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A History of the Cries of London by Hindley

Illustration COLEBROOKE COTTAGE


"Here 'gentle anglers,' and their rods withal, Essaying, do the finny tribe enthral. Here boys their penny lines and bloodworms throw, And scare, and catch, the 'silly fish' below."

We have said above, anglers _used_ to resort, and we have said so advisedly, as that portion of the river is now arched over to the end of Colebrooke Row.

The New River, Islington, its vicinity, and our own favourite author--Charles Lamb, are, as it were, so inseparably bound together, that we hope to be excused for occupying a little of our reader's time with _Elia_--His Friends--His Haunts--His Walks, and Talk(s), particularly about the neighbourhood of:--

"----Islington! Thy green pleasant pastures, thy streamlet so clear, Old classic village! to _Elia_ were dear-- Rare child of humanity! oft have we stray'd On Sir Hugh's pleasant banks in the cool of the shade.

"Joy to thy spirit, aquatic Sir Hugh! To the end of old time shall thy River be New! Thy Head, ancient Parr,[9] too, shall not be forgotten; Nor thine, Virgin (?) Queen, tho' thy timbers are rotten." George Daniel's "_The Islington Garland_."

Into the old parlour of the ancient "Sir Hugh Myddleton's Head"--_Elia_, would often introduce his own, for there he would be sure to

find, from its proximity to Sadler's Wells Theatre, some play-going old crony with whom he could exchange a convival "crack," and hear the celebrated Joe Grimaldi call for his tumbler of rum-punch; challenging Boniface to bring it to a _rummer_! Many a gleeful hour has been spent in this once rural hostelrie. But:--"All, all are gone, the old familiar faces."

[Illustration: COLEBROOKE COTTAGE.

----"to Colebrooke-row, within half a stone's throw of a cottage; endeared to me, in later years by its being the abode of 'as much virtue as can live.'" Hone, in his _Every-day Book_, Oct. 10, 1827.]

Colebrooke Row was built in 1708. Here Charles Lamb, resided with his sister Mary, from 1823 to 1826; during which period--viz, on Tuesday, the 29th March, 1825, he closed his thirty-three years' clerkship at the East India House. Lamb very graphically describes the event in a letter to Bernard Barton, dated September 2, 1823, thus:--

"When you come Londonward, you will find me no longer in Covent Garden; I have a cottage in Colebrooke Row, Islington--a cottage, for it is detached--a white house, with six good rooms in it. The New River (rather elderly by this time) runs (if a moderate walking-pace can be so termed) close to the foot of the house; and behind is a spacious garden, with vines (I assure you), pears, strawberries, parsnips, leeks, carrots, cabbages, to delight the heart of old Alcinous. You enter without passage into a cheerful dining-room, all studded over and rough with old books; and above is a lightsome drawing-room, three windows, full of choice prints. I feel like a great lord, never having had a house before."

And again, in the November following, in a letter to Robert Southey, he informs the bard, who had promised him a call, that he is "at Colebrooke Cottage, left hand coming from Sadler's Wells." It was here that that amiable bookworm, George Dyer, editor of the Delphin Classics, walked quietly into the New River from Charles Lamb's door, but was soon recovered, thanks to the kind care of Miss Lamb.

[Illustration: THE OLD QUEEN'S HEAD.]

The late Mr. George Daniel, of Canonbury Square, Islington, who formerly possessed the "ELIZABETHAN GARLAND," which consists of Seventy Ballads, printed between the years 1559 and 1597; a pleasing chatty writer and great snapper-up of unconsidered literary trifles, was an old friend and jolly companion of Charles Lamb's and frequently accompanied him in his favourite walks on the banks of the New River, and to the ancient hostelries in and round-about "Merrie Islington." At the Old Queen's Head, they, in company with many retired citizens, and thirsty wayfarers, met, on at least one occasion, with Theodore Hook, indulged in reminiscences of bygone days, merrily puffed their long pipes of the true "Churchwarden" or _yard of clay_ type, and quaffed nut-brown ale, out of the festivious tankard presented by a choice spirit!--one Master Cranch,--to a former host; and in the old oak parlour, too, where, according to tradition, the gallant Sir Walter Raleigh received, "full souse" in his face, the humming contents of a jolly Black Jack[10] from an affrighted clown, who, seeing clouds of tobacco-smoke curling from the knight's nose and mouth, thought he was all on fire! fire!! fire!!!.


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