Nollekens and His Times/Volume 2/Cussans

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William Cussans, or Curzons, a native of Barbadoes, who lived upon an income allowed him by his family, was a most eccentric fellow, perfectly good-tempered, and particularly well known in Covent-garden and its vicinity. Mr. Yerrel, my informant, knew him well. Cussans once hired himself as potman, under Paddy Moore, at the north-west corner of Russell-street, in Covent-garden; where he fined the beer, served it out, and collected in the pots, receiving the half-pence people thought proper to give him; these he put by, and upon his departure, at the expiration of his stipulated time, he distributed them amongst the servants of the house. During this and several other whims, he never was known to smile, nor would he attend to any thing but the business in which he was engaged. He once went as a coal-heaver for a month, and whatever he said he would do, he steadfastly performed. He made an excellent chimney-sweeper at the masquerades at the Pantheon and the Opera-house; and was author of the popular song of Robinson Crusoe, though, since his death, it has been claimed by several other persons. One of the verses runs thus:

"He got all the wood
 That ever he could,
   And he stuck it together with glue so;
 He made him a hut.
 And in it he put
   The carcase of Robinson Crusoe."

One evening, when walking in the Temple-gardens, he accosted three ladies, by asking them if they ever saw a man swim; "No," said one, "nor do we wish to see such a sight." "But you shall," said he, and immediately jumped into the water with his clothes on; upon which they were alarmed; and he, after some time swimming about, upon coming to shore, made them a most elegant bow, and though in his dripping state, was recognized as the eccentric Mr. Cussans. He then joined his friends at Jemmy Yerrel's, at the "Salutation,"[1] in Tavistock-street, and commenced his nightly quantum of wine: he would sometimes take eight pints at a sitting without being the least intoxicated. Cussans subsequently went to Barbadoes, where he stayed about three years, after which, on his return to England, he died.

  1. The old sign of the Salutation, at the corner of Tavistock-court, Tavistock-street, was pulled down by Mr. Yerrel, the landlord; who informed me that it consisted of two gentlemen saluting each other, dressed with flowing wigs and square pockets, large enough to hold folio books, and swords at their sides, being the dress of the time when the sign was put up, which is supposed to have been about 1707, that being the date on a stone at the Covent-garden end of the Court.