We nothing nothing about the day, or place, of birth of the British publisher Henry Colburn (1784 to August 16, 1855). We don't even know the names of his parents. His remarkable career as a publisher included introducing the "silver key" theme to published books, wherein stories offer a glimpse of upper class life to otherwisely situated readers. An example of this is his publication of -
Memoirs of the Princess Daschkaw, Lady of Honour to Catherine II. Empress of All the Russias: Written by herself. London: Henry Colburn, Publisher, 1840. First edition. Frontispiece portraits, facsimiles. 1 vols. 8vo. Inscribed form the editor. Inscribed from Mrs. Bradford, the editor to J. Arabella Holt March 28, 1840
This was but one of many books he published. A longer list is here. He made a lot of money.
Now, we excerpt one of his books, Colburn's Kalendar of Amusements in Town and Country, for 1840. It is a long passage; and I have no summary at the end; you may be bemused by yourself. We begin with a glimpse of horrific detail, which is not really worse than scenes we pretend to forget today. And ends with some sentimentality.
'These gardens are exceedingly attractive, and very beautifully arranged; forming a complete arboretum, containing upwards of 200 varieties of the most choice and hardy forest trees, of this and other countries. The panoramic views, introduced on the borders of the lake, are admirable, and greatly attractive during the season. The whole was founded by Mr. Cross, whose collection of animals at Exeter-Change was very popular before its removal; it is not so extensive as that in the Regent's Park, but some of the animals are much finer, the lion is a most majestic looking old fellow, and brought to our mind a beautiful story recorded of one of these noble animals belonging to the collection in the Tower.
'"It was customary for those who were unable to pay sixpence for a sight of the wild beasts in the Tower, to bring a dog or a cat as an oblation to the beasts, in lieu of money to the keeper. Among others, a fellow had caught up a pretty black spaniel in the streets, and he was accordingly thrown into the cage of the great lion. Immediately the little animal trembled and shivered, and crouched and threw itself upon its back, and put forth its tongue, and held up its paws in supplicating attitudes, as an acknowledgment of superior power; and praying for mercy. In the mean time the lordly brute, instead of devouring it, beheld it with an eye of philosophic inspection.
'"He turned it over with one paw, and then turned it with the other, and smelled to it, and seemed desirous of courting a further acquaintance.
'"The keeper, on seeing this, brought a large mess of his own family dinner: but the lion kept aloof and refused to eat, keeping his eye on the dog, and inviting him as it were to be his taster. At length the little animal's fears being somewhat abated, and his appetite quickened by the smell of the victuals, he approached slowly, and with trembling, ventured to eat.
'"The lion then advanced gently, and began to partake, and they finished their meal very lovingly together.
'"From this day the strictest friendship commenced between them, a friendship consisting of all possible affection and tenderness on the part of the lion, and of the utmost confidence and boldness on the part of the dog; insomuch that he would lay himself down to sleep within the fangs, and under the jaws of his terrible patron.
'"A gentleman, who had lost the dog, and had advertised a reward of two guineas to the finder, at length heard of the adventure, and went to reclaim his dog. 'You see, Sir," said the keeper, 'it would be a great pity to part such loving friends. However, since you insist upon your property, you must even be pleased to take him yourself; it is a task that I would not engage in for 500 guineas.' The gentleman rose in great wrath, but finally chose to acquiesce, rather than have a personal dispute with the lion."
'But let us proceed to the tragic catastrophe of this extraordinary story; a story well known to many as delivered down from father to son.
'"In above twelve months the little spaniel sickened and died, and left his loving patron the most desolate of creatures. For a time the lion did not appear to conceive otherwise than that hia favourite was asleep. He would continue to smell to him, and then would stir him with his nose, and turn him over with his paw; but finding that all his efforts to awake him were in vain, he would traverse his cage from end to end at a swift and uneasy pace, then stop, and look down upon him with a fixed and drooping regard; and again lift his head on high, and open his horrible throat, and prolong a roar as of distant thunder for several minutes.
'"They attempted, but in vain, to convey the carcase from him; he watched it perpetually, and would suffer nothing to touch it. The keeper then endeavoured to tempt him with a variety of victuals, but he turned from all that was offered with loathing. They then put several living dogs into his cage, and these he instantly tore piecemeal, but left their members on the floor. His passions being thus inflamed, he would dart his fangs into the boards, and pluck away large splinters, and again grapple at the bars of his cage, and seemed enraged at his restraint from tearing the world to pieces.
'"Again, as quite spent, he would stretch himself by the remains of his beloved associate, and gather him in with his paws, and put him to his bosom; and then utter under roars of such terrible melancholy as seemed to threaten all around, for the loss of his little playfellow, the only friend, the only companion that he had upon earth.
'"For five days he thus languished, and gradually declined, without taking any sustenance, or admitting any comfort; till one morning he was found dead, with his head lovingly reclined on the carcase of his little friend.
'"They were both interred together, and their grave plentifully bedewed with the tears of the keeper and his loudly lamenting family."