The Streatham Flasher

  • Posted on: 20 September 2009
  • By: David Thrale

Fanny Burney and I said the other day that we write a Weekly Paper & send it to London to our Gentlemen who desert us most grievously for the sake of attending Parliament—What says I shall we call our Paper? Oh the Flasher to be sure says she—we have a Hack Phrase here at Streatham of calling ev'ry thing Flash which we want other folks to call Wit well said I write you the introductory paper, and I will put in a Song.—

I sent ’em a Gazette in Imitation of Swift's Country Post last Week which diverted them highly. She wrote the Paper therefore, to which I affixed the Motto from Queen Christina’s Cannon …

Mrs. Thrale, then at the height of prosperity and popularity-with gay spirits, quick wit, showy, though superficial, acquirements, pleasing, though not refined, manners, a singularly amiable temper and a loving heart-felt towards Fanny as towards a younger sister.

— The Lord Macaulay, Diary and Letters of Madame D'Arblay, Volume 1.

Habet sua fulmina Juno—

How bold the Streatham Muse is grown
To flash when all her Sparks are flown1
Will nothing then abash her ?
Our Solitary Copse can blaze
Without the Sun's concentred Rays
To animate our Flasher.

Nor Cruelty our Wit controuls,
Like Salt they sprinkle on the Coals
That glow beneath the Rasher;
It makes our Flame but burn more bright,
And prompts us to persue your Flight
With Gazette or with Flasher.

From such faint Fires my Master cries2
The meek Minerva's radiant Eyes3
May lead a Man away sure:
No Meteor wit approaches near,
Where Sophy like the Sun severe!
Soon dissipates each Flasher.

Forbear Sir Philip4 cries, my Friend,
With pop Gun Wits shall we contend ?
We must accept their Trash,—or
Displease the Streatham Coterie,
Which I've objections to—D'ye see,5
So seen let pass the Flasher.

Written by Hester Lynch Thrale. Thraliana entry dated 24 March 1779.

  • 1. Sophy Streatfield.
  • 2. Henry Thrale.
  • 3. “;Sophy Streatfield whose Greek and whose beauty entitle her to the Compliment, & who having no taste for Wit & Flash deserves the whole stanza quite well”;. Mrs Thrale.
  • 4. Sir Philip Jennings Clerke, 1st Baronet Clerke of Duddlestone. Died 1788. MP for Totnes.
  • 5. “; 'D'ye see' is a hack phrase of Sir Philip's”;. Mrs Thrale.