xvn AN EARTHLY PARADISE 163
To the theatre came in turn all the London players; and once the mysterious Chevalier D'Eon was exhibited on its stage in a fencing bout with a military swordsman. The Promenade Grove, which covered part of the ground between New Road, the Pavilion, North Street and Church Street, was also an evening resort in fine weather (and to read about Brighton in its heyday is to receive an impression of continual fine weather, tempered only by storms of wind, such as never failed to blow when Rowlandson and his pencil were in the town, to supply that robust humorist with the contours on which his reputation was based). The Grove was a marine Ranelagh. Masquers moved among the trees, orchestras discoursed the latest airs, rockets soared into the sky. In the county paper for October 1st, 1798, I find the following florid reference to a coming event in the Grove :—"The glittering Azure and the noble Or of the peacock's wings, under the meridian sun, cannot afford greater exultation to that bird, than some of our beautiful belles of fashion promise themselves, from a display of their captivating charms at the intended masquerade at Brighton tomorrow se'nnight."
In another issue of the paper for the same year are some extempore lines on Brighton, dated • from East Street, which end thus ecstatically :—
Nature's ever bounteous hand Sure has bless'd this happy land. 'Tis here no brow appears with care, What would we be, but what we are ?
Before leaving this genial county organ I must quote from a paragraph in 1796 on the Prince himself:—"The following couplet of Pope may be fitly applied to his Royal Highness:—
If to his share some manly errors fall,
Look on his face and you'll forget them all."
What could be kinder ? A little earlier, in a description of these anodyne features, the journalist had said of his Royal High-