Monday, March 28, 2011

Tales of an Antiquary

March 28 [1828]—...Read Tales of an Antiquary, one of the chime of bells which I have some hand in setting a-ringing. He is really entitled to the name of an antiquary; but he has too much description in proportion to the action. There is a capital wardrobe of properties, but the performers do not act up to their character.

Richard Thomson's work "Tales of an Antiquary" was published in 1828.  The son of a Scotsman had an affinity for antiquities, which it seems he spent much of his spare time in London exploring.  While Walter Scott leaves a critical remark in his journal (above), he acknowledges his contributions as an antiquary.  Another of Thomson's works is "Chronicles of London Bridge".  "Tales of an Antiquary begins...

'In turning over the story of Ancient London, it is particularly interesting to note the exaltation, decline, or fall of its several districts; since,—as Time possesses the power of wearing out all things, both in reputation and substance, —there are many places, once considered fit only for the noble and princely, which afterwards grew out of fashion, and were abandoned to trade : whilst others, perhaps of a still higher mark, have even become the coverts of the mean, or the haunts of the infamous. " We know what we are," says one who was well acquainted with all Nature, " but we know not what we may be:" and it is often very difficult to imagine what we once have been. Who that now contemplates the gloomy and confined streets of Little Britain, and Tower Royal, can conceive that a Sovereign Prince had his Palace in the former ; or that King Stephen, that " worthy Peer," as the old song calls him, should have resided in an old melancholy fortress in the latter ? which, about four centuries afterwards, Queen Elizabeth turned into a Stable!...'

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