Monday, August 27, 2012

Toby's Posts: The Peripatetic Pig

During the early years of my Career, my Travels carried me throughout the length and breadth of England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, journeys which included many Features which are still extant today, as well as some others -- such as my birth-place -- which have gone to ruin, or been obscured by new buildings and works. Man is a very restless Animal, and especially in his Towns and Cities seems to think nothing of pulling down one building and putting up another, such that, in the end, his Settlements appear mere Haphazard collections of structures, with little Rhyme or Reason.

Never the less, there are a number of Sights which I beheld in my day which may still be seen at Present, and I thought it might interest my readers to mention a few of these. One of my very first venues was the fair city of Liverpool, the town hall of which at that time boasted of fine Roman columns but had only a flat Roof; a lovely round Tower has since been placed atop it, and thus it stands to this day. I appeared there at the Ranelagh Gardens, which unfortunately have since gone; the site is now occupied by the Adelphi Hotel. In Dublin's fair city, I performed at Astley's Ampitheatre in Peter street -- this establishment closed a few years later, and the premises were taken by a School for Blind Females, who converted the Ampitheatre into a circular Chapel. Today, I am informed, it is merely a block of flats.

It would seem that all is changed -- but a few of my familiar places are yet remarkably intact. In the town of Chester, where I made my final appearance under the guidance of Mr. Bisset, the Inn where we resided -- the Blue Bell -- still stands, as it has since it was first built in the 1400's, its distinctive shape deriving from the joining together of its two houses. It is no longer an Inn, but houses an Eatery known as the "East Glory Oriental Restaurant." My old chambers at Pembroke College in Oxford are much the same as they were in my time, though several new Buildings have been added. Of my journey North, a few ancient Piles that stood then stand there Still, among them Penrith Castle and Lancaster Castle, whose "Hanging Corner" may yet be seen, though thankfully without its Gallows. Indeed, I am informed that this most horrid of human Institutions has been entirely eliminated in Britain as a means of Punishment, which is gratifying news indeed.

As to Edinburgh, that fair City which at last became my Home, I am pleased to discover that very little has changed, at least in the older parts. The Grassmarket, host to my last and most Successful shows, remains a great Commons of human commerce, and my favoured place of resort there -- the Bee Hive Inn -- still offers Refreshment, although the present building dates to after my Time. And of course, my beloved Alma Mater, the University of Edinburgh, is still a mighty Beacon of Learning, and -- this I can only hope -- retains some portion of the affections for Me that I hold for It.

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