Every-Day Book
vol II date    /    index  


July 9.

St. Ephrem of Edessa, A.D. 378. The Martyrs of Gorcum, A.D. 1572. St. Everildis.


In hot weather walk slowly, and as much as possible in the shade.

When fatigued recline on a sofa, and avoid all drafts.

Eat sparingly of meat, and indeed of every thing.

Especially shun unripe fruits, and be moderate with cherries.

Strawberries may be safely indulged in; with a little cream and bread they make a delightful supper, an hour or two before retiring to rest.

If the frame be weakened by excessive heat, a table spoonfull of the best brandy, thrown into a tumbler of spring water, becomes a cooling restorative; otherwise spirits should not be touched.

Spring water, with a toast in it, is the best drink.


Marsh Sowthistle. Sonchus palustris.
Dedicated to St. Everildis.

Captain Starkey.

Died, July 9, 1822.

Reader! see the famous Captain
Starkey, in his own coat wrapt in;
Mark his mark'd nose, and mark his eye,
His lengthen'd chin, his forehead high,
His little stick, his humble hat,
The modest tie of his cravat;
Mark how easy sit his hose,
Mark the shoes that hold his toes;
So he look'd when Ranson sketch'd him
While alive—but Death has fetch'd him.


Auto-biography is agreeable in the writing, and sometimes profitable in the publication, to persons whose names would otherwise die and be buried with them. Of this numerous class was captain Starkey, who to his "immortal memory" wrote and published his own "Memoirs."* [1]

The preface to a fine uncut copy of captain Starkey's very rare "Memoirs," penes me, commences thus:—"The writers of biographical accounts have always prepared articles, which at once, when held forth to the public, were highly entertaining, useful and satisfactory." This particular representation, so directly opposed to general experience, is decisively original. Its expression bespeaks an independence of character, rendered further conspicuous by an amiable humility. "I am afraid," says the captain, "I shall fall infinitely short in commanding your attention; none, on this side of time, are perfect, and it is in the nature of things impossible it should be otherwise." He trusts, "if truth has any force," that "patience and candour" will hear him out. Of captain Starkey then—it may be said, that "he knew the truth, and knowing dared maintain it."

The captain declares, he was born of honest and poor parents, natives of Newcastle upon Tyne, at the Lying-in Hospital, Brownlow-street, Long-acre, London, on the 19th of December, 1757. "My infantile years," he observes, "were attended with much indisposition." The nature of his "indisposition" does not appear; but it is reasonable to presume, that as the "infantile years" of all of "living born," at that time, were passed in "much indisposition," the captain suffered no more than fell to him in the common lot. It was then the practice to afflict a child as soon as it breathed the air, by forcing spoonfulls of "unctuousities" down its throat, "oil of sweet almonds and syrup of blue violets." A strong cotton swathe of about six inches in width, and from ten to twenty feet in length, was tightly rolled round the body, beginning under the arm pits and ending at the hips, so as to stiffly encase the entire trunk. After the child was dressed, if its constraint would allow it to suck, it was suckled; but whether suckled or not, the effect of the swathing was soon visible; its eyes rolled in agony, it was pronounced convulsed, and a dose of "Dalby's Carminative" was administered as "the finest thing in the world for convulsions." With "pap" made of bread and water, and milk loaded with brown sugar, it was fed from a "pap-boat," an earthen vessel in the form of a butter-boat. If "these contents" were not quickly "received in full," the infant was declared "not very well," but if by crying, kicking of the legs, stiffening of the back, and eructation from the stomach, it resisted further overloading, then it was affirmed that it was "troubled with wind," and was drenched with "Daffy's Elixir," as "the finest thing in the world for wind." As soon as the "wind" had "a little broken off, poor thing!" it was suckled again, and fed again; being so suckled and fed, and fed and suckled, it was wonderful if it could sleep soundly, and therefore, after it was undressed at night, it had a does of "Godfrey's Cordial," as "the finst thing in the world for composing to rest." If it was not "composed" out of the world before morning, it awoke to undergo the manifold process of being again over-swathed, over-fed, "Dalby'd, Daffy'd and Godfrey'd" for that day; and so, day by day, it was put in bonds, "carminativ'd, elixir'd, and cordial'd," till in a few weeks or months it died, or escaped, as by miracle, to be weaned and made to walk. It was not to be put on its legs "too soon," and therefore, while the work of repletion was going on, it was not to feel that it had legs, but was kept in arms, or rather kept lolling on the arm, till ten or twelve months old. By this means its body, being unduly distended, was too heavy to be sustained by its weak and comparatively diminutive sized limbs; and then a "go-cart" was provided. The go-cart was a sort of circular frame-work, running upon wheels, with a door to open for admission of the child; wherein, being bolted, and the upper part being only so large as to admit its body from below the arms, the child rested by the arm pits, and kicking its legs on the floor, set the machine rolling on its wheels. This being the customary mode of "bringing children up" at the time of captain Starkey's birth, and until about the year 1790, few were without a general disorder and weakness of the frame, called "the rickets." These afflicted ones were sometimes hump-backed, and usually bow-shinned, or knock-kneed, for life, though to remedy the latter defects in some degree, the legs were fastened by straps to jointed irons. From the whole length portrait at the head of this article, which is copied from an etching by Mr. Thomas Ranson, prefixed to captain Starkey's "Memoirs," it is reasonably to be conjectured that the captain in his childhood had been ricketty and had worn irons. Mr. Ranson has draped the figure in a long coat. Had this been done to conceal the inward inclination of the captain's knees, it would have been creditable to Mr. Ranson's delicacy; for there is a sentiment connected with the meeting of the knees, in the owner's mind, which he who knows human nature and has human feelings, knows how to respect; and no one either as a man or an artist is better acquainted with the "humanities" than Mr. Ranson. But that gentleman drew the captain from the life, and the captain's coat is from the coat he actually wore when he stood for his picture. There is a remarkable dereliction of the nose from the eyebrows. It was a practice with the race of nurses who existed when the captain's nose came into the world, to pinch up that feature of our infant ancestors from an hour old, till "the month was up." This was from a persuasion that nature, on that part of the face, required to be assisted. A few only of these ancient females remain, and it does not accord with the experience of one of the most experienced among them, that they ever depressed that sensible feature; she is fully of opinion, that for the protrusion at the end of the captain's, he was indebted to his nurse "during the month;" and she says that, "it's this, that makes him look so sensible."

According to captain Starkey's narrative, when "learning to walk alone," he unfortunately fell, "and so hurt his left arm, that it turned to a white swelling as large as a child's head." The captain says, "my poor parents immediately applied to two gentlemen of the faculty, at the west end of the town, named Bloomfield and Hawkins, physicians and surgeons to his then reigning majesty, king George the Second, of these kingdoms, who declared that they could not do any more than cut it off; unto which my tender parents would not consent." A French surgeon restored to him the use of his arm, and gave him advice "not to employ it in any arduous employment." "I, therefore," says the captain, "as my mother kept a preparatory school, was learned by her to read and spell." At seven years old he was "put to a master to learn to write, cipher, and the classics." After this, desiring to be acquinted with other languages, he was sent to another master, and "improved," to the pleasure of himself and friends, but was "not so successful" as he could wish; for which he says, "I am, as I ought to be, thankful to divine providence." With him he stayed, improving and not succeeding, till he was fourteen, "at which age," says the captain, "I was bound apprentice to Mr. William bird, an eminent writer and teacher of languages and mathematics, in Fetter-lane, Holborn." After his apprenticeship the captain, in the year 1780, went with his father, during an election, to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, his parents' native town. Returning to London, he, in 1784, went electioneering again to Newcastle, having left a small school in London to the care of a substitute, who managed to reduce twenty-five scholars to ten, "although he was paid a weekly allowance." Being "filled with trouble by the loss," he was assisted to a school in Sunderland; "but," the captain remarks, "as the greatest success did not attend me in that, I had the happiness and honour of receiving a better employment in the aforesaid town of Sunderland, from that ever to be remembered gentleman, William Gooch, esq., comptroller of the customs, who died in the year 1791, and did not die unmindful of me: for he left me in his will the sum of 10l., with which, had I been prudent enough, and left his employ immediately after his interment, I might have done well; but foolishly relying on the continuance of my place, continued doing the duties for nine months without receiving any remuneration; and at last was obliged to leave, it not being the pleasure of the then collector, C. Hill, esq., that I should continue any longer in office." Great as the sensation must have been at Sunderland on this important change "in office," the fact is entirely omitted in the journals of the period, and might at this time have been wholly forgotten if the captain had not been his own chronicler. On his forced "retirement" he returned to Newcastle, willing to take "office" there, but there being no opening he resolved once more to try his fortune in London. For that purpose he crossed the Tyne-bridge, with two shillings in his pocket, and arriving at Chester-le-street, obtained a subscription of two guineas, by which "with helps and hopes," and "walking some stages," and getting "casts by coaches," he arrived in the metropolis, where he obtained a recommendation back, to the then mayor of Newcastle. Thither he again repaired, and presented his letter to the mayor, who promised him a place in the Freeman's Hospital, and gave it him on the first vacancy. "In which situation," says captain Starkey, "I have now been twenty-six years enjoying the invaluable blessing of health and good friends." So ends his "Memoir written by himself."

To what end captain Starkey wrote his history, or how he came by his rank, he does not say; but in the "Local Records, or Historical Register of Remarkable Events in Durham, Northumberland, Newcastle, and Berwick," a volume compiled and published by Mr. JOHN SYKES, of Newcastle, there is a notice which throws some light on the matter. "Mr. Starkey, who was uncommonly polite, had a peculiarly smooth method of obtaining the loan of a halfpenny, for which he was always ready to give his promissory note, which his creditors held as curiosities." Halfpenny debentures were tedious instruments for small "loans," and Starkey may have compiled his "Memoirs," without affixing a price, for the purpose of saying, "what you please," and thereby raising "supplies" by sixpence and a shilling at a time. It is to be observed to his credit, that had he made his book more entertaining, it would have had far less claim upon an honest reader. It is the adventureless history of a man who did no harm in the world, and thought he had a right to live, because he was a living being. Mr. Ranson's portrait represents him as he was. His stick, instead of a staff of support, appears symbolical of the assistance he required towards existence. He holds his hat behind, as if to intimate that his head is not entitled to be covered in "a gentleman's presence." He seems to have been a poor powerless creature, sensible of incompetency to do; anxious not to suffer; and with just enough of worldly cunning, to derive to himself a little of the superabundance enjoyed by men, who obstain for greater cunning the name of cleverness.



[From the London Magazine.]

I like you, and your book ingenuous Hone!
  In whose capacious, all-embracing leaves
The very marrow of tradition's shown;
  And all that history—much that fiction—weaves

By every sort of taste your work is graced.
  Vast stores of modern anecdote we find,
With good old story quaintly interlaced—
  The theme as various as the reader's mind.

Rome's lie-fraught legends you so truly paint—
  Yet kindly—that the half-turn'd Catholic
Scarcely forbears to smile at his own saint,
  And cannot curse the candid Heretic.

Rags, relics, witches, ghosts, fiends, crowd your page;
  Our father's mummeries we well-pleased behold;
And, proudly conscious of a purer age,
  Forgive some fopperies in the times of old.

Verse-honouring Phœbus, Father of bright Days,
  Must needs bestow on you both good and many,
Who, building trophies to his children's praise,
  Run their rich Zodiac through, not missing any.

Dan Phœbus loves your book—trust me, friend Hone—
  The title only errs, he bids me say:
For while such are—wit—reading—there are shown,
  He swears, 'tis not a work of every day.




In feeling, like a stricken deer, I've been
  Self-put out from the herd, friend Lamb; for I
Imagined all the sympathies between
  Mankind and me had ceased, till your full cry
Of kindness reach'd and roused me, as I lay
  "Musing—on divers things foreknown:" it bid
Me know, in you, a friend; with a fine gay
   Sincerity, before all men it chid,
Or rather, by not chiding, seem'd to chide
  Me, for long absence from you; re-invited
Me, with a herald's trump, and so defied
  Me to remain immured; and it requited
Me, for others' harsh misdeeming—which I trust is
Now, or will be, known by them, to be injustice.

I am "ingenuous:" it is all I can
  Pretend to; it is all I wish to be;
Yet, through obliquity of sight in man,
  From constant gaze on tortuosity,
Few people understand me: still, I am
  Warmly affection'd to each human being;
Loving the right, for right's sake; and, friend Lamb,
  Trying to see things as they are; hence, seeing
Some "good in ev'ry thing" however bad,
  Evil in many things that look most fair,
And pondering on all: this may be mad-
  ness, but it is my method; and I dare
Deductions from a strange diversity
Of things, not taught within a University.

No schools of science open'd to my youth;
  No learned halls, no academic bowers;
No one had I to point my way to truth,
  Instruct my ign'rance, or direct my powers:
Yet I, though all unlearned, p'rhaps may aid
  The march of knowledge in our "purer age,"
And, without seeming, may perchance persuade
  The young to think—to virtue some engage:
So have I hoped, and with this end in view,
  My little Every-Day Book I design'd;
Praise of the work, and of its author too,
  From you, friend Lamb, is more than good and kind:
To such high meed I did not dare aspire
As public honour, from the hand of ALLWORTHY ELIA.

As to the message from your friend above:—
  Do me the favour to present my best
Respects to old "Dan Phœbus," for the "love["]
  He bears the Every-Day Book: for the rest,
That is, the handsome mode he has selected
  Of making me fine compliments by you, 'tis
So flatt'ring to me, and so much respected
  By me, that, if you please, and it should suit his
Highness, I must rely upon you, for
  Obtaining his command, to introduce me
To him yourself, when quite convenient; or
  I trust, at any rate, you'll not refuse me.
A line, to signify, that I'm the person known
To him, through you, friend Lamb, as

Your Friend,           


Notes [all notes are Hone's unless otherwise indicated]:

1. "Memoirs of the Life of Benj. Starkey, late of London, but now an inmate of the Freemen's Hospital, in Newcastle. Written by himself. With a portrait of the Author and a Facsimile of his hand writing. Printed and sold by William Hall, Great Market, Newcastle." 1818. 12mo. pp.14. [return]