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  • Burning Bluecoat Memoirs December 14, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    Exam grading and sadness at leaving a much loved job continues. In this melancholic frame here is some more missing manuscripts. These stories are often, as the distance of a more than a century, quite amusing. But there is no question that, at the time, they must have been horrifically painful for those involved.

    A person named Henry Webb, residing in Palace street, Pimlico, stated that he had been engared for some years on a work entitled the Memoirs of a Bluecoat Boy, and which he intended to have had printed and published by subscription.

    Beach has discovered that ‘bluecoat’ refers to an alumnus of a British private charity school.

    A great portion of the manuscript was written in shorthand, and, extraordinary as it might appear, he was in the habit of carrying about his production in the crown of his hat.

    Keeping it safe?

    A few days ago, having occasion to call on a livery-stable keeper at Camberwell relating to a horse about which he was purchasing, they went together to the Artichoke Tavern to talk over the matter. While there, he (applicant) having occasion to quit the room, on his return, to his consternation, he saw his hat and papers in flames in the, middle of the floor, and on extinguishing them, which he did by throwing upon them the contents of a jug of water, he then discovered to his inexpressible dismay that the whole of the papers concerning the Memoirs of the Bluecoat Boy were consumed, together with two 5 pound notes, which were mixed up with the writings.

    Note how the ten pounds (a lot of money in 1840) was clearly a matter of peripheral importance: see also below.

    On quitting the room previously to the act there were two young men of respectable appearance there, and on his return he missed them, and had very little doubt on his mind but that they were the persons who had set fire to his hat, for it was removed from the situation in which he left it and placed on the floor, and a newspaper put into the crown of it, with a view, no doubt, to assist in the destruction of the more valuable contents. The Magistrate then inquired if the applicant knew who the parties were; and whether the livery-stable keeper was in the room at the time the hat was set on fire? The applicant in reply said, that the livery-stable keeper was not there, otherwise he had no doubt he would have averted the catastrophe. Unfortunately he (applicant) could not undertake to say that he could distinctly identify the two young men, in consequence of the short time they were in the room, but he thought that the people of the house might have rendered him more assistance than they did on being apprised of the mischievous conduct adopted towards him. He did complain at the bar, and produced the evidence of his burnt manuscript to show how scandalously be had been used, but they all appeared to treat the matter more as a good practical joke than as a serious destruction of property.

    If Beach had the technological know how he would now produce one of those frowning faces that so irritate him in emails.

    The loss of the bank-notes was of trifling consideration in comparison with that of his manuscript, which he would have to commence de novo, and that be almost dreaded the task, although he had access to all documents of importance relating to the work, having been educated at Christ’s Hospital; still it was an Herculean task, and one which would again occupy him for years to come. The Magistrate said, that in the event of the applicant ascertaining by whom his manuscript was destroyed, and on producing evidence of the fact, the parties would be punished for the offence. the applicant then thanked the magistrate for his advice, and withdrew, saying that he should spare no trouble or expense in the discovery of the persons who had consumed his writings.

    Of course neither book nor miscreants appeared: or did they? Drbeachcombing At yahoo DOT com

    17 Dec 2016, Invisible writes: A 1770 book, perhaps the inspiration for the unfortunate Mr Webb. The fortunate Blue-coat boy : or, memoirs of the life and happy adventures of Mr. Benjamin Templeman ; formerly a scholar in Christ’s-Hospital. By an Orphanotrophian. In two volumes. … 

    by Orphanotrophian.

    Neil H. writes, , 8 Jan 2017: The annals of Covent Garden Theatre, from 1732 to 1897 by Henry Saxe Wyndham, 1867-1940 is available online.

    I’ve searched for ‘lost’, ‘authoress’ and ‘closet’ and found nothing relevant.