PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION.
THE First Edition of this book was written, from beginning to
end, in the short space of five months, without the aid of
diary or notes, beyond those cited as such from a former
The Author, having no expectation that his reminiscences
would be received with the kind indulgence of which this
Second Edition is the proof, with diffidence ventured to tell
so many tales connected with his own unimportant life as he
has done. Emboldened by the reception his 'Tracks' have met
with, he now adds a few stories which he trusts may further
amuse its readers.
WE know more of the early days of the Pyramids or of ancient
Babylon than we do of our own. The Stone age, the dragons of
the prime, are not more remote from us than is our earliest
childhood. It is not so long ago for any of us; and yet, our
memories of it are but veiled spectres wandering in the mazes
of some foregone existence.
Are we really trailing clouds of glory from afar? Or are our
'forgettings' of the outer Eden only? Or, setting poetry
aside, are they perhaps the quickening germs of all past
heredity - an epitome of our race and its descent? At any
rate THEN, if ever, our lives are such stuff as dreams are
made of. There is no connected story of events, thoughts,
acts, or feelings. We try in vain to re-collect; but the
secrets of the grave are not more inviolable, - for the
beginnings, like the endings, of life are lost in darkness.
It is very difficult to affix a date to any relic of that dim
past. We may have a distinct remembrance of some pleasure,
some pain, some fright, some accident, but the vivid does not
help us to chronicle with accuracy. A year or two makes a
vast difference in our ability. We can remember well enough
when we donned the 'CAUDA VIRILIS,' but not when we left off
The first remembrance to which I can correctly tack a date is
the death of George IV. I was between three and four years
old. My recollection of the fact is perfectly distinct -
distinct by its association with other facts, then far more
weighty to me than the death of a king.
I was watching with rapture, for the first time, the spinning
of a peg-top by one of the grooms in the stable yard, when
the coachman, who had just driven my mother home, announced
the historic news. In a few minutes four or five servants -
maids and men - came running to the stables to learn
particulars, and the peg-top, to my sorrow, had to be
abandoned for gossip and flirtation. We were a long way from
street criers - indeed, quite out of town. My father's house
was in Kensington, a little further west than the present
museum. It was completely surrounded by fields and hedges.
I mention the fact merely to show to what age definite memory
can be authentically assigned. Doubtless we have much
earlier remembrances, though we must reckon these by days, or
by months at the outside. The relativity of the reckoning
would seem to make Time indeed a 'Form of Thought.'
Two or three reminiscences of my childhood have stuck to me;
some of them on account of their comicality. I was taken to
a children's ball at St. James's Palace. In my mind's eye I
have but one distinct vision of it. I cannot see the crowd -
there was nothing to distinguish that from what I have so
often seen since; nor the court dresses, nor the soldiers
even, who always attract a child's attention in the streets;
but I see a raised dais on which were two thrones. William
IV. sat on one, Queen Adelaide on the other. I cannot say
whether we were marched past in turn, or how I came there.
But I remember the look of the king in his naval uniform. I
remember his white kerseymere breeches, and pink silk
stockings, and buckled shoes. He took me between his knees,
and asked, 'Well, what are you going to be, my little man?'
'A sailor,' said I, with brazen simplicity.
'Going to avenge the death of Nelson - eh? Fond o' sugar-
'Ye-es,' said I, taking a mental inventory of stars and
Upon this, he fetched from the depths of his waistcoat pocket
a capacious gold box, and opened it with a tap, as though he
were about to offer me a pinch of snuff. 'There's for you,'
I helped myself, unawed by the situation, and with my small
fist clutching the bonbons, was passed on to Queen Adelaide.
She gave me a kiss, for form's sake, I thought; and I
scuttled back to my mother.
But here followed the shocking part of the ENFANT TERRIBLE'S
adventure. Not quite sure of Her Majesty's identity - I had
never heard there was a Queen - I naively asked my mother, in
a very audible stage-whisper, 'Who is the old lady with - ?'
My mother dragged me off the instant she had made her
curtsey. She had a quick sense of humour; and, judging from
her laughter, when she told her story to another lady in the
supper room, I fancied I had said or done something very
funny. I was rather disconcerted at being seriously
admonished, and told I must never again comment upon the
breath of ladies who condescended to kiss, or to speak to,
While we lived at Kensington, Lord Anglesey used often to pay
my mother a visit. She had told me the story of the battle
of Waterloo, in which my Uncle George - 6th Lord Albemarle -
had taken part; and related how Lord Anglesey had lost a leg
there, and how one of his legs was made of cork.