Victorian London - Publications - History - Views of the Pleasure Gardens of London, by H.A.Rogers, 1896

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Vauxhall Gardens



THE sun now darts fainter his ray,
The meadows no longer invite:
The wood-nymphs are all tript away,
No verdure cheers sweetly the sight.
The adieu to the pastoral scene,
Where harmony charm'd with her call;
Where pleasure presided as queen,
In the echoing shades of Vaux-hall.

Such transports a soul ne'er enjoy'd,
When wafted to th' Elysian plains,
As those which my senses employ'd
Convey'd to Vaux-Hall by the Thames
Such splendors illumin'd the grove;
My ears drank such rapturous sound;
I seem'd in inchantment to rove,
And deities gliding around.

How sweet twas to sit in the maze,
Amid the bright choirs of the fair!
Their glances diffus'd such a blaze,
I thought beauty's goddess was there;
Not Venus, whose smiles breed alarms, 
And with vain allurements destroy;
But beauty, whose bashfulness charms,
And which, when possess'd, gives true joy.

The maid to whom honour is dear,
Uncensur'd might take off her glass;
And stray among beaux without fear,
No snake lurking there in the grass.
In blissful Arcadia of old, 
Where mirth, wit, and innocence join'd,
The swains thus discreetly were bold,
The nymphs were thus prudently kind.

Old winter with icicles spread,
Will soon all his horrors resume;
Those past, spring must lift her fair head,
And nature exult in fresh bloom.
Thy bowers,O Vaux-Hall then shall rise,
In all the gay pride of the field;
Thy musick, shall sweetly surprize;
To thee fam'd Elysium shall yield.

London Magazine, Nov. 1735



FLORA, goddess, sweetly-blooming, Ever airy, ever gay,
All her wonted charms resuming
To Spring-Garden calls away.
With this blissful spot delighted,
Here the queen of May retreats;
Belles and beaux are all invited
To partake of varied sweets.

See! a grand pavilion yonder Rising near embow'ring shades;
There, a temple strikes with wonder,
In full view of colonades.
Art and nature kindly lavish,
Here their mingled beauties yield;
Equal, here, the pleasures ravish
Of the court and of the field.

Hark! what heavenly notes descending,
Break upon the list'ning ear:
Musick all its graces lending,
O,'tis ecstasy to hear
Nightingales the concert joining,
Breathe their plaints in melting strains; 
Vanquish'd now, their groves resigning,
Soon they fly to distant plains.

Lo! what splendors, round us darting,
Swift illume the charming scene;
Chandeliers their light imparting,
Pour fresh beauties o'er the green.
Glittering lamps in order planted,
Strike the eye with sweet surprize:
Adam was not more inchanted,
When he saw the sun first rise.

Now the various bands are seated,
All dispos'd in bright array;
Business o'er and cares retreated,
With soft joys they crown the day.
Thus, of old, the sons of pleasure
Pass'd in shades their fav'rite hours:
Nectar chearing their gay leisure,
Blest by love, and crown'd with flowers.

- London Magazine, April 1737

GREEN-WOOD-HALL: or, Colin's Description (to his Wife) 
of the Pleasures of Spring-Gardens


O MARY, soft in feature, 
I've been at dear Vauxhall
No Paradise is sweeter,
Not that they Eden call.  
At night such new vagaries, 
Such gay and harmless sport:
All look'd like giant fairies, 
And this their Monarch's court.

Methought, when first I enter'd, 
Such splendors round me shone,
Into a world I ventur'd, 
Where rose another Sun.
Whilst music, never cloying, 
As sky-larks sweet, I hear:
The sounds I'm still enjoying; 
They'll always soothe my ear.

Here paintings, sweetly glowing, 
Where'er our glances fall;
Here colours, life bestowing, 
Bedeck this Greenwood-hall.
The King, there, dubs a farmer; 
There John his doxy loves;
But my delight's the charmer 
Who steals a pair of gloves.*

As still, amaz'd, I'm straying 
O'er this enchanted grove,
I spy a Harper** playing, 
All in his proud alcove.
I doff my hat, desiring
He'd tune up Buxom Joan;
But what was I admiring!
Odzooks! a man of stone.

But now the tables spreading, 
They all fall to with glee;
Not even at Squire's fine wedding, 
Such dainties did I see.
I long'd (poor starv'ling rover)
 But none heed country elves;
These folk, with lace dawb'd over,
 Love only dear themselves.

Thus, whilst mid joys abounding,
As grashoppers they're gay:
At distance, crouds surrounding 
The Lady of the May ***
The man i' th' Moon tweer'd slily, 
Soft twinkling thro' the trees;
As tho' twou'd please him highly 
To taste delights like these.


*Alluding to three pictures in the pavilions, viz., The King and the Miller of Mansfield; the sailors in a tippling-house in Wapping; and the girl who is stealing a kiss from the sleeping Gentleman. 
**  Mr. Handel's statue.
*** Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales, sitting under her splendid pavilion, or tent, in Spring-Gardens.


HERE sleeps the Master Builder of delight,
Who charmed to truth and taste the ear and sight;
Who wrought at home, to spread his fame abroad,
And made the astonished foreigner applaud.
Who drew, by moral craft, the attentive throng,
And bade his minstrels play to Virtue's song
Who still the reader of the canvas calls,
As British glory beams upon his walls.
If, then, the zealot of his country's cause
Friend of her King, and pupil of her laws:
If such an Englishman in peace should lie,
Weep not; tis immortality to die.

- Whitehall Evening Post, July 18, 1767

*The Gardens were opened as a place of public entertainment, under the management of Mr. Tyers, on June 7, 1733.


Now the fields are all blooming and Flora looks gay,
Let us leave the dull Town, and all welcome the May;
To the groves where sweet music, and mirth both invite,
Let us fly from all care and taste rural delight:
Away to Spring Gardens then quickly repair,
For the Catches and Glees are sung merrily there.

With face full of laughter view Vernon appear,
He chaunts some gay ballad our spirits to chear;
His talents for humour to all are well known,
For twas long since agreed, mirth had made him her own. 
Away to Spring Gardens, &c.

With voice like a Siren, see Jameson in view,
She always is pleasing, and always is new;
Like the thrush or the linnet she warbles her lays,
And gives such delight as demands every praise. 
Away to Spring Gardens, &c.

Next in order comes Hudson, with judgment and ease,
She tries all her powers, and fails not to please;
She enchants by her sweetness of voice and of lay,
And we join the glad song when we welcome the May. 
Away to Spring Gardens, &c.

Last of all comes Apollo's most fav'rite child,
Sweet Weichsel, who warbles her wood-notes so wild,
That the birds are all hush'd as they sit on each spray,
And the trees nod applause as she chaunts the sweet lay. 
Away to Spring Gardens, &c.

When these, with the rest* sing a Catch or a Glee,
And mirth, wit, and humour, all join'd, do agree,
We listen with rapture, and yield our applause.
As the catch runs around to sweet Harmony's laws.
Away to Spring Gardens, &c.


* Mrs. Farrol, Mr. Hudson, and Mr. Howard, who join the other singers in the Catches and Glees.

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* * *

There oft returning from the green retreats
Where fair Vauxhallia decks her sylvan seats;
Where each spruce nymph from city Counters free,
Sips the frothed syllabub, or fragrant tea;
While with sliced ham, scraped beef, and burnt champagne,
Her 'prentice lover soothes his amorous pain.

- CANNING'S Loves of the Triangles, 1798


WELL, Vauxhall is a wondrous scene!
Where Cits in silks admirers glean
Under innumerous lamps- 
Not safety lamps, by Humphry made:
By these full many a soul's betrayed 
To ruin by the damps!

Here nut-brown trees, instead of green, 
With oily trunks, and branches lean,
Cling to nine yellow leaves,
Like aged misers, that all day 
Hang o'er their gold and their decay,
Till Death of both bereaves!

The sanded walk beneath the roof 
Is dry for every dainty hoof,
And here the wise man stops; 
But beaux beneath the sallow clumps 
Stand in the water with their pumps,
And catch the oiled drops.

Tinkles the bell !-away the herd 
Of revellers rush, like buck or bird
Each doth his way unravel
To where the dingy Drama holds 
Her sombre reign, 'mid rain and colds,
And tip-toes, and wet gravel.

The boxes show a weary set, 
Who like to get serenely wet, 
Within, and not without;
There Goldsmith's widow you may see 
Rocking a fat and frantic knee
At all the passing rout

Yes ! there she is !-there,
to the life And Mr. Tibbs, and Tibbs's wife,
And the good man in black.
Belles run, for, oh ! the bell is ringing; 
But Mrs. Tibbs is calmly singing,
And sings till all come back!

By that high dome, that trembling glows
With lamps, cocked hats, and shivering bows,
How many hearts are shook!
A feathered chorister is there, 
Warbling some tender grove-like air,
Compos'd by Mr. Hook.

And Dignum, too! yet where is he? 
Shakes he no more his locks at me?
Charms he no more night's ear? 
He who bless'd breakfast, dinner, rout, 
With "linked sweetness long drawn out;"
Why is not Dignum here?

Oh, Mr. Bish !-oh, Mr. Bish! 
It is enough, by Heaven! to dish
Thy garden dinners at ten!
What hast thou done with Mr. D.? 
What's thy "Wine Company," thy "Tea,"
Without that man of men?

Yet, blessed are thy suppers given 
(For money) something past eleven;
Lilliput chickens boiled;
Bucellas, warm from Vauxhall ice, 
And hams, that flit in airy slice,
And salads scarcely soiled.

See! the large, silent, pale-blue light 
Flares, to lead all to where the bright
Loud rockets rush on high,
Like a long comet, roaring through 
The night, then melting into blue,
And starring the dark sky!

And Catherine-wheels, and crowns, and names
Of great men whizzing in blue flames; 
Lights, like the smiles of hope;
And radiant fiery palaces,
Showing the tops of all the trees, 
And Blackmore on the rope!

Then late the hours, and sad the stay! 
The passing cup, the wits astray,
The row, and riot call!
The tussle, and the collar torn, 
The dying lamps, the breaking morn!
And hey for-Union Hall!

-NED WARD, Junr.,
London Magazine
, Sept. 1824.



GENTLES high and low, O, O!
Come, see my raree-show,
Full of sights the most amazing,
Scenes and wonders past all praising;
And the Time, you understand, is
(Gentle Dandyzettes and Dandies!) 
One hundred years ago, O, O! A hundred years ago.

First of all I'll show, O, O!
A military beau,
Unlike our exquisites in trousers,
To his periwig all bow, sirs!
Hat so small, and smalls so large are,
Mounted on a thundering charger; 
And his coat, by tailor's needle, 
Gilt, just like a parish beadle,
A hundred years ago, &c.

Ladies, now I show, O, O!
A damsel all the go;
Hoop enclosing half her figure,
Like a city barge or bigger:
Head so high, with fruits and flowers,
Took in dressing but four hours;
In a sack at court presented,
Gigot sleeves not then invented, 
A hundred years ago, &c.

Next a ship at sea, E, E!
Proud of victoree,
Colours fly, while Britain's thunder
Strikes, as now, the world with wonder:
Though esteem'd, no steam impelling,
Winds alone her canvas swelling, 
A hundred years ago, &c.

Next a street I show, O, O!
With lamps a pretty row,
So genteel and dim - if brighter,
Thieves might starve as now, when lighter;
And the Charleys set to watch 'em,
Couldn't see the way to catch 'em, 
A hundred years ago, &c.

Gayest sight of all, all, all, 
Now behold VAUXHALL!
In the dark-walk lovers dying,
Ham and beef around 'em flying,
Cut so thin, that ev'ry breeze
Would blow them up among the trees! 
A hundred years ago, &c.

Now all we have to show, O, O!
In present days you know,
Is humbly meant to give you pleasure,
Your applause our richest treasure:
If we successfully compete
With what was here esteem'd a treat, 
A hundred years ago, &c.

MONDAY  26th of August
WEDNESDAY  28th of August
FRIDAY  30th of August
When they close for the season.





SAYS I to Doll, the other day,
We've lately not much fun done,
And so suppose we take the coach 
And journey up to London.
Why, yes, says Doll, I do not care, 
I'll go if you are willing,
And we'll see all the Vauxhall sights,
For they only charge a SHILLING.
Tol de rol, &c.

Arriv'd in town, I call'd a cab, 
And swiftly off we rattl'd;
The crowd wur great, I didn't care, 
But 'mongst them boldly battled.
I came to man who sat in box,
Says I, to pay I'm willing:
How much a-piece? - I stood surpris'd, 
When he told me but a SHILLING.

I walk'd inside, I view'd the place, 
And shady trees walk'd under;
And I then to little playhouse went, 
Which they said wur the Rotunda.
I look'd in glasses, so did Doll, 
To see our faces willing;
They made us uglier than Punch, 
But I only paid a SHILLING.

We heard the Concert; Robinson 
Did sing so very pretty,
In all our lives, nor Doll nor I, 
Did hear so sweet a ditty.
With Bedford, Page, and Stansbury, 
The air with sweet notes filling:
Says I, Ecod! but this is fine, 
And only for a SHILLING.

Miss Forde and Mrs. Mapleson, 
I cast a loving glimpse on;
And Billy Williams, funny chap! 
When up came Mr. Simpson.
His hat was ever in his hand, 
His politeness wur quite killing;
Says he, Welcome to this property, 
And it's cost you but a SHILLING.

I look'd at Siege of Antwerp, 
And I made my observations,
And then I walk'd about to look 
At the illuminations.
The Fire Works wur vastly grand, 
To see them we wur willing,
So we went into the gallery, -
What wonders for a SHILLING.

When I of all these pretty sights 
Had taken an inventory,
I found Vauxhall had stood its ground 
Exactly for a century.
I'll down to country go again, 
And tell neighbours, if they're willing,
They can be delighted all this week 
At Vauxhall for a SHILLING.

MONDAY  26th of August
WEDNESDAY  28th of August
FRIDAY  30th of August
When they close for the season.





THERE were Eight-and-forty Farthings all of a row,
Eight-and-forty Farthings all of a row!
Which Eight-and-forty Farthings (according to Cocker) make Twenty-four Half-pence, equal in value to Twelve Pence, which is very good change for a SHILLING.

Then ladies and gents at economy's call, 
All you who are able and willing; 
Mount tippets and tiles, and come here to Vauxhall,
And be happy all night for a Shilling, a Shilling
And be happy all night for a SHILLING.

Ye mercantile dons, whose commercial range,
From all climates your pockets keep filling,
Not Gresham himself made a finer exchange,
Than you may do here for a SHILLING!

Ye lovers, who can't, without notice at home,
Indulge in your cooing and billing,
Alone, among thousands, are here free to roam,
And say all your soft things for a SHILLING!

You musical amateurs, where would ye go, 
To hear voices so tunefully thrilling, 
And such singers as I am, I'd just like to know,
To enchant all your ears for a SHILLING!

Bold soldiers and bumpkins, who oft in the field,
Raw recruits or raw turnips are drilling;
Pray when did your ranks or your rows ever yield
Such produce as ours for a SHILLING?

Ye Dandyzette ladies, who love soft perfumes,
The scent of all flowers distilling, 
In our bottles and boxes, rotundas and rooms,
You'll find all their sweets for a SHILLING.

Ye A double S's, M.D.'s and P.C.'s, 
Who teach Latin, and music, and milling,
May learn at our school to take moderate fees,
Since we take no more than a SHILLING.

A century back-there can be but a few, 
Who remember the Gardens then filling,
At twelve-pence a head; but, lord! what did they do?
And what did you get for your SHILLING?

They'd a lamp for each tree, and perhaps for each bough, 
It's oil on your gay dresses spilling;
Whilst we for each leaf have a sparkler now,
Delightfully lit for a SHILLING.

And what an expense for bagg'd wig, and long queues, 
Cock'd hats, caps, and lappets so trilling,
Lae'd waistcoats, canes, swords, velvet tights, and tight shoes,
Which pinch'd the purse more than the

Then all who run crazy in praise of old times,
Preferring picquet to quadrilling; 
Let prejudice sleep, and these beautiful rhymes,
Shall all be thrown in for a SHILLING.

MONDAY  26th of August
WEDNESDAY  28th of August
FRIDAY  30th of August
When they close for the season.




THE jubilee has closed, alas! in pain,
Storms gave its latest visitors the dumps,
And mighty Simpson, sorrowing, owned the rain
Had overflowed his, and the other pumps.

Big drops on his sage noddle fell, pit-pat,
Suffused his face with many a straggling tear,
Yet bravely still, while he removed his hat,
The veteran cried " I feel-I feel it here!"

'Twas sad for thousands who five miles had tramped, 
For such a shilling's worth as ne'er was known,
To have their spirits and their pockets damped - 
'Twould melt the heart of any (Captain) Stone.

Might we guess what the powers above can mean,
And fancy them accessible to pain,
'Twould seem that grief to lose so bright a scene,
Wring from immortals floods of tears-in rain.


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"WAITER, waiter! a plate of ham!"
Cried a Cit, in a tone of grimace;
When the wind, which gave the door a slam,
Blew the slice in the Briton's face

The wafery bit stuck to him like glue,
When he bawled, with a terrible "d--n!"
"I do not swear I can see through you,
But I can-through your slice of ham!

- Vauxhall Papers, 1841.




PLEASURE, pleasantest of fellows, 
All his life on the look-out;
He's the very god to tell us
What, at Vauxhall, they're about!

That's the darling place to walk in, 
Shaded from the sunny south,
First - to fill the ear with talking; 
After that, to fill the mouth.

Why, 'twould almost make the Pope dance, 
If His Holiness could see
Mister Ravel on the rope dance, 
And then balance on his knee!

Then-that long established crony, 
CLOWN, comes in with laughs and whoops;
Then - Ducrow's unrivalled pony, 
Jumping through a dozen hoops!

Then - the Music, playing to you, 
When it enters at the ears,
Runs as regularly through you, 
As if poked in you by spears.

Then-Herr D'Ernst's enormous rockets, 
Bounding up into the skies;
Straining people's very sockets, 
Till they loosen both their eyes!

Then-the lady, on the "light" rope 
(Half a ton weight on the whole),
Goes so high up on that tight rope, 
That she really grasps the POLE.

Then - eight boatmen are to row for 
Such a massive silver cup;
Next-when settled what you go for- 
The Balloon is to go up!

Then - Herr Joel's imitation 
Sets the birds, on every stem,
In a regular flustration;
For they think he's mocking them!

So, with such a brim-full measure 
(Which none elsewhere can call his),
Why, if all this isn't PLEASURE 
We should like to know what is!

- Vauxhall Papers, 1841.


VAUXHALL is the pleasantest place upon earth,
From the banks of the Thames to the Tiber,
For one who is fond of innocent mirth,
Or one who's a perfect imbiber.

There is not a sample of beauty you'll name,
But here may be met with in plenty;
Or married, or widowed, or middle-aged dame,
Or their beautiful blossoms of twenty.

There are walks all of glitter, and some that were made 
For Love's silly slaves to retreat in;
And at every side of the lighted parade,
There are charming recesses to eat in!

There are viands as good, too, as ever were dressed 
To tickle the daintiest palate;
And plenty of servants decked out in their best,
Each fit for a gentleman's valet.

There are wines that would make even Burgundy blush, 
And famed Mr. Moetz quite jealous;
That would even the veins of an anchorite flush,
And a saint in their praise render zealous.

There are fireworks made by a masterly touch,
Which they let off soon after eleven;
Which mount up so high, that I doubt very much 
If they are not the best way to heaven

The lights are so brilliant, the fancy they strike,
As a charm that is quite superhuman;
For nothing we know of, their splendour is like,
Excepting the eye of a woman!

There's Julian's band for the lovers of sound,
And Collinet's band for the dancing;
And a martial band for the tumbler's bound,
And one for the horses' prancing.

So all that the eye or the ear can want
Is at VAUXHALL assembled together;
And the only thing needful, depend upon't,
Is the best of all possible WEATHER.

-ALFRED BUNN, Vauxkall Papers, 1841.



OH, Mary! could you rise up,
And once more see Vauxhall,
You'd turn your precious eyes up
At changes great and small!
Of hoops, that spread your dresses,
Now bustles take the place,
And wigs give way to tresses,
And powder pales the face!

The waists, so very taper- 
The limbs, of softest hue,
Seem clothed in silver paper,
So thin, you see them through!
So much do fashions vary,
That any gown you wore,
If tried on modern girls, Mary,
Would clothe, at least, a score!

Here Mr. A. Ducrow, love,
Who played that famed "Courier,"**
Who stood with but one toe, love,
Upon a horse's ear!
Takes still a greater pride in
The fetes of dear Vauxhall- 
By on his courser riding,
Not touching him at all!

Where there was but one statue,***
Clothed modestly, to please,
They've fifty,§ looking at you,
Half naked, through the trees:
The rockets are so blended
With glitter and with din;
And people's mouths distended
Enough to take them in.

The walks that once were brightest,
Are now as dark as pitch;
Where love, with wing the lightest,
His captives doth bewitch:
One side, a hermit, praying,
On calm seclusion bent;
Here, Neptune's horses neighing,
And there, a gypsy's tent!

The Concert §§ and the Ravels,
And the Quadrilles between,
Make up many marvels
Which here are to be seen:
The Punch, the brain which thickens,
The iced Champagne at call!
The Ham! the Beef! the Chickens!
Are emblems of Vauxhall!

- ALFRED BUNN, Vauxhall Papers, 1841.

* See Colin's Description, 1741, p.4 [above, ed]
** The famous Courier of St. Petersburgh. 
*** Mr. Handel's Statue
§ Diana, Venus, &c. &c.
§§ Under the direction of Monsieur Jullien, Baton en Chef to France and Great Britain, and Ireland into the bargain!


THE purse, and not the throat, to cram,
Was why the measure first was taken;
For by that way you save your ham,
And that's the way to "save your bacon."

-Vauxhall Papers, 1841.


KNOW ye the scene where the clerks and the tailors, 
Are deck'd out in costume both dirty and fine;
Where till-robbing shop-boys, as soldiers and sailors, 
Now stoop down to beer-now ascend up to wine?
Tis the place for a feast : not the region of fun. 
Can we smile on the jokes that are made there ?-not one. 
Oh, pointless and dull as Ojibbeway yell, 
Are the tricks which they play, and the bon mots they tell.

There a bevy of noodles, by puffing extreme,
Are tempted to muster in numerous throng;
They're off to Vauxhall, where they drink, dance and scream, 
And fancy they come it exceedingly strong.
Vauxhall's Great Bal Masqué I ne'er can forget; 
And oft when alone, at the close of the year,
I think, are the vagabonds dancing there yet? 
Are they still at their brandy and water, and beer?

- Punch, or The London Charivari, Nov. 2, 1844.