Mr Beaufoy and Mrs Dowse (Part 2)

Originally published in Gazette 291 (Autumn 2007)

As related in the previous issue, by October 1844 Henry Beaufoy’s solicitor, Francis Hobler, had presented CLS with the Beaufoy Medal in memory of Henry’s father Colonel Mark Beaufoy, Henry had responded by endowing a Beaufoy Scholarship (£50 per annum, to be ‘enjoyed by pupils proceeding thence to the University of Cambridge), and the Court of Common Council had agreed unanimously that its thanks should be ornamentally written and presented to Mr Beaufoy.
 
The next we hear is a letter from Mrs Henrietta Dowse to Henry Beaufoy:
 
39 Upper Charlotte St. Fitzroy Sq.
Dec.22. 1844
 
Sir,
I am engaged in emblazoning an address from the City of London to you, and shall feel obliged if you will let me know what your arms and crest are, also whether you belong to any of the City Companies, and to which. Perhaps you will be kind enough to let me know where I can see your carriage, as I can sketch the arms from it.
Requesting that you will favour me with an early answer to this note  
I am, Sir, Yours obediently
H.Dowse
 
It is interesting that she assumes that Henry will have a carriage with his arms painted on it, though from what we know of his modest lifestyle and character this seems unlikely. A note on this letter states that his answer and a drawing of his arms were taken to her by hand on 28. Dec., with this description:
 
Beaufoy Arms. Ermine. bend azure, 3 cinquefoils proper. pierced or. Crest. A beech tree proper. The form of the shield is indifferent, though the square looks better than the oblong.
 
Henry followed this soon after by sending a New Year’s gift, which brought this informative response:
 
39 Upper Charlotte St. Fitzroy Sq. Jan 1. 1845
 
Sir,
I was about to write you and thank you for your courteous note, when favoured by Mr Murray’s visit of today. I beg you to accept my acknowledgements for your kind present of the pine [= pineapple]. You will perhaps ere this have heard that I have recently been deprived by death of my dear husband. He was a man of first rate talent, in his profession, and of upright and excellent character. In addition to the sorrow I feel for the loss of one whom I well and truly loved for more than 16 years, I have the care of providing for a young family. I am most anxious by the exertion of every faculty of mind and body to bring up my children in the respectable and virtuous course in which their dear father lived and died. I am carrying on my husband’s profession, and I hope I have peculiar facilities for this. For 16 years I was constantly associated with him in the business, painting for him many hours in the day. I have an assistant who has been with us ten years and other and valuable aid. I shall be happy to undertake the painting of the arms Mr Murray mentioned, and I promise you as I have promised myself that nothing shall quit my roof that is not the equal to what has been formerly executed. One of my boys seems to inherit all his father’s talent. I hope hereafter to command the means of cultivating it. I am sorry to understand from your note that your sight is impaired. Strange as I am to you I cannot help wishing the enjoyment of every sense to such a character as yours. I am, Sir,
                        Your very obliged and obedient servant
                                    Henrietta Dowse.

So within ten days of their acquaintance Henry had commissioned a painted coat of arms for himself, and sent a pineapple; no wonder that the courageous and hardworking Mrs Dowse warmed to his character. The reference to his poor eyesight is the first of several which occur in these letters.
 
By mid February the address was finished, and Mrs Dowse writes to Henry to explain the design:
 
February 17. 1845.
 
Dear Sir
As the address to you from the Court of Common Council is probably ere this in your hands, I thought some account of the emblazonment might be agreeable to you. At the top are the arms of Sir William Magnay [Lord Mayor 1843-44] impaled with those of the City of London. On one side of the top the City crest, on the other that of the Mayor. At the bottom you will perceive your own arms and on the dexter side those of the Town Clerk, on the sinister the arms of the City Chamberlain. One of the figures on the panel represents Mercury the patron of arts and letters in allusion to your own munificent patronage of the arts and sciences. On the other is Britannia with the attributes of wisdom. There are also the arms of the Distillers Company to which you belong and those of the Stationers for Sir Wm. Magnay.
 
I must beg to excuse the delay in sending home your arms. We have been so exceedingly engaged with the emblazonment of the address to the King of France, and to one to Lord Alfred Paget, which latter was obliged to be finished in time for a dinner, that we have been obliged to put off other work for the completion of which I am anxious. I trust, Sir, that your sight is improving, and I am
                        Very obedtly. Yours
                                    H.Dowse.
 
In heraldry the shield is always supposed to be placed on the breast. This should be remembered in thinking of dexter and sinister.
 
Louis-Philippe, King of the French, had visited Queen Victoria the previous year. On 12 October at Windsor Castle a Deputation from the City presented an Address to him, to which he gave an equally florid response. It had then been ordered that an emblazoned copy of the Address should be made for the King, with a similar copy of the Address and his Answer to be deposited in the Guildhall. Lord Alfred Paget was MP for Lichfield and for many years chief equerry in the royal household.
 
February 19th was a busy and distressing day for Henry. First he replied to Mrs Dowse:
 
South Lambeth. Feb.19. 1845.
 
Dear Madam
I am exceedingly obliged to you for the trouble you have taken to send me the explanation of the beautiful specimen of art upon which you have been engaged for the City of London.
 
I have not yet seen it, but I hear it is very much admired and is intended to be presented to me in a day or two.
 
As regards the little matter you have in hand for me, I beg you will wait your own entire convenience. Any time that falls in with your arrangements will be quite time enough for me.
 
It gives me much pleasure to learn that the reputation of departed talent and worth continues to solace and assist your undertaking, and I hope every day will be attended with increasing and brightened prospects of success. I have the honour to be, dear Madam,
                        Your very obliged servant
                                    Henry Beaufoy
 
Mrs Dowse, 39 Upper Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square.
 
Then he received news which caused him to write to Francis Hobler in consternation: he notes ‘This letter was written to Mr Hobler in consequence of Mr Bolton telling me this morning that it was the intention of the City Authorities to write to me to name a time for receiving the deputation who are to present me with the emblazoned vote of thanks.’
 
South Lambeth. Feb.19. 1845.
 
My dear Mr Hobler
I am deeply impressed with the compliment intended to be paid me by the presentation of the Vote of Thanks at my residence by a deputation of gentlemen. Were I in a position to receive the Deputation in a manner that it would become me to do, nothing would have been more grateful to my feelings than to have accepted so great a mark of their condescension. But being an invalid myself, my wife being still more so, and our residence being so inconveniently small as to have no facilities for the accommodation of such distinguished visitors, I hope you will be able to prevail upon these kind gentlemen to forego their present intention. But should it be necessary that the presentation should take place in due form in accordance with City Etiquette, may I entreat you to permit it to be made to you as my representative? and at Bucklersbury? I assure you I am so retired in my ways and habits that independent of the circumstances already named I should be pained even to humiliation by being thus noticed in a way incompatible with my station and calling. Relying on your good offices and accustomed friendship to assist me in this matter, Believe me to be always
                        My dear Mr Hobler, gratefully and sincerely
                                    Your obliged servant
                                                Henry Beaufoy.
 
Henry had only recently married Miss Eliza Taylor, his companion for some thirty years, who had formerly been an “Astley’s Columbine”, i.e. a dancer at Astley’s Amphitheatre in the Westminster Bridge Road, where stage entertainment was combined with the first modern circus ring.
 
Confirmation of Henry’s fears duly arrived that evening, in a letter from Thomas Brewer, Secretary (i.e. Bursar) of the school:
 
City of London School. Feb.19. 1845.
 
Sir,
I have the honour to acquaint you that a Vote of Thanks, which was unanimously adopted by the Corporation of London in acknowledgement of your kind and liberal Benefaction to this Establishment has by their order been inscribed and emblazoned on vellum and framed and glazed, and now awaits an opportunity for being tendered to you for acceptance.
 
I beg to add that Mr Hale, the Chairman of the School Committee, The Rev. Dr Mortimer, the Head Master, and myself, upon whom has devolved the pleasing duty of conveying to you this expression of the respect and gratitude of the Corporation and the Committee, will be much gratified in being able to wait upon you with it at any time that will be most agreeable to yourself, and therefore will esteem it a favour to be informed when your convenience will admit of an opportunity for the purpose. I have the honour to be, Sir,
                        Your obedient humble Servant
                                    T.Brewer, Secretary.
 
A note on this letter continues the story. In his anxiety Henry did not wait for a reply from Hobler, but called on him at 11 o’clock the next morning (Thursday February 20) at his office in Bucklersbury near the Mansion House. While he was there Thomas Brewer came in, presumably summoned by Hobler from the school in Milk Street, 400 metres away. Perhaps this was the first time Henry had actually met anyone from the school, and face to face discussion dispelled Henry’s apprehension, for:
 
It is arranged that the 3 gentlemen named [in Brewer’s letter], with Mr Hobler and the City Chamberlain shall be at S. Lambeth about 12 noon on Saturday 22nd. Feb. Mr Brewer said that there was no occasion for H.B. to write, as his verbal communication would answer every purpose.
 
Turning in relief from the presentation arrangements Henry gives further information about the address itself:
 
Mr Hobler told H.B. that the writer [i.e. calligrapher] of the address is a Scotchman of independent property who had retired from business in London to pass the rest of his days in his native village in Scotland. But after a while he felt the change so lonesome that he returned to London and settled there, and having a peculiar gift of the pen does these things when they are offered to him. Mr Hobler tells me that the writing and emblazonment cost the City £40. It is considered one of the finest specimens of writing with the pen that has ever been produced at any time or by anybody.
 
The Vote of ThanksNo one who has had the chance to look at this treasure closely will dispute this assessment. The ‘Scotchman’ left his name at the end of the inscription “Walter Paton scripst”. And tucked behind the Beaufoy shield which is attached at the bottom of the gold frame is “H Dowse pinxt”. The Court of Common Council minutes of 13 February record that the total cost was £41 16s.
 
Thus presumably at noon on 22nd February 1845 Henry welcomed five distinguished gentlemen to his ‘inconveniently small’ house in Lambeth, where amidst fulsome expressions of appreciation and gratitude the Vote of Thanks was presented; perhaps Eliza was well enough to join them for some modest refreshment. Some time after Henry’s death in 1851 – I have not yet found when - it returned to the school; it can now be seen in the Asquith Room, beside Henry’s bust and portrait.