own genuine wit certain later Hills; as also a relationship with that line of distinguished medical men, the Mackenzies, and with the Rev. Morell Mackenzie, who played a hero’s part at the long-ago wreck of the Pegasus.

A neighbour of James Hill was a recluse, who, perhaps, not finding the society of a small provincial town so companionable as the books he loved, forbore “to herd with narrow foreheads,” but made of James a congenial friend. When this man died, the task fell to his executors, James Hill and another, to divide his modest estate. Among the few bequests were two books to young Tom, James’s son, a boy with a passion for reading, but possessed of few books, one being a much-mutilated copy of “Robinson Crusoe,” which tantalisingly began with the thrilling words, ‘‘more than thirty dancing round a fire.” The fellow executor, knowing well the reputation for uncanny ways with which local gossip had endowed the deceased, earnestly advised his colleague to destroy the volumes, and not permit them to sully young Tom’s mind. “Oh, let the boy have the books,” said James Hill, and straightway the legacy was placed in the youthful hands. It consisted of a “Manual of Geography” and Euclid’s “Elements.” The effect of their perusal was not to send the reader to perdition, but to call forth an innate love for mathematics, and, through them, a lifelong devotion to astronomy, tastes he was destined to pass on in undiminished ardour to his third son, the postal reformer.

Thomas Wright Hill was brought up in the straitest-laced of Puritan sects, and he has left a graphic description of the mode in which, as a small boy of seven, he passed each Sunday. The windows of the house, darkened by their closed outside shutters, made mirrors in which he saw his melancholy little face reflected; his toys were put away; there were three chapel services, occupying in all some five and a half hours, to which he was taken, and the intervals between each were filled by long extempore prayers and sermon-reading at home, all week-day conversa­tion being rigidly ruled out. The sabbatical observ­ance commenced on Saturday night and terminated on Sunday evening with “a cheerful supper,” as though literally “the evening and the morning were the first day “—an arrangement which, coupled with the habit of bestowing not Christian but Hebrew names upon the children, gives colour to the oft - made allegation that our Puritan ancestors drew their inspiration from the Old rather than from the New Testament. The only portion of these Sunday theological exercises which the poor little fellow really understood was the simple Bible teaching that the tenderly-loved mother gave to him and to his younger brother. While as a young man residing in Birmingham, however, he passed under the influence of Priestley, and became one of his most devoted disciples, several of whom, at the time of the disgraceful “Church and King” riots of 1791, volunteered to defend the learned doctor’s house.1 But Priestley declined all defence, and the volunteers retired, leaving only young Tom, who would not desert his beloved master’s threatened dwelling. The Priestley family had found refuge elsewhere, but his disciple stayed alone in the twilight of the barred and shuttered house, which speedily fell a prey to its assailants. Our grandfather used often to tell us children of the events of those terrible days when the mob held the town at their mercy, and were seriously opposed only when, having destroyed so much property belonging to Nonconformity, they next turned their tireless energy towards Conformity’s pos­sessions. His affianced wife was as courageous as he, for when while driving in a friend’s carriage through Birmingham’s streets some of the rioters stopped the horses, and bade her utter the cry “Church and King,” she refused, and was suffered to pass on un­molested. Was it her bravery or her comeliness, or both, that won for her immunity from harm?

The third son of this young couple, Rowland, the future postal reformer, first saw the light in a house at Kidderminster wherein his father was born, which had already sheltered some generations of Hills, and whose garden was the scene of the potato story. The child was weakly, and, being threatened with spinal trouble, passed much of his infancy in a recumbent position. But the fragile form held a dauntless little soul, and the almost abnormally large brain behind the too pallid forehead was a very active one. As he lay prone, playing with the toys his mother suspended to a cord stretched within easy reach above him; and, later, working out mental arithmetical problems, in which exercise he found delight, and to the weaving of alluring daydreams, he presently fell to longing for some career—what it should be he knew not—that should leave his country the better for his having lived in it. The thoughts of boys are often, the poet tells us, “long, long thoughts,” but it is not given to every one to see those daydreams realised. Though what is boy (or girl) worth who has not at times entertained healthily ambitious longings for a great future?

As he grew stronger he presently came to help his father in the school the latter had established at Birmingham, in which his two elder brothers, aged fifteen and fourteen, were already at work. The family was far from affluent, and its young members were well aware that on their own exertions depended their future success. For them there was no royal road to learning or to anything else; and even as children they learned to be self-reliant. From the age of twelve onwards, my father, indeed, was self-­supporting. Like Chaucer’s poor parson, the young Hill brothers learned while they taught, even some­times while on their way to give a lesson, as did my father when on a several miles long walk to teach an equally ignorant boy the art of Navigation; and perhaps because life had to be taken so seriously, they valued the hardly-acquired knowledge all the more highly. Their father early accustomed his children to discuss with him and with each other the questions of the time—a time which must always loom large in the history of our land. Though he mingled in the talk, “it was,” my Uncle Matthew said, “a match of mind against mind, in which the rules of fair play were duly observed; and we put forth our little strength without fear. The sword of authority was not thrown into the scale. . . . We were,” added the writer, “born to a burning hatred of tyranny.”2 And no wonder, for in the early years of the last century tyranny was a living, active force.

 If, to quote Blackstone, “punishment of unreason­able severity” with a view to “preventing crimes and amending the manners of a people” constitute a specific form of tyranny, the fact that in 1795, the year of Rowland Hill’s birth, the pillory, the stocks, and the whipping-post were still in use sufficiently attests this “unreasonable severity.” In March 1789, less than seven years before his birth, a yet more terrible punishment was still in force. A woman— the last thus “judicially murdered " - was burnt at the stake; and a writer in Notes and Queries, of 21st September 1851, tells its readers that he was present on the occasion. Her offence was coining, and she was mercifully strangled before being executed. Women were burnt at the stake long after that awful death penalty was abolished in the case of the more favoured sex. The savage cruelty of the criminal code at this time and later is also indicated by the fact that over 150 offences were punishable by death. Even in 1822, a date within the recollection of persons still living, and notwithstanding the efforts made by Sir Samuel Romilly and others to humanise that code, capital punishment was still terribly common. In that year, on two consecutive Monday mornings, my father, arriving by coach in London from Birmingham, passed within sight of Newgate. Outside its walls, on the first occasion, the horrified passengers counted nine­teen bodies hanging in a row; on the second, twenty-one.

During my father’s childhood and youth this country was almost constantly engaged in war. Within half a mile of my grandfather’s house the forging of gun barrels went on all but incessantly, the work beginning before dawn and lasting till long after nightfall. The scarcely - ending din of the hammers was varied only by the occasional rattle from the proof shed; and the shocks and jars had disastrous effect upon my grandmother’s brewings of beer. Meanwhile “The Great Shadow,” graphically depicted by Sir A. Conan Doyle, was an actual dread that darkened our land for years. And the shadow of press-gang raids was a yet greater dread alike to the men who encountered them, sometimes to disappear for ever, and to the women who were frequently bereft of their bread-winners. It is, however, pleasant to remember that sometimes the would-be captors became the captured. A merchant vessel lying in quarantine in Southampton Water, her yellow flag duly displayed, but hanging in the calm weather so limply that it was hardly observable, was boarded by a press-gang who thought to do a clever thing by impressing some of the sailors. These, seeing what was the invaders’ errand, let them come peaceably on deck, when the quarantine officer took possession of boat and gang, and detained both for six weeks.

For those whose means were small—a numerous class at that time—there was scant patronage of public conveyances, such as they were. Thus the young Hill brothers had to depend on their own walking powers when minded to visit the world that lay beyond their narrow horizon. And to walking tours, often of great length, they were much given in holiday time, tours which took them to distant places of historic interest, of which Rowland brought back memorials in his sketch book. Beautiful, indeed, were the then green lanes of the Midlands, though here and there they were disfigured by the presence of some lonely gibbet, the chains holding its dismal “fruit” clank­ing mournfully in windy weather. Whenever it was possible, the wayfarer made a round to avoid passing the gruesome object.

One part of the country, lying between Birming­ham and Wolverhampton, a lonely heath long since covered with factories and houses, known as the “Lie Waste,” was also not pleasant to traverse, though the lads occasionally had to do so. A small collection of huts of mud-and-wattle construction sheltered some of our native savages—for they were nothing else— whose like has happily long been “improved off the face” of the land. These uncouth beings habitually and literally went “on all fours.” Whether the atti­tude was assumed in consequence of the low roofs of their dwellings, or the outcasts chose that mode of progression in imitation of the animals which were their ordinary companions, history does not say, but they moved with wonderful celerity both in and out of doors. At sight of any passer-by they were apt to “rear” and then oaths, obscene language, and missiles of whatever sort was handy would be their mildest greeting, while more formidable attack was likely to be the lot of those who ventured too near their lairs. Among these people the Hill boys often noticed a remarkably handsome girl, as great a savage as the rest.

As the three elder brothers grew well into their teens, much of the school government fell to their lot, always with the parental sanction, and ere long it was changed in character, and became a miniature republic.3 Trial by jury for serious offences was instituted, the judge being my grandfather or one of his sons, and the jury the culprit’s fellow-pupils. Corporal punishment, then perhaps universal in schools, was abolished, and the lads, being treated as reasonable creatures, early learned to be a self-respecting because a self-governing community. The system, which in this restricted space cannot be described in detail, was pre - eminently a success, since it turned out pupils who did it and themselves credit. “All the good I ever learned was learned at Hazelwood,” I once heard say a cheery old clergy­man, probably one of the last surviving “boys.” The teaching was efficiently carried on, and the develop­ment of individual talent was wisely encouraged, the pupils out of school hours being allowed to exercise the vocation to which each was inclined, or which, owing to this practice, was discovered in each. Thus in boyhood Follet Osler, the inventor of the anemometer and other scientific instruments, was enabled to bring to light those mechanical abilities which, till he exhibited their promise during his hours of voluntary work, were unsuspected even by his nearest of kin. Again, Thomas Creswick, R.A., found an outlet for his love of art in drawing, though, being a very little fellow when he began, some of these studies—of public buildings in Birmingham— were very funny, the perspective generally having the “Anglo-Saxon” peculiarities, and each edifice being afflicted with a “list” out of the perpendicular as pronounced as that of Pisa’s leaning tower—or nearly so.

The fame of the “Hazelwood system” spread afar, and many of our then most distinguished fellow-countrymen visited the school. Among the rest, Bentham gave it his hearty approval; and Captain Basil Hall, the writer of once popular books for boys, spoke of the evident existence of friendly terms between masters and pupils, declared the system to be “a curious epitome of real life,” and added that the boys were not converted into little men, but remained boys, only with heads and hands fully employed on topics they liked.

Visitors also came from foreign lands. Berna­dotte’s son, Prince Oscar, afterwards first king of Sweden of that name, travelled to Hazelwood, examined the novel system, and, later, established at Stockholm a “Hillska Scola.” From France, among other people, came M. Jullien, once secretary to Robespierre—what thrilling tales of the Great Revolution must he not have been able to tell!— and afterwards a wise philanthropist and eminent writer on education. He sent a son to Hazelwood. President Jefferson, when organising the University of Virginia, asked for a copy of “Public Education,”4 the work describing the system and the joint pro­duction of Rowland, who found the ideas, Matthew, who supplied the composition, and, as regards a few suggestions, of a younger brother, Arthur. Greece, Spain, far-off Mexico even, in course of time sent pupils either to Hazelwood or to Bruce Castle, Tottenham, to which then picturesque and some­what remote London suburb the school was ulti­mately transferred. “His Excellency, the Tripolitan Ambassador,” wrote my father in his diary of 1823, “has informed us that he has sent to Tripoli for six young Africans; and the Algerine Ambassador, not to be outdone by his piratical brother, has sent for a dozen from Algiers.”5 Happily, neither contingent put in an appearance. In both cases the enthusiasm evoked seems to have been short-lived.

An old Hazelwood pupil, Mr E. Edwards, in his written sketch of “Sir Rowland Hill,” said of the school that no similar establishment “in the world, probably at that time, contained such an array of costly models, instruments, apparatus, and books. There was an observatory upon the top of the house fitted with powerful astronomical instruments. The best microscopes obtainable were at hand. Models of steam and other engines were all over the place. Air - pumps and electrical machines were familiar objects. Maps, then comparatively rare, lined the walls. Drawing and mathematical instruments were provided in profusion. Etching was taught, and a copper press was there for printing the pupils’ efforts in that way. A lithographic press and stones of various sizes were provided, so that the young artists might print copies of their drawings to send to their admiring relatives. Finally, a complete printing press with ample founts of type was set up to enable the boys themselves to print a monthly magazine connected with the school and its doings.” Other attractions were a well fitted-up carpenter’s shop; a band, the musicians being the pupils; the training of the boys in vocal music; a theatre in which the manager, elocution teacher, scene painter, etc., were the young Hill brothers, the costumière their sister Caroline, and the actors the pupils; the control of a sum of money for school purposes; and the use of a metallic coinage received as payment for the voluntary work already mentioned, and by which certain privileges could be purchased.6

My grandfather inspired his sons and pupils with a longing to acquire knowledge, at the same time so completely winning their hearts by his good comrade­ship, that they readily joined him in the long and frequent walks of which he was fond, and in the course of which his walking stick was wont to serve to make rough drawings of problems, etc., in road or pathway. “His mathematical explanations,” wrote another old pupil in the ‘‘ Essays of a Birmingham Manufacturer” (W. L. Sargent), “were very clear; and he looked at the bearings of every subject irrespective of its conventionalities. His definition of a straight line has been said to be the best in existence.”7

In my father’s “Life,” Dr Birkbeck Hill, when writing of his recollections of our grandfather, said that it seemed “as if the aged man were always seated in perpetual sunshine. How much of the brightness and warmth must have come from his own cheerful temperament? . . . His Sunday morning breakfasts live in the memory like a landscape of Claude’s.” At these entertainments the old man would sit in his easy-chair, at the head of the largest table the house could boast, in a circle of small, adoring grandchildren, the intervening, severe generation being absent; and of all the joyous crowd his perhaps was the youngest heart. There were other feasts, those of reason and the flow of soul, with which he also delighted his young descendants: stories of the long struggle in the revolted “American Colonies,” of the Great French Revolution, and of other interesting historical dramas which he could well remember, and equally well describe.

His old pupils would come long distances to see him; and on one occasion several of them subscribed to present him with a large telescope, bearing on it a graven tribute of their affectionate regard. This greatly prized gift was in use till within a short time of his last illness.

Young Rowland had a strong bent towards art, as he showed when, at the age of thirteen, he won the prize, a handsome box of water-colour paints, offered by the proprietor of the London School Magazine for “the best original landscape drawing by the youth of all England, under the age of sixteen.” He painted the scenery for the school theatre, and made many water-colour sketches in different parts of our island, his style much resembling that of David Cox. He was an admirer of Turner long before Ruskin “dis­covered” that great painter; and, as his diary shows, marvelled at the wondrous rendering of atmospheric effects exhibited in his idol’s pictures. Nearly all my father’s scenery and sketches perished in a fire which partially burnt down Hazelwood School; and few are now in existence. After the age of seventeen he gave up painting, being far too busy to devote time to art, but he remained a picture-lover to the end of his days. Once during the long war with France he had an adventure which might have proved serious. He was sketching Dover Castle, when a soldier came out of the fortress and told him to cease work. Not liking the man’s manner, the youthful artist went on painting unconcernedly. Presently a file of soldiers, headed by a corporal, appeared, and he was peremp­torily ordered to withdraw. Then the reason for the interference was revealed: he was taken for a spy. My father at once laid aside his brush; he had no wish to be shot.

In 1835 Rowland Hill resigned to a younger brother, Arthur,8 the head-mastership of Bruce Castle School, and accepted the post of secretary to the Colonisation Commissioners for South Australia, whose chairman was Colonel Torrens.9 Another commissioner was John Shaw Lefevre, later a famous speaker of the House of Commons, who, as Lord Eversley, lived to a patriarchal age. But the prime mover in the scheme for colonising this portion of the “Island Continent” was that public-spirited man, Edward Gibbon Wakefield. William IV took much interest in the project, and stipulated that the chief city should bear the name of his consort—Adelaide.

The Commissioners were capable men, and were ably assisted by the South Australian Company, which much about the same time was started mainly through the exertions of Mr G. F. Angas. Among the many excellent rules laid down by the Com­missioners was one which insisted on the making of a regular and efficient survey both of the emigrant ships and of the ‘food they carried. As sailing vessels were then the only transports, the voyage lasted several months, and the comfort of the passengers was of no small importance. “When,” said my father in his diary, “defects and blemishes were brought to light by the accuracy of the survey, and the stipu­lated consequences enforced, an outcry arose as if the connection between promise and performance were an unheard-of and most unwarrantable innovation. After a time, however, as our practice became recog­nised, evasive attempts grew rare, the first expense being found to be the least.” He often visited the port of departure, and witnessed the shipping off of the emigrants—always an interesting occasion, and one which gave opportunities of personal supervision of matters. Being once at Plymouth, my mother and he boarded a vessel about to sail for the new colony. Among the passengers was a bright young Devonian, apparently an agriculturist; and my father, observing him, said to my mother: “I feel sure that man will do well.” The remark was overheard, but the Devonian made no sign. He went to Australia poor, and returned wealthy, bought an estate close to his birth­place which was in the market, and there settled. But before sailing hither, he bought at one of the Adelaide banks the finest one of several gold nuggets there displayed, and, armed with this, presented him­self at my father’s house, placed his gift in my mother’s hand, and told how the casual remark made forty years before had helped to spur him on to success.

The story of Rowland Hill and a mysteriously vanished rotatory printing press may be told here.

In 1790 Mr William Nicholson devised a scheme for applying to ordinary type printing the already established process of printing calico by revolving cylinders. The impressions were to be taken from his press upon successive sheets of paper, as no means of producing continuous rolls had as yet been invented; but the machine worked far from satisfactorily, and practically came to nothing. A quarter of a century later Mr Edward Cowper applied Nicholson’s idea to stereotype plates bent to a cylindrical surface. But till the advent of “Hill’s machine” (described at the Patent Office as “A.D. 1835, No. 6762”) all plans for fixing movable types on a cylinder had failed. It is therefore incontestable that the first practical scheme of printing on a continuous roll of paper by revolving cylinders was invented and set to work by Rowland Hill in the year named. The machine was intended mainly for the rapid printing of newspapers, but the refusal of the Treasury to allow an arrangement by which the Government stamp could be affixed by an ingenious mechanical device as the scroll passed through the press — a refusal withdrawn later — de­ferred for many years the introduction of any rotatory printing machine.

The apparatus was kept at my Uncle Matthew’s chambers in Chancery Lane, and was often shown to members of the trade and others. Although driven by hand only, it threw off impressions at the rate of 7,000 or 8,ooo an hour, a much higher speed than that hitherto attained by any other machine. But from 1836 onwards my father’s attention was almost wholly taken up with his postal reform, and it was only after his retirement from the Post Office in 1864 that his mind reverted to the subject of the printing press. Several years before the latter date his brother had left London; but of the rotatory printing machine, bulky and ponderous as it was, a few small odds and ends—afterwards exhibited at the Caxton Exhibition in 1877—alone remained.

In 1866 the once well-known “Walter Press” was first used in the Times office. Of this machine my father has said that “except as regards the apparatus for cutting and distributing the printed sheets, and excepting further that the ‘Walter Press’ (entered at the Patent Office as “A.D. 1866 No. 3222”) is only adapted for printing from stereotype plates, while mine would not only print from stereotype plates, but, what is more difficult, from movable types also, the two machines are almost identical.” He added that “the enormous difficulty of bringing a complex machine into practical use—a difficulty familiar to every inventor—has been most successfully over­come by Messrs Calverley and Macdonald, the patentees."

By whom and through what agency the machine patented in 1835 was apparently transported from Chancery Lane to Printing House Square is a mystery which at this distant date is hardly likely to be made clear.

It has always been a tradition in our family that the courtship between Rowland Hill and Caroline Pearson began when their united ages amounted to eleven years only, the boy being by twelve months the elder. The families on both sides lived at the time at Wolverhampton, and the first kiss is said to have been exchanged inside a large culvert which crossed beneath the Tettenhall Road in the neighbourhood of the Hills’ house, and served to conduct a tiny rivulet, apt in wet weather to become a swollen stream, into its chosen channel on the other side the way. The boy delighted to creep within this shelter— often dry in summer—and listen to the rumbling over­head of the passing vehicles. Noisy, ponderous wains some of these were, with wheels of great width and strength, and other timbers in like proportion; but to the small listener the noisier the more enjoyable. These wains have long vanished from the roads they helped to wear out, the railway goods trains having superseded them, although of late years the heavy traction engines, often drawing large trucks after them, seem likely to occupy the place filled by their forgotten predecessors. Little Rowland naturally wished to share the enchanting treat with “Car,” as he gener­ally called his new friend, and hand in hand the “wee things” set off one day to the Tettenhall Road. Many years later the elderly husband made a senti­mental journey to the spot, and was amazed at the culvert’s apparent shrinkage in size. Surely, a most prosaic spot for the beginning of a courtship!

The father of this little girl was Joseph Pearson, a man held in such high esteem by his fellow­citizens that after the passing of the great Reform Bill in 1832 he was asked to become one of Wolverhampton’s first two members.10 He was, how­ever, too old for the wear and tear of Parliamentary life, though when the General Election came on he threw himself with all his accustomed zeal into the struggle, and was, as a consequence, presently laid up with a temporary ailment, which caused one of his political foes to declare that “If Mr Pearson’s gout would only last three weeks longer we might get our man in.” These words coming to Mr Pearson’s ears, he rose from his sick-bed, gout or no gout, and plunged afresh into the fray, with so much energy that “we” did not “get our man in,” but the other side did.

“He was,” once said a many years old friend, “conspicuous for his breadth of mind, kindness of heart, and public spirit.” He hated the cruel sports common in his time, and sought unceasingly to put them down. One day, while passing the local bull­ring, he saw a crowd of rough miners and others preparing to bait a bull. He at once strode into their midst, liberated the animal, pulled up or broke off the stake, and carried it away on his shoulder. Was it his pluck, or his widespread popularity that won the forbearance of the semi-savage by­standers? At any rate, not a hostile finger was laid upon him. Meanwhile, he remembered that if brutalising pastimes are put down, it is but right that better things should be set in their place. Thus the local Mechanics’ Institute, British Schools, Dispensary, and other beneficent undertakings, including rational sports for every class, owed their origin chiefly to him; and, aided by his friend John Mander, and by the Rev. John Carter, a poor, hard - working Catholic priest, he founded the Wolverhampton Free Library.

Joseph Pearson was one of the most hospitable and genial of men, and, for his time, a person of some culture. He detested cliques and coteries, those paralysing products of small provincial towns, and would have naught to do with them. Men of great variety of views met round his dinner-table, and whenever it seemed necessary he would preface the repast with the request that theology and politics should be avoided. With his Catholic neighbours— Staffordshire was a stronghold of the “Old Religion”—the sturdy Nonconformist was on the happiest of terms, and to listen to the conversation of the often well - travelled, well - educated priests was to him a never-failing pleasure. For Catholic Emancipation he strove heartily and long. With all sects he was friendly, but chiefly his heart went out to those who in any way had suffered for their faith. One effect of this then not too common breadth of view was seen when, after his death, men of all denominations followed him to his grave, and the handsomest of the several journalistic tributes to his memory appeared in the columns of his inveterate political and theo­logical opponent, the local Tory paper. A ward in the Hospital and a street were called after the whilom “king of Wolverhampton.”11

He had three daughters, of whom my mother was the eldest. His wife died young, and before her sixteenth year Caroline became mistress of his house, and thus acquired the ease of manner and knowledge of social duties which made of her the charming hostess who, in later years, presided over her husband’s London house. She will make a brief reappearance in other pages of this work.

Joseph Pearson’s youngest daughter, Clara, was a beautiful girl, a frequent “toast” at social gatherings in the three counties of Stafford, Warwick, and Worcester—for toasts in honour of reigning belles were still drunk at festivities in provincial Assembly Rooms and elsewhere, what time the nineteenth century was in its teens. When very young she became engaged to her cousin, Lieutenant (after­wards Captain) Alexander Pearson, R.N., who at the time of Napoleon’s sojourn at St Helena was stationed there, being attached to the man-of-war commanded by Admiral Plampin. One gift which Lieutenant Pearson gave my aunt she kept to the end of her life—a lock of Napoleon’s hair. Lieutenant Pearson often saw the ex-Emperor, and, many years after, described him to us children—how, for instance, he would stand, silent and with folded arms, gazing long and fixedly seaward as though waiting for the rescue which never came. The lieutenant was one of the several young naval officers who worshipped at the shrine of the somewhat hoydenish Miss “Betsy” Balcombe, who comes into most stories of St. Helena of that time. Wholly unabashed by consideration of the illustrious captive’s former greatness, she made of him a playmate—perhaps a willing one, for life must have been terribly dreary to one whose occupation, like that of Othello, was gone. Occasionally she shocked her hearers by addressing the ex-Emperor as “Boney,” though it is possible that the appellation so frequently heard in the mouths of his British enemies had no osseous association in his own ears, but was accepted as an endearing diminutive. One day, in the presence of several witnesses, our cousin being among them, she possessed herself of a sword, flourished it play­fully before her, hemmed Napoleon into a corner, and, holding the blade above his head, laughingly exclaimed “Maintenant j’ai vaincu le vanqueur du monde!” But there was no answering laugh; the superstitious Corsican turned pale, made some short, unintelligible reply, left the room, and was depressed and taciturn for the rest of the day. It was surmised that he took the somewhat tactless jest for an omen that a chief who had been beaten by a woman would never again lead an army of men.

During Rowland Hill’s prime, and until the final breakdown of his health, our house was a favourite haunt of the more intimate of his many clever friends. Scientific, medical, legal, artistic, literary, and other prominent men met, exchanged views, indulged in deep talk, bandied repartee, and told good stories at breakfast and dinner parties; the economists mustering in force, and plainly testifying by their bearing and conversation that, whatever ignorant people may say of the science they never study, its professors are often the very reverse of dismal. If Dr Southwood Smith12 and Mr (later Sir Edwin) Chadwick’s talk at times ran gruesomely on details of “intramural interment,” the former, at least, had much quaint humour, and was deservedly popular; while Dr Neil Arnott, whose chief hobbies were fabled to be those sadly prosaic things, stoves, water-beds, and ventilation, but who was actually a dis­tinguished physician, natural philosopher, author, and traveller, was even, when long past sixty, one of the gayest and youngest of our guests: a mimic, but never an ill-natured one, a spinner of amusing yarns, and frankly idolised by the juvenile members of the family whose minds he mercifully never attempted to improve.

Charles Wentworth Dilke,13 founder of the A1henaeum newspaper, a famous journalist and influential man of letters, at whose house one met every writer, to say nothing of other men and women, worth knowing, was another charming old man, to listen to whose talk was a liberal educa­tion. Did we walk with him on Hampstead Heath, where once he had a country house, he became an animated guide-book guiltless of a dull page, telling us of older times than our own, and of dead and gone worthies who had been guests at “Wentworth House.” On this much worn, initial-carven, wooden seat used often to sit Keats listening to the nightin­gales, and, maybe, thinking of Fanny Brawne. At another spot the weakly-framed poet had soundly thrashed a British rough who was beating his wife. Across yonder footpath used to come from Highgate “the archangel a little damaged,” as Charles Lamb called Coleridge. At that road corner, in a previous century, were wont to gather the visitors returning from the Well Walk “pump-room,” chalybeate spring, and promenade, till they were in sufficient force to be safe from highwaymen or footpads who frequented the then lonely road to London. In a yet earlier century certain gallant Spanish gentlemen attached to Philip and Mary’s court, rescued some English ladies from molestation by English ruffians; and memorials of this episode live in the still traceable circle of trees whose predecessors were planted by the grateful ladies, and in the name of the once quaint old hostelry hard by, and of the road known as the Spaniards.

Another wanderer about Hampstead’s hills and dales was the great Thackeray, who was often accompanied by some of the family of Mr Crowe, a former editor of the Daily News, and father to Eyre Crowe, R.A., and Sir Joseph Archer Crowe. These wanderings seem to have suggested a few of the names bestowed by Thackeray on the characters in his novels, such as “Jack Belsize” and “Lord Highgate,” while the title of “Marquess of Steyne” is reminiscent of another Thackerayan haunt—“Dr” Brighton. Hampstead still better knew Dickens, who is mentioned later in these pages. The two writers are often called rivals; yet novels and men were wholly unlike. Each was a peerless genius in his own line, and each adorned any company in which he moved. Yet, while Dickens was the life and soul of every circle, Thackeray—perhaps the only male novelist who could draw a woman absolutely true to life14—always struck us as rather silent and self-absorbed, like one who is studying the people around him with a view to their reproduction in as yet unwritten pages. His six feet of height and proportionate breadth, his wealth of grey hair, and the spectacles he was said never to be seen without, made of him a notable figure everywhere. Yet, however outwardly awe-inspiring, he was the kindliest of satirists, the truest of friends, and has been fitly described as “the man who had the heart of a woman.”15 At the Athenaeum Club he was often seen writing by the hour together in some quiet corner, evidently unconscious of his surroundings, at times enjoying a voiceless laugh, or again, perhaps when telling of Colonel Newcome’s death, with “a moisture upon his cheek which was not dew."

Another literary friend — we had many — was William Henry Wills, also mentioned later: a kind friend to struggling authors, who did not a little to start Miss Mulock on her career as authoress, and who made her known to us. He once told us a curious story about an old uncle with whom as a lad he used to stay in the days before the invasion of the west country by railways with their tendency to modernisation of out-of-the-way places. This ancient man lived in a large ancestral mansion, and literally “dined in hall” with his entire household. There was a sanded floor—formerly, no doubt, rush-strewn—and the family and their “retainers” sat down together at a very long table to the midday repast, the servants taking their place literally “below the salt,” which was represented by a large bowl filled with that necessary concomitant. In how many other country houses did this mediaeval custom last into the first third of the nineteenth century?16 Mrs Wills— only sister to the Chambers brothers, William and Robert, who, together with our other publisher friend, Charles Knight, did so much to cheapen the cost and in every way to raise the tone of literature— was, in addition to possessing great charm of manner, an admirable amateur actress, and an unrivalled singer of Scottish songs.

Hampstead, midway in the nineteenth century, was still a picturesque little town, possessed of several stately old houses—one known as Sir Harry Vane’s— whose gardens were in some cases entered through tall, wide, iron gates of elaborate design which now would be accounted priceless. It was still the resort of artists, many of whom visited the pleasant house of Edwin Wilkins Field, conspicuous among the public-spirited men who rescued from the builder-fiend the Heath, and made of it a London “lung” and a joy for ever; himself a lawyer, the inspirer of the Limited Liability Act, and an accomplished amateur water­ colour painter. His first wife was a niece of Rogers, the banker - poet, famous for his breakfast parties and table talk. At Mr Field’s house we came first to know Clarkson Stanfield, R.A., the famous sea­scape painter, and his family, who were musical as well as artistic, and gave delightful parties. It was said that Stanfield was familiar with the build and rig of a ship down to its minutest detail, because he and his lifelong friend and fellow Royal Academician, David Roberts, ran away from school together to sea at a time when life on the ocean wave seemed to most boys the ideal existence. To the last, Stanfield looked like an old sea-dog, and was bluff, hearty and genial. Hampstead still remembers him with pride; and “Stanfield House,” wherein the first really good local Free Library was sheltered, is so called because for nearly twenty years it was his dwelling.

At the Fields’ house, among other celebrities, artistic, literary and legal, we also met Turner; and it was to “Squire’s Mount,” and at a crowded evening party there that a characteristic anecdote of this eccentric, gifted painter belongs. The taciturn, gloomy-looking guest had taken an early farewell of host and hostess, and disappeared, only to return some minutes later, wonderfully and fearfully apparelled, and silently commence a search about the drawing-room. Suddenly he seemed to recollect, approached a sofa on which sat three handsomely-attired ladies, whose indignant countenances were a sight for gods and men when the abruptly-mannered artist called on them to rise. He then half dived beneath the seat, drew forth a dreadfully shabby umbrella of the “Gamp” species, and, taking no more notice of the irate three than if they had been so many chairs, withdrew— this time for good. Turner had a hearty contempt for the Claude worship, and was resolved to expose its hollowness. He bequeathed to the nation two of his finest oil paintings on condition that they were placed in the Trafalgar Square Gallery beside two of Claude’s which already hung there, and to this day act as foils. A custodian of the Gallery once told me that he was present when Turner visited the room in which were the two Claudes, took a foot-rule from his pocket and measured their frames, doubtless in order that his own should be of like dimensions.

Other artists whom we knew were Mulready, Cooke—as famous for his splendid collection of old Venetian glass as for his pictures—Creswick and Elmore; but much as Rowland Hill loved art, the men of science, such as Airy, the Astronomer Royal; Smyth, the “Astronomical Admiral”; Wheatstone, Lyell; Graham, the Master of the Mint; Sabine, the Herschels, and others were to him the most congenial company. After them were counted in his regard the medical men, philosophers and economists, such as Harley, Coulson, Fergusson, the Clarkes, Sir Henry Thompson—the last to die of his old friends—and Bentham, Robert Owen, James and John Stuart Mill—these last four being among the earliest great men he knew, and counting in some ways as his mentors.

Of his literary friends no two held a higher place in his esteem than Maria Edgeworth and Harriet Martineau. Of the latter and of her able, untiring help in promoting the cause of Penny Postage, mention will appear later. The former, my father, and his brother Arthur, as young men, visited at her Irish home, making the pilgrimage thither which Scott and many other literary adorers had made or were destined to make, one of the most interesting being that of Mrs Richmond Ritchie, Thackeray’s daughter, of which she tells us in her editorial preface to a recent edition of “Castle Rackrent.” The two brothers had looked forward to meet a charming woman, but she exceeded their expectations, and the visit remained in the memory of both as a red—letter day.17

Among literary men, besides those already men­tioned, or to be named later, were Leigh Hunt, De Quincey—who when under the influence of opium did the strangest things, being one day discovered by my father and a friend hiding in some East End slum under the wholly erroneous impression that “enemies were seeking to molest him—Sir John Bowring, Dr Roget, author of “The Thesaurus,” and the King­lakes. “Eothen,” as the writer of that once famous book of travels and of “The Invasion of the Crimea,” was habitually called by his friends, was a delightful talker; and his brother, the doctor, was equally gifted, if less fluent, while his sister was declared by Thackeray to be the cleverest woman he ever met.

Dr Roget was a most cultivated man, with the exquisite polish and stately bearing of that now wholly extinct species, the gentlemen of the old school. He was one of the many tourists from England who, happening to be in France after the break-up of the short-lived Peace of Amiens, were detained in that country by Napoleon. Though a foreigner, Dr Roget had lived so l6ng in England, and, as his book proves, knew our language so well, that he could easily have passed for a native of these isles and thus readily fell a victim to the Corsican’s unjustifiable action. Happily for himself, Dr Roget remembered that Napoleon had recently annexed Geneva to France; and he therefore, as a Genevese, protested against his detention on the ground that the annexation had made of him a French subject. The plea was allowed; he returned to England, and finally settled here; but the friend who had accompanied him on the tour, together with the many other détenus, remained in France for several years.

Political friends were also numerous, some of whom will be mentioned in later pages. Of others, our most frequent visitors were the brilliant talker Roebuck, once known as “Dog Tear ‘Em” of the House of Commons; the two Forsters, father and son, who, in turn and for many years, represented Berwick-upon-Tweed; J. B. Smith (Stockport); and Benjamin Smith (Norwich), at whose house we met some of the arctic explorers of the mid-nineteenth century, congenial friends of a descendant of the discoverer of Smith’s Sound, and with whose clever daughters, Madame Bodichon being the eldest, we of the younger generation were intimate. At one time we saw a good deal also of Sir Benjamin Hawes, who, when appointed Under-Secretary to the Colonies in Lord John Russell’s Administration of 1846, said to my parents: “Heaven help the Colonies, for I know nothing at all about them!”—an ignorance shared by many other people in those days of seldom distant travel.

My father’s legal friends included Denman, Wilde, Mellor, Manning, Brougham, and others; and racy was the talk when some of these gathered round “the mahogany tree,” for the extremely small jokes which to-day produce “roars of laughter” in Court were then little in favour, or failed to reach the honour of reproduction in print.

Quite as interesting as any of the other people we mingled with were the foreign political exiles who became honoured guests in many households; and some of these terrible revolutionists were in reality the mildest mannered and most estimable of men. Herr Jansa, the great violinist, was paying a visit to this country in 1849, and out of pure kindness of heart volunteered to play at a concert at Willis’s rooms got up for the benefit of the many Hungarian refugees recently landed here. For this “crime” the then young Emperor Francis Joseph caused the old man to be banished; though what was Austria’s loss was Britain’s gain, as he spent some years among us respected and beloved by all who knew him. We met him oftenest at the house of Sir Joshua Walmsley, where, as Miss Walmsley was an accomplished pianist, very enjoyable musical parties were given. The Hungarian refugees, several of whom were wonderful musicians, were long with us; and some, like Dr Zerifi, remained here altogether. The Italian exiles, Mazzini, Rufini, Gallenga, Panizzi — afterwards Sir Antonio, Principal Librarian at the British Museum, and planner of the Reading Room there—and others came to speak and write English better than many English people. Poerio, Settembrini, and other victims of King “Bomba “—whose sufferings inspired Gladstone to write his famous “Two Letters” —were not here long; Garibaldi was an infrequent bird of passage, as was also Kossuth. Kinkel, the German journalist, a man of fine presence, had been sentenced to lifelong incarceration at Spandau after the Berlin massacre—from which Dr Oswald and his sister with difficulty escaped—but cleverly broke prison and took refuge in England; Louis Blanc, historian and most diminutive of men, made his home for some years among us; and there were many more. Quite a variety of languages was heard in the London drawing-rooms of that time, conversation was anything but commonplace; and what thrillingly interesting days those were!

The story of my father’s connection with the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway, and of that portion of his life which followed his retirement from the Post Office, will be alluded to later in this work.

As it is well not to overburden the narrative with notes, those of mere reference to volume and page of Dr Hill’s “Life” of my father are generally omitted from the present story; though if verification of statements made be required, the index to my cousin’s book should render the task easy, at least as regards all matter taken from that “Life.”

Note 1. - Another volunteer was a young man named Clark, one of whose sons afterwards married T. W. Hill’s elder daughter. An acquaint­ance of Clark’s, politically a foe, sought to save his friend’s house from destruction by writing upon it the shibboleth, “Church and King.” But like Millais’ Huguenot knight, Clark scorned to shelter himself or property under a false badge, and promptly effaced the kindly ­intentioned inscription.

Note 2. - “Remains of T. W. Hill.” By M. D. Hill, p. 124.

Note 3. - “Six years have now elapsed,” wrote my father in 1823, “since we placed a great part of the government of the school in the hands of the boys themselves; and during the whole of that time the head­master has never once exercised his right of veto upon their proceedings.”

Note 4. - Its full title was “Plans for the Government and Liberal Education of Boys in Large Numbers,” and the work speedily went into a second edition.

Note 5. - Algeria was not conquered by France till 1830; and until the beginning of the nineteenth century our shores were still liable to piratical raids. One such (in Norway) is introduced in Miss Martineau’s story, “Feats on the Fiords.” The pirates, during hundreds of years, periodically swept the European coasts, and carried off people into slavery, penetrating at times even so far north as Iceland. What was the condition of these North African pirate States prior to the French conquest is told by Mr S. L. Poole in “The Barbery Corsairs” (“Story of the Nations” series).

Note 6. - It was a visit paid to Bruce Castle School which caused De Quincey, in that chapter of his “Autobiographic Sketches” entitled “My Brother,” to write: “Different, 0 Rowland Hill, are the laws of thy establishment, for other are the echoes heard amid the ancient halls of Bruce. There it is possible for the timid child to be happy, for the child destined to an early grave to reap his brief harvest in peace. Wherefore were there no such asylums in those days? Man flourished then as now. Wherefore did he not put forth his power upon establishments that might cultivate happiness as well as knowledge.” The stories of brutalities inflicted upon weakly boys in some of our large schools of to-day might tempt not a few parents to echo De Quincey’s pathetic lament, though perhaps in less archaic language.

 Note 7. - It is as follows :—“ A straight line is a line in which, if any two points be taken, the part intercepted shall be less than any other line in which these points can be found.”

Note 8. - He was an ideal schoolmaster and an enthusiastic Shakespearean, his readings from the bard being much in the same cultured style as those of the late Mr Brandram. Whenever it was bruited about the house that “Uncle Arthur was going ‘to do’ Shakespeare,” there always trooped into the room a crowd of eager nieces, nephews, and others, just as in a larger house members troop in when a favourite orator is “up”. At his own request, a monetary testimonial raised by his old pupils to do him honour was devoted to the purchase of a lifeboat (called by his name) to be stationed at one of our coast resorts.

Note 9. - Colonel Torrens, after whom a river and a lake in South Australia were named, had a distinguished career. For his spirited defence in 1811 of the island of Anholt he was awarded a sword of honour. But he was much more than a soldier, however valorous and able. He was a writer on economics and other important problems of the day; was one of the founders of the Political Economy Club, and of the Globe newspaper, then an advocate of somewhat advanced views; and interested himself in several philanthropic movements. His son, Sir Robert Torrens, sometime M.P. for Cambridge, lived for many years in South Australia, and was its first Premier. While there he drew up the plan of “The Transfer of Land by Registration,” which became an Act bearing his name, and is one of the measures sometimes cited as proof that the Daughter States are in sundry ways well ahead of their Mother. In consequence of the good work the plan has accomplished in the land of its origin, it has been adopted by other colonies, and is a standard work on the list of Cobden Club publications. Colonel Torrens’s eldest granddaughter married Rowland Hill’s only son.

Note 10. - The candidates ultimately chosen were the Hon. Charles Pelham Villiers, who represented the constituency for sixty-three years—from January 1835 till his death in January 1898—and Mr Thomas Thornley of Liverpool. Both men, as we shall see, served on that select Committee on Postage which sat to enquire as to the merits of my father’s plan of postal reform, and helped to cause its adoption. The two men were long known locally as “Mr Pearson’s members.” Mr Villiers will be remembered as the man who, for several years in succession, brought in an Annual Motion on behalf of Free Trade, and as being for a longer while, perhaps, than any other Parliamentarian, “the Father of the House”; but the fact is not so well known that he came near to not repre­senting Wolverhampton at all. The election agent who “discovered” him in London described him in a letter to my grandfather (who was chairman of the local Liberal Association) as “a young gentleman named Villiers, a thorough free-trader, of good connexions, and good address.” Thus his advent was eagerly looked for. Always given to procrastination, the candidate, however, was so long in making his appearance or communicating with the constituents, that his place was about to be taken by a more energetic person who went so far as to issue his address and begin his canvass. Only just in time for nomination did Mr Villiers drive into Wolver­hampton. Whereupon Mr Throckmorton gracefully retired.

Note 11. - He died in July 1838, in the midst of the agitation for the postal reform, in which he took an enthusiastic interest.

Note 12. - Grandfather to Miss Octavia Hill.

Note 13. - His son was one of the Commissioners who aided Prince Albert to inaugurate the Great Exhibition of 1851 and was created a baronet in recognition of his services.

Note 14. - What other man ever depicted a Becky Sharpe, a Beatrix Esmond, a Mrs Bute Crawley, or a Lady Kew—to say nothing of minor characters?

Note 15. - “Thackeray’s London.” By W. H. Rideing.

Note 16. - Less than half a century before the time described by Mr Wills, the mother of Sir Humphrey Davy left the fact on record that in Penzance, a town of 2,000 inhabitants, there were but one cart, one carpet, no such thing as a silver fork, no merchandise brought to the place save that carried by pack-horses, and every one who travelled went on horseback. On this state of things Palmer’s mail coaches had a most rousing effect.

Note 17. - When Miss Edgeworth’s father in 1804 wrote the preface to her “Popular Tales,” he quoted Burke as. saying that in the United Kingdom one person in every hundred could read, and added that he hoped his daughter’s works would attract the attention of a good many ‘‘ thousands.” Millions of readers were probably undreamed of. The schoolmaster has made some progress since those days.