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Here [the Punch cartoonist, John Leech (1817-1864),] often gave a garden party, which was far more pleasant than is usual for such merry- makings. A plateful of good soup and a slice of cold roast beef were served instead of ices and slices of sponge-cake; and half a score of guests were asked instead of half a hundred. Thackeray avowed a special fondness for these parties, and, living close at hand, was often able to be present. The garden was a well-nigh country garden then, and flycatchers and blackbirds used frequently to build there. The famous Mr [William] Banting [(1796-1878), undertaker and author of Letter on Corpulence (1863)], who cured himself of fatness, lived nearly next door, and would send delicious mulberries, fresh gathered from his tree, a few yards only distant. No shrieking trains were near, to make night hideous with their clamour, nor was much traffic audible from what is now the crowded and bus-overburdened road. Indeed, under the weeping ash- tree, where the festive board was spread, all was so cosy and so quiet that you might have heard an “h” drop if a Cockney had been present.
Those delightful outdoor dinners! Where are such gardens now? Alas! the ash-tree has been sold with the ground whereon it grew, and will soon be rooted up, with all the memories that cling to it. The old house where John Leech lived will be cleared away next year, in order to make room for some new monster brick-and-mortar works; and the garden where we dined will be swept into the “Ewigkeit,” just like the famous “barty” that was given by Hans Breitmann [an allusion to a comic verse by Charles G Leland].’
(Henry Silver, ‘The Home Life of John Leech’, The Magazine of Art, 1893, Page 166)