ART. XII. Public Characters of 1809-10, 8vo. pp.
684. London. Sherwood and Co. 1809.
[pp. 132-133] [original article in PDF
FROM an ill-written 'Preface' to this strange
production, it appears that the Editor has been, for
some years, in the practice of sallying forth on the
king's highway, seizing upon numbers of unsuspecting
people, under the extraordinary pretence of their being
"PUBLIC CHARACTERS," and dressing them up with caps and
bells, and other derogatory appendages of folly, for
the entertainment of such as chose to lay out a few
shillings on so indecorous a spectacle.
The only plea advanced by him for this annual
outrage on the peace of society, is, that the victims
of it are dizened out in such beautiful colours, that
they cannot choose but be delighted with their own
appearance. This is adding mockery to injury. The
wardrobe of a puppet-show is more magnificent than the
frippery thus forced upon them; and the bungling
wretches employed to string the tawdry tatters
together, must have served their apprenticeship to the
furnishers of garden scare-crows.
The first, or, as we rather think, the second person
who figures in the groupe of this year, is 'the
Reverend William Coxe, M.A. F.R.S. and F.S.A.
Archdeacon of Wilts and Rector of Bemarton.' His
appearance is not a little comical; and we should
endeavour to give our readers some idea of it, did we
not consider him as 'a man more sinned against than
sinning,' and no less grieved than ashamed at his
But though we feel unmixed pity for sufferers of
this description, we cannot be so indulgent to those
who rush into the circle, uncaught, and exhibit their
foppery for the gratification of individual vanity.
Towards the conclusion of the show, 'Mr. M. P. Andrews,
M. P. for Bewdley in Worcestershire,' steps gaily
forward, and, with the air and gait of a morris-dancer,
enters upon a ridiculous display of his
He begins with a scrap of bad Italian; after which
he informs the audience that he was destined for the
counting-house; but that, 'instead of thumbing over the
ledger, he became enraptured with the poets of antient
days, and wooed the Muses with considerable success.'
Of these raptures, and this success, he gives a
specimen, in a  prologue of several pages, in
which, he adds, 'to have displayed peculiar
excellence.' p. 525.
'Lady Drawcansir came to me last
"O! my dear ma'am, I am in such a fright;
They've drawn me for a man, and what is worse,
I am to soldier it, and mount a horse:
Must wear the breeches!"—Says I, "don't
What in your husband's life you always wore."'
Notwithstanding the radiance shed around him by
these, and a hundred other verses, nearly equal to them
in glory, Mr. M. P. A. absolutely startles our
credulity by affirming, with apparent seriousness, that
'he was not dazzled with his good fortune.' p.
He next produces a list of his numerous
farces,—farces, of which the very names have
perished from all memory but his own,—and, that
no possible wish may remain ungratified, in a matter of
such moment, he considerately subjoins 'the cast of the
characters at Covent Garden.'
A rapid transition is then made from poetry to
politics, and we learn that Mr. M. P. A. has 'sat
during five successive parliaments, made one speech,
and given two votes for the Prince of Wales.' p.
Lastly—but the reader shall have it in his own
words: and we must do the speaker the justice to say,
that, in every requisite of fine language, what follows
is, at least, equal to the very best parts of this
curious exhibition of 'Public Characters.'
'But it is chiefly as a member of the
Bon Ton that Colonel Andrews'—mark that, the
Colonel!—'has rendered himself conspicuous. His
house is occasionally thrown open to the first company,
and no private gentleman perhaps has ever possessed a
more elegant assemblage of Lords and Ladies than have
made their appearance at his routes. His noble
withdrawing rooms—uniting with the brilliancy of
an audience-chamber all the effects of a conservatory,
exhibit, amidst the severest rigours of winter, a
parterre of blooming dutchesses, marchionesses,
countesses, baronesses, &c.: and had he realized
his early inclinations, and repaired to the East, his
harem, even if he had become a Turkish Bashaw, would
have turned pale at the sight of so many fine specimens
of British beauty.' p. 532.