The Grand Walk and Orchestra in Vauxhall Gardens

The Grand Walk and Orchestra in Vauxhall Gardens: another perspective


click to enlarge


All in the Downs the fleet was moor'd
The streamers waving in the wind,
When black-ey'd Susan came aboard.
Oh! where shall I my true love find!
Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell me true,
If my sweet William sails among the crew.


Believe not what the landmen say,
Who tempt with doubts thy constant mind:
They'll tell thee, sailors, when away,
In ev'ry port a mistress find.
Yes, yes, believe them when they tell thee so,
For thou art present wheresoe'er I go.


William, who high upon the yard,
Rock'd with the billow to and fro,
Soon as her well-known voice he heard,
He sigh'd and cast his eyes below:
The cord slides swiftly through his glowing hands,
And, quick as lightning, on the deck he stands.


If to far India's coast we sail,
Thy eyes are seen in di'monds bright,
Thy breath is Africk's spicy gale,
Thy skin is ivory, so white.
Thus ev'ry beauteous object that I view,
Wakes in my soul some charm of lovely Sue.


So the sweet lark, high-pois'd in air,
Shuts close his pinions to his breast,
If, chance, his mate's shrill call he hear
And drops at once into her nest.
The noblest Captain in the British fleet,
Might envy William's lip those kisses sweet.


Though battel call me from thy arms,
Let not my pretty Susan mourn;
Though cannons roar, yet safe from harms,
William shall to his Dear return.
Love turns aside the balls that round me fly,
Lest precious tears should drop from Susan's eye.


O Susan, Susan, lovely dear,
My vows shall ever true remain;
Let me kiss off that falling tear,
We only part to meet again.
Change as ye list, ye winds; my heart shall be
The faithful compass that still points to thee.


The boatswain gave the dreadful word,
The sails their swelling bosom spread,
No longer must she stay aboard:
They kiss'd, she sigh'd, he hung his head;
Her less'ning boat, unwilling rows to land:
Adieu, she cries! and wav'd her lilly hand.

Verses IV and VIII of Sweet WILLIAM's Farewel to Black-ey'd SUSAN A BALLAD were published with the 1743 engraving, by Fourdrinier, "from the Original painting in Vaux-hall Garden". Originally I thought that the engraving might conceivably have been by a supposedly younger Paul Fourdrinier, born in London after 1720, and died about 1769. He would have been only about 21 or 22 in 1743, and it is now quite clear that there was only one Paul..

[Note: Hammelmann & Boase, 1975, give Paul as the first name of father and son, other sources give Pierre. Second Note: Tessa Murdoch, in the ODNB, 2004, remarks: "Fourdrinier, Paul (1698-1758), engraver and printseller, was born in Groningen in the Netherlands, the son of Jacques Fourdrinier and his wife, Jeanne Theroude, Huguenot refugees from Dieppe, Normandy. In the Dictionary of National Biography his works and career were assigned to two individuals, Peter and Paul Fourdrinier; Peter is now seen to be a fictitious individual resulting from an accidental misnaming of Paul."]

In 1742 Paul Fourdrinier published a book of 26 folding charts of different sizes, listing "The Succession of Colonels to all his Majesties Land Forces from their Rise to 1742". This appears to have been a major commission, which must have been carried out the previous year, and the two Monamy engravings may have been his next, or even his previous, assignment. A book illustration by him, dated 1731, can be seen here.

John Gay's delightful ballad went through four editions in 1720, two of these including settings for different tunes by Carey, Leveridge, Haydon and Sandoni. It was also published in 1722, 1725, 1726, 1730, 1731, 1737, and in all editions of Gay's works for at least the next 200 years. The verses are the original of the evergreen Sailor's Farewell, a theme still rendered in modern popular song by performers like Harry Belafonte and Roger Whittaker. See also A Celebration of the Sea, by Rina Prentice, p.63. Probably one of the best-known lyrics written in the English language, and in my opinion a light and literate composition, it is now, apparently, "as fine an example of early eighteenth century doggerel as you could wish for". Alan Russett, in Dominic Serres, 2001, p.92, mistakenly attributes these celebrated lines to John Lockman, several of whose less enduring lyrics were illustrated by George Bickham in The Musical Entertainer, and describes them as "heavily sentimental".

Perceptions vary. The unlettered E.K.Chatterton has much to answer for: see his Chats on Naval Prints, 1926, page 78, where he calls the line engraving a mezzotint. On the following page this genial author, known to Michael Robinson as "Chatter on", tells us that "Admiral George Byng, who became Viscount Torrington" examined Monamy's painting of Porto Bello at Vauxhall Gardens, and "admired it for its accurate detail". Since George Byng, Lord Torrington, had been dead for seven years when Porto Bello was taken, his admiration must have been of a truly soulful nature. See here for his "authority".

Illustration to accompany musical setting by Leveridge, engraved by George Bickham Jnr, 1737

A "New Collection of Sea Pieces Engrav'd by George Bickham junr. MDCCXXXII" was brought out by John Bowles "at Mercer's Hall in Cheapside", but I have not seen and do not know the original authorship of these seapieces. Unless the above book illustration, from The Musical Entertainer, 1737, is after another canvas or drawing by Monamy, which its manner does not readily suggest, there is no evidence of other versions by him, nor for the survival of the original Vauxhall Gardens painting. In Fourdrinier's print Monamy seems to be consciously applying a form of poster art, by manipulating the perspective: reducing the departing ship and marginally magnifying the forlorn Susan.

click on detail for full print

a later issue

Jamaica Farewell
Goodbyee, goodbyee, wipe the tear ....
The Last Farewell
Pretty Little Black-Eyed Susie

The Algerine Pirates

"A plentiful use of smoke happily conceals the details of hull and rigging which
the artist was too lazy to depict." Another critical gem from E.K.Chatterton, op cit.

See M.S.Robinson, The Paintings of the Willem van de Veldes, Vol I, p.236, for several comments regarding the vexed matter of the various depictions of this legendary action, itself subject to confusion. There were several very similar engagements with Algerine pirates. Two of the most celebrated were in 1669 and 1681, the first involving Captain John Kempthorne, the second his son, Captain Morgan Kempthorne. An inscription on the canvas now in the NMM is mentioned by Robinson (3) as "referring erroneously to the Mary Rose action in 1669. It was probably painted on in the late eighteenth century". This inscription reads: Capt Kempthorns Action in the Mary Rose a small frigate with Seven Algerines in the Mediterranean in 1669 Where as the Song says Two we Sunk Two we Burnt and Two did run away But one we carried to Leghorn Road to shew we'd won the day. The painting is signed P.Monamy, and, in my note, perhaps dated 17(34) or 17(36). See slavish imitation, here. I can't help wondering why Robinson is so confident that the inscription was painted on in the "late" eighteenth century. Perhaps the word "frigate" is of a later vintage than 1734.

Wm.Vanderveld Pinx.     Fight against seven Algerines by Capt. Kempthorne.     E:Kirkall Fecit

Above is the mezzotint produced by Elisha Kirkall (in 1736?). The painting belonged to Thomas Brodrick or Broderick. For some time I doubted whether the original of this print was by either of the William van de Veldes, but I had not investigated Robinson's catalogue thoroughly enough. Since some of the ships in Kirkall's series are flying post-1707 ensigns, I was too prompt to ascribe the bulk of them to Cornelius van de Velde, about whom so little is known. However, the researches of Mrs Jane Byrne have alerted me to the picture in Robinson, Vol I, p.235, which is pretty conclusively the original from which the print derives, and stated to be so by Robinson. Shown below.

24½ x 35½; Christie's 12 May 1967; lot 53; Spink 1968; uncertain authorship;
sold as Willem van de Velde the Younger; property of the Earl of Midleton

The NMM painting [above, and see also here] which Robinson refers to cannot be the one which was on display in Vauxhall Gardens. Nevertheless, if my deciphering of the inscription is correct, it does suggest that this theme, and also the illustration to Gay's ballad, were on display in the Gardens a year or two before the events of 1740. They indicate an anticipation of hostilities, and the fact that the subsequent Vauxhall Garden pictures were not engraved by Fourdrinier supports their slightly earlier date.

NOTE: 19th April 2003. Michael Robinson's massive volumes are not easy to navigate. Now, however, with the generous pilot assistance of Jane Byrne, I have found another of his references, Vol 1 p.211, to this painting, as follows: "A poor painting, perhaps of the Kingfisher action, bears no relation to the Buckingham Palace picture. It was for long catalogued as by Van de Velde, but it was found to have the signature of P.Monamy and the date 1734; it may be a copy of Van de Velde by Monamy." The palace painting shown below was part of the collection of James II. It represents the Kingfisher action of May/June, 1681, in which Captain Morgan Kempthorne was killed. There is, however, another van de Velde painting representing the Mary Rose action of December, 1669, which is discussed by Robinson on pp 158-161 of his Vol I.

The Buckingham Palace painting of the 1681 action, dated 1683, is shown above, right. These two representations, although probably intended for different incidents, make an interesting comparison: one by a very great marine painter, and the other by a slavish imitator, fifty years apart. It has to be recognised that Monamy never had the opportunity to witness an action at sea. Nor had the van de Veldes witnessed any of the actions against the Barbary pirates, although the Elder had, of course, seen other major battles. As noted earlier, all Monamy's battle pieces are dependent on maps and sketches by contemporary witnesses, as well as earlier paintings by other painters. There were practically no substantial English naval actions between 1718 and 1739, which were the years of Monamy's greatest prominence. Moreover, Monamy was not provided by the king with his own special spectator vessel in order to attend and record such entertainments.

Monamy's slavish imitations are investigated even more tediously here.

Perhaps an image of Vauxhall in the evening of its days: circa 1820?

vauxhall gardens two: the San Joseph and Porto Bello
vauxhall gardens three       vauxhall gardens four
another look at the picture display
more vauxhall fun & games
vauxhall miscellanea
monamy website index
artistic range 1     artistic range 2


© Charles Harrison Wallace 2001, 2003, 2006, 2013
all rights reserved