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Title: Kew Gardens - With 24 full-page Illustrations in Colour
Author: Moncrieff, A. R. Hope (Ascott Robert Hope)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)



_UNIFORM WITH THIS VOLUME_


THE COTSWOLDS

By G. F. NICHOLLS and FRANCIS DUCKWORTH

NORTH DEVON

By HENRY B. WIMBUSH and F. J. SNELL

SOUTH DEVON

By C. E. HANNAFORD and CHARLES ROWE, M.J.I.

GALLOWAY

By JAMES FAED, Jun., and J. M. SLOAN

IRELAND

By FRANCIS S. WALKER, R.H.A., and FRANK MATHEW

LIVERPOOL

By J. HAMILTON HAY and DIXON SCOTT

THE PEAK COUNTRY

By W. BISCOMBE GARDNER and A. R. HOPE MONCRIEFF



KEW GARDENS



AGENTS


    AMERICA      THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
                   64 & 66 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK

    AUSTRALASIA  THE OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, MELBOURNE

    CANADA       THE MACMILLAN COMPANY OF CANADA, LTD.
                   27 RICHMOND STREET WEST, TORONTO

    INDIA        MACMILLAN & COMPANY, LTD.
                   MACMILLAN BUILDING, BOMBAY
                   309 BOW BAZAAR STREET, CALCUTTA


[Illustration: THE RHODODENDRON DELL]



                               KEW GARDENS

                               PAINTED BY
                         T. MOWER MARTIN, R.C.A.

                              DESCRIBED BY
                          A. R. HOPE MONCRIEFF

                                  WITH
                       24 FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS
                                IN COLOUR

                             [Illustration]

                                 LONDON
                         ADAM AND CHARLES BLACK
                                  1908



PREFACE


Kew Gardens contain what seems the completest botanical collection in the
world, handicapped as it is by a climate at the antipodes of Eden, and by
a soil that owes less to Nature than to patient art. Before being given
up to public pleasure and instruction, this demesne was a royal country
seat, specially favoured by George III. That homely King had two houses
here and began to build a more pretentious palace, a design cut short
by his infirmities, but for which Kew might have usurped the place of
Windsor. For nearly a century it kept a close connection with the Royal
Family, as the author illustrates in his story of the village and the
Gardens, while the artist has found most effective subjects in the rich
vegetation gathered into this enclosure and in the relics of its former
state.



CONTENTS


                                     PAGE

                      I

    ROYAL RESIDENCES                    1

                     II

    KEW IN FAVOUR                      31

                     III

    THE STORY OF THE GARDENS           83

                     IV

    THE VILLAGE: IN AND ABOUT IT      113

                     V

    VISITING THE GARDENS              157



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


    1. The Rhododendron Dell        _Frontispiece_
                                      FACING PAGE
    2. The Wild Garden in Spring                8
    3. The Lake                                18
    4. The Queen’s Cottage                     30
    5. In Queen’s Cottage Gardens              34
    6. Looking up the Thames                   42
    7. The Pagoda                              58
    8. The Water-Lily Pond                     64
    9. The Palace                              78
    10. In the Italian Garden                  90
    11. The Ruined Arch                        96
    12. The Azaleas                           102
    13. The Peonies                           108
    14. The Palm Trees and Main Gate          112
    15. The Rhododendron Walk                 124
    16. The Poppy Beds                        138
    17. The Rosary                            146
    18. Wild Hyacinths                        152
    19. In the Rock Garden                    158
    20. The Palm House                        164
    21. The Greenhouse                        172
    22. Wild Flowers in the Beech Woods       176
    23. The Lake, looking South               198
    24. The Herbaceous Ground                 200



KEW GARDENS



I

ROYAL RESIDENCES


The most conspicuous feature of Kew is its Pagoda, from many points seen
towering over the well-wooded flat watered by a winding reach of the
Thames. Such an outlandish structure bears up the odd name in giving
a suggestion of China, not contradicted by the elaborate cultivation
around, where all seems market-garden that is not park, buildings, groves
or flower-beds. Yet the name, of old written as _Kaihough_, _Kaiho_,
_Kayhoo_, and in other quaint forms--for which _quay_ of the _howe_ or
_hough_ has been guessed as original--belongs to a thoroughly English
parish, whose exotic vegetation, nursed upon a poor soil, came to be
twined among many national memories. These, indeed, are most closely
packed about what may be called the willow-plate pattern period of our
history, when a true-blue conservatism had the affectation of letting
itself be spangled with foreign amenities and curiosities, jumbled
together without much regard for perspective or natural surroundings.

Before coming to the Gardens that are its present fame, we should
understand how Kew, even in its days of obscurity, had all along to do
with great folk. Almost every line of our kings has had a home in this
Thames-side neighbourhood, a distinction dating from before the Conquest.
Both Kew and Richmond began parochial life as dependencies of Kingston,
the _King’s town_ that once made a chief seat of Saxon princes, whose
coronation stone bears record in its market-place. The manor, included
with that of Sheen--the modern Richmond--was held by the Crown at
Doomsday. For a time it seems to have passed into the hands of subjects,
but there are hints of the first Edwards having a country home at Sheen.
Edward III. certainly died at a palace said to have been built by him
here. Richard II.’s first queen, Anne of Bohemia, also died at Sheen, to
her husband’s so great grief that he cursed the building in the practical
form of ordering it to be destroyed. Henry IV. left it in ruins, and
is said to have had a house at Isleworth across the river; but by his
son Sheen was restored to royal state. While Henry VII. occupied it, the
palace was destroyed by fire; then in rebuilding it, this king changed
its name to Richmond after his Yorkshire earldom, itself another of the
beauty-spots of the kingdom. Yet the old name, probably a cousin of the
German _schön_, long fitly lingered in poetry--“Thy hill, delightful
Sheen!” is Thomson’s invocation--and it still survives in East Sheen,
which, once a hamlet of Richmond, like Kew, now begins to count rather
as a suburb of London. Sheen House here had a later connection with
quasi-royalty, as it was for a time occupied by the Count de Paris, heir
of the Orleans family, that has hereabouts found other temporary refuges.

In Henry VIII.’s reign, the Crown gained a new seat in this
neighbourhood, Hampton Court, too pretentious monument of Wolsey’s pride.
At the first signs of the storm that was to wreck him, the swelling
Churchman took in sail by giving up his palace to the king, who in return
allowed him quarters in one of the royal lodges at Richmond, from which,
as the king’s displeasure deepened, he was banished, first to Esher,
finally to his archiepiscopal northern diocese. Within the hunting-park
formed by Henry about Hampton, was a lodge at Hanworth that became the
home of his wife Catherine Parr, when she had the luck to be his widow.

One most picturesque figure in English history must have been familiar
with Kew, though its name does not appear in the sad story of fair, wise
and pious Lady Jane Grey, the “nine days’ queen.” On the spindle side,
she was grand-daughter of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, married to
Henry VIII.’s sister Mary, through whom came her heritage of peril. Her
father, Marquis of Dorset, was created Duke of Suffolk, and succeeded
to Suffolk House at Sheen. The scene of Roger Ascham’s notable visit to
the studious princess was Bradgate in Leicestershire; but part of her
youth would probably be spent at Suffolk House. The boy husband provided
for her, Guildford Dudley, was son of a neighbour across the river,
the crafty and ambitious Duke of Northumberland, who had secured Syon
House here as a share of Church plunder first granted to the Protector
Somerset. On Edward VI.’s death, not without suspicion of poison,
Northumberland kept the event secret for three days, in hope of being
able to seize the princesses Mary and Elizabeth, before carrying out his
plot to put Jane and her newly wedded husband on the throne. It seems to
have been at Syon that the reluctant queen was informed of the part she
had to play; and thence she was taken by water to the Tower, in which she
would find a heavenly crown.

Both Mary and Elizabeth lived from time to time at Richmond, recommended
by its nearness to London, and by the river that made a royal highway
in that age of bad roads. Here Elizabeth died, and from her death-bed
Sir Robert Carey spurred through thick and thin to carry news of his
inheritance to the King of Scots. James I. was not the man to neglect
such a good hunting country; early in his reign we find the Courts of
Law and all seated for a time at Richmond, when driven out of London by
the plague. But Hampton Court up the river, as Greenwich below, seems
to have been preferred for the king’s residence; then that lover of the
chase found a paradise more to his mind in Theobald’s Park, near Enfield,
for which he exchanged Hatfield with the Salisbury family; and this
became his favourite abode. Richmond he gave to be the home of his son
Henry, who from it dates a pretty letter to the Dauphin of France, all
the twelve-year-old boy’s own composition, we are told, for the learned
father would let him have no help. Prince Henry might not have been
pleased to hear all that was said of him in the French nursery, where
little Louis asked about his correspondent--“Is he called the Prince of
Wales (_Galles_) because he is mangy (_galeux_)?”

    Monsieur and Brother,--Having heard that you begin to ride on
    horseback, I believed that you would like to have a pack of
    little dogs, which I send you, to witness the desire I have that
    we may be able to follow the footsteps of the kings, our fathers,
    in entire and firm friendship, also in this sort of honourable
    and praiseworthy recreation. I have begged the Count de Beaumont,
    who is returning there, to thank in my name the king your father,
    and you also for so many courtesies and obligations with which
    I feel myself overcharged, and to declare to you how much power
    you have over me, and how much I am desirous to find some good
    occasion to show the readiness of my affection to serve you, and
    for that, trusting in Him, I pray God, Monsieur and brother, to
    give you in health long and happy life.--Your very affectionate
    brother and servitor,

                                                               HENRY.

    RICHMOND, _23rd October 1605_.

This prince, we know, died young, according to one tradition through
rash bathing in the Thames; but a modern physician has diagnosed the
indications of his illness as typhoid fever. Richmond then passed to his
brother Charles, who was much at home here and at Hampton Court. He, as
king, made a new enclosure, the present Richmond Park, a hunting-ground
nine miles round, formed by somewhat high-handed expropriations recalling
the harsher dealings of William Rufus with the New Forest, and going
to make up this king’s unpopularity. When poor Charles himself had
been hunted down, the royal abode at Richmond was sold to one of the
regicides, Sir Gregory Norton, the new Great Park being given over by
Parliament to the citizens of London, who, at the Restoration, restored
this gift to Charles II. with a courtly declaration that they had kept it
as stewards of his Majesty. The Park was now put under a Ranger; and the
Palace fell into neglect, though, according to Burnet, James II.’s son,
the Pretender, was nursed in it. Nothing of its old state remains but the
Gateway on Richmond Green, above which may be traced the arms of England,
as borne by Henry VII. The adjacent row of houses, still known as the
“Maids of Honour,” also the cheesecakes of that ilk, appear to record the
later day when Queen Caroline’s home at Richmond was so cramped as not to
allow of her ladies “living in.”

As Richmond decayed, Hampton Court flourished in royal favour;
and Cromwell, in his days of mastery, made bold with its ample
accommodations. Its canals and garden took the fancy of Dutch William,
who in England felt most at home here. His fatal accident he met with
while riding in its park; and in the palace was born the only one of
Queen Anne’s many children who grew towards any hope of the crown. George
I. was a good deal at Hampton Court, it being recorded of him that on
his way to London he used to make his carriage drive slowly through
Brentford, for which he had an admiration shared by few beholders.

[Illustration: THE WILD GARDEN IN SPRING]

George II. as Prince of Wales, acquired for his wife another seat in
this princely countryside, buying from the Duke of Ormond a house in the
Old Deer Park beyond Kew Gardens, which, re-christened Richmond Lodge,
made a royal home at intervals for nearly half a century. Richmond
was looked on as Queen Caroline’s property, the expensive improvements
on it supposed to be paid out of her private purse, though, if we may
trust Horace Walpole, one of his father’s ways of securing her favour
was to draw from the King’s close-buttoned pocket, on the sly, for this
purpose. After the death of the managing Queen, Richmond was little used,
but for a weekly visit from the Court. Every Saturday in summer, says
that mocking Horace, “they went in coaches and six in the middle of the
day, with the heavy Horse Guards kicking up the dust before them, dined,
walked an hour in the garden, returned in the same dusty parade; and His
Majesty fancied himself the most gallant and lively prince in Europe.” It
had been his wife’s favourite residence; and there Scott should surely
have put her interview with Jeanie Deans; but he seems to mistake in
placing Richmond Lodge within the present Park, whereas it was on low
land beside the river, where now stands the Observatory; then to reach
it from London the Duke of Argyll would never have taken his horses up
Richmond Hill merely by way of gratifying the dairymaid with a fine view,
which after all, appealed most to her taste as “braw rich feeding for
the cows.” Sir Walter must have had the White Lodge in view, yet without
considering that it is half an hour’s walk from the Richmond Hill edge of
the Park.

George II. and Caroline sometimes lived at Hampton Court, as when their
eldest son gave them deadly offence by secretly carrying off his wife
thence to lie-in at St. James’s. And it was there that, in Frederick
William fashion, the King once struck his eldest grandson, a memory that
is said to have given George III. his dislike to this palace. He let
it fall to its present position as a mixture of Cockney show-place and
aristocratic almshouse, while he much affected Richmond Lodge, till he
got possession of his boyhood’s home at Kew.

So at last we come to the Kew mansion, whose connection with royalty was
comparatively a late one, and lasted only for two generations. The reader
must bear in mind that this was not the present Kew Palace, which hardly
seems to deserve such a title of pretence. The latter had belonged to
Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and was sold by him to Sir Hugh Portman, a
rich Holland merchant, who rebuilt or altered it in the Dutch style, so
that it was commonly known as the Dutch House. By some local inquirers it
has been identified with the “Dairy House” also mentioned in old books.
Opposite this, on the other side of a public road, in the seventeenth
century stood a larger mansion, Kew House, as to the original date of
which one is not clear, but it may have been at least on the site of a
mansion at which her Lord Keeper, Sir John Puckering, entertained Queen
Elizabeth. Under Charles II., when Evelyn calls it an “old timber house,”
it came by marriage to Sir Henry Capel of the Essex family, afterwards
Lord Capel, who died Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. From his widow, it
passed into possession of Samuel Molyneux, described as secretary to
George II., soon after whose death, in 1730, it was taken on a long lease
by Frederick Prince of Wales.

Thus the obscure name of Kew began to appear in the scandalous chronicles
of the Georgian period. Frederick’s parents, it will be remembered, were
much at the neighbouring Richmond Lodge; and when Queen Caroline took a
lease of the Dutch House also, this not very affectionate royal family
had a group of residences too close together, one might think, for their
comfort. The official guide states that at one time Frederick, too, must
have occupied the Dutch House, as shown by his cipher and the device of
Prince of Wales’s feathers on the locks; but I can find no mention of his
living here in memoirs of the period. It may be that he had it for a time
before his marriage; but the other was the house occupied by him as a
family man, and by his widow after him.

There is some mystery about the origin of the extraordinary ill-will
shown both by George II. and Caroline towards their heir, a feeling
surpassing the antipathy between father and son that made an heirloom
in this family for generations. The King tried to keep Frederick from
coming to England; then, later on, he was half-willing to cut off Hanover
from the English Crown that it might be bestowed upon his favourite,
William of Cumberland. The eldest son he usually abused as a puppy, a
fool, a beast, and by other such elegant epithets; while the Queen, if
we are to believe Lord Hervey, offered once to give him her opinion in
writing “that my dear first-born is the greatest ass and the greatest
liar, and the greatest _canaille_, and the greatest beast in the whole
world, and that I most heartily wish he was out of it.” Yet, when father
and son were not on speaking terms, all the family lived together at
St. James’s, till, after the birth of the Prince’s first child, he was
turned out at short notice to take refuge at Kew, and at makeshift London
residences which became in turn the head-quarters of the Opposition. One
would suppose that in the country those cat-and-dog neighbours might
have chosen to have at least a river between them; but at Kew they were
separated only by a road.

Kew House, then, began to figure in history as the country-seat of the
Prince of Wales. Frederick was by no means a model husband nor a princely
man; but he had affection and respect for his wife, the Princess Augusta
of Saxe-Gotha, and they at least lived decently together. Here were in
part brought up their children: George III.; Edward, Duke of York, who
died abroad in 1767; William Henry, Duke of Gloucester, who lived to
1805; Henry, Duke of Cumberland, who, as well as the last-mentioned,
came into disfavour through a _mésalliance_; Prince Frederick and
Princess Louisa, who both died young; and Caroline Matilda, who married
the worthless King of Denmark, and had a miserable end. Horace Walpole
sneers at Frederick’s desire to name his children from heroes of English
history, not always with his father’s approval; but this trait goes to
show the Prince’s aspirations to be a patriotic king. He is said to
have taken the “Black Prince” as a model he got no chance of following,
perhaps as well for his possible subjects; but the scanty records of his
career suggest rather one of Browning’s characters:--

    All that the old Dukes were without knowing it,
    This Duke would fain know he was without being it.

During the married life of Frederick and Augusta, the memoirs of the time
give slight and sometimes rather spiteful hints of their doings at Kew,
as to which, indeed, Lord Hervey’s caustic pen has no worse to tell than
that they walked three or four hours daily in the lanes and fields about
Richmond, with a scandal-blown lady-in-waiting and a dancing-master for
company. The Prince was much given to private theatricals, but also to
athletic games, among them such innocent ones as rounders, tennis, and
base-ball, the last not yet banished across the Atlantic. The dog given
to him by Pope is remembered by the couplet inscribed on its collar:--

    I am His Highness’s dog at Kew,
    Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?

This poet-neighbour boasted himself not a follower but a friend of His
Highness, who did not want for two-legged dogs wagging their tails to him
in town and country, on the speculation that his father’s death might
any day change the tap of honour and profit. But all such expectations
were nipped short. In March 1751 the Prince caught cold at Kew, and had
symptoms of pleurisy. Supposed to be out of danger, he went back to Kew,
where he walked about like a convalescent; but the same night, after
returning to town, showed signs of a fresh chill. Again he seemed to be
on the mend, then suddenly one evening was seized with a violent fit of
coughing. “_Je sens la mort!_” he exclaimed, and these were his last
words. It proved that a tumour had burst, produced either by a fall or by
a blow from a tennis ball three years before.

“Thus,” says Horace Walpole, “died Frederick, Prince of Wales, having
resembled his pattern the Black Prince in nothing but in dying before
his father.” He appears to have been not unpopular with the mob, as
princes are apt to be who make the money fly; but history has no good
to tell of him, unless one kindly act in his intercession for Flora
Macdonald. Scholars and divines duly lamented him with overdone effusions
in the _Tu Marcellus eris_ vein; but these crocodile tears of the Muses
are less well-remembered than that uncourtly epitaph that seems to have
better expressed the not even lukewarm loyalty of the first Georgian
generation:--

    Here lies Fred
    Who was alive and is dead.
    Had it been his father,
    I had much rather.
    Had it been his brother,
    Still better than another.
    Had it been his sister,
    No one would have missed her.
    Had it been the whole generation,
    Still better for the nation.
    But since ’tis only Fred,
    Who was alive and is dead,
    There’s no more to be said.

George II. behaved at first not unkindly to his widowed daughter-in-law
and grandchildren. He visited the bereaved family, throwing off royal
ceremonial, kissed them, wept with them, and gave the princes good
advice: “They must be brave boys, obedient to their mother, and deserve
the fortune to which they were born.” Horace Walpole remarks in his
malicious way that the King, who had never acted the tender father, grew
so pleased with playing the part of grandfather that he soon became it
in earnest. For the moment, natural good-feeling reigned in the families
that had been such bad neighbours. The Opposition was crushed by the
death of its patron, the Prince; and the discordant place-hunters of the
day let themselves be tuned to a comparative harmony of interest under
the Pelham brothers, who now had all their own way. Later on there sprang
up fresh clouds between Kew and Kensington, the respective horizons of
the rising and of the setting sun. For a little, Prince George appears to
have lived with his grandfather at Hampton Court; but they did not take
to each other, and the boy went back under his mother’s wing.

The first care of the King and the Ministry was to appoint instructors
for the young Princes, an important choice in the case of the Heir to
the Crown. The Governor appointed was Lord Harcourt, who “wanted a
governor himself,” says Horace Walpole, and sneers at him as unfit to
“teach the young Prince any arts but what he knew himself--hunting and
drinking.” For Preceptor was chosen the Bishop of Norwich. Under these
figure-heads were the tutors who should be about the royal children and
do the actual work of education. Stone, the sub-governor, was a personal
favourite of the King, “a dark, proud man, very able and very mercenary.”
As sub-preceptor, or real schoolmaster, was kept on Mr. Scott, who had
already been chosen by the Princess to teach her sons, when she found
that at eleven Prince George could not read English. Of him, in old age,
George III. spoke highly, and seems to have liked him best of all his
instructors. But he was suspected in some quarters as recommended by
Bolingbroke, the author of that “patriot-king” theory so abhorrent to
Whigs.

[Illustration: THE LAKE]

The question of the Regency had to be settled, in case of the King’s
death before his grandson came of age. That high office might have
fallen to George II.’s brother, the Duke of Cumberland, between whom and
his sister-in-law, the Princess of Wales, no love was lost; nor was he
beloved by the nation, least of all by the Jacobites. Horace Walpole
tells a story of Prince George visiting his uncle. “To amuse the boy,
he took down a sword and drew it. The young Prince turned pale and
trembled, and thought his uncle was going to murder him.” There were
others who judged the “Butcher” quite capable of altering the succession
on mediæval precedent, in which party spirit was unjust to this Prince,
not so black or so bloodthirsty as he was painted in the hatreds of the
time. To the satisfaction of most people, but not of the Duke, the future
King’s mother was appointed Regent under control of a council; and her
father-in-law allowed her to act as guardian of her children.

A lady, who any day might thus become the chief personage in the State,
would not lack courtiers in a generation of politicians more concerned
about interest than principle. Among her special friends came to be
noted John Stuart, Earl of Bute, that unpopular bogy of the next reign.
Their intimacy did not fail to pass for scandalous; but the Archangel
Gabriel himself would hardly have escaped scandal had he moved in Court
society of the period. Bute had been a favourite and boon companion of
the Prince, and remained a close counsellor of the widow, especially in
the matter of bringing up her sons. Another matter influenced by him was
the development of Kew Gardens, he himself taking a strong interest in
botany and horticulture; but the Gardens may best be treated apart from
the royal residences.

The best-founded reproach made against the Princess is that she brought
up George III. and his brothers in strict seclusion, entirely under her
influence and Bute’s. A careful mother’s excuse might well be the manners
of the fashionable world. Bubb Doddington, admitted to walks and talks
with her in Kew Gardens, reports her as anxious to keep the future King
out of bad society, and not knowing where to find good companions for him
among the dissipated nobility. Our age can sympathise with this desire
more than did the factious scandalmongers of the period, who soon raised
a cry that the Princes were being trained in principles of arbitrary
power. To Doddington the Princess protested that she did not interfere
with her son’s teachers. Between the contradictory statements of friends
and foes, it is difficult to judge how far she was sincere in such
professions; but it is clear that George loved her as sons of that house
have not always loved their parents. Later on, he was thought to have
grown a little impatient under the yoke of this masterful mother.

Before long the staff of preceptors fell all by the ears, the high
officials quarrelling with the sub-tutors, who were understood to be in
more favour with the mother. The former complained of Stone as taking
too much on himself; and as for Scott, Horace Walpole tells a wicked
story of the Bishop turning him out of the Prince’s Chamber “by an
imposition of hands that had at least as much of the flesh as of the
spirit.” What brought these jars to light was the Bishop finding in the
Prince of Wales’s hands a French book written to justify James II.’s
measures, an offence which Stone tried to palliate by making out that
this Jacobite treatise had been lent the Prince by his sister, to whom,
one understands, it would do no such great harm. The end of it was that
both Governor and Preceptor resigned their offices, replaced by Lord
Waldegrave and the Bishop of Peterborough, who appear to have got on
for a time more smoothly with the subordinate instructors, as with the
family. The new Bishop, said their mother, gave great satisfaction, and
the children took to him. Lord Waldegrave, by his own account, became no
favourite with his most important pupil, and had a poor opinion of him.
His Memoirs scout the Princess’s professions that she did not interfere
in the boys’ education. The preceptors had little influence, he says;
“the mother and the nursery always prevailed.” The Prince he sets down
as obstinate, sulky, too stingy and too self-righteous for his years.
George, for his part, is afterwards found recalling this Governor as a
“depraved, worthless man.”

What seems most certain as to George III.’s education is that he learned
very little from books, not even to spell, but that he came to speak
French and German, and that he allowed his mother and her friend, if not
his tutors, to stamp the theory that a king of England should not only
reign but govern, upon a nature that proved wax to receive and marble to
retain such impressions. The mother spoke of George as a good, dutiful
boy, rather serious in his disposition than otherwise, but a little
wanting in spirit. Whether at her apron-string he grew up sly as well as
shy and sleepy, is a question raised by the story of his youthful amour
with a Quakeress named Hannah Lightfoot, which makes the plot of one of
Besant’s novels; but it is hard now to tell the truth of it. The idea one
gets of this King’s youth suggests Blifil rather than Tom Jones. All the
other sons turned out more like Tom Jones, while “insipid” was an epithet
applied to young George, who would yet develop a strongly-flavoured
character. His moral courage and pluck came to be well proved in several
trying predicaments; and at the opening of the Seven Years’ War, he
showed spirit by demanding to serve in the Army, to the King’s jealous
displeasure.

We need not rake up all the scandals that echoed about the quiet
household at Kew. The Whigs went on sounding an alarm that the Prince
of Wales was brought up in Jacobite principles, a particular hullabaloo
being raised by a charge that his tutor Stone had drunk the Pretender’s
health twenty years back, in company with Murray, better known as Lord
Mansfield. The chief reproach against Bute, as yet, seems to have been
his easily supposed illicit relations with the Princess, of which there
is no proof. It was after the accession, rather, that he came to be
pilloried as having laid himself out to heighten the Prince’s notion
of the prerogative. There can be no doubt that he had a great part in
moulding the future King’s mind, and that they were really fond of each
other. It is said that they took an _incognito_ tour together through
England, and as far as Edinburgh and the Isle of Bute.

At eighteen, when the Prince was considered fit to have done with
tutors, in the new household formed for him, Waldegrave being shunted
as a _persona ingrata_, the Kew influence availed to have Bute made his
official mentor as Groom of the Stole. The King offered him quarters at
Kensington, with a royal allowance; but the lad declared that he would
stick to his mother, which seems only a way of speaking, as by this time
he had a home of his own at Saville House in Leicester Fields. He was at
Kew, at all events, when, starting for London on horseback one morning,
he met a messenger with the news of George II.’s sudden death, confirmed
presently by the appearance of the Prime Minister’s carriage on its way
westwards to the new fountain of power and pensions.

We know with what fair prospects George III. ascended the throne,
“glorying in the name of Briton,” as Bute is said to have prompted him
in addressing a people of whom the majority would rather consider their
king as born an Englishman. A true John Bull he proved to be in his
sense of duty, in his narrow outlook, and in his pig-headed obstinacy.
Too soon the sky clouded over this well-meaning Prince, who took pains
to repair the deficiencies of his education, and had his character
quickly developed in the light that pours upon a throne. The lessons of
Kew had not been thrown away upon him. That unofficial tutor, hitherto
kept behind the scenes, became his open counsellor, and presently Prime
Minister, till overthrown by blasts of popular indignation excited
against the unconstitutional politician, the slandered favourite,
and the ambitious Scot, who made a magnet for drawing crowds of his
hungry countrymen to the source of patronage. The young King shared the
unpopularity of his adviser. He fell out with nobles and statesmen; from
the mob his carriage had to be guarded by prize-fighters. And in the
irony of fate, the cry of liberty swelled loudest round an unprincipled
libertine, who, taking to patriotism as “the last refuge of a scoundrel,”
quickly rose to be the idol of the mob, and made his fortune out of the
cause in which he afterwards boasted that he never believed. “I never
was a Wilkesite,” said Wilkes; but poor George was at least honest in his
notions of governing. It looks like a satire on the British Constitution
that our most virtuous and well-meaning kings have usually been those who
did us most mischief. At that time a puppet would have been more welcome
than a patriot king, but not a puppet whose wires were pulled by Bute.

One thing cannot be denied by his worst enemies, that this king made an
honest effort to rule himself, to lead a clean, simple and wholesome
life, which did so much in the end to win back respect for royalty among
the respectable classes. At the outset of his reign he seems ready to
have married for love of the bewitching siren, Lady Sarah Lennox, who
took care to be seen making hay on the lawn of Holland House, as the
young king rode by on the road to Kew. But that mock-Arcadian romance was
nipped in the bud by his managing mother, who made haste to look out a
wife for him among the Protestant princesses of Germany. George “sighed
as a lover, but obeyed as a son.” Lady Sarah, great-grand-daughter of
Charles II. as she was, had to content herself with serving as bridesmaid
to the new queen. She soon got over her disappointed ambition,
marrying twice and dying at a good old age as mother of the famous
soldier-brothers Napier. It is a touching coincidence that her old age
was afflicted by blindness, like her royal sweetheart’s, who in his last
days appears to have recalled or imagined an earlier passion for Lady
Elizabeth Spencer, afterwards Countess of Pembroke.

The royal bride chosen was Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz,
a girl of seventeen, who for more than half a century gave a new tone
to English society. After a little flutter of gaiety natural in her
position, she entered upon a life of dignified propriety and domesticity
with a husband who won her heart as well as her hand, and George,
whatever wild oats he may or may not have sown, made a constant husband
to his rather plain bride. This model couple agreed in the simple tastes
at which worldly courtiers sneered. St. James’s Palace they kept as a
stage for State functions; and they made little use of Windsor in the
first years of the reign. For the “Queen’s House” was bought the Duke
of Buckingham’s red-brick mansion on the site of what is now Buckingham
Palace; and out of town the King lived a good deal at Richmond Lodge,
also given to the Queen, where perhaps his mother still liked to keep him
near her. Every evening, it appears, King and Queen dutifully visited
that domineering princess either at Kew, or at her London residence,
Leicester House. Carlton House, afterwards given to the next Prince
of Wales, was also hers; and at one or other of these she lived “in a
privacy that exceeded economy.” That is Horace Walpole’s reproach, who
speaks of her as avaricious, but does not give the Dowager credit for
paying off her husband’s debts, nor for her liberal charities. Her worst
fault seems to have been a masterful temper that expressed itself in the
lesson imprinted on her son’s softness, “George, be a king!”

Richmond Lodge soon proving too small for the growing royal family,
George III. proposed to build a new palace for himself in Richmond
Gardens, near the river opposite Syon House. The design is still
preserved, and the work was actually begun; but a hitch occurred in the
obstinacy of the Richmond people, who refused to sell the King a piece
of ground he wanted to round off his demesne. Then the Princess Dowager,
when her other sons left the nest, gave up Kew House to George and
Charlotte, taking for herself the “Dutch House” across the way, till her
death, not long afterwards; and when the lease ran out, it was bought for
the Queen. The larger mansion had also been acquired, the royal family
thus, from tenants, coming to be owners of both houses.

The smaller house--the present Kew Palace--was kept up by them with a
separate establishment, at first used as the royal nursery, later on for
the education of the older sons: and for a time it came to be known as
the Prince of Wales’s House. Even then there was not accommodation for
the dozen or so of youngsters who spent much of their childhood at Kew;
and we hear of the King leasing or buying houses on Kew Green, where his
flock of princes and princesses could be brought up in good air, the
old Kew House serving always as the family rendezvous. In the grounds,
towards the Richmond Park side, Charlotte built the picturesque “Queen’s
Cottage,” where this industrious lady would ply her needle with her
children about her, while the King read aloud, often from Shakespeare,
for whom he professed a truly British admiration, though, as he told
Miss Burney, the great poet’s works contained “much sad stuff--only one
must not say so!”

At the beginning of George III.’s reign, the present Kew Palace is
found described as “Princess Amelia’s House,” so George II.’s old-maid
daughter, whose proposed marriage with Frederick the Great fell through,
as Carlyle has told at length, must have lived here for a time; but she
soon moved to Gunnersbury, not far off. This wilful Princess Amelia, who
had faults and merits of her own, held the office of Ranger of Richmond
Great Park, that brought her into collision with the public. She tried to
keep the gates shut against both gentle and simple, but found that she
was living in a free country, when one Lewis, a Richmond brewer, took the
lead in an action for right-of-way, which would have gone against her,
had George II. not anticipated the result by throwing the Park open.

Having thus marked out all the royal residences in and about Kew, let us
next fix our attention on Kew House during the period when it was the
favourite residence of George III.

[Illustration: THE QUEEN’S COTTAGE]



II

KEW IN FAVOUR


The chief memories of Kew are associated with its royal master who, by
his doings here, earned the nickname of “Farmer George,” in his unpopular
days also belittled as the “Buttonmaker,” a sneer at his turning-lathe,
and the taste for other mechanical pursuits which he shared with Louis
XVI. The “Squire of Kew” is a title that would have suited him better;
and he might have lived more happily and usefully had his station been
no higher than that which he here affected. When he could get away from
State functions and cares, not indeed neglected by him, he liked to
live at Kew as a simple country gentleman, keeping a pack of hounds,
superintending a model farm, improving his grounds, looking after his
children, walking out with his wife, and not wasting his money. As
the homely and frugal ways of this royal couple gave offence not only
to dissipated courtiers, who felt themselves rebuked, but to the mob,
always apt to be a snob, “meanly admiring mean things,” the caricaturists
and lampooners of the reign found abundant encouragement to make coarse
fun of George’s and Charlotte’s domestic virtues as well as of their
public offences. But one guesses that Gillray and Peter Pindar were not
applauded by the King’s neighbours at Kew.

For some ten years, as we have seen, Richmond Lodge made his favourite
country-seat; and for about the same period he was most at home in Kew
House. Then, after taking up their residence at Windsor, the royal family
went on making longer or shorter visits to Kew, kept as a _villeggiatura_
where they could be under less ceremony and restraint than in their
statelier palaces. Their winter abode was usually Buckingham House. Not
till George had been nearly twenty years on the throne did he care for
living at Windsor. The castle itself had fallen so much out of repair,
that a new “Queen’s Lodge” was built where now are the royal stables;
then this took the place of Kew as chief summer residence. When the
Richmond people found they were like to lose such distinguished and
profitable neighbours, they sorely repented their refusal to sell the bit
of land coveted by the King, which was now pressed upon him, but too late
to change his intention. That Naboth’s vineyard was eventually taken into
the royal grounds; then by an Act of Parliament closing “Love Lane,” a
public way between them, George was able to unite the grounds of Richmond
and Kew, which long, however, remained distinct enclosures.

So George and Charlotte settled down, had a large family, and lived
happily in private life, till fresh troubles came upon them. We should
all know Thackeray’s sly account of that life:--

    King George’s household was a model of an English gentleman’s
    household. It was early; it was kindly; it was charitable; it
    was frugal; it was orderly; it must have been stupid to a degree
    which I shudder now to contemplate. No wonder all the princes
    ran away from the lap of that dreary domestic virtue. It always
    rose, rode, dined at stated intervals. Day after day was the
    same. At the same hour at night the King kissed his daughters’
    jolly cheeks; the princesses kissed their mother’s hand; and
    Madame Thielke brought the royal nightcap. At the same hour
    the equerries and women-in-waiting had their little dinner and
    cackled over their tea. The King had his backgammon or his
    evening concert; the equerries yawned themselves to death in the
    anteroom; or the King and his family walked on Windsor slopes,
    the King holding his darling little Princess Amelia by the hand;
    and the people crowded round quite good-naturedly; and the Eton
    boys thrust their chubby cheeks under the crowd’s elbows; and
    the concert over, the King never failed to take his enormous
    cocked-hat off, and salute his band, and say, “Thank you,
    gentlemen!”

[Illustration: IN QUEEN’S COTTAGE GARDENS]

In the Memoirs of Mrs. Papendiek, whose husband and father were Court
pages, and who was brought up at Kew, it is mentioned that during the “No
Popery” riots the children were sent away to Kew, while the King stayed
at his post in London, showing courage and spirit, but would ride down
between four and seven in the morning for a peep at his darlings, brought
up to their parents’ early hours. Other reminiscences give glimpses of
the royal domesticity and rusticity, not so dull to all tastes as to
those of a man about town like Thackeray. One lad, John Rogers, who
lived into Victoria’s reign, remembered seeing the young King, shut out
of Richmond Lodge after a morning walk, tapping at the window in vain,
till at last he contrived to open one and push himself in head foremost.
In the country, George and Charlotte were up at six, and breakfasted
with their children about them. They often dined with the children, too;
later on the King took to early dinners that scandalised his guests by
the simplicity of mutton and turnips. His usual drink was a sort of
lemonade known in the household as King’s cup. In an age of intemperance
and riots, he preferred sobriety, the morning dew, and the open air,
with plenty of exercise to keep down his fat. The lucky children had all
Kew Gardens to play in; and once a week the whole family made a regular
promenade through the Richmond grounds. When he went further afield,
George loved Paul-prying into the cottages of his poorer neighbours,
showing an interest in their petty affairs, and pouring out upon them
more questions than could be answered, such as that famous one, how the
apple got into the dumpling?

Though the London mob, at different times, were insolent to both
sovereigns, they never lost popularity at Kew. When they next visited
it after the King’s escape from assassination by a mad woman, the road
over Kew Green was found crowded by all the inhabitants, “lame, old,
sick, blind, and infants,” with a band of musicians “who began _God Save
the King!_ the moment they came on the Green, and finished it with loud
huzzas”--a neighbourly demonstration that moved the Queen to tearfully
declaring, “I shall always love little Kew for this.”

George succeeded to his mother’s interest in Kew Gardens, now enlarged
and improved as will be told in another chapter. He also carried on a
large home-farm that extended into the parish of Mortlake, while the
Old Deer Park was turned into pasture for a flock of merino sheep which
he imported into England. The young princes were brought up to the same
tastes. Before getting into their teens, the two eldest had a plot of
ground given them, where, _à la_ Sandford and Merton, they planted a crop
of corn, weeded, reaped, thrashed and ground it with their own hands, and
saw it made into bread, of which the whole family duly partook. Up till
our own time was standing in Kew Gardens a miniature structure said to
have been built by the princes as part of their apprenticeship to life.
In the present Kew Palace are preserved specimens of their early writing,
George’s copy being _Conscious Innocence_, while Frederick traces very
creditably the sentiment, _Aim at Improvement_.

It was not through parental indulgence if these boys grew to despise such
innocent pursuits. Queen Charlotte taught them herself in their A B C
stage: and when they were given over to tutors, the order was that they
should be treated like ordinary scholars, flogged if they deserved it,
and so forth. The rod seems not to have been spared on him who was to
become the Lord’s anointed; and his education in the classics prospered
better than his father’s. The notorious Dr. Dodd, who came to be hanged
for forgery, was at one time proposed as the Prince of Wales’s tutor. He
was brought up with his next brother Frederick, who, till created Duke
of York, bore in boyhood the foreign title of Bishop of Osnaburgh, and
had been made a Knight of the Bath in the nursery. The little Bishop
did not take kindly to books; but in later life George IV. could pose
as a scholar before the courtly wits about him; even in his teens he
corrected his Governor, Lord Bruce, on a false quantity, so mortifying
the noble pedagogue that he gave in his resignation. There is another
story, perhaps recorded by Signor Ben Trovato, that in the Prince’s
later life an uncourtly Provost of Eton mentioned Homer to him as “an
author with whom your Royal Highness is probably not much acquainted,”
to which H.R.H. suavely replied that he had forgotten a good deal of his
Homer, but remembered one line, and went on to quote _Il._ i. 225, which,
for readers in the same case as to Homer, may be rendered by Dryden’s
version, “Dastard and drunken, mean and insolent”--epithets that too well
fitted the rebuked pedant in question.

The Eton boys of that day, for whom the _summum supplicium_, according to
Henry Angelo’s _Memoirs_, was not over six cuts of a birch, would appear
to have been handled in less Spartan fashion than were the King’s sons
in their private schoolroom. The Princess Sophia told Miss Amelia Murray
that she had seen her eldest brothers, at thirteen and fourteen, held
by the arms to be flogged with a long whip. But once the naughty boys
are said to have turned against one of their severe masters, using upon
him the rod he proposed for them. This story may have suggested a scene
in Thackeray’s _Virginians_, as it might have been prompted by one in
_Roderick Random_, or a variant in _The Fool of Quality_, a very long and
edifying romance of the Sandford and Merton school, which had a vogue at
this period. The Queen held no high opinion of novel-reading; and if her
sons studied the works of Smollett, it would perhaps be on the sly, as
must have been a good many doings in that family.

We know how these carefully educated princes had more of Merton than
of Sandford in their disposition; then they soon found flatterers and
courtiers to set them against their strict training, and to curry
favour with a future sovereign. Childish mischief may excuse the freak
of the boy Prince of Wales saluting his father with the hated cry of
“Wilkes and Liberty!” But it was a serious matter when the second son
was precociously found playing the Don Juan with a cottage beauty.
That scapegrace Bishop is accused of leading his elder brother into
wrong-doings for which he perhaps needed no prompter. Their uncle,
the Duke of Cumberland, was another bad counsellor, who delighted in
debauching his nephews out of ill will to the moral King. A worse
companion, later on, would be the notorious Duke de Chartres, afterwards
_Égalité_ Orleans, who brought to London French-polished vices to
exchange for English jockeyism.

The Prince of Wales, like his father, was fond of music, and, if flattery
may be trusted, made no despicable performer. Mrs. Papendiek, having the
same tastes, can give us some glimpse of his hobbledehoy recreations.

    What with the goings on of the Prince of Wales at the Lodge, the
    fun with Fischer, the celebrated oboe player, and the various
    amusements in which I was engaged, the season was one of gaiety,
    mirth, and enjoyment. The well-known bet of five guineas between
    Bach and Fischer was made in the presence of his Royal Highness
    and of us all. The bet was that Fischer could not play his own
    minuet. He was a very nervous man, and after allowing him to get
    through a few bars, Bach stood before him with a lemon in his
    hand, which he squeezed so that the juice dropped slowly. Then
    he bit another so that the juice ran out of his mouth freely.
    Fischer tried once or twice to get rid of the water that must,
    on such a sight, fill the mouth; but not being able to conquer
    the sensation, he was obliged to own himself beaten.… Another
    joke was played off upon poor Fischer this merrymaking season,
    to this effect: After the concert, which Fischer attended twice
    a week at Richmond or at Kew, wherever the King and Queen were,
    he used eagerly to seize upon the supper before he went to
    London. Upon one occasion, the Prince came in and said, “I have
    ordered something that I know you like,” a dish was brought in,
    and when the cover was lifted, out jumped a rabbit. Germans have
    a particular dislike to that animal in every shape and form;
    therefore it is easy to conjecture poor Fischer’s state of mind.
    This joke cost him only the loss of his supper, but many nights
    succeeded before he could be prevailed on to again enter the
    eating-room.

Making a butt of a dependent seems no princely pastime; but this lady has
worse to tell us of the “First Gentleman in Europe’s” amusements at the
age of sixteen. “Much do I lament to add that some of those about the
young princes swerved from principle, and introduced improper company
when their Majesties supposed them to be at rest, and after the divines
had closed their day with prayer.”

The first open scandal about the Prince was his intrigue with the
unfortunate “Perdita” Robinson, who turned many a head beside his by her
acting in _The Winter’s Tale_. We know very little about that episode
except what the lady thinks fit to tell us in her Memoirs. The boy lover,
not yet eighteen, was so closely kept at Kew that for some time he
had to content himself with ardent letters. At length an interview was
arranged under circumstances which suggest that the tutorial turnkeys
must have been in the way of nodding over their port. Lord Malden, who
played Leporello in this amour, brought Perdita to an inn on the island
between Kew and Brentford, to await the signal that should invite them to
cross.

    The handkerchief was waved on the opposite shore; but the signal
    was, by the dusk of the evening, rendered almost imperceptible.
    Lord Malden took my hand, I stepped into the boat, and in a few
    minutes we landed before the iron gates of old Kew Palace. The
    interview was but of a moment. The Prince of Wales and the Duke
    of York (then Bishop of Osnaburg) were walking down the avenue.
    A few words, and those scarcely articulate, were uttered by
    the Prince, when a noise of people approaching from the palace
    startled us. The moon was now rising; and the idea of being
    overheard, or of his Royal Highness being seen out at so unusual
    an hour, terrified the whole group. After a few more words of a
    most affectionate nature uttered by the Prince, we parted, and
    Lord Malden and myself returned to the island. The Prince never
    quitted the avenue, nor the presence of the Duke of York, during
    the whole of this short meeting. Alas! my friend, if my mind was
    before influenced by esteem, it was now awakened to the most
    enthusiastic admiration. The rank of the Prince no longer chilled
    into awe that being who now considered him as the lover and the
    friend. The graces of his person, the irresistible sweetness of
    his smile, the tenderness of his melodious yet manly voice, will
    be remembered by me till every vision of this changing scene
    shall be forgotten.

[Illustration: LOOKING UP THE THAMES]

Repeated assignations, she says, followed “at this romantic spot,” where
now the party took courage to continue their walks till past midnight.
Prince Frederick and Lord Malden, we are to know, were always there to
play gooseberry. The lady wore a dark-coloured dress, and the gentlemen
were disguised in greatcoats, except that harum-scarum Bishop, who would
make his companions uneasy by showing himself in an unclerical buff coat,
“the most conspicuous colour he could have selected for an adventure of
this nature.” The tutors having got into their nightcaps by midnight,
one supposes, these moonlight ramblers even ventured on a little music
as the food of love, Frederick being the minstrel whose tones, “breaking
on the silence of the night, have often appeared to my entranced senses
like more than mortal melody.” It is clear that Perdita does not tell the
whole story. Mrs. Papendiek, well up in the gossip of the backstairs,
roundly asserts that two officials who had been about these princes from
childhood, “privately overlooked the domestic vices and irregularities of
their young charge,” and that they smuggled Mrs. Robinson through a back
gate to the Prince of Wales’s apartments.

The beautiful actress, who was a poetess, too, _à ses heures_, might well
be dazzled by those shining personalities. The Prince vowed unalterable
love till death; and the most convincing of his _billets-doux_ was a bond
promising to pay Perdita £20,000 at his majority. Perhaps he was sincere
for the moment; but we know what such callow vows come to. When, at
eighteen, he became to some extent his own master, this unhappily married
woman was taken into keeping, and for a time cut a notorious dash before
the footlights of society. After Florizel grew tired of her, Perdita’s
gushing sentimentality did not overlook businesslike considerations. She
let the King buy up the Prince’s letters for £5000; and his bond was
commuted for a pension of £400. But, these profits swallowed up by debts
and extravagant habits, the poor creature fell into bad health and hasty
authorship. Paralysed and harassed, she died in 1800, buried by her own
desire, “for a particular reason,” in Old Windsor Churchyard, where her
tomb may be seen fenced in with spiked railings to defend it from the
body-snatchers that infested those river-side graveyards; and on it may
be read an oft-quoted epitaph idealising the painful facts of her career.

At Richmond lived Mrs. Fitzherbert, the Prince of Wales’s more lasting
flame, to whom he appears to have been honestly, if illegally, married.
When this Prince was launched upon the wicked world, and the Bishop _in
partibus_ had been sent off to finish his education abroad, the royal
pair still had their quiver full of youngsters, who for twenty years came
so fast as to be cue for Horace Walpole’s jesting prophecy that “London
will be like the senate of old Rome, an assembly of princes.” Besides
others who died young, there were the princes afterwards known as Dukes
of Clarence, Kent, Cumberland, Sussex, and Cambridge, and the Princesses
Charlotte, Augusta, Mary, Elizabeth, Sophia, and little Amelia, the
darling of her father. Where all these children were stowed away, one
cannot always make out clearly: we hear of the Princes William and Edward
living with their tutors in what is now Cambridge Cottage, and two of
the younger boys in a house at the top of the Green. Lady Charlotte
Finch, governess to the princesses, had a separate house near the river;
then another is spoken of as the “Princess Elizabeth’s house.” Kew House
itself was a scrimply inconvenient mansion, for which the royal household
made a tight fit even in its state of reduced ceremony. Pictures of it
when it was the Princess Dowager’s villa, show a square, plain front with
two one-storied wings, from which in all thirty-two windows look straight
out upon the lawn. At that time it bore the _alias_ of “The White
House.” Miss Burney describes it as a labyrinth of stairs and passages,
where at first she continually lost herself among the “small, dark, and
old-fashioned” rooms.

It is in 1786 that a search-light comes to be turned upon this
semi-private life by the diary of a then most popular novelist. At
the end of the year before, Fanny Burney had been staying with her
venerable friend, Mrs. Delaney, at Windsor, when one afternoon into the
drawing-room walked, unannounced, a burly man in black with a star on
his breast. Even the short-sighted visitor hardly needed to be told
who he was. As every one in the room drew back out of the way, she was
for slipping off; but the King asked in a loud whisper, “Is that Miss
Burney?” and after good-naturedly giving her time to recover from her
modest confusion, entered upon a conversation of questions, punctuated
with _what, whats_, in which he showed himself very inquisitive as to
how she had come to write and print _Evelina_. The Queen soon followed,
to whom George introduced her by repeating their conversation; and
Miss Burney went to bed enraptured with her new acquaintances. Further
interviews followed, which only increased her admiration, though the
satirist rather than the courtier peeps out in her account of directions
given her for behaviour in the presence of royalty.

Her demeanour certainly gave satisfaction in the royal circle, for a
few months afterwards she was offered the post of one of the Queen’s
dressers, which she accepted after some modest misgiving. We remember
Macaulay’s indignation, “That with talents which had instructed and
delighted the highest living minds, she should now be employed only
in mixing snuff and in sticking pins; that she should be summoned by
a waiting-woman’s bell to a waiting-woman’s duties; that she should
pass her whole life under the restraints of a paltry etiquette, should
sometimes fast till she was ready to swoon for hunger, should sometimes
stand till her knees gave way with fatigue, that she should not dare to
speak or move without considering how her mistress might like her words
and gestures.”

This engagement was certainly a mistake on both sides: Miss Burney
might have found more congenial employment; and the Queen could have
had a better dresser. But Macaulay, after his manner, has rather
over-emphasised the evils of her lot in the royal service. She certainly
took it as a rise in the world, and to her father it seemed dazzling
good fortune. The remuneration offered her, with the chance of further
favour, might well have satisfied even successful novelists of that day,
few among whom would not have jumped at such admission to the skirts of
Court life. Her year’s salary, £200, was almost as much as she got from
her second novel, and far more than the proceeds of her first one; then
Macaulay slurs over the Queen’s generosity in presents. To look at the
matter in no mere terms of pay, literature probably lost little by her
laying down the pen for a time; her best work had been done in _Evelina_;
_Cecilia_ was a falling off; and _Camilla_, written after her experience
of service, did not deserve the pecuniary success won for it, in part, by
royal patronage. In her diary, Miss Burney herself makes little serious
complaint but of the ill-tempered tyranny of her senior colleague, Mrs.
Schwellenberg. Court life soon ceased to be a little heaven below for
her; but she had distractions in royal journeys to Oxford, Cheltenham,
Weymouth, seats at the trial of Warren Hastings, glimpses of great folks,
and even spells of moral flirtation with at least one gentleman of the
household, not to speak of rather troublesome attentions from another
who was a married man. She cannot say too much of the kindness of the
King and the princesses; and if her “sweet Queen” proved sometimes an
inconsiderate mistress, it was from want of thought rather than a hard
heart. The confinement upon which Macaulay lays such stress was no
stricter than that of most domestic ladies, who had not Windsor Park and
Kew Gardens to walk in. Had she been more robust, the novelist might have
lived on to become a second Mrs. Delaney in the royal esteem. But her
health broke down, and after five years’ genteel servitude she retired on
a pension of a hundred pounds.

During these years the Court had its summer head-quarters at Windsor.
Every second week, the “Royals” spent from Tuesday to Friday at Kew,
using this as a half-way house for St. James’s, where on Thursdays the
Queen held her fortnightly drawing-rooms. This was Miss Burney’s hardest
job. She had to be up at six on drawing-room days, with hardly time for
breakfast, to help in dressing the Queen, who put on most of her finery
at Kew, the “tippet and long ruffles” being carried in paper to save
them from dust; then the final touches were added at St. James’s, where,
after the function, the idol had to be undecked--in all, three laborious
attendances and two journeys, from which the tired keeper of the robes
got back to dinner not till nearly seven o’clock, as then seemed a very
late hour.

In winter, when the Court moved to London, there would be no going to
Kew, which indeed was not fitted up as a cold weather residence. When
it came to be occupied for months during the King’s illness, strips of
carpet and sandbags had to be provided to make the princesses tolerably
comfortable. All the luxury of this house was outside, in its spacious
gardens. But the want of state was made up for by the more home-like
life of Kew, though that had also its disadvantages; the ladies and
gentlemen were not free to see their friends where the King and his
younger children might at any time come wandering along the passages and
poking into the small rooms. There was not even a chapel in the house;
and when the Royal Family happened to spend a Sunday here by some chance,
they heard prayers in a private room, through the door of another, where
the chief attendants took their place, the servants being edified in an
outer apartment, which reminds us of the complaint of one of Queen Anne’s
chaplains that he had “to whistle the Gospel through the keyhole.” It was
later that George III. fitted Kew Church with a gallery to serve as royal
pew.

Towards the end of 1788, this routine was painfully broken upon by the
King’s illness, which began during one of his temporary stays at Kew,
prolonged then for more than a week, to the great discomposure of the
household, ill-provided with clothes, or with books in Miss Burney’s
case. The cause of the attack was said to be His Majesty’s sitting in wet
stockings; but for some time back signs of strangeness had been noted in
him, who had enough to disorder his mind in the conduct of his eldest
sons, and in his brooding over the loss of the American Colonies. Miss
Burney’s diary gives a vivid picture of those wretched days at Kew, when
no one felt sure what to say, and some, like herself, hardly knew what
to think of the rumours that filled the house. The King was noisy and
voluble beyond his wont, talking himself hoarse in his assurances that
there was not much the matter with him, mingled with complaints that he
could not sleep. More than once Miss Burney found the Queen in tears.
Charlotte had good reason for anxiety: she must have been aware of the
character of a similar attack near the beginning of the reign, which had
passed off so quickly that it could be hushed up.

By October 25, George seemed so much better that he moved to Windsor,
where his restlessness and weakness grew worse again. He obstinately
insisted on going out to hunt as usual in the November weather, yet he
had to confess that all at once he had become an old man. A few days
later there was a terrible commotion in the family. It leaked out that
at dinner the King had broken into positive delirium, seizing his eldest
son by the collar and pushing him against the wall. The Prince is said
to have burst into tears, while the Queen had a fit of hysterics. Her
husband could with difficulty be persuaded to spend the night in a
separate room, from which all night long she heard his ravings, now no
secret to any one in the house.

The King’s death being looked on as imminent, the Prince of Wales at
once took command of the misery and confusion at Windsor. His heartless
conduct during his father’s illness is matter of history, as also
the bitter struggle between his faction and Pitt’s Ministry on the
Regency question, the former maintaining the very unwhiggish doctrine
that royal authority should pass, in the circumstances, into the Heir
Apparent’s hands, while the Tories would make him Regent only with the
sanction of Parliament, and under restrictions. The rabble was now on
the King’s side; and all respectable persons, not being partisans or
place-hunters, were disgusted by the profligate Prince’s conduct. The
doctors attending the King had been threatened with popular violence if
his illness proved fatal. Their case was a hard one, as not only would
the royal patient not always take their remedies nor even see them, but
they were treating a complaint then ill understood even by physicians who
professed special experience in it. It is said that poor George was put
in a strait-waistcoat, chained to the wall, and actually struck by one of
his keepers, which would be quite after the practice of that day. But the
stories of his harsh treatment are somewhat dubious, for the notion that
he was being ill-used often figured among his delusions.

At the end of November the doctors determined on removing him to Kew,
where he could get exercise in the privacy of the Gardens. The King
angrily refused to leave Windsor, and had to be coaxed away by a promise
that he should see his wife and children, gone on before him. “Princes,
equerries, physicians, pages--all conferring, whispering, plotting and
caballing, how to induce the King to set off!” noted Miss Burney, who
accompanied her mistress on their hasty flitting to Kew House, where the
Prince of Wales had written in chalk over each room the name of its
occupant. Everybody had to put up with the discomfort of being crowded
together in that ill-furnished mansion. The only good rooms were given up
to the King, those above being left empty that he might not be disturbed.
Part of the household overflowed into the Prince of Wales’s house
opposite; the younger children being lodged in their usual quarters on
Kew Green. Pent up closely with “the Schwellenberg,” Miss Burney had her
full share of troubles; but her womanly devotion rose to the occasion,
and she declares that “not even the £20,000 prize in the lottery
could, at this time, draw me from this melancholy scene.” She had the
satisfaction of being employed, every morning, to carry the physicians’
report to the Queen, who, by her enemies, was accused of doctoring those
bulletins to give the most favourable view of symptoms on which, for
once, doctors differed.

The Prince of Wales and his partisans listened rather to those big-wigs
of the profession that were most gravely shaken over a case they did not
understand. They perhaps agreed best in looking askance on an outsider
called in upon the removal to Kew. This was the Rev. Mr. Willis, who
at Lincoln, and in a private asylum of his own, had shown the benefit
of a more rational treatment of the insane. Though he had a medical
degree, he was belittled as a quack by many members of a guild apt to
suspect innovators; but his success had been so notable that he was
now employed, with his sons, trained in his methods, to be constantly
about the King. From the first he took a hopeful view of the case; and
when, with occasional interference, he was allowed to have his way, it
soon appeared that he was the right man in the right place. His secret
seems to have been a mixture of kindness and firmness; but perhaps he
was not above using nostrums of his own. Mrs. Papendiek, whose husband
was in attendance, says that one of the remedies used was musk, the
smell of which the King could not bear, but the doctor insisted on it as
efficacious. He took the responsibility of giving the King a razor to
shave himself, for which he was afterwards denounced almost as compassing
_Lèse-majesté_; but on all such questions he stipulated for leave to go
by his own experience and judgment.

Had this been in the era of newspaper kodaking, we should no doubt have
fuller details of the King’s madness, as to which more or less doubtful
stories leak out in the memoirs and letters of the day. He is described
as wanting to climb the Pagoda, and on being thwarted, throwing himself
sulkily on the ground, from which it took four or five men three-quarters
of an hour to raise him. Another day he tried to throw himself out of a
window. The worst symptom was his incessant garrulity: he would go on
talking for hours about everything or nothing. One of the doctors once
found him translating the Court Calendar into doggerel Latin. The most
pathetic story is that of his being overheard earnestly praying for
his recovery. At times he showed touches of humour and shrewdness. He
managed, though it had been forbidden, to get hold of a copy of _King
Lear_, Dr. Willis not being strong in literature; and when his elder
daughters were first allowed to visit him, he told them “I am like poor
Lear; but thank God! I have no Regan, no Goneril, but three Cordelias.”
Once he reproached Willis with having given up his sacred calling for
profit; and when the reverend doctor excused himself on the precedent of
Christ healing demoniacs, “Yes,” said the King, “but He did not get seven
hundred a year for it!”

The Willises, by the way, afterwards complained of their remuneration,
whatever it was; but their treatment of George III. made an excellent
advertisement for the family, one of whom was sent for to Lisbon in the
case of a mad Queen of Portugal. They seem to have given some offence
in the household by the position they had to assume. Great was flunkey
indignation when four of Dr. Willis’s keepers were raised to brevet-rank
as pages, that after his recovery they might remain beside the King in
case of a relapse. About that time several of the regular pages seem
to have been dismissed or disgraced, it is said for carrying tales to
the Prince of Wales. These “pages,” of course, had now grown into adult
servants above mere menial rank, such beardless boys as figure in history
and romance being distinguished as “pages of honour.”

[Illustration: THE PAGODA]

Poor Miss Burney was so worn out that one of the doctors, noticing her
wan looks, insisted on her taking daily exercise, such as was the
prescription for the King. As the orders were to keep every one out of
his way, she made a point of inquiring whether he would be in the Kew or
the Richmond grounds; but once there was a misunderstanding that led to
the most violent agitation of her life. While tramping her constitutional
round of Kew Gardens, through the trees she saw three or four figures,
whom at first her short-sighted eyes took for workmen, till she was too
late aware of His Majesty’s person among them.

    Alarmed past all possible expression, I waited not to know more,
    but turning back, ran off with all my might. But what was my
    terror to hear myself pursued!--to hear the voice of the King
    himself loudly and hoarsely calling after me, “Miss Burney! Miss
    Burney!”

    I protest I was ready to die. I knew not in what state he might
    be at the time; I only knew the orders to keep out of his way
    were universal; that the Queen would highly disapprove any
    unauthorised meeting, and that the very action of my running
    away might deeply, in his present irritable state, offend him.
    Nevertheless, on I ran, too terrified to stop, and in search of
    some short passage, for the garden is full of little labyrinths,
    by which I might escape.

    The steps still pursued me, and still the poor hoarse and
    altered voice rang in my ears--more and more footsteps resounded
    frightfully behind me--the attendants all running, to catch their
    eager master, and the voices of the two Doctor Willises loudly
    exhorting him not to heat himself so unmercifully.

    Heavens, how I ran! I do not think I should have felt the hot
    lava from Vesuvius--at least not the hot cinders--had I so run
    during its eruption. My feet were not sensible that they even
    touched the ground.

    Soon after, I heard other voices, shriller, though less nervous,
    call out “Stop! stop! stop!”

    I could by no means consent; I knew not what was purposed, but I
    recollected fully my agreement with Dr. John that very morning,
    that I should decamp if surprised, and not be named.

    My own fears and repugnance, also, after a flight and
    disobedience like this, were doubled in the thought of not
    escaping. I knew not to what I might be exposed, should the
    malady be then high, and take the turn of resentment. Still,
    therefore, on I flew; and such was my speed, so almost incredible
    to relate or recollect, that I fairly believe no one of the whole
    party could have overtaken me, if these words from one of the
    attendants had not reached me, “Doctor Willis begs you to stop!”

    “I cannot! I cannot!” I answered, still flying on, when he called
    out, “You must, ma’am; it hurts the King to run.”

    Then, indeed, I stopped--in a state of fear really amounting to
    agony. I turned round, I saw the two doctors had got the King
    between them, and three attendants of Dr. Willis’s were hovering
    about. They all slackened their pace, as they saw me stand still;
    but such was the excess of my alarm, that I was wholly insensible
    to the effects of a race which, at any other time, would have
    required an hour’s recruit.

    As they approached, some little presence of mind happily came to
    my command; it occurred to me that, to appease the wrath of my
    flight, I must now show some confidence; I therefore faced them
    as undauntedly as I was able, only charging the nearest of the
    attendants to stand by my side.

    When they were within a few yards of me the King called out, “Why
    did you run away?”

    Shocked at a question impossible to answer, yet a little assured
    by the mild tone of his voice, I instantly forced myself forward
    to meet him, though the internal sensation which satisfied me
    this was a step the most proper to appease his suspicions and
    displeasure, was so violently combated by the tremor of my
    nerves, that I fairly think I may reckon it the greatest effort
    of personal courage I have ever made.

    The effort answered: I looked up, and met all his wonted
    benignity of countenance, though something still of wildness in
    his eyes. Think, however, of my surprise, to feel him put both
    his hands round my two shoulders and then kiss my cheek!

    I wonder I did not really sink, so exquisite was my affright when
    I saw him spread out his arms! Involuntarily, I concluded he
    meant to crush me; but the Willises, who have never seen him till
    this fatal illness, not knowing how very extraordinary an action
    this was from him, simply smiled and looked pleased, supposing,
    perhaps, it was his customary salutation.

She was soon relieved to find the King talking reasonably enough, though
with a certain flightiness, not very different from his ordinary manner.
He insisted on prolonging the interview, after the Willises in vain tried
to cut it short. He talked of Mrs. Schwellenberg, seeming quite well
aware of what Miss Burney had to bear from her “Cerbera”; of the lady’s
own father, author of the _History of Music_; of his favourite composer,
Handel, snatches from whose oratorios he tried to hum over with painful
effect. As they walked on together, he asked endless questions about his
friends, expressed his intention of appointing new officials, complained
angrily of his pages. At last he was persuaded to part from this
reluctant confidante, promising to be her friend as long as he lived;
then she went off to the Queen with a report which ensured forgiveness
for that innocent adventure.

The favourable symptoms continued, little to the satisfaction of the
Prince and his friends, who are credited with passing brutal jests on
the King’s condition. Just as power seemed to be within their grasp, the
Regency Bill was shelved, after an audience given by the King to the Lord
Chancellor, Thurlow, though that shifty Polonius is said to have remarked
that His Majesty had been “wound up” to talk to him. Miss Burney, who now
confined her walks to the roadside, had the happiness of thence seeing
the royal pair walking arm-in-arm in Richmond Gardens. Next day, the King
came to tea with his family in the drawing-room; then, a few days later,
meeting Miss Burney in the Queen’s dressing-room, he said that he had
waited on purpose to tell her--“I am quite well now--I was nearly so when
I saw you before--but I could overtake you better now.” After four months
of royal misery and public excitement, the evergreen sneerer, Horace
Walpole, could note--“The King has returned, not to what the courtiers
call his sense, but to his non-sense.”

The news called forth an outburst of public joy, that hit the Prince’s
party hard. A thanksgiving prayer was read in every church; and later on
the King, to the dread of his advisers, would not be satisfied without
the excitement of attending a solemn service at St. Paul’s, where he and
the princesses were moved to tears, while his graceless sons attracted
attention by their irreverent chattering. There is some slight palliation
for the Prince of Wales’s conduct throughout this trying time, in the
fact that the King had showed a dislike to him, and even a want of
fairness to his shortcomings; but the Duke of York, always the father’s
favourite son, has no excuse for backing up his undutiful brother. Soon
after the recovery was announced, London had hailed it with a general
illumination, from rushlights in the humblest cottage window to blazing
devices on the clubs. It was witnessed by the Queen and all her daughters
except the youngest, while, in their absence till the, for them, most
unwonted hour of 1 A.M., Kew House too was lighted up and adorned with a
transparency displaying _The King--Providence--Health--Britannia_; and on
either side of the gates, in gold letters on a purple ground, shone these
most loyal lines:--

    Our prayers are heard, and Providence restores
    A patriot King to bless Britannia’s shores.
    Nor yet to Britain is this bliss confined,
    All Europe hails the friend of human kind!
    If such the general joy, what words can show
    The change to transport from the depth of woe,
    In those permitted to embrace again
    The best of fathers, husbands, and of men?

Inside the house also the Muse was not silent. His darling Princess
Amelia came to kneel before him, presenting her father with verses in the
Queen’s name, from the pen of her novelist-attendant.

[Illustration: THE WATER LILY POND]

    Amid a rapturous Nation’s praise
      That sees thee to their prayers restored,
    Turn gently from the general blaze,--
      Thy Charlotte woos her bosom’s lord.

    Turn and behold where, bright and clear,
      Depictured with transparent art,
    The emblems of her thoughts appear,
      The tribute of a grateful heart.

    O! small the tribute, were it weigh’d
      With all she feels--or half she knows!
    But noble minds are best repaid
      From the pure spring whence bounty flows.

    P.S.--The little bearer begs a kiss
      From dear papa, for bringing this.

In the middle of March, after their unusually long stay at Kew, the royal
family moved to Windsor, the King riding on horseback, to be received by
the townsfolk with an ovation of welcome. In June, to complete the cure,
he went to Weymouth for sea-bathing, everywhere on the journey hailed
with acclamations and demonstrations that might well have turned a weak
head. At Weymouth, the exuberant loyalty of the people was embarrassing.
All the shops and bathing-machines placarded _God Save the King_, a
device repeated on the bonnets and waists of the bathing-women, as indeed
on dresses all over England. “All the children,” reports Miss Burney,
“wear it in their caps--all the labourers in their hats, and all the
sailors _in their voices_; for they never approach the house without
shouting it aloud--nor see the King, or his shadow, without beginning to
huzza, and going on to three cheers.… Nor is this all. Think but of the
surprise of His Majesty when, the first time of his bathing, he had no
sooner popped his royal head under water than a band of music concealed
in a neighbouring machine struck up ‘God save great George our King!’”
It was now that occurred the ludicrous incident of the wooden-legged
Mayor presenting an address, and not being able to kneel, to the scandal
of the officials. And here, the “Royals” having gone on a day’s visit
to Sherborne Castle, for the first time in three years Miss Burney had
a holiday, which she spent with a friend in a “romantic and lovely
excursion” to the ruins of Sandsfoot Castle near the neck of Portland
Island, a peep into which she might have found more romantic, had some
couple of miles not been a Georgian lady’s limit on foot.

After a tour through the loyal West country, the Court returned to its
routine of London and Windsor life, with halts at Kew in the summer. But
henceforth Miss Burney’s diary has little to say about Kew; and after
another year we lose that peep-hole into royal domesticity. The life of a
glorified waiting-maid began to tell upon her health and spirits: “Lost
to all private comfort, dead to all domestic endearment, I was worn with
want of rest and fatigued with laborious watchfulness and attendance.”
Her chief comfort had been a sort of intermittent philandering with
the Queen’s Vice-Chamberlain, Colonel Digby--the “Mr. Fairly” of her
journals--a favourite with the King, too, to whom he could “say anything
in his genteel roundabout way.” This gentleman the lady clearly admired
none the less when he became a widower, though to us she presents him
rather too much in the character of a priggish novel hero, full of
edifying reflections and opinions. But the sentimental friend turned out
not impeccable, for he married Another, the “Miss Fuzilier,” about whom
his fellow-servant had often rallied him; and she cannot conceal that
this choice seemed unworthy of him. Her health was so evidently breaking
down that her literary friends cried out on the sacrifice; even the
newspapers gossiped about her condition; and the meddlesome Mr. Boswell
declared that he would set the whole Club upon Dr. Burney, if she were
not allowed to resign.

This she was most loth to do. She tried taking “the bark,” but that did
little good. The Rev. Dr. Willis volunteered a prescription which she
found “too violent” in its effect, while grateful to him for his interest
in her. “Why,” said he, “to tell the truth, I don’t quite know how I
could have got on at Kew, in the King’s illness, if it had not been for
seeing you in a morning. I assure you they worried me so, all round, one
way or other, that I was almost ready to go off. But you used to keep
me up prodigiously. Though, I give you my word, I was afraid sometimes
to see you, with your good-humoured face, for all it helped me to keep
up, because I did not know what to say to you, when things went bad, on
account of vexing you.”

Every one noticed her miserable plight, yet the Queen showed herself
too blind to the fact of a life being wasted in her service. Even the
ill-tempered Mrs. Schwellenberg was kind in her way, who seems to have
found this subordinate a pleasingly submissive victim, and occasionally
spoke well of her behind her back: “The Bernan bin reely agribble!”
This “Cerbera,” whatever her faults, had the virtue of devotion to her
lifelong mistress, and could not understand living by choice out of
sunshine of Court favour. She tempted Miss Burney with the dazzling
prospect of her own post in reversion. But the novelist was sick of her
gilded cage. With trembling knees, after long hesitation, as if it were
a crime, in the form of a petition she offered her resignation, not
over-graciously received. The Queen proposed a six weeks’ holiday, a
change of air. When this was declined, the Schwellenberg raged against
Miss Burney and her father as almost guilty of treason. “I am sure she
would have gladly confined us both in the Bastille, had England such
a misery, as a fit place to bring us to ourselves from a daring so
outrageous to imperial wishes.”

She held on some months longer to let the Queen find a successor, secured
in the person of a Hanoverian pastor’s daughter, Mdlle. Jacobi, who, for
sign of family poverty, brought a niece with her in the disguise of maid.
Miss Burney’s last King’s birthday ball under the royal roof was marked
by a visit to Mrs. Schwellenberg’s room from the young Duke of Clarence,
our future sovereign, of which the diarist jotted down a long and most
amusing description, though she has to apologise for not giving a full
“idea of the energy of His Royal Highness’s language.” He insisted upon
them all drinking the King’s health in champagne so often that some of
the courtly attendants were a little shaky on their legs; and as for the
Sailor Prince, he got so drunk that, as he told his sister next morning,
“You may think how far I was gone, for I kissed the Schwellenberg’s
hand”--and he might have added, bid her “Hold your potato jaw, my dear!”
If this be a true sketch from high life, the novelist need not be accused
of exaggerating the manners of her Braughtons and Captain Mirvans.

Among her last duties was expounding to the inquisitive King and
Queen the allusions in Boswell’s _Dr. Johnson_, in 1791 the book of
the day, which Miss Burney hardly approved of, being one of the few
who “by acquaintance with the power of the moment over his unguarded
conversation, know how little of his solid opinion was to be gathered
from his accidental assertions.” Now she was at pains to vindicate to
her royal patrons “the serious principles and various excellences” of
her famous friend. The year before, when Boswell visited her at Windsor,
he had in vain pressed her to contribute “personal details” to his work.
“You must give me some of your choice little notes of the Doctor’s; we
have seen him long enough upon stilts; I want to show him in a new light.
Grave Sam, and great Sam, and solemn Sam, and learned Sam--all these he
has appeared over and over. Now I want to entwine a wreath of the graces
across his brow; I want to show him as gay Sam, agreeable Sam, pleasant
Sam: so you must help me with some of his beautiful billets to yourself.”

The last day of Miss Burney’s five years’ slavery dawned at Kew, from
which she attended Her Majesty to St. James’s, and there took leave of
her with deep emotion. Freedom, congenial society, and country air soon
restored the lady’s health; and the faithless Colonel Digby’s place in
her heart became more than filled by General D’Arblay, one of a colony
of French _émigrés_ settled at Juniper Hill above Mickleham, near her
sister’s house, and her friends, the Lockes of Norbury. Lessons in one
another’s language gave excuse for meetings, at which Cupid was soon
of the party. The not-over-young couple married in haste and privately,
but seem never to have repented. With the proceeds of the bride’s next
novel, _Camilla_, they built Camilla Cottage, still conspicuous, as
Camilla Lacey, on the slopes above Box Hill station; but at the peace
General D’Arblay went back to France, where his wife became for years an
involuntary exile.

Mrs. Papendiek has a mischievous statement that Miss Burney was dismissed
on account of the Queen’s displeasure that she used her spare hours for
writing a novel in the palace; and that the authoress was much mortified
by the loss of her post. But this seems mere scandal. Madame D’Arblay
owned to writing an unsuccessful tragedy at Kew and Windsor; and some
years after, when _Camilla_ was published, she confessed to the King and
Queen that the “skeleton” of it had been jotted down under their roof,
at which they expressed no displeasure, but graciously acknowledged the
dedication with a gift of a hundred guineas. The same gossiping authority
says that Miss Jacobi did not recommend herself to the Queen, nor to “old
Schwelly,” who refused to allow that niece-maid to dine at her table. A
few years later Mrs. Papendiek herself succeeded to the post once held
by the novelist, for which she was much fitter, to judge by the space
given to dress in her journals. But these records end before she entered
upon her duties; and we know little more of her Court life but that she
gained promotion in the royal household, from which she retired to spend
her old age at Kew.

In 1805, another literary lady came into the service of Queen Charlotte,
Miss Cornelia Knight, afterwards companion to the Prince Regent’s
daughter. Her journals are much more discreet about the royal family
than Miss Burney’s; and there is a hiatus in them for most of the period
of her living at Windsor, where she gives little more than hints of
dissensions and grudges in the highest circles, and a general impression
that Kew had fallen out of its old favour. All these three writers had a
common point, in being able to boast of Dr. Johnson’s acquaintance, most
intimate in the case of Miss Burney.

Thorne, in his _Environs of London_, as also the official guide, have
it that the King was confined, during his first illness, in the present
palace, apart from his family; and this statement is followed by a
mob of guide-books, _servum pecus_, that often go tumbling after one
another into the same ditch. But Miss Burney and other witnesses prove
that it was not so; and Thorne has misled himself in his reference to
George Rose’s _Diary_. Rose clearly refers to the next serious attack in
1801. It was whispered that in 1795 there had been a recurrence of the
symptoms, passing off in a few days. But at the beginning of the next
century, when the King’s mind was agitated by the resignation of Mr. Pitt
on the Catholic Emancipation question, he caught a bad cold that ended
as before. This time the illness began at Buckingham House; then, after
His Majesty seemed fit to attend to business again, on his going to Kew
a severe relapse took place, shown by his informing the Prince of Wales
that he proposed to abdicate the English Crown and retire to Hanover or
America.

It was now that he came to be separated from his family, and confined in
the “Dutch House” under charge of the Willises, to whom he had taken a
strong dislike, and is said to have struck one of them before his removal
could be effected by force. The father no longer appears as taking the
leading part in the King’s treatment; but one of the sons for a time
was the fly-wheel in the State, since through him all papers had to be
presented for the royal signature. When the Lord Chancellor was admitted
to the King’s sick-room, he vehemently declared, “as a gentleman and a
king,” that he would sign no document nor perform any act of sovereignty
unless he were that very day restored to his wife and daughters; and he
was then taken back to the house over the way, to be still more or less
closely watched by the Willises.

Dr. Thomas Willis,[1] writing at this time to Mr. Rose in the King’s
name, tells that his own quarters are on Kew Green, “a few doors below
the _Rose and Crown_,” a tavern still standing in less transmogrified
state than its neighbour, the _King’s Arms_, also mentioned in books
of that period. Kings reign and pass away; kingdoms flourish and fade,
mansions rise and fall, while public-house signs often seem to have more
permanence in them than most human institutions. Yet of them too _transit
gloria_, if we may believe the report that half the taverns of England
at one time took Wilkes’s head for their sign, as to which evidence of
popularity he himself used to tell how he overheard a loyal old lady’s
remark, “Ah! he swings everywhere but where he ought.”

The second avowed derangement lasted, by fits and starts, till the
summer of 1801. A course of sea-bathing at Weymouth again completed the
patient’s recovery; but the dread of fresh attacks remained. The next
one came in 1804, when his repugnance to the Willises was so marked
that the doctor of Bedlam was employed. It is, of course, a common
symptom of insanity, the turning against its best friends. And now poor
George showed intermittent symptoms of dislike to the Queen herself, so
that they began to occupy separate apartments, and are found not even
dining together. The old domestic happiness was gone, along with the
uncomfortable Kew House, that had so often been its scene. Yet, had the
King kept his health, there seems reason to believe that Kew might have
become more of a home to him than ever.

George III., returning to the plan set on foot in the early years of
his reign, took a fancy for building a castle here, after plans prepared
by Wyatt, the then esteemed architect, in the bad taste of the period.
The design is to be seen in one of the rooms of the present palace. The
other house was pulled down in 1802, to make way for the new structure,
which would have stood nearer the river-side, looking over to the not
very royal town of Brentford, that “town of mud,” so strangely admired by
the Georges and reviled by their poets. But the works were interrupted
by the King’s fresh attack in 1804, and this building never got further
than the state of a pretentious shell, which stood idle for nearly a
quarter of a century, and was then demolished by George IV. That monarch
had no more love for Kew than his father for Hampton Court. He had spent
freely upon his own whims, on Carleton House, and on the Pavilion, the
latter gimcrack medley a laughing-stock even for contemporary taste, and
a byword with irreverent writers like Byron--

    Shut up,--no, not the King, but the Pavilion,
    Or else ’twill cost us all another million!

His father, unless for saddling us with so many expensive sons, had lived
so carefully and economically, that the nation need not have grudged
him a “Folly” for once in a way. It was his spendthrift heir who began
to restore Windsor Castle, demolishing the Queen’s Lodge there, and to
rebuild Buckingham Palace in its present form.

[Illustration: THE PALACE]

When Kew House had disappeared, the sturdy “Dutch House,” now known
as Kew Palace, became the occasional retreat of the royal family, its
scant accommodations, no doubt, eked out by those other mansions held
on Kew Green. It was here that Addington found the King dining rather
before one o’clock on the simplest fare. His mind continued to be
rather cranky, as shown by his strange freak of wearing a huge powdered
wig in conjunction with the mediæval trappings of the Order of the
Garter. Blindness came gradually on to increase his afflictions. In
1809 the nation joyfully celebrated his Jubilee, with much feasting of
the poor--and the rich--relieving of prisoners for debt, pardoning of
military culprits, illuminations, libations, and such memorials as the
statue on the Weymouth Esplanade, that records the townsfolk’s gratitude
to the King, whose stay at his favourite bathing-place had so often sent
up the price of its lodgings. We may be sure Kew, in its small way, was
not behindhand in such loyal doings.

But Kew was hardly again to welcome the Father of his People. Repeated
agitations went to overthrow his reason for good--the triumphant marches
of Napoleon, the tarnishing of British arms not yet brightened by
Wellington’s victories, the misconduct and unpopularity of his sons, the
death of his beloved youngest daughter, Amelia. At the beginning of 1811,
George had just wits enough left to consent to the Prince’s Regency. A
few months later, Charles Knight was one of the Windsor crowd that saw
their aged Sovereign in public for the last time. Henceforth he lived
confined in the Castle, prisoner of blindness, by and by of deafness,
cheered by music, by religious exaltation, and by delusive memories of
the past, more than by flitting glimmers of melancholy reason, in one of
which he had the satisfaction of learning Napoleon’s downfall and the
recovery of Hanover. A most pathetic figure was the blind old King with
his white beard, only now and then visited by those nearest to him. It is
said that the selfish Regent was moved to tears when one day he overheard
his father murmuring the complaint of Milton’s Samson:--

    O dark, dark, dark! Amid the blaze of noon,
    Irrecoverably dark! Total eclipse
    Without all hope of day!
    O first created Beam, and Thou, Great Word,
    “Let there be light! and light was over all,”
    Why am I thus bereaved Thy prime decree?

When George III. was laid with his fathers in 1820, his stout-hearted
and narrow-minded Queen had gone before him. To the last she tried to do
her duty, according to her lights. Reconciled, at least outwardly, to
her eldest son--indeed it appears that all along the strict moralist had
something of woman’s weakness for that rake--she exerted herself to play
the figurehead of his Court, taking the place of his discarded wife; and
she shared his unpopularity to such an extent as to be hissed by the mob
on her way to hold a Drawing-room; then, after the death of the Princess
Charlotte, she had to face an outburst of popular resentment in the City.
By the autumn of 1818 she was hopelessly prostrated by dropsy. On the way
from London to Windsor her state became so serious that a halt was made
at Kew Palace; and there she died in a chair, in the room now marked by
a brass tablet, her last looks, it is said, fixed on a picture of _The
Dropsical Woman_.

A more moving loss in the preceding year had been that of the Princess
Charlotte, upon whose young life so much seemed to hang, while bitter
hatred kept her parents apart. She died in childbirth at Claremont, wife
of Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, future King of the Belgians, who else might
have taken in England the part afterwards filled by Prince Albert. When
thus King George’s family of fifteen seemed like to die out, unless
through the detested Ernest of Cumberland, three of the now elderly
princes were hastily married in the same month--the Duke of Cambridge,
the Duke of Clarence, and the Duke of Kent. These weddings, that might
come close on funerals, were performed privately in the drawing-room at
Kew Palace, the two latter on the same day, but at different hours.

We know which of the branches took root. Next year was born the Princess
Victoria, whose father died at Sidmouth about the same time as the King.
The cause of his death is said to have been sitting in wet clothes after
a long walk; and similar carelessness seems to have been usually the
prelude to George III.’s afflictions, but for which the place of Windsor
might have been usurped by Kew, through this King’s favour.

To the same favour was mainly due the rise and progress of the Gardens,
that have been hitherto left too much in shade upon pages that bear their
name. Now that nothing but the present “Palace” remains to block them out
of our view, it is time to trace their development from a princely hobby
into a national institution.



III

THE STORY OF THE GARDENS


Gardens appear to be an old story in this neighbourhood. The Monastery of
Sheen, that stood on the flats somewhere about the present Observatory,
was equipped with its orchard, vineyard, and other enclosures, through
which the holy fathers, like those of Melrose, would be able to make
“good kail, on Fridays when they fasted”; and let us trust that
suppressed spite never drove them, as in a certain Spanish cloister, to
keep a brother’s pet flowers “close-nipped on the sly.”

Kew’s connection with botany is as old as the Tudor time, when Dr.
William Turner had a garden here. Of this physician, our first scientific
botanist, Chaucer could not have said, “His study was but little on the
Bible.” He was a disciple of Latimer, and a hot-gospeller, among whose
works figure titles like _The Spiritual Nosegay_, _The Hunting of the
Romish Wolf_, _A Preservative or Treacle against the Poison of Pelagius_.
Under Henry VIII. such a writer found the air of the Continent more
wholesome than that of Hampton Court or Smithfield; and he spent some
time in Germany, whence, along with Protestant theology, he brought home
a collection of foreign plants. When it was safe for him to be back in
England, he doubled the parts of chaplain and physician to the Protector
Somerset, who built Syon House on the site of the convent that for him
proved unlucky church plunder; this may account for his chaplain’s garden
across the river. But Turner did not fall with his patron, rising to be
Dean of Wells, though again for a time, under Mary, he had to extend his
knowledge of foreign gardens. He is best remembered as author of a herbal
which marks the planting in England of scientific botany; nor would this
study seem so far aloof from his theological interests, if we consider a
commonplace of our forefathers, thus versified by Cowley--

    God the first garden made, and the first city, Cain.

The Kew mansion of Queen Elizabeth’s keeper was furnished with a garden,
in which Her Majesty had delivered to her a nosegay, enriched with a
valuable jewel and pendants of diamonds, worth four hundred pounds. This
offering was only part of a series of handsome gifts that suggest how a
visit from royalty in those days must have been indeed a visitation. In
Bacon’s Essay, _Of Gardens_, we get some hint what a garden ought to be
that seemed worthy of entertaining a queen; and after this model is said
to have been laid out the garden of Moor Park in Hertfordshire.

    The contents ought not well to be under thirty acres of ground,
    and to be divided into three parts; a green in the entrance, a
    heath or desert in the going forth, and the main garden in the
    midst, besides alleys on both sides; and I like well that four
    acres of ground be assigned to the green, six to the heath, four
    and four to either side, and twelve to the main garden. The green
    hath two pleasures: the one, because nothing is more pleasant to
    the eye than green grass kept finely shorn; the other, because
    it will give you a fair alley in the midst, by which you may go
    in front upon a stately hedge, which is to enclose the garden:
    but because the alley will be long, and, in great heat of the
    year, or day, you ought not to buy the shade in the garden by
    going in the sun through the green, therefore you are, of either
    side the green, to plant a covert alley, upon carpenters’
    work, about twelve feet in height, by which you may go in shade
    into the garden. As for the making of knots, or figures, with
    divers-coloured earths, that they may lie under the windows of
    the house on that side on which the garden stands, they be but
    toys: you may see as good sights many times in tarts. The garden
    is best to be square, encompassed on all the whole four sides
    with a stately arched hedge; the arches to be upon pillars of
    carpenters’ work, of some ten feet high, and six feet broad; and
    the spaces between of the same dimensions with the breadth of the
    arch. Over the arches let there be an entire hedge of some four
    feet high, framed also upon carpenters’ work; and upon the upper
    hedge, over every arch, a little turret, with a belly enough to
    receive a cage of birds: and over every space between the arches
    some other little figure, with broad plates of round-coloured
    glass gilt, for the sun to play upon: but this hedge I intend to
    be raised upon a bank, not steep, but gently slope, of some six
    feet, set all with flowers. Also, I understand that this square
    of the garden should not be the whole breadth of the ground,
    but to leave on either side ground enough for diversity of side
    alleys, unto which the two covert alleys of the green may deliver
    you; but there must be no alleys with hedges at either end of
    this great enclosure--not at the hither end, for letting your
    prospect upon this fair hedge from the green--nor at the further
    end, for letting[2] your prospect from the hedge through the
    arches upon the heath.

In the next century Capel’s seat at Kew had a garden which, more than
once, won high praise from that connoisseur, Evelyn. “The orangery and
myrtetum are most beautiful and perfectly kept.” Other gardens in this
neighbourhood called forth Evelyn’s admiration--the Duke of Lauderdale’s
at Ham House, “inferior to few of the best villas in Italy itself”; and
Sir William Temple’s, “lately ambassador to Holland,” whose East Sheen
villa, Temple Grove, has long been a boys’ school--taken for the select
establishment figuring in _Coningsby_--where his _Essay on Gardening_
might be read with more advantage than _The Battle of the Books_. Stephen
Switzer, one of our first writers on gardening, mentions Lord Capel as
distinguished in this pursuit, especially for “bringing over several
sorts of fruit from France.”

Molyneux, heir of the Capels, had an interest in science, leading him
to set up in his grounds a telescope, by means of which the Astronomer
Royal Bradley began observations that led to his great discoveries of the
aberration of light and the nutation of the earth’s axis. The site of
that instrument is now marked by the sun-dial, some way off in front of
Kew Palace, erected by William IV. as a memorial, which serves also to
show whereabouts stood the vanished Kew House, often confused with its
neighbour. The Observatory, in what used to be the Richmond Gardens, may
be considered as another monument to the scientific work so early carried
on at Kew.

When Frederick, Prince of Wales, came to occupy Kew, curbed in his
martial and political ambitions, he took to improving these grounds, for
which purpose he employed William Kent, a bad painter, better esteemed
as an architect, and best remembered by his ideas of what he called
landscape gardening. Inigo Jones had not disdained to design gardens;
and the “improvers” who, throughout the Georgian age, came to be busy
about English country-houses, were more often than not architects by
occupation as well as professed artists in landscape, who had to design
groves and flower-beds, but also temples, grottos, terraces, steps,
statues, fountains, and other ornaments in the taste of their time. Such
pretentious gardeners now found plenty of employment at lordly seats
like Stowe, Badminton, Wanstead, Canons Park, and others aspiring to the
celebrity of elaborate pleasure-grounds.

The art of gardening, like architecture, has had two main schools,
that might be styled the Classic and the Gothic. The ancient model,
flourishing longer on the Continent, dealt in straight lines and formal
shapes, in parallel rows, accurate vistas and such trim patterns as the
star and the quincunx. This prospered in England while our mediæval
buildings were being replaced by Palladian structures. Our first great
gardens of that period seem to have copied the conceits of the Italian
style, with its terraces, balustrades, stairways, arcades, and stiff
arbours among walls of clipped hedge. Le Nôtre in the seventeenth century
headed in France a school of geometric gardening on a large scale, which
spread across the Channel. William III. patronised among us the Dutch
ideas of quaint formalism, especially shown in thickets of box and yew.
Now came into great favour the Topiarian monstrosities of “verdant
sculpture” still kept up here and there, notably in the Lakeland gardens
of Levens Hall. So, in the age of Queen Anne, English gardens had fallen
into the conventional affectation satirised by Pope.

    No pleasing intricacies intervene,
    No artful wildness to perplex the scene;
    Grove nods at grove, each alley has a brother,
    And half the platform just reflects the other.
    The suffering eye inverted nature sees,
    Trees cut to statues, statues thick as trees;
    With here a fountain, never to be played,
    And there a summer-house that knows no shade.

About the same time the _Spectator_ complains: “Our trees rise in cones,
globes, and pyramids. We see the marks of the scissors upon every plant
and bush. I do not know whether I am singular in my opinion, but for
my own part, I would rather look upon a tree in all its luxuriancy and
diffusion of boughs and branches, than when it is thus cut and trimmed
into a mathematical figure; and cannot but fancy that an orchard in
flower looks infinitely more delightful than all the little labyrinths of
the most finished parterre.” But Addison rather surprises us by pointing
abroad for better models “in an agreeable mixture of garden and forest,
which represent everywhere an artificial rudeness, much more charming
than that neatness and elegancy which we meet with in those of our own
country.”

[Illustration: IN THE ITALIAN GARDEN]

At all events, the revolt against that formal orthodoxy was raised
under the standard of what came to be called the English school, whose
principles suggest those of Gothic architecture. At first it was rather
a Strawberry Hill Gothic which improvers practised in imitation of
natural effects, heightened by art that clung to tawdry decorations. The
cradle of this school was not far from Kew, at Twickenham, where Pope
and Horace Walpole, “prince of cockle-shells,” set copies in a “more
grand and rural manner,” advocated by a local author, Batty Langley, in
his _New Principles of Gardening_. The rank of leader of the revolution
has been claimed also for Stephen Switzer, who, though of foreign origin
perhaps, was born in England, and from a working gardener became a
nurseryman, then in 1715 published the _Gardener’s Recreation_, a work
showing better education than might be expected from such a career,
unless the writer got some literary craftsman to graft flowery tropes
and classical tags upon his practical knowledge. Another gardener
named Bridgeman is mentioned in connection with Kent, who designed
ornamentation both outside and inside the Prince’s villa at Kew.

Kent is commonly called the father of the English or natural school of
landscape gardening, and seems at least to have been its first exponent
on a large scale. He was followed by rival doctors of the picturesque,
very apt to differ, to accuse one another of quackery and of malpractice
in the exhibition of clumps, belts, vistas and sheets of water. The
_Picturesque_ and the _Gardenesque_ became watch-words like Allopathy and
Homœopathy. One practitioner was judged to starve Nature, another to use
the knife too freely.

    To improve, adorn, and polish they profess,
    But shave the goddess whom they came to dress.

These artists in scenery, one of them insists, on a foundation
of painting and gardening “must possess a competent knowledge of
_surveying_, _mechanics_, _hydraulics_, _agriculture_, _botany_, and the
general principles of _architecture_,” besides professing themselves
_cognoscenti_ and _virtuosi_. They dealt with gardens mainly as one
feature in a larger field of operations, the laying-out of parks,
pleasure-ground, _fermes ornées_, and such fanciful paradises as
Shenstone made famous at the Leasowes. Into the park, of course, the
garden proper passes by transition over the lawn turf that is the special
beauty of English culture, often separated from less trim outskirts
by the invisible barrier of a sunk fence, said to have been Kent’s
invention, but this statement seems dubious, as may be Horace Walpole’s
story that the name _Ha-ha_ expressed a rustic’s astonishment at being
brought to an unexpected stand. But for poets like Cowley and Marvell,
who courted “a green thought in a green shade,” it was left for writers
of our time to dwell lovingly on the garden they love, however small; the
tasteful authorities of that century hardly condescend to notice anything
below the pleasure-grounds that ran into lordly demesnes. Humphry Repton,
doyen of a later generation of improvers smiled at by Jane Austen,
in his proposals for Woburn Abbey, distinguishes the gardens about a
country-seat under the following heads:---

    The terrace and parterre near the house.

    The private garden, only used by the family.

    The rosary, or dressed flower garden, in front of the greenhouse.

    The American garden, for plants of that country only.

    The Chinese garden, surrounding a pool in front of the great
    Chinese pavilion, to be decorated with plants from China.

    The botanic garden, for scientific classing of plants.

    The animated garden, or menagerie.

    And lastly, the English garden or shrubbery walk, connecting the
    whole; sometimes commanding views into each of these distinct
    objects and sometimes into the park and distant country.

This plan was much on the model of what had grown up at Kew, to which
let us return, after recalling that before its grounds came into note,
Queen Caroline had begun or enlarged the gardens about Richmond Lodge,
extending them over an unkempt flat, as we understand from her private
laureate, Stephen Duck. To poets of his school there was no beauty in
heath and wild copses, like the rough patch of Sheen Common still left to
the gratitude of our Bank-Holiday age.

    Not so attractive lately shone the plain,
    A gloomy waste, not worth the Muse’s strain;
    Where thorny brakes the traveller repell’d,
    And weeds and thistles overspread the field;
    Till royal George, and heav’nly Caroline
    Bid Nature in harmonious lustre shine;
    The sacred fiat thro’ the chaos rung
    And symmetry from wild disorder sprung.

But Nature might not be trusted to shine here by her own unvarnished
charms; and the Richmond Gardens were bedecked with “follies” in the
taste of the time: “Merlin’s Cave,” that appears to have housed a waxwork
collection as well as the library of which Stephen Duck was keeper; a
hermitage, inhabited by busts of distinguished men; a menagerie, a maze,
and, of course, a grotto, to gratify “heav’nly Caroline’s” admiration
for what “royal George” bluntly denounced as “childish silly stuff.”
Rival poets celebrated “the much sung grotto of the Queen,” one under the
sly pseudonym of “Peter Drake, a fisherman of Brentford,” making fun of
Stephen Duck, the so-called thresher-poet.

The widowed Princess of Wales, prompted by her friend Bute, showed a warm
interest in horticulture; and under her was nursed the Botanic Garden of
exotic plants that became the special feature of the Kew grounds. They
were laid out by Lancelot Brown, a self-taught gardener, so celebrated
in his day as to be known by the name of “Capability” Brown. He, indeed,
rather than Kent, is sometimes styled the father of landscape improvers,
among whom Repton, for one, speaks of him as his master or forerunner.
Brown appears to have insisted masterfully on the carrying out of his own
ideas, if we are to believe the story of George III. chuckling over his
death to an under-gardener: “Now you and I can do as we please here!”
In Mason’s _Heroic Epistle_, Brown is said to have had a free hand over
the Richmond Garden also, where he destroyed Queen Caroline’s fanciful
structures, so as to be accused of having “transformed to lawn what late
was Fairyland.”

Under Bute’s patronage the post of superintendent of the Botanic Garden
was given, but seems not to have been made _pukka_, to Sir John Hill,
as he styled himself on the credit of a Swedish decoration, that humbug
physician and author, best remembered now by Garrick’s epigram:---

    For physic and farces, his equal there scarce is:
    His farces are physic, his physic a farce is.

[Illustration: THE RUINED ARCH]

Another questionable authority in taste, introduced by Bute to the
Princess and her son, was William Chambers, an architect who built
himself into no small note. In his youth, as supercargo of a vessel he
had travelled as far as China, then a land of fresh wonder, to bring
back extravagant notions, set forth in his _Dissertation on Oriental
Gardening_, and in a mania for _Chinoiseries_, which was let loose at
Kew. Hence the building of the Pagoda in 1762, of a House of Confucius,
and of a mosque, with temples, grottos, and other outlandish erections,
most of which have long disappeared. He also built the Observatory where
Richmond Lodge came to be demolished. His innovations were not confined
to buildings, as appears in Mason’s satire:--

    Now to our lawns of dalliance and delight,
    Join we the groves of horror and affright.

The architect-gardener declared himself very complacent about the
dealings with Nature here carried out. “Originally the ground was one
continued dead flat, the soil was in general barren, without either wood
or water. With so many disadvantages it was not easy to produce anything
even tolerable in gardening; but princely munificence overcame all
difficulties. What was once a desert is now an Eden!”

As controller of the works actively pushed on at Kew, Chambers prospered
so much as to be knighted, and to buy Whitton Place, near Hounslow, where
the third Duke of Argyll, brother and heir of Jeanie Deans’s protector,
himself better known as Lord Islay, had established a nursery of exotic
trees, which it was his hobby to naturalise in England. On the death of
this duke the cream of his collection seems to have been transplanted to
Kew, now become a truly royal botanic garden, unsurpassed in England,
with a fame that went on growing till Erasmus Darwin was bound to note it
in his herbarium of verse.

    So sits enthron’d in vegetable pride
    Imperial _Kew_ by Thames’s glittering side;
    Obedient sails from realms unfurrow’d bring
    For her the unnam’d progeny of spring;
    Attendant nymphs her dulcet mandates hear,
    And nurse in fostering arms the tender year,
    Plant the young bulb, inhume the living seed,
    Prop the weak stem, the erring tendril lead;
    Or fan in glass-built fanes the stranger flowers
    With milder gales, and steep with warmer showers.
                          Etc. etc.

A much forgotten bard, named Henry Jones, who had been an Irish
bricklayer, sought to win patronage, like Stephen Duck, by a whole poem
in two cantos on _Kew Gardens_, a versified catalogue of their contents,
with a high-pitched description of the Pagoda, and flowing flattery of
their master, as to all which the less said the better. The same title
was given to one of poor Chatterton’s effusions; but he, reduced in his
garret to ape _Junius_ by “patriotic” letters signed _Decimus_, lets the
garden run under his pen to weeds of spite and scandal.

    Hail Kew! thou darling of the sacred Nine,
    Thou eating-house of verse, where poets dine!

It has already been told how George III. enlarged the demesne at Kew,
buying up some fields about the site of the Pagoda, and eventually
getting the lane closed that separated it from the Richmond grounds. The
Botanic Garden proper was enclosed and managed apart from the general
pleasure-grounds, within which seem to have been dioceses or spheres of
influence looked after by different _employés_. It is not quite clear
to me how these gardeners were ranked or related; perhaps, as in the
case of higher officials, their functions may sometimes have clashed,
or been complicated by royal favour. Mrs. Papendiek records that in her
time Haverfield was the King’s gardener, who lived at Kew, his second
son acting as his assistant there, as did an elder son in the more
remote Richmond garden; and that after him the sons succeeded to these
appointments. She also mentions the Queen’s flower garden up Richmond
Lane, where one Green was the gardener, who had nursed some orange trees
to be the pride of his life, but was heart-broken when they dwindled for
want of means to enlarge his hothouses, though he offered to pay half the
cost out of his own pocket. This diarist, not always to be depended on
in matters outside her own observation, intimates that the Board of Works
declined undertaking any improvement in the Queen’s private garden; from
which we should understand that the Botanic Garden was partly carried on
at the public cost, where Chambers had already built an orangery, now
turned into the Timber Museum. One thing appears plain, that even the
subordinate gardeners had good places, when Green could offer £250 as
his contribution towards those denied hothouses, and Haverfield brought
up his youngest son to be a clergyman. In all, the Gardens came to cover
some 120 acres, about half their present extent, as might have seemed a
small matter to Tamerlane, who boasted of his garden measuring 120 miles
round Samarcand.

The chief name among Kew gardeners of this reign was William Aiton’s,
who, if he had spelt himself Aytoun, like others of the family, would at
once be recognised as coming from the North. Waiving the question as to
whether Adam, the first gardener, were not a Scot and a Presbyterian, one
finds it notorious that Scotsmen have renowned themselves in planting
the richer plots of the South, a fact explained by philosophers of Dr.
Johnson’s school in the sneer that a man who has coaxed flowers and fruit
to grow beyond the Tweed has an easy task elsewhere. Of course this is
ignorant prejudice, as many a demesne might show in Caledonia stern and
wild, where nothing is needed for exuberance but the “fertilizer” we have
seen running short even in the Queen’s garden at Kew.

Aiton was a son of the soil, driven out of his own Lanarkshire Eden by
poverty, who, like so many other Scots unwelcome to Wilkes and Johnson,
came to seek fortune in London. He got a place at the Physic Garden of
Chelsea, and thence, perhaps by patronage of Bute, was put in charge
of the Princess Dowager’s Botanic Garden, whose reputation throve with
his own. His functions must have grown beyond the limits of the Botanic
Garden, then only a few acres, for this was the Scotsman who set Cobbett
to work, among other jobs, at sweeping up leaves by the Pagoda, on the
farther side of the Kew grounds. John Rogers, who worked in the gardens
at this time, says that on the death of the elder Haverfield, Aiton
came into the entire management both at Kew and Richmond. His first
appointment was in the last year of George II. A quarter of a century
later, we find him clearly head of the whole establishment. Aiton
certainly rose to be no mere working gardener, who published a catalogue
of the plants at Kew. He held his post till towards the end of the
century, and was then succeeded by his son William Townsend Aiton, to
rule at Kew for half a century more; while another son, John, had charge
of the royal gardens at Windsor and at Kensington.

[Illustration: THE AZALEAS]

In the Aiton succession, we come across the fact that a talent for the
study of plants is apt to be hereditary. There were two Linnés, not equal
in fame, four De Jussieus, three De Candolles, three Darwins of different
degrees of note in science; and for more than a century Kew Gardens were
under the two dynasties of Aitons and Hookers. In the reign of William
Aiton the second, among Scotsmen finding employment in Kew Gardens was
a William Macnab, who rose to be foreman here, and in 1810 went to the
Edinburgh Botanical Garden as curator or principal gardener. One cannot
propitiate Dr. Johnson’s Manes by describing the Edinburgh Garden as a
branch from Kew. It is, in fact, an older institution, founded in Charles
II.’s reign, and now grown into a model, both of _utile_ and _dulce_,
worthy the Modern Athens. The point I have to make is that William Macnab
was succeeded at Edinburgh by his son James Macnab, godfather of the
_Cupressus Macnabiana_, etc., who managed this garden till his death,
1878, and whose only son, William Ramsay Macnab, bade fair, through a too
short life, to continue the family distinction in the botanical world.

This botanist by birth and birthplace was a schoolfellow of mine, whose
early career deserves notice. His masters could have seen little promise
in such a scholar, for, under the _régime_ then styled education, our
lessons simply did not interest him, and I often wondered how he picked
up the _quantum_ of Latin necessary for his medical examinations. But
at fourteen he printed a monograph, either on ferns or on seaweeds, of
which I had a copy but cannot lay hands on it. At the same age he gave a
lecture on plant life, illustrated by diagrams prepared by himself. He
also excited the wondering admiration of his schoolfellows by practising
the then young art of photography. Before reaching school days, he had
bought his first microscope. Not yet out of his teens, he had what I had
heard called the best collection of beetles in Scotland. About this time
I accompanied him and some older scientific adventurers on a natural
history expedition to the Bass Rock, when, unfortunately, all the pundits
were so overcome by sea-sickness, that nothing could then be added to the
stock of knowledge.

Macnab left our school in dudgeon against a master who, having prescribed
an essay on starch, not unnaturally accused him of plagiarising an
elaborate composition based on original experiment. From another school
he went early to Edinburgh University, and if I am not mistaken, to
Germany, where he used his time so well that he had to wait some months
to come of age for taking his M.D. degree at twenty-one. After a short
digression into lunacy practice, he followed his bent in a professorship
of Natural History at the Agricultural College of Cirencester, and
soon became Botany Professor at the Royal College of Science, Dublin.
There he died prematurely, else his life would surely have figured on
some more authoritative pages than mine. The last time I saw him, if I
remember right, he was staying at Kew, engaged in some work or study in
the Gardens where his grandfather had been foreman. The above digression
relates to the fact that the Kew gardeners were apt to be kinsmen,
or at least kindly Scots. Macnab, Lockhart, Begbie, Kerr, Fraser,
Morison--these are only some names occurring early among the staff to
show how the Aiton dynasty did not overlook their countrymen’s claims to
employment.

If not scientific men themselves, the Aitons had the advice and help
of the best naturalists of their day, specially of Sir Joseph Banks,
Captain Cook’s companion, who introduced to this country the fuchsia,
the hydrangea, and other exotic plants. Under this President of the
Royal Society, less distinguished collectors were sent out to all parts
of the world, sometimes in ships of war, to procure specimens for Kew.
Two such emissaries were on board the _Bounty_ on its celebrated voyage,
one of them sticking by the commander, the other going off with the
mutineers. To the honour of Banks, it is told that when consignments of
rare specimens intended for the royal gardens at Paris were captured
by our cruisers, he several times used his influence to have them sent
on intact, a scientific courtesy that repaid the orders of the French
Government to treat Cook’s vessels as neutral, when war with England
broke out during his last expedition. Banks, indeed, a wealthy man who
sought no salaried post, appears to have been practically the scientific
authority of Kew Gardens in his lifetime, well deserving the royal
confidence, though he came in for his share of caricaturing as a Court
favourite. His picture, and those of other noted botanists, are treasured
in the Kew Museums, where the mere literary man will often be put to
shame to find how many names he never heard, live not forgotten among the
votaries of a special study.

Under Aiton the second, Kew Gardens began to fall off, lying as they did
in the shade of royal neglect. George IV. began by showing some interest
in them, which soon withered away. They were opened to “all well-dressed
strangers” on Sundays in summer, the Botanic Garden being accessible at
other times to those who took an interest in it; but the empty palace
no longer attracted people of fashion, and for the ordinary citizen Kew
was still rather out of the way, though “stages” left Piccadilly every
quarter of an hour in the season, and in 1808 there were already “houses
of entertainment” on Kew Green, as we find particularised in a guide-book
of that date. Later on, the Gardens were open every day except Sunday.
But by this time they were ceasing to be attractive. Aiton had been
appointed director of all the royal parks and gardens, employment which
appears to have taken off his attention from Kew, where money as well as
interest ran short. The part kept up shrank to the dozen or score acres
of the original Botanic Gardens, the rest relapsing into thickets that
made a game preserve for Ernest, King of Hanover. A formidable rival was
the Horticultural Society’s Garden at Turnham Green, recently removed to
Wisley Common. By the beginning of Victoria’s reign, the Kew Gardens had
fallen so low that there was a talk of breaking them up and dispersing
the collection, to the indignation of the inhabitants, who had an old
grievance that they had given part of their Green to enlarge this royal
property, on the understanding that they were to be freely admitted to
its amenities.

From such extinction Kew was rescued in 1840 by the report of a
parliamentary committee, upon which steps were taken and funds provided
for bringing the Gardens to their present position at once as a popular
resort and as a national scientific collection, while still they remained
nominally a royal demesne. Aiton being pensioned off, Sir W. J. Hooker,
formerly Botanical Professor at Glasgow, was appointed Director. Here
appears another case of heredity, for Hooker was the son of a botanist,
and came to be replaced by his own son.

[Illustration: THE PEONIES]

Under his management the Gardens grew apace, the botanic part being much
enlarged, while the Museums of Economic Botany were now set on foot.
Decimus Burton, the fashionable architect of his day, was called in to
design new buildings like the Palm House, unrivalled in England unless
by Paxton’s Great Conservatory at Chatworth, which was the model of the
Crystal Palace. To make room for such useful structures, a sweep had to
be made of many of the fanciful “temples” and other gimcrackeries of the
Georgian age, specimens of which are still dotted about the grounds,
now laid out on a principle of compromise with formality, “the aim being
to weave the various collections of trees and shrubs into a whole, which
should avoid an artificial and yet yield an agreeable effect, while still
subserving a definite purpose.”

In 1865, Sir W. J. Hooker was succeeded by Sir J. D. Hooker, who in his
younger days had made adventurous journeys to the Himalayas and elsewhere
in the interest of botanical science. He still lives at a good old age,
after twenty years’ service having given place to his son-in-law, Sir
W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, who also has gone on the _emeritus_ list; and the
present head is Colonel Prain, whose experience in India should give a
new strain of efficiency.

Sir Joseph Hooker’s management was marked by a vehement quarrel between
him and his official superior, Mr. Ayrton, head of the Board of Works,
a Kew man by birth, who perhaps for that reason felt himself the more
moved to aggressive interference. The scientific world warmly took up the
cause of its _confrère_; and Ayrton earned general unpopularity by his
overbearing tone; but Sir Algernon West, then Private Secretary to the
Prime Minister, Gladstone, after having had a good deal of trouble over
arranging the dispute, gives us his opinion that there were faults on
both sides.

It is understood that in the management of the Gardens there has been
sometimes a certain friction between the demands of a scientific
establishment and of a scene for popular recreation. But these two ideas
seem now fairly harmonised. With the exception of isolated _penetralia_,
the Gardens are open from 10 or 12 A.M. till sunset, and on Sunday
afternoons. This was one of the first of our public institutions to be
thrown open on Sunday, by the influence, it is said, of Prince Albert
prevailing over the Sabbatarian austerity that dominated Mrs. Proudie’s
generation.

As the Kew Gardens flourished, those of Richmond had withered away.
The royal pleasure-grounds on that side were turned into George III.’s
model farm, then into a park, which has become a golf-course and a
recreation-ground, though it was only the other day that its quasi-public
character came to be fully recognised by a foot-bridge thrown over the
muddy moat cutting off this enclosure from the river-bank. The site of
Richmond Lodge is approximately marked by the Observatory, built for
George III. by Sir William Chambers, with a special view to the transit
of Venus observed by Cook and Banks from Tahiti. When Kew Gardens were
taken under the wing of Parliament, the Royal Society refused a free gift
of this building; but it was kept going by subscriptions, then under the
auspices of the Board of Trade became a Meteorological Station, with the
important function of testing instruments like barometers, thermometers,
and sextants, to be hall-marked with the initials of Kew Observatory. But
of late years it proved not secluded enough for this work, the electric
currents induced by tramways threatening its most delicate operations,
so that the magnetic branch was recently transplanted to the wilds of
Dumfries, where also, one hears, it had a narrow escape from interference
in being housed in walls at first chosen from an ironstone quarry. Other
parts of the work are now carried on at the new Physical Laboratory in
Bushy Park.

A ha-ha fence cuts off Richmond Old Deer Park, as it is called, from Kew
Gardens, which in all cover a space of some 250 acres. The wire fence has
gone that marked the now hardly valid distinction between the Botanic
Garden proper and the former pleasure-grounds. Queen Victoria showed her
interest in the institution by granting successive stretches of private
garden, to be added to what had become practically a public one. At the
end of her reign the so-called Kew Palace, the old “Dutch House,” was
given up to be opened as a museum of pictures and other relics of its
history. This is soon reached by the broad walk leading straight on from
the chief entrance gates on Kew Green. The Victoria Gate, on the Richmond
Road, is the approach for visitors coming from Kew Station. There are
other entrances both from the Richmond Road and from the riverside,
where, opposite Brentford’s wharves, one closed gate reminds us how this
was once a royal home.

[Illustration: THE PALM TREES AND MAIN GATE]



IV

THE VILLAGE: IN AND ABOUT IT


Kew itself does not stand in the forefront of its own story, for long
remaining little more than an obscure river-side hamlet, half a dozen
miles out of London, connected by a ferry with Brentford, and with its
quaint little neighbour Strand-on-the-Green, which might have risen to
equal note had Gunnersbury or Chiswick taken a king’s fancy. It was
not till the eighteenth century that Kew began to burgeon under royal
favour; and for the first half of that century, Richmond lay basking on
the sunnier side of patronage. When George III. left Richmond for Kew,
the quiet village blossomed forth as in a forcing-house, to grow into a
banyan grove of princely dwellings.

The first distinguished resident mentioned is Sir Peter Lely, as having
a country house on the Green, where the Herbarium now stands. From
first to last he may have been a good deal in this neighbourhood, for he
painted Charles I. at Hampton Court, and after doing the same service
for Cromwell, he became the fashionable artist of Charles II.’s Court,
whose frail beauties still live on his canvas. His successor in vogue
was Sir Godfrey Kneller, who contributed to artistic vocabulary in his
portraits of the Kit-Cat Club, that had its rendezvous at Barn Elms,
now the Ranelagh Club. He also settled not far off, in the house behind
Twickenham named Kneller Hall, that, after various vicissitudes, has
become the Army School of Music.

Swift, in his letters to Stella, mentions dining with the Duke of Argyll
at Kew in 1712. I do not find any other allusion to this residence:
perhaps Swift landed at Kew and went on to Sudbrook Park, where the Duke
had a seat, that should rather be reckoned as belonging to Petersham,
united with Kew as one dependent district of the Kingston parish. This
mansion was near the famous avenues of his birthplace, the Duke of
Lauderdale’s Ham House, said to have been originally intended for Prince
Henry, son of James I., and chosen by the Lords of the Council as a
fitting retreat for James II., when the Prince of Orange was about to
enter London. It would be the convenience of water transit that had
dotted the Thames side with lordly mansions and villas; and of course it
should be borne in mind how, at a time when the Court could be spoken of
as moving from Kensington to London, places like Kew and Richmond were
practically as far from town as now are Haslemere or Missenden, while the
champaign rusticity of the former would be more to the taste of Cowley’s
and Pope’s generations.

Kew is said to have had some sort of chapel before the Reformation; but
it was not till 1714 that its church was built, the brick building on
the Green, that, with additions and dubious ornaments, has mellowed into
a specimen of what may be called the ugly picturesque. The excrescence
at the east end marks the sepulchral chamber containing the Duke of
Cambridge’s tomb. The organ is understood to have been Handel’s, and to
have been played on by George III. The gallery, added in 1805, still
keeps its dusty state as a royal pew, though now used on occasion for
less illustrious worshippers. Both inside and outside are many memorials
to persons, famous or forgotten, some of whom must presently be
mentioned. In the close-packed churchyard an unusual number of foreign
names seem related to the German colony of Queen Charlotte’s attendants,
and to the Hanover connection long kept up through the Dukes of Cambridge
and Cumberland, the former of these princes having acted as regent or
viceroy of Hanover till the Salic law put his unbeloved brother on its
throne.

One of the early ministers at Kew was that Stephen Duck, already
mentioned, who began life as a Wiltshire labourer, then by dint of
self-education came to be known as the “thresher-poet,” taken up by Queen
Caroline, to the jealousy of unpatronised poets like Swift. She settled
a pension on him, made him first a Yeoman of the Guard, then, as a post
more suitable to the poet than to the peasant, Keeper of her library at
Richmond. He married her housekeeper at Kew; and one takes to be his
daughters the Misses Duck, who half a century later are found in charge
of the Dutch House, the last of them living till 1818. The father’s
ambition led him on to take Orders; and he preached with much acceptation
at Kew Chapel. Before long he had been put into the Rectory of Byfleet
under St. George’s Hill; then, a few years later, only fifty years old,
he drowned himself in a fit of dejection. But for the merit of being able
“to burst his life’s invidious bar,” he hardly deserved patronage, his
verses being a mere echo of the epithetical commonplaces of a generation
whose rhyming shepherds hardly knew a crook from a flail. Perhaps the
most readable of his effusions is _The Thresher’s Labour_, an account of
a farm-servant’s life, in which now and then he drops pseudo-Arcadianism
for touches of human nature and actual experience.

    Soon as the rising Sun has drank the Dew,
    Another Scene is open to our View:
    Our Master comes, and at his heels a Throng
    Of prattling Females, armed with Rake and Prong;
    Prepared, whilst he is here, to make his Hay;
    Or, if he turns his Back, prepared to play;
    But here, or gone, sure of this comfort still,
    Here’s Company, so they may chat their Fill.
    Ah! were their hands so active as their Tongues,
    How nimbly then would move the Rakes and Prongs!

In 1769, the Kew Chapel of ease was promoted to be a parish Church. Some
ten years before this, Kew had another rise in life by the building of a
bridge, under an Act of Parliament obtained by the owner of the ferry.
There had also been a ford at low water. The first wooden bridge was
a somewhat makeshift structure, which after a quarter of a century or
so became replaced by another, standing to the beginning of the present
century, when a new Kew Bridge was opened by Edward VII., the old one
condemned as too steep of access.

Its bridge gave Kew an advantage not easily realised by our generation.
Putney Bridge was only a little older, though a bridge of boats had been
thrown across the river there at the time of the Civil War. Westminster
Bridge was not built till 1738, an improvement hotly opposed by various
vested interests, the cry being that it would ruin the City as well
as the watermen. For centuries, unless by water, the Thames could not
be crossed between London Bridge and Kingston. This fact explains the
roundabout manner of Sir Thomas Wyatt’s attack upon the City in that
ill-managed insurrection against the Spanish marriage that cost Lady Jane
Grey’s head as well as his own. In my youth, at least, one was apt to
take one’s notion of his proceedings from Harrison Ainsworth’s _Tower of
London_, where a desperate storm of the Tower is described, with fierce
hand-to-hand fighting, on the model of a like scene in _Ivanhoe_. But
this was all imagination. As a matter of fact, Wyatt failed to get across
London Bridge, the drawbridge in the middle having been taken up and the
gate beyond being stoutly guarded against his advance. The Southwark
people, who had welcomed him to the Borough, begged him to be gone when
the Tower guns were turned upon their homes. Setting out in the morning,
hampered by cannon to be dragged along through miry ways, he did not get
to Kingston till well on in the afternoon. Here, too, the bridge had been
broken, but its defenders fled from his guns; some sailors swam across
to fetch back barges moored on the farther side; the gap was hastily
repaired with planks; then before midnight he was able to continue his
march. A gun breaking down delayed him at Brentford, then perhaps the
Kew people were for the nonce rather thankful not to have a bridge, as
that force passed by to assail London on the Middlesex side. So must they
have been in the next century, when across the river they could hear the
shouts and shots with which Royalists set Roundheads flying through the
narrow streets of Brentford.

The bridge put Kew upon improving its roads. The King, at his own
expense, to give work for the unemployed in winter, had a carriage-way
made to Richmond, hitherto reached directly by a rough lane. Then the
inhabitants of surrounding parishes got up a subscription to mend the
ways on the Surrey side from Putney Bridge “in order that His Majesty
may not be obliged to take the dusty road from Brentford when he honours
them with his residence in summer.” So now we come to Kew’s palmy days,
in the seventies of the eighteenth century, while George and Charlotte
lived much here, before their flitting to Windsor; and many new houses
were built to accommodate the attendants and hangers-on of the rustic
Court. Mrs. Papendiek, who was brought up at Kew, gives us glimpses of
the village in its state of transformation, among them such a curious one
as this:--

    The farmhouse, now Hollis’s, was Mrs. Clewly’s, who supplied
    the inhabitants with milk, butter, eggs, pork and bacon. She,
    becoming a widow, married a Mr. Frame, whose son, by a former
    marriage, lived upon housebreaking and footpad robberies. Upon
    his father becoming an inhabitant of Kew, the question was
    inquired into, when he said: “I always take care to act so as
    to escape justice. Blows and murders belong not to my gang; and
    if I am allowed to take my beer on the Green, and sit with my
    neighbours, without being insulted, I shall take care that no
    harm happen here. I am well aware of the bearings of the place.”
    We all spoke with him as a friend when we met; and of my father
    he asked for any trifle he wanted, and was never refused.

This diarist had not always such a friendly experience of highwaymen, for
on their way back from Vauxhall to Kew, her party was stopped and robbed
at Mortlake. The encounter was so little expected that Mr. Papendiek
had laid away his new watch in a corner of the coach, and when our
schoolgirl, as she then was, heard the robbers say that the ladies should
not be molested, she hid the watch for him; then, on her giving it back
to its owner, the danger past, he rewarded her by making sheep’s eyes,
which in time brought about a marriage.

But it was soon not necessary for Kew folk to seek amusement so far off
as Vauxhall, for, as the lady tells us of 1776--“Kew now became quite
gay, the public being admitted to the Richmond Gardens on Sundays, and
to Kew Gardens on Thursdays. The Green on these days was covered with
carriages, more than £300 being often taken at the bridge on Sundays.
Their Majesties were to be seen at the windows speaking to their
friends, and the royal children amusing themselves in their own gardens.
Parties came up by water, too, with bands of music, to sit opposite
the Prince of Wales’s house. The whole was a scene of enchantment and
delight; Royalty living among their subjects to give pleasure and to do
good.” The brothers of Granville Sharpe, the philanthropist, kept moored
at Fulham a notable fleet of pleasure-boats, one of them a barge or
“yacht,” serving as house-boat in summer, on which the owners took trips
up the Thames, sometimes stopping to serenade the royal family or to have
the honour of receiving on board the King and Queen, or the young princes
under care of their tutors. This stretch of the Thames is said to have
been the nursery of pleasure-boating; but though a canoe and a shallop
are enumerated among the Sharpes’ craft, we do not yet hear of fine
gentlemen, still less ladies, undertaking to row themselves.

The village began to grow apace, old houses being pulled down or
enlarged, and new ones built towards Richmond along what is now the
thoroughfare of a big London suburb. The population was swollen by all
sorts of newcomers--from ladies-in-waiting to gardeners, from preceptors
to soldiers, for a guard was kept at Kew House, near which barracks had
to be provided. One winter, the King is said to have found work for his
idle garrison by setting them to make the Hollow Walk, now filled with
such a fine summer show of rhododendrons.

There would be no want of church services then at a place well equipped
with scholars and divines. Mrs. Papendiek mentions two bishops as living
at Kew, besides subordinate tutors of the princes. While the royal family
were in residence, they had at hand Sir John Pringle, “physician to the
Person,” and one or other of the brothers Cæsar and Pennell Hawkins, the
royal surgeons, “for the Queen would have two of them always on the spot
to watch the constitutions of the royal children.” Later on, as we saw,
the King’s illness brought a swarm of medical men about Kew, at least
as lodgers or visitors. Rather earlier, Lord Bute, who was but a poor
nobleman till enriched through his wife, the celebrated Lady Mary Wortley
Montague’s daughter, appears to have occupied two houses on Kew Green,
that now known as Cambridge Cottage, and the Church House, described as
his study, perhaps used by him for a botanical collection. His interest
in botany, one must recall, was the foundation of Kew Gardens. He
privately printed for the Queen’s benefit a work on the subject in nine
quarto volumes; and when he moved to a more lordly home at Luton, his
first care was to form there a large botanical garden of his own.

[Illustration: THE RHODODENDRON WALK]

The servants of the royal house, too, required accommodation, which was
by no means humble in every case, for some of them must have made a good
thing out of their places. Miss Amelia Murray, whose mother had a post
about the princesses later on, tells us how “a bottle of wine every two
days, and unnecessary wax candles, were, I remember, the perquisites
of the ladies’ maids. Candles were extinguished as soon as lit, to be
carried off by servants; pages were seen marching out before the royal
family with a bottle of wine sticking out of each pocket; and the State
page called regularly on each person who attended the drawing-rooms,
with his book, to receive the accustomed gratuity.” In earlier days at
Kew, George and Charlotte may have been able to keep a sharper eye on
waste; but their economy would always be counterweighed by custom and
flunkeydom. Mrs. Papendiek, brought up in the air of the backstairs, has
much to say on matters of concern to those high-minded servants, their
jealousies, their stifled quarrels, their pickings, the unworthiness of
saving in a king’s household, and such like. She mentions incidentally
a footman named Fortnum leaving the service to set up as a grocer in
Piccadilly, where his name would wax into renown. Another name now
brought to note in London was Almack’s, the Earl of Bute’s butler, _né_
M’Call, a form which this canny Aberdonian, in view of his countrymen’s
unpopularity, thought well to anglify thus in appealing for fashionable
patronage.

The taste for music fostered by the royal family drew many professional
players into the neighbourhood, mostly foreigners, such as J. C. Bach,
son of the great composer; Abel, the viol da gamba player; and Fischer,
Gainsborough’s son-in-law, celebrated for his performances on the oboe,
all of whom were well known to Mrs. Papendiek as an amateur in their
art. The arts of design were also well represented by foreigners,
at a period when John Bull affected the pride of being still rather
stockish and shy with the Muses. We hear of Mr. Englehart as living
on the road to Richmond, one of several of the name who rose to note
as artists or engravers. Another German, who practised as a limner or
miniature-painter--the photographers of that day--and who appears to have
designed the coinage of that reign, was Jeremiah Meyer, so thriving as
to have a home at Kew as well as one in town. Mrs. Papendiek states that
he caught his death by a dutiful visit of inquiry at Kew House after the
King’s first serious illness; Meyer had himself been ailing, and on that
errand he suffered from the ill-humour of the page Ernst--once George’s
favourite attendant, but about this time in disgrace--who “kept poor
Meyer waiting for him in a room that had just been washed, and which
was therefore cold and damp. He returned home in haste, but fresh cold
succeeded. A relapse came on, and poor Meyer was no more.” He has a
monument in Kew Church, with an epitaph by Hayley.

Mrs. Papendiek’s chief friends among the artistic colony settled
hereabouts were the Zoffanys, who had a house at Strand on the Green,
where indeed the master was not always at home. That erratic German
genius, John Zoffany, having studied art in Italy, sought fortune in
London, like other esurient foreigners. After an ordeal of poverty, he
rose to note by his theatrical portraits, and came for a time into the
sun of Court patronage. His speciality was portrait groups like that
which was to include with the Vicar of Wakefield’s family “as many sheep
as the painter would put in for nothing.” He painted one such of George
III. and his family, and a notable one of his brethren in the then young
Royal Academy, founded under this King, who was an interested, if not
very discriminating, patron of art. Another of his celebrated pictures,
_The Last Supper_--in which St. Peter is said to be his own portrait, and
for the rest of the Apostles Thames-side fishermen sat as models--he gave
for an altar-piece to the church at Brentford.

At the height of his renown, Zoffany went off to Italy for years,
with a commission from the King to copy the _Tribune_ of the Uffizi
Gallery at Florence. This task he executed well, but as in his absence
he had accepted other commissions from Kaiser Joseph II., and the
title of Baron, an honour resented by George for a British subject, he
seems to have lost the royal favour. Again, in a fit of disgust or
adventurousness, he started off to India, where he must have had a wide
field much to himself as a portrait painter, and thence brought back
gorgeous pictures of _A Tiger Hunt_ and _A Cock Fight_, to revive his
vogue in England. The latter picture had the curious history of costing
an estate to a young Irishman who figures in it, his father, Robert
Gregory, having threatened to disinherit him if ever he took part in
cock-fighting.

Mrs. Papendiek grew up intimate with Mrs. Zoffany, though this lady was
looked on askance in the genteel society of Kew, having been a girl of
humble birth, seduced by the painter at fourteen and married afterwards
on the death of a deserted wife. She so far lived down the rather
squalidly romantic story of her youth that her daughter’s hand was sought
by a rich suitor, Colonel Martin of Leeds Castle, who shut himself up
here in single cursedness when the obstinate young lady insisted on
marrying a plain and awkward young man named Horn, whose father kept
a prosperous school at Chiswick, a match that turned out ill--for the
couple and for the school. Zoffany, his wanderings at an end, lived into
the eighteenth century at Strand on the Green, and was buried in Kew
Churchyard, by the east end of the church.

On the south side, under the wall, are close together the graves of
Meyer, Kirby, and Gainsborough, the last under a tomb restored in our
time. Thomas Gainsborough lies here, not as a Kew resident, but buried
by his own desire beside his lifelong friend and fellow East Anglian,
Joshua Kirby, F.R.S., who began life as a coach-painter at Ipswich, and
rose to fame as a writer on art and architecture. Helped on by Hogarth
and Joshua Reynolds, Kirby had the luck to become teacher of perspective
drawing to Prince George, and the King liked this master so well as to
give him a permanent appointment as Clerk of the Works set on foot in
Kew Gardens, under Sir William Chambers. At a house by the ferry-side he
passed the rest of his life in ease and respect; but to our generation
may be best known as father of Mrs. Trimmer, and uncle of William Kirby,
the entomologist.

Yet, indeed, so short-winded is fame in many a case, there may be sons
and daughters of this generation who know not the name of Mrs. Trimmer,
once so familiar in every well-ordered schoolroom; while her _History of
the Robins_ stands still on our publishers’ lists. One of the group of
literary-minded ladies who had the privilege of sitting at Dr. Johnson’s
feet, she married a Brentford man, and went to live across the river,
where she brought up a round dozen of children on the best of principles.
She seems to have been a model of virtues from her youth. When at Kew
she carried on a contest of early rising with a friend on the opposite
bank, the first up hanging a handkerchief out of her window as triumphant
token. Mrs. Barbauld’s popularity as a writer for the young stirred
Mrs. Trimmer to publish her lessons to her own large family, which won
great success, helped by her earnest Evangelical Churchmanship, whereas
the author of _Evenings at Home_ was no better than a Unitarian. After
the example of Raikes of Gloucester, Mrs. Trimmer took a prominent part
in starting Sunday-schools in her own neighbourhood, and was consulted
by Queen Charlotte on this matter. Other causes she had at heart were
kindness to animals, and “the injured African”; it may have been one
of her sons who objected on principle to being caned at school because
he understood the instrument to be the fruit of slave labour. She
corresponded with Hannah More, and such kindred spirits. It exalted her
as an extraordinary honour and privilege when the books of a mere female
writer like herself were admitted on the list of the S.P.C.K., which
has since found plenty of work for women’s pens. She edited _The Family
Magazine_, forerunner of many such, “each number consisting of a sermon,
generally abridged from the works of some learned divine of the Church
of England, and of descriptions of foreign countries, in which care was
taken to make the lower orders see the comforts and advantages belonging
to this favoured land, and also to render them contented with its laws
and government.” How many readers would be won now for a magazine
conducted on such lines, even if spiced by the “Instructive Tales” of its
editor? The good lady died in 1810, and was buried at Ealing, the parish
church of Brentford, which, though the county town of Middlesex, ranked
ecclesiastically as a mere dependent of its neighbour.

About Kew, in her time, there were spirits less loyal and orthodox.
Across the river in her youth she may have heard the roars of the mob
greeting Wilkes’ repeated hustings triumphs at Brentford--a din that
must have reached the royal ears, if George III. did not keep clear of
Kew for the nonce. At one of those abortive elections, every road to
the poll was blocked by a crowd that would allow no one to pass unless
wearing the popular idol’s blue cockade. Wilkes and George might well
be nicknamed the “Two Kings of Brentford.” And for ten years or so New
Brentford, as the village was then called, had a firebrand parson who
would not commend himself to Mrs. Trimmer. Her future home, indeed, was
at Old Brentford, now being swallowed up in Ealing.

The Brentford political parson was John Horne, afterwards better known
as Horne Tooke. Son of a London poulterer, whom he styled to his Eton
school-fellows “a Turkey merchant,” Horne was not the best man to hold
a living which his friends bought for him about the time of the King’s
accession. He is said to have done his duty at least as conscientiously
as most parsons of his day; and he seems to have been on the way to
become a popular preacher, if he had not been distracted by other
avocations. He had studied for the Bar, had suffered as usher in a
school; and he practised medicine _en amateur_ among his parishioners,
no doubt with “a lurch to quackery,” as is Dr. O. W. Holmes’ reproach
against divines straying into his own field. He took pupils at Brentford,
one of them the Elwes afterwards so notorious as a miser; and with more
than one he travelled on the Continent, leaving behind him, let us trust,
an orthodox curate. Then the cry of “Wilkes and liberty!” set him on
commencing as politician and pamphleteer; and for years he revelled in
the hot water of faction. He canvassed for Wilkes with such zeal that he
is accused of saying “in a cause so just and holy he would dye his black
coat red.” We hear once of all the constables in London being drafted to
Brentford, where the turbulent elections did not go off without bloodshed
as well as much beer-tapping. A man lost his life, as was alleged, at the
hands of bullies in the pay of the Court party; and that bellicose parson
exerted himself to bring the accused to justice, who were convicted but
pardoned by the Ministry.

Before long the reverend champion of liberty quarrelled with Wilkes,
against whom in his private character Horne pointed an acrimonious pen,
to the chuckling delight of their political opponents. He started a
newspaper for publishing parliamentary debates, which led to a famous
collision between the officers of the House and the City magistrates, and
indirectly to the tacit acceptance of a liberty of reporting, hitherto
practised by stealth. He next broke a lance against that unknown knight,
Junius. It was a more daring adventure when he touched the Government’s
shield by hotly espousing the cause of the American Colonists, and
writing of the Lexington victims as “murdered” by the King’s troops, for
which he had to stand his trial and be convicted of a libel.

By this time the parson had resigned his living, and thrown off the gown
that hampered his robustious exertions as an agitator, but he remained
a resident at Brentford till circumstances took him into Surrey. A Mr.
Tooke of Purley had invoked his assistance for a dispute about common
rights in that neighbourhood; and Horne proved such a doughty advocate in
this case that close intimacy sprang up between the two men. The younger
assumed Tooke’s name, and from his house dated the philological and
grammatical treatise, _Diversions of Purley_, by which he is best known.
In the end there seems to have been some cooling of their affection,
for Mr. Tooke left his supposed heir only a small legacy, along with the
welcome opportunity for a lawsuit. But Horne Tooke’s real father had left
him means to live comfortably at Wimbledon till 1812, long enough to take
part with a new generation of Radicals, in which the names of Sir Francis
Burdett and Major Cartwright came to the front. He succeeded in slipping
into Parliament, strangely enough, as representative of a rotten borough,
Old Sarum; and his “election” led to a Bill disqualifying the clergy
as members, though a generation would pass before the lease of rotten
boroughs was cancelled by such reform as Horne Tooke had loudly advocated
at the cost of again standing a trial for high treason.

Another noisy reformer, if he be not better described as a pig-headed
lover of the past, who was Tory and Radical by turns, had a glimpse of
Kew, about or soon after the time that Horne Tooke left Brentford. In the
farther corner of Surrey there was then living a sturdy little peasant
who, with a smattering of the three R’s, went to work in the fine gardens
of Waverley Abbey, then got another job of clipping and weeding at the
Bishop’s Palace of Farnham. He could hardly have entered his teens,
though the date is not made clear in his story, when a gardener came that
way who had just left the King’s Gardens at Kew, and gave such a glowing
account of them that nothing would serve the boy but setting off to seek
a place there. This was not a lad to let the grass grow under his feet,
when he had a purpose in mind; and he at once left an episcopal service
in hand for a royal one in the bush. It was William Cobbett, who now made
his first acquaintance with the writings of an old sojourner in his own
country nook, the sullen dependent of Sir William Temple at Moor Park,
Jonathan Swift, whose downright diction this boy lived to copy through
his long series of _Political Registers_.

    The next morning, without saying a word to anyone, off I set;
    with no clothes except those upon my back, and with thirteen
    halfpence in my pocket. I found that I must go to Richmond, and
    I accordingly went on, from place to place, inquiring my way
    thither. A long day (it was in June) brought me to Richmond
    in the afternoon. Two pennyworth of bread and cheese and a
    pennyworth of small beer, which I had on the road, and one
    halfpenny that I had lost somehow or other left three pence in my
    pocket. With this for my whole fortune, I was trudging through
    Richmond, in my blue smock-frock and my red garters tied under
    my knees, when staring about me, my eye fell upon a little book
    in a bookseller’s window, on the outside of which was written:
    “_Tale of a Tub_; price 3d.” The title was so odd that my
    curiosity was excited. I had the three pence, but, then I could
    have _no supper_. In I went, and got the little book, which I was
    so impatient to read, that I got over into a field at the upper
    corner of Kew Gardens, where there stood a _haystack_. On the
    shady side of this, I sat down to read. The book was so different
    from anything I had ever read before: it was something so _new_
    to my mind, that, though I could not at all understand some of
    it, it delighted me beyond description; and it produced what I
    have always considered a sort of birth of intellect. I read on
    till it was dark, without any thought about supper or bed. When
    I could see no longer, I put my little book in my pocket, and
    tumbled down by the side of the stack, where I slept till the
    birds in Kew Gardens awaked me in the morning; when off I started
    to Kew, reading my little book. The singularity of my dress,
    the simplicity of my manner, my confident and lively air, and,
    doubtless his own compassion besides, induced the gardener, who
    was a Scotsman, I remember, to give me victuals, find me lodging,
    and set me to work.

In his fragmentary reminiscence of that experience, Cobbett does not
say how long he stayed at Kew; but we presently find him at home again,
soon to set out on further escapades. He tells us how the boy princes,
attracted by the oddity of his dress, stopped to laugh at him as he was
sweeping the grass round the Pagoda. I have somewhere read a story that
King George himself took notice of the young rustic as carrying a book
with him to work, and was so pleased by his talk as to desire that he
should be kept on; but I do not remember any statement to this effect
in Cobbett’s own writings. In later life, the doughty demagogue became
something of a nursery gardener himself, carrying on near Kensington, by
the Kew road, a seed-farm from which he was zealous to propagate a kind
of acacia he introduced, and also, with less success, the cultivation of
maize under the name of “Cobbett’s corn.” All through life he kept up
his interest in gardening, as shown by more than one of the works whose
style has been happily compared to a kitchen-garden’s relation with a
flower-garden.

[Illustration: THE POPPY BEDS]

Another gardener rose to note, who about the same time was seeking jobs
in Mortlake, Kingston, or any parish around Kew where he could find poor
lodging and ill-paid work. His real name was William Hunt, but he changed
this to Huntingdon, as would appear, by way of hiding himself from the
consequence of some youthful ill-doing; and he afterwards justified the
_alias_ in characteristic fashion by claiming to have undergone “the new
birth” under that assumed name, to which--“as I cannot get at D.D. for
want of cash, neither can I get at M.A. for the want of learning”--he
added the odd degree S.S., meaning “Sinner Saved.” After undergoing the
pangs of spiritual labour along with hard troubles of the flesh at Ewell
and Sunbury, he began to preach among his humble neighbours, and kept up
this ministry while earning a livelihood by unloading coals at Thames
Ditton, so that he became notorious as the converted coal-heaver. He rose
to be the Spurgeon of his day, with John Bunyan rather for model, as far
as one can judge from the twenty volumes of his works, little known to
the “new theology” of our generation, which hardly remembers him unless
from a casual allusion by Macaulay. He was indeed of a more fanatical and
fuliginous spirit than would nowadays recommend a popular preacher; and
his picture in the National Portrait Gallery suggests a coarsely strong
animal nature, subdued, as it might be, by religious enthusiasm. So great
grew his following that “Providence Chapel” was built for him in London,
and rebuilt in Gray’s Inn Lane when destroyed by fire. Though he boasted
of being “Beloved of God, but abhorred of men,” godliness proved to him
no small gain. He is said to have had an income of £2000 a year in his
latter days, when, having lost the helpmeet of those early struggles, he
married Lady Saunderson, widow of a Lord Mayor, with whom he lived in a
villa at Cricklewood. He died at Tunbridge Wells, 1813, and was buried at
Jireh Chapel, in the outskirts of Lewes.

It would make too long a story were one to bring in all the celebrities
and notorieties living at Richmond, which has books enough of its own to
illustrate it, and a fame that would overshadow that of Kew. The latter
place owes everything, unless its river prospects, to princely care; but
Richmond is so richly endowed by Nature that it could not fail to be a
favourite place of residence. Perhaps the best known of its inhabitants
in the Georgian century was James Thomson, the poet of _The Seasons_, who
ended his life at a cottage in Kew Foot Lane, its place afterwards taken
by the Richmond Hospital. But there were lords, belles, and fashionable
folk who also had homes here. At the time of the French Revolution,
Richmond society got a new element in some of the immigrant _noblesse_
lucky enough to be able to rent houses in such a choice _ville de
plaisance_, while others had to content themselves with mean lodgings in
St. Pancras or Soho.

It is difficult, indeed, to draw the line between these neighbour
villages that have now grown into each other. The Old Deer Park of
Richmond ran into the parish of Kew. They had a common excitement in
1795, making a more than local sensation, when one John Little, said to
have been a favourite attendant of George III. in his walks through the
Gardens, came to a bad end. He is described as keeper or porter of the
Observatory, who passed for being a quiet, worthy, and even religious man
till he committed a most brutal murder under circumstances that suggest
insanity. He had borrowed money from a friend, an old man named MacEvoy,
living in the lane between Kew and Richmond; and when this creditor
pressed for payment, Little wiped out the debt by climbing into his house
at night, beating him to death with a large stone, and killing his old
housekeeper in the same way. Their cries roused the neighbours, who burst
in too late; but instead of making off, the murderer had hid himself in
a chimney of the house, and was there found by a Richmond constable. He
was convicted and hanged on Kennington Common, along with the notorious
highwayman, Jerry Abershaw, and with a woman named Sarah King, when a
newspaper of the day could remark on the curious coincidence that this
was also the name of Little’s victim, the housekeeper.

Notices of Kew naturally become rarer after the poor old King had
been shut up at Windsor. In 1813, Sir Richard Phillips made his
_Morning’s walk from London to Kew_, where he did not admire George
III.’s unfinished “Bastile,” then cumbering the ground. He is not the
only writer of the period to mention a singular exhibition, not quite
obliterated a dozen years later, a fresco on a scale unsurpassed by
Raphael or Michael Angelo. “As I quitted the lane, I beheld, on my
left, the long boundary-wall of Kew Gardens; on which a disabled sailor
has drawn in chalk the effigies of the whole British navy, and over
each representation appears the name of the vessel, and the number of
her guns. He has in this way depicted about 800 vessels, each five or
six feet long, and extending, with intervening distances, above a mile
and a half. As the labour of one man, the whole is an extraordinary
performance; and I was told the decrepit draughtsman derives a competency
from passing travellers.”

A sight that lasted longer was the City State Barge, the _Maria Wood_,
rotting at Kew Bridge almost to our own day, till it had to be broken
up; but well on in the nineteenth century it still made a scene of
junketings, and earlier it had cruised with aldermanic guests as far as
Richmond and Twickenham, not to speak of that famous voyage to Oxford
described in the _Middlesex_ volume of this series. Another lion of Kew
in the early part of the last century was a pretentious modern structure,
said to have been built from the materials of George III.’s unfinished
palace, but as Sir R. Phillips notes them both on his walk this statement
seems doubtful. It took the name of the Priory, that has been spread over
a district of the present suburb.

The Priory was built by a Catholic parishioner. Romanists and Dissenters
would have every chance of making way at Kew, when its living, still
conjoined with Petersham, was held for ten years, from 1818, by Charles
Caleb Colton, a parson who might well speak of himself as only a
“finger-post” on the road to heaven. This eccentric divine was more
concerned about angling in the Thames than to be a fisher of men. He did
not live at either of his cures, but in shabby lodgings in Soho, going
down to Kew only for necessary services, and spending the week-days
after the manner of a Bohemian author, perhaps not unknown to Thackeray.
At one time he carried on business, _sub rosâ_, as a wine-merchant, in
cellars underneath a Methodist chapel, a possible hint for Mr. Sherrick’s
dealings at Lady Whittlesea’s; but Colton had none of the Rev. Charles
Honeyman’s suave humbug, while in some respects he may have sat as model
for the coarser reprobate who blackmailed Philip Firmin’s father. His
most unclerical pursuit was gambling, through which he got into some
difficulty that packed him off to America in haste. He returned to put
in an appearance at his living, which, however, seems now to have lapsed
out of his incumbency. He next went to Paris, plunged head over heels
into gaming, and blew out his brains in 1832. Yet this was the author of
that once popular book _Lacon_, that among other edifying and sententious
sentiments denounces the desperate gamester as doubly ruined: “He adds
his soul to every other loss; and by the act of suicide renounces earth
to forfeit heaven.” The cure of souls he had filled so unworthily passed
into the hands of the Rev. R. B. Byam, who held it for forty years, in
favour with all classes and especially with his chief parishioners, the
royal dukes who still from time to time showed themselves in Kew Church.

When Kew had been deserted by kings and courtiers, its gardens being
turned into a public institution, the keepers of them grew to be
important personages, of whom more has been said in the last chapter. For
a time names of note are less often met with in this neighbourhood. One
long link with the past was the life of Mrs. Gwyn, who died here in 1840,
the year of Madame d’Arblay’s death, in whose _Diary_ this lady’s name
appears. She was the widow of Colonel Gwyn, one of the royal equerries
in that time of trouble which Fanny Burney passed through half a century
before. She had been the beautiful Mary Horneck, “the Jessamy Bride”
whom Goldsmith loved in vain; and there may be those still alive at Kew
that heard her memories of Johnson, Burke, and Reynolds, of the first
night of _She Stoops to Conquer_, and the first fame of the _Vicar of
Wakefield_.

About the same time as Mrs. Gwyn, died Francis Bauer, a half-century
resident at Kew, brought there by Sir Joseph Banks to exercise his
remarkable skill as a natural history draughtsman. At the end of the
eighteenth century he had brought out a volume of delineations of
the exotic plants in the Gardens; and many of his plates lie still
unpublished at South Kensington. It is said that in 1827 he laid before
the Royal Society a paper by J. N. de Niepce, another foreigner living
at Kew, who sought in vain to draw attention to some such process as was
afterwards developed by Daguerre, so that Kew may claim to be a cradle of
photography. While we are on the head of art, Hofland the painter should
be mentioned as having been brought up at Kew; also his wife, the once
popular novelist Barbara Hofland, who wrote a book about the Richmond
neighbourhood, sumptuously illustrated in the style of its day (1832),
with much the same aim as the present volume, but containing a larger
proportion of fine words to a smaller stock of matter.

[Illustration: THE ROSARY]

We now approach our own time, in which Kew seems more favoured by
authors than by artists. An inhabitant still remembered is Sir Arthur
Helps, Clerk of the Privy Council, and recorder of those “Friends in
Council” who were so familiar to readers of the last generation; nor does
the mild wisdom of “Milverton,” “Ellesmere” and the rest, deserve to
seem out of date. Perhaps his most enduring work will be the narratives
in which he told the dark story of Spanish American conquest, with its
dubious heroes. He acted as editor for Queen Victoria’s first confidences
in print; and she granted him a residence at Kew Cottage, near the chief
gates. To a member of his family whom I count among my friends, I am
indebted for threads of information woven into these pages.

I can speak from acquaintance of another Kew resident, Richard Proctor,
the well-known writer and lecturer on astronomy, editor of _Knowledge_
and a high authority upon whist, to which his devotion was so sincere
that he never would play for money. Yet he won a prize at the card-table,
for, as he remarks in one of his disquisitions on the relation of
skill and chance, “the lady who was my partner in this game is now my
partner for life.” He was destined to end his busy life lamentably,
far from Kew, when, having in latter days married an American lady, he
transplanted his household gods across the Atlantic. In passing through
New York from the South, he had an attack of fever, mistaken, it seems,
for the terrible “Yellow Jack” that from time to time scares Uncle Sam,
so poor Proctor was turned out of his hotel, and packed off to die in a
hospital.

One could tell of other noted authors living at or about Kew, not always
in such enviable quarters as that “cottage of gentility” at which Queen
Victoria visited Sir Arthur Helps, but perhaps the general reader, who,
even in these Radical days, likes to hear about great folk, would take
more interest in an aftermath of princely memories.

Our late Queen came to Kew only as a visitor. The widowed Duchess of Kent
had quarters given her at Kensington Palace, where she devoted herself
to educating her daughter for the crown that would be her almost certain
inheritance; and the Princess was carried about on temporary sojourns
in different parts of the kingdom, to the marked displeasure of William
IV., who did not like to be reminded how he was only a caretaker of the
throne. But more than one of the royal family still kept residences at
Kew, which, along with her interest in the Gardens, made Queen Victoria
no stranger here.

William IV. did not live at Kew after his boyhood, though he showed his
favour for the place by enlarging the church. Between his naval service
and his accession, he had homes not far off, first at Richmond, then at
Bushey Park, in the house turned into a National Physical Laboratory
by almost the last public act of Queen Victoria. During the scare of
the French invasion, we find the Sailor Prince enrolling himself as a
private in the Teddington Volunteers, perhaps a mere honorary enlistment,
as elsewhere he is spoken of as commanding a Volunteer force styled
the Spelthorne Legion, Spelthorne being the south-western Hundred of
Middlesex. Loyal Kew did not fail to have its own company, with the chief
gardener as lieutenant, and John Haverfield as Chairman of the Committee
appointed at a general meeting of the inhabitants, August 3, 1803. The
strength of the company was sixty men, with two drummers, two fifers,
a fugleman and an armourer; and there appears to have been no lack of
recruits, one of the rules providing that vacancies should be filled up
“from those who have offered their services, according to their character
and permanent continuance in the Parish.” Discipline was maintained by
fines, as in the case of “Every person appearing intoxicated at drill or
exercise shall immediately quit the ranks, and be fined one shilling.”
This made part of what is spoken of as the King’s Own Regiment, and
doubtless it did not want for royal countenance.

When Victoria came to the throne, it is understood that some bigoted
Tories inclined towards a plot for raising the cry of “No Popery!” as
excuse for giving the Crown to Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, who, without
question, succeeded to Hanover. This bigoted and bitter-tongued Prince
was the most unpopular of the whole family, so that, on William’s death,
the Duke of Wellington advised him to clear out of England as fast as
possible, “and take care you don’t get pelted.” He offended his mother by
marrying a divorced princess, on whom the moral Queen looked coldly; the
scandal-loving Charles Greville reports that one of Her Majesty’s latest
seizures was brought on by her wrath when she heard how the Duchesses of
Cumberland and Cambridge had embraced each other in Kew Gardens. Ernest
was by no means a fool, and seems to have had a good deal of character
and courage, but also a perfect itch for rubbing people’s sore points.
In his German kingdom he ruled with a high hand, getting his own way
more easily than in England, and playing the bully not only with those
who opposed him, but with his subservient courtiers, as appears in the
reminiscences of his chaplain, Mr. Wilkinson.

The hatred for him in London had come out at the time of a mysterious
tragedy enacted (1810) in his apartments at St. James’s, when the Duke
was found bleeding from several sword cuts, and in an adjoining room,
locked inside, his Piedmontese valet, Sellis, lay dead with his throat
cut. The coroner’s jury gave a verdict that Sellis had committed suicide
after trying to assassinate his master; but many were inclined to believe
that the murder had been “the other way on”; and an unfortunate printer
went to prison for publishing such suspicions. A generation later, heads
were again shaken over a strange robbery of the registers from Kew
Church: men whispered the name of one illustrious parishioner who might
have an interest in hiding some record of his youth. Nothing seemed too
bad to be believed of this Prince, whose ambition to reign over us, if
attained, would probably have turned the kingdom into a republic.

[Illustration: WILD HYACINTHS]

The Duke of Cumberland had a house at Kew, which stood at the north-west
corner of the Green, and became adapted as the present Herbarium and
Library, the new block built after his death in 1851. Here he lived
occasionally even while King of Hanover; and here was born his son Prince
George, whose birthday was long kept on the Green, as an old inhabitant
tells us: “We used to have the climbing-pole, the jumping in sacks, the
grinning through horse-collars, the running for shifts, and the pig with
a soaped tail, to the infinite delight of the laughter-loving section
of the parish.” This British-born Prince was the blind King of Hanover,
who, so sadly inheriting one of his grandfather’s infirmities, lived to
be dethroned by the Prussian armies, and to retire to a paradise exile
among the Austrian lakes, its lovely scenery lost on him, while, like his
grandfather, he found comfort in music. I can recall a touching glimpse
of him in his latter days as he came out of a London hotel leaning on
the arm of an equerry or some such attendant, whose duty, one supposes,
would be to nudge his master when any salutations had to be done. A small
crowd of butchers’ and bakers’ boys and the like had gathered to stare at
the equipage, and the blind King bowed graciously right and left to an
unappreciative public, that simply stared at him without the least sign
of respect.

The one branch of the royal family that kept up closer connection with
Kew, till quite lately, was the Cambridges. The good-natured and popular
Prince Adolphus had his town residence at Cambridge House, Piccadilly,
afterwards occupied by Lord Palmerston, now the Naval and Military Club,
known to cabmen as the “In and Out,” from the drive behind which it
stands back from the street. The Duke of Cambridge held also Cambridge
Cottage, marked by its portico, on the west side of the Green; and it was
in the church here that he gave amusement and scandal by his habit of
talking aloud to himself, after a trick of his father’s. When the parson
read out “Let us pray,” the Duke would respond, “With all my heart,” but
when the prayer for rain came on, he audibly remarked “No use till the
wind changes!” Then on the story of Zacchæus being read, “Behold, the
half of my goods I give to the poor,” his Royal Highness’s outspoken
comment was “No, no! that’s too much for any man--no objection to a
tenth!” The Rev. Mr. Wilkinson, in the _Reminiscences_ above-mentioned,
asserts that one nervous curate was driven out of the parish by princely
interruptions to the service, not to speak of criticisms on the sermon.
“A damned good sermon!” was the remark Sir William Gregory heard him
make, coming out of a London chapel where the preacher had eloquently
held forth against swearing. The Duke was buried in Kew Church, while his
brother of Sussex chose to “lie among the people” at Kensal Green, where
indeed he lies among such mere “people” as Thackeray, Leigh Hunt, Tom
Hood, Sydney Smith, Isambard Brunel, George Cruikshank, John Leech, and
a whole academy of R.A.’s. In Kensal Green Cemetery also was buried the
last Duke of Cambridge, beside his wife Mrs. Fitz-George, who seems to
have won love as well as respect in her anomalous position.

This Duke, the Commander-in-Chief of our day, was born and partly brought
up in Hanover, of which his father had been Regent. He had there two
English nurses, Mrs. Page and Mrs. Ford, names that gave George IV. the
cue for a jocular remark, “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” It was after King
William’s death, when Ernest succeeded to Hanover, that the Cambridge
family came back to live at Kew, of which their eldest son is found
remarking in Olendorffian style, “The houses we occupy are very bad,
but the place itself is very cheerful.” It is not recorded of him that
he interfered with the Church service, though his everyday language was
criticised as too much borrowed from its comminatory forms. In 1866, his
sister, the Princess Mary of Cambridge, was married at Kew Church to the
Duke of Teck, to whom was given the White Lodge in Richmond Park, whence
came a bride for our present Prince of Wales.

The last quasi-royal function at Kew was the marriage in 1899 of
the Princess Marie, grandchild of the Dowager Grand Duchess of
Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who, as daughter of the former Duke of Cambridge,
is the sole surviving grand-daughter of George III. At the parish church,
in presence of the Prince of Wales and several other members of the
royal family, the young Princess was married to Count Jametal, by a bevy
of clergymen, among whom the Rev. F. F. Reavely, Rector of Lexham, took a
chief part at the Grand Duchess’ special request. The wedding breakfast
was given at Cambridge Cottage, which, till the death of the late Duke,
remained a link between Kew and royalty. It is understood to have been
since offered to various members of the royal family, who declined it as
involving too much expense in repairs and upkeep; and it now seems likely
to be in some way turned to public use, like the rest of King George’s
property here.



V

VISITING THE GARDENS


Kew has grown out to run into Richmond by blocks of commonplace suburban
houses, some of which boast to stand on a dozen feet of gravel. The
quaint Georgian mansions have mostly sunk in relative importance; and the
homely cottages that once neighboured them have gone, or are like to go,
though some of them still do a trade in refreshments, notably in sixpenny
and ninepenny teas served to holiday parties. One side of the Green,
turning from the Bridge to the main gate, is a row of houses and gardens
of entertainment, at the doors of which, on a Sunday afternoon, clamorous
touts strive to draw in the coming and going streams of sightseers, thus
admitted to dwellings where celebrities of the past may once have been at
home. This is a sign how as Kew waned in aristocratic favour, it waxed
as a scene of popular resort, through the attractions of its oasis in
Greater London’s desert of brick and mortar.

[Illustration: IN THE ROCK GARDEN]

From all parts of London it is easy to get to Kew, by railways from
north and south to either side of the river, by tramways to the
Brentford end of the Bridge, by omnibuses, of which specimens may soon
be worth preserving in museums along with fossil trees and Ichthyosaurus
skeletons; and by steamboats plying in summer time up the devious
reaches of the river. The Gardens are open at all reasonable hours of
daylight, and their hot-houses after midday. It is on Sunday and holiday
afternoons, naturally, that His Majesty’s subjects take most advantage of
their privileges, and, of course, fine weather will help to waft abroad
the poet’s invitation to “Come down to Kew in lilac-time”--

    And you shall wander hand in hand with love in summer’s wonderland.

    …

    The nightingale is rather rare and yet they say you’ll hear him there,
    At Kew, at Kew in lilac-time (and oh, so near to London!)
    The linnet and the throstle, too, and after dark the long halloo,
    And golden-eyed _tu-whit, tu-whoo_ of owls that ogle London.

    For Noah hardly knew a bird of any kind that isn’t heard
    At Kew, at Kew in lilac-time (and oh, so near to London!)
    And when the rose begins to pout and all the chestnut spires are out
    You’ll hear the rest without a doubt, all chorusing for London.

This minstrel, as is the way with his order, has an eye upon one
sweetest season and upon one frequent class of visitors, who, when they
get to Kew, might almost as well, it seems, be anywhere else. Noah,
whose ornithological experience should have been larger than Mr. Noyes
contemplates, was familiar with a phenomenon often seen at Kew, of
visitors going in couples, all eyes for one another, with no more regard
to their leafy and flowery surroundings than may suffice to give a vague
sense of treading primrose paths. Such pairs are observed to seek out
retired nooks, where perhaps they light on a wonderland hidden from more
curious survey. I can tell of a blind man every day taking a walk in
those spacious gardens. One can see spectacled gentlemen peering into the
hothouses and museums, who may be suspected of a studious intent. But
by far the majority of holiday visitors come clearly in a true holiday
spirit, roaming here and there like butterflies from clump to clump
of bloom or greenery, to carry away a general impression of something
bearing the same relation to their own familiar back gardens as Windsor
Castle or Chatsworth to a semi-detached suburban villa.

The visitors make as miscellaneous a collection as the plants. Exotic
promenaders will be common on Sundays, when our foreign guests are apt
to complain of a want of public amusements. All classes are represented,
from disguised millionaires perhaps seeking a hint for their own newly
laid out grounds, to servant girls fondly persuaded that the lilies of
the field can show nothing to match the glories of their holiday array.
Family parties are much in evidence. There is always a large proportion
of youngsters, whose parents and guardians may be tempted to improve
the occasion with useful information, more or less correct. Here would
be a chance for Mr. Barlow to open the minds of Masters Sandford and
Merton, or for the tutor of _Evenings at Home_ to lecture his inquisitive
pupils. But the reader need not be afraid of me as likely to abuse
an opportunity of being dull and dry, if I were qualified to play
the botanic pedagogue. I shall not even attempt to be a guide to the
Gardens, which have their own official hand-books sold at the entrance;
I only invite the visitor to stroll about with me in a desultory manner,
while together we make a few observations and reflections on this great
national collection.

Kew Gardens have been boasted the finest and most complete botanical
collection in the world, as they certainly are if a handicap be allowed
for a climate suggesting the antipodes of Eden. Their chief rival
is perhaps the Buitenzorg Gardens of Java, where the Dutch turn for
horticulture has full play upon the glories of tropical vegetation
brought as it were to a focus. A thousand feet above the sea, amid
magnificent volcanic forest-clad scenery, Buitenzorg, _Sans Souci_, the
Richmond of Batavia, basks under a sunny sky that yet is by no means
parching, for Miss North was interrupted at her easel here by rain coming
down regularly each afternoon in such sheets and torrents that five
minutes would turn the roads into streams a foot deep. The gardeners
need be at little trouble or expense for watering this exuberant
greenery, through which runs an avenue of foliage arched a hundred feet
above the ground, each tree wreathed with a different creeper, “sending
down sheets of greenery and lovely flowers.” Here, amid a court of “all
the gorgeous water-lilies of the world,” the Victoria Regia flourishes
in the open air, as at Kew only in its hothouse shelter. Here grows the
_Rafflesia_, named after Sir Stamford Raffles--founder of our Zoological
Gardens, as of Singapore--called the largest flower in the world, at
Kew represented only by a wax model, which seems just as well, since
this vegetable monster, measuring some yards across, soon becomes foully
infested by insects, so as to putrefy with a disgusting smell. Here,
too, a palm like a gigantic primrose is said to have the largest fruit
and the largest leaves of any tree in the world, the former two, and the
latter ten feet in diameter. For Javan curators, indeed, the trouble
is to provide in _cool_-houses such shelter as artificially heated
conservatories are under our scrimped sunshine; and a separate Garden,
some thousands of feet higher up, makes an asylum for our familiar plants
carefully cultivated as a pigmy show of exotics in the East. Our most
tenderly nursed enclosures might cut a poor figure in a climate that does
its own gardening. With all the money spent at Kew, one can imagine what
results might be produced, where, outside of the Gardens, Miss North
could draw a picture far more highly coloured than anything fairly to be
said for Kew Green, or for the Thames bank at Brentford.

    The view from the bridge in the very High Street of Buitenzorg
    was the richest scene I ever saw. A rushing river running deep
    down between high banks, covered with a tangle of huge bamboos,
    palms, tree-ferns, bread-fruit, bananas, and papaw trees, matted
    together with creepers, every individual plant seeming finer
    and fresher than other specimens of the same sort, and the
    larger such plants were, the grander their curves. Then they
    had the most exquisite little basket-work dwellings hidden away
    amongst them, and in the distance was a bamboo bridge--a sort
    of magnified human spider’s web. Looking straight along the
    street from the bridge was another pretty view--little shops
    full of gaily coloured things, such as scarlet jamboa fruit,
    yellow bananas, pomelas, melons, pines, and hot peppers of the
    brightest reds and greens. Pretty birds in bamboo cages, people
    in every shade of purple, scarlet, pink, turquoise blue, emerald
    green, and lemon yellow; small copper-coloured children carrying
    all their garments on the tops of their heads, grass-cutters
    carrying inverted cones of green fastened to their bamboos and
    almost hiding them. Long avenues of huge banyan trees bordered
    the principal drive to the palace, with large bird’s-nest ferns
    growing on their branches, each tree forming a small plantation
    of itself, with its hanging roots and offsets from the branches.
    Herds of spotted deer used to rest in the shade under these
    trees, and parties of the great crested ground pigeon, as big as
    turkeys, were always to be found there.

[Illustration: THE PALM HOUSE]

The Botanic Garden near Rio de Janeiro, also, has tropical features
we can hardly match, such as its colonnade of palms, a living temple
overtopping the suburban avenues in which tram lines have been planted
by foreign capital. Then the Gardens of Peradenia in Ceylon gather such
a bouquet of choice flora as an enraptured traveller compares to “the
paradise of some Eastern tale, designed and inhabited by invisible
genii.” Our Australian colonies, so well off for sun, if not for water,
are undertaking to show the Old Country what can be done in this way by
children freed from some of her disadvantages. Sydney, besides its rich
Botanic Gardens, can afford to keep stretches of wild scenery preserved
in all their unkempt luxuriance; and behind Melbourne Nature itself has a
giant grove of gum-trees, rising from the undergrowth of ferns that with
us would rank as tall trees. And, of course, in many other parts of the
world, comparatively little expense can bring together a collection of
our rare and delicate blooms, there ranking as weeds.

We are better off for money and skill, that at Kew have done so much to
acclimatise or safeguard the productions of more favoured climes. What
may be called the heart of the Gardens, on the side towards the Richmond
road, is the Great Palm House, hardly great enough, as from time to
time some of its pushing guests have to be turned out or snuffed down
for fear of their prising off the roof. This huge hothouse enshrines a
medley collection of tropical forms, grand and graceful, brought together
from Africa, Asia, America and Polynesia, getting their fill of heat
and moisture, if not of sunshine. One guide-book says that almost every
variety of palms is represented in the exotic jumble, which is rather too
much to say, as their species are counted by hundreds, about a hundred
in the woods of the Amazon alone. The most striking trees here, looking
ill at ease in the confinement of their tubs, are specimens of the
pandanus or screw-pine, with its sword-like leaves and its stilt-like
roots, propping the top in the air “with its trunk hid for repairs, as
it were, among an enclosure of scaffolding.” Young and eupeptic visitors
will inquire for the coco-nut, whose fruit reaches them only in a dry,
curdled, shrunken state, poorly representing its fibrous green globes
filled with soft butter and refreshing milk. The double coco-nut of the
Seychelles to be seen here is only a distant relation, whose nuts, like a
pair of giant’s boxing-gloves joined together, grow “full of white jelly,
enough to fill the largest soup-tureen.” It was one of General Gordon’s
crotchets to regard this as the forbidden fruit of Eden; but at Kew, Eve
could surely have found apples more tempting of aspect--for example, the
Japanese date-plum in the Succulent House. One must not, however, attempt
a catalogue of all the vegetable strangers coaxed and coddled to grow
in an asylum, which might have taken a larger scale had a proposal been
carried out to transfer the Crystal Palace to Kew rather than to Norwood.

Near the Palm House stands the Tropical Lily House, where now the
Victoria Regia should open in July its huge white flowers tinged with
royal red. This queen of water-lilies, that first flowered in Britain
at Chatsworth, has to content itself here with a tank, as an exiled
sovereign may have to come down to hotel lodgings; but in its native
Guiana, it blocks up canals and spangles lake swamps opening in the
flowery woods. The leaves are often as broad as a man’s height, with
upturned rims, so that Indian women can cradle their children upon them
safely while the mother does her washing in the river fringed with such
weeds of truly “glorious feature.” In the same conservatory, among other
water-plants, are the papyrus reeds among which Moses was set floating,
in our day crowded out of fertile Egypt, but they are found growing
lustily so near as Sicily; while their old economic importance, that
naturalised the name in our language, has dwindled now that we can turn
wood-pulp into cheap paper.

I lately found the Victoria Regia enthroned in this, its original
nursery; but a guide-book locates it in what, I understand, was its
quarters for a time, the group of hot-houses numbered from seven to
thirteen, which stand not far from the Cumberland Gate entrance. They
have a show of other aquatic plants, and freaks of Nature like the
pitcher-plants and living fly-traps, able to feed themselves on insects
lured to their intoxicating cups that act upon the drugged victim
like the digestive organs of an animal. Here are billeted the delicate
orchids, living on moist warm air, which in our day have been brought to
flower in succession all through the year, even by electric light under
the smoky glass of Birmingham, sought out for our hothouses so diligently
that in their tropical wilds some of the richest sorts begin to grow
rare, while of a thousand specimens gained perhaps at the cost of felling
as many trunks, but a few may survive the trying journey, at the end of
which is worth more than its weight in gold what ran wild as a parasite
weed in the tree-tops of the Magdalena or the Orinoco.

This group of hot-houses cools off into a conservatory of South African
plants, containing potted heaths such as bloom over vast stretches of
Karroo, along with specimens of the curious Japanese art of dwarfing
trees. For a contrast to these nurseries of tender exotics, one might
turn to the Rock Garden beside them, towards the Cumberland Gate, where
Alpine and other hardy growths thrive in a hollow set with rockery
supplied by the destruction of one or more of those fanciful structures
of the Georgian age that still dot the grounds here and there--Temple
of Æolus, Temple of the Sun, and so forth. Beyond the Rock Garden
lies the Herbaceous Ground’s gathering of homely plants; and at its
entrance, overshadowed by Museum II., a little Alpine House accommodates
Nature’s hardy dwarfs, needing no such costly shelter as her tropical
Brobdignagians.

But we have not yet done with the hothouses. Just beyond the egress of
the South African _annexe_, another group begins with the Succulent
House, holding a store of fleshy, scaly, spiky and prickly forms of the
cactus and aloe tribes, having so many odd uses, as the “vegetable cows”
milked three times a day in Mexico, that their juice may be fermented
into the national thin tipple _pulque_, tasting like buttermilk with a
dash of sulphur, while the root of another aloe yields _mezcal_ as a
stronger drink. One American cactus is not so carefully cultivated as it
once was to rear the cochineal insect that dyed “England’s cruel red,”
now procured more cheaply from aniline dyes first made under the group
of tall chimneys below Harrow Hill. In South Africa aloes grow almost
as tall as chimney stacks, so it would take the British Museum dome
to house them. This indeed is not the same plant as the American aloe,
better distinguished as the agave, whose flowering stem may rise to the
height of half a dozen men, so here we must be content with miniature
specimens to fit the Succulent House. Beside this collection stands a
greenhouse glowing with bloom inside panes dimmed by frosty fog; then
beyond open smaller nurseries of tropical and filmy ferns. Outside, here,
is supported a huge wistaria, once wreathing the walls of a conservatory
now removed.

Last comes, what may be visited first, as its Grecian front almost faces
the main entrance, the Aroid House, describable as a chapel of ease to
the Palm House, close packed with a smaller congregation of swollen
greenery, sucking in the edifying moisture that congeals on the glassy
walls, and blinds for a minute or two one’s spectacled eyes, suddenly
brought from the atmosphere of our zone to that of the Equator.

From such artificial snuggeries it seems doubly dismal to turn out into
the raw air of a truly British November, in which a few forlorn roses may
still be struggling to hold up their faded heads, and dank evergreens
wear hardly a more cheerful aspect than the sere leaves, “last of their
clan,” that flutter down to be swept off the glistening grass. And yet
those representatives of another climate, so carefully gathered and
preserved, give but a poor idea of the teeming wildernesses that know
no change of season but from baking heat to swamping rain, their rank
vegetation always glowing under the breath of a fierce spring, while
decaying in everlasting autumn beneath the richest mantles, and if there
be any winter it is the daily frost of paralysing heat. The tropics come
more truly before us in descriptions such as one might quote from a score
of eloquent travellers, for example this by an American writer, W. H.
Hurlbut:--

    The wastes of Northern Cuba are jungles of closely twining
    plants, gay with the myriad hues of strange, magnificent flowers,
    and overtopped by gigantic trees, whose trunks are not less gay
    with fantastic embroideries, and from whose Briarean arms hang
    countless veils and fringes of creeping plants, the names of
    which cause upon the ear the same indefinite impression of savage
    magnificence that is made by their blended, indistinguishable
    forms upon the eye. All things which to us of the temperate zones
    are creatures of boxes and bales, creations, we might perhaps as
    truly say, of the merchant and the grocer, meet us here at every
    turn, wild and bold in the woods; the fan-like cacao tree, the
    spreading vanilla, the parasite tamarind, the gaunt and desolate
    guava. The cactus no longer struggles for existence in the feeble
    sunshine of a three-pair back window with a southern exposure,
    but, swollen to the size of a scrub oak, impedes your way with
    its dull, hideous, prickly leaves, and flaunts its great flowers
    in your face. You may cure your thirst by day with the sweet
    clear waters of the cocoa-nut. You may cool your heated eyes by
    night with such floods of golden moonlight as would have driven
    Shelley mad. The moon, which gives expression to the most tedious
    landscape and the most unmeaning face, and converts the delight
    of gazing upon beauty into a kind of frenzy, the moon makes all
    men Endymions in Cuba.

[Illustration: THE GREEN HOUSE]

But if, amid hints and samples of such luxuriance, the well-clad visitor
feels his spirit “falter in the mist” and be inclined to “languish for
the purple seas” of the South, let him consider how with a certain relief
he escapes from the damp, dripping, sticky heat of these glass-houses
into our untempered breezes, a little exercise soon setting his blood
in tune with a climate that from the cradle goads one to be always
doing something, if only throwing stones, that here would be a most
objectionable pastime for our versatile youth. It is the sons of a
temperate zone who are stirred into building palm houses or setting out
to hunt for treasures of the tropics, when tired of hunting in play
wild animals kept for the purpose at home. As further comfort, let a
stay-at-home study the reports of travellers to note how soon they
grow sick of tropical glare and glow, of the crude and garish tints
of rank evergreenery, of the “chromo-lithograph midsummer” that wants
tenderness, sweetness, variety, and contrast, of the endless monotonies
of shade and the blinding dazzle of perpetual sunshine chequered by a
“scorched darkness” that brings no rest--how they sigh for refreshing
showers that come in their season as a devastating deluge, for weeks and
months together turning into feverish mud the choking dust and the soil
cracked as if gasping for breath, where masterful Nature, if at least
she knows her own mind, is always in violent extremes. I was once in a
desert oasis when it had the prodigious experience of a wet day, not in
bursts of storm but in gently dropping rain, and I shall never forget
the satisfaction with which the natives turned out to bask in weather so
familiar to us as to be hardly worth grumbling at.

I, too, have peeped into those stifling Arcadias, and have known what it
is to hail a “mango shower” or a sea breeze. But I quote for high and
wide authority a Ulysses indeed, Dr. A. R. Wallace, who after years spent
in the richest regions on both sides of the world, can tell us that the
luscious shows picked into a nosegay in our hot-houses ill counterfeit
those natural jungles where blossoms are drowned in a flood of sombre
green, and the brightest flowers, climbing upwards in the universal
struggle for light, waste their full blown beauty on the parching sky,
invisible to the wanderer, unless in an airship he could surmount the
lofty roof of foliage beneath which he may have to push and hew his
tunnelled way through obstruction of dense underwood. This explorer
declares that he has wandered for days in tropical forests without coming
on any bloom so gay as a hawthorn or a honeysuckle; and he has never seen
in Brazil or Malaysia “such brilliant masses of colour as even England
can show in her furze-clad commons, her heathery mountain-sides, her
glades of wild hyacinth, her fields of poppies, her meadows of buttercups
and daisies.”

Sir E. Im Thurn bears out Wallace’s view with some qualification: “At no
time is the Guiana leafage as splendid as in an ordinary English wood
either in the early spring or in the glorious golden autumn time. But on
the other hand, the tropical forest throughout the year is more variously
coloured … due partly to the fact that without special season for the
bursting or the fall of the leaves, throughout the year it has trees both
putting out new leaves, white, or brilliantly tinted with green, pink,
or red, and others from which drop leaves with red, yellow, and bronze
colours burned deeply into them by the blazing sun; and partly to the
fact that in it trees of innumerable kinds, each with foliage slightly
distinct in colour, grow intermingled.… The whole amount of colour
afforded by flowers is probably not very different in tropical and in
temperate trees, but is differently distributed.” But, to be fair to the
tropical woods, so often drowned in the exuberance of their own greenery,
it should be remembered how river banks and other open edges may show
bright with hanging clusters of bloom and radiant festoons climbing to
the tree-tops, while the ground, parched and swamped by turns, will lack
that carpet of sweet and humble flowers, springing among soft turf, that
is the special charm of an English spring.

“What can they know of England who only England know,” seems at present
the favourite tag of imperially minded journalists. It might be more
truly said that only they who know the world know how much England has
to be thankful for in the climate we are so ready to abuse. Their eyes
are opened to see how Nature in our island has all the loveliest tints
on her palette, to paint ever-changing pictures that owe their chief
charm to the supposed defect of uncertainty, even as your Didos and
Cleopatras--_varium et mutabile_--would less surely enchant in the form
of stereotyped models of the most admired virtues.

[Illustration: WILD FLOWERS IN THE BEECH WOODS]

Then a drawback to tropical scenes on which travellers are emphatically
in one tale, is the innumerable plagues bred in such hot air as we
imitate at Kew--here filtered from its hostile engenderings--the
maddening mosquitoes that swarm in equatorial forests as on Arctic
tundras; the legions of ants, white, red, and black, that prey upon
the traveller’s kit and torture his skin like a shirt of Nessus; harpy
moths that have to be driven from one’s food; swarms of earwigs which
some African adventurers have found the hatefulest enemy of their march.
Kew breeds no serpent or vampire like those haunting natural paradises
where the blaze that scares away lions or leopards only attracts darting
spiders and scurrying scorpions to a couch already made restless by
buzzing and biting pests; where the ground hides flesh-burrowing ticks
and fleas, and the air is thick with invisible stings, and the trees
bear venomous caterpillars; where one durst not smell a flower for fear
of inhaling some noxious parasite, and our loathsomest bugs would seem
hardly worth noticing among bloated cockroaches and hideous centipedes;
where countless flies lay seeds of death in man and beast, not to speak
of clouds of locusts that sometimes darken the sky like a snow-storm, and
if they could cross the Channel, might fall on this Thames-side garden to
eat up its greenery in an hour.

And the noises of those sweltering thickets, which at night a new-comer
in South America compares to some factory worked by whirling, whistling
and hissing demons! Even the gloomy stillness of noon, broken by the
fall of some big fruit thudding to the ground like a cannon-ball, or
by some seed-capsule exploding with a report like a shot, even this
heavy siesta of Nature is not altogether voiceless, for beneath it, as
Humboldt says, one can catch a faint stifled undertone, a buzz and
hum of insects that crowd the earth and the lowest strata of air, a
confused vibrating murmur, which from every bush, from the cracked bark
of trees, from the soil burrowed by creeping things, proclaims life
audibly manifest to him who listens. But it is the evening, our emblem of
peace, the welcome twilight through which the ploughboy goes whistling
home, that wakes tropical shades to an untuned concert of croaking,
screaming, chattering, wailing, howling, and humming, when the darkness
seems alive with invisible cracklings, patterings, scratchings, skippings
and rustlings, silenced for the moment by the blood-curdling growl and
crashing spring of some beast of prey, and the piercing death-screech of
its victim echoing far where every foot of ground is scene for nightly
tragedies. One need be no Macbeth to have one’s sleep murdered by alarms
and excursions for which heated imagination acts as a megaphone. “The
clamour of the jackals over a carcass suggests a band of hungry wolves.
A mongoose having it out with a rat beneath the floor is like an animal
Armageddon. Does your faithful dog growl in the verandah, you make sure
a leopard is about to pounce upon him. A restless horse seems to be
trampling like a _must_ elephant. And perhaps over all comes the roar of
the tiger, nothing indeed to be afraid of, as he would go silent enough
if attending to his bad business. Such are the torments of a sweltering
Indian night, that give an Englishman cause to thank the goodness and the
grace that made his birthplace in a land where a caterwauling puss or a
scratching mouse would be the worst of nocturnal bugbears.”

We Britons, lulled to sleep by the tramp of the policeman and the
watch-dog’s honest bark, have some reason for calling “sour grapes” to
the products of those giant greenhouse regions, East and South, where
Nature appears to exhaust herself in labyrinths of swelling beauty and
grandeur. But if the tropical trees had tongues, they might tell us that
we do not judge them fairly in this cramped setting, fettered beneath
roofs of glass, condemned to unnatural silence and restraint; imprisoned
along with strange companions; stinted from full meals of equatorial
storm to the trickling of a rubber hose that can no longer clasp their
trunks in creeping embraces; robbed of the sunshine that floods their
native air with fiery gold, and given in exchange the dull comfort of
hot-water pipes; deserted by the radiant birds, the shining insects, and
the glittering reptiles that should people their drooping branches, among
which the stir of missing monkey-troops seems feebly aped by the murmurs
and movements of workmen hidden in the galleries.

For another kind of more or less unfamiliar vegetation we must seek
the Temperate House, further up the central walks towards the Pagoda.
In this, boasting itself the largest winter garden in the world, are
collected specimens of sun-loving plants, from the acacias of Australia
to the cacti of Mexico. The most venerable growth here seems a shoot of
that now crumbled dragon-tree at Orotava, which Humboldt renowned as
the oldest tree in the world. The most imposing are the araucarias in
the central aisles, one of them the famous Norfolk Island pine, that
in its own home will reach a height of two hundred feet. Some of these
Antipodean strangers can be won to grow in British soil; some would
flourish under its sky, but for their rooted habit of being most active
in our nipping winter. For to their native soil, the seasons, of course,
come reversed from ours, where colonial children must be puzzled by our
poets’ view of January and of July, as we are by allusions seasonable at
the other end of the world:--

    Perspiring round our Christmas fare,
    In vain we long for snow:
    Midsummer day, we fain would sit
    Around the Yule-tide’s glow.

The characteristic growth of Australia is the eucalyptus or gum-tree,
in its many varieties, among which the blue gum is best known as
widely transplanted to thrive in Europe and other parts of the globe.
One species seems entitled to the distinction of being the tallest of
trees, growing to a height of four hundred and fifty feet and more, so
as perhaps to look down even upon the mammoth sequoia of California,
which we have so impertinently renamed the Wellingtonia. The question
of aerial precedence between these two, indeed, depending upon doubtful
measurements, may be taken as not quite settled, and Uncle Sam is loth
to admit anything of his as less than the greatest in the world; but he
should know how Sir J. D. Hooker is quoted by Grant Duff as setting down
his boastful mammoths for ugly trees, which is what no one can say of
John Bull’s oaks.

The isolated specimens of Australian vegetation cabined and cribbed at
Kew, give no fair sample of the eucalyptus forests in which leagues upon
leagues of bare straight stems, standing sullenly apart, will rise from
a hundred to two hundred feet before throwing out their scraggy crown
of dull and drooping foliage, that casts a thin unchanging shade upon
the ground littered with peeling bark rather than with fallen leaves. In
this monotonous scenery one might be grateful for our vernal woods and
autumnal hedgerows; and still more so when lost in one of the “scrubs,”
packed close with malicious dwarf trees, thorny bushes, spear-like
grasses, and tangled heaths, that are the dry jungles of Australia’s
inland plains.

Australia, besides her tree-like flowers, has trees rich in bright
blooms: the “fire-tree” and the “flame-tree” that make a blaze of red and
orange upon hill-sides miles away, the crooked “honeysuckle” with its
yellow “bottle brushes,” the odd “grass-tree” bearing up a tuft of sharp
leaves from which springs several feet of flowery stalk, the “miall-tree”
with its streaming foliage and scent of violets, and the other
innumerable acacias, here known as “wattles,” that can light up even the
gloom of the scrub with their gay blossoms. These growths are apt to run
to flowers rather than to fruit, the native berries being sweeter to the
eye than to the tooth; and, while the flowers lack perfume, it is the
leaves that are often fragrant, sometimes loading the air with an aroma
wafted leagues out to sea. Then there are fine timber-trees, magnificent
cedars, the umbrageous blackwood, the funereal casuarina or she-oak,
whose dark branches droop willow-like over the fitful streams; the
jarrah and the karri belonging to the eucalyptus order, the latter voted
its most noble form. New Zealand, too, has magnificent and beautiful
trees--its kauri, king of conifers, its forests of tree-fern, its jungles
of flowering shrubs, its glowing rata parasite, strangling the trunk
that nursed it by sucking the sap into its own masses of crimson bloom,
like a cuckoo of the vegetable world. But our first Antipodean colonists
would exchange a wilderness of such glories for a patch of English turf;
and their sons still love to surround themselves with the humble garden
flowers and hardy blossoms of “home,” yielding to no land in fresh
and tender tints, however it may be surpassed in gorgeous and gigantic
growths. Many of our familiar plants, indeed, have been introduced at
the Antipodes with sometimes too much success. The branches of apple and
pear trees will there break down under their teeming crop; the thistles
rashly imported into Australia by some patriotic Scot have thriven to
the rank of a nuisance, like the rabbits; the sturdy British gorse and
sweet-brier outshoot their native modesty and the design of colonists
who thought to make them serve as hedges; and our weeds and hedge plants
take so kindly to New Zealand soil as to have overlaid the native flora
in some districts, where the coarse indigenous grass soon gives place
to succulent meadows spangled with daisies and primroses. Water-cress,
transplanted to New Zealand, has grown as troublesome as the American
weed in our canals, to the point of causing floods by damming up the
streams upon which it takes a new exuberant life.

As measles or influenza fastens upon fresh blood like a plague, so do
many of our downtrodden plants become bumptious and aggressive in the
stimulating air of a new world, wherever they find a not forbidding
environment, and a fair chance to elbow a place for themselves in the
struggle for existence. In a less degree, the same conquest is to be
noted in America, the old-settled Eastern States having been largely
colonised by imported growths, while the indigenous flora retreated with
the Red Man to the inland woods and prairies. From the more southerly
regions of America, we Europeans have got more than we give, in Indian
corn, the tomato, the pineapple, and the hardy potato, that for our
damp Western islands has come to be the staff of life as it was on the
dry sunny heights of its native Bolivia, though in Britain, as in some
parts of the Continent, it had at first to live down most pig-headed
prejudices. Besides naturalising the productions of other climates, Kew
has the less noted function of exporting our seeds to try their luck
abroad, as, for instance, barrels of acorns hence sent to take prosperous
root in South Africa.

For the timbers, huge, rich, rare, beautiful and useful, of these exotic
trees, and for their products, we turn to the Museums and Economic Houses
that are the most instructive part of this exhibition. Here Masters
Sandford and Merton might spend many days in enlarging their mental
prospects. The cane, for instance, chiefly familiar to them on the
seat of chairs, or perhaps by a use that renders sitting a property of
uneasiness, they will learn from Mr. Barlow to belong to a great race of
arborescent grasses, among which the young gentlemen may perhaps be most
interested in the raw and manufactured products of the sugar-cane. Here
their well-instructed tutor can point out to them how the bamboo, prince
of this race, is beneficent to many peoples, supplying them with paper,
ropes, hats, weapons, fans, baskets, umbrellas, tents, mats, boxes, also
houses, bridges, masts, sails, ladders, fences, flutes, and other tools,
weapons and utensils, amply illustrated in the cases of Museums II. and
III.

Off the Rhododendron Walk there is a garden of feathery bamboos that
can make shift to stand our open air. In the same quarter, a division
labelled _Betula_ is also calculated to throw a shade over the spirit
of Master Merton, if not of the blameless Harry Sandford, this in
the vernacular being a tree of knowledge too well known to British
youngsters of past generations for its base use, frowned on by latter
day humanitarians, but a smiling jest to the poets from Shakespeare to
Swinburne--

    With all its blithe, lithe bounty of buds and sprays,
    For hapless boys to wince at and grow red,
    And feel a tingling memory prick their skins.

Now that “the rod becomes more mocked than used,” birch sprays are most
familiar to us in the humble usefulness of a broom. Yet on the other
side of the world there were nations that would have been hard put to
it to do without this tree, used for many offices, but not for that
above-mentioned, since your cruel Mohawk and thick-skinned Huron had a
strangely sentimental abhorrence of chastising their impish youngsters,
which, notes a Jesuit missionary, “will hinder our design to instruct
their youth.” But manifold were other services of birch in the wigwam
life of the backwoods--for walls, roof, furniture, clothes, torches,
powders, poultices, and what not; bark was the Red Man’s cradle and his
coffin, and the material for his masterpiece of skill, the canoe; it
even at a pinch filled empty stomachs, that could hold out for days on
the inner scrapings of bark, when moss, roots, and berries failed his
improvident hardihood.

In other parts of the world, the coco-nut tree is of still more general
utility, since it not only “bears at once the cup and milk and fruit,”
but supplies salad from the young shoots and toddy from the quickly
fermented juice; bowls and lamps from its shells, and from its pulp,
oil to fill them; cordage, mats, ornamental wreaths and plaited armour
from its fibre; fans, baskets, thatch from its leaves; torches from the
ribs, and countless other articles of daily use. The Malays, who train
monkeys to run up the trees and bring down nuts for their master, have
contrived an ingenious clock which Dr. Wallace saw used by sailors: in
a bucket floats a scraped half-shell with a small hole bored in the
bottom to let in a thread of water at a rate so exactly calculated that
the shell sinks at the end of an hour. There are South Sea islands where
brackish water makes the people wholly dependent on this tree for drink.
Then modern trade has given coconuts a new value, dried in the form of
copra and shipped to Marseilles and elsewhere, to have the oil pressed
out for making soap and candles, not to mention the “best olive oil” of
commerce, while the refuse goes as fattening food for cattle. That is the
main thing we get from Polynesia and Micronesia in exchange for trousers,
sewing-machines, concertinas, and spelling-books. In Museums I. and II.
our young friends may see what delicate and finely tinted cloth those
islanders could beat out of bark before they learned to depend too much
on our manufactures, being often more healthy and moral without the
encumbering garments which the early missionaries considered essential to
godliness.

For some islands of the South Seas, the pandanus, rather, fills the part
of universal provider. The same thing might be said of other trees in
their different regions; but perhaps enough has been said on this head,
when one mentions the Brazilian wax-palm (_Copernicia cerifera_), which,
though it makes no great show here, according to Mr. J. W. Wells, seems
to be as much of a tree-of-all-work as any other in the world.

    It resists intense and protracted droughts, and is always green
    and vigorous; it produces an equivalent to sarsaparilla; a
    nutritious vegetable like cabbage; wine; vinegar; a saccharine
    substance; a starch, resembling and equivalent to sago; other
    substances resemble, or by processes are made to substitute
    maizena, coffee, cork, wax, salt, alkali, and coco-nut milk; and
    from its various materials are manufactured wax-candles, soap,
    mats, hats, musical instruments, water-tubes, pumps, ropes, and
    cords, stakes for fences, timber for joists, rafters, and other
    materials for building purposes, strong and light fibres which
    acquire a beautiful lustre; and in times of great drought it has
    supplied food for the starving inhabitants.

Specimens of those products will be found chiefly in Museum No. II.,
illustrating the economic uses of endogenous or monocotyledonous plants,
hard words which Mr. Barlow might fancifully explain as denoting the
gentler sex of vegetable Nature, its members, from palms to grasses,
being inclined to softness, slenderness and grace rather than strength.
But perhaps Sandford and Merton might, for once, do well not to listen
to their much-informed preceptor, as he would probably be imbued with
the Linnean system of classification, now set aside for a more natural
one. The robust timber, better supplied by sturdily growing exogens,
is exhibited in Museum III., the original “Orangery” built by Sir W.
Chambers, that now makes a world-fetched show of huge sections of forest
giants; polished slabs of ornamental wood; specimens of native ingenuity
in workmanship, from bamboo toys to an appalling totem post carved upon
a Queen Charlotte Islands cedar. Another feature here is views and plans
of the Gardens at different periods, the localities often hardly to be
identified after successive alterations that have brought them to their
present state.

The largest, and, on the whole, the most attractive of the Museums is
No. I., whose red face looks across the Pond to the Palm House. Its
staircase is adorned with a window that reminds one of the _rebus_
designs with which mediæval builders recorded their names in a material
pun, for this, removed from the Guildhall and presented to the Gardens by
Alderman Cotton, displays on stained glass the stages in the growth and
manufacture of cotton. The catalogue contains over five hundred entries
and thousands of specimens, most of them capable of instructing even
Macaulay’s schoolboy. A large part of the collection was transferred here
from the India Museum at South Kensington; but all quarters of the world
are represented. Here we may see in various states, tea, coffee, cocoa,
wine, tobacco, hops, nutmegs, cloves and other more or less familiar
friends, with some not so well known in Britain, such as _maté_, the
Paraguayan tea, which begins to be introduced among us, while it goes
out of fashion in Argentine cities, still drunk all day long on the
_campos_, where also the half-savage Gaucho takes too kindly to “square
face” gin and to the gramophone that drowns the notes of his native
guitar. Here we may indulge due disgust over outlandish intoxicants: the
hemp-plants yielding “bang” and “hashish,” which are in the East what
gin and absinthe are in the West; the poppy, that is a drug to us but
elsewhere a ruinous dissipation; the coca leaves, the chewing of which
gives a Bolivian Indian strength to go on for leagues without food, “but
thereof comes in the end despondency and madness”; the kava root of the
South Seas, which, first well chewed by strong-jawed young men or girls,
then steeped in water, gives an infusion like soapsuds flavoured with
Gregory’s powder, a luxury not much appreciated by white men, especially
after seeing its preparation, and usually denied to women and youngsters,
but ceremoniously presented in coco-nut shells to the grave and reverend
seniors, whom a skinful of it affects with a peculiar drunkenness, in the
legs rather than the head.

Many medicinal plants here will give us new ideas or old qualms: the
liquorice root, yielding what is still in our country districts known as
“Spanish juice”; the senna shrubs, that flourish hardily in deserts to
furnish black draughts once too much imported into British nurseries; the
castor-oil plant, that bears such big clumps of flowers blooming under a
tropical sun “too fairly for so foul effect”; the precious quinine, which
by bold adventurers was stolen from Peruvian monopoly to thrive on Indian
hills and elsewhere. Passing by such exhibits with a shudder, Masters
Sandford and Merton will be glad to learn how many doctors nowadays do
not much dissent from O. W. Holmes’s dictum that if all drugs, except
quinine and a few other specifics, were at the bottom of the sea, it
would be so much the better for human health.

Young monkeys, still strong in jaw and gastric juice, will pay more
attention to the different kinds of nuts, too reckless dealings with
which has often caused nauseous draughts to be “exhibited”; and they
may be surprised to learn how the triangular Brazil nuts of our shops
are not independent growths, but neatly packed in parcels of two dozen
or so in a shell like a cannon ball, so hard and heavy as to crack a
man’s skull on which it should fall. The youth of this generation will
not be so much interested as an old fogey is in carob pods, believed to
be the locusts that fed St. John, and that still feed men and cattle in
some parts of the world. The other day I had a shock of mild surprise in
seeing dried locusts for sale in a back street shop-window, from which I
had supposed them long vanished; but in my period of unpampered stomachs
and scrimp pocket-money they had a great sale among schoolboys, as giving
for a minimum of expenditure a maximum of sweet, stiff chewing, with
this additional recommendation, that the seeds, scrunched under one’s
mischievous heel, made a squeaking noise subversive of discipline--a
trick, let us trust, never tried on Mr. Barlow. He will here find a
cue to explain how some fruits that are to us mere luxuries more or
less digestible, such as chestnuts and dates, make the staple food of
certain regions, not only raw but dried, ground into flour and baked
into bread; the stones of dates also being crushed as fodder for North
African cattle. Then here we have the cassava, which in its native state
is deadly poison, but can be prepared to feed wholesomely many tribes
of Africans and South Americans, and to supply us with our toothsome
tapioca. Here indeed are poisonous preparations enough to kill all
Kew, including the juice of that upas tree of whose deadly shade a
cock-and-bull story took such deep root in our language that it still
affords a fictitious trope for orators.

Mr. Barlow might find much to say on the many useful or curious plants
here represented, notably the various trees and creepers whose juice,
once oozing to waste in leafy wildernesses, now becomes more and
more important through the increasing demand for india-rubber in our
greedy manufactures. But his hearers might begin to yawn before he
had got through one-tenth of over a hundred cases here laid out for
inspection; so, as soon as the shower be over that has driven us into
this instructive refuge, let us go forth into the open air, only pausing
to look respectfully on the portraits of botanists and explorers, among
which the tutor may point to Sir Joseph Banks, or Baron von Humboldt,
while the pupils will want rather to identify Captain Cook; the general
public may be most concerned to see Charles Darwin or Marianne North; and
those who have had the patience to read through the foregoing chapters
can pick out George III., Lord Bute, the Aitons, the Hookers, and other
worthies there touched upon in connection with Kew’s history.

It would take one, indeed, from opening to closing time to go through
even the salient features of these spacious Gardens. What one turns to
by choice will partly depend on taste, and partly on the season. Early
in the year, as the official guide reminds us, we can look out for the
snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils that “take the winds of March with
beauty.” Then open the tulips about the Palm House, the bluebells in the
remote corner marked by the Queen’s Cottage, the wild hyacinths beneath
the budding beech-trees; and horse-chestnut flowers strew the way to the
blooming rhododendron walks; and next comes the turn of the azaleas and
roses, till the whole area is overspread by vari-coloured blooms, in
autumn dying with a pale sunset of chrysanthemums.

There are some who seek out first the richest flower-beds; others who
love the chequered shade of melodious groves, or the avenues of cedar,
larch, and cypress at the less cleared end towards Richmond; others will
ask for famous old trees like that horse-chestnut whose gouty limbs are
railed in near the river bank, a little below the Syon Vista opening
across the ferry from the Palm House, beside the artificial lake that
might be mistaken for a river. Open-eyed youngsters hang by the pond
with its colony of wild-fowl, on the other side of the Palm House.
Family parties stroll through the chambers of the “Palace,” empty but
for a sprinkling of pictures and relics of royalty. Certain visitors, on
hot days, one observes to spend much time in and about the refreshment
pavilion, towards which Tommy Merton’s eyes will be observed to wander,
while Harry Sandford listens attentively to a lecture on the adjacent
cedars, whose seeds may have been brought home by Bute’s adventurous
mother-in-law, and their branches to-day wear no air of “sighing for
Lebanon.” The official restaurant, not quite so “popular” as those
outside, stands beyond the Palm House, in an open glade leading up to
where the Pagoda’s towering intrusiveness marks the way to the Lion Gate
at the further corner on the Richmond road. Perhaps fewest visitors show
the preference of Richard Jefferies, so true a lover of Nature, who casts
his vote for what might strike some of us as the most commonplace show
of the Gardens, by the Cumberland Gate--that old story of “Eyes and no
Eyes!”

    Within this enclosure, called the Herbaceous Ground, heedlessly
    passed and perhaps never heard of by the thousands who go to
    see the Palm Houses, lies to me the real and truest interest of
    Kew. For here is a living dictionary of English wild-flowers.
    The meadow and the cornfield, the river, the mountain, and the
    woodland, the seashore, the very waste place by the roadside,
    each has sent its peculiar representatives, and glancing for
    the moment, at large, over the beds, noting their number and
    extent, remembering that the specimens are not in the mass but
    individual, the first conclusion is that our own country is the
    true Flowery Land. But the immediate value of this wonderful
    garden is in the clue it gives to the most ignorant, enabling
    any one, no matter how unlearned, to identify the flower that
    delighted him or her, it may be, years ago in far-away field or
    copse. Walking up and down the green paths between the beds, you
    are sure to come upon it presently, with its scientific name duly
    attached and its natural order labelled at the end of the patch.
    Had I only known of this place in former days, how gladly I would
    have walked the hundred miles hither. For the old folk, the aged
    men and countrywomen, have for the most part forgotten, if they
    ever knew, the plants and herbs in the hedges they had frequented
    from their childhood. Some few, of course, they can tell you;
    but the majority are as unknown to them, except by sight, as the
    ferns of New Zealand or the heaths of the Cape. Since books came
    about, since the railways and science destroyed superstition, the
    lore of herbs has in great measure decayed and been lost. The
    names of many of the commonest herbs are quite forgotten--they
    are weeds, and nothing more. But here these things are preserved;
    in London, the centre of civilisation and science, is a garden
    which restores the ancient knowledge of the monks and the witches
    of the villages.

[Illustration: THE LAKE, LOOKING SOUTH]

But whatever else at Kew be done or left undone, the stranger must be
pointed to what is almost the latest and not least attractive of its
spectacles--the North Gallery, that stands on the Richmond road side,
beyond the mound on which a Douglas pine rears what boasts itself the
tallest flagstaff in the world, and near where the walk is crossed by
an imitation ruined arch, overgrown with greenery, which in Sir W.
Chambers’s time seemed an ornamental manner of carrying a roadway out of
the grounds. The pretty building itself will at once invite attention;
then hours may be spent in examining its contents, the gift and handiwork
of Miss Marianne North, who well deserved to stand godmother to several
plants brought to knowledge by her researches.

This lover of flowers, a descendant from the Roger North remembered by
his biography of three notable brothers, was born at Hastings, for which
her father sat in Parliament. Her desire to see and to paint the tropics
was awakened at Kew when Sir William Hooker gave her a glorious bunch
from the first _Amherstia nobilis_ to bloom in England. With her father
she travelled much in Europe, and as far as Syria and Egypt. Thrown on
her own guidance after his death and the marriage of her sister to J. A.
Symonds, she launched out for America and the West Indies; then took a
tour round the world and made some stay in India, bringing back from time
to time several hundred paintings to be exhibited at South Kensington.
When she found her work appreciated, Miss North resolved on presenting
the whole collection to the public, and at her own expense set about the
building of a gallery for it at Kew. Before this was opened in 1882, she
had been to Australasia for fresh subjects; then again set off to enrich
its contents from South Africa and the islands of the Indian Ocean. The
gallery had soon to be enlarged, while its indefatigable founder made her
last expedition, this time to Chili. The story of those peregrinations
is told in her _Recollections of a Happy Life_, that pass over lightly
the many hardships she braved in procuring so much pleasure for her
stay-at-home countryfolk. But perilous climates and trying exertions had
told on her nerves; and after a year spent in finally arranging the Kew
collection, she was fain to seek the repose of a Gloucestershire garden,
which many friends contributed to adorn with such beauties as she had
followed far and near. Here, a few years later, she died in 1890.

[Illustration: HERBACEOUS GARDENS]

The North collection is unique, not only in its scope and interest, but
in its being the work of one woman, whom Queen Victoria regretted that
she could distinguish by no mark of public honour: in the next reign she
might have been rewarded by the new Order of Merit bestowed on Florence
Nightingale. Her legacy to the nation, catalogued in more than a hundred
pages, pictures some thousand species of flowers and plants, from nearly
all parts of the world, for the most part executed on the spot within
little over a dozen years. This is the sight no visitor should miss; and
from whatever clime he comes, he is almost sure to find some _souvenir_
of it blooming here under the dullest sky and the chilliest influences,
against which Kew Gardens strive to carry out their aim of epitomising
the earth’s vegetable life.



FOOTNOTES


[1] _The Dictionary of National Biography_’s article on Francis Willis,
written, I understand, by a descendant of his, hardly does justice to
this one of his sons. The writer mentions John and Robert as concerned
with treating the King at different times, but does not bring forward
Thomas, who, so far as I can make out, was closely in charge during the
attack of 1801.

[2] _Letting_ in Elizabethan English, of course, bore the opposite
meaning to ours, as in “let and hinder.”



INDEX


    Abel, musician, 125

    Acorns exported from Kew, 185

    Addison, quoted, 90

    Æolus, Temple of, 169

    Aiton, John, 102

    Aiton, William, 100

    Aiton, William Townsend, 102

    Albert, Prince, 110

    Amelia, Princess, 64, 79

    Amelia’s House, Princess, 30

    Arch, the ruined, 199

    Argyll, Duke of, 9

    Aroid House, 170

    Assassination, George III.’s escape from, 36

    Augusta, Princess of Saxe-Gotha, 13

    Australian vegetation, 182

    Ayrton, Mr., 109

    Azaleas, 196


    Bach, J. C., 40, 125

    Bacon’s Essay, _Of Gardens_, 85

    Bamboos, 186

    Bauer, Francis, 146

    Birch, uses of, 187

    Bluebells, 196

    Bohemia, Anne of, 2

    Boswell, 70

    Botanic Garden at Kew, 95, 101, 107, 112

    Botanists, portraits of explorers and, 195

    Bradley, Astronomer-Royal, 87

    Brazil nuts, 193

    Brentford, 8, 77, 113, 119, 132

    Bridgeman, gardener, 91

    Brown, “Capability,” 95

    Buckingham Palace, 27, 32, 78

    Buitenzorg Gardens, Java, 161

    Burney, Miss, quoted, 46, 59, 66, 67

    Burton, Decimus, 108

    Bushey Park, 149

    Bute, Earl of, 19, 23, 95, 123

    “Buttonmaker,” nickname of George III., 31

    Byam, Rev. R. B., 145


    Cactus aloe, 169

    Cambridge Cottage, 46, 123, 153, 156

    Cambridge, Duke Adolphus of, 45, 81, 116, 153

    Cambridge, Duke George of, 154

    Cambridge, Princess Mary of, 155

    Capel, Lord, 11, 87

    Carleton House, 77

    Carob pods, 193

    Caroline, Queen, 9, 10, 94, 116

    Cassava, 194

    Castor-oil plant, the, 193

    Cedars of Lebanon, 197

    Chambers, Sir William, 96

    Character of George III., 22

    Charles I., 7

    Charlotte, Princess, 80, 81

    Charlotte, Queen, 24, 47, 52 68, 80

    Chatterton, quoted, 98

    Chelsea, Physic Garden of, 101

    Chestnuts, 194

    Chrysanthemums, 196

    Church House, 123

    City State Barge, 143

    Clarence, Duke of, 45, 70, 81

    Cobbett, William, 136

    Coca leaves, 192

    Coco-nut of Seychelles, 166

    Coco-nut trees, uses of, 188

    Colton, Charles Caleb, 143

    Confucius, House of, 96

    Cook’s Voyages, 105

    _Copernicia cerifera_, a tree-of-all-work, 189

    Cotton window, the, 191

    Cowley, quoted, 84

    Crocuses, 196

    Cuba jungles, 171

    Cumberland, Ernest, Duke of, 45, 81, 116, 150, 151

    Cumberland, William of, 12, 18


    Daffodils, 196

    “Dairy House,” the, 11

    D’Arblay, General, 71

    Darwin, Erasmus, quoted, 98

    Darwins, the, 102

    Dates, 194

    Deans, Jeanie, 9

    De Candolles, the, 102

    De Jussieus, the, 102

    _Diary_, George Rose’s, 74

    _Dictionary of National Biography_, quoted, 75

    Digby, Colonel, 67

    _Dissertation on Oriental Gardening_, 96

    _Diversions of Purley_, the, 134

    Doddington, Bubb, 20

    Dowager Princess of Wales, 20, 95

    Dragon-tree at Orotava, 180

    “Drake, Peter,” 95

    Drawing-rooms at St. James’s, 50

    Duck, Misses, 116

    Duck, Stephen, 94, 116, 117

    Dutch House, the, 11, 29, 74


    Edinburgh Botanical Garden, 103

    Edward III., 2

    Elizabeth, Queen, 5

    “Elizabeth’s house, Princess,” 46

    Engleharts, the, 126

    Ernest, King of Hanover, 107 150, 151

    Ernst, the page, 126

    Eucalyptus, 181

    Evelyn, John, 86

    Explorers, portraits of botanists and, 195


    “Farmer George,” 31

    Finch, Lady Charlotte, 46

    Fischer, musician, 40, 125

    Fitzherbert, Mrs., 45

    Fortnum, 125

    Frederick, Duke of York, 37, 43, 46

    Frederick, Prince of Wales, 11, 15, 88


    Gainsborough, Thomas, 129

    Gardening, art of, 88

    Gardens, celebrated, 87, 88

    GARDENS, THE STORY OF THE, 82

    Garrick, quoted, 96

    George, Duke of Cambridge, 154

    “George, Farmer,” 31

    George I., 8

    George II., 8, 10, 24

    George III., 13, 74, 76, 78, 95, 120

    George III., accession of, 24

    George III.’s character, 22

    George III.’s escape from assassination, 36

    George III.’s illness, 51

    George III. meets Miss Burney, 47

    George III.’s tutors, 17

    George IV., 77, 106

    George IV., Prince of Wales, 37, 40, 53, 55

    George IV.’s intrigue with “Perdita” Robinson, 41

    Giant gum trees at Melbourne, 164

    Gordon, General, 166

    Great Palm House, 165

    Green, the gardener, 99

    Greenhouse, the, 170

    Greville, Charles, quoted, 150

    Grey, Lady Jane, 4

    Gwyn, Mrs., the “Jessamy Bride,” 145


    Ha-ha fence, 93

    Ham House, 87, 114

    Hampton Court, 3, 8, 10

    Hanover, Ernest, King of, 107

    Hanover, George of, 152

    Haverfield, John, 99

    Hawkins, the brothers, 123

    Helps, Sir Arthur, 147

    Hemp plants, 192

    Henry, Prince, 6

    Herbaceous ground, 169, 198

    Herbarium library, 152

    _Heroic Epistle_, Mason’s, 95

    Hervey, Lord, quoted, 12, 14

    Highwaymen, 121

    Hill, Sir John, 96

    Hofland, Barbara, 146

    Hollow Walk, the, 123

    “Honour, Maids of,” 8

    Hooker, Sir J. D., 109, 181

    Hooker, Sir W. J., 108, 109

    Horne Tooke, John, 132

    Horse-chestnut, old, 196

    Horticultural Society’s Garden, 107

    Huntingdon, William, S.S., 138

    Hurlbut, W. H., quoted, 171


    “Improvers,” 88

    India-rubber plants, 195

    Islay, Lord, 97

    Italian Gardens, 89


    Jacobi, Mdlle., 69, 72

    James I., 5

    Jefferies, Richard, quoted, 198

    Jones, Henry, 98

    Jones, Inigo, 88

    Juniper Hill, 71

    “Junius,” 134


    Kava root, 192

    Kent, Duke of, 45, 81

    Kent, William, 88

    Kew Bridge, 118

    Kew Castle, 77

    Kew Church, 115

    Kew Churchyard, 129

    Kew Cottage, 147

    Kew Green, 75, 157

    Kew House, 10, 29, 32, 46, 51, 54, 64, 76

    KEW IN FAVOUR, 31

    “Kew in lilac-time,” 158

    Kew Observatory, 9, 88, 97, 111

    Kew, origin of name, 1

    Kew Palace, 10, 78, 80, 112, 197

    Kew Priory, 143

    Kew Volunteers, 149

    Kingston, 2

    Kirby, Joshua, 129

    Kit-Cat Club, 114

    Kneller, Sir Godfrey, 114

    Kneller Hall, 114

    Knight, Charles, 79

    Knight, Miss Cornelia, 73


    _Lacon_, quoted, 144

    Lake, the, 197

    Langley, Batty, 91

    Lauderdale, Duke of, at Ham House, 87

    Lebanon, cedars of, 197

    Lely, Sir Peter, 113

    Lennox, Lady Sarah, 26

    Le Nôtre, 89

    Levens Hall, 89

    Linnean classification, the, 190

    Linnés, the, 102

    Lion Gate, the, 197

    Liquorice root, 192

    Little, John, story of, 141

    “Love Lane,” 33


    Macaulay, quoted, 47

    Macnab, James, 103

    Macnab, William, 102

    Macnab, William Ramsay, 103

    “Maids of Honour,” 8

    Mammoth sequoia, 181

    Marvell, A., quoted, 93

    Mary of Cambridge, Princess, 155

    Mason’s _Heroic Epistle_, 95

    Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Dowager Grand-Duchess of, 155

    Melbourne, giant gum-trees at, 164

    “Merlin’s Cave,” 94

    Meyer, Jeremiah, 126

    Molyneux, Samuel, 11, 87

    Monastery of Sheen, the, 83

    Montague, Lady Mary Wortley, 123

    Moor Park, Hertfordshire, 85

    Murray, Miss Amelia, quoted, 124

    Museums and Economic Houses, 185


    New Zealand Vegetation, 183

    Niepce, J. N. de, 146

    “No Popery” riots, 34

    North Gallery, 199

    North, Miss Marianne, 161, 163, 199

    Nôtre, Le, 89

    Noyes, Mr. A., quoted, 158


    Observatory, the, 9, 88, 97, 111

    Old Brentford, 132

    Old Deer Park, 36, 111, 141

    Opium, 192

    “Orangery,” the, 190

    Orotava, dragon-tree at, 180


    Pagoda, the, 1, 96, 197

    Palace at Richmond, proposed new, 28

    Palm House, 108

    Papendiek, Mrs., Memoirs of, 34, 40, 43, 56, 72, 99, 120, 121, 123, 125

    Papyrus reeds, 167

    Pavilion, the Brighton, 77

    Peradenia, Gardens of, 164

    Petersham, 114

    Phillips’s _Morning’s walk from London to Kew_, 142

    Physic Garden, Chelsea, 101

    Pond, the, 197

    Pope, quoted, 15, 89

    Portraits of botanists and explorers, 195

    Potato, the, 185

    Prain, Colonel, 109

    Prince Albert, 110

    Prince Frederick of Wales, 11, 15, 88

    Prince George of Hanover, 152

    Prince Henry, 6

    Princess Amelia, 30, 64, 79

    Princess Charlotte, 80, 81

    “Princess Elizabeth’s House,” 46

    Princess Marie’s wedding, 155

    Princess Victoria, 81

    Pringle, Sir John, 123

    Proctor, Richard, 147


    Queen Caroline, 9, 10, 116

    Queen Charlotte, 27, 68, 80

    Queen Elizabeth, 5

    Queen Victoria, 112, 149

    “Queen’s Cottage,” the, 29, 196

    “Queen’s Lodge” at Windsor, 32

    Quinine, 193


    _Rafflesia_, 162

    _Recollections of a Happy Life_, 200

    Regency Bill, 53, 62

    Regency, the Prince’s, 79

    Repton, Humphrey, 93

    Richmond, 3, 5, 113, 140

    Richmond Gardens, 94, 110

    Richmond Lodge, 8, 10, 28, 32, 97, 110

    Richmond Palace, 3

    Richmond Park, 7, 30

    Richmond, proposal of new palace at, 28

    Rio de Janeiro, Botanic Garden, near, 164

    Riots, “No Popery,” 34

    Robinson, “Perdita,” 41

    Rock Garden, the, 168

    Rogers, John, Reminiscences, 34, 101

    Rose, George, _Diary_ of, 74

    Roses, 196


    St. James’s Drawing-rooms, 50

    St. James’s Palace, 27

    Saxe-Gotha, Princess Augusta of, 13

    Scholarship, George IV.’s, 37

    Schwellenberg, Mrs., 49, 68

    Scotsmen as gardeners, 100, 105

    Senna, 192

    Seychelles, coco-nut of, 166

    Sharp, Granville, 122

    Sheen, 2

    Sheen Common, 94

    Sheen, the Monastery of, 83

    Snowdrops, 196

    Somerset, Protector, 84

    South African plants, 168

    _Spectator_, the, quoted, 90

    Spencer, Lady Elizabeth, 27

    STORY OF THE GARDENS, THE, 82

    Strand-on-the-Green, 113, 126

    Strawberry Hill, 90, 91

    Succulent House, 169

    Sudbrook Park, 114

    Suffolk House, 4

    Sun, Temple of the, 169

    Sunday opening, 110

    Sussex, Duke of, 45

    Swift, quoted, 114

    Switzer, Stephen, 87, 91

    Sydney, Botanic Gardens at, 164

    Syon House, 4, 84

    Syon Vista, the, 197


    Tamerlane’s garden, 100

    Teck, Duke of, 155

    Temple, Sir William, 87

    Temple of Æolus, 169

    Temple of the Sun, 169

    Temple Grove, 87

    Thackeray, quoted, 34

    Theobald’s Park, Enfield, 5

    Thiselton-Dyer, Sir W. T., 109

    Thomson, James, 140

    “Thresher-poet,” the, 116

    _Thresher’s Labour, The_, quoted, 117

    Thurlow, Lord Chancellor, 62

    Timber Museum, No. III., 190

    Tooke, John Horne, 132

    Topiarian art, the, 89

    Trimmer, Mrs., 129

    Tropical Lily House, 166

    Tropics, plagues of the, 176

    Tulips, 196

    Turner, Dr. William, 83

    Tutors of George III., 17

    Twickenham, 21

    “Two Kings of Brentford,” the, 132


    Upas tree, 195


    Victoria Gate, 112

    Victoria, Princess, 81

    Victoria, Queen, 112, 149

    Victoria Regia, the, 162, 167

    VISITING THE GARDENS, 157


    Wales, Dowager Princess of, 20, 95

    Wales, Prince Frederick of, 11, 88

    Wallace, Dr. A. R., quoted, 174

    Walpole, Horace, 9, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 21, 28, 45, 63

    Wedding of Princess Marie, 155

    Wells, Mr. J. W., quoted, 189

    West, Sir Algernon, quoted, 109

    Weymouth, 65, 76

    White House, the, 46

    White Lodge, 155

    Whitton Place, 97

    Wild hyacinths, 196

    Wilkes, John, 26, 131

    Wilkes’s head, 76

    “Wilkes and Liberty,” 89, 133

    Wilkinson, Mr., _Reminiscences_, 154

    William of Cumberland, 12, 18

    William III., 8, 89

    William IV., 87

    Willis, Rev. Dr., 56, 68

    Willises, the, 75

    Windsor Castle, 32, 50, 78

    Wolsey, 3

    Wyatt, Sir Thomas, 118


    York, Frederick, Duke of, 37, 42, 64


    Zoffany, John, 127


THE END

_Printed by R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, Edinburgh._





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