Mudcat Café message #3857777 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #68716   Message #3857777
Posted By: Jim Dixon
29-May-17 - 11:03 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Ballad of Lumley Kettlewell
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballad of Lumley Kettlewell
From The Monthly Magazine, Volume 50, Oct. 1, 1820, page 287.


The close of 1819, closed the singular life of Lumley Kettlewell, of Clementhorpe, near Yorke, Esq. He died of wretched, voluntary privation, poverty, cold, filth, and personal neglect, in obscure lodgings in the street called the Pavement, (whither he had removed from his own house a little while before,) about seventy years of age. His fortune, manners, and education, had made him a gentleman; but from some unaccountable bias in the middle of life, he renounced the world, its comforts, pleasures, and honours, for the life of a hermit. His person was delicate, rather below the middle size, and capable of great exertion and activity. His countenance, singularly refined and scientific, reminded you of a French Alchymist of the middle ages. His dress was mean, squalid, tattered, and composed of the most opposite and incongruous garments; sometimes a fur cap with a ball-room coat, (bought at an old clothes' shop) and hussar-boots; at another time a high-crowned London hat, with a coat or jacket of oil-skin, finished off with the torn remains of black silk stockings, and so forth. His manners were polished, soft and gentlemanly, like those of Chesterfield, and the old court. Early in life he shone in the sports of the field; and he kept blood horses and game dogs to the last; but the former he invariably starved to death, or put such rough, crude, and strange provender* before them, that they gradually declined into so low a condition, that the ensuing winter never failed to terminate their career, and their places were as regularly supplied by a fresh stud. The dogs also were in such a plight that they were scarcely able to go about in search of food in the shambles or on the dung-hills. A fox was usually one of his inmates, and he had Muscovy ducks, and a brown Maltese ass, of an uncommon size, which shared the fate of his horses, dying for want of proper food, and warmth. All these animals inhabited the same house with himself, and they were his only companions there; for no mortal, i.e. no human being, was allowed to enter that mysterious mansion. The front door was strongly barricadoed within, and he always entered by the garden, which communicated with Clementhorpe Fields, and thence climbed up by a ladder into a small aperture that had once been a window. He did not sleep in a bed, but in a potter's crate filled with hay, into which he crept about 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, and came out again about noon the following day. His money used to be laid about in his window seats, and on his tables, and, from the grease it had contracted by its transient lodgment in his breeches pockets, the Bank notes were once or twice devoured by rats. His own aliment was most strange and uninviting; vinegar and water his beverage; cocks' heads with their wattles and combs, baked on a pudding of bran and treacle, formed his most dainty dish, occasionally he treated himself with rabbits' feet : he liked tea and coffee, but these were indulgences too great for every day. He read and wrote at all hours not occupied with the care of the aforesaid numerous domestic animals, and with what he called the sports of the field. His integrity was spotless; his word at all times being equal to other men's bonds. His religion was what is commonly understood by the "religion of nature;" he attended no place of worship; nor would he without great effort and much reluctance, vote at the city and county elections. But when he did, it was always in support of the candidate most favourable to the cause and rights of the people. "Never vote for the ministerial members," he used to say, "the King and the great men will always take care of themselves." He used to carry about with him a large sponge, and on long walks or rides he would now and then stop, dip the sponge in water and soak the top of his head with it, saying it refreshed him far, more than food or wine. He admitted no visitor whatever at his own house; but sometimes went himself to see any person of whose genius or eccentricity he had conceived an interesting opinion; and he liked on these visits to be treated with a cup of tea or coffee, books, and a pen and ink; he then sat down close to the fire, rested his elbow on his knee, and, almost in a double posture, would read till morning, or make extracts of passages peculiarly striking to him. His favourite subjects were the pedigree of Blood-horses, the writings of Freethinkers, Chemistry, and Natural History.

* Their best food was chopped wins and dried nettles. Hay they never tasted after coming into his possession.