On Friday 21 August, 1795, William Porden set off from London to Lincoln in the stagecoach. On this occasion his travelling companions were:
My old friend Staveley, a Lieutenant Bromwich of the Navy, a Mr Thick, a miniature painter on a professional expedition to Hull and a young man whose name I did not learn and in whom there appeared to me nothing worthy of notice but a want of feeling for a portly little brown dog that he had with him in the coach.
They young man certainly is very unfeeling towards his pet:
According to his own account the little creature had been unable to follow him so fast as he wished, through the streets of London in a heavy shower, and in a rage he had struck him such a violent blow with a cane as to stun him so much that he roll’d over as dead. In the Coach he found the care of him attended with some little inconvenience, and after having stewed up in the heat (for very hot it was) for several hours he inhumanly turned him into the Basket exposed to the cold and rain of a severe night, in spight [sic] of the remonstrances of all his fellow travellers.
On the journey, Lieutenant Bromwich recounted some of his experiences in Naval engagements at Guadeloupe and Quiberon Bay, but I confess to being somewhat more interested in the other passenger, Mr Thick:
Mr Thick our other companion was a little fat jolly facetious man, as illiterate as an artist could be desired and seemingly taking small interest in the Arts or in subjects relative to them. His mis-pronunciation w[oul]d rival Mrs Slipslops. He abounded in jests and smutty stories which he told tolerably well, though sometimes, as it must happen, with men who are always telling stories, lost the spirit of the story and seemed not always to know where the joke lay.
This miniature portrait painter is someone that I have at last been able to positively identify. A search on Ancestry found William Thicke, miniature portrait painter of Marylebone, in London directories of the time. A Google search also brought up several images of miniatures painted by him that have been through auction houses.
His miniatures aren’t of the first quality – they’re somewhat naïve in style – but perhaps that befits a painter who has little interest in the arts and prefers telling ‘smutty stories’.
For our next journey with Mr Porden, we climb aboard the ‘Eliza’, where we get to experience a channel crossing in 1816 – not an experience that many on board enjoyed!