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

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Sadler's Music House


(Circa 1680 - )


BEING surfeited now with this dull Recreation,
Our Fancies inclin'd to some pretty Collation
Of Cheese-cakes, and Custards, and Pidgeon-Pye-Puff,
With Bottle-Ale, Cider, and such sort of stuff.
Thus being resolv'd, I consulted my Dear,
And ask'd if she knew any Place that was near,
Would yield us some pastime, as well as Good-Chear.
Who after a little Debate, made a Bargain,
To turn into Sadler's for the sake of the Organ;
The kind part of Females being alwaies advancing
(For pleasure) the Int'rest of Musick and Dancing. 
We enter'd the House, were conducted up Stairs,
Where Lovers o'er Cheesecakes were Seated by Pairs.
The Organs and Fiddles were Scraping and Humming,
The Guests for more Ale on the Tables were Drumming,
And poor Tom, amaz'd, crying, Coming, Sir, Coming.

The author next describes the Gallery, the front of which was painted with the tories of Apollo and Daphne, Jupiter and Europa, &c.:

Without side of which, the spectators to please, 
Were Gods painted roving in clouds and in seas, 
A Nymph in a fright running over the water, 
And Neptune to kiss her riding post after.

On looking over to examine the pit he notices

Butchers and bailiffs, and such sort of fellows,
mixed with a vermin train'd up for the gallows, 
As Bullocks and files, housebreakers and padders 
With prize-fighters, sweetners, and such sort of traders, 
Informers, thief-takers, deer stealers, and bullies.

Until the musical performance began the company were:

- dancing and skipping, some ranting and tearing:
Some drinking and smoking; some lying and swearing.

Music, however, appears to have had charms for even this rough audience, who became attentive when

- Lady Squab, with her moonified face,
By the side of the organ resumed her old place.

The female vocalist is followed by "a fiddler in scarlet," said to resemble Mars more than Orpheus, who

- runs up in alt with a hey-diddle-diddle,
To show what a Fool he could make of a Fiddle.

Next there came a damsel, of the age of eleven, who performed a sword-dance:-

Arm'd Amazon-like, with abundance of Rapiers,
Which she puts to her Throat, as she Dances and Capers;
And further the Mob's Admiration to kindle,
She turns on her Heel like a Wheel on a Spindle; 
The next that appear'd, was a Young Babe of Grace,
With Merc'ry in's Heels, and a Gallows in's Face; 
Whose Sawey Behaviour, and Impudent Air, 
Denotes he was Born for a Barthol'mew-Fair.

The performance concludes with a dance by "honest friend Thomas" in the dress of a clown, who supported the double character of clown and waiter, and is treated leniently by the author because he filled "good Nants."

-NED WARD, 1699.



        * * *
THRO' Islington then glides my best-loved theme,
And Miles's garden washes with his stream
Now Forcer's garden is its proper name,
Though Miles the man was who first got it fame:
And tho' it's own'd Miles first did make it known,
Forcer inproved the same we all must own.
There you may sit under the shady trees,
And drink and smoke, fanned by the gentle breeze;
Behold the fish, how wantonly they play,
And catch them also, if you please, you may.
Two noble Swans swim by this garden-side,
Of water-fowl the glory and the pride;
Which to the Garden no small beauty are;
Were they but black, they would be much more rare;
With ducks so tame that from your hands they'll feed,
And, I believe, for that they sometimes bleed.
A noble Walk likewise adorns the place,
To which the river adds a greater grace
There you can sit, or' walk, do what you please,
Which best you like, or suits most with your ease.
Now to the Show-room let's awhile repair
To see the active feats performed there;
How the bold Dutchman on the rope doth bound,
With greater air than others on the ground;
What capers does he cut! how backward leaps!
With Merry Andrew eyeing all his steps:
His comick humours with delight you see,
Pleasing unto the best of Company.
The great D'Aumont has been diverted there,
With divers others of like character;
As by their generous gifts they make appear.
The famous Tumbler lately is come o'er,
Who was the wonder of the other shore:
France, Spain, and Holland, and High Germany,
Sweden, and Denmark, and fam'd Italy,
His active feats did with amazement see,
Which done by man they thought could never be.
Amongst the rest, he falleth from on high,
Head foremost from the upper gallery;
And in his fall performs a somerset,- 
The women think in dread he'll break his neck;
And gently on his feet comes to the ground,
To the amazement of beholders round.
Black-Scaramouch, and Harlequin of fame,
The Ladder-dance, with forty I could name,
Full as diverting, and of later date,
You may see there at a much cheaper rate,
Than at THE HOUSE,* as well performed too:
You only pay for liquors, not the show;
Such as neat Brandy, Southam Cyder fine,
And grape's true juice as e'er was pressed from vine
        * * *

WM. GARBOTT (circa 1725).

* Probably the New Wells, near the London Spaw.


AT Eve, when sylvan's shady scene
Is clad with spreading branches green,
And vary'd sweets around display'd,
To grace the pleasant flow'ry mead,
For those who're willing joys to taste,
When pleasures flow, and blessings last,
And God of Health with transport dwells,
Must all repair to Sadler's Wells.

The pleasant streams of Middleton
In gentle murmurs glide along,
In which the sporting fishes play
To close each weary'd Summer's day;
And Musick's charm in lulling sounds
With mirth and harmony abounds;
While Nymphs and Swains, with beaus and belles,
All praise the joys of Sadler's Wells.

Herds around, on herbage green,
And bleating flocks, are sporting seen;
While Phoebus, with his brightest rays,
The fertile soil doth seem to praise;
And Zephyrs with their gentlest gales,
Breathing more sweets than flowery vales,
Which give new health, and heat repells,
Such are the joys of Sadler's Wells.

Universal Harmony; or, The Lady's and Gentleman's Companion, 1745-6.


YE cheerful souls who wou'd regale
On honest, home-brew'd British ale,
To Sadler's Wells in troops repair,
And find the wished-for cordial there;
Strength, colour, elegance of taste,
Combine to bless the rich repaste;
And I assure ye to my knowledge
T has been approv'd by all the Colledge;
More efficasious and prevailing
Than all the Recipes of Galen.
Words scarce are able to disclose
The various blessings it bestows;
It helps the younger sort to think,
And wit flows faster as they drink;
It puts the ancient a new fleece on
Soon as Maedea did to Eson:
The fair with bloom it does adorn,
Fragrant and fresh as April morn;
Haste hither, then, and take your fill,
Let Parsons say whatever they will,
The ale that every ale excels
Is only found at Sadler's Wells.

~ The usual diversions of Rope-dancing, Tumbling, &c.

- General Advertiser, May 14, 1747.

To Sadler's one Day, I happ'n'd to stray;
There I saw a Man stand on his Head;
And of Wine a full Glass,
Drink before the whole Class
Tho' I can't say if White, or if Red.

Now tis past all Doubt,
You this Tumbler found out,
In hopes for to puzzle our Brains:
If so, you are bit;
I the right Mark have hit,
And send it you back for your Pains.

Apl. 1749  F. H.
- Traveller's Magazine, 1749.

IF at Sadler's Wells the wine should be thick,
The cheesecakes be sour, or Miss Wilkinson sick,
If the fumes of the pipes should prove powerful in June,
Or the tumblers be lame, or the bells out of tune,
We hope that you'll call at our warehouse at Drury,
We've a good assortment of goods I assure you.

-FOOTE:  Prologue to "All in the Wrong."



Lo! in the silent grave is hurl'd
The pride and wonder of the World.
Death twas a cruel, sad disaster,
To rob us of our Balance-Master.
To Britons, never can you make amends,
Sadler's and you, will ne'er be friends:
Depend on't, if that way you pass,
Enraged they'll break your hour-glass,
Will knock
thee down, and steal thy dart- 
I wish they may with all my

- Mother Midnight's Comical Pocket Book, 1759.


DEATH slily stood behind the Scene,
And watch'd sometime for Harlequin:
The Clown, the dismal news reciting,
For whom the slinking thief was waiting,
Made Colombine prodigious cross,
To think of such a heavy loss- 
That raving in a bitter rage
She fainted twice upon the stage;
Death gave the stroke, it plain appears,
And all the audience burst in Tears.

-Mother Midnight's Comical Pocket Book, 1759

* The Proprietor of Sadler's Wells.

HERE lies the bones of Peter Hough
Of Sadler's-Wells, and that's enough.

- Idem.

ATTRACTION was needed, the town to engage,
So Dick emptied the River, that year,* on the stage;
The House overflow'd, and became quite the ton,
And the Wells, for some seasons, went swimmingly on.

-THOS. GREENWOOD, Rhyming Reminiscences.

* 1804

Now the New River's current swells
The reservoir of Sadler's Wells,
And in some melodrame of slaughter
Floats all the stage with real water.

LUTTRELL's Julia, Letter iii. 1822.