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Title: Westminster
Author: Besant, Walter
Language: English
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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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                  SIR WALTER BESANT, M. A., F. S. A.

                       AUTHOR OF “LONDON,” ETC.



                               New York

                      FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY


                     Copyright, 1894 and 1895, by
                            Walter Besant.

                          Copyright, 1895, by
                     Frederick B. Stokes Company.

                        _All rights reserved._

                          MRS. WILLIAM PATTEN
                           IN MEMORY OF HER
                           AND IN MEMORY OF
                       THIS VOLUME IS DEDICATED
                        BY ONE OF THOSE FRIENDS

                              THE AUTHOR


These papers in their original form first appeared in the _Pall Mall
Magazine_. Additions have been made in some of the chapters, especially
in the three chapters entitled “The Abbey.” As in the book entitled
“London,” of which this is the successor, I do not pretend to offer a
History of Westminster. The story of the Abbey Buildings; of the Great
Functions held in the Abbey; of the Monuments in the Abbey; may be found
in the pages of Stanley, Loftie, Dart, and Widmore. The History of the
Houses of Parliament belongs to the history of the country, not that of
Westminster. It has been my endeavor, in these pages, (1) to show,
contrary to received opinion, that the Isle of Bramble was a busy place
of trade long before London existed at all. (2) To restore the vanished
Palaces of Westminster and Whitehall. (3) To portray the life of the
Abbey, with its Services, its Rule, its Anchorites, and its Sanctuary.
(4) To show the connection of Westminster with the first of English
printers. And, lastly, to present the place as a town and borough, with
its streets and its people.

I hope that, with those who have made my “London” a companion, my
“Westminster” may also be so fortunate as to find equal favor.

I must not omit my acknowledgments to the Editors of the _Pall Mall
Magazine_ for the costly manner in which they presented these pages.
Nor must I forget to record my sense of the pains and thoroughness
brought to the work of its illustration by my friend Mr. William Patten;
nor my sense of the assistance rendered me by Mr. Loftie for many
consultations and suggestions; nor my thanks to the Benedictine Fathers
of Downside, near Bath, who kindly received Mr. Patten and myself as
their guests and showed us what a modern Benedictine House really means,
and how the House at Westminster may have been during its five centuries
of existence, even such as their own, a Home of Religion and Learning.

UNITED UNIVERSITY CLUB, _September, 1895_.


CHAPTER                                                             PAGE

   I. THE BEGINNINGS,                                                  1

  II. THE KING’S PALACE OF WESTMINSTER,                               38

 III. THE ABBEY--I.,                                                  98

  IV. THE ABBEY--II.,                                                145

   V. THE ABBEY--III.,                                               165

   VI. SANCTUARY,                                                    173

 VII. AT THE SIGN OF THE RED PALE,                                   211

VIII. THE VANISHED PALACE,                                           248

  IX. THE CITY,                                                      291

   X. THE STREETS AND THE PEOPLE,                                    325


THE COURT OF CHARLES II.,                                            381

INDEX,                                                               395



ARMS OF THE ABBEY OF WESTMINSTER,                              _Vignette_

WESTMINSTER,                                                           1

SOME COATS OF ARMS,                                                    5

SARCOPHAGUS OF VALERIUS AMANDINUS,                                     9

MAP SHOWING THE POSITION OF THE ABBEY,                                13

SHIELD OF CELTIC WORK, FOUND IN THE THAMES, 1857,                     17

A ROMAN ROAD,                                                         19

BRITISH HELMET, FOUND IN THE THAMES, 1868,                            21

TOMB OF KING SEBERT, WESTMINSTER ABBEY,                               25


_From the Bayeux Tapestry._

EAST END OF THE PRINCE’S CHAMBER,                                     41

SOUTH SIDE OF THE PRINCE’S CHAMBER,                                   43

A BIT OF THE OLD WALL FROM BLACK DOG ALLEY,                           47

PLAN OF WESTMINSTER PALACE IN 1834,                                   48

COLLEGIATE SEAL OF ST. STEPHEN’S,                                     50

JUNE, 1883,                                                           51

THE FIRE OF 1834,                                                     55

PAINTED CHAMBER,                                                      57

GUY FAWKES’ DOOR,                                                     58

VAULT UNDER THE PAINTED CHAMBER,                                      59

AFTER THE FIRE OF 1834,                                               63



THE STAR CHAMBER. DEMOLISHED IN 1834,                                 71

NORTH PORCH,                                                          83

LAURENTIUS,                                                           98

ARMS OF THE ABBEY OF WESTMINSTER,                                     99


HABIT OF A NOVICE OF THE ORDER OF ST. BENEDICT,                      104

ENTRANCE TO CHAPTER HOUSE,                                           107


THE DINING ROOM OF THE SCHOOL,                                       111

TOWEL AUMBRIES IN THE SOUTH WALK,                                    113

CHAPEL OF THE PYX,                                                   115

PYX OFFICE,                                                          119

TRANSPORTATION OF THE KING’S EXCHEQUER,                              123



BELOW),                                                              129


MONK OF THE ORDER OF ST. BENEDICT,                                   133

ABBOT ISLIP’S CHAPEL,                                                137

DORMITORY,                                                           140

ABBOTS OF WESTMINSTER,                                               142

I. TO THE SHERIFF OF LINCOLNSHIRE ABOUT 1290,                        143


FROM KING STREET,                                                    177

ABOUT A. D. 1800,                                                    179

THE SANCTUARY. PULLED DOWN IN 1775,                                  181

THE BOAR’S HEAD INN, KING STREET,                                    183

THE COCK, TOTHILL STREET,                                            187

ROOM IN THE KING’S ARMS, TOTHILL STREET,                             189

THE GATE HOUSE,                                                      192

THE HOLBEIN GATE,                                                    199

BROKEN CROSS WITHIN THE ABBEY PRECINCTS,                             201


THE SOUTHERN EXTREMITY OF THIEVING LANE, A. D. 1800,                 205

BUTTRESSES OF KING HENRY VII.’S CHAPEL,                              209

CAXTON’S DEVICE,                                                     212

OF PRINTING,”                                                        213

THE “DOMUS ANGLORUM,” BRUGES,                                        223

CAXTON’S HOUSE IN THE ALMONRY, WESTMINSTER,                          231

TROIE,”                                                              235




LIBRARY,                                                             245

INIGO JONES, 1614,                                                   251

HOLBEIN’S GATE AND THE BANQUETING HALL,                              255

_From the Original Picture by Samuel Scott._


ST. JAMES’S PALACE,                                                  263

KENSINGTON PALACE,                                                   266

BUCKINGHAM PALACE,                                                   267

THE HORSE GUARDS,                                                    268

OLD SCOTLAND YARD,                                                   271

ROSAMOND’S POND, ST. JAMES’S PARK,                                   275

THE WATER GATE, NEW PALACE YARD,                                     278

CHARLES II., 1680,                                                   280

THE MACE,                                                            291

THE RIVER IN 1798,                                                   293

_From a Contemporary Drawing._

AFTER THE FIRE,                                                      295



THE FIRE,                                                            301


CANDIDATES,”                                                         305

CANDIDATES,”                                                         307

“THE WESTMINSTER MENDICANT” (SIR CECIL WRAY),                        309

CANVASS,”                                                            315

_After a Print_, A.D. 1784.


GRIFFINS FROM THE ROOF OF HENRY VII.’S CHAPEL,                       326

GRIFFINS FROM THE ROOF OF HENRY VII.’S CHAPEL,                       329

GRIFFIN FROM THE ROOF OF HENRY VII.’S CHAPEL,                        330


GRIFFINS FROM THE ROOF OF HENRY VII.’S CHAPEL,                       337

TOTHILL STREET, WESTMINSTER,                                         339

ORIGINAL SIGN, COCK INN,                                             341

MILTON’S HOUSE IN PETTY FRANCE,                                      343

EMANUEL HOSPITAL, LATELY DEMOLISHED,                                 345

THE GRILLE, EMANUEL HOSPITAL,                                        347

GREY COAT HOSPITAL: THE ENTRANCE,                                    351

GREY COAT BOY, }                                                     353

_From the Statue in front of the Hospital._

GREY COAT HOSPITAL FROM THE GARDEN,                                  354



BLUE COAT SCHOOL, CAXTON STREET,                                     357

BLUE COAT SCHOOL, FROM THE GARDEN,                                   361

WESTMINSTER, BY SAMUEL PIERSON, IN 1764,                             365

OLD PYE STREET AND THE RAGGED SCHOOL,                                367

BLACK DOG ALLEY, WESTMINSTER,                                        369

THE WESTMINSTER SNUFFBOX,                                            373

THE WESTMINSTER TOBACCO BOX,                                         379

[Illustration: WESTMINSTER.]



He who considers the history of Westminster presently observes with
surprise that he is reading about a city which has no citizens. In this
respect Westminster is alone among cities and towns of the
English-speaking race; she has had no citizens. Residents she has
had,--tenants, lodgers, subjects, sojourners within her boundaries,--but
no citizens. The sister city within sight, and almost within hearing,
can show an unequaled roll of civic worthies, animated from the
beginning by an unparalleled tenacity of purpose, clearly seeing and
understanding what they wanted, and why, and how they could obtain their
desire. This knowledge had been handed down from father to son.
Freedom, self-government, corporations, guilds, brotherhoods,
privileges, safety, and order--all have been achieved and assured by
means of this tenacity and this clear understanding of what was wanted.
Westminster has never possessed any of these things. For the City of
London these achievements were rendered possible by the existence of one
single institution: the Folk’s Mote--the Parliament of the People.
Westminster never possessed that institution. The history of London is a
long and dramatic panorama, full of _tableaux_, animated scenes,
dramatic episodes, tragedies, and victories. In every generation there
stands out one great citizen, strong and clear-eyed, whom the people
follow: he is a picturesque figure, lifted high above the roaring,
turbulent, surging crowd, whom he alone can govern. In Westminster there
is no such citizen, and there is no such crowd. Only once in its
history, until the eighteenth century, do we light upon the Westminster
folk. Perhaps there have been, here and there, among them some mute
inglorious Whittington--some unknown Gresham. Alas! there was no Folk’s
Mote,--without a Folk’s Mote nothing could be done,--and so their
possible leaders sank into the grave in silence and oblivion. Why was
there no Folk’s Mote? Because the land on which Westminster stood, the
land all around, north, west, south,--how broad a domain we shall
presently discover,--belonged to the Church, and was ruled by the Abbot.
Where the Abbot was king there was no room for the rule of the people.

Nor could there be any demand in Westminster for free institutions,
because there were no trades and no industries. A wool staple there was,
certainly, which fluctuated in importance, but was never to be compared
with any of the great city trades. And Westminster was not a port; she
had no quays or warehouses: neither exports nor imports--save only the
wool--passed through her hands. There was no necessity at any time for
the people who might at that time be her tenants to demand corporate
action. Westminster has never attracted or invited immigrants or

Again, a considerable portion of those who lived in Westminster were
criminals or debtors taking advantage of sanctuary. The privilege of
sanctuary plays an important part in the history of Westminster. It is
not, however, from sanctuary birds that one would expect a desire for
order and free institutions. Better the rule of the Abbot with safety,
than freedom of government and the certainty of gallows and
whipping-post therewith.

We may consider that for five hundred years the Court and the Church,
the Palace and the Abbey, divided between them the whole of Thorney
Island. Until, therefore, the swamps were drained, there was no
place--or a very narrow place--for houses and inhabitants on the south
and west. Toward the north, between New Palace Yard and Charing Cross,
houses began and grew, but quite slowly. Even so recently as the year
1755 the parish of St. Margaret’s had extended westward no farther than
to include the streets called Pye Street, Orchard Street, Tothill
Street, and Petty France, now York Street. King Street was the main
street connecting Westminster with London by way of Charing Cross; and
east and west of King Street, at the Westminster or southern end, was a
network of narrow streets, courts, and slums, a few of which still exist
to show what Westminster of the Tudors and the Stuarts used to be.

After the Dissolution--though the Dean succeeded the Abbot--there was
some concession in the direction of popular government. The Dean still
continued to be the over-lord. He appointed a High Sheriff, who in his
turn appointed a Deputy; the city was divided into wards, in imitation
of London, with a burgess to represent each ward. The court thus formed
possessed considerable powers of police; but neither in authority, nor
in power, nor in dignity, could such a chamber be compared with the
Court of Aldermen of London. Edward VI. granted two members of
Parliament to the City of Westminster.

Another reason which hindered the advance of the city in the last
century was that the Dean and Chapter would neither sell their lands nor
grant long leases. Therefore no one would build good houses, and the
vicinity of the Abbey remained covered with mean tenements and populated
by the scum and refuse.

For these reasons Westminster has had residents of all conditions--from
king and noble to criminal and debtor. But it has had no citizens, no
corporate life, no united action, no purpose. The City of London is a
living whole: one would call its history the life of a man--the progress
of a soul; the multitudinous crowd of separate lives rolls together and
forms but one as the corporation grows greater, stronger, more free,
with every century. But Westminster is an inert, lifeless form. Round
the stately Abbey, below the noble halls, the people lie like sheep--but
sheep without a leader. They have no voice; if they suffer, they have no
cry; they have no aims; they have no ambition; without crafts, trades,
mysteries, enterprise, distinctions, posts of honor, times of danger,
liberties to defend, privileges to maintain, there may be thousands of
men living in a collection of houses, but they are not citizens. In the
pages that follow, therefore, we shall have little to do with the people
of Westminster.


The following is Bardwell’s account of the original site of Westminster
(“Westminster Improvements,” p. 8):

“Thorney Island is about 470 yards long and 370 yards broad, washed on
the east side by the Thames, on the south by a rivulet running down
College-street, on the north by another stream wending its way to the
Thames down Gardener’s-lane: this and the College-street rivulet were
joined by a moat called Longditch, forming the western boundary of
Thorney Island, along the present line of Prince’s and De la Hay
streets. This Island was the Abbey and Palace precinct, which, in
addition to the water surrounding it, was further defended by lofty
stone walls (part of which still remain in the Abbey gardens): in these
walls were four noble gates, one in King-street, one near New
Palace-yard (the foundations of which I observed in this month, Dec.,
1838, in excavating for a new sewer), one opening into Tothill, or as it
was called by William the First Touthull-street, and one at the mill by
College-street. The precinct was entered by a bridge, erected by the
Empress Maud, at the end of Gardener’s-lane in King-street, and by
another bridge, still existing, though deep below the present pavement,
at the east end of College-street.”

The beginning of city and abbey is an oft-told tale, but, as I shall try
to show, a tale never truly and properly told. Antiquaries, or rather
historians who have to depend on antiquaries, are apt to follow each
other blindly. Thus, we are informed by everyone who has treated of this
beginning, that the place on which Westminster Abbey stands was chosen
deliberately as a fitting place for a monastic foundation, because of
its seclusion, silence, and remoteness. “This spot,” writes the most
illustrious among all the historians of the Abbey, when he has described
the position of Thorney, “thus intrenched, marsh within marsh, forest
within forest, was indeed _locus terribilis_--the terrible place, as it
was called, in the first notices of its existence; yet, even thus early,
it presented several points of attraction to the founder of whatever was
the original building which was to redeem it from the wilderness. It had
the advantages of a Thebaid as contrasted with the stir and tumult of
the neighboring forest of London.”[1] And the same theory is adopted by
Freeman, when he speaks of the site as “so near to the great city, and
yet removed from its immediate throng and turmoil.” There is no doubt as
to the meaning of both writers. The idea in their minds was of a place
deliberately chosen by the founders of the first abbey, and adopted by
Edward the Confessor as a wild, deserted, secluded place, difficult of
access, remote from the ways of men, where in silence and peace the holy
men might work and meditate. Let us examine into this assumption. The
result, I venture to think, will upset many cherished opinions.

In the examination of ancient sites there are five principal things to
ascertain before any conclusion is attempted--that is to say, before we
attempt to restore the place as it was, or to identify it. The method
which I began to learn twenty years ago, while following day by day
Major Conder’s Survey of Palestine, and studying day by day his plans
and drawings, his arguments and identifications, of a land which is one
great field of ruins, I propose to apply to Thorney Island and the site
of Westminster Abbey. These five points are: (1) the evidence of
situation; (2) the evidence of excavation; (3) the evidence of ancient
monuments, ruins, foundations, fragments; (4) the evidence of tradition;
and (5) the evidence of history.

Let us take these several points in order.

1. _Evidence of Situation._

The river Thames, which narrowed at London Bridge, began to widen out
west of the mouth of the stream called the Fleet. There was a cliff or
rising bank along the Strand, which confined the stream on its north
bank as far as Charing. At this village the course of the river turned
south, and, after half a mile, southwest. Here it formerly broadened
into a vast marsh or lagoon, quite shallow to east and west, in parts
only covered with water at high tide, and in parts rising above even the
highest tides. This great marsh covered all the land known later as St.
James’s Park, Tothill Fields, the Five Fields, Victoria, Earl’s Court,
and part of Chelsea: on the other bank the marsh extended from
Rotherhithe over Bermondsey, Southwark, Lambeth, Vauxhall, and part of
Battersea. The places which here and there rose above the reach of flood
were called islands; Bermond’s-ea--the Isle of Bermond; Chels-ea--the
Isle of Shingle (Chesil); Thorn-ea--the Isle of Bramble; Batters-ea--the
Isle of Peter. You may find little islands (eyots--aits) just like these
higher up the river, such as Monkey Island, Eelpie Island, and so many
others. No doubt, in very remote times, these little river islets were
secluded places indeed; if any people lived upon them, they lived like
the lake dwellers of Glastonbury, each family in its cottage planted
down in the sedge and mud of the foreshore, resting on piles, with its
floor of hard clay pressed down on timber, its walls of clay and wattle,
its roof of rushes, its boat floating before the door. They trapped elk
and deer and boar, they shot the wild fowl with their slings, they
caught the salmon that swarmed in the river. Thorney, then, the site of
the future abbey, the Isle of Bramble, was an islet entirely surrounded
by the waters of a broad and shallow river. It was so broad that the
backwater extended as far as the present site of Buckingham Palace. It
was so shallow that at low tide a man could wade across from the rising
ground of the west to the island, and from the island to the opposite
shore, where is now St. Thomas’s Hospital.

This is the evidence of the natural situation, and so far all would be

2. _Evidence of Excavation._


The kindly earth covers up and preserves many precious
secrets,--“underground,” says Rabelais, “are all great treasures and
wonderful things,”--to be revealed at some fitting time, when men’s
minds shall be prepared to receive them. The earth preserves, for
instance, the history of the ancient world--witness the revelations in
our own time of the cuneiform tablets and the vast extension of the
historic age: the arts of the ancient world, and their houses, and their
manner of life--witness the revelations of Pompeii. Applied to Thorney,
excavation has shown--what we certainly never could have known
otherwise--that here, of all places in the world, in this little
secluded islet in the midst of marshes (the most unlikely spot, one
would think, in the whole of Britannia), there was a Roman station, and
one of considerable importance. The first hint of this fact was
suggested when there was dug up in the North Green of the Abbey, in the
year 1869, a fine Roman sarcophagus inscribed with the name of Valerius
Amandinus. The lid has a cross upon it, from which it has been
conjectured that the sarcophagus was used twice, its second occupant
having been a Christian. What reason, however, is there for supposing
that Valerius Amandinus himself was not a Christian?--for, at least a
century before the withdrawing of the Legions, Roman Britain was wholly
Christian. For more than two centuries Christians had been numerous.
During the fourth century the country was covered with monastic
foundations for monks and nuns. Christian or not, there stands the
sarcophagus of Valerius Amandinus, for all the world to see, at the
entrance of the Chapter-house; and why a Roman cemetery should be
established in Thorney no one could guess. But some ten years ago there
was a second discovery. In digging a grave under the pavement of the
nave, there was found a mosaic floor in very fair condition. This must
have belonged to a Roman villa. But, if one villa, why not more? The
question has been settled by the discovery, of late years, wherever the
ground on Thorney has been opened, of Roman bricks and fragments of
Roman buildings. It is now impossible to doubt the existence here of a
Roman station.

That is, so far, the (unfinished) evidence of excavation.

But why did the Romans place a station, an important station, on this
bit of a bramble-covered eyot, with a shallow river in front and a
marshy backwater behind? What strategic importance could be attached to
such a spot? The next branch of evidence will serve to answer the

3. _Evidence of Ancient Monuments._

There are here none of those shapeless mounds of ancient ruins which are
found elsewhere--as in Egypt. Nor are there any foundations above
ground, as at Silchester. Yet there is one fact of capital importance,
which not only serves to explain why the Romans established a station on
Thorney, but also illustrates, as we shall see, many other facts in the
history of the island. It is this:

The river from Thorney to the opposite shore, as we have seen, was
fordable at low tide. The marsh, from Thorney to the rising ground on
the west, was fordable probably at all tides--certainly at low tide.

This ford, the only one across the river for many miles up stream,
belonged from time immemorial to the highway, a road or beaten track
leading from the north of England to the south, and “tapping” the
midland country on the way. The road which the Saxons called Watling
Street, when it reached this neighborhood, ran straight down Park Lane,
or Tyburn Lane, as it was formerly called, to the edge of the marsh.
There it ended abruptly. If you will draw this line on any map, you will
find that it ended at the western extremity of St. James’s Park, just
about Buckingham Palace, where the marsh began. At this point the
traveler plunged into the shallow waters, and guided by stakes,
waded--at low tide there were, haply, stepping-stones--across the swamp
to Thorney. Here, if the tide served, he again trusted himself to the
guidance of stakes; and so, breast high, it may be, waded through the
river till he reached the opposite shore, where another high road,
“Dover Street,” which also broke off abruptly at this point, awaited
him. Later on, when London Bridge was built, Watling Street was diverted
at the spot where now stands the Marble Arch, was carried along the
present Oxford Street and Holborn, and passed through the City to the
Bridge. This alternative route probably took away a great deal of the
traffic: but for those who had business in the south or the southwest,
or for those who were bound for the port of Dover, the ford was still
preferred as the shorter way. A bridge was convenient, but the traveler
of the fourth century was accustomed to a ford. Those who had no
business in London were not likely to be turned out of their way by
another ford, after they had crossed so many.

The highroad between the north and south, the great highway into which
were poured streams from all the other ways, passed through this double
ford, and over the Isle of Bramble. This was not a highway passing
through a wild and savage country; on the contrary, Britain was a
country, in the two latter centuries of the Roman occupation, thickly
populated, covered with great cities and busy towns. No one who has
stood within the walls of Silchester, and has marked the foundations of
its great hall, larger than Westminster Abbey, the remains of its
corridors and courts and shops, the indications of wealth and luxury
furnished by its villas, the extent of its walls, can fail to understand
that the vanished civilization of Roman Britain was very far superior to
anything that followed for a good deal more than a thousand years. It
was more artistic, more luxurious, than the Saxon or the Norman life.
But it was essentially Roman. Civilized Rome could not be understood by
Western Europe until the fifteenth century. Roman Britain is only
beginning to


be understood by ourselves. We have not as yet realized how much was
swept away and lost when, after two centuries of fighting, the Britons
were driven to their mountains, with the loss of the old arts and
learning. All over the country were the great houses, the stately
villas, of a rich, cultured, and artistic class; all over the country
were rich cities, filled with people who desired, and had, all the
things that made life tolerable in Rome herself. The condition of
Bordeaux in the fourth century, her schools, her professors, her poets,
her orators, her lawyers, may suggest the condition of London, and in a
less degree that of many smaller cities.

If we bear these things in mind, I think we shall understand that the
roads must have been everywhere crowded and thronged by the long
processions of packhorses and mules engaged in supplying the various
wants of this people, bringing food supplies to the cities, wines and
foreign luxuries to the unwarlike people who were doomed before long to
fall before the ruder and stronger folk of the Frisian speech. For our
purpose it is sufficient to note that it was a country where the wants
of the better sort created, by themselves, a vast trade; where, in
addition, the exports were large and valuable; and where the traffic of
the highways was very great and never-ending.

In other words, this wild and desolate spot, chosen, we are told, as a
fitting site for a monastery because of its remoteness and its
seclusion, was, long before a monastery was built here, the scene of a
continual procession of those who journeyed south and those who
journeyed north. It was a halting-and resting-place for a stream of
travelers who never stopped all the year around. By way of Thorney
passed the merchants, with their hides bestowed upon their packhorses,
going to embark them at Dover: London had not yet gathered in all the
trade of the country. By way of Thorney they drove the long strings of
slaves to be sold in Gaul. By way of Thorney passed the legions on their
way north; craftsmen, traders, mimes, actors, musicians, dancers,
jugglers, on their way to the towns of Glevum, Corinium, Eboracum, and
the rest. Always, day after day, even night after night, there was the
clamor of those who came and those who went: such a clamor as used to
belong, for instance, to the courtyard of an old-fashioned inn, in and
out of which there lumbered the loaded wagon, grinding heavily over the
stones; the stage-coach, the post-chaise, the merchant’s rider on his
nag--all with noise. The Isle of Bramble was like that courtyard:
outside the Abbey it was a great inn, a halting-place, a bustling,
noisy, frequented place; the center, before London, the mart of
Britannia; no “Thebaid” at all; no quiet, secluded, desolate place, but
the center of the traffic of the whole island. And it remained a busy
place long after London Bridge was built, long after the Port of London
had swallowed up all the other ports in the country. When the river, by
means of embankments, was forced into narrower and deeper channels, the
ford disappeared.

By this time the backwater and the marsh had been dried, and the
traveler could walk dry-shod from the end of Watling Street to the Isle
of Bramble. Perhaps, it may be objected, solitude descended upon the
island, and the silence of desertion, with the deepening of the channel.
Not so; for now another highway had been created--the highway up the
river. The growth of London created the necessity for this


highway. From the western country all the exports came down the river to
the Port of London: from the Port of London all the import trade went up
the river to the west of England. At the flow of the tide the deeply
laden barges, like our own, but narrower, went up the river; at the ebb
they went down. Going up, the barges carried spices, wines, silks,
glass, candles, lamps, hangings, pictures, statuary, books, church
furniture, and all the foreign luxuries that were now necessary in the
British city; going down they were laden with pelts and wool. The
slaves, which formed so large a part of British export, not only at this
period, but later, under the Saxons, were marched along the highway.
There were also the barges laden with fruit, vegetables, grain, poultry,
wild birds, carcasses, for that wide London mouth which continually
devoured and daily called for more. And there were the fishermen casting
their nets for the salmon in the season, and for the other fish with
which the river, its waters clean and wholesome, teemed all the year
round. Full and various was the life upon the river. Always there was
traffic, always movement, always activity, and always noise--much noise.
A great noise: where boatmen are there is always noise; they exchange
the joke Fescennine, they laugh, they quarrel, they fight, they sing. To
the Benedictine monks the river presented the spectacle of a procession
as noisy and as animated as that which in the old days had made a
stepping-stone of the island from one ford to the other. In short, there
was never any time, from the beginning of the Roman occupation to the
present day, when the Isle of Bramble was a quiet, secluded, desolate
spot. Always crowded, bustling, and noisy. Why should not a Benedictine
monastery be planted in the midst of the people? The Rule of Benedict
was not the Rule of Robert of Citeaux. Two hundred years later, when the
Priory of the Holy Trinity was founded, did they place the monastery in
the wilds of Sheppey, or in the marshes of the Isle of Dogs, or on
lonely Canvey? Not at all: they placed it within London Wall--at
Aldgate, the busiest place in the City. And the Franciscans, were they
exiled to some remote quarter? Not at all: they were established within
the walls. So were Austin Friars and the Crutched Friars; while White
Friars and Black Friars were close to the City wall. And even the
austere Carthusians were within hearing of the horse fairs, the races,
the tournaments, and the sports of the citizens upon the field called
Smooth. Nor does it ever appear that the monks were dissatisfied with
their position, and craved for solitude; they preferred the din and roar
of the noisiest city in the habitable world.

[Illustration: A ROMAN ROAD.]

So that, by the evidence of natural situation, by the evidence of
excavation, and by the evidence of ancient monuments, we understand that
the Isle of Bramble was a Roman station, the point where the highway of
the north met the highway of the south--the very heart of Britannia, the
center of all internal communication, the place by which, until London
gathered all into her lap, the whole traffic of the island must pass.
Before London existed, Thorney had become a place of the greatest
importance; long after London had become a rich and busy port, Thorney,
the stepping-stone in the middle of the ford, continued its old
importance and its activity. Never a place of trade, but always a place
of passing traffic, its population was great, but as ephemeral as the
May-fly: its people came, rested a night, a day, an hour, and were gone

4. We have next the _Evidence of Tradition_.

According to this authority we learn that the first Christian king was
one Lucius, who in the year 178 addressed a letter to the then Pope,
Eleutherius, begging for missionaries to instruct his people and himself
in the Christian faith. The Pope sent two priests named Ffagan and
Dyfan, who converted the whole island. Bede tells this story; the old
Welsh chroniclers also tell it, giving the British name of the king,
Lleurwg ap Coel ap Cyllin. He it was who erected a church on the Isle of
Bramble, in place of a temple of Apollo formerly standing there. We
remember also that St. Paul’s was said to have been built on the site of
a temple of Diana.

This church continued in prosperity until the arrival, two hundred and
fifty years later, of the murderous Saxons. First, news came up the
river that the invader was on the Isle of Rum, which we call Thanet;
next, that he held the river; that he had overrun Essex; that he had
overrun Kent. And then the procession of merchandise stopped suddenly.
The ports of Kent were in the hands of the enemy. There was no more
traffic on Watling Street. The travelers grew fewer daily; till one day
a troop of wild Saxons came across the ford, surprised the priests and
the fisher-folk who remained, and left the island as desolate and silent
as could be desired for the meditation of holy men. This done, the
Saxons went on their way. They overran the midland country; they drove
the Britons back--still farther back, till they reached the mountains.
No more news came to Thorney, for, though the ford continued, the
island, like so many of the Roman stations, remained a waste Chester.

In fullness of time the Saxon king himself settled down, became a man of
peace, obeyed the order of


the convert king to be baptised and to enter the Christian faith; and
when King Sebert had been persuaded to build a church to St. Paul on the
highest ground of London, he was further convinced that it was his duty
to restore the ruined church of St. Peter on the Isle of Thorney beside
the ford. Scandal indeed would it be, were the throng that daily passed
through the ford and over the island to see, in a Christian country, the
neglected ruins of this Christian church. Accordingly the builders soon
set to work, and before long the church rose tall and stately. The
Miracle of the Hallowing, often told, may be repeated here. On the eve
of the day fixed by the Bishop of London for the hallowing and
dedication of the new St. Peter’s, one Edric, a fisherman, who lived in
Thorney, was awakened by a loud voice calling him by name. It was
midnight. He rose and went forth. The voice called him again, from the
opposite side of the river, which is now Lambeth, bidding him put out
his boat to ferry a man across the river. He obeyed. He found on the
shore a venerable person whose face and habilaments he knew not. The
stranger bore in his hands certain vessels which Edric knew could only
be intended for church purposes. However, he said nothing, but received
this mysterious visitor into his boat and rowed him across the river.
Arrived in Thorney, the stranger directed his steps to the church, and
entered the portal. Straightway--lo! a marvel!--the church was lit up as
by a thousand wax tapers, and voices arose chanting psalms--sweet voices
such as no man, save this rude fisherman, had ever heard before. He
stood and listened. The voices, he perceived, could be none other than
those of angels come down from heaven itself to sing the first service
in the new church. Then the voices fell, and he heard one voice, loud
and solemn; and then the heavenly choir uplifted their voices again.
Presently all was still; the service was over, the lights went out as
suddenly as they had appeared, and the stranger came forth.

“Know, O Edric,” he said, while the fisherman’s heart glowed within him,
“know that I am Peter. I have hallowed the church myself. To-morrow I
charge thee that thou tell these things to the Bishop, who will find a
sign and token in the church of my hallowing. And for another token, put
forth again, upon the river, cast thy nets, and thou shalt receive so
great a draught of fishes that there will be no doubt left in thy mind.
But give one-tenth to this, my holy church.”

So he vanished; and the fisherman was left alone upon the river bank.
But he put forth as directed, cast his net, and presently brought ashore
a draught miraculous.

In the morning the Bishop with his clergy, and the King with his
following, came up from London in their ships to hallow the church. They
were received by Edric, who told them this strange story. And within the
church the Bishop found the lingering fragrance of incense far more
precious than any that he could offer; on the altar were the drippings
of wax candles (long preserved as holy relics, being none other than the
wax candles of heaven), and written in the dust certain words in Greek
character. He doubted no longer. He proclaimed the joyous news; he held
a service of thanksgiving instead of a hallowing. Who would not hold a
service of praise and humble gratitude for such a mark of heavenly
favor? And after service they returned to London and held a banquet,
with Edric’s finest salmon lying on a lordly dish in the midst.

How it was that Peter, who came from heaven direct, could not cross the
river except in a boat, was never explained or asked. Perhaps we have
here a little confusion between Rome and heaven. Dover Street, we know,
broke off at the edge of the marsh, and Dover Street led to Dover, and
Dover to Rome.

5. We are now prepared for the _Evidence of History_, which is not
perhaps so interesting as that of tradition. Clio, it must be confessed,
is sometimes dull. One misses the imagination and the daring flights of
her sister, the tenth Muse--the Muse of Fiction. The earliest document
which refers to the Abbey is a conveyance by Offa, King of Mercia, of a
manor called Aldenham, to “St. Peter and the people of the Lord dwelling
in Thorney, that ‘terrible’--_i. e._, sacred--place which is called at
Westminster.” The date of this ancient document is A.D. 785; but Bede,
who died in 736, does not mention the foundation. Either, therefore,
Bede passed it over purposely, or it was not thought of importance
enough to be mentioned. He does relate the building of St. Paul’s; but,
on the other hand, he does not mention the hundreds of churches which
sprang up all over the country. So that we need not attach any
importance to the omission. My own opinion is that the church--a rude
country church, perhaps a building like that of Greenstead, Essex, the
walls of split trees and the roof of rushes--was restored early in the
seventh century, and that it did succeed an earlier church still. The
traditional connection of King Sebert with the church is as ancient as
anything we know about it, and the legend of Lucius and his church is at
least supported by the recent discoveries of Roman remains, and the
certainty that the place was always of the greatest importance.

There is another argument--or an illustration--in favor of the antiquity
of some church, rude or not, upon this place. I advance it as an
illustration, though to myself it appears to be an argument: I mean the
long list of relics possessed by the Abbey at the Dedication of the year
1065. We are not concerned with the question whether the relics were
genuine or not, but merely with the fact that they were preserved by the
monks as having been the gifts of various benefactors--Sebert, Offa,
Athelstan, Edgar, Ethelred, Cnut, Queen Emma, and Edward himself. A
church of small importance and of recent building would not dare to
parade such pretensions. It takes time even for forgeries to gain
credence and for legends to grow. The relics ascribed to Sebert and Offa
could easily have been carried away on occasion


of attack. As for the nature of these sacred fragments, it is pleasant
to read of sand and earth brought from Mounts Sinai and Olivet, of the
beam which supported the holy manger, of a piece of the holy manger, of
frankincense presented by the Magi, of the seat on which our Lord was
presented at the Temple, of portions of the holy cross presented by four
kings at different times, of bones and vestments belonging to apostles
and martyrs and the Virgin Mary and saints without number, whose very
names are now forgotten. In the cathedral of Aix you may see just such a
collection as that which the monks of St. Peter displayed before the
reverent eyes of the Confessor. We may remember that in the ninth and
tenth centuries the rage for pilgrimizing extended over the whole of
Western Europe: pilgrims crowded every road; they marched in armies, and
they returned laden with treasures--water from the Jordan, sand from
Sinai, clods of earth from Gethsemane, and bones and bits of sacred wood
without number. When Peter the Hermit arose to preach it was but putting
a match to a pile ready to be fired. But for such a list as that
preserved by history, there was need of time as well as credulity.

Then the same thing happened to the Saxon church which had been done by
Saxon arms to the British church. It was destroyed, or at least
plundered, by the Danes. The priests, who perhaps took refuge in London,
saved their relics. After a hundred years of fighting, the Dane, too,
came into the Christian fold. As soon as circumstances permitted, King
Edgar, stimulated by Dunstan, rebuilt or restored the church, and
brought twelve monks from Glastonbury. He also erected the monastic
buildings after the Benedictine Rule; and, as Stanley has pointed out,
since in the monastery the church or chapel is built for the monks, the
monastic buildings would be finished before the church.


Next, Edgar gave the monks a charter in which these lands are described
and the boundaries laid down. You shall see what a goodly foundation--on
paper--was this Abbey of St. Peter when it left the King’s hands. Take
the map of London: run a line from Marble Arch along Oxford Street and
Holborn--the line of the new Watling Street--till you reach the church
of St. Andrew’s, Holborn; then follow the Fleet river to its mouth--you
have the north and east boundaries. The Thames is a third boundary. For
the fourth, draw a line from the spot where the Tyburn falls into the
Thames, to Victoria Station;


thence to Buckingham Palace; thence north to Marble Arch. The whole of
the land included belonged to the Abbey. A little later the Abbey
acquired the greater part of Chelsea, the manor of Paddington, the manor
of Kilburn, including Hampstead and Battersea,--in fact, what is now the
wealthier half of modern London formerly belonged to the Benedictines of
Westminster. At the time of Edgar’s charter, however, they had the area
marked out above. More than half of it was marsh land. In Doomsday Book
there are but twenty-five houses on the whole estate. Waste land lying
in shallow ponds, sometimes flooded by high tides, only the rising
ground between what is now St. James’s Park and Oxford Street could then
be farmed. The ground was reclaimed and settled very slowly; still more
slowly was it built upon. Almost within the memory of man snipe were
shot over South Kensington; a hundred years ago the whole of that
thickly populated district west and southwest of Mayfair was a land of
open fields.

So that, notwithstanding the great extent of their possessions, the
monks were by no means rich, nor were Edgar’s buildings, one imagines,
very stately. Yet the later buildings replaced the older on the same
sites. A plan of the Abbey of Edgar and Dunstan would show the
Chapter-house and the Church where they are now; the common dormitory
over the common hall, as it was afterward; the refectory where it was
afterward; the cloisters, without which no Benedictine monastery was
complete, also where are those of Henry III. But the buildings were
insignificant compared with what followed.

Roman Britain, we have said, was Christian for at least a hundred and
fifty years; the country was also covered with monasteries and
nunneries. Therefore it would be nothing out of the way or unusual to
find monastic buildings on Thorney in the fourth century. There was as
yet no Benedictine Rule. St. Martin of Tours introduced the Egyptian
Rule into Gaul--whence it was taken over to England and to Ireland. It
was a simple Rule, resembling that of the Essenes. No one had any
property; all things were in common; the only art allowed to be
practiced was that of writing; the older monks devoted their whole time
to prayer; they took their meals together,--bread and herbs, with
salt,--and, except for common prayer and common meals, they rarely left
their cells: these were at first simple huts constructed of clay and
bunches of reeds; their churches were of wood; they shaved their heads
to the line of the ears; they wore leather jerkins, probably because
these lasted longer than cloth of any kind; many of them wore hair
shirts. The wooden church became a stone church; the huts became cells
built about a cloister; the cells themselves were abolished, and a
common dormitory was substituted. Then came the Saxons, and the monks
were dispersed or fled into Wales, where they formed immense
monasteries, as that of Bangor, with its three thousand monks. All had
to be done over again, from the beginning. But monasticism, once
introduced, flourished exceedingly among the Saxons, until the long war
with the Danes destroyed the safety of the convent and demanded the
service of every man able to carry a sword, and there were no more monks
left in the land. All of which is necessary to explain why Dunstan had
to people his Abbey with monks brought from Glastonbury. For Glastonbury
and Abingdon, into which the Benedictine Rule had been introduced, were
then the only monasteries surviving the long Danish troubles.

These are the beginnings of the Abbey and the Church, and of life upon
the Island of Bramble. This the foundation of the history that follows.
A busy place before London Bridge was built; a place of throng and
turmoil far back in the centuries before the coming of the Roman; a
church built in the midst of the throng; monks in leather jerkins living
beside the church; a ruined church lying in ruins for two hundred years,
while the Saxon infidel daily passed beside it across the double ford;
then a rebuilding--why not by Sebert? Another destruction, and another

This view is often taken by Loftie in his “Westminster Abbey.” He does
not, however, defend it and insist upon it so strongly. He says, to
quote his exact words: “The hillock on which we stand is called
Thorn-Ey. There are some Roman remains on it, and there may have been
the ruins of a little monastery and chapel, of which floating traditions
were afterward gathered and exaggerated. The paved causeway to the
westward is the Watling Street. On both sides of it runs the Tyburn, of
which Thorn-Ey is a kind of delta. The road rises to Tot Hill, which is
a conspicuous landmark here, and goes straight on over the ‘Bulunga Fen’
till it reaches another, the ‘road to Reading,’ which has just crossed
the Tyburn at Cowford, where Brick Street is now in Piccadilly. From
Thorney, then, looking northward and westward, we see what remains of
the great Middlesex forest, if the Danes have not burnt it all, and the
paved Watling Street running straight on toward the distant Chester,
keeping to the left of the lofty hill which is now crowned by the town
of Hampstead. It is interesting to trace this ancient road through the
modern streets, the more so as its existence determined the site and
early importance of Westminster. When it emerged from the wild woods of
Northern Middlesex and came down toward the ford of the Thames, it
followed what we call the Edgeware Road, Edgeware being the name of the
first stopping-place on the road, near the edge of the forest. Passing
down the Edgeware Road in a straight line, it is interrupted at the
Marble Arch by a corner of the Park, which crosses the direct road
toward Westminster. We know, however, that this corner is a
comparatively recent addition to the Park, and the Watling Street soon
resumes its course in Park Lane, which, keeping well on the high ground
above the brook, nevertheless derived the name it was known by for many
centuries from the Tyburn. Tyburn Lane reached the road to Reading at
what we call Hyde Park Corner, and then ran straight through what was
once called ‘Brookshott,’--a little wood, where now is the Green Park
and the gardens of Buckingham Palace,--and on, right through the site of
the palace itself, where the brook approached it very closely. So it
descended to Tothill, the name of which has been plausibly explained to
mean a place where the traveler ‘touted’ for a guide or a boat, as the
case might be, for the dangerous ford of the Thames below. This is
rather conjectural, but is not to be rejected until a better explanation
has been offered. One thing more had to be stated about this ancient
highway--the Watling Street. How is it that we find the same name in the
City? To answer this question we must look back to a period so remote
that we cannot accurately date it, yet so definite, in one way, that
there can be no mistake about it. This is the time at which London
Bridge was built. When that great event took place Watling Street was
diverted from Tyburn Lane, and instead of going to Westminster in order
to ford the Thames, it turned to the left, along the modern Oxford
Street and Holborn, and, entering the City at Newgate, went on to the
bridge. Only a small part of the road still bears the ancient name, but
that any of it does so is a most interesting and significant fact.

“We may conclude, therefore, if we wish to do so, that in a sense
Westminster is older than London itself. What name it was called by we
know not; but the Romans certainly had a station here, as I have said,
and the importance of the place before the making of London Bridge may
have been considerable.”

In course of time the river was embanked, and ran in a deeper channel;
then the ford, as has been stated above, vanished, and the marshes were
partly reclaimed, only pools remaining on both sides of the river--the
Southwark pools remained till the beginning of this century. But
Thorney, after the drying of the marsh, continued to be an island. On
the north, the west, and the south sides it was bounded by streams; on
the east by the Thames. If you will take the map, and draw a line
through Gardener’s Lane across King Street to the river, you will be
tracing the exact course of the rivulet which ran into the Thames and
formed the northern boundary of the island; another line, down Great
College Street, marks the course of a second stream; while a third line,
down De la Hay and Prince’s Streets, joining the other two, marks the
lie of a connecting canal called Long Ditch. It is interesting to walk
along the narrow Gardener’s Lane, one of the few remaining old streets
of Westminster, and to mark how the road presents a certain unmistakable
look of having been the bed of a stream; it bends and curves exactly
like a stream. The same thing may be imagined--by a person of
imagination--concerning Great College Street.

The island thus formed covered an area of four hundred and seventy yards
long from north to south, and three hundred and seventy yards broad from
east to west. At some time or other--after the disappearance of the
ford--the Abbey precinct was surrounded by a wall. In the same way St.
Paul’s, in the midst of the City, was surrounded by a wall with
embattled gates. A portion of this wall is perhaps still standing. The
wall was pierced by four gates. One of these was in King Street, where
the rivulet crossed; one was at the east end of Tothill Street; a third
was in Great College Street, and its modern successor still stands on
the spot with no ancient work in it; the last was in New Palace Yard. In
front of the riverside wall lived the population of Thorney,--the town
of Westminster, such as it was,--decayed indeed since the deepening of
the river: fisher-folk mostly, who plied their trade on the river. But
of town or village, in the time of Edward the Confessor, there was
little or none.

When the old Palace of Westminster was founded, another wall was erected
round its buildings. Then the island was completely surrounded by a
fortification; the fisher-folk removed northward and settled somewhere
lower down the river, where afterward arose the New Palace and
Whitehall; not higher up, where the ground continued to be a marsh for
many centuries to come. We have seen the beginnings of the Church and of
the Abbey. What were the beginnings of the Palace? When did a king begin
to live on Thorney Island? And why?

Since neither tradition nor history speaks to the contrary, we may
suppose that Cnut was the first to build some kind of palace or
residence in this place. His buildings are said to have been burned in
the time of Edward; therefore he must have built something. His
residence on Thorney was neither continuous nor at any time of long
duration. The court of the kings for many generations to come was a
Court Itinerant. King Cnut traveled perpetually from place to place,
followed by his regiment of house carles, though one knows not how many
accompanied him. He stayed at Thorney because he loved the conversation
of the Abbot Wolfstan. It was at Thorney that, according to the
familiar story, he rebuked the courtiers in the matter of the rising
tide; and it was in the concluding years of his reign, when that
marvelous change, graphically described by Freeman, fell upon him, and
he became exactly the opposite of what he had before shown himself; when
he founded and endowed and augmented churches and monasteries. His heart
was changed: the stately services of the minster, the rolling of the
organ, the chanting of the monks, the splendor of the altar, the story
of the Gospel, the legends and the acts of the Saints, the pilgrimage to
Rome,--these things pleased him more than the clash of steel on shield,
the war cry, and the glorious madness of the fight. The beginner of the
old Palace was the great King Cnut the Dane.

We write under the shadow of the Abbey: the bells peal out over our
heads; the organ swells and dies; within the walls are the coffins and
the bones of dead kings and princes and nobles. The air is ecclesiastic:
we may talk of changed hearts and repentant age. The age of civil wars,
intestine wars,--the worst wars of all, the wars of those who speak the
same language,--lasted for five hundred years after the death of King
Cnut. We who belong to a generation which has learned some self-control,
cannot realize the intensity, the strength of the passions which
devoured and maddened the kings of old. The things which make history
dreadful: the murders, the cry to arms at the least provocation; the
cruel disregard of innocent suffering; the wasting, pillaging,
destroying of lands and fields and villages and towns, in blind revenge;
the blinding and torturing and maiming of which every page is full,
these things mean the rage of kings, the revenge of kings upon their
enemies. Cnut in his last years had no enemies; he had killed them all.
Then there were no more rages; he suffered his head to dwell upon nobler
things--in modern language, he “got religion.” And so, at the end of
this Prologue to the Westminster Play, we see the King taking off his
blood-stained ermine, laying down the sword which has set free so many
unwilling souls, and walking in meditation and godly discourse under the
quiet cloisters of the Abbey. Outside, the noisy court and camp; within,
the calm and peace of the religious life. The picture strikes a note of
what is to follow when we pass into the period of history written from
day to day, and draw up the curtain for the Pageant, Mystery, or Play of



The kings of England held their Court in the Old Palace, the Palace of
Westminster, for five hundred years. Of all the buildings which formed
that Palace, there remain at this day nothing but a Hall, greatly
altered, a Crypt, and a single Tower. Sixty years ago, before the last
of the many fires which attacked the Palace, there was left, much
disfigured, a single group of buildings which formerly contained the
heart of the Palace, the king’s House. This group, however, was so much
shut in and surrounded with modern houses, courts, offices, taverns, and
stores, that the ancient parts could be with difficulty detached.
Fortunately this task was accomplished before the fire: one can
therefore restore one part, at least, of the Palace.

In considering the Palace of Westminster, we have the choice, as regards
time, of any year we please between the accession of Edward the
Confessor and the removal of Henry VIII. to York House. Let us take the
close of the fourteenth century; let us attempt to restore the Palace as
it was in the reign of Richard II. It was a time when that shadowy,
intangible force called Chivalry was most active. Yet at best it was
never stronger than its successor, which we now call Honor. Chivalry
taught loyalty, even unto death; protection of the weak; respect for
women; fidelity in love; mercy to the conquered; charity to the poor;
obedience to the Church; fidelity to the spoken word--you may find these
teachings in the pages of Froissart. Knights who obey these precepts are
greatly extolled by poets; yet the opposites of these things are
continually reported by historians. I think that we may roughly, but
certainly, ascertain the chief besetting sins of any age by looking for
the contraries, which will be the things which preachers and poets do
mostly extol.

It has been remarked that antiquarians are prone to fall into the
incurable vice of looking at the past through the wrong end of the
telescope. This comes from constantly endeavoring to reconstruct the
past out of an insufficient number of fragments. Of course the result is
that everything is reduced in size. Thus, many antiquarians, being
afflicted with this disease, have found themselves unable to see
anything but a collection of miserable hovels in that London of the
fourteenth century which was a city of nobles’ palaces, merchants’
stately houses, splendid churches, monastic buildings, beautiful and
lofty, side by side with warehouses, wharves, ships riding at anchor,
crowded streets, and rich shops. No antiquary, however, is wrong in
showing that Westminster was, at this time, nothing more than a City--as
yet not called a City--gathered round the Church and the Court. To those
who journeyed thither from London by the river highway, a line of noble
houses faced the river, each with its stairs, its barges, and its water
gate. Thus, taking boat at Queenhithe, the traveler passed, among
others, Baynard’s Castle, Blackfriars’ Abbey, Bridewell Palace,
Whitefriars, the Temple, Durham House, the Savoy, York House, before he
reached the King’s Stairs at Westminster. At the back of these houses,
where is now Fleet Street and the Strand, there were no houses in the
fourteenth century, except just outside Ludgate. As late as 1543,
according to the map of Anthony van den Wyngreede, the houses of
Westminster were all gathered together in that little triangle opposite
Westminster Hall, whose northern boundary was the stream running down
Gardener’s Lane and cutting off Thorney. All beyond was open country
lying in fields and meadows.

It is impossible to ascertain what, and of what kind, were the buildings
of Edward the Confessor: tradition always assigned to him the Painted
Chamber and the group of buildings which survived to the year 1835. Let
us, however, consider what were the actual requirements of a Royal
Palace under the Plantagenets. It will be seen very soon that this group
of buildings could have formed only a very small portion of the whole
Palace. It will also be found that the Palace grows in the mind as we
consider it. At first the Court was itinerant. Edward the Confessor was
constantly traveling into different parts of his realm: he kept every
Christmas, except his last, at Gloucester; his Easter he kept at
Winchester; he resided a good deal at Westminster; we hear of him at
Worcester; at Sandwich; he hunted in Wiltshire. Henry II., whose actual
itinerary has been recovered and published, seldom remained more than a
few days in one place; he was sometimes in France for three or four
years at a time; during the whole of his long reign he was only in
Westminster on seventeen occasions, and then often for a night or two
only. Until the Tudors began a stationary Court, the kings of England
traveled a great deal, and, in case of war, always went out with the
army. Whether they traveled or whether they stayed in one place, there
was always with them a following greater than that of any baron. Warwick
rode into London with seven hundred knights and men at arms; that was
but a slender force compared with the company which rode after the king.
Cnut, who perhaps began this first standing army, had three thousand
“hus-carles”; Richard II. had four thousand archers always with him.


First, then, for the people, the service, the officers, necessary for
the Court. There were, to begin with, the artificers and craftsmen.
Everything wanted for the Court had to be done or made within the
precincts of the Palace. There were no Court tradesmen; no outside
shops. The king’s craftsmen were the king’s servants; they had quarters
of some kind, houses or chambers, allotted to them in the Palace; they
received wages, rations, and liveries. Thus, in Richard II.’s Palace of
Westminster there were retained for the king’s service a little army of
three hundred and forty-six artificers--viz., carpenters, coopers,
blacksmiths, whitesmiths, goldsmiths, jewelers, “engineers,”
pavilioners, armorers, “artillers,” gunners, masons, tilers, bowyers and
fletchers, furriers, “heaumers,” spurriers, brewers, every kind of
“making” trade: everything that was wanted for the king’s service was
made in the king’s Palace--except, of course, the fruits and harvest of
the year, the wine, spices, and silks, and costly things that came from
the far East through the markets of Bruges and Ghent. These craftsmen
were all married--we are not, remember, in a monastery. Give them an
average of each five children, and we have, to begin with, a little
population of about two thousand five hundred. Take next the
commissariat branch: one begins already to realize the stupendous task
of feeding so many, and the order and system which must have grown up to
meet these wants with certainty and regularity. Thus we find that every
branch of the commissariat had its officers: clerks, ushers, and
serjeants--a responsible service, with individual and clearly defined
duties--for pantry, buttery, spicery, bakehouse, chandlery, brewery,
cellars, and kitchen. Of these officers there were two hundred and ten.
How many servants they had it is impossible to tell. But if we multiply
the number of officers by three only, for the servants, we get a total
of six hundred. If these men were also married, they, with their wives


children, would give us another company of four thousand. But some of
the servants in the kitchen might be women. Then we have the gardeners,
the barbers, who were also blood-letters, the bonesetters (a very
necessary body), the trumpeters, messengers, bedesmen, grooms, and
stable-boys--no one can reckon up their number. Add to these the
lavenders or laundry-women who embroidered, did fine needlework, made
and mended, weaved and spun--many of these were doubtless the wives and
daughters of the servants. A step higher brings us to the chaplains, the
College of St. Stephen, the minstrels, the clerks and accountants, the
scribes and illuminators, the heralds and pursuivants. Another step, and
we come to the judges and the head officers, with all their staff,
clerks, and servants. Next the archbishops, bishops and abbots, some of
whom were always with the king. Then we come to the great officers of
state: viz., the Grand Seneschal _Dapifer Angliæ_ or Lord High Steward,
who was head and chief of every department, next to the king; the High
Justiciary or Lord Chief Justice; the Seneschal, _Dapifer Regis_, or
Steward of the Household; the Constable, the Marshal, the Chamberlain,
the Chancellor, and the Treasurer.[2] Lastly, there was the royal
household with its officers: the Clerks of the Wardrobe, the King’s
Remembrancer, the Keeper of the Palace, the Queen’s Treasurer, the Maids
of Honor (_domicellæ_), the Gentlemen Ushers and the pages, and (which
we must again set down) the King’s regiment of four thousand archers.

I think it is now made plain that the people attached to a stationary
Court numbered not hundreds, but many thousands; it is not too much to
estimate the number of inhabitants within the walls of Westminster
Palace in the reign of Richard II. at twenty thousand--all of whom had
“bouche of court” (_i. e._, rations, pay, arms, lodging, and living).
It was, therefore, a crowded city, complete in itself, though it
produced nothing and carried on no trade; there were workshops and
forges and the hammering of armorers and blacksmiths, but there were no
stalls, no chepe, no clamor of those who shouted their goods and invited
the passengers to “buy, buy, buy.” This city produced nothing for the
country; it received and devoured everything--it was not an idle city,
because the people earned their daily bread; but for all their labor
they never increased the wealth of the country. Listen to the voice of
the poet--it is Harding who speaks of King Richard’s Court:

    Truly I herd Robert Ireliffe say,
      Clerk of the Green Cloth, that to the household
    Came every daye, for moost partie alwaye,
      Ten thousand folke by his messe is told,
      That followed the hous, aye, as thei would;
    And in the kechin three hundred servitours,
    And in eche office many occupiours.
    And ladies faire, with their gentilwomen,
      Chamberers also and lavenders,
    Three hundred of them were occupied there:
      Ther was greate pride among the officers,
      And of all menne far passing their compeers,
    Of riche arraye, and muche more costious
      Than was before or sith, and more precious.

The ten thousand do not include the women and children.

We have ceased to desire a Court magnificent with outward splendor and
lavish expenditure. There has been, in fact, no such Court among us
since that of Charles II.; and the splendor of his Court was but a poor
thing compared with the splendor of the Third Edward, who was
magnificent--or of Richard II., who was profuse. Let us remember that
in our time we cannot make any show, or festival, or pageant--we have
lost the art of pageantry--which can compare with the shows which our
forefathers saw daily: the shows of magnificent trains, queens and
princesses in such raiment as the greatest lady of these times would be
afraid to put on, lords and knights and gentlemen of the livery, streets
with their gabled houses hung with crimson and scarlet cloth; minstrels
and music everywhere; mysteries and pageants and allegories, with fair
maidens and giants, angels and devils; lavish feasts at which conduits
ran with wine for long hours and all the world could get drunk if it
pleased. And there was never anything more splendid than Richard II.
himself. The time of great shows vanished, like the spirit of Chivalry,
during the Wars of the Roses.

What kind of quarters were given to the king’s courtiers and his army
and his servants? This is a question to which one can give no
satisfactory answer. We hear of many rooms and buildings, but there does
not exist any description or plan of the palace as it was. It must
certainly have contained a vast number of buildings for the
accommodation of so many thousands. The fact that these buildings
existed was proved after the fire of 1834, when a most extensive range
of cellars and vaults was found to exist under the burned buildings
round St. Stephen’s. The old buildings had long before been destroyed
and modern houses had taken their places; but the vaults and cellars
remained, showing by their strength and solidity the importance of the
halls and chambers that had been built upon them.

It was the first duty of the mediæval builder to provide a wall of
defense. This was done at Westminster. The wall, as indicated on the
plan, entirely surrounded the Palace; it was provided with a water gate
at the King’s Bridge or King’s Stairs; a postern at the Queen’s Stairs;
a gate leading into the Abbey precinct east of St. Margaret’s Church; a
subway by which the king could enter the Abbey, at Poet’s Corner; and a
gate opposite the Great Hall leading into the Wool Staple.


Thus fortified, the Palace assumed something of the usual plan of a
Norman castle. The Outer Bailly was represented by the New Palace Yard,
with its Clock Tower and place for martial exercises, ridings, and
tournaments. Westminster Hall faced the Outer Bailly; to right and to
left, to east and to west, stood buildings; on the south were other
buildings which inclosed the Inner Bailly, now Old Palace Yard; south of
these were gardens and stables with less important houses, offices, and
barracks. The great mass of the Palace buildings was between Westminster
Hall and the river.


Of the old Palace there survived, long after the removal of the Court to
Whitehall, and until the fatal fire of sixty years ago, a group of its
most interesting and most historical buildings. Changes had been made in
them; their roofs were taken down and replaced, their windows were
altered, the very walls in some had been rebuilt; yet they were the
rooms in which Edward the Confessor and all the kings and queens of
England lived up to the time of the Eighth Henry. Beneath them the solid
substructures of the Confessor remained after the fire, and, for all I
know, remain to this day.

The plan shows the position of these buildings. Beginning with the
south, there is first of all the Prince’s Chamber, afterward the Robing
Room of the old House of Lords. It was forty-five feet long and twenty
feet wide; it ran east and west. The chamber had five beautiful lancet
windows on the south side and three each on the east and west. On the
north side it opened into the old House of Lords. It was in this room
that Queen Elizabeth hung up the tapestry celebrating the defeat of the
Spanish Armada. This excellent piece of work was afterward transferred
to the Court of Requests, where it was burned in the last fire.

The hall adjoining the old House of Lords formed, with the Painted
Chamber and the Court of Requests, Edward the Confessor’s living rooms.
Under the House of Lords was the King’s kitchen, afterward the cellar
where Guy Fawkes and his friends placed the barrels of gunpowder. After
the Lords removed to the Court of Requests this room was called the
Royal Gallery.

The third room, perhaps the most beautiful, was the Painted Chamber.
This hall, certainly that in which the Confessor breathed his last, was
eighty feet long, twenty broad, and fifty high--a lofty and narrow room,
perhaps too narrow for its length. The meaning of its name had long been
forgotten, until the year 1800, when, on taking down the tapestry, which
had hung there for centuries, the walls were found to be covered with
paintings, representing on one side of the room the wars of the
Maccabees, and on the other side scenes from the life of Edward the
Confessor. It was then remembered, or discovered, that in an itinerary
of two Franciscan pilgrims in the year 1322, preserved among the
manuscripts of Corpus Christi, Cambridge, these paintings are mentioned.
In the year 1477 the hall was called St. Edward’s Chamber; Sir Edward
Coke calls it the Chamber Depeint or St. Edward’s Chamber.


The fourth of these groups of ancient buildings was the Council Room of
King Edward, called afterward the White Hall, the Little Hall, the Court
of Requests, and the House of Lords.

In the midst of this stately group of noble buildings rose the most
stately and most noble chapel of


St. Stephen. It was founded, according to tradition, by King Stephen, on
the site, it has been sometimes said, of the Confessor’s oratory; but
this seems not true, for the oratory was on the east of the Painted
Chamber. The chapel was rebuilt, as a thank-offering for his victories,
by Edward I., who then endowed it with large revenues. His foundation
was large enough to maintain a college, consisting of dean, twelve
secular canons, and twelve vicars; it was, in fact, a rich foundation
planted in the middle of the Palace, over against the Abbey. Was there
any desire on the part of the King to separate the Court from the Abbey?
Perhaps not; but there arose perpetual quarrels between the College and
the Abbey. The masses said in St. Stephen’s for the past and present
kings might just as well have been said, one supposes, in the Abbey. So
rich was the foundation that at the Dissolution its revenues were a
third of those of St. Peter’s. By that time the College buildings
contained residences or chambers for thirty-eight persons. These
buildings consisted, first, of the exquisite Chapel, which afterward
became the House of Commons; the Chapel of our Lady de la Pieu, standing
somewhere to the south of St. Stephen’s (in this Chapel Richard heard
mass before going out to meet Wat Tyler); the Crypt, which happily still
remains; the exquisite cloisters, long since vanished; with the Chantry
Chapel, and the said residences of the dean, canons, and vicars, and
King Richard’s Belfry. The Chapel was smaller than some other royal
Chapels,--Windsor, for instance, and King’s, Cambridge,--but it was
beautiful exceedingly, and in its carved work and decorations perhaps
more finished than any other Church or Chapel in the country. Details of
the Chapel have been preserved for us by J. T. Smith (“Antiquities of
Westminster”), and by Brayley and Britton’s “Houses of Parliament.” The
beauty of the cloisters of the Chantry Chapel, and of the Chapel itself,
makes the fire of 1834, on this account alone, a great national
disaster. Such work can never again be equaled. At the same time, the
Chapel had been so much altered and cut about for the accommodation of
the Commons that it was irretrievably spoiled.

The next of this group of ancient buildings was Westminster Hall. On
this monument and its historical associations many have enlarged. Let it
suffice in this place to remind ourselves that William Rufus built it,
Richard II. enlarged it and strengthened it, and that George IV.
repaired and new-fronted it.

On the east side of the Hall was the Court of Exchequer, built by Edward
II. This hall was seventy-four feet long and forty-five broad. The
traditions of the chamber are full of curious stories. It was the
breakfast room, it was said (one knows not why), of Queen Elizabeth; a
chamber adjoining was her bedchamber. She at least reformed the Court of
Exchequer. There were two cellars under the Court of Exchequer, called
“Hell” and “Purgatory.” As their names denote, they were prisons. The
former name was also applied to a tavern in the Palace precinct.

The notorious Star Chamber was on the east side of New Palace Yard. The
room was probably rebuilt in the time of Queen Elizabeth. It was used
afterward as the Lottery office.

One more “bit” of the Palace still remains. If you turn to the left on
reaching the eastern end of Great College Street, after passing through
stables and mews,

FIRE OF 1834.]

you will light upon a most venerable old Tower hidden away in this
corner. It is the last of the many Towers which formed part of the
Westminster Palace. It was always ascribed to the Confessor as part of
his Abbey buildings. When antiquaries first considered it, they found
that Edward I. bought the piece of ground on which it stands of the
Abbey; so it was concluded that he bought the Tower upon the ground.
Later antiquaries, however, on fresh investigations, made up their minds
that there was no Tower when Edward took the ground; therefore--the
logic of the antiquary is never his strongest point--Edward built this
Tower. Again, other antiquaries examined further, and they have now
decided that the Tower was built by Richard II. One would have preferred
the Confessor as architect, but the end of the fourteenth century gives
us a respectable antiquity.


Certain accounts of repairs,--carpenters’, masons’,

[Illustration: GUY FAWKES’ DOOR.]

painters’ work,--still preserved, enable us to get a clearer
understanding of the buildings that, in addition to the central group,
which can be so exactly described and figured, made up the old Palace of
Westminster. There must have been work for builders going on
continually, but in the years 1307 to 1310 there were very extensive
repairs, in consequence of a fire; the bills for these repairs have been
preserved. They speak of the following buildings: of the Little Hall, of
which mention has been already made; of the water-conduit--the pipes of
which were repaired or restored; of the Queen’s Hall; the Nursery; the
Mayden Hall, the private hall of the _domicellæ_, maids of honor--all
these halls had their chambers, wardrobes, and galleries; of the
chambers and cloisters round the


Inner Hall,--was this the old House of Lords?--of the King’s Wardrobe;
of Marculf’s Chamber; of the Chandlery; of the Lord Edmund’s Palace; of
the Almonry; of the Gaol; of the houses and chambers of the chaplains,
clerks, and officers of Court and Palace; of houses standing in the
Inner Bailly--_i. e._, Old Palace Yard; of herbaries, vineries, gardens,
galleries, aqueducts, and stew ponds.

It is impossible to assign these buildings and places to their original
sites. Take the plan of Thorney, with its Palace, Abbey, and City.
Remember that there was an open space for the Inner Bailly--Old Palace
Yard; and another for the Outer Bailly--New Palace Yard. In this respect
the Palace followed the practice of every castle and great house in the
country; even in a college the first court is a survival of the Outer
Bailly. Leave, also, an open space east of the wall from the Jewel House
to the outer wall for the gardens and herbaries--perhaps, like the
Abbey, the Palace had gardens in the reclaimed meadows outside. Then
fill in the area between the King’s House and the river with other
halls, houses, offices, galleries, wardrobes, and cloisters. Let
barracks, stables, shops of all kinds run under the river wall; let
there be narrow lanes winding about among these courts, connecting one
with the other, and all with the Inner and the Outer Bailly and the
Palace stairs. This done, you will begin to understand something of the
extent and nature of the King’s Palace in the fourteenth century. Add to
this that the buildings were infinitely more picturesque than anything
we can show of our own design, our own construction, our own grouping.
The gabled houses turned to the courts and lanes their carved timber and
plaster fronts; the cloisters glowed in the sunshine with their
lace-like tracery and the gold and crimson of their painted roofs and
walls; gray old towers looked down upon the clustered and crowded little
city; everywhere there were stately halls, lofty roofs, tourelles with
rich carvings--gables, painted windows, windows of tracery most
beautiful, archways, gates, battlements; granaries, storehouses, barns,
chantry chapels, oratories, courts of justice, and interiors bright with
splendid tapestry, the colors of which had not yet faded, with canopies
of scarlet and cloth of gold, and the sunlight reflected from many a
shining helm and breastplate, from many a jeweled hilt and golden
scabbard, from many a trophy hanging on the walls, from many a coat of
arms bright with color--azure, or gules and argent. It is the color in
everything that makes the time so picturesque and bright. We see how
small their chambers were, how narrow were the lanes, how close the
houses stood; but we forget the bright colors of everything, the
hangings and the arras, the painted shields, the robes and dresses, the
windows and the walls, the chambers, halls, and refectories, the
galleries and the cloisters. When Time brings in another age of
color--it is surely due--we shall understand better the centuries of the

When the fire destroyed these buildings how much we lost that connected
us with the past! True it is that in Westminster Abbey and in
Westminster Hall we seem to stand face to face with the history of the
country. In the Hall were done such and such things; before us lies the
effigy of a king to remind us that he was a living reality--to most of
us the past is as unreal as the future; we need these reminders lest the
voice of our ancestors should fall upon our ears with no

THE FIRE OF 1834.]

more meaning than the lapping of the tide or the babble of the brook or
the whisper of the stream among the rushes. But we have nothing to
remind us of the Palace where the Princes lived; the things that were
done in them are not in the Book of Kings, but in that of the Things
Left Out--the Book of Chronicles--mostly as yet unedited.

Princes were born here, and played here, and grew here to the age when
they could ride the great horse and practice exercises in the New Palace
Yard. Kings’ daughters were born here, and were kept here till they were
sent away to marry--strange lot of the King’s daughter, that she never
knew until she married what her country was to be! Queens prayed here
for the safety of their husbands and their sons; here was all the home
life, the private life of the Kings and Queens; in these chambers were
held the King’s feasts; here he received ambassadors; here he held his
council; here he looked on with the Queen at the mummeries and masques;
here he held Christmas revelry; here he received and entertained--or
else admonished--my Lord Mayor and Aldermen of London; here were his
Parliaments; here were executed many nobles; here God Himself was
invited to give judgment on the ordeal of battle. In the Painted
Chamber, for instance, died King Edward the Confessor; this was the
council-chamber of the Normans; here Edward III. received the embassy of
Pope Benedict XII.; here Charles’s judges signed his death warrant; here
Chatham lay in state. In the Court of Requests, close by, Richard I.
heard cases as a judge; here Edward IV. kept his Christmas in 1472, and
entertained the Mayor and Aldermen. In the old House of Lords Bacon was
sentenced and disgraced, Somers was acquitted, Chatham was struck down.
Under this hall the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot piled the barrels
which were to destroy the Lords sitting in council. In Old Palace Yard
died Raleigh; on the north side of Old Palace Yard lived Geoffrey
Chaucer, clerk of the works. From the Confessor and Harold through five
hundred years of kings and princes, for the whole history of England’s
Parliament, for the whole history of English law and justice, the things
that belonged to these chronicles passed in this succession of halls and


Thus, then, presented to you, was the Palace. You have restored the
Palace of Westminster. It stands before you, plain and clear. But as yet
it is a silent city--a city of the cold daybreak, a city of the
sleeping. Fill it again with the living multitude--the thousands who
thronged its courts--when it was the Palace of the Second Richard. Look:
the men-at-arms and esquires and knights bear the cognizance--a fatal
cognizance it proved to many--of the White Hart. It is the Palace of the
Second Richard, whose court was the most splendid, and his expenditure
the most prodigal, that the country had ever witnessed.

It is the third day of May, 1389. The sun rises before five and the day
breaks at three at this season; long before sunrise, before daybreak,
the silence of the night is broken by the rolling of the organ and the
voices of the monks at Lauds; long before sunrise, even so early as
this, there are signs of life about the Court. Stable-boys and grooms
are up already, carrying buckets of water; dogs are leaping and barking;
when the sun lifts his head above the low Surrey hills and falls upon
the wall and towers of the Palace, the narrow lanes are full of men
slowly addressing themselves to the work of the day. Clear and bright
against the sky stand the buildings; huddled together they are,
certainly--it is not yet a time for architectural grouping, except in
the design of an abbey, which is generally placed where there is room
enough and to spare. Where there is the King there is an army; there is
also a place which may be attacked: therefore the smaller the
circumference of the wall, the better for the defense. Besides, a Palace
is like a walled city: it grows, but it cannot spread; it fills up. This
hall needs another beside it; that chamber must have a gallery; this
chapel must have cloisters; here let us put up a clock tower; if there
are council chambers, there must also be guest chambers; the Court
becomes more splendid, the Palace precinct becomes more crowded.

The place is more like a camp than a Palace. The grooms lead out the
horses--there are thousands of horses in the place; in both Outer and
Inner Bailly the pages,--wards of the King,--boys of eight or nine to
sixteen, are exercising already, riding, leaping, fencing, running. In
the long chambers, where the archers lie upon beds of rushes and of
straw, the men are gathered about the doors passing round the blackjack
with the morning draught. At the water gate are crowding already the
boats laden with fish caught in the river and brought here daily. The
servants are


running to and fro; the fires are lit in kitchen and in bakery: the
clerks, pen in hand and ink-bottle hanging from their belts, go round to
the offices. Listen to the baying of the hounds; see the falconers
bringing out their birds; here are the chained bears rolling on the
ground; there go the young nobles hasting to the King’s chamber--it is
the time of gorgeous raiment: half a manor is in the blue silk jacket of
that young lord, one of the King’s favorites. There is already, from
this side or that, the tinkling of a mandolin, the scraping of a crowd;
yonder fantastic group, the first to enter when the Palace gates are
thrown open, are mummers, jugglers, and minstrels, who come to make
sport for the archers and for the Court if the King’s Highness or the
Queen’s most excellent Grace so wills. These people can play a mystery
if needs be; or they can dress like fearful wild beasts, or dance like
wild men of the woods; they have songs from France--love songs, songs
for ladies; rougher songs in English for the soldiers; they can dance
upon the tight-rope; they can eat fire; they can juggle and play strange
tricks which they have brought hither all the way from
Constantinople--at the sight of them you cross yourself and whisper that
it is sorcery. As for the music of the King’s chamber, that is made by
the King’s minstrels, who wear his colors and have bouche of court. See
yonder gayly dressed young man: he is a minstrel; none other can touch
the harp and sing with skill so sweet; he looks on with contempt at the
fantastic crew as they sweep past to the soldiers’ quarters; they, too,
carry their minstrel instruments with them, but their music is not his
music. In the evening the minstrel will join in the crowd to see the
dancing of the girls--the almond-eyed, dark-skinned girls of Syria--who
follow the fortunes of the mummers and toss their round arms as they
dance with strange gestures and wanton looks, at sight of which the
senses swim and the brain reels and the soul yearns for things

The noise of the Palace grows; it is wide awake: the day has begun.

Outside the Palace, the road--there is now a road where there was once a
marsh or shallow with a ford--is covered with an endless procession of
those who make their way to the Palace and the Abbey with supplies. Here
are drivers with herds of cattle and flocks of sheep; here are long
lines of pack horses laden with things; here are men-at-arms, the
following of some great lord: this is a procession which never ceases
all the year round. And on the river barges are coming down the stream
piled up, laden to the level of the water, with farm produce; and at
flood tide barges come up the stream from the Port of London, sent by
the merchants whom the King despoils,--yet they have their
revenge,--boats laden with the things for which this magnificent Court
is insatiable: cloth of gold, velvet, and silk; wines of France and
Spain and Cyprus and Gaza; spices, perfumes, inlaid armor and arms,
jewels and glass and plate, and wares ecclesiastic for the outer glory
of St. Peter and St. Stephen--golden cross and chalice silver gilt, and
vestments such as can only be matched in the Church of St. Peter at

Also along the Dover road, and up and down the road called Watling, and
up the river and down the river, there ride day and night the King’s
messengers. Was there a special service of messengers? I think


not; men were dispatched with letters and enjoined to ride swiftly.
There were neither telegraphs nor railways nor postal service, yet was
the Court of every great king fully supplied with news. If it came a
month after the event, so it came to all. We of to-day act on news of
the moment; the statesmen of old acted on news of yesterday or yesterday
fortnight. But communications with the outer world never ceased; news
poured in daily from all quarters: from the Low Countries; from France
and Spain; from Rome; from the Holy Land. Whatever happened was carried
swiftly over Western Europe. If the king of Scotland crossed the border,
in three days it was known in Westminster; if there was a rebellion in
Ireland, four days brought the news to Westminster; if the Welsh harried
the March, three days sufficed to bring the news to Westminster. Beside
the messengers and bearers of dispatches, there were pilgrims who
learned and carried about a vast quantity of information; there were the
merchants whose ships arrived every day from Antwerp and from Sluys; and
there were the foreign ships which came to London Port from the Levant
and the Mediterranean.

The messengers as they arrived at the Palace of Westminster carried
their letters not to the King, but to the Archbishop of Canterbury and
to the Duke of Gloucester, the King’s uncle.

As for what follows, it is related by Francis de Winchelsea, scribe or
clerk to the King’s Council, the same who went always limp or halt by
reason of a knee stiffened by kneeling at his work; for before the
Council the clerk who writes what he is commanded must neither sit nor
stand. He kneels on his left knee and writes on the other knee. Many
things were secretly written by Francis which are kept in the Abbey hard
by, not to see the light for many years,--perhaps never,--because things
said and done in secret council must not be spread abroad, as the cleric
Froissart spread abroad all he knew and could learn, to the injury of
many reputations. Thus sayeth Francis:

“On the morning of that day--the Induction of the Cross--it chanced that
I was standing in the Cloisters of St. Stephen, whither I often repaired
for meditation. The King came forth, and with him one--I name him
not--who was his companion and friend. They walked in the cloisters, I
retiring to a far corner; they were deep in conversation, and they
marked me not. They talked in whispers for half an hour. Then the King
said aloud, ‘Have no fear: this day will I reward my friends.’

“‘Beau Sire,’ replied the other, ‘your friends have mostly lost their
heads thus far. Yet to die as your Highness’s friend should be reward

“‘Thou shalt not die. By St. Edward’s bones--when it comes to dying----
But wait.’

“Then I knew that something great was going to happen. And since
whatever happens to Princes affects their subjects, I began to tremble.
‘This day,’ said the King. Now, there was not any Prince in the world
more comely to look upon than King Richard. Since the time of David
there had never been a Prince of more lovely aspect. He was then in
early manhood: his chin and cheek were lightly fringed with down rather
than with a beard; his face was long; his flowing hair was of a light
brown; his eyes were large,--I have noticed that the eyes of those who
sit apart and dream are often large,--yet could the King’s eyes become
suddenly and swiftly terrible to meet: never yet was English King who
was not terrible in his wrath. His nose was long and thin, his mouth was
small and delicately shaped, his chin was not long, but round and firm;
his shoulders were sloping, his fingers were long. He loved, as no other
great Lord ever loved, rich apparel: he commonly wore a doublet or
jerkin of green, embroidered with flowers, crowns, and the letters of
his name. He was already twenty-three years of age, yet he took no part
in the affairs of his own kingdom, which was managed by his uncles, the
Dukes of Lancaster and Gloucester; so that, if it be permitted thus to
speak of a King, he was fast falling into contempt as a Roy Fainéant,
one who would do nothing; and there were whispers, even in the Palace,
that a king who can do nothing must, soon or late, give place to one who
can. Yet I marked that the King looked ever to his archers, of whom he
had four thousand, and that he entertained them royally and kept them to
their loyalty. Doubtless Richard remembered the fate of his
great-grandfather, Edward the Second.

“At the hour of nine, mass said and breakfast dispatched, the King’s
Council met in Marculf’s Chamber. There were present the Archbishop of
Canterbury, the Bishop of Hereford, the Duke of Gloucester, and the Earl
of Arundel. And I also was there, on my knee, pen in hand, ready to

“My Lords of the Council discoursed pleasantly of this and of that: they
had no suspicion of what would happen. Nor had I guessed the King’s
purpose. Now learn what the Roy Fainéant did.

“While the Archbishop was speaking, without a word of warning, the
council door was suddenly flung open wide and the usher called out, ‘My
Lords--the King!’

“Then Richard stood in the doorway; upon his head he wore a crown; in
his hand he carried his scepter; on his shoulders hung the mantle of
ermine, borne below by two pages; and through the door I saw a throng of
armed men and heard the clink of steel. Then I understood what was about
to happen.

“The Council rose and stood up. White were their cheeks and astonied
were their faces.

“‘Good my Lord----’ began the Duke of Gloucester.

“The King strode across the room and took his seat upon the throne. Let
no one say that Richard’s eyes were soft. This morning they were like
the eyes of a falcon; and the look which he cast upon his uncle betrayed
the hatred in his heart and foretold the revenge that he would take.
Afterward, when I heard of the King’s visit to Pleshy, I remembered that

“‘Fair uncle,’ he said, ‘tell me how old am I?’

“‘Your Highness,’ replied the Duke, ‘is now in your twenty-fourth year.’

“‘Say you so? Then, fair uncle, I am now old enough to manage mine own

“So saying, he took the Great Seal from the Archbishop, and the keys of
the Exchequer from the Bishop of Hereford; from the Duke of Gloucester
he took his office; he appointed new Judges; he created a new Council.

“Look you,” said Francis of Winchelsea, “how secret are the counsels of
the mighty! They keep their designs secret because they cannot trust
their courtiers. The King made no sign when his uncles took the
management of the realm into their own hands; he was not yet strong
enough: he amused himself. They drove away his favorites and beheaded
them; the King still made no sign; he amused himself. When the moment
came he sprang up and delivered his blow. ’Twas a gallant Prince. Alas!
that he was not always strong. That he compassed the death of the Duke
of Gloucester no one doubts; but then the Duke had compassed the death
of his friends. Twice in his life Richard was strong; on that day and
another; twice was he strong.

“That night there was high revelry in the Palace; the mummers and the
minstrels and the music made the Court merry; and the dancing girls
moved the hearts of the young men. And the King’s Fool made the
courtiers laugh when he jested about the Duke’s amazement and the
Archbishop’s discomfiture. And as for me, plain Francis the scribe, I am
inclined, seeing the miseries that have since fallen upon that most
puissant Prince and upon this country, to humble myself and to
acknowledge the mercy of Heaven in refusing me a higher place than this
of scribe. The Kings succeed; the council changes; the ax and the block
are always doing their work; but the scribe remains, and were it not for
the stiffness of this right knee and a growing deafness, I should have
but little cause for complaint.”

Here ends the manuscript of Francis de Winchelsea.

When the King’s House was removed from Westminster to Whitehall the
importance of the old Palace suffered little diminution. St. Stephen’s
was dissolved, but the chapel was not destroyed nor were the cloisters
broken down. The Commons came across the road, leaving the Chapter House
and exchanging one lovely building for another. They proceeded so to
alter and to rebuild and add and subtract that by the time of the fire
there was not much left of the old St. Stephen’s. The other buildings of
the Palace were gradually modernized, so that in the end little was left
of the old Palace except the nest of chambers that belonged in the first
instance to Edward the Confessor, with the Hall of Rufus. As for this
mediæval Palace, with its narrow lanes, its close courts, its corridors
and cloisters, its lancet windows, its tourelles, its carved work--all
that was gone, never to be replaced. But a good deal of history, a great
many events, had to take place on this site before the building of the
present House of Parliament, which is the greatest change of all. I set
out in these chapters with the desire not to repeat, more than was
necessary, stories that have been told over and over again. It is not
always possible to avoid this repetition, since things must be related
if only to avoid a probable charge of ignorance. Some things can be
avoided as belonging rather to the History of the Nation than the
History of Westminster. Among such things are the rise and development
of the House of Commons. Some things again may be avoided as having been
told so often that no one is ignorant of them; such as the death of
Henry the Fourth in the Jerusalem Chamber. In what follows, chiefly
concerning the Palace after its desertion by the King, there will be
found some things well known to everybody, some things half known, some
things not known at all.

In the Old Palace Yard, the open court belonging to the first Palace,
many functions took place; tournaments, executions, trials by battle. At
one of these tournaments, that of 1348, two Scottish knights, the Earl
Douglas and Sir William Douglas, prisoners of war, acquitted themselves
so valiantly that the King sent them home free. Of executions in Old
Palace Yard there is recorded the hanging of a man for slaying another
within the Palace; his body, for an example, remained hanging for two
days. Of trial by battle, many are recorded in Tothill Fields and
elsewhere, and those of Old Palace Yard. One of these was held in the
presence of King Edward III., between Thomas de la Marche and John de
Visconti, to prove that the former had not been guilty of treachery
against the King of Sicily. De la Marche unhorsed his opponent and
struck him in the face as he fell. It is not stated what became of the
wounded man.

On the south side of the Old Palace Yard were certain fish ponds, or
stew ponds, which were kept stocked with eels and pike. On the east side
Geoffrey Chaucer, for a very short time,--less than a year,--occupied a
house. It stood nigh to the White Rose tavern, abutting on the old Lady
Chapel. King Henry the Seventh’s Chapel now occupies the site. And there
was a gateway or passage from the Abbey churchyard to Old Palace Yard,
over which was a house sacred to the memory of Ben Jonson, who lived

In the southeast corner of Old Palace Yard stood the house which was
hired by Percy, one of the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot, through
which the barrels of powder were conveyed to the vaults. In Palace Yard
four of the conspirators, Guy Fawkes, Thomas Winter, Ambrose Rokewood,
and Robert Keyes were executed fifteen years later, to the shame and
dishonor of the English nation. Raleigh was brought to Old Palace Yard
to die. The day chosen for his execution was Lord Mayor’s Day, so that
the crowd should be drawn to the pageant rather than the execution. It
is curious to read how Lady Raleigh attended at the execution and
carried away the head in a bag. She kept it during the rest of her life,
and after her death it was kept by her son Carew. The body lies buried
in the Chancel of St. Margaret’s.

The memory of these great mobs closes the history of Old Palace Yard.
One of these was in 1641, when six thousand citizens, armed with swords
and clubs, seized on the entrance to the House of Lords and called for
justice against Lord Strafford. The second, in 1773, when the Sheriff
and Aldermen and Common Council of London, in a procession of two
hundred carriages, attended by a huge mob, went to Westminster to
petition against the Excise scheme of Sir Robert Walpole. The third is
the mob that followed Lord George Gordon. On this occasion both Lords
and Commons found it necessary to adjourn.

New Palace Yard has been the scene of many eventful episodes in history.
Take, for instance, the history of the fight between the men of London
and the men of Westminster. From this story may be learned the
difficulty of controlling a mob, and that a London mob--and a mob fired
with a sense of wrong: that kind of wrong that always fires an
Englishman’s blood, when the game is played against the rules. Sport of
all kinds must be played by rule. Here were the men of Westminster
fairly and honestly beaten. That they should seek to revenge themselves
in so mean and treacherous a fashion--oh! it was intolerable! How would
the men of Yorkshire be fired with rage if, after a football match, the
conquerors should be treacherously assailed and murdered? Yet this is
exactly what happened. Let Stow tell the tale:

On Saint Iames day, the Citizens of _London_ kept
games of defence and wrestling, neere vnto the Hospital of Matild,
where they got the maisterie of the menne of the Suburbes. The Baylie
of _Westminster_ deuising to be reuenged, proclaymed a game to
be at _Westminster_ vppon Lammas daye, wherevnto the
Citizens of _London_ repayred, and when they had played
a while, the Baylie with the men of the suburbs harnised themselves
and fell to fighting, that the Citizens being foully wounded,
were forced to runne into the Citie, where they rang the common Bel,
and assembled the Citizens in gret number, and when the matter was
declared, euery man wished to reuenge the fact. The Maior of the Citie
being a wise man and a quiet, willed them firste to moue the Abbot of
_Westminster_ of the matter, and if he wold promise to see amendes made,
it were sufficient: but a certaine Citizen named Constantine Fitz
Arnulfe, willed that all houses of the Abbot and Baylie should be pulled
downe, whiche word being once spoken, the common people issued out of
the Citie without anye order, and fought a ciuil battaile: for
Constantine the firste pulled downe many houses, and ofttimes with a
loude voyce cryed in prayse of the sayd Constantine, the ioye of the
mountaine, the ioy of the mountaine, God helpe and the Lord Lodowike.

A fewe dayes after this tumult, the Abbot of _Westminster_ came to
_London_ to Phillip Dawbney, one of the kings counsel, to complaine of
the iniuries done to him, which the _Londoners_ perceyuing, beset the
house aboute, and tooke by violence twelue of the Abbots horsses away,
cruelly beating of his men, &c. But whiles the foresayde Daubney,
laboured to pacifie the vprore, the Abbot gotte out at a backe dore of
the house, and so by a boate on the _Thamis_ hardlye escaped, the
Citizens throwing stones after him in great aboundāce. These things
being thus done, Hubert de Burgo, Justiciar of _England_, with a great
armye of men came to the Tower of _London_, and sent for the Maior and
Aldermē, of whom he enquired for the principal aucthours of this
faction. Then Constantine, who was constaunt in the sedition, was more
constante in the aunsweare, affirming, that he had done it, and that he
hadde done muche lesse than he ought to haue done. The Justiciar tooke
him and two other with him, and in ý morning carely sent them to
Falcatius by water, with a gret number of armed men, who brought
Constantine to the gallowes, and when he sawe the rope about his necke,
he offered for his life 15000. marks, but that would not saue him: so he
was hanged with Constantine his nephew, & Galfride, that proclaymed his
proclamation on the sixteenth of August.

Then the Justiciar entring the City with a great army, caused to be
apprehended as many as he coulde learne to be culpable, whose feet and
hands he caused to be cut off, which crueltie caused many to flee the

The king toke of the Citizens 60 pledges, which he sēt to diuers
Castelles: he deposed the Maior, appointing a Gardien or keeper ouer the
Citie, and caused a greate gybet to be made, and after heauie
threatnings, the Citizens were reconciled, paying to the king manye
thousande markes.

The bawling for the Lord Lodowicke was a very foolish thing to do. It
showed, first, that the Londoners associated the men of Westminster with
the Court; it showed also that the memory of Prince Louis of France, who
had taken up his residence for a time in London, still survived. But it
was ill advised, because it set the King against the citizens.

The pillory of New Palace Yard has held some notable persons in its
embrace: Perkin Warbeck, for instance, who had to read his own
confession. The same ceremony was performed in Cheapside “with many a
curse and much wondering,” says Stow. In this pillory stood Alexander
Leighton, for a fanatical libel. Here stood William Prynne for writing
the “Histrio Mastix.” Here stood Titus Oates, and here stood the printer
of Wilkes’s famous “No 45.”

New Palace Yard was formerly an inclosed area, surrounded by buildings
picturesquely grouped. I do not think we have anything to show more
picturesque than New Palace Yard in the fifteenth century. On the North
side stood the Clock Tower, just where Parliament Street now begins. It
was a very handsome Clock Tower, erected against his will by Chief
Justice Ralph Hingham in the reign of Edward I. He was amerced in the
sum of eight hundred marks for altering a court roll in favor of a poor
man. His charity cost him dear. There was a warden of the Clochier, and
the bell, called Tom, was the heaviest in London. In the year 1698 the
Clock Tower was given to the Vestry of St. Margaret’s. They proceeded to
pull it down--one knows not why. The materials were sold for £200; the
bell for £385 17s. 6d.; it weighed 82 cwt. 2 qrs. 21 lbs. The bell was
recast and taken to St. Paul’s.

On either side of the Clock Tower ran houses


belonging to the merchants of the Wool Staple, the market place of which
was at the back of the houses; an archway opened into King Street at the
northwest corner; the west side was occupied by houses, the gate into
the Abbey, and St. Margaret’s; on the south side was Westminster Hall,
with the Courts of the Exchequer; on the east was the Star Chamber,
ending in what was called the Bridge, and a pier running out into the
river. Under the Courts of the Exchequer were two prisons called “Hell,”
and “Purgatory.” There was also “Heaven,” and all these places became

When one speaks of Westminster Hall it seems as if the whole of English
history rolls through that ancient and venerable building. Historians
have exhausted their eloquence in speaking of these gray old walls. What
things have they not seen? The coronation banquets; the entertainments
of kings; the proclamations; the solemn oaths; the State trials; we
cannot, if we would, keep out of Westminster Hall. It was once the High
Court of Justice: three Judges sat here in different parts of the Hall,
hearing as many cases.

The State trials may be left to Macaulay and the historians. I think
that we are here most concerned in that curious trial of the ‘prentices
which followed “Evil May Day,” 1547.

Everybody knows that the Church of St. Andrew Undershaft is so called
because a tall May-pole, the highest in London, was laid along, under a
pentice, the side of the church and a row of houses called Shaft Alley.
Every May Day the pole was taken off its iron hooks and set up on the
south side of the church in the street, being higher than the steeple
itself. Now, as to the connection of the steeple with Westminster Hall,
it shall be told in the words of Maitland:

“About two Years after this, an Accident happened, which occasioned the
Epithet of _Evil_ to be added to this Day of Rejoicing, and that Day was
afterward noted by the Name of _Evil May Day_. In the ninth Year of the
Reign of King _Henry_ VIII. A great Heart-burning, and malicious Grudge,
grew amongst the _Englishmen_ of the City of _London_, against
Strangers; and namely, the Artificers found themselves much aggrieved,
because such Number of Strangers were permitted to resort hither with
their Wares, and to exercise Handicrafts, to the great Hindrance and
Impoverishing of the King’s Liege People: Which Malice grew to such a
Point, that one _John Lincolne_, a Broker, busied himself so far in the
Matter, that about _Palm-Sunday_, or the fifth of _April_, he came to
one Dr. _Standish_, with these Words; ‘Sir, I understand that you shall
preach at the _Spital_ on _Monday_ in _Easter_ Week; and so it is, that
_Englishmen_, both Merchants and others, are undone by Strangers, who
have more Liberty in this Land, than they, which is against Reason, and
also against the Commonweal of this Realm. I beseech you, therefore, to
declare this in your Sermon, and in so doing you shall deserve great
Thanks of my Lord-Mayor, and of all his Brethren.’ And herewith he
offered unto the said Doctor a Bill containing the Matter more at large:
But Doctor _Standish_, wisely considering, that there might more
Inconvenience arise from it, than he would wish, if he should deal in
such Sort, both refused the Bill, and told _Lincolne_ plainly, that he
meant not to meddle with any such Matter in his Sermon.

“Whereupon the said _Lincolne_, went unto one Dr. _Bell_, or _Bele_, a
Canon of the aforesaid _Spital_, that was appointed likewise to preach
upon _Tuesday_ in _Easter_ Week, at the same _Spital_, whom he persuaded
to read his said Bill in his Pulpit. Which Bill contained (in effect)
the Grievances that many found from Strangers, for taking the Livings
away from Artificers and the Intercourse from Merchants, the Redress
whereof must come from the Commons united together; for, as the Hurt
touched all Men, so must all set to their helping Hands: Which Letter he
read, or the chief Part thereof, comprehending much seditious Matter,
and then he began with this Sentence; _Cœlum Cœli Domino, Terrain autem
dedit Filiis Hominum_, i. e., _The Heavens to the Lord of Heaven, but
the Earth he hath given to the children of Men_: And upon this Text he
shewed how this Land was given to _Englishmen_, and, as Birds defend
their Nests, so ought _Englishmen_ to cherish and maintain themselves,
and to hurt and grieve Aliens for Respect of their Commonwealth: And on
this Text, _Pugna pro Patria_, i. e., _Fight for your Country_, he
brought in, how (by God’s Law) it was lawful to fight for their Country,
and thus he subtilly moved the People to oppose Strangers. By this
Sermon, many a light-headed Person took Courage, and spoke openly
against them: And by chance there had been divers ill Things of late
done by Strangers, in and about the City of _London_, which kindled the
People’s Rancour the more furiously against them.

“The twenty-eighth Day of _April_, divers young Men of the City picked
Quarrels with certain Strangers, as they passed along the Streets: Some
they smote and buffeted, and some they threw into the Channel; for which
the Lord Mayor sent some of the _Englishmen_ to prison, as _Stephen
Studley_, Skinner, _Stevenson Betts_, and others.

“Then suddenly rose a secret Rumour, and no Man could tell how it began,
that on _May-Day_, next following, the City would slay all the Aliens,
insomuch that divers Strangers fled out of the City.

“This Rumour came to the Knowledge of the King’s Council; whereupon the
Lord Cardinal sent for the Mayor, and other of the Council of the City,
giving them to understand what he had heard.

“The Lord-Mayor, as one ignorant of the Matter, told the Cardinal, that
he doubted not so to govern the City, but that Peace should be obtained.

“The Cardinal willed him so to do, and to take heed, that, if any
riotous Attempt were intended, he should by good Policy prevent it.

“The Mayor coming from the Cardinal’s House, about four o’Clock in the
Afternoon, on _May-Eve_, sent for his Brethren to the _Guildhall_; yet
was it almost seven o’Clock before the Assembly was set. Upon Conference
had of the Matter, some thought it necessary, that a substantial Watch
should be set of honest Citizens, which might withstand the Evil-Doers,
if they went about any Misrule: Others were of contrary Opinion, as
rather thinking it best, that every Man should be commanded to shut up
his Doors, and to keep his Servants within. Before eight o’Clock, the
Recorder was sent to the Cardinal with these Opinions, who, hearing the
same, allowed the latter: And then the Recorder, and Sir _Thomas More_,
late Under-Sheriff of _London_, and of the King’s Council, came back
again to the _Guildhall_, half an Hour before nine o’Clock, and there
shewed the Pleasure of the King’s Council; whereupon every Alderman sent
to his Ward, that no Man, after nine o’Clock, should stir out of his
House, but keep his Doors shut, and his Servants within, until nine
o’Clock in the Morning.

“After this Command was given in the Evening, as Sir _John Mundy_,
Alderman, came from his Ward, he found two young Men in _Cheap_, playing
at the Bucklers, and a great many young Men looking on them; for the
Command seemed to be scarcely published: He ordered them to leave off;
and, because one of them asked, Why? he would have them sent to the
_Compter_: But the ‘Prentices resisted the Alderman, taking the young
Man from him, and cried, _‘Prentices, ‘Prentices! Clubs, Clubs!_ then
out of every Door came Clubs, and other Weapons, so that the Alderman
was put to Flight. Then more People arose out of every Quarter, and
forth came Serving-men, Watermen, Courtiers, and others, so that by
eleven o’Clock there were in _Cheap_ six or seven hundred; and out of
St. _Paul’s_ Church-yard came about three hundred. From all Places they
gathered together, and broke open the _Compter_, took out the Prisoners
committed thither by the Lord-Mayor for hurting the Strangers; they went
also to _Newgate_, and took out _Studley_ and _Betts_, committed for the
like Cause. The Mayor and Sheriffs were present, and made Proclamation
in the King’s Name, but were not obeyed.

“Being thus gathered in crowds, they ran thro’ St. _Nicholas’s
Shambles_; and at St. _Martin’s_ Gate Sir _Thomas More_, and others, met
them, desiring them to return to their Homes, which they had almost
persuaded them to do; when some within St. _Martin’s_, throwing Sticks
and Stones, hurt several who were with Sir _Thomas More_, particularly
one _Nicholas Dennis_, a Serjeant at Arms, who, being much wounded,
cried out, _Down with them_; and then all the unruly Persons ran to the
Doors and Windows of the Houses within St. _Martin’s_, and spoiled all
they found. After that they ran into _Cornhill_, and so on to a House
East of _Leadenhall_, called the _Green-Gate_, where dwelt one _Mewtas_,
a _Picard_, or _Frenchman_, with whom dwelt several other _Frenchmen_.
These they plundered; and, if they had found _Mewtas_, they would have
struck off his Head.

“They ran to other Places, and broke open and plundered the Houses of
Strangers, and continued thus till three o’Clock in the Morning, at
which Time they began to withdraw; but by the Way they were taken by the
Mayor and others, and sent to the _Tower_, _Newgate_, and the
_Compters_, to the Number of three hundred.

“The Cardinal, being advertised of this by Sir _Thomas Parre_, sent him
immediately to inform the King of it at _Richmond_; and he forthwith
sent to learn what Condition the City was in. Sir _Roger Cholmeley_,
Lieutenant of the Tower, during the Time of this Business, shot off
certain Pieces of Ordnance against the City, but did no great Hurt.
About five o’Clock in the Morning the Earls of _Shrewsbury_ and
_Surrey_, _Thomas Dockery_, Lord Prior of St. _John’s_, _George Nevil_,
Lord _Abergavenny_, and others, came to _London_, with what Forces they
could get together; so did the Inns of Court: But, before they came, the
Business was all over.

“Then were the Prisoners examined, and the Sermon of Doctor _Bell_
called in Question, and he sent to the _Tower_. A Commission of _Oyer_
and _Terminer_ was directed to the Duke of _Norfolk_, and other Lords,
for the Punishment of this Insurrection. The second of _May_, the
Commissioners, with the Lord-Mayor, Aldermen, and Justices, went to
_Guildhall_, where many of the Offenders were indicted; whereupon they
were arraigned, and pleaded _Not Guilty_, having one Day given them,
‘till the fourth of _May_.

“On which Day, the Lord-Mayor, the Duke of _Norfolk_, the Earl of
_Surrey_, and others, came to sit in the _Guildhall_. The Duke of
_Norfolk_ entered the City with one thousand three hundred Men, and the
Prisoners were brought thro’ the Streets tied with Ropes; some Men, some
Lads but of thirteen or fourteen Years old, to the Number of two hundred
and seventy-eight Persons. That Day _John Lincolne_, and divers others
were indicted; and the next Day thirteen were adjudged to be drawn,
hanged and quartered; for Execution whereof ten Pair of Gallows were set
up in divers Places of the City, as at _Aldgate_, _Blanchapleton_,
_Grass-Street_, _Leadenhall_, before each of the _Compters_, at
_Newgate_, St. _Martin’s_, at _Aldersgate_, and _Bishopsgate_: And these
Gallows were set upon Wheels to be removed from Street to Street, and
from Door to Door, as the Prisoners were to be executed.

“On the seventh of _May_, _Lincolne_, _Sherwin_, and the two Brothers
named _Betts_, with several of their Confederates, were found guilty,
and received Sentence as the former; when, within a short Time after,
they were drawn upon Hurdles to the Standard in Cheapside; where
_Lincolne_ was first executed; but, as the rest were about to be turned
off, a Reprieve came from the King to stay the Execution: upon which the
People shouted, crying, _God save the King_; and thereupon the Prisoners
were carried back to Prison, there to attend the King’s farther

“After all this, all the Armed Men, which before had kept Watch in the
City, were withdrawn; which gave the Citizens Hope that the King’s
Displeasure towards them was not so great as themselves conceived:
Whereupon, on the eleventh of _May_, the King residing at his Manor of
_Greenwich_, the Mayor, Recorder, and divers Aldermen, went in Mourning
Gowns to wait upon him; and having Admittance to the _Privy-Chamber_
Door, after they had attended there for some Time, the King, attended
with several of his Nobles, came forth; whereupon they falling upon
their Knees, the Recorder in the Name of the rest spake as followeth:

“‘Most Natural, Benign, and our Sovereign Lord, We well know that your
Grace is highly displeased with us of your City of _London_, for the
great Riot done and committed there; wherefore we assure your Grace,
that none of us, nor no honest Person, were condescending to that
Enormity; yet we, our Wives and Children, every Hour lament that your
Favour should be taken from us; and forasmuch as light and idle Persons
were the Doers of the same, we most humbly beseech your Grace to have
Mercy on us for our Negligence, and Compassion on the Offenders for
their Offences and Trespasses.’

“To which the King replied; ‘Truly you have highly displeased and
offended us, and therefore you ought to wail and be sorry for the same;
and whereas you say that _you the substantial Citizens were not
consenting to what happened_, it appeareth to the contrary; for you
never moved to let them, nor stirred to fight with those whom you say
were so small a Number of light Persons; wherefore we must think, and
you cannot deny, but that you did wink at the Matter: Therefore at this
Time we will neither grant you our Favour nor Goodwill, nor to the
Offenders Mercy; but resort to our Lord _Chancellor_, and he shall make
you an Answer, and declare to you our Pleasure.’

“At this Speech of the King’s, the Citizens departed very sorrowful;
but, having Notice that the King intended to be at his Palace of
_Westminster_ on the twenty-second of _May_, they resolved to repair
thither, which they did accordingly, though not without the Appointment
of Cardinal _Wolsey_, who was then Lord _Chancellor_; when as a Cloth of
Estate being placed at the upper End of _Westminster-Hall_, the King
took his Place, and after him the Cardinal, the Dukes of _Norfolk_ and
_Suffolk_, the Earls of _Wiltshire_, _Surry_, _Shrewsbury_, and _Essex_,
with several others; the Lord-Mayor, Recorder, and Aldermen, together
with many of the Commons, attending in their Liveries; when, about nine
o’Clock, Order was given for the bringing forth the Prisoners, which was
accordingly done; so that in they came in their Shirts, bound together
with Ropes, and Halters about their Necks, to the Number of four hundred
Men, and eleven Women, one after another; which Sight so moved several
of the Nobility, that they became earnest Intercessors to the King for
their Pardon.

“When Silence was made, and they were all come into the King’s Presence,
the Cardinal sharply rebuked the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commonalty, for
their negligence; and then, addressing his Speech to the Prisoners, he
told them, That for their Offences against the Laws of the Realm, and
against his Majesty’s Crown and Dignity, they had deserved Death:
Whereupon they all set up a piteous Cry, saying, _Mercy, Gracious Lord,
Mercy_; which so moved the King, that, at the earnest Intreaty of the
Lords, he pronounced them pardoned; upon which giving a great Shout,
they threw up their Halters towards the Roof of the Hall, crying, _God
save the King_. When this News was bruited abroad, several that had been
in the Insurrection, and had escaped, came in upon their own accords
with Ropes about their Necks, and received the Benefit of the King’s
Pardon; after which the Cardinal gave them several good Exhortations
tending to Loyalty and Obedience; and so dismissed them, to their no
small Joy; and within a while after the Gallowses that were set in the
several Parts of the City, were taken down, which so far pleased the
Citizens, that they expressed infinite Thanks to the King for his

“This Company was called the _Black Waggon_; and the Day whereon this
Riot and Insurrection happened, bears the Name of _Evil May-Day_ to
these our present Times. And thus have you heard how the Citizens
escaped the King’s Displeasure, and were again received into Favour;
though, as it is thought, not without paying a considerable Sum of Money
to the Cardinal to stand their Friend, for at that Time he was in such
Power, that he did all with the King.

“These great _Mayings_ and _May-Games_, with the triumphant Setting-up
the great Shaft, a principal May-pole in _Leadenhall-Street_ before the
Parish Church of St. _Andrew_, thence called _Undershaft_, were not so
commonly used after this Insurrection on _May-Day_, 1517, as before.”

The story must be finished, though this part of it does not belong to
Westminster, by showing the end of the shaft.

After the Evil May-Day it was never raised again. This proves the
growing dread, in the minds of the officials, of the mob when they came
together. The after history of London is full of this dread, which
experience fully justifies. The famous May-pole hung upon its hooks from
the year 1517 to the year 1549, the third of Edward VI. There flourished
at that time a certain person named Sir Stephen, a curate of St.
Katharine Cree, a fanatic of the most abominable kind. He wanted to turn
the Reformation into a Revolution; all the ancient ways were to be
abandoned or turned upside down. He wanted the names of churches to be
altered; the names of the days of the week to be altered--“Saturday” is
sheer pagan, and so is Friday, for we all know who Freya was; he wanted
fishdays to be any days except Friday and Saturday; and Lent to be
observed at any time of the year except the time between Shrove Tuesday
and Easter Sunday. “I have often,” says Stow, “seen this man forsaking
the pulpit of his said parish church, preach out of a high elm tree in
the midst of the churchyard, and then entering the church, forsaking the
altar, to have sung his high mass in English upon a tomb of the dead
towards the north.” Now on one occasion Sir Stephen preached at Paul’s
Cross, and he told the people that by naming the church St. Andrew
Undershaft they made an idol of a May-pole. “I heard his sermon,” says
Stow, “and I saw the effect that followed, for in the afternoon of that
present Sunday, the neighbours and tenants to the said bridge over whose
doors the said shaft then leaned, after they had well dined, to make
themselves strong, gathered more help and with great labour rending the
shaft from the hooks, whereon it had rested two and thirty years, they
sawed it in pieces, every man taking for his share so much as had lain
over his door and stall, the length of his house: and they of the alley
divided among them so much as had lain over their alley gate. Thus was
this idol, as he, poor man, termed it, mangled and after burned.”

Many great and memorable events took place in the Hall, apart from the
grand functions of State, or beside them. For instance, here began the
massacre of the Jews at the coronation of Richard I. Here, in the same
reign, the Archbishop and the Lords sat to pronounce sentence upon
William Longbeard, who came with thousands of followers, so that they
dared not pronounce sentence upon him. Here they brought the prisoners
of Lincoln, a hundred and two Jews charged with crucifying a child, Hugh
of Lincoln. That must have been a strange sight, this company of aliens
who could never blend with the people among whom they lived: different
in face, different in ideas, different in religion. They are dragged
into the Hall, roped together: the prospect of death is before them;
they are accused of a crime which they would not dare to commit, even at
the very worst time of oppression; even when the wrongs and injustices
and hatred of the people had driven them well-nigh mad. At the end of
the Hall sit their judges; the men-at-arms are at their side to let none
escape; the Hall is filled with people eager for their blood. The
witnesses are called: they have heard this said and that said; it is all
hearsay--there is nothing but hearsay; and at the close eighteen of them
are sentenced to be hanged, and the rest are driven back to prison,
lucky if, after many years, they live to receive the King’s release.

Stalls and shops for books, ribbons, and other things were set up along
the sides of the Hall; and it was always a great place for lawyers.
Lydgate says, speaking of the Hall:

    Within this Hall, neither riche nor yet poore,
      Wolde do for aught, althogh I sholde dye:
    Which seeing I gat me out of the doore,
      Where Flemynge on me began for to cry,
    Master, what will you require or by?
      Fyne felt hatts or spectacles to rede,
    Lay down your sylver and here you may spede.

And so enough of Westminster Hall and the History of England.



[Illustration: Laurentius]

I leave to courtly hands, to ecclesiastics of rank, to those who
understand the pomp and dignity of history, the Abbey Church, with its
royal memories and national associations. It is for Deans to dwell at
length upon this stately shrine of England’s story. Those whose place is
duly assigned and reserved for them at Coronations, Functions, and
Funerals in this Church; those whose office brings them into personal
relations with Kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses; those who
belong to the Palace as much as to the Abbey, are the fittest persons to
write on the events and episodes belonging to the Church, and to
enumerate the chapels, altars, tombs, and monuments within its walls.
Again, there is the building itself: this has been described over and
over again by architects and the students of architecture; stone by
stone the structure has been examined; hardly one that has not been
assigned to its builder and its date. We have been taught all that
remains of Edward the Confessor; all that Henry the Third began and his
son continued; what Richard the Second raised; what is due to Henry the
Seventh and what to Wren. We may leave aside, for the most part, the
ceremonies of state, Coronations,


Weddings, Funerals, the monuments, and the architecture. Are they not
written in the book of the Dean? Some of us, when we read of these great
Functions, fall into the reflection that in that time, as in this, the
place of the scholar, the poet, or the storyteller would have been
outside among the crowd; the man of letters would have been
distinguished beyond expectation had he been invited to stand somewhere
far back in the nave--if he had secured a point of vantage near the
North Porch, or anywhere in the Abbey Precinct where he could stand and
see the Procession sweep past, the Procession of Heralds, Trumpets,
Knights and Barons, and rich Lords, Bishops, and Mitered Abbots,
Pursuivants and more Trumpets, splendid banners and canopies and shields
borne by Nobles, Esquires, and the King’s Valets: lastly, their
Highnesses the King and the Queen themselves. If he should happily stand
near the Porch, he would hear the rolling of the organ and the voices of
those who sing. When the soldiers rushed out of the church at William’s
crowning to hack and cut down the people in suspicion of a tumult, the
poet was among them and was glad to escape with a broken head; when King
Richard’s men-at-arms slew the Jews, the poet who was then outside among
them thought himself happy that he was not mistaken for one of those
unfortunates; the poet was standing outside the Abbey Church--in a very
good place too--when, with Pageant, songs, and flowers, the whole world
turned out to welcome Good Queen Bess. At every Coronation before and
since that festival he has formed part of the outside throng. When the
Rejoicing and the Thanksgiving for the happy closing of Fifty Years were
solemnly celebrated, seven years ago, the poets and the men of letters
occupied their old, old place: it was the curb. All that was really
noble and great and worthy of honor in the nation was invited within the
walls. For literature was left, according to immemorial custom, the
usual struggle for a place upon the curb. The proper place for the man
of letters in this country has always been, and is still, the curb.

Here let us stand, then, happy at least in hearing the discourse of the
people. When the Procession has been reformed and has swept past us
again, we will betake ourselves to coffee-house or tavern, there to talk
about it, while the great folk--the Quality--sit down to their banquet
in Westminster Hall. If we take from Westminster Abbey its Kings and
Princes, its Abbots, its Coronations, its Funerals, what remains?
Exactly that which remains when you have taken out of history the Kings,
Barons, and great Lords. There remain the people--in this case the
monks, with the servants of the Abbey. If we consider the daily life of
one monk, we shall understand pretty well the daily life of all; and we
shall presently realize that our old friend Barnaby Googe is not an
authority to be altogether trusted; that the monks of Thorney were not
all gross sensualists, wallowing in their animalism; and that on the
other hand most of them were not, and in the nature of things could not
be, followers of the austere and saintly life, great scholars, or great
divines. The unremembered life of Hugh de


(By kind permission of Professor Henry Middleton.)]

Steyninge, in Religion Brother Ambrosius, sometime monk in this
Benedictine House, may be chosen to illustrate the Rule, as it was
practiced in the fifteenth century, just before the Dissolution.

Hugh de Steyninge was the younger son of a knightly house; the family
originally, as the name shows, held lands in Steyninge, east of
Chichester; at the time of his father’s death--he was killed fighting
for the Red Rose at Tewkesbury--there was still a small estate in
Sussex, to which the eldest son succeeded; the second son was sent to
London, where he was articled to Sir Ralph Jocelyne, Draper, Lord Mayor
in the year 1476. (This son afterward rose to be Sheriff, and would have
been Mayor, but that he died of the sweating sickness.) A third son went
abroad and entered the service of the Duke of Tuscany. What became of
him is not known. Hugh, the youngest, for whom there seemed nothing but
the poor lot of becoming bailiff or steward to his brother, was so
fortunate as to receive admission to the most wealthy Monastery in the
kingdom. He was thus assured of an easy life, with the chance of rising,
should he show ability, to a position of very considerable dignity and

It was now extremely difficult to enter one of the richer Abbeys; a lad
of humble origin had no chance of admission. Sometimes Founders’ or
Benefactors’ kin possessed the right of nomination; sometimes admission
was bought by money or the gift of land; sometimes it was obtained by
the private interest of some great man.

At this time, however,--about the year 1472,--the monastic life, owing
to many causes, had lost some of its attractions. First, there was going
on a long and


exhausting civil war, in which many noble houses were doomed to
destruction, and the flower of English youth had to perish. Men had
become too valuable to be shut up in a cloister. Again, the spread of
Lollard opinions made all classes of people question the advantages of
the monastic life. Thirdly, the wars had greatly damaged the value of
the monastic property, so that an Abbey no longer supported so many
monks as formerly. Thus the number of monks decreased steadily. At
Westminster there had been eighty; before the Dissolution this number
sank below thirty; at Canterbury a hundred and fifty became fifty-four;
at Gloucester a hundred went down to thirty-six. Probably those who
remained had no desire to return to the former and longer roll, which
would involve a diminution in the splendor of their establishment. We
must remember that the external splendor of the Abbey, which does not
necessarily involve luxury and gluttony, was a thing always greatly
regarded by the Brethren: it magnified the Order; it glorified the
religious life. Even the most ascetic desired a splendid service, rich
robes, vessels of gold and silver, gorgeous tapers, a fine organ, a
well-trained choir of glorious voices, troops of servants, and stately
buildings. So that this remarkable diminution of numbers may have been
due, in some measure, to the increase of this kind of luxury.

However, there is no doubt that when little Hugh de Steyninge was
admitted to the Abbey of St. Peter the House was at its highest point of
splendor. It was the richest of all the English Houses; its manors had
partly recovered from the losses caused by the civil wars; the Abbot was
greater than any bishop; he lived in a palace; he entertained kings. The
Brethren were surrounded by lay brothers and servants; the early
austerities of the Rule had long been relaxed; the buildings of the
Abbey, Church, Cloisters, Chapter House were more stately than those of
any other House; the situation, close to the Palace and within easy
reach of the Port and Markets of London, was most desirable. Nobody
asked the boy if he would like to be a monk; nobody in those days ever
consulted boys on such subjects; the child was told that he would be a
monk, and he obeyed.

They offered little Hugh in the Church as a Novice. First they cut his
long curls round, offering the hair to the Abbey, an act which
symbolized something, but I know not what--only a Brother learned in the
Rule could interpret all the symbols in the ritual; he was then,
carrying in his hand the host and chalice, presented to the priest at
the altar. The parents, or their representative, then wrapped the boy’s
hands in the pall of the altar, and read a written promise that they
would not induce him to leave the Monastery or the Order. After this the
Abbot consecrated a hood for the boy and laid it upon him. He was then
taken out, shaved after the fashion of the Order, robed and brought
back, when he was received with prayers. This done, he was a Novice, and
was supposed to belong to the House for life, provided he entered upon
full vows in due course.

It took many years to make a perfect monk. The rules under which Hugh
was now brought up were more voluminous than those of the Talmudic Law.
Long hours of silence, sitting with eyes downcast, never being left
alone, allowed to play only once a day; the performance of every action,
even to the lifting of a cup to the lips, to be done according to the
Rule; the separation of the boys from each other,--all these minute
regulations, all these vexatious and petty precautions, learned after
frequent floggings, and fully observed only after the habit of long
years, gradually transformed the boy from possible manhood to certain
monkhood. Gradually the old free look vanished; he



became silent, timid, obedient. The House was all his world; the things
of the House were the only things of importance in the whole world. He
was not cruelly treated; on the contrary, he was most kindly
treated--well fed, well clothed, well cared for. He quickly understood,
as children do, that these things, so irksome at first, were necessary;
that all the elders, even the Abbot and the Prior, had gone through the
same discipline. All the time the boy’s education in other things
besides the Rule was going on. He was taught a great deal--grammar, for
instance, logic, Latin, philosophy, writing and illuminating, music,
singing, the history of the Order. The Benedictines always rejoiced in
a liberal education. The schoolhouse was the west cloister. Here, the
arches being glazed, desks were placed one behind the other, and the
boys sat in this single file, with their books before them. There were
rules of silence, rules of talking French only, rules how to sit, how to
carry the hands, rules here and rules there, regulations everywhere. If
they had all been enforced, imbecility must have followed. As Hugh did
not become imbecile, the regulations were certainly interpreted in a
kindly spirit. The Brethren, for instance, except the teachers, were not
allowed to converse with the boys; but we may be very certain that they
did converse with them, and that they were kind to them, because St.
Benedict could never wish to drive out of human nature that best part of
it which prompts man to be tender toward the young. What happened to
Hugh was that he acquired, little by little, the habit of living
according to Rule, that by continual iteration he gradually learned the
whole of the Litanies and Psalms, and that he obtained, before he became
a full monk, some knowledge of the various branches of learning in which
he had been grounded at his desk in the west cloister.

I pass over the ceremony of Profession. To give it in detail would take
up too much space; to quote extracts might convey a false impression.
Let it suffice that nothing was wanting to make the ceremony the most
solemn occasion possible. It is true that children were brought to the
Abbey quite young and without regard to vocation, but might not the
practice be defended on the grounds (1) that nothing, from the mediæval
point of view, could be better for a man than the Benedictine Rule, so
that everyone, even though he might yearn for the outer world, ought to
be grateful for this seclusion; and (2) that by the long years of
preparation and education, the calling to Religion, which ought to be in
every mind, was cultivated and developed? And really, when we consider
how many of our own clergy are in the same way set apart from youth,
without question as to their vocation, we need not throw stones at the
mediæval Benedictines.


Hugh, therefore, at the age of eighteen made his profession and became
Brother Ambrosius, a Junior in the House. His was the duty of reading
the Gospel and the Epistle; he carried a taper in processions; he read
the martyrology in the Chapter. And he now entered upon the daily round,
which was to continue until the end of his life or till old age demanded

It consisted mainly of services. They began at two in the morning with
Matins. These finished, the choir went back to bed; the rest remained to
sing Lauds for the dead. They then went to bed again until daybreak or
five in the morning, when they rose for Prime; at 7 A.M. there followed
Compline; at 9 A.M. there was Tierce; at 11 A.M. there was Sext; Nones
were held at 2 P.M., and Vespers at 6 P.M. There were thus eight stated
services, requiring certainly as much as eight hours out of the
twenty-four. They went to bed at 8 P.M., getting six hours of sleep
before Matins, and two or three after Lauds. This accounts for sixteen
hours. Then there was the daily gathering in the Chapter House, taking
perhaps one hour. This leaves only seven hours for meals, rest, and
work. We are told that a Benedictine House was to be self-supporting as
far as possible; everything wanted by the Brethren was to be made in the
place, if possible; every Brother was to be working when he was not in
the Church, in the Refectory, or in the Dormitory. We know that there
have been many learned works produced by Benedictines. Not, as I
understand it, that learning or art or handicraft was ordered by the
Founder, save as a means of keeping the hands of the Brethren out of
mischief. Dean Stanley wonders mildly why, in the long history of
Westminster Abbey, there was found no scholar in the Brotherhood, and
there was produced no learned work. One would rather be surprised if
any good work had been produced; nor can we readily believe that good
work could be produced by men wearied by seventeen hours of services and


The situation of St. Peter’s exposed the younger Brethren to temptations
from which the monks of such retired spots as Glastonbury, Tintern, or
Fountains were happily free. These temptations assail the young Brother
Ambrosius with great violence during the earlier years of his
profession. It was, indeed, on account of these temptations that he was
more than once, in the Chapter House, flogged in the presence of the
whole fraternity. Eight years of drill and discipline, although they
made him a monk, had yet left in him the possibility of becoming a man.

Consider the dangers of the situation for a young man. On the other side
of the wall which formed the eastern boundary of the Abbey was the
Palace, the court and camp of the King, a place filled with noisy,
racketing, even uproarious life. There were taverns without the Palace
precincts where the noise of singing never ceased. There was the
clashing of weapons; there were the profane oaths of the soldiers; there
was the blare of trumpets; there were the pipe and tabor of the
minstrels and the jesters; the monks in their cloister, which should
have been so quiet, could never escape the clamor of the barrack. The
world, in fact, was always with these good monks--they could not escape
it; invisible, but audible, the temptations of the world, the flesh, and
the devil were continually presented to them through the medium of ears
unwilling, yet constrained, to hear. Only a low wall between a world of
action and the world of prayer; between a world rushing headlong down
the flowery path, gathering roses with both hands, committing sins all
day long, heedless of repentance, and a world of Rule, where even the
holy brethren had to step heedfully along the narrow walk prescribed by
the wisdom or the inspiration of St. Benedict.

In the cloisters the Brother Ambrosius sat before his books, eyes
down-dropped. What did he read on the illuminated page? I know not; what
he heard--and it filled his heart with yearnings indescribable--was the
sound of pipe and tabor, the merry squeak of crowd, and the jangled
bells of tambourine; was the lusty song trolled out by soldier; and--ah,

[Illustration: CHAPEL OF THE PYX.]

why is everything that the natural man longs for sinful?--the singing,
like the voice of a bird for silver sweetness--it sank into the soul,
and blurred the page of the Psalter, and made him giddy--the singing to
the tinkling of the mandolin--the singing of girls. All that life, that
worldly life, the life of those who feasted and drank, sang, made love,
and died on the battlefield, going headlong--there was no doubt
whither--might be heard all day long in the cloister of the Abbey. Did
no young man ever leap to his feet, tear off hood, gown, and robe, and
rush out of the Abbey gate (that which led into King Street), and so
into the outer life, there to wallow in the transitory joys of this
sinful world?

There are no chronicles of the House left to tell if this lamentable
lapse ever happened. So, on the other side, did the chanting of the
monks, the rolling of the organ, awaken no thought of repentance in the
rude soldiers? We know not; for, again, no chronicles survive of the men
who followed the King and had bouche of Court. In the course of time
even these temptations ceased to assail the young monk. Brother
Ambrosius became like his brethren; he mechanically chanted the Psalms
and the responses; his chief joy was in Refectory; he sat in the
cloisters and whispered the small talk of the day; he went to
Misericorde for indulgence permitted; as for scholarship, he had no turn
for it. His whole life was worked out according to formula and by
repetition. Just as the laborer goes forth every day with his spade for
twelve hours’ digging without a murmur or any discontent, so did Brother
Ambrosius every morning rise at two to begin the many hours spent in the
services of the day. They were his work. And for the ordinary monk, of
no more than average intellect, it was quite enough work for the day.

Brother Ambrosius was never advanced to any post of honor or dignity in
the House. A certain rusticity, perhaps a certain dullness produced by
the discipline acting on a mind of only ordinary intelligence, prevented
his advance. But he presently became not only learned in the minor
points of the Rule, but also a great stickler for forms. He knew
everything: the exact time and manner of changing clothes, putting on
shoes, taking knife in hand, lifting the cup to drink, holding the hands
in the Chapter, and other important points. He knew them all: he watched
his Brethren; he insisted on observance; he was so jealous for these
things that the Sub-Prior once rebuked him, saying that the Rule must be
obeyed indeed, but that he who thinks too much of his brothers’
obedience in small things is apt to forget his own obedience in great

Perhaps this Brother at one time may have entertained ambitions. There
were many offices of honor in the House. Might not he, too, aspire to
rise? Who would not wish to be an Abbot, and especially a mitered Abbot?
Besides ruling the House and the Brethren, the mitered Abbot had the
rank of a peer; he rode abroad, hawk in hand, his mule equipped with
cloth of gold, followed by a retinue of a hundred persons; he created
knights; he could coin money; he received the children of noble families
among his pages; he administered enormous estates. Or, if he could not
be Abbot, he might be Prior. The privileges and duties and powers of the
Prior are bewildering to read: to go first after the Abbot; to sit in a
certain stall; to put on his hood before the others,--in the


cloister as well as out, precedence was the chief thing sought. Or there
was the office of Sub-Prior, who sat among the monks at meat, said
grace, saw that everyone behaved properly, and, at five o’clock in the
evening, shut up the House.

There were next the offices of administration. The importance of the
Altarer could not be denied. He had the care of refectory, kitchen, and
cellar. The interest naturally taken in the proper administration of
kitchen and cellar caused the officer exemption from at least half the
daily services. There was the Precentor (_cantor_), a functionary who
knew the exact order of everything in church, refectory, cloister, and
dormitory. He was the Director of Ceremonies; so complicated were the
rules, so exact and minute were the prescribed ceremonies, robes, and
gestures, that no one except those who had been brought up from
childhood in the House could hope to learn or to remember them all.
There were, besides, the Kitchener, who ordered and arranged the food,
and looked after the sick in the infirmary; the Seneschal, who was a
kind of bailiff and held the courts; the Bursar, who received the rents
and paid the bills and the wages; the Sacrist, who had charge of the
Church plate and vestments and candles, and, with the Sub-Sacrist, slept
in the church; the Almoner, who did a great deal more than administer
alms, for he provided the mats and the rushes for the cloister, chapter
house, and dormitory; he distributed broken victuals to the poor, and he
was to seek out cases deserving of help and relief in the town or
nearest villages--_e. g._, St. Thomas’ Hospital was originally the
almonry of Bermondsey Abbey, and it was in the town of Southwark that
the Almoner sought for deserving cases. Next, there was the Master of
the Novices. There were other offices, but these were chiefly held by
lay brothers and by servants, of whom, in Westminster Abbey, there were
some two hundred, following every conceivable trade that was wanted for
the maintenance of the Abbey.[4]

Brother Ambrosius held no office, and presently lost whatever ambitions
he might have had. But the life, which seems to us so monotonous, was to
him full of variety. There was always something to expect, just as
children are always looking forward to holidays, to a birthday, to a
change. For instance, here are some of the incidents which saved him
from falling into lethargy. On certain days the Brethren shaved each
other in the cloister. On an appointed day, two days before Christmas,
the whole Brotherhood bathed. On Christmas Day there were rules about
combing the hair. At the same season they celebrated the Office of the
Shepherds, acted by boys for the angels and the Brethren for the
shepherds. They also enacted a Feast of Asses, for which there was to be
prepared a furnace made of cotton and linen ready to be fired; there was
a procession of prophets, including Balaam on his ass, the angel
represented by one of the boys. This drama finished with the appearance
of Nebuchadnezzar with an idol: three youths were called upon to worship
the idol; they refused and were instantly thrown upon the lighted
furnace, and as instantly taken out again by a supposed miracle. At


juncture the Sibyl appeared, but her reason for joining in the drama is
not apparent.

At this season there was also the Liberty of December, with its Feast of
Fools, the Abbot of Fools, the burlesque services, the bawling,
drinking, and misrule permitted at that season.

On the Epiphany they performed another miracle-play called the Office of
the Three Kings. Another Feast of Asses represented the Flight into
Egypt. On Shrove Tuesday there was feasting. At Easter there was a
succession of offices, plays, shows, and processions. At Whitsuntide the
Descent of the Holy Spirit was represented by the flight of a white

This multiplication of rules, this attention to trifles, these childish
diversions, prove, if any proof were wanted, the deadly dullness of the
monastic life, unless it was lit up by spiritual fervor. The ordinary
mind cannot dwell continually upon things spiritual, yet it must be
occupied with something; therefore, when the monks were not engaged in
services or in the Refectory, although they were ordered to work at some
bodily or intellectual pursuit, most of them occupied themselves with
trifles; they amused themselves with childish shows; they admonished and
corrected each other with boyish discipline. We need not ask why
Westminster produced no great scholars: it was not the real business of
the Abbey to produce scholars, but to sanctify the life of the monk, and
to sing so many services a day for the good of the Brethren first and of
those outside afterward. Now comes the question, How much of the Rule
was obeyed in the latter days, just before the Dissolution? The
discipline varied from House to House. It is very certain that the
Carthusian Rule was strictly observed at the Charter House, and that


the Benedictine Rule was observed with laxity at the Priory of the Holy
Trinity. Chaucer’s jolly monk has horses in the stable; he can go abroad
as he pleases; he is not dressed as a monk. Again, there is one of the
stories concerning Long Meg of Westminster which seems to show that the
monks went about in the taverns outside the Abbey. Yet the holding of
certain offices gave permission to go outside the Abbey.


There is every kind of evidence to prove that luxury and pride and
laziness had become a common charge against the monks long before the
Dissolution. Was there a voice or a hand raised in London or Westminster
to save the Houses? Why, had there been even a small minority in London
by whom the Houses were respected, Henry had not dared to touch them. He
beheaded those who opposed his will. True, the great nobles he beheaded,
but not the crowd, who, had they cared for the Houses, could have
defended them against all the power of the King. But the scanty memoir
of Hugh de Steyninge, which has been collected painfully from various
sources, does not enable me to state with any exactness how far the Rule
was still observed.

There exists no portrait of this, or any other, Brother. He lived in the
Abbey, whose walls he never left till he died, full of years, and with
the reputation of having been a good monk. He was buried in the cemetery
close to St. Margaret’s Church, with his brethren of a thousand years:
of them, and of their works, the name and the memory have long since
perished. Although no portrait remains of Hugh, in Religion Brother
Ambrosius, we can discern his face after the manner of the photographer
who produces a type by superposition. There are thirty generations of
Westminster monks passing in procession before us. Here and there one
perceives the keen eye and the aquiline nose of the administrator. Such
a brother will become Abbot in due course. One observes here and there
the face of a scholar: such a brother is moody and irritable; he cannot,
even after forty years, reconcile himself to the wearisome iteration of
services. Here and there one observes an ascetic, thin, pale,
fiery-eyed; here and there the face of a saint--the kind of face which
you may see on the marble tomb of Westminster’s greatest and noblest
Dean. The rest are like our friend Hugh de Steyninge: they are dull and
heavy-eyed; their faces express the narrowness of their lives; they are
not alert, like other men; they have no craft or guile in their eyes; in
worldly things they are ignorant; you have only to look at them to
discover this. But Hugh de Steyninge never became a hypocrite, nor was
he ever a sensualist; at the worst


he was a man checked in his growth, stunted in mind, ignorant, incapable
of the finer emotions because he was thus stunted; an imperfect man
because he was cut off from the things which made the real man in the
Palace Yard beyond the wall: viz., the dangers and perils and chances
of life; the struggle for life; the natural affections; the madness of
battle, victory or defeat. What compensation could there be for a life
so stunted? Alas! poor Hugh! One of his brothers, I believe, was killed
in battle, and another was hanged for alleged conspiracy; he was quite
safe all his life, his eternal future even was assured. And yet--yet----
Besides, there are sins in the cloister as well as without. No man, even
among the Trappists, can escape from himself, from the wanderings of his
thoughts, from his instincts and his heredities. He has buried the half
of himself--is it the nobler part? For the other half, besetting devils
still contend.

Some of us can remember how under the old system at Cambridge the Senior
Fellows remained in College all their lives, their interests centered in
the Society, dining in hall every day, sitting over the College port in
Combination Room every day. Few among the Seniors, as one remembers
them, were any longer capable of intellectual work; they had never had
any ambitions; they played bowls in the garden; they walked every day
the customary round; they were in Orders; they were regular at chapel,
and they led decorous lives; when they grew very old they fell into the
hands of their bedmaker. Of other women they knew little. Such as were
these aged dons, so were, I believe, the monks of Westminster,--dull and
respectable, decorous, obedient to so much of the Rule as they could not
escape, and stupid and ignorant,--since they had been locked up within
those walls from childhood. Just as those old dons had long since lost
any enthusiasm for learning which might once have possessed them, so our
friend Hugh de Steyninge, plodding through the monotonous days, with the
iteration of the same services till he knew every line by heart, had
long ceased to connect their words with any meaning.


There is one exception to the general charge of worldliness and luxury.
It is an officer--rather a resident--of the Abbey concerning whom
historians are mostly silent. Of him alone it can be said that he was
most certainly neither luxurious nor sensual nor a hypocrite. This man
was the Solitary, the Recluse, the Anchorite or Ankret, of the Abbey.

The Ankret must not be confused with the Hermit, who was another variety
of the Recluse. The latter chose his own place of residence: sometimes
it was a cave, sometimes a hollow tree, sometimes a cell on or near a
bridge, sometimes a wood; he was a law to himself; he owed obedience to
no one; all he had to do was to impress the people with the belief that
he was a real hermit in order to live by their charity. The Ankret, on
the other hand, was set apart and consecrated by a solemn service; there
was generally one at least attached to every great religious House,
there was an Ankret or an Ankress belonging to many parish churches. On
the other hand, no church was allowed the distinction of a Recluse
without the special permission of the Bishop. Thus in 1361 the Bishop
granted permission to the parish church of Whalley to maintain two
Ankresses in the churchyard, with two women as their servants, on an
endowment provided by Henry, Duke of Lancaster. These two Ankresses were
apparently immured in their cells, the attendants bringing them their
food. In many cases the Ankress slept in the church, which she swept and
kept clean. This office might appear desirable for many a poor woman,
and probably such an Ankress was never wanting. But to be actually
immured; to sit for the rest of life in a narrow cell with a narrow
grating for light and air and conversation; without fire or candle;
alone day and night, in good or bad weather, without hearing a voice or
speaking with anyone; unwashed, uncombed, in rags and cold and
misery--this could never come to be regarded as a trade or calling by
which to make one’s livelihood. Of the Ankret’s sincerity we can
scarcely entertain a doubt.


The following extracts from an unpublished chronicle by a nameless
Brother may illustrate the Service of Consecration of an Ankret. The
date appears to have been about the beginning of the reign of Henry IV.
It will be observed that the practice of whispering or singing news,
gossip, and scandal instead of the appointed Psalms was practiced at

“After the singing of Mattins, on the morning of St. Thomas’ or Mumping
Day, when the Brethren began the Lauds for the Dead, it was whispered
abroad that the Abbey Ankret was dead at last. Brother Innocent, my
neighbour on the right, sang the news in my ear when we turned to the
Altar for the _Gloria_: ‘Dead is our holy Ankret; he is dead; he died at
midnight; the Abbot confessed him; he is dead.’ I for my part in like
manner transmitted the news to Brother Franciscus. In this manner,
though by our Rule it is a sin, do we lighten the labour of chanting and
keep off the sleep which is sometimes ready to fall upon us.

“We knew that his time had come: he had reached the extremity of age
allowed to man--even, it was said, his hundredth year. For sixty years
he had been immured. Those who conversed with him--but of late his
discourse was wild--saw through an iron grating a long, bent figure,
with white hair and white beard reaching to his waist. His face was like
the face of some corpse which had escaped corruption--so thin, so white,
so sunken it was; but for the gleaming of his eyes one would have
thought him the figure of Death as he is painted in the cloister of
Paul’s. He was reckoned a very holy person; the Brothers were justly
proud of having an Ankret of such reputation for saintliness. Formerly,
it was said, he would recount engagements with Devils, such as those
which happened to St. Dunstan, our Founder, when he was a recluse at
Glastonbury, or those which happened to St. Anthony; but of late, the
Devils being routed, he was left to his meditations, and his discourse
consisted of pious ejaculations, some of which have been written down by
the Cancellarius; and for the last year or two, his soul being rapt, his
voice spoke only words uncertain. King Richard himself, that noble
benefactor of the House, thought it not beneath his dignity to take
counsel with the Ankret before he went forth to stay the rebellion. I
know not what the holy man told the young king, but all men know how the
leader was killed and the rebels were scattered. Like the renowned
Mother Julian of Norwich, our Ankret brought honour and offerings to the

“Now he was dead. After daybreak, when we met in the Common Room, the
air in the Cloisters being eager and cold, we whispered each other, ‘How
shall we bury him? With what honours? Will he work a miracle? Shall the
House obtain at length a saint for itself? If so, those of St. Albans
and those of the Holy Trinity of London will not hold up their heads
beside us. And who--if any--who will succeed him?’ And at this question
we hung our heads and dropped our eyes, and murmured, ‘Nay, if one were
worthy; but these vows are too much for me.’ Yet there must be found
someone, because an Abbey without an Ankret is like a ship without a
rudder. We Monks pray for the world; the Ankret prays for the Monks.
Unless we know that all night long the Ankret in his cell is praying for
the House and ourselves, who can sleep upon his bed?

“The anxiety was speedily set at rest; for it became

[Illustration: ABBOT ISLIP’S CHAPEL.]

known that one of the Brotherhood--a most unusual circumstance--the
Sub-Prior--Heavens! nothing less than the Sub-Prior, who might
reasonably expect to be Prior, and even Abbot!--had humbly offered
himself to the Abbot for this living sacrifice. Yet, when we considered
the matter, it seemed neither wonderful nor unexpected. The
Sub-Prior--Humphrey of Lambhythe--was always a silent man and zealous in
his duties. As one of the monitors he had been thought too zealous, and
many a Brother could show upon his back the marks of the zeal which had
placed him on the culprit’s bench in Chapter. The Sub-Prior! Perhaps he
would be more free to carry on his austerities in the Ankret’s cell: he
cared nothing for the Refectory, and his drink was only water. Heaven
would doubtless reward him, and perhaps would grant to the Brothers of
lower saintliness a milder Sub-Prior. In this life compassion and
indulgence are more desirable than the strict investigation of every
little sin.

“That night the Sub-Prior spent alone in the Abbey Church, after
confessing to the Abbot and receiving absolution from him. In the
morning we set him apart and consecrated him according to the Order
prescribed. And the manner of his consecration was as follows:

“The Sub-Prior, being a priest, was taken into the choir, where he
prostrated himself with bare feet. The Abbot and three of the Brethren
who were priests having taken their places, the Cantor began the service
with the Responsory, ‘_Beati in melius_,’ after which the Abbot and
assistants before the altar sang with the choir certain Psalms, fourteen
in number. After the Psalms followed a Litany, the choir singing after
each clause, ‘_Ora pro eo_.’ The Litany finished, the Abbot advanced
toward the prostrate brother bearing a


crucifix, a thurible, and holy water, and, standing over him, he thrice
sprinkled him with water, censed him, and prayed over him. The Abbot
then raised the candidate with his own hands, and gave him two lighted
tapers, at the same time admonishing him to remain steadfast in the
love of God. Then the candidate, standing, listened to the Deacon, who
read first from the Prophet Isaiah, next the Gospel according to Saint
Luke, as on the Festival of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. After
this the new garments which he was to put on were blessed. The candidate
then took the vows, which were three only, and those the same as the
vows at profession--viz., of chastity, of obedience, and of

“The candidate next kneeled at the altar, and, kissing it three times,
repeated each time the words ‘_Suscipe me, Domine_,’ etc., the choir
responding. This done, he offered the two tapers at the Altar, and again
kneeled while the Abbot removed his monastic frock and clothed him with
the garments newly blessed. Then followed a service of prayer. It was
the _Veni Creator_, with the _Pater-noster_ and ‘_Et ne nos_.’ The Abbot
then, standing on the north side of the Altar, preached to the Brethren
and to the congregation assembled, commending the new Recluse to their
prayers. The candidate then himself sang the Mass of the Holy Ghost.

“We had now completed that part of the consecration which takes place in
the church. The Abbot then took the new Recluse by the hand, and led him
down the nave of the church, followed by the choir and all the Brethren
unto the little door leading into the West Cloister. The church was
filled with people to see the sight. A new Recluse is not seen every
day. There were the _domicellæ_, the maidens of the Queen, come from the
Palace; there were knights and pages, and even men-at-arms; there were
Sanctuary men, women, and children; men with hawks upon their wrists;
men with dogs; merchants from the wool staple; girls of


wanton looks from the streets and taverns beyond the walls. The hawks
jangled their bells, the dogs barked, the women chattered, the men
talked loudly; the girls looked at the Brothers as they passed, and
whispered and laughed; and I heard one Brother say to another that this
was a thing which would make the Sub-Prior return to the Monastery an
he saw it. And all alike craned their necks to see the man who was going
to be shut up in a narrow cell for the rest of his days.


“The Ankret’s cell is on the south side of the Infirmary Cloister. It is
built of stone, being twelve feet long, eight feet broad, and with an
arched roof about ten feet high. On the side of the church there is a
narrow opening by which the occupant can hear mass and can see the
Elevation in the Chapel of St. Catherine. On the other side is a grating
by which he can receive his food and converse with the world. But it is
too high up for him to see out of it; therefore he has nothing to look
upon but the walls of his cell. This morning the west side had been
broken down in order to remove the body of the dead man and to cleanse
the cell for the newcomer. So, while we gathered round in a circle and
the people stood behind us, the Abbot entered the cell, and censed it,
and sprinkled it with holy water, singing more Psalms and more prayers.
When he came forth the Recluse himself entered, saying aloud: ‘_Hæc
Requies mea in seculum seculi_.’ The choir sang another Psalm. Then the
Abbot sprinkled dust upon the head of the Recluse with the words
beginning ‘_De terra plasmasti_.’

“This done, the _Operarius cum suis operariis_ replaced the stones and
built up the wall anew. And then, singing another Psalm, we all went
back to the cloister, leaving the Sub-Prior to begin his lifelong
imprisonment. A stone bench for bed; his frock for blanket; a crucifix,
and no other furniture. In the cold nights that followed, lying in my
bed in dormitory, I often bethought myself of the former Sub-Prior alone
in his dark cell, with Devils whispering temptation through the
grating,--Devils always assail every new Recluse,--well-nigh frozen,
praying with trembling lips and chattering teeth. No, I am not worthy.
Such things are too high for me.

“But the new Sub-Prior proved to possess a heart full of compassion, and
the House had rest for many years to come.”

NOTE (_in another hand_): “This Recluse, formerly Humphrey of Lambhythe,
surpassed in sanctity even his predecessor. It was to him that Henry V.
repaired after the death of his father, as is thus recorded by Thomas of
Elmham: ‘The day of the funeral having been spent in weeping and
lamentation, when the shades of night had fallen upon the face of the
earth, the tearful Prince, taking advantage of the darkness, secretly
repaired to the Recluse of Westminster, a man of perfect life, and
unfolding to him the secret of his whole life, being washed in the bath
of true penitence, received against the poison of his sins the antidote
of absolution. Thus, having put off the cloak of iniquity, he returned
decently garbed in the mantle of virtue.’”



The Abbey must not, however, be dismissed without some reference to its
history. There is a history of its buildings, and there is a history of
its people. The architectural history of the Abbey has been written in
many volumes. Briefly, there was a monastery with its church here as
early as the eighth century: this was destroyed by the Danes; then a new
House with its church was founded and the House was rebuilt on a scale
of great magnificence by Edward the Confessor. Next, Henry the Third
resolved to honor Edward the Confessor by pulling down his church and
rebuilding it entirely. This he accomplished as far as the crossing of
the transepts and the nave. The great feature of the new church was now
the Shrine of the Confessor, raised high above the floor of the church
by an artificial mound of earth brought from the Holy Land. St. Peter,
to whom Edward had dedicated the church, was now supplanted by St.
Edward. The nave was continued by Edward the First, who built five bays,
according to Gilbert Scott. The chantry of Henry the Fifth, Henry the
Seventh’s Chapel, and the completion of the western towers by Wren, or
by his pupil Hawksmoor, have been added since the work of King Edward.

As for the domestic buildings of the Abbey, there are still fragments
remaining of the Confessor’s work. But the buildings were in great part
rebuilt by Abbot Litlington toward the end of the fourteenth century.
The Cloisters, the Jerusalem Chamber, the Chapter House, the Abbot’s
dining hall, still remain; while the Cloisters, the Refectory, the
Infirmary cloisters, and fragments of the Chapel of St. Catherine also
show in ruin, more or less complete, the beauty of his work. The history
of a monastery apart from its architecture must be meager. The more
meager it is, the more likely, one feels, is it that the House has
sustained its pristine zeal. To the Benedictine of the ancient rule,
behind his walls, cut off from the outer world, there were no events: he
was buried; the world did not exist for him; the small events of the
Abbey, the death of one Abbot and the election of another; an unexpected
legacy; the building of another chapel; the addition of new carved
stalls to the Abbey church; what else was there to chronicle?

At Westminster the monks were noted for their scriptorium. The work of
copying and illuminating was one which flourished in religious Houses
first because it was work which required the attention and care of men
who were not bound by any consideration of time--whether a missal was
completed in a year or in ten years mattered nothing; the only point
worthy of consideration was the excellence of the work; next, it was
just the kind of delicate artistic work, conventional in its drawing and
in its coloring, which a monk of artistic tastes would like. What else
did the Westminster monks do? They taught their novices; they received
the sons of noblemen as scholars and wards; they administered their very
large estates; they governed the rabble of Sanctuary; they carried on a
tradition of learning, but they produced no scholars; and they took part
in every national and Royal Function held in the Abbey church. I think
it may be conceded that, except in one deplorable case, there were few
scandals attached to the Abbey of St. Peter’s, Westminster. The stories
connected with the poet Skelton point to a certain laxity as regards
going outside the House and drinking in the Westminster taverns. Indeed,
it is plain that the monks were frequently seen in the streets and in
public places. But we hear little of the monks, and this fact must be
placed to their credit.

Twice is the silence broken. On one occasion some prophet announced that
a high tide was coming up the Thames, which would overflow the Abbey
buildings and drown the monks. Then the Abbot with all the brethren
betook himself to a small House at Kilburn, the Priory of St. John the
Baptist, where they took shelter until the tide was past and the prophet
was covered with confusion.

The second case is that of Richard Podelicote, which deserves a longer

This case occurred in the year 1303. It is certainly one of the most
astonishing and daring attempts in history--only equaled by Colonel
Blood’s attempt nearly four hundred years later. It was the Robbery of
the Royal Treasury. The King’s Treasure consisted of the Saxon Regalia;
the jeweled crowns, swords, cups of state, and precious vessels acquired
by the Norman and Plantagenet kings, and of such moneys as the King had
accumulated or set apart for special purposes, or acquired by ordinary
means from year to year. The Treasury was the ancient Norman Chapel of
the Pyx, _i. e._, Chapel of the Box, which contained the things required
for the assay and examination of new coins. In 1303 the chapel contained
a far larger amount of specie than was usual. This money was lying
there, ready for the use of the King in his Scottish campaign. It
amounted to one hundred thousand pounds, an enormous sum, equivalent to
something like a million or more of our own money.

The robbery apparently began with a raid upon the Refectory, and was not
at first intended to go any farther. The robber was one Richard de
Podelicote, described as a merchant of some kind, formerly trading in
the Low Countries. We must, of course, be careful not to suppose that a
so-called “merchant” was necessarily a person with the dignity and
authority of a Whittington. Richard de Podelicote was probably an
unsuccessful trader in foreign wares, not a craftsman or a retailer,
else he would have been so described. Richard, who said in his
confession that he had lost the sum of £14 17s. in a lawsuit, was a
broken man, desperate and cunning; he observed that the small gate in
the wall which led from the Palace to the Abbey (at the door now by
Poets’ Corner) was unwatched and neglected. At this time the King
himself, with a great army, was on his way to Scotland; the Palace was
therefore deserted. All the grooms, armorers, blacksmiths, pages, and
men-at-arms were with the King. A crowd of servants followed with such
gear as was wanted for the cooking, carrying provisions, wine, and all
kinds of things. There were left in the Palace only the Queen and her
people, the canons, vicars, singing men, and boys of St. Stephen’s; the
women and the children; and some of the servants. The courts of the
palace were therefore quiet and deserted; the strictness of the rules
about closing and opening gates, and about watching those who entered or
went out, was relaxed. This private way from the Palace to the Abbey
was hardly ever used--perhaps it was well-nigh forgotten. The thief,
therefore, would have no difficulty whatever, pretending to be a workman
sent perhaps to repair the roof, in introducing by this postern a ladder
into the Abbey precinct. Or indeed he might have entered boldly by any
of the remaining four gates into the Abbey.

At night all the gates, except this, being locked and made fast, and all
the monks, even the two guardians of the church, being asleep, the thief
was perfectly safe. No one could see him. He set his ladder against one
of the Chapter House windows and so, opening a window and tying a rope
round the stonework, he easily let himself down into the Chapter House
and so into the Cloisters. There is mention of some kind of night-watch;
there was such a watch in the church; the Sacristan is said to have been
responsible for a night-watch in the Abbey; there was perhaps an
irregular patrol; perhaps the Sacristan, whose guilt in what afterward
occurred is but too apparent, was already an accomplice. However that
might be, there were no watchmen out on the night when Richard de
Podelicote stood in the silent Cloisters and glanced hurriedly around
before he forced open the lock of the Refectory door and proceeded to
the job in hand. This was to fill his bag with silver cups from the
aumbries or cupboards in the Refectory. Nobody disturbed him; he
retreated as he had entered; he climbed up his rope; he replaced his
ladder along the wall as if it had been left there by a workman, and he
passed through the postern into the Palace itself. To find a place for
rest and concealment in that deserted nest of houses, chambers, and
offices was not difficult; to carry out his bag in the morning--his bag
full of silver cups--was also easy. Perhaps, as happened later, the
custodian of the gate was an accomplice in this job as well.

The next chapter in the story is more difficult to understand. To rob
the King’s treasury was a far more serious job than to rob the
Refectory. For the Treasury was a chamber with stone walls of great
thickness, cemented firmly, only to be dislodged by being taken away
piecemeal with infinite labor: and to carry out whole sacks and hampers
full of treasure was impossible for one man unaided. There must be
confederates. There must certainly have been confederates within and
without the Abbey: monks who would assist in averting suspicion; people
who would buy up the plunder.

The story has been related by two writers from such documents as remain;
one of these is Mr. Joseph Burtt, late Assistant Keeper of the Public
Records, who contributed a paper on the subject to Gilbert Scott’s
“Gleanings from Westminster Abbey,” and the other is Mr. Henry Harrod,
F.S.A., in a paper printed in the forty-fourth volume of “Archæologia.”
The differences between the two accounts are very slight.

Mr. Harrod, however, endeavors to prove that the King’s Treasury was not
the Chapel of the Pyx, but the Crypt of the Chapter House. I cannot
think that he has made out his case. It is true that the Crypt is a
strong and massive structure perfectly well adapted for such a purpose;
but the tradition which attaches to the chapel, the strong iron door,
the provision about the keys, the nature of the things actually stored
there after the regalia was removed, seem to me quite clearly to prove
that this place and not the Crypt was the Royal Treasury.

In considering the method of the robbery it makes a very great
difference whether the Treasury was in one or the other place. Consider
the plan (p. 101) of the Abbey. If the Treasury was in the Chapter House
the robber might, if the postern were closed, work all day at the back
of this house. No one ever came into the cemetery which is now Henry
VII.’s Chapel. If the Treasury was in the Chapel of the Pyx, he would
have to work by night only in the passage frequented every day by the
monks, and leading from the Chapter House to the Cloisters.

In any case the whole world knew the position of the King’s Treasury. In
the reign of Edward I., just as now, there was the massive and ponderous
iron door, closely locked, which could not be broken open in a single
night by a dozen men. The Abbot and the Prior were the official
guardians of the Treasury; they kept the keys. A key was also kept by
the Master of the King’s Wardrobe.

Matthew of Westminster is deeply indignant at the suspicion that any of
the monks were concerned in the robbery. But he is careful not to tell
the story, which is suspicious to the highest degree. Meantime it is
perfectly certain that no one unaided could effect this work without its
being discovered while incomplete. Dean Stanley (p. 369) says that
Richard “concerted with friends, partly within, partly without the
Precincts.” He refers to Matthew of Westminster under the year 1303.
Unfortunately Matthew makes no reference whatever to any accomplices; he
merely says, “Edward had his Treasury plundered by a single robber.” And
this bald statement he repeats immediately afterward.

The undeniable facts in the case are these:

1. At the end of April, 1303, the King’s Treasury at Westminster Abbey
was broken open and a great quantity of treasure was stolen.

2. On June 6 the King, being then at Linlithgow, heard of the robbery
and very naturally fell into a wrath more than royal. He dispatched writ
after writ, ordering the most searching investigation.

3. An investigation was made. In consequence of this all the monks of
Westminster and forty other persons were taken to the Tower and kept

4. On the day of Annunciation, 1306, the monks were released.

The evidence, so far as it has been preserved, shows how the robbery was
planned and carried out.

First there is the confession of Podelicote himself:

“He was a travelling merchant for wool, cheese, and butter, and was
arrested in Flanders for the King’s debts in Bruges, and there were
taken from him £14 1s., for which he sued in the King’s Court at
Westminster at the beginning of August in the thirty-first year, and
then he saw the condition of the Refectory of the Abbey, and saw the
servants bringing in and out silver cups and spoons and mazers. So he
thought how he might obtain some of those goods, as he was so poor on
account of his loss in Flanders, and so he spied about all the parts of
the Abbey. And on the day when the King left the place for Barnes, on
the following night, as he had spied out, he found a ladder at a house
which was near the gate of the Palace toward the Abbey, and put that
ladder to a window of the Chapter House, which he opened and closed by a
cord; and he entered by this cord, and thence he went to the door of the
Refectory, and found it closed with a lock, and he opened it with his
knife and entered, and there he found six silver hanaps in an aumbry
behind the door, and more than thirty silver spoons in another aumbry,
and the mazer hanaps under a bench near together; and he carried them
all away, and closed the door after him without shutting the lock. And
having spent the proceeds by Christmas he thought how he could rob the
King’s Treasury. And as he knew the ways of the Abbey, and where the
Treasury was and how he could get there, he began to set about the
robbery eight days before Christmas with the tools which he provided for
it, viz., two ‘tarrers,’ great and small knives, and other small
‘engines’ of iron, and so was about the breaking open during the night
hours of eight days before Christmas to the quinzain of Easter, when he
first had entry on the night of a Wednesday, the eve of St. Mark (April
24); and all the day of St. Mark he stayed in there and arranged what he
would carry away, which he did the night after, and the night after
that, and the remainder he carried away with him out of the gate behind
the church of St. Margaret, and put it at the foot of the wall beyond
the gate, covering it with earth, and there were there pitchers, cups
with feet and covers. And also he put a great pitcher with stones and a
cup in a certain tomb. Besides he put three pouches full of jewels and
vessels, of which one was ‘hanaps’ entire and in pieces. In another a
great crucifix and jewels, a case of silver with gold spoons. In the
third ‘hanaps,’ nine dishes and saucers, and an image of our Lady in
silver-gilt, and two little pitchers of silver. Besides he took to the
ditch by the mews a pot and a cup of silver. Also he took with him
spoons, saucers, spice dishes of silver, a cup, rings, brooches, stones,
crowns, girdles, and other jewels which were afterwards found with him.
And he says that what he took out of the Treasury he took at once out
of the gate near St. Margaret’s Church, and left nothing behind within

It will be observed that he takes the whole blame to himself and names
no confederates. Was this loyalty to his friends? If so, it was loyalty
of a very unusual kind. Another man, John de Rippingall, however, who
also confessed, states that there were present two monks, two foresters,
two knights, and about eight others.

The evidence of conspiracy was very strong. First, as regards the monks.
Podelicote himself says that the work took him four months. Was there no
help from within to keep this work secret? Consider: the robber was
cutting through a massive stone wall; he would have to remove the stones
one by one at night and replace them when he ceased at daybreak. But
this kind of work cannot be done without making a considerable amount of
mess. Now, the Sacrist and his officers had charge of the church and the
close, and they were charged to watch “in the cemetery.” By the cemetery
is meant, I suppose, the ground lying between the East end of the Abbey
and the wall, now covered by Henry VII.’s Chapel.

Stanley, without any discoverable authority, calls the cloister-garth
the cemetery. During that time of four months the Sacrist’s watch never
once discovered this workman. I do not suppose a nightly patrol, but any
kind of watch means some kind of irregular visit here and there.

The work would involve the removal of those stones which were
underground. In order to effect this the flags must be taken up every
night, if the passage was paved; if it was not, the difficulty of
opening and closing the cavity for working in was very greatly
increased. It seems to me, in fact, impossible that the thing could
have been managed at all without confederates in the Abbey itself.

There were other reasons for suspecting the Sacrist. He brought one day,
before the discovery, a silver-gilt cup to the Abbot; he found it, he
said, outside St. Margaret’s Church. It was debated whether the Abbot
could rightly keep the cup thus found within the precincts. Where did
the Sacrist get that cup? Did he give it up in fear of having it
discovered in his possession? William the Palmer, Keeper of the Palace,
deposed that he had seen a very unusual coming and going of the Sacrist,
the Sub-Prior, and other monks, carrying things. What things? Some of
the things were taken away in two great hampers by a boat from King’s
Bridge, the river stairs of the Palace. Another monk, John de Lynton,
was proved to have sown the ground in the cloister with hemp seed in the
winter, so that when the hemp grew up there might be a convenient and
unsuspected place to hide their plunder. One John Albas deposed that he
was employed to make certain tools for the use of the robbers, and that
Alexander de Pershore, the monk, threatened to kill him if he revealed
the design; it was he who had seen the said Alexander and other monks
taking two large panniers into a boat at the King’s Bridge. John de
Ramage, another confederate, went in and out of the Abbey a good deal at
this time; he suddenly bought horses and arms and splendid attire. Where
did the money come from? The robbers were also assisted by William de
Paleys, who had charge of the Palace gate. He it was who passed the
burglars in and let them out. Under his bed were found the richly
jeweled case of the holy Cross of Neath, with other valuable things
belonging to the Treasury.

They stole the King’s money, a great quantity of gold and silver cups
(some of these they broke up), and many rings, jewels, and other
precious things. They had the sense to understand that the King’s crown
and the greater jewels would be of no use at all to them, therefore they
left these things behind; but they took the money, and they took the
things they could melt down and sell for silver or for gold. A good deal
was sold in London, the purchasers not caring to inquire how this
valuable stuff was obtained. Some of the jewels were sold by Podelicote
in Northampton and Colchester. This worthy was actually found to be in
possession of two thousand pounds’ worth of property stolen from the

Such is the story. It does not state in what manner the fact of the
robbery was discovered. It took place at the end of April or the
beginning of May. The King heard of it in June. It is stated, however,
by Burtt that it was not till the 20th of June that the Master of the
Wardrobe, John de Drokenesford, came with the Keeper of the Tower, the
Justices, the Lord Mayor, and the Prior of Westminster, and opened the
doors of the Treasury, when he found “the chests and coffers broken open
and many goods carried away.” But the robbery was known before that
date. How? We cannot learn.

Many of the criminals were caught in actual possession of the spoil.
Among these were Podelicote, William de Paleys, and John de Ramage. The
history of this wonderful case is unfortunately incomplete. The fate of
the ringleaders is unknown and the particulars of their trial have not
been preserved. It is, however, quite certain that they were all hanged,
most likely with the pleasing additions to hanging which prolonged the
ceremony and gave it greater importance. In Rishanger there is a brief
note on the subject. He is speaking of the robbery: “Propter quod multi
fuerunt--et quidam insontes forte--suspensi.” All the monks, forty of
them, were sent to the Tower; another company of forty persons, not
monks, were sent there as well. The monks were liberated after two
years’ imprisonment; what became of the rest I know not.

The following letter from the King, enjoining the Justices to make speed
with the trial, is interesting, if only because it gives the names of
the monks:

“Rex dilectis et fidelibus suis Rogero Brabazan, Willielmo Bereford,
Rogero de Higham, Radulpho de Sandwico et Waltero de Gloucestriâ,

“Cum Walterus Abbas Westmonastriensis:

Frater Alexander de Pershore
“ Rogerus de Bures
“ Radulfus de Merton
“ Thomas de Dene
“ Adam de Warefield
“ Johannes de Butterle
“ Johannes de Nottele
“ Robertus de Cherring
“ Johannes de Salop
“ Thomas de Lichfield
“ Simon de Henle
“ Walterus de Arthesden
“ William de Charve
“ Robertus de Bures
“ Ricardus de Sudbury
“ Henricus atte Ry
“ Adam de Lilham
“ Johannes de London
“ Johannes de Wyttinge
“ Robertus de Middleton
“ Ricardus de Cullworth

Frater Rogerus de Aldenham
“ Johannes de Wanetyng
“ Willielmus de Breybroke
“ Robertus de Roding
“ Petrus de la Croyz
“ Henricus Payn
“ Henricus de Bircherton
“ Philippus de Sutton
“ Guido de Ashewell
“ Willielmus de Kerchenton
“ Thomas de Woberne
“ Willielmus de Glaston
“ Johannes de Wigorniâ
“ Robertus Vil
“ Raymundus de Wenlock
“ Ricardus de Waltham
“ Ricardus de Fanelon
“ Henricus Temple
“ Henricus de Wanetyng
“ Johannes de Wenlok

“Commonachi ejusdem domus;

Gervase de St. Egidio
Rogerus de Presthope
Walterus de Ethelford
Rogerus de Wenlok
Hano de Wenlock
Adam le Skynnere
Johannes Sharpe
Ricardus Smart
Johannes de St. Albano
Johannes de Linton
Johannes de Lalham
Henricus le Ken
Ricardus de Weston
Rogerus de Bruger
Thomas de Dinglebrigge
Galfridus del Coler
Radulphus de Dutton
Radulphus de Humenden
Johannes de Sudbury
Ricardus Burle
Joceus de Cornubiâ
Galfridus de Kantia
Johannes de Oxoniâ
Ricardus del Ewe
Johannes de Bralyn
Johannes de Bramfleg
Robertus le Porter
Rogerus le Orfeuvre
Robertus le Bolthad
Maritius Morel
Godinus de Lernhote

--de fractione Thesaurariæ nostræ apud Westmonasterium nuper furtive
factâ et Thesauro ibidem ad valorem C. M. librarum capto et asportato
indictati et eâ occasione in prisonâ nostrâ Turris nostræ London
detenti, asseruerunt se inde falso et malitiose indictatos fuisse et
nobis attente supplicaverunt quod veritatem inde inquiri et eis
justitiam exhiberi faciamus. Assignavimus vos justiciarios ad
inquirendum per sacramentum tum militum quum aliorum &c.... de
comitatibus Middlesex et Surrey per quos &c. super negotio prædictam
plenam veritatem et ad negotium illud audiendum et terminandum &c., &c.”

The names suggest a few observations. First, the monks, with one or two
exceptions, all come from country villages or from small country
towns--one is from Lichfield; one from London. How are we to interpret
this fact? Surely by the very simple explanation that to be made a
member of this rich and dignified foundation was a provision for a
younger son. The wars carried off some of the sons--eldest as well as
younger; in the service of the King or of some great Lord some found
employment and preferment; some were apprenticed in the great companies
of London and perhaps of Bristol, York, and Norwich; some were put into
the monasteries as children, and remained there all their lives. With
three exceptions all the surnames are territorial. The three--Payn, Vil,
and Temple--may have belonged to gentlehood, but I know not. A boy
received as a novice was assured at least of a tranquil life, free from
care. We are not to suppose that these rich endowments were given to
boys taken from the plow. I say that the names in this list go to prove
the fact that the monasteries were filled with the children of
gentlefolk. For, granting that a rustic would also be called by the name
of his village, how was a plain country lad from Pershore, Merton,
Warefield, Henley, Sudbury, Rye, to get himself recommended and accepted
by the Abbot of Westminster?

The other names--those of the persons indicted who were not monks--also
illustrate the change and growth in the surname. There are thirty-one
names--twenty-one are places of birth; four signify trade; six are names
which I do not understand.

One more episode in the life of the Abbey--an episode which startled the
Brotherhood in a way long remembered. There was a Spanish prisoner in
the hands of his captors, two English knights named Shackle and Hawke.
The prisoner was allowed to go home in order to collect his ransom,
leaving his son behind in his place. But the ransom was not sent. Then
John of Gaunt, who pretended to the crown of Castile, demanded the
release of the young Spaniard. This the two knights refused; they
intended to secure their ransom, and according to the existing rules of
the game as it was then played, they were quite right. John of Gaunt,
without troubling himself about the legality of the thing, imprisoned
them both in the Tower; but he could not find the young Spaniard. The
knights escaped and took sanctuary at Westminster. Hither they were
pursued by Alan Bloxhall, Constable of the Tower, and Sir Ralph Ferrers,
with fifty armed men. It was on the 4th of August, in the forenoon,
during the celebration of High Mass, that the two fugitives ran headlong
into the church followed by their pursuers. Even in the rudest times
such a thing as was then done would have been regarded as monstrous and
horrible. For the knights and their servants ran round and round the
choir, followed by the men of the Tower, and the words of the
Gospel--they were at the Gospel of the day--were drowned by the clash of
mailed heels and of weapons, by the shouts and yells of the murderers
and the groans of the victims. Hawke fell dead in front of the Prior’s
stall; one of the monks was killed, no doubt trying to stop the men, and
one of Hawke’s servants. Then the Constable recalled his men and they
all went back to the Tower, feeling, we may imagine, rather apprehensive
of the consequences. And the Spanish prisoner was not caught after all.
Now, this young Spaniard seems to have been the soul of honor, for he
was with the knights all the time, disguised as one of the servants; it
seems as if he might have given himself up at any moment.

Naturally, the Abbot and the monks sent up an outcry that was heard over
all Christendom. Was the like wickedness ever heard? Not only to break
sanctuary, but to commit murder--a triple murder--in the Church itself
and at the celebration of High Mass! The Abbey Church was closed for
four months; Parliament, which then met in the Chapter House, was
suspended; the case was brought before the King; the two chief
assailants were excommunicated; and they had to pay two hundred pounds
to the Abbey--a fine of about three thousand pounds of our money.
Meanwhile Shackle compromised the matter of the Spanish prisoner; he
gave him up, but received a sum of five hundred marks down and an
annuity of one hundred marks.

Another breaking of sanctuary took place at the time of Wat Tyler’s
rebellion, when the unfortunate Marshal of the Marshalsea was dragged
from the Confessor’s shrine and murdered. But the rebels being dispersed
and their leaders hanged there was nothing more said.

Such events as these, from time to time, broke the monotony of the
monastic life. A coronation; a Royal wedding; a great funeral; the
flight of a Queen--Elizabeth Woodville: or a Duchess--as the Duchess of
Gloucester--to sanctuary; the death of a King--Henry IV.--in the Abbey;
these things gave the Brethren something to think about, something to
quicken the slow march of Time.

There were, and are, however, other residents of the Abbey besides the
monks; there are all the dead Kings and Queens and Princes; all the dead
nobles and the dead ignobles; the dead men of letters and the arts who
lie buried in this Campo Santo, the most sacred spot in all the Empire.

    “Mortality, behold and fear!
    What a change of flesh is here!
    Think how many royal bones
    Sleep within these heaps of stones.”

The verger will show us the Royal tombs and the Royal waxworks, with the
shrine of the Confessor, the armor of Henry V., and all the treasures
that lie behind those iron gates. We can see for ourselves the monuments
of the great unknown and the great illustrious who are buried in this
cemetery. We can read in the historians of the Abbey about the tombs and
the statues, the sculptors and the architects, the occupants and their
royal achievements.

Let us turn to the men of Letters and of Art. Here lies Chaucer; buried
in the church in the year 1400, not because he was a great poet, but
because he was one of the Royal household. The monument was erected in
the reign of Edward VI. Next to him lies Spenser, who died in King
Street close by. All the poets were present at his funeral; elegies
written by them for this occasion were thrown into the grave with the
pens that wrote them. The Countess of Dorset erected the monument. Then
come Drayton, Ben Jonson, Sir William Davenant, Abraham Cowley, John
Dryden--whose monument was raised by Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham.

    This Sheffield raised: the sacred dust below
    Was Dryden’s once:--the rest who does not know?

But the lines were altered and Pope’s proposed epitaph did not appear.
John Milton’s bust was put up in 1737; his ashes lie in St. Giles’
Cripplegate. Here are that remarkable pair Aphra Behn and Tom Brown.
Here is Mrs. Steele, Dick Steele’s first wife, and here lies Addison,
the writer who is perhaps more loved than any other in our whole
literary history. They knew how to honor so great a scholar and an
essayist in the year 1719. His body lay in state in the Jerusalem
Chamber. They buried him in the dead of night--funerals in the
eighteenth century were often held at midnight when the darkness and the
gleaming torches added to the impressiveness of the ceremony. Bishop
Atterbury met the corpse; the choir sang a hymn, and the procession was
conducted by torchlight round the Royal Tombs into Henry VII.’s Chapel.
Tickell has written upon the scene:

    Can I forget the dismal night that gave
    My soul’s best part for ever to the grave?
    How silent did his old companions tread
    By midnight lamps the mansions of the dead;
    Through breaking statues, these unheeded things,
    Through rows of warriors and through walks of kings!
    What awe did the slow solemn knell inspire,
    The pealing organ and the pausing choir:
    The duties by the lawn-robed prelate pay’d:
    And the last words that dust to dust conveyed!

Matthew Prior and Gay followed Addison. Pope was buried at Twickenham;
Gray at Stoke Pogis; Goldsmith in the Temple. Samuel Johnson lies in the
Abbey; Sheridan, Cumberland, and Macpherson are buried here. And here of
moderns are Macaulay, Lord Lytton, Dickens, and Tennyson. Of actors and
actresses Anne Oldfield, Anna Bracegirdle, Betterton, Garrick, and John
Henderson are buried here. Of musicians Purcell, John Blow, William
Croft, Charles Burney, Sterndale Bennett, and Händel are buried here. Of
painters there are none. This is a very remarkable omission. How did it
happen? Presumably because the successive Deans and Canons have had no
taste for art.

The list includes a goodly company. Whenever a great man dies, the Dean
should remove a monument--one of the unknown--to make room for the
newcomer; in that way the Abbey would become more and more the Holy
Field of the British Empire.

One thing more before we leave the Abbey. We read of the mediæval
churches, especially such churches as old St. Paul’s, the Gray Friars,
and Austin Friars, how they were filled from end to end with tombs of
princes and noble ladies, carved and precious, with alabaster and
marble; how between and among the greater tombs were the tombs of the
lesser folk--but all of them, nobles and ladies and knights--the common
sort lay outside--insomuch that the church was filled with their
monuments. If we go into Westminster Abbey, alone of existing churches
we can understand this wealth of sepulchral monuments formerly so

What says Addison?

“When I am in a serious humour I very often walk by myself in
Westminster Abbey. When the gloominess of the place, and the use to
which it is applied, with the solemnity of the building and the
conditions of the people who lie in it, are apt to fill the mind with a
kind of melancholy or rather thoughtfulness that is not disagreeable....
When I look upon the tombs of the great, every emotion of envy dies in
me; when I read the epitaphs of the beautiful, every inordinate desire
goes out; when I meet with the grief of parents upon a tombstone, my
heart melts with compassion; when I see the tombs of the parents
themselves I consider the vanity of grieving for those whom we must
quickly follow; when I see kings lying by those who deposed them, when I
consider rival wits placed side by side, or the holy men who divided the
world with their contests and disputes, I reflect with sorrow and
astonishment on the little competitions, factions, and debates of



The history of the successive Coronations performed in Westminster Abbey
from that of the Conqueror to the present day--especially those which
were picturesque--may be found in the pages of Stanley. There may be
read the dramatic Coronation of William the Conqueror; the joy of the
people at the Crowning of Queen Maude; the murder of the Jews at the
Coronation of Richard; here will be found Walpole’s account of the
Coronation of George III.; and the somewhat unworthy note on the
perspiring of George IV.

There are other points connected with the Coronations which may interest
us. Thus, the creation of knights at every Coronation was a custom both
graceful and symbolic. The candidate, after a bath, watched his arms all
night; in the morning he confessed and heard mass; he thus entered upon
his knightly duties cleansed and pure--body and soul; after the mass the
new king conferred knighthood and presented him with robes. At the
Coronation of Henry VI. there were thirty-six knights thus created; at
that of Edward IV., thirty-two; at that of Charles II., sixty-eight. The
part of the ceremony of a Coronation which most pleased the people was
the procession from the Tower to Westminster. That of Henry IV. is thus
described by Froissart:

“The duke of Lancaster left the Tower this Sunday after dinner, on his
return to Westminster; he was bare-headed, and had round his neck the
order of the king of France. The prince of Wales, six dukes, six earls,
eighteen barons, accompanied him; and there were, of knights and other
nobility, from eight to nine hundred horse with the procession. The duke
was dressed in a jacket of the German fashion, of cloth of gold, mounted
on a white courser, with a blue garter on his left leg. He passed
through the streets of London, which were all handsomely decorated with
tapestries and other rich hangings; there were nine fountains in
Cheapside, and other streets he passed through, which perpetually ran
with white and red wines. He was escorted by prodigious numbers of
gentlemen, with their servants in liveries and badges; and the different
companies of London were led by their wardens, clothed in their proper
livery, and with ensigns of their trade. The whole cavalcade amounted to
six thousand horse, which escorted the duke from the Tower to

Or in the words of Shakespeare:

    Mounted upon a hot and fiery steed,
    Which his aspiring rider seemed to know,
    With slow but stately pace, kept on his course:
    While all tongues cried, God save thee, Bolingbroke!
    You would have thought the very windows spake,
    So many greedy looks of young and old
    Through casements darted their desiring eyes
    Upon his visage: and that all the walls
    With painted imagery had said at once
    Jesu preserve thee! welcome Bolingbroke!
    Whilst he, from one side to the other turning,
    Bare-headed, lower than his proud steed’s neck,
    Bespoke them thus; I thank you, countrymen;
    And thus still doing, thus he passed along.[5]

Another magnificent procession was that in which Elizabeth, Henry VII.’s
Queen, and, in the minds of many, the lawful heiress of the Crown,
received her Coronation, when the King perceived that there would be
discontent until that honor was paid to her. But she was not crowned, as
Mary II. was afterward crowned, as Queen Regnant, but as the Queen
Consort. This nice distinction, however, was not comprehended by the

The Queen came first from Greenwich to the Tower by water: “There was
attending upon her there the mayor, sheriffs, and aldermen of the city,
and divers and many worshipful commoners, chosen out of every craft, in
their liveries, in barges freshly furnished with banners and streamers
of silk, richely beaton with the ‘armes and bagges’ of their crafts; and
in especial a barge called the bachelors’ barge, garnished and
apparelled passing all other; wherein was ordeynid a great red dragon
spouting flames of fire into the Thames, and many other gentlemanly
pageants, well and curiously devised to do her highness sport and
pleasure with. And her grace, thus royally apparelled and accompanied,
and also furnished in every behalf with trumpets, claryons, and other
mynstrelles as apperteynid and was fitting to her estate Royal, came
from Greenwich aforesaid and landed at the Tower wharf and entered into
the Tower.”

Next day the court went in procession from the Tower to Westminster, the
Queen dressed in white cloth of gold of damask, with a mantle of the
same furred with ermine. She reclined on a litter and wore her fair
yellow hair hanging down behind her back, “with a calle of pipes over
it.” Four knights carried over her a canopy of cloth of gold; four
peeresses rode behind her on gray palfreys; the streets were cleaned
and swept; the houses were hung with tapestry and red cloth; the crafts
of London in their liveries lined the way, and singing children came
dressed as angels, singing welcomes as the Queen was borne along.

The same kind of procession was that of Henry VIII. and Queen Katharine.
In addition, at the end of Old Change stood virgins in white holding
branches of white wax, while priests in copes with crosses of silver
censed the King and Queen. Another procession much the same called forth
similar rejoicings when Anne Boleyn was carried from the Tower to
Westminster, and equal popular rejoicing was shown when Queen Mary rode
through the City to her Coronation.

At the Coronation of Elizabeth a variety of pageants were exhibited: the
principal one was the presentation of a Bible.

“Between two hills, representing a flourishing and a decayed
commonwealth, was made artificiallie one hollow place or cave, with
doore and locke inclosed, out of the which, a little before the queene’s
highnesse commyng thither, issued one personage, whose name was Time,
apparalled as an old man, with a sieth in his hand, havinge winges
artificiallie made, leading a personage of lesser stature than himselfe,
which was finelie and well apparalled, all clad in white silke, and
directly over her head was set her name and title in Latin and English,
Temporis filia, the daughter of Time. Which two, as appointed, went
forwards toward the south side of the pageants, where was another, and
on her breast was written her proper name, which was Veritas, Truth, who
held a book in her hand, upon the which was written Verbum Veritatis,
the Word of Truth. And out of the south side of the pageant was cast a
standing for a child, which should interpret the same pageant. Against
whom when the queen’s maiestie came, he spake vnto her grace these sweet

    “‘This old man with a sieth
      Old father Time they call,
    And her his daughter Truth,
      Which holdeth yonder booke:
    Whome he out of his nooke
      Hath brought foorth to us all,
    From whence this manie yeares
      She durst not once out looke.

    “‘Now sith that Time againe
      His daughter Truth hath brought,
    We trust, ô worthie queene,
      Thou wilt this truth embrace,
    And sith thou vnderstandst
      The good estate and naught,
    We trust wealth thou wilt plant,
      And barrenesse displace.

    “‘But for to heale the sore
      And cure that is not seene;
    Which thing the booke of truth,
      Dooth teach in writing plaine:
    Shee doth present to thee
      The same, ô worthie queene,
    For that, that words doo flie,
      But written dooth remaine.’

Thus the queene’s highnesse passed through the citie, which, without
aine foreigne person, of itself beautified itselfe, and received her
grace at all places, as hath been before mentioned, with most tender
obedience and love, due to so gratious a queene and sovereigne a

The alleged presence of Prince Charles at the Coronation feast of George
III. is interesting and somewhat pathetic. Of kings in exile the
chronicler of the Nineteenth Century will have a good deal to say.
Volumes will be written on the shadowy Courts of Exile of our time. But
the historian will find no exiled Prince more romantic in his youth, and
until a life of disappointment, and with no aims or hopes, ruined him,
than Charles. It was fifteen years after Culloden; he was at this time
perilously near forty; had he been detected one fears that even George
III. could not have saved him; he came over, he entered Westminster Hall
with the crowd, and he saw his rival seated where he would have been but
for his grandfather’s obstinacy. One gentleman recognized him and
whispered, “Your Royal Highness is the last of all mortals whom I should
expect to see here.”

That the glove thrown by the Champion was picked up, or that a glove was
thrown to the Champion from an upper seat in the Hall, was also
reported, but the thing seems doubtful.

As for the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, who has described
it in more fitting language than Dean Stanley, afterward her friend and
most faithful servant?

“The last Coronation doubtless still lives in the recollection of all
who witnessed it. They will long remember the early summer morning,
when, at break of day, the streets were thronged, and the whole capital
awake--the first sight of the Abbey, crowded with the mass of gorgeous
spectators, themselves a pageant--the electric shock through the whole
mass, when the first gun announced that the Queen was on her way--and
the thrill of expectation with which the iron rails seemed to tremble
in the hands of the spectators, as the long procession closed with the
entrance of the small figure, marked out from all beside by the regal
train and attendants, floating like a crimson and silvery cloud behind
her. At the moment when she first came within the full view of the
Abbey, and paused, as if for breath, with clasped hands--as she moved
on, to her place by the altar--as in the deep silence of the vast
multitude the tremulous voice of Archbishop Howley could be faintly
heard, even to the remotest corners of the Choir, asking for the
recognition--as she sate immovable on the throne, when the crown touched
her head, amid shout and trumpet and the roar of cannon, there must have
been many who felt a hope that the loyalty which had waxed cold in the
preceding reigns would once more revive, in a more serious form than it
had, perhaps, ever worn before. Other solemnities they may have seen
more beautiful, or more strange, or more touching, but none at once so
gorgeous and so impressive, in recollections, in actual sight, and in
promise of what was to be.”

When the Commons separated from the Lords, they met within the walls of
Westminster Abbey, while the Lords took the Painted Chamber of the
Palace. For two hundred years the Commons assembled in the Cloister
Court, or in the Refectory, or in the Chapter House. They changed the
Chapter House for the no less beautiful church of St. Stephen in 1547,
not long after the Dissolution of the Religious Houses. But the History
of the Houses of Parliament belongs to the History of the Country.

We have now gone through the Abbey without attempting any description of
it. That has been done over and over again; now well, now ill. It is a
treasury of architectural interest; it is crammed full of historical
associations; one may linger among its ruins, among its monuments, under
its noble roof, book in hand for days and weeks and years. I have shown
you the monastic life and what it meant; I have told over again some of
the stories that happened in the Abbey; I have shown you of what kind
were the pageants and processions _outside_, witnessed by the people,
belonging to the Coronations. Those who want the story of the Royal
Tombs and Monuments, the Functions and Ceremonies, the Funerals and
Weddings, that have been celebrated within these walls, may consult the
courtly page of Stanley, the learned page of Loftie, and the laborious
page of Dart.



On the northwest corner of the Abbey precinct--that is to say, on the
right hand as one entered by the High Gate from King Street, where now
stands the Westminster “Guildhall”--the earth formerly groaned beneath
the weight of a ponderous structure resembling a square keep, not unlike
that of Colchester, but very much smaller. It was a building of stone;
each side was seventy-five feet in length, and it was sixty feet in
height. On the east side was a door--the only door, a heavy oaken door
covered with plates of iron--which gave entrance to a curiously gloomy
and narrow chapel, shaped as a double cross, the equal arms of which
were only ten feet in width. Three of the four corners of this lower
square consisted of solid stone sixteen feet square; the third corner
contained a circular staircase winding up to another chapel above. This,
somewhat lighter and loftier than that below, was a plain single cross
in form; three of the angles contained rooms; in the fourth the stairs
continued to the roof. King Edward III. built--or rebuilt, perhaps--on
this corner a belfry, containing three great bells, which were only rung
at the coronation and the death of kings. The roof was paved with stone;
there was a parapet, but not embattled. On the outside--its construction
dated perhaps after King Edward built the belfry--there stood a small
circular tower containing stairs to the upper story. The strong walls
of this gloomy fortress contained only one door and one window on the
lower floor; but in the upper story the walls were only three feet
thick. This place was St. Peter’s Sanctuary--the Westminster City of
Refuge. It was made so strong that it would resist any sudden attack,
and give time for the attacking party to bethink them of the sin of
sacrilege. In these two chapels the refugees heard mass; within these
walls the nobler sort of those who came here were placed for greater
safety; round these walls gathered the common sort, in tenements forming
a little colony or village. The building, of which there is very little
mention anywhere, was suffered to remain long after its original purpose
was abolished. It was pulled down piecemeal, by any who chose to take
the trouble, as stone was wanted for other buildings; it is quite
possible that some of it was used for the White Hall; but the remaining
portions of it were not finally taken away until the middle of the last
century; and perhaps the foundations still remain. It is strange that
neither Stow nor, after him, Strype, makes any mention of this building,
which the former could not fail to see, frowning and gloomy, as yet
untouched, whenever he visited Westminster; and it is still more
remarkable that neither of these writers seems to attach much importance
to the ancient Sanctuary at Westminster. That of St. Martin’s-le-Grand,
the remains of which were also visible to Stow, he describes at length.

Like every other ecclesiastical foundation, the right of Sanctuary was
originally a beneficent and wise institution, designed by the Church for
the protection of the weak, and the prevention of revenge, wild justice,
violence, and oppression. If a man, in those days of


swift wrath and ready hand, should kill another in the madness of a
moment; if by accident he should wound or maim another; if by the
breaking of any law he should incur the penalties of justice; if by any
action he should incur the hostility of a stronger man; if by some of
the many changes and chances of fortune he should lose his worldly goods
and fall into debt or bankruptcy, and so become liable to imprisonment;
if he had cause to dread the displeasure of king, baron, or bishop--the
right of Sanctuary was open to him. Once on the frith-stool, once
clinging to the horns of the altar, he was as safe as an Israelite
within the walls of a city refuge: the mighty hand of the Church was
over him; his enemies could not touch him, on pain of excommunication.

In theory every church was a sanctuary; but it was easy to blockade a
church so that the refugee could be starved into submission. The only
real safety for a fugitive from justice or revenge was in those abbeys
and places which possessed special charters and immunities. Foremost
among these were the Sanctuaries of Westminster and St.
Martin’s-le-Grand. Outside London, the principal Sanctuaries appear to
have been Beverley, Hexham, Durham, and Beaulieu. But perhaps every
great abbey possessed its sanctuary as a part of its reason for
existence. That of Westminster was, if not founded, defined and
regulated by Edward the Confessor; that of St. Martin’s, the existence
of which was always a scandal and an offense to the City of London, was
regulated by half a dozen charters of as many kings. Its refugees were
principally bankrupts, debtors, and common thieves--offenders against
property, therefore specially hated by a trading community.

The privilege of Sanctuary was beautiful in theory. “Come to me,” said
the Church; “I will keep thee in safety from the hand of violence and
the arm of the law; I will give thee lodging and food; my doors shall be
always open to thee, day and night; I will lead thee to repentance.
Come: in safety sit down and meditate on the sins which have brought
thee hither.”


The invitation was extended to all, but with certain reservations.
Traitors, Jews, infidels, and those who had committed sacrilege were
forbidden the safety of Sanctuary. Nor was it a formal invitation:
Sanctuary was sought by multitudes. In Durham Cathedral two men slept
every night in the Galilee to admit any fugitive who might ring the
Galilee bell or lift the Galilee knocker. Nay, Sanctuary was actually
converted into a city of refuge by the setting apart of a measured
space, the whole of which was to be considered Sanctuary. At Hexham,
where four roads met in the middle of the town, a cross was set up on
every one of the roads to show where Sanctuary began. At Ripon and at
Beverley a circle, whose radius was a mile, was the limit of Sanctuary.
At St. Martin’s-le-Grand the precinct was accurately laid down and
jealously defended. It included many streets--the area is now almost
entirely covered by the Post Office and the Telegraph Office. At
Westminster the whole precinct of the Abbey--church, monastery
buildings, close and cloisters and gardens--was sacred ground.

The right of Sanctuary was maintained with the greatest tenacity by the
Church. When, as happened sometimes,--men’s passions carrying them
beyond the fear of the Church,--Sanctuary was violated, the Bishop or
the Abbot allowed no rest or cessation from clamor, gave no relief from
excommunication to the offender, until reparation and submission had
been obtained. Thus, as we have seen, in the year 1378, the Constable of
the Tower pursued a small company of men, fugitives, into Sanctuary, and
actually had the temerity to slay two of them in the church itself,
before the Prior’s stall, and during the celebration of High Mass. This
seems to be the most flagrant case of violation on record. The Abbot
closed the church for four months; the perpetrator of the murder was
excommunicated; the guilty persons were very heavily fined; the Abbot
protested against the deed at the next meeting of Parliament; and the
ancient privileges of St. Peter’s

ABOUT A. D. 1800.]

sanctuary were confirmed. There were other violations, especially in the
lawless times of civil war. For instance, in the reign of Richard II.,
Tressilian, Lord Chief Justice, was dragged out of Sanctuary; the Duke
of York took John Holland, Duke of Exeter, out of Sanctuary. On the
other hand, Henry VII. was careful to respect Sanctuary when Perkin
Warbeck fled to Beaulieu Abbey. This was perhaps politic, and intended
to show that he had nothing whatever to fear from that poor little

[Illustration: THE SANCTUARY. PULLED DOWN IN 1775.]

Among the refugees of Westminster the most interesting figure is that of
Elizabeth Woodville, Queen of Edward IV., and the most pathetic scene in
the history of St. Peter’s Sanctuary is that in which the mother takes
leave of her boy, knowing full well that she will see his dear face no

Twice did the Queen seek Sanctuary. Once when her husband, at the lowest
point of misfortune, fled the country. Then, with her three daughters,
she fled to this gloomy fortress, and there gave birth to her elder
boy--“forsaken of all her friends and in great penury.” Here she laid
the child in his father’s arms on his return. A second time she fled
hither, when Richard had seized the crown, and that boy, king for a
little day, was in the Tower. What would happen to him? What happened to
Henry VI.? What happened to that king’s son, Prince Edward? What
happened to the Duke of York? What happened to the Duke of Exeter? What
happened to the Duke of Clarence? What but murder could happen? Murder
was everywhere. The crown was made secure by murder. Every king murdered
his actual or possible rival. How could the usurper reign in peace while
those two boys were living? So, in trembling and in haste, she passed
from the Palace to the Abbey, and sat on the rushes, disconsolate, with
her daughters and her second boy, while her servants fetched some
household gear.

Outside, the King’s Council deliberated. Richard would have seized the
boy and dragged him out by force. The two Archbishops stood before him.
The wrath of St. Peter himself must be braved by him who would violate
Sanctuary. But, said the casuist, Sanctuary is a place of refuge for
criminals and debtors,


and such as have incurred the penalties of the law. This child is not a
criminal; he is too young to have committed any offense--Sanctuary is
not for children; therefore to take this child is not to violate
Sanctuary, and, since His Highness the King takes him only in kindness
and in love, and for a companion to his brother, the wrath of St. Peter
will not be awakened. On the other hand, the Holy Apostle cannot but
commend the action.

The Archbishops yielded. Let us remember, with the bloodstained
chronicles of the time in our mind, that, among all the nobles present
at that Council, there was not one who could possibly fail to understand
that the two boys were going to be murdered. How else could Richard keep
the crown upon his head? Yet the two Archbishops yielded. They
consented, therefore, knowing with the greatest certainty that murder
would follow. I think they may have argued in some such way as this:
“The time is evil; the country has been distracted and torn to pieces by
civil wars for five-and-twenty years; nearly all the noble families have
been destroyed; above and before everything else we need rest and peace
and a strong hand. A hundred years ago, after the troubles in France, we
had a boy for king, with consequences that may be still remembered by
old men. If this boy reigns, there will be new disasters; if his uncle
reigns, there may be peace. Life for two children, with more civil wars,
more bloody fields, more ruin and starvation and rapine and violence; or
the death of two children, with peace and rest for this long-suffering
land--which shall it be?” A terrible alternative! The Archbishops sadly
bowed their heads and stepped aside, while Richard climbed the winding
stair, and in the upper chapel of the Sanctuary dragged the boy from
his mother’s arms.

“Farewell!” she cried, her words charged with the anguish of her heart;
“farewell, mine own sweet one! God send thee good keeping! Let me kiss
thee once, ere you go. God knoweth when we shall kiss one another

The right of Sanctuary in a modified form lasted long after the
Dissolution of the Religious Houses. But when a great Abbey, as that of
Beaulieu, standing in a retired and unfrequented place, lay desolate and
in ruins, the right of Sanctuary was useless. No one was left to assert
the right--no one to defend it; there was neither roof nor hearth nor
altar. In great towns it was different; the Abbey might be desecrated,
but the Sanctuary house remained. Therefore on the site of St.
Martin’s-le-Grand, on the site of Blackfriars, and in Westminster round
that old fortress-church, still the debtors ran to escape the bailiffs,
and murderers and thieves hid themselves, knowing that the law was weak
indeed in the network of courts and streets which formed these retreats.
Other places pretended to immunity from the sheriffs; among these were
the streets on the site of Whitefriars, Salisbury Court, Ram Alley, and
Mitre Court; Fulwood’s Rents in Holborn, the Liberty of the Savoy, and,
on the other side of the river, Deadman’s Place, the Clink, the Mint,
and Montagu Close. The “privileges” of these places were finally
abolished in 1697.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was in the year of our Lord 1520, on a pleasant morning in May, that
one who greatly loved to walk abroad in order to watch the ways of men,
and to hear them discourse, stood at the entrance of King Street,


where the gate called after the Cockpit hard by stood upon the bridge
which spanned the little stream flowing eastward to join the river. It
was a narrow street--on either side gabled houses. Courts still narrower
opened out to right and left. Lady Alley, where were almshouses for poor
women; Boar’s Head Court--in the years to come one Cromwell, Member of
Parliament, would live here; St. Stephen’s Alley; the Rhenish Wine yard;
Thieven’ Lane--a lane by which rogues could be taken to the Gate House
Prison without passing through the Precinct and so being able to claim
Sanctuary. There were taverns in it,--Westminster was always full of
taverns,--the Bell, the Boar’s Head, and the Rhenish Wine House. At the
south end stood the High Gate, built by Richard II. The visitor strolled
slowly down the street, looking curiously about him, as if the place was
strange. This indeed it was, for he had stepped straight out of the
nineteenth century into the sixteenth; out of King Street, mean and
narrow, into King Street, narrow indeed, but not mean. The roadway was
rough and full of holes; a filthy stream ran down the middle; all kinds
of refuse were lying about; there was no footpath nor any protection by
means of posts for foot passengers,--when a loaded wagon lumbered along
the people took refuge in the open doorway; when a string of pack horses
plodded down the middle of the street, splashing the mud of the stream
about it, the people retreated farther within the door. The street was
full of pack horses, because this was one of the two highways to
Westminster--Palace and Castle both. In spite of the narrowness, the
mud, the dirt, and the inconvenience, the King Street which this visitor
saw before him was far more picturesque than that which he had left
behind. The houses rose up three and four stories high; gabled all, with
projecting fronts, story above story, the timbers of the fronts painted
and gilt, some of them with escutcheons hung in front, the richly
blazoned arms brightening the narrow way; from a window here and there
hung out a bit of colored cloth; some of the houses bore on their fronts
a wealth of carven beams--some had signs hanging out; the men who lolled
about the doors of the taverns wore bright liveries--those of King,
Cardinal, Abbot, or great lord; in the windows above women and girls
leaned out, talking and laughing with the men below;


the sun (for it was nearly noon) shone straight up the street upon the
stately Gate above and the stately Gate below, and upon the gilding,
carving, and painting, and windows of the houses on either side. The
street was full of color and of life: from the taverns came the tinkling
of the mandolin, and now and then a lusty voice uplifted in a snatch of
song--in Westminster the drinking, gambling, singing, and revelry went
on all day and sometimes all night as well. Court and Camp and Church,
all collected together on the Isle of Bramble, demanded, for their
following, taverns innumerable and drink in oceans.

The stranger, of whom no one took any notice, passing through the High
Gate, found himself within the Abbey Precinct. “Is this,” he asked, “a
separate city?” For before him and to the right and to the left there
lay heaped together, as close as they could stand, groups and rows and
streets of houses, mostly small tenements, mean and dirty in appearance.
Only a clear space was left for the Church of St. Margaret’s and for the
Porch to the Abbey Church, the north side of which was hidden by houses.
On the right hand--that is, on the west side--the houses were grouped
round a great stone structure, gloomy and terrible; farther on they
opened out for the Gate House, which led into the fields and so across
the meadows to the great highroad; and in the middle, opposite the west
end of St. Margaret’s, there was a shapeless mass of erections
comprising private houses and old stone buildings and chapels. On the
left more houses, and under one a postern leading into New Palace Yard
beyond. The place was full of people--men, women, and children. As the
visitor threaded his way among the narrow lanes he became conscious of a

[Illustration: THE GATE HOUSE]

change. Outside, in King Street, everybody was alert, the street was
filled with the happiness of life; the men-at-arms swaggered as they
rolled along, hand on sword hilt; the children ran about and laughed and
sang and shrieked for mere joy of living; through open windows, down
narrow courts, one could see men at work; the girls laughed and talked
as they went about the house, or leaned out of windows, or sat over
their sewing; life was at full flow, like the broad river beyond. But
here--it was a City of Silence. The men stood at the doors moody and
silent; the women in the house went about their work in moody silence;
the very children rolling in the dust of the foul lanes had forgotten
how to laugh; there were no cheerful sounds of work; there were no
swash-bucklers, there were no roysterers, there were no taverns; the men
carried no arms, they wore no liveries, except the Sanctuary gown with
the keys of the Abbey worked in white on the left shoulder; they were
apparently plain burgesses of the humbler sort, craftsmen, or keepers of
shops and stalls. A strange place! A city apart; a city of melancholy; a
city of restlessness and discontent. For the most part the men sat or
walked apart; but here and there were groups of twos and threes who
whispered with each other, and showed things secretly under cover of
their gowns. Villainous faces they wore, and when they walked it was
after the manner of the wild beast which slinks behind the rocks.

The visitor found himself before the great square Tower of which we have
already spoken. Gloomy and threatening it looked down upon the tenements
below, with its belfry in one corner, its single door, its two windows
above, its stair tower beside the door, and its blackened massive walls.

As he stood there, wondering and trying to understand this strange
world, the door was opened, and a man came forth.

He was dressed as an ecclesiastic, in a black gown; on his left shoulder
he wore the keys in white; he was old and somewhat bent; a man of the
middle height; the thin hair that showed from under the cap was white;
his nose was broad and somewhat flat; his eyes were large, and when he
spoke they became luminous and smiling; his voice was still young, and
his laugh was ready--a thing unusual in a man when he is past fifty; but
this man was close upon seventy--the allotted span. He was so near his
end, and yet he laughed. It is given to few among mortals to find aught
that makes for mirth after the days of boyhood. Mostly their days are
full of misery: men of violence rob them; kings and barons drive them
forth to war; they are flogged and set in pillory and are clapped in
prison. How should they laugh, when all they desire is rest, when they
rejoice exceedingly and are glad if they think the grave is near?

This man, as he came forth from the Sanctuary, espied the visitor, and
greeted him.

“Sir,” he said, “be welcome. I am John Skelton.” He drew himself up
proudly. “Johannes Skelton, Artium Magister, Laurea Ornatus. Were I free
to leave this place--but my Lord the Cardinal takes care of that, so
tender is he lest ill hap come to me--I could show you the cloak of
white and green, the King’s colors, with the laurel wreath embroidered
on the shoulder and the word ‘Calliope’ in cunning device within the
wreath--here, on this spot”--he touched his left shoulder--“where are
now the keys that are my safety--the keys of this Abbey.”

“And wherefore, Sir John,” asked the visitor, “art thou in Sanctuary?”

“Come with me, and we will talk.”

So John Skelton led the way to a house of better appearance than most.
It stood beside the Gate House, which was also the Abbot’s prison. Over
against it was the group of buildings called the Almonry, and from the
windows there was a pleasant view across the gardens and the orchards of
the Abbey.

“Come in, sir,” said the poet. “Let us sit down and talk. Truly I have
much to say. A man cannot discourse with the rabble of the Sanctuary. My
patron, the Abbot, is oppressed with cares of state; the monks, the good
monks, the holy men,”--he smiled, he chuckled, he broke into a
laugh,--“they have little learning outside the Psalms which they intone
so well, and for poetry they have no love, or they might sing mine.”

He began to troll out, with a voice that had once been lusty:

    “Ye holy caterpillars,
    Ye helpe your well willers
    With prayers and psalmes,
    To devour the almes
    That Christians should give,
    To meynteyne and releve
    The people poore and needy;
    But youe be greedy,
    And so grete a number
    The world ye encumber.

By Saynt Luke and _secundum Skeltonida_,” he concluded, with another
laugh. “Sir, let us drink before we go on.”

Whereupon he went out, and presently returned carrying a black jack
which held three quarts or so, and singing:

    “I care right nowghte,
    I take no thowte
    For clothes to keep me warme.
    Have I good dryncke,
    I surely thyncke
    Nothing can do me harm.
    For truly than
    I fear no man,
    Be he never so bolde,
    When I am armed
    And throwly warmed
    With joly good ale and olde.”

So he lifted the black jack to his lips, took a long draught, and handed
it to his companion. ’Twas right October, strong and mellow.

The room was small and the furniture was scanty, yet with no suggestion
of poverty; there was a strong table of oak, the legs well carven; there
was a chair also of good workmanship, high backed, with arms and a
cushion; in the fireplace were two andirons and a pile of wood against
the cold weather; books were on the table, both printed books from the
press of Caxton hard by, and written books; there were writing
materials; there was a candlestick of latone; in the corner stood a
wooden coffer; there was a curtain, to be drawn across the door in cold
weather; a silver mazer stood on the table; a robe of perset, furred,
hung over the back of the chair, and another of cloth, also furred, but
the fur much eaten of moths, hung upon the wall. It was the room of a
scholar. There was a long and broad seat in the window, which was glazed
above with diamond panes and provided with a shutter below to keep out
rain and cold; but the day was warm, and so the shutter was up, and they
sat down in the noonday sunshine--John Skelton at one end of the seat
and his guest at the other, and the black jack between. And one listened
while the other talked.

“It is now,” said the poet, “five years since I fled hither to escape
the revenge of my Lord Cardinal Wolsey--Son of the Wolf, I call him.
Well, he may compass my destruction, but my verses can he not destroy,
for they are imprinted, and now fly here and there about the land, so
that no one knows who they are that read them; and wherever the Cardinal
goeth, there he may find that my verses have gotten there before him.
Nay, he will die, and after death not only the Lord, but man will sit in
judgment upon him; and my verses will be there for all to read. Ha! what
said I?

       “He is set so hye
        In his ierarchy
        Of franticke frenesy
        And folishe fantasy
    That in the Chamber of Starres
    All matters there he marres:
        Clapping his rod on the borde,
        No man dare speke a worde,
        For he hath all the sayenge,
        Without any renayinge.
    He rolleth in his recordes;
    He sayth, ‘How saye ye, my Lordes?’
        Some say yes, and some
        Syt styll as they were dumbe,
        He ruleth all the roste
        With braggynge and with boste,
        Borne up on every syde
        With pompe and with pryde.

“The Cardinal will not forget these lines so long as he lives; nor will
the world forget them, any more than the world forgets the words of
Ovid. When men shall speak of Cardinal Wolsey, they shall say, ‘He it
was of whom Skelton--_poeta laurea donatus_--spoke when he said:

    ‘“Borne up on every syde
      With pompe and with pryde.”’

By cock’s blood, proud Sir Tyrmagant, I had rather my prison than thy

He paused and sighed.

“I confess, good sir, that I thought not to end my days in such a place
as this. I thought to become a bishop--nay, even an archbishop, if it
might please the Lord. All to-ragged as I am”--he was indeed somewhat
frayed in the matter of linen--“and poor, insomuch that, unlike these
losels among whom I live, who pay to the Abbey rent and fees for
protection, I depend upon the bounty of the good Abbot Islip, whom may
Christ and St. Peter spede. Yet, look you, I am John Skelton. You know
not all that John Skelton has done. In the ‘Garlande of Laurell’ you may
find set forth at length all that I have written. Since Dan Chaucer
there has been no poet like unto me. My fame hath gone forth into
strange lands. _Alma parens_ was Cambridge; but at Oxford was I honoured
with the laurel; yea, and the ancient and venerable University of
Louvain did also grant me a like honour. Had I time, I would read,
gentle sir, certain noble Latin verses written in my honour by a
scholar. ‘All the world,’ he truly writes,--‘the woods, the forests, the
rivers and the sea, the Loves, the Satyrs, the Nymphs, the Naiades and
Oceanides,--all together sing my praise. And my fame shall be as
everlasting as the stars--_fama perennis erit_.’ Thus it is that the
scholars speak of poets; thus are we honoured. Why, I look around me and
without: I am a Sanctuary man; no bishop am I, nor chancellor,--only a
Sanctuary man; yet--_fama perennis erit_. Or would you know what
Erasmus, that great light of learning, said of me? Then read in his
immortal Ode ‘De Laudibus Britanniæ,’ the dedication to Prince Henry.
‘Thou hast,’ he said, ‘at home Skelton, the only light and glory of
British letters, one who can not only inflame thee with ardour, but also
fill thee with learning.’ Yes, I was indeed the tutor of that young
Prince, of whom I may proudly say that, if he is--all men know that he
is--learned beyond any prince of his ancestry, mine own handiwork it

[Illustration: THE HOLBEIN GATE.]

Again he paused and sighed. Then he went on: “I have not now to tell a
tale of George a Green and Jack a Vale. ’Tis of John Skelton--unlucky
John--that I must speak. They made me Rector of Diss in my native
county, and there----” He paused and rubbed his chin and smiled.
“Understand, sir, we poets pay for the favour of the Muse in many ways.
Some of us are merry when we should be grave; and we are prone to fall
in love despite our vows; and we love better the company of our
brothers, even in taverns and alehouses,--even when they are but clowns
and rustics of the baser sort,--than the loneliness of the priest’s
house; we laugh in season and out of season; if we make songs we desire
to sing them; the rattling of pint-pots, the tinkling of mazers, is
music in our ears; we linger over the Psalms no longer than we must; we
invent merry conceits and quips; men laugh with us: none so popular as
the poet who makes mirth for the company.” Here he sighed and buried his
face in the black jack. “‘Tis right good ale,” he said. “‘Tis solacyous
ale, and from the Monastery cellar. Not such is the small stuff doled
out to the rest. Drink, good sir. Ay! ’tis easy to make good cheer; but
one is not the clown on the stage nor the fool, and they make men laugh
as well. If the jester be also a grave scholar and a reverend Divine,
there are presently rumours of things unseemly, things unworthy, things
_tacenda_. Add to which that the poet inclineth often unto satire, like
Horace and Juvenal; and that those against whom the satire is directed
are apt to chafe and even to become revengeful. Quarrels, therefore, I
had with Sir Christopher Garnyshe, and with Masters Barclay, Gaguin, and
Lily. What? I thumped them and they thumped me. And the world


laughed; and no one the worse. But one must not open mouth against the
monks; and by freedom of speech I brought upon me the wrath of the
Dominicans. So there was admonishing from the Bishop, and I left Diss,
coming to London, where, I hoped, Christ cross me spede and by the
favour of His Highness the King, once my scholar apt and quick, to
receive some great office.”

“Did you bring your wife with you, Sir John?”

“Ha! Sayest thou wife? How? Doth the world know that I was married? Yea,
I brought her with me--and my lusty boys. Sir, many there are--parish
priests--who are married secretly and are thought to entertain a leman.
By the King was I recommended to the Cardinal. And now, indeed, I
thought my fortune made; and so paid court to that great man, and strove
to please him. Yea, I wrote for him that admirable poem, profitable to
the soul, entitled, ‘The Boke of Three Fooles.’ And the ‘Garlande of
Laurell’ I dedicated to my Lord Cardinal’s right noble Grace:

    “Go lytell quayre, apace
            In moost humble wyse,
    Before his noble grace,
            That caused you to devise
    This lytell enterprise;
            And hym most lowly pray,
    In his mynde to comprise
            These wordes his grace dyd saye
            On an ammas gray.
    Je foy enterment en sa bonne grace.”

“You fell from his good grace?”

“I did. How, it boots not to relate. Tongue! tongue! that must needs be
making rhymes, whether on Cardinal or on Priest, on Lord or Varlet. He
gave me nothing; yet he made much of me: gave me what they call Bowge a
court at his own great table, where he entertained a hundred daily. He
heard my verses, and he smiled; yet he gave me nothing. He heard my
jests, and laughed; yet he gave me nothing. Wherefore, the Muse working
powerfully within me, not to be resisted, I wrote such verses as I have
already told you, and fled hither. And here must I remain, for the
Cardinal can never forgive me, seeing that I have set upon him a mark
that he can in no way rub off. My only hope is that, as King’s
favourites do fall as well as rise, and that His Highness the King hath
a temper which is like the wind in March, the great man may fall before
I die--otherwise, a Sanctuary man shall I remain unto the end. Drink,
good sir.”

Then, as his visitor would take no more of the strong brown ale, he


“Let us sally forth,” he said, “and I will show thee this Sanctuary or
Common Sink of all rogues. Here,” he said, as he stood before the Double
Chapel, “is the place where, morning and evening, we must hear matins
and vespers. So sayeth the Rule; but who is there to examine and find
out whether the Rule be kept or not? ‘Tis a dark and gloomy place, built
for the better admonition of sinners and the exhorting to repentance.
But of repentance is there little or none.


I repent me only that I made not my verses the stronger, so that my Lord
Cardinal should feel them, day and night, pricking him like a hair
shirt. But these rogues are full of sin; they think all day long of
iniquity; Sanctuary is wasted upon them. Look now at yonder
company”--they were some of the men noticed before as whispering to each
other; they had now got a flask of wine, and were drinking about, but
with no merriment--“those are murderers, house breakers, cutters of
purses, common thieves, who come in to save their necks, and all day
long plot new crimes, which by night--stealing out privily--they commit,
bringing hither their stolen goods. Then there are the unthrifts, who,
when they have spent their all, buy things for which they cannot pay,
and bring them here to live merrily upon them while they last. The wife
comes here laden with her husband’s plate, saying that the good man
beats her, so that to live with him is intolerable. Then she sells the
plate, and God knows what manner of life she leads here. Honest work
there is none; but all alike lie idle and unprofitable. Those who have
money quickly lose it, paying at a monstrous rate for all things--monks
are ever unreasonable askers; those who have none pig it as best they
can. Sir, believe me, there is no life worse for man than the idle life.
St. Benedict wisely ordained that the hours of rest from prayer should
be hours of work with the hands. Alas! In Sanctuary that Rule is clean

Thus discoursing, they drew near to the Gate House, which opens to
Tothill Street and Tothill Fields beyond.

“Here is the Abbot’s Prison,” said Skelton; “the prison of those who
break the laws of Westminster, and of debtors, and sometimes of
traitors. The debtors lie there like sheep; and the longer they live the
leaner they grow, because, look you, if a man is shut up he cannot work
nor earn his daily bread, much less can he pay his debts.” As he spoke a
long pole was pushed out of window with a box hanging at the end. “It
is their almsbox,” said Skelton. “Bestow something upon them, so that
they may eat and drink.”

As we stood in the gateway, looking out upon the pleasant fields and
green pastures beyond, there came forth from a tavern--at the sign of
the Eagle--a girl, the like of whom I had never seen for size and
comeliness. She was over six feet high, and had shoulders for breadth
like those of a porter, and arms--her sleeves rolled up--which belonged
rather to a waterman than a maid. And at sight of her John Skelton began
to laugh, and called out, “Meg! Long Meg! come hither. Let me gaze upon
thee.” So the tall maid obeyed, showing by her smiles that she was
willing to talk with the old man. “Look at her, I say,” said Skelton,
laughing. “Saw’st ever woman so tall and strong? This is Long Meg. She
is as lusty as she is tall. Let her tell how she knocked over Sir James
of Castile, and cudgelled the robber, and fought the Vicar from the
Abbey, so that he lay in the Infirmary for three weeks, and how she
dragged the Catchpole through the pond, and how she bobbed Huffling Dick
on the noll. And she is as good as she is tall and lusty. My modest Meg!
my merry Meg! my valiant Meg! my pigsny Meg! Tell the gentleman, Meg.”
But the girl hung her head modestly, and only said, “Nay, Sir John, it
becomes me not to tell these things.” Then replied Skelton, “I will tell
him for thee. And Meg, we will come presently, in the afternoon, for a
flask of Malmsey. Go, sweet maid! I would I were forty years younger for
thy sake. Stay! what were the verses I made upon thee when first thou
didst come to Westminster?”

Meg laughed, and, folding her hands behind her like a girl that says a
lesson, began:

    “‘Domine, Domine, unde hoc?
    What is she in the gray cassock?’”

“Right, Meg--right. But go on.”

    “‘Methinks she is of a large length,
    Of a tall pitch and a good strength.
    With strange armes and stiff bones;
    This is a wench for the nones.
    I tell thee, Hostesse, I do not mocke,
    Take her in the gray cassocke.’

“But I have no gray cassock now,” Meg added, laughing. “This afternoon,
Sir John, Will Sommers comes. There will be merry tales and songs.
Farewell, good sir.”

So, with a reverence, this comely giantess, this thumping, handsome
wench, ran back to the tavern.

“Now,” said Sir John, “we will take a walk. First, I will show thee
where Will Caxton put up his first printing press, at the sign of the
Red Pale. ’Tis nigh on thirty years since he is dead. Ha! he printed
books of mine. The printed book remains; for there are hundreds of each
book, and the trade of the scrivener is well-nigh gone. So much the
better for the poet. I am in good company on the shelf with Caxton’s
books; in the company of Virgil and Ovid; of Boethius, Chaucer, and
Gower, and Alain Chartier. I march with uplifted head in such a company.
Laureate of Oxford and Louvain, friend of these immortals. My Lord the
Cardinal turns green when he thinks upon it. Next,” he continued, “we
will walk about the Abbey. I cannot show thee the wealth of the monks,
because that is spread out over the whole country--here


a manor and there a manor; and no man, save the Abbot and the Prior,
knoweth how great is their wealth; nor can I show thee the learning of
the monks, because no man, not even the Abbot, my benefactor, knoweth
how small that is; nor can I show thee the piety of the Brothers, since
that is known only to themselves; nor their fastings and macerations,
because, the better to torment themselves, they sit down every day to a
table covered with rich roasts and dainty confections; nor can I show
thee the monks at work at the hours when they are not in their Church,
because they work no more. But I will show thee the richest monastery in
England, where the Brethren toil not, nor spin, and have no cares, but
that they must grow old, and so daily draw nearer to the Fires of
Purgatory. I will show thee gardens beautiful as the heart of man can
desire; and, for their lodgings, the house of the Abbot is finer than
the Palace of the King, and the chambers of the Prior and the Sub-Prior
are delicate and dainty and desirable. What! think you that so great a
Lord as the Abbot of Westminster----”

But here the original of this interview breaks off
abruptly--_Explicit_--and I know not how the afternoon was spent, nor
what jests and songs they had with Will Sommers and Long Meg.



To write upon Westminster and not to speak of Caxton would be indeed
impossible. As well write of America and forget Columbus. Even at the
risk of doing over again what has already been done by the antiquary, as
Blades, or by the historian, as Charles Knight; even though one may have
found little to add to the investigations and discoveries of those who
have gone before, we must still speak of Caxton, because through his
agency was effected the change--that of printing for manuscript--which
has proved the most momentous, the most far-reaching, the most fruitful
of all the changes and inventions and discoveries of modern days. The
Reformation threw open the door for freedom of thought; the Renaissance
restored to the world the literature and the philosophy of the past;
printing scattered broadcast the means of acquiring knowledge.

The humble beginnings of this revolution, the life and achievements of
the man by whose hands it was effected in this country, are not so
widely known that they may be assumed as common knowledge. Let us ask,
for instance, who was Caxton? How did he arrive at his printing press?
What did he print? These are questions that the ordinary reader would
perhaps find it difficult to answer.

To begin with, the setting up of his printing press

[Illustration: CAXTON’S DEVICE.]

was but an episode--albeit the last--in the long and busy life of this
active man; an experiment, doubtful at first, which presently became the
serious business of a man advanced in years, his occupation at an age
when most men think of ease and retirement. The name and fame and praise
of Caxton have gone forth into all lands; but it is the fame of Caxton
in old age, Caxton the printer, not Caxton in early life and in full
manhood, Caxton of the Mercers’ Company, Caxton the Merchant Adventurer,
Caxton the Rector of the English House. If you ask any person of
ordinary acquirements who invented printing, he will probably tell you
that it was Caxton. Yet the person of a little more than ordinary
acquirements very well knows that Caxton was not the inventor at all.
What he did was to bring over the art of printing from the Netherlands
to this country. Not such a very great thing, perhaps; had he not done
so someone else would; it was


only a matter of time; the invention was already beginning to leave its
cradle; other men already understood that here was a thing belonging to
the whole world--a thing bound to travel over the whole world. Caxton,
however, did actually give it to us; he first brought it over here; he
introduced the new invention into this country. That is his great glory;
for that service he will never be forgotten; he has the honor that
belongs to those who understand, and advance, and associate with their
own lives and achievements, things invented by others who could not,
perhaps, see their importance.

Perhaps everything that can be found out about Caxton has been already
discovered. When we consider the antecedent improbability of learning
anything at all about a merchant of the fifteenth century,--not a
merchant of the wealthier kind, neither a Whittington nor a Gresham,--we
may congratulate ourselves upon knowing a good deal about Caxton. To be
sure, he gives us in his prefaces many valuable facts concerning
himself. The learned Mr. William Blades has put together in his two
books on Caxton all that he himself, or that others before him, had been
able to discover. He has also added certain conjectures as to the most
important step in Caxton’s life; I will speak of these conjectures
presently. The result is a tolerably complete biography. We cannot fill
up the life year after year, but in general terms we know how it was
spent and what things were done in the allotted span. That the
personality is shadowy--yet not more shadowy than that of
Shakespeare--cannot be denied.

No one, however, can say, in these times of research, when the documents
of the past are overhauled and made to yield their secrets, that any
point of archæological investigation is finally closed, so that nothing
more will be discovered about it. Somewhere or other are lying hidden
documents, contracts, wills, conveyances, letters, reports,
diaries--which may at any moment yield unexpected treasures to the
finder. Let us remember how Peter Cunningham unearthed the accounts of
the Revels and Masques among the papers of the Audit Office; how the
debates of the House of Commons in the time of Cromwell were discovered;
how Riley’s researches in the archives of London have actually restored
the mediæval city in every detail of its multi-colored life; how the
history of England has been already entirely rewritten during the last
fifty years from newly discovered documents, and must in the next fifty
years be again rewritten. Remembering these things, let us not conclude
that concerning any man, king, statesman, churchman, citizen, the last
word has been spoken, the last discovery made.

For my own part, I have to contribute only those little
discoveries--some may call them theories--which always present
themselves when another man from another point of view approaches a
certain array of facts. That is to say, I have no new fact to announce,
but I have one or two new conclusions to draw.

Let me endeavor, then, to present to you William Caxton as a reality,
not a shadow; you shall see how and why he became, late in life, a
printer; what he was and what was his reputation before he became a
printer. And you shall see for yourselves what kind of book he produced,
how he illustrated it, the kind of type he employed, and the binding of
his books.

First, what manner of man was he, and of what origin?

About four miles northeast of Tunbridge, in Kent, is the village of
Hadlow, part of which is covered by the manor of Causton. It is
supposed, but it is by no means certain, that from this manor sprang the
family whose name Causton, Cauxton, or Caxton, preserves the memory of
their former holding. Long before the birth of William Caxton the manor,
if the family ever held it, had passed out of their hands. He says,
himself, that he was born in the Weald of Kent. The Weald covers a large
area; but he does not tell us any more, and it is not possible to get
any closer information. In this part of the country he was
born--somewhere. And in this part of the country there is a manor
bearing his name. Can we safely conclude that a territorial name means
that the family were once Lords of the Manor? Certainly not. There is,
however, reason to believe that he came of a City family, and one long
and honorably known in the City; for the name of Caxton or Causton
frequently occurs in the City records. In the year 1303 Aubin de
Caustone, haberdasher, was appointed one of a committee to make scrutiny
into the manufacture of caps by methods and of materials forbidden by
law. In 1307 William de Causton is one of those who sign a letter
addressed to the Bishop of Chester by the City Fathers. In 1327 John de
Causton, Alderman, is one of a Board of Arbitrators between certain
disputing trade companies; and he represented the city at the council of
Northampton in 1337, for which service he received the sum of sixty
pounds. In 1331 John de Caxton and Thomas de Caxton were butchers--the
latter, one regrets to find, obstructing the street with his stall at
the Poultry, for which his meat was forfeited. In 1334 William de
Causton, living in the parish of St. Vedast, was an Alderman. In the
year 1348 there were seven of the name who paid their fees as liverymen
of the Mercers’ Company. In 1364 Alice, wife of Robert de Causton, who
appears to have been a vintner, was sentenced to the “thewe,” for
thickening the bottom of a quart pot with pitch, so that he who ordered
a quart of wine got short measure. This deplorable incident is the only
one which tarnishes the honor of the Caustons or Caxtons. In 1401
William de Causton is apprenticed to Thomas Gedeney. In 1414 John
Causton is a butcher. In 1424 Stevyn Causton is a liveryman of the
Mercers. The family of Causton or Caxton, therefore, were largely
engaged in various branches of trade in London during the whole of the
fourteenth century. Whether William Caxton’s father was himself a
citizen and freeman, and if so, how the son came to be born in the Weald
of Kent, is not known. As the boy was apprenticed to the very richest
merchant in the city, and admitted a member of the wealthiest company,
it is quite certain that his people were of some consideration in the
city: to be received into the house of a great merchant as an
apprentice, to be admitted into the Company of Mercers, proves beyond a
doubt City connections of an honorable kind. Either Caxton’s father or
his grandfather must have been a man of weight and distinction.

“I was born and learned my English in Kent in the Weald, where I doubt
not is spoken as broad and rude English as in any place of England.”
These are his own words. In another place he writes, concerning his own
style, “whereof I humbly and with all my heart thank God, and also am
bounden to pray for my father’s and mother’s souls, that in my youth set
me to school, by which, by the sufferance of God, I got my living--I
hope truly.” The Weald, in which he apparently spent his childhood, was
at this time largely peopled by the descendants of the Flemish
cloth-workers brought over to England by Edward IV. He therefore heard
as a child the Flemish language, or at least English with a large
mixture of Flemish words, a fact which perhaps had something to do with
his subsequent residence in Bruges. But where he went to school, what he
learned there, and at what age he was taken from his lessons, he does
not tell us.

He was born, I am sure, in the year 1424. It seems very clear that the
usual age of apprenticeship was fourteen; and Caxton was certainly
apprenticed in the year 1438, and since the age of admission to the City
freedom was twenty-four, ten years were passed in servitude: a long
time, but not too long to learn the various branches of a merchant’s
work, and to acquire the habits of obedience which afterward are
transformed into the habit of authority.

It has been said that his master was the richest merchant of his time.
He was Robert Large, Mercer, Warden of the Company in 1427, Sheriff in
1430, and Lord Mayor in 1440. When this great man received an apprentice
he was receiving either the son of a personal friend or of someone whom
he desired to oblige. It is significant that at the same time Large
received another apprentice, the son of a brother mercer, named Harrowe,
and that Harrowe received as apprentice another Caxton--Robert, perhaps
brother of William, but concerning him nothing is discoverable.

Robert Large occupied a house already historic; it was situated at the
northeast corner of Old Jewry. In the thirteenth century the Jews who
lived in that quarter built for themselves a synagogue; in the year
1262 there was a popular outbreak of hatred against the Jews, and a
terrible massacre, in the course of which their synagogue was plundered
and taken from them. In the year 1271 Henry III. gave the place as a
House to a new order of Mendicant Friars called _Fratres de Pœnitentiâ
Jesu, or Fratres de Saccâ_.

This was a short-lived but extremely interesting Order growing out of
the Franciscans. It was founded in 1231, or, as is also stated, in 1241.
St. Francis, as we know, founded the Gray Friars, Fratres Minores; his
disciple, St. Clara, founded the Clares, or Sorores Minores, and the
_Pœnitentiarii_, or _Fratres de Pœnitentiâ Jesu_, or _Fratres de Saccâ_,
were established shortly afterward. The Order contained both men and
women; the brothers and sisters might be married; they might also hold
property. They came over to England in the year 1257, and very soon
possessed nine Houses, viz.: at Lynne, where Prior was the Head of the
English Branch; at London, Canterbury, Cambridge, Norwich, Worcester,
Newcastle, Lincoln, and Leicester. The Council of Lyons, in 1274, passed
an edict permitting only four orders of Mendicants. This edict seems to
have been a deathblow to the _Fratres de Pœnitentiâ_: they languished
and obtained little support--perhaps the people had no belief in friars
who held property and were married. In 1305 Robert Fitzwalter obtained
the permission of the King to assign their house to him, which was done,
and the Penitential Friars disappeared from history. A hundred years
later Robert Large obtained the house and held his Mayoralty in it; as
did Lord Mayor Clipton in 1492. It was afterward turned into a tavern
called the Windmill.

In this house Caxton began his apprenticeship. He did not finish it
here, because, unfortunately, in the year 1441 Robert Large died.

As there is no document in which a man reveals himself so much as in a
will, wherein may be found his religion, his superstition, his love, his
hatred, his charity, the whole heart and soul of a man, I transfer to
these pages a part of Robert Large’s will, by which you may understand
what manner of man was this rich merchant, Caxton’s master, from whom he
received his ideas of honorable trade.

He begins, after the usual preamble, by leaving money to the High Altar
of his Parish Church; to the structure of the church; to buy vestments
for the church; the endowment of a chaplain to say mass daily. He then
gives money to his widow and children; for the poor of the Mercers’
Company; for a vestment in the Mercers’ Chapel; to the four orders of
Mendicants; to the Crutched Friars; for bedding in the Hospitals of St.
Bartholomew and St. Mary Spital; to the parish church of Shallerton,
where his father was buried; to the parish church of Allerton, where his
ancestors were buried; to his servants and apprentices sums of money
varying from one mark to twenty marks,--there are five apprentices,
including William Caxton, who gets the larger sum,--then there are more
bequests to churches. To the poor of Coleman Street ward he gives twenty
pounds. His soul thus cared for by so many gifts and bequests,--a thing
that no one in that age could possibly neglect,--and his children and
servants remembered, the testator applies himself to things practical
and worldly. And here we observe what a practical citizen of the times
most desired. He gave 400 marks toward the completion of an aqueduct
lately begun in the City; he gave 100 marks toward the repairs of
London Bridge; he gave 300 marks to the cleansing of Walbrook; also 100
marks to ten poor girls of good character on their marriage; also £100
to be divided among poor servants in Lancashire and Warwickshire; also
£20 to be distributed by his executors where it might be most needed;
also 5 marks for bedding at the Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem; also
40 shillings for bedding for St. Thomas’s Hospital, and £6 for bedding
at the Lepers’ Houses of Hackney, St. Giles, and St. George of
Southwark. Also 100 shillings for the prisoners in Newgate, and 100
shillings for the prisoners in Ludgate.

He forgets nobody, this good citizen; he desires good water and
plentiful; he wants the Bridge to be kept in repair--where would trade
be without the Bridge? he wants cleanliness in the City--why should
Walbrook be allowed to be converted into an open sewer? Hospitals for
the sick; marriage portions for girls; worn-out servants; prisoners;
lepers; he remembers all. Surely, to have been brought up in the
household of such a man, so kindly, so thoughtful, with so great a
heart, must have been an education for the boy.

At this time the principal market of Western Europe was Bruges, and the
center of the trade carried on by the Merchant Adventurers--an
association containing members of various companies--was that city.
There stood _Domus Anglorum_, the House of the English Merchants. It was
not uncommon for a young man to be sent to this House in order to learn
the foreign trade before he completed his time. Thither, therefore, went
Caxton, having seven years still to serve; and there he remained for
thirty years.

Those who know the history of the Hanseatic


Merchants and the Steelyard will understand the position and meaning of
the _Domus Anglorum_. The Englishmen in Bruges, just as the Germans in
London, lived separate and apart, a community by themselves, in their
own house, which was surrounded by a wall, contained offices,
warehouses, sleeping chambers, a common hall, and perhaps a chapel (I
say perhaps, because a chapel belonged to every great house). The people
of the London Steelyard, whether they had a chapel or no, worshiped in
the Church of All Hallows the Great, just outside their walls; and very
likely the English merchants observed the same practice. They lived
separate from the Flemings; they were never allowed by the citizens of
Bruges to consider themselves otherwise than as strangers and
foreigners; they had certain privileges and rights jealously accorded,
jealously watched, by the Duke of Burgundy and by the worthy burghers
of Bruges; jealously guarded and resolutely claimed by the foreign
merchants themselves. In order to avoid, as much as possible, the
ever-present danger of a popular rising against strangers, the
Englishmen lived by strict rule: abroad they walked with circumspection;
they kept as much as possible within their own walls. It is not likely
that the prejudice against foreigners was so strong in any European
country as it was in England; certainly not at Bruges, Ghent, and
Antwerp, whither foreigners flocked from every port. At the same time,
to be a foreigner anywhere invited curiosity; and mediæval curiosity was
the mother of hostility; and hostility too often took a practical and an
active line. The English factory, therefore, lived under rule, like the
Germans of the Steelyard; they lived in a college; they observed hours
of closing the gates; they had a common table; save for vows and
midnight prayers the life was monastic; on no pretense were women to be
admitted, and all the residents were unmarried.

These factories or foreign stations of English merchants were continued
into quite modern times. In the seventeenth century, and perhaps later,
there was an English factory at Aleppo; the Indian Empire sprang out of
English factories; the establishment of a factory was the first step
toward a footing in foreign trade.

The position of governor, or rector, of such a community was, it will be
readily understood, one requiring special, rare, and valuable qualities.
He must be, first of all, a man of courteous and conciliatory manners;
he must know how to be firm and how to assert his rights; he must be
watchful for the extension, and jealous for the observance, of
privileges; he must be ready to seize every opportunity for advancing
the interests of the community; he must not be afraid to stand before
kings; he must be a linguist, and able to speak the language of the
court and the language of the market. When we learn, therefore, that
Caxton was presently raised to the very important office of Governor of
all the English merchants, not only in Bruges, but in other
towns,--Ghent, Antwerp, Damme, Sluys,--we understand from this single
fact the manner of man he was supposed to be; when we learn in addition
that he continued to hold his post till he was forty-five years of age,
we understand what manner of man he must have been.

There is, as one who studies this time cannot fail to remark, a special
kind of dignity belonging to these centuries; it is the dignity that
springs from the knowledge of one’s own rank or place, at a time when
rank, place, or station belonged to every possible occupation of life. A
bricklayer or a carpenter, as well as a mercer, or a monk, or a priest,
belonged to a trade association; he was ’prentice first, full member
next, officer or even warden in due course. The most humble employment
was dignified by the association of its members. Everybody, from the
King to the lowest craftsman, understood the dignity of associated
labor; everybody recognized office and authority, whether it was the
episcopal office or the presidency of a Craft Company. You may see
Caxton in every picture that presents a _bourgeois_ of the time. He
wears a long gown of red cloth, something like a cassock, the sleeves
and neck trimmed with rich fur; round his neck hangs a gold chain; his
belt is of leather, gilt, and from it hangs his purse; his hair is cut
shorter than the nobles wear it, and it is seen under a round cap, the
sides of which are turned up. It is a costume admitting of great
splendor in the way of material; the fur lining or trimming may be broad
and costly; the gold chain may be rich and heavy; the belt may be
embossed by an Italian artist--all the advantages of mediæval costume
are not with the knight and soldier. As for his face, it is grave; his
eyes are serious; it is not for him that the Court Fool plays his
antics; it is not for him that the minstrel strikes his mandolin: he is
thinking what new concessions he can get from the Duke of Burgundy.
Above all, at this moment he is troubled about the late quarrel in
Antwerp between certain English sailors--young hotheads--and some
Flemings, in a tavern, after which two of the latter were found dead.
And the town, without considering who began the brawl, was of course in
an uproar against the accursed English. The news has been brought home
by a Flemish merchant just from Antwerp: the Englishmen have taken
sanctuary; there will be correspondence, excuses--fines, perhaps.

Or it is an Italian merchant--Caxton talks his language as well--who has
things to propose, barter to effect. The Rector of the _Domus Anglorum_
was, in fact, a kind of consul. He sent home regular reports on the
state of trade, on prices and fluctuations, on supply and demand; he
received English merchants, made them pay an entrance fee, instructed
them in the laws and privileges of the factory, gave them interpreters,
and assisted them in their buying and selling, according to the customs
of the town. He was also agent to the Merchant Adventurers of London.

In the archives of the town two cases are recorded in which Caxton was
concerned, the first in which he had become surety to a merchant of the
Staple at Calais, the second in which he consented to arbitration. In
the first he is styled simply “English Merchant.” In the second he is
“English Merchant and Governor of the English House.” As a merchant, or
as Rector of the English House, Caxton did not become rich. This point
seems to me abundantly proved by the facts of the case. His biographers
have sometimes represented him as returning to England enriched by his
calling, and setting up his press as an occupation or recreation for his
old age. Let us look again at the facts. Those which bear upon the point
are the following:

1. He remained in the _Domus_ for thirty years, leaving it at the age of
forty-seven or thereabouts. Merchants who grow rich do not continue in
the service of their company so long.

2. He married on leaving the _Domus_. Those who prosper do not continue
in celibacy till they are past their prime.

3. He then remained abroad for a time, and entered the service of the
Duchess of Burgundy. Wealthy merchants do not remain in exile, nor did
they at any time enter into the service of a foreign prince.

4. During the whole thirty years of Caxton’s residence abroad, his
native country was torn to pieces by a long and bitter civil war. It has
been shown that the towns suffered comparatively little from this
conflict, but its effect upon the Merchant Adventurers was most
certainly disastrous. Where, when all the country was covered with
armies, and every great noble had to take a side, was the market for
imports? Where were they to get the exports when the land was ravaged
throughout its length and breadth? The Merchant Adventurers could
neither sell their imports nor ship their exports. The condition of
London was something like that when the Saxons overran the country on
all sides; and also, like that time, the flower of the London youth were
called out to fight. Of money-making there was small thought; happy the
merchant who could hold his own. “I have known London,” Caxton writes,
“in my young age much more wealthy, prosperous, and richer than it is at
this day.” While the Red and the White Roses were tearing at each
other’s throats one fears that the _Domus Angliæ_ showed empty
warehouses and a deserted hall.

Lastly, if there were any doubt on the subject of Caxton’s comparative
poverty, it should be removed by the grateful words in which he speaks
of the money given him when he entered the service of the Duchess of
Burgundy; these are not the words of a prosperous man.

Caxton, therefore, one may be quite sure, left Bruges as slenderly
provided as regards store and treasure as when he entered the city.

After this preamble, we now arrive at the invention of printing.

The fifteenth century--the beginning of the Renaissance--was also
remarkable for the production of beautiful and costly books. The art of
the illuminator had never been finer, the writing had never been more
beautiful, the demand for books had never been so great; the numbers of
those engaged outside the monasteries in the production of books rapidly
increased. In every town they formed themselves into Guilds; thus, at
Bruges, there was the Guild of St. John, in which were enrolled
booksellers, painters, scriveners and copyists, illuminators,
bookbinders, curriers, makers of parchment and vellum, and engravers.
And they could not produce books fast enough to meet the increased
demand. Now, it is perfectly certain that if the demand for anything
that is made, grown, or produced is increased from any cause, the
methods of production of that thing will be reconsidered, and men’s
ingenuity will devise means of making the production easier, cheaper,
and more practicable. What happened with the production of books was
exactly what happened with everything else. “Give us more books,” cried
those who, a hundred years before, had wanted no books; “give us more
books.” Those who were interested in the production pondered continually
over the enormous labor and cost of copying. Could there be found any
way to lessen that labor? The result was the invention of printing.

Who was the first printer?

You may read all the books, pamphlets, and articles; you may consider
all the arguments, and in the long run you will know no more than you
knew at the beginning. Perhaps it was Coster of Haarlem, or perhaps it
was Gutenberg of Mainz. No one knows, and really it matters little
except for the antiquary and the historian. At this period, as we have
seen, some modification in the old method of copying was certain to be
invented. It was by the greatest good luck, I have always thought, that
a sort of shorthand, a representation of words by little easy symbols,
was not invented. For instance, supposing a separate symbol for each of
the prepositions, articles, and auxiliary verbs, and other separate
symbols for the commoner words, there might be some thousands of symbols
in all to be learned by the scribe; but his labor would be reduced to
one-tenth. They might have invented some such method. Then, satisfied
with the result, we should have gone on for centuries, and the art of
printing would still have to be invented.

But the time was come, and the invention, happily, came with it. Had
printing been invented two centuries before, it would have been
neglected and speedily forgotten, because there was no demand for books.
Had it been invented two centuries later, it would have had to contend
against some other contrivance for shortening labor and cheapening
books. If an ingenious projector discovers some great truth or invents
some useful contrivance before or after his time, he is lost--he and his
discovery. Thus, in the reign of James the First a man of great
ingenuity contrived a submarine boat--he was before his age. In the
middle of the last century another ingenious person discovered a way of
sending messages by electricity--he was before his age. In a romance,
now a hundred and fifty years old, the possibility of photography was
imagined by another person before his age. Men whose ideas are much
before their age receive, as their reward, contempt, certainly;
imprisonment, probably; and perhaps death in one of its more unpleasant

The generally received story, after all that has been said, is this:
There was a certain Johann Gensfleisch von Sorgenloch, called Zum
Gutenberg, a man of noble family, who was born in Mainz somewhere about
the end of the fourteenth century. He removed from his native town to
Strasbourg, where he began experimenting upon wood blocks. He then, with
the idea of printing clearly defined in his mind, perhaps with type
already cut in wood, went back to Mainz and entered into partnership
with three others, named Riffe, Heitman, and Dritzchen. Documents still
exist which prove this partnership, and contemporary evidence is clear


and strong upon the point that this Gutenberg, and none other, was the
inventor of the art. The first partnership was speedily broken up. A
second was formed with Fust or Faust, a goldsmith, and one Peter
Schöffer, who seems to have been the working partner. Certainly he
improved and carried the art to a high state of perfection.

That it should spread was certain; the work was simple; the press was
not a machine which could be kept secret. Before long printers were
setting up their presses everywhere. At Bruges the first printer was one
Colard Mansion, a native of the place. He was a member of that
Fraternity or Guild of St. John already mentioned. He was himself a
writer, or at least a translator, as well as a printer. Caxton followed
him in this respect. He printed and published twenty-two works, of which
one, called “The Garden of Devotion,” was in Latin, the others were all
in French except two, which were in English. These two were printed for
Caxton. The use of French shows that the court and the nobles did not
use Flemish. One of his books, the cost of which seems to have ruined
the unfortunate printer, was a splendid edition in folio of Ovid’s
“Metamorphoses,” translated into French and illustrated with numerous
woodcuts. It is worthy of note that Colard’s workshop was the chamber
over the north porch of the Church of St. Donatus. The first “chapel” of
printers may have been begun in the modest room over a church porch.
When troubles fell upon poor Colard he was fain to run away; he left the
city, and--he disappeared. History knows nothing more about Colard

That he printed these two books for Caxton there seems no reason to
doubt. Wynkyn de Werde, Caxton’s successor, certainly says that they
were printed at Cologne; but contemporary evidence is not always to be
trusted. The character of the type alone is held to prove that they are
the work of Colard.

These are the earliest English-printed books. The first is a “Recuyell
of the Historyes of Troie”; the second is “The Game and Playe of the
Chesse.” The second is dedicated to the unfortunate Duke of Clarence:
“To the righte noble, righte excellent and vertuous Prince George, Duc
of Clarence, Earle of Warwicke and Salisburye, Grete Chamberlayne of
Englonde and Lieutenant of Ireland, Oldest Brother of Kynge Edwarde, by
the Grace of God Kynge of Englonde and of France, your most humble
servant William Caxton amonge other of youre servantes sendes unto you
Peas, Helthe, Joye and Victorye upon your Enemies.”

The “Recuyell,” a translation, was completed in 1471. It was not printed
until 1474. The conclusion is that Caxton found so great a demand for it
that he could not get the book copied quickly enough to meet the demand;
that his attention was drawn to the newly invented art, and that he
perceived something of the enormous possibilities which it presented.
About this time he resigned the post he had held so long; he left the
claustral _Domus_ over which he had presided; he married a wife, and he
entered into the service of the Duchess of Burgundy. It has been asked
in what capacity he served. In no capacity at all; he was one of the
“following”; he wore the livery of the Duchess; he was attached to the
court; he had rooms and rations and some allowance of money; he was in
the service and at the orders of the Duchess; he was a secretary or an
interpreter; he swelled the pageant by his presence; he conducted the
Duchess’s trade ventures; he was Usher of the White Rod, Chamberlain,
Gentleman-in-waiting--anything. Do not let us be deceived by the word
“service” and its modern meaning.


This “service” lasted a very short time. He left the court--one knows
not why--and he returned, after this long absence, to his native land.
Then began the third, the last, the most important chapter of his life.
This was in the year 1476. He brought over his presses and his workmen
with him. And he settled in Westminster.

Why did he choose Westminster?

This point is elaborately discussed by Blades. He suggests that Caxton
went to Westminster on account of the wool staple, with which he may
have had


correspondence while at Bruges. He _may_ have had; perhaps did
have--though it is not at all likely, because, as is most certain, he
was in constant correspondence with the Merchant Adventurers of London,
and with his own company of Mercers, whose representative he was; and
it is also certain that, as a citizen of London, he could not regard the
Staple of Westminster with any favor. That reason, therefore, may be

Or, Blades suggests, the Mercers rented of the Abbey a tavern called the
Greyhound, where they feasted once a year, and where they did business
with the merchants of the Wool Staple. _Therefore_ Caxton came here.
This, again, is a reason that is no reason; for, surely, the fact that
there was this tavern in Westminster could not influence Caxton in the
least. One might as well make him go to Gravesend because the Mercers
had a farm not far from the town.

There are, however, two reasons which seem to me very plain and
sufficient. The first shows why he did not set up his press in the City
of London. The next shows why he did set it up in the town--not yet a
city--of Westminster. The first reason is that he did not take a
workshop in London because he could not. The thing was impossible; he
would not be allowed to work under the jurisdiction of the Lord Mayor.
By this time every trade or craft carried on in the City had been formed
into a company or attached to some company; every craftsman belonged to
a company; every merchant and every retailer belonged to a company.
There was, however, no trade of printing; therefore no company;
therefore, as yet, and until the point was raised and settled, no power
of settling within the City.

Where, then, could he find a proper place? Southwark was within the City
jurisdiction. Without the walls there were hardly any suburbs. The
Strand, which might be considered a suburb, was a long line of palaces
built upon the river bank, noble of aspect from the river; on the other
side their gates opened upon a muddy road, on the north side of which
were fields. Caxton wanted, however, not a suburb, but a town; he
wanted, also, patrons and customers for the new trade. Westminster was,
in fact, the only place to which he could go. Doubtless he bore letters
and recommendations from the Duchess of Burgundy to her brother Edward
IV. He wanted court favor, a thing which everybody wanted at that time;
he wanted the patronage of great lords and ladies; and he wanted to
attract the attention of colleges, monasteries, and places where they
wanted books and used books. In short, like every man in trade, Caxton
wanted a place which would be convenient for advertising, showing, and
proclaiming his business. For all purposes Westminster was admirably
suited for the setting up of his press.

Where was his house?

Long afterward, until exactly fifty years ago, when it fell down, there
was shown a house traditionally assigned to Caxton. The representation
certainly indicates a later origin, but there may have been alterations.
There have been discussions and disputes over the site of the first
printing press: it has been placed on the site of Henry the Seventh’s
Chapel; one is told that the monument in front of St. Margaret’s stands
on the site. For my own part I cannot understand how there can be any
doubt at all. Stow, writing a hundred years later, states with the
greatest clearness where the house stood. He says, speaking of the “Gate
House,”--that is, the gate at the east end of Tothill Street: “On the
South side of this Gate King Henry VII. founded an Almshouse for
thirteen poor men ... near unto this house westward was an old chapel of
St. Anne, over against which the Lady Margaret, mother to King Henry
VII., erected an almshouse for poor women, which is now turned into
lodgings for the singing men of the College. The place wherein this
Chapel and Almshouse stand was called the Eleemosynary or Almonry; now,
corruptly, the Ambry; for that the alms of the Abbey were here
distributed to the poor.

“And therein Islip, Abbot of Westminster, first practised and erected
the first press of Book printing that ever was in England about the year
of Christ 1471; W. Caxton, Citizen of London, Mercer, brought it into
England, and was the first that practised it in the said Abbey.”

Islip was not Abbot at that time, but Prior and afterward Abbot. As
Prior, the details of the government of the Abbey were in his hands. If
now we look at the map we shall see that the place corresponds with what
was called the Great Almonry until a few years ago, when Victoria Street
was cut though the slums of Westminster, and the Westminster Palace
Hotel was built, either covering the site or effectually hiding it. The
thing does not seem to admit of doubt or dispute. Observe that Stow
speaks of the “Ambry” as being “in” the Abbey, though it was outside the
gate. So Caxton speaks of his presses as set up “in” the Abbey--an
expression which has led many to think that he carried on his work
within the church. The mistake was natural so long as men had forgotten
the meaning of the word “Abbey,” and thought that Westminster Abbey
meant the Church of St. Peter. How many are there, even now, who have
examined the remains lying south of the church, and who understand that
these were buildings which, with the church, constituted the Abbey?

The house was known by the sign of the Red Pale. It was a common sign
among printers in Holland, some of whom, however, had a Black Pale.

It is not necessary to enumerate the books which Caxton printed; and the
questions of type, process, binding, and illustrating must be left for
the biographer. But about the trade of printer and publisher? On this
point hear Caxton himself. He speaks in a Prologue (hitherto

“When,” he says, “I resolved upon setting up a press in Westminster, I
knew full well that it was an enterprise full of danger. For I had seen
my friend Colard, printer of Bruges, fain to fly from the city in
poverty and debt; and I had seen Melchior of Augsburg dying a bankrupt;
and I had heard how Sweynheim and Pannarts in Rome had petitioned the
Pope for help. Yet I hoped, by the favour and countenance of His
Highness the King, to succeed. This have I done: yet not as I hoped to
do. For I thought that the quick production and the cheapness of books
would cause many to buy them who hitherto had been content to live
without the solace of poetry and romance, and without the instruction of
Cato and Boethius. Again, I thought that there are schools and colleges
where books must be studied, and I hoped that they would find it better
to print than to copy. And there are Religious Houses where they are
forever engaged in copying Psalters and Service Books. Surely, I
thought, it will be better for the good Monks to print than to copy. I
forgot, moreover, that there was a great stock in hand of written books;
in every Monastery a store which must first be used up, and in every
College there were written books for the student which must first be
worn out before there


would be question of replacing them with printed books. Also I forgot
the great company of copyists, illuminators, limners, and those who make
and sell vellum and fine parchment for the copyists. And I found,
moreover, to my surprise, that there were many, great lords to wit, who
cared nothing for cheapness, and who scoffed at my woodcuts compared
with the illuminations in red and blue and gold which adorned their
written books. He who would embark upon a new trade must reckon with
those who make their livelihood in the old trade. Wherefore my Art of
Printing had many enemies at the outset, and few friends. So that the
demand for my books has not yet been found equal to the number which I
have put forth, and I should have been ruined like Colard and bankrupt
like Melchior were it not for the help of my Lord of Arundel and others,
who protected me against the certain loss which threatened.”

There are many points connected with the first English printing press on
which one would like to dwell: the mechanism of it, the forms of type,
the paper used, the binding, the price. These things belong to a
biography, and not to a chapter. It must suffice here to say that the
form of the press was simple, being little more than such a screw press
as is used now for copying letters.

As to the books themselves, Caxton, in the true spirit of trade, gave
the world not what he himself may have wanted, but what the world
wanted. Books of romance, chivalry, and great achievements were demanded
by the knights and nobles. Books of service were wanted by the Church.
Caxton provided these. These things illustrate the character of the
man--cautious, businesslike, anxious to run his press at a profit, so
that he tried no experiments, and was content to be a servant rather
than a teacher.

Those who will take the trouble to visit the British Museum and there
examine for themselves the treasures which the nation possesses of early
printing--the case full of Caxtons in the King’s Library, the shelf
filled with Caxtons in the vast Library, which the general visitor is
not allowed to see--will be astonished to observe the rapid advances
already made in the Art of Printing when Caxton undertook its practice.
Printing was first invented some time in the first half of the fifteenth
century.[6] The type is clear and strong--clearer type we have never
made since; the


ink is perfectly black to this day; the lines are even and in perfect
order; the binding, when an ancient binding has been preserved, is like
any binding of later times. But the shape of the book was not newly
invented, nor the binding, nor the form of the type; in these matters
the printer followed the copyist. In the earlier examples the
illuminator was called in to adorn the book, copy by copy, with his
art-initials, colored letters, pictures delicately and beautifully
drawn, colored and gilt in the printed page. The illuminator, however,
very soon gave way to the engraver. The wood engravings of the late
fifteenth century, rough though they are, and coarse in drawing and
outline, are yet vigorous and direct; they illustrate what they desire
to illustrate. One can believe that those who could afford the
illuminations continued to order and to buy the manuscripts, for the
sake of their delicacy and beauty. But the printed book, with its rough
engraving, was within the reach of student, priest, and squire, to whose
slender means the illuminated work was forbidden.


The more one considers this figure of the fifteenth-century workman, the
more clearly he stands out before us, grave, anxious, resolute of
face--the more he becomes admirable and wonderful. For thirty years
engaged in protecting English interests in the Netherlands--patient,
tenacious, conciliatory; the friend and servant of the most powerful
lady in Europe; the friend of all those at home who regarded literature;
himself a lover of poetry and of romance, and at the mature age of
sixty-five engaged in translating the latter; a good linguist; a good
scholar; and, most certainly, one who could look into the future, and
could foretell something of the influence which the press was destined
to have upon the world. And all this in a simple liveryman of the
Mercers’ Company, without education other than that enjoyed by all lads
of his position, without wealth and without family influence other than
that derived from the long connection with the City in various trades of
his kith and kin. Admirable and wonderful is the life of this great man;
admirable and wonderful are his achievements.

He died in harness. Thus sayeth Wynkyn de Worde in the “Vitæ Patrum”:
“Thus endyth the most vertuouse hystorye of the devoute and righte
renowned lyves of holy faders lyuynge in deserte, worthy of remembrance
to all wel dysposed persons, which hath ben translated oute of French
into English by William Caxton of Westmynstre late deed and fynyshed at
the laste daye of hys lyff.” He died in the year 1491, and was buried at
St. Margaret’s, where his wife, Maude, and perhaps his father, were also
buried. He left one child, a daughter. He left a will, which is lost;
but one clause was a bequest of fifteen copies of the “Golden Legend” to
the parish church. These were afterward sold at prices varying from 5s.
4d. to 6s. 8d. If money was then worth eight times its present value, we
can understand that books, although they were greatly cheapened by
being printed instead of written, had not yet become cheap.

Many of the books which he published were romances, as has been said,
and tales of chivalry. He loved these tales himself, as much as the
noble ladies and gallant knights for whom he published them. Let us end
this notice with his own words on the excellence and the usefulness of
romance. He is speaking of the “History of King Blanchardine and Queen
Eglantine his Wife,” translated by order of the Lady Margaret:

“I know full well that the story of it was honest and joyful to all
virtuous young noble gentlemen and women for to read therein as for
their pastime. For under correction, in my judgment, the stories of
noble feats and valiant acts of arms and war ... which have been
actioned in old time by many noble princes, lords, and knights, are as
well for to see and know their valiantness, for to stand in the special
grace and love of their ladies, and in likewise for gentle young ladies
and demoiselles for to learn to be steadfast and constant in their part
to them, that they once have promised and agreed to such as have put
their lives oft in jeopardy for to please them to stand in grace, as it
is to occupy the ken and study overmuch in books of contemplation.”



Westminster is the City of Kings’ Houses. It contains, or has contained,
five of them. Of these we have already considered one--the earliest and
the most interesting. Of the four others, Buckingham Palace belongs to
the present; it is, in a way, part of ourselves, since it is the House
of the Sovereign. Therefore we need not dwell upon it. There remain the
Houses of Whitehall, of St. James’s, and of Kensington. Of these three
the two latter Palaces have apparently failed to impress the popular
imagination with any sense of royal splendor or mystery. This sense
belongs both to Westminster and to Whitehall; but not to St. James’s or
to Kensington. It is hard to say why this is so. As regards St. James’s,
the buildings are certainly not externally majestic; nor does one who
walks within its courts become immediately conscious of ancient
associations and the atmosphere of Court Functions. Yet nearly all the
Court Functions were held there for a hundred and fifty years. Again,
there are personal associations, if one looks for them, clinging to St.
James’s, as there were at Whitehall; but either we do not look for them,
or they do not awaken any enthusiasm. Pilgrims do not journey to the
Palace to visit its haunted chambers, as they do to Holyrood or to
Windsor. Queen Mary, for instance, died in the Palace--Froude has told
us in what mournful manner and in which room. Does anyone ever ask or
care for the room in which the most unhappy of all English Queens or
Princesses breathed her last? King Charles spent his last night in this
Palace. The Royal martyr has still admirers, but they do not flock to
St. James’s to weep over the unspeakable sadness of that night. The
elder Pretender was born here, but we have almost forgotten his life, to
say nothing of his birth, in spite of the romantic warming-pan. There
are stories of love and intrigue, of jealousy, of ambition and
disappointment, connected with St. James’s; yet, with all this wealth of
material, it is not a place of romance: at Whitehall, when we think of
that vanished House, the face, the eyes, the voice of Louise de
Querouaille light up the courts; the Count de Grammont fills the rooms
for us with lovely ladies and gallant courtiers; outside, from her
windows looking into the Park, fair Nelly greets the King with mirthful
eyes and saucy tongue as he crosses from Whitehall. Well, Miss Brett was
perhaps quite as beautiful as Nelly or Louise, but we do not in the
least desire to read about her. The book of the French courtier treats
entirely of the world, the flesh, and the devil--we read it with
rapture; the Chronicles of St. James’s might be written so as to treat
of exactly the same subjects--yet we turn from them. Why? Because it is
impossible to throw over the Georges the luminous halo of romance.
George the First, the Second, and the son of the Second, were perhaps as
immoral as Charles and James; yet between them all they could not
produce a single romance. The first romantic episode in the history of
the house of Hanover is that simple little legend of Hannah Lightfoot.
Perhaps another reason why St. James’s has never become to the
imagination a successor to Whitehall and Westminster is that from the
year 1714 to the year 1837 the old kind of loyalty to the sovereign no
longer existed. Compare the personal loyalty displayed to Henry V., to
Henry VIII., to Elizabeth, with that felt for William III., who saved
the country from Catholic rule, and for George I., who carried on the
Protestant succession. The country accepted these kings, not because
they had any personal love for them, but because they enabled the nation
to have what it wanted. The new kings did not try to become personally
popular; but they were ready to lead the people in war for religious
freedom, and they represented a principle. But as for personal loyalty
of the ancient kind, that no longer existed.

For exactly a similar reason Kensington has never been a palace in which
the world is interested. William III. chose the house for his residence;
he died here. An excellent king, a most useful king, but hardly
possessed of the nation’s love. George II. died here; the Duke of Sussex
died here; yet there is no curiosity or enthusiasm about the place.

With Whitehall the case is quite different. It was the Palace of Henry
VIII., of Elizabeth, of the Tudors and the Stuarts; the Palace of
sovereigns who ruled as well as reigned, who were English and not
Germans, who lived in the open light and air for all to behold; if they
did not hide their vices, they openly displayed their virtues: there is
more interest attaching to the Whitehall of Charles II. alone than there
is to the St. James’s of all those who came after him. Since, then, we
can here consider one palace only out of the remaining four, let us turn
to the Palace of Whitehall.

We have seen that, of all the buildings which once clustered round the
Painted Chamber and formed the

[Illustration: _Inigo Jones 1614._]

King’s House of Westminster, there now remain nothing more than a single
hall much changed, a crypt much restored, a cloister, and a tower. But
this is autumnal opulence compared with the Palace of Whitehall. Of that
broad, rambling place, as taken over and enlarged by Henry VIII., there
now remains nothing at all--not a single chamber, not a tower, not a
gateway, not a fragment; everything is gone: even the disposition of its
courts and lanes, generally the last thing to be lost, can no longer be
traced. And of the Stuart Whitehall which succeeded there remains but
one chamber, the Banqueting Hall of Inigo Jones. Perhaps no royal palace
of recent times, in any country, has been so lost and forgotten as that
of the Tudor Whitehall. Even the Ivory House of Ahab, or the Golden
House of Nero, has not been more completely swept away. I wonder how
many living men--even of the few who have seriously studied the
Westminster of the past--could draw from memory a plan of Whitehall
Palace, or describe in general terms its courts and buildings. Yet it
was a very great house; certainly not venerable or picturesque, such as
that which stood beside the Abbey: there were no sculptured fronts, no
tall gables, no tourelles, no gray walls, no narrow windows, no carved
cloisters; there was hardly any suggestion of a fortress; it was a
modern house from the first, the house of an ecclesiastic, built, like
all the older houses, in a succession of courts. One who wishes to
understand Whitehall must visit Hampton, and walk about the courts of
St. James’s.

The first mention of the House is in the year 1221, when it was
bequeathed by Hubert de Burgh, Henry III.’s Justiciary, to the
Dominicans of his foundation. The original home of the Black Friars in
London was in Holborn, exactly north of Lincoln’s Inn; whence, fifty
years later, they removed to the corner where the Fleet runs into the
Thames, just outside the ancient City wall. Here their name still
survives. The monks kept Hubert’s house till 1276, when they sold it to
the Archbishop of York. For two hundred and fifty years it was the town
house of the Archbishop. Wolsey, the last Archbishop who held it,
greatly enlarged and beautified the house. Concerning the magnificence
with which he lived here--such magnificence as surpassed that of the
King his master, such splendor as no king of England, not even Richard
the Second, had ever shown at his court--we are informed by his
biographer, Cavendish. Wolsey’s following of eight hundred men,
including ten peers of the realm and fifteen knights who were not too
proud to enter the service of the Cardinal, was greater even than that
of Warwick, the King-maker of the preceding century.

When one reads of the entertainments, the banquetings, the mumming, the
music, the gold and silver plate, the cloth of gold, the blaze of color
everywhere,--in the hangings, in the coats of arms, in the costumes, in
the trappings of the horses,--we must remember that this magnificence
was not in those days regarded as ostentation. So to speak of it betrays
nineteenth-century prejudice. It is only in this present century that
the rich man has been expected to live, to travel, to dress, to
entertain, very much like the men who are not so rich. Dives now drives
in a carriage little better than that of the physician who attends him.
He gives dinners little better than those of the lawyer who conducts his
affairs. If he lives in a great house, it is in the country, unseen. To
parade and flaunt and exhibit your wealth is, as we now understand


_From the original Picture by Samuel Scott, in possession of Mr. Andrew

things, bad form. In the time of Cardinal Wolsey it was not bad form: it
was the right and proper use of wealth to entertain royally; it was the
part of a rich man to dress splendidly, to have a troop of gentlemen and
valets in his service, to exhibit tables covered with gold and silver
plate, to hang the walls with beautiful and costly arras. All this was
right and proper. In this way the successful man showed his success to
the world; he invited the world to judge how successful he was--how
rich, how powerful. A great deal of Wolsey’s authority and power
depended upon this outward and visible show. Perhaps he overdid the
splendor and created jealousies. Yet kings delighted in seeing the
splendor of their subjects. Had the divorce business gone on smoothly,
the King might have continued to rejoice in possessing a subject so
great and powerful. We have ceased so long from open splendor that we
find it difficult to understand it. Imagination refuses to restore the
glory of York House, when its walls were hung with tapestry of many
colors; when, here and there, in place of tapestry, the walls were hung
with cloth of gold, cloth of silver, and cloth of tissue. Where, let me
ask, can we find now a single piece of this fine cloth of gold? There
were long tables spread with rich stuffs--satin, silk, velvet, damask:
where can we find a table now spread with these lovely things? There
were sideboards set with the most splendid gold and silver plate: where
now can we see gold and silver plate--save at a Lord Mayor’s Dinner? A
following of eight hundred people rode with the Cardinal: what noble in
the land has such a following now? Alas! the richest and greatest lord
that we can produce has nothing but a couple of varlets behind his
carriage, and two or three more in his hall, with never a knight or
squire or armiger among them. As for the Cardinal himself, when he went
abroad he was all scarlet and red and gold and silver gilt. His saddle
was of crimson velvet, his shoes were set with gleaming diamonds, his
stirrups were silver gilt; before him rode two monks carrying silver
crosses. Every day he entertained a multitude with a noble feast and
fine wines, with the singing of men and children, and with the music of
all kinds of instruments. And afterward there were masques and
mummeries, and dances with noble dames and gentle damsels.

What have we to show in comparison with this magnificence? Nothing. The
richest man, the most noble and the most powerful, is no more splendid
than a simple gentleman. The King-maker, if he existed in the present
day, would walk to his club in Pall Mall; and you would not distinguish
him from the briefless barrister taking his dinner--the same dinner,
mind--at the next table. The decay of magnificence accompanies the decay
of rank, the decay of individual authority, and the decay of territorial

Wolsey fell. Great and powerful must have been that dread sovereign,
that Occidental Star, that King who could overthrow by a single word so
mighty a Lord as the Cardinal. And the king took over for his own use
the town house of the Archbishops of York.

At this time the old Palace of Westminster was in a melancholy
condition. A fire in 1512 destroyed a great part of it, including the
principal offices and many of the chambers. The central part--the King’s
House--however, escaped, and here the King remained. Rooms for visitors
were found at Baynard’s Castle, Bridewell, and St. James’s (which was
built by Henry on the site of St. James’s Hospital). Norden, who wrote
in the year 1592, says that the old Palace at that time lay in ruins,
but that the vaults, cellars, and walls still remaining showed how
extensive had been the buildings in former times.

In converting York House into a Palace Henry added a tennis court, a
cockpit, a bowling alley, and a tilt yard. He built a gateway after
Holbein’s designs across the main street; and besides these, according
to the Act of Parliament which annexed Whitehall to the Palace of
Westminster, he “most sumptuously and curiously builded and edified many
beautiful, costly, and pleasant lodgings.” He laid out the Park, and he
began a collection of pictures, which Charles I. afterward enlarged.
James I. designed to erect a new and very costly Palace on the spot. He
intrusted the work to Inigo Jones, but the design never got beyond the
Banqueting Hall. Had the Palace been completed it would have shown a
front of 1152 feet in length from north to south, and 874 feet from east
to west.

The plan of the Palace, as it was in the reign of Charles II., exists.
It is here reproduced from the Crace collection in the British Museum.
It will be seen that the place was much less in area and contained fewer
buildings than the Westminster Palace. The chief reason for these
diminished proportions was the separation for the first time in English
history of the High Courts of Justice from the King’s Court, and the
change from the army,--King Cnut’s huscarles,--which the kings had
always led about with them, to a small bodyguard. The place is rambling,
as we should expect from the manner in which it grew.

On the south side the Palace began with the Bowling Green; next to this
was the Privy Garden, a large


piece of ground laid out formally. The front of the Palace consisted of
the Banqueting Hall, the present Whitehall, the Gate and Gate Tower,
neither stately nor in any way remarkable, and a row of low gabled
houses almost mean in appearance. The Gate opened upon a series of three
courts or quadrangles. The first and most important, called “The Court,”
had on its west side the Banqueting House; on the south there was a row
of offices or chambers; on the north a low covered way connected the
Banqueting Hall with the other chambers; on the east side was the Great
Hall or Presence Chamber, the Chapel, and the private rooms of the King
and Queen. This part of the Palace contained what was left of the old
York House. The second court, that into which the principal gate opened,
was called the “Courtyard.” By this court was the way to the Audience
and Council Chambers, the Chapel, the offices of the Palace, and the
Water Gate. The Art Collections and Library were placed in the “Stone
Gallery,” which ran along the east side of the Privy Garden. A third
court was called Scotland Yard; in this court was the Guard House. The
old custom of having everything made in the Palace that could be made,
and everything stored under responsible officers, was continued at
Whitehall as it had been at Westminster. Thus we find cellars, pastry
house, pantry, cyder house, spicery, bakehouse, charcoal house, scalding
house, chandlery, poulterers’ house, master glazier’s,
confectionery--and the rest, each office with its responsible officer,
and each officer with his own quarters in the Palace. One long building
on the right hand of the picture was the “Small Beer Buttery.” The
length shows its importance; its situation among the offices indicates
for whom it was erected. Remember that the common sort of Englishman has
never at any time used water as a beverage unless there was nothing else
to be had; that as yet he had no tea; that his habitual beverage was
small beer; and that in all great houses small beer was to be had for
the asking in the intervals of work.

Beyond the Banqueting Hall and the Gate House there is a broad street,
now Parliament Street, then a portion of the Palace. On the other side,
where in King Henry’s reign were the Tilt Yard and the Cockpit, are the
old Horse Guards and Wallingford House, afterward the Admiralty. Beyond
these buildings is St. James’s Park, with fine broad roads, which remain
to the present day; on the left is Rosamond’s Pond in its setting of
trees, to which reference is constantly made in the literature of the
seventeenth century.

At the south end of the open space stood the beautiful gate erected by
Holbein. It was removed in 1759.

The appearance of the Palace from the river has been preserved in
several views, in none of which do the details all agree. The one
produced here is taken from Wilkinson’s “Londina Illustrata,” and shows
the Palace in the time of James II. The general aspect of

[Illustration: ST. JAMES’S PALACE.]

the Palace is that of a great collection of chambers and offices built
as they were required, for convenience and comfort, rather than for
beauty or picturesqueness. There are no towers, cloisters, gables, or
carved work. It is essentially--like St. James’s, like Hampton--a palace
of brick.

The greater part of Whitehall Palace was destroyed by fire in 1691 and
1697. After the deposition of James II. it ceased to be a royal
residence. Then the site of the Palace was gradually built over by
private persons. The Banqueting Hall was for a long time a Chapel Royal;
it has now become the house for the collections of the United Service
Institute. One could wish that some of the Palace had been preserved:
from the marriage of Anne Boleyn to the deposition of James II. is a
period which contains a great many events of interest and importance,
all of which are associated with this Palace. The destruction of the
ancient Faith, the dissolution of the Religious Houses, the re-birth of
Classical learning, the vast development of trade, the widening of the
world, the beginning of the Empire _outre mer_, the humbling of Spain,
the successful resistance of the nation against the king, the growth of
a most glorious literature, the revival of the national spirit--all
these things belong to Whitehall Palace. Other memories it had, not so
pleasing: the self-will of Henry, the misery of his elder daughter, the
execution of Charles I., the licentious Court of Charles II.--one wishes
that the place had been spared.

We have copied the plan of the Palace. It is, however, impossible to
fill in the plan with the innumerable offices, private rooms, galleries,
and chambers mentioned by one writer and another. We must be content to
know that it was a vast nest of chambers and offices; there were
hundreds of them; the courts were crowded with people; there was a
common thoroughfare through the middle of the Palace from Charing Cross
to Westminster; so many funerals, for instance, were conducted along
this road to St. Margaret’s, that Henry VIII. constructed a new burial
ground at St. Martin’s. The Palace was accessible to all; the Guard
stood at the gate, but everybody was admitted as to a town; the King
moved freely about the Courts, in the Mall, in the Park, sometimes
unattended. The people drove their pack horses or their wagons up and
down the road, and hardly noticed the swarthy-faced man who stood under
the shade of a tree watching the players along the Mall. This easy and
fearless familiarity vanished with the Stuarts.

[Illustration: KENSINGTON PALACE.]

Between this palace and that of Westminster there were certain important
points of difference. One, the absence of the law courts, has already
been noticed. At Whitehall there was a Guard House; it stood, as has
been said, in Scotland Yard; no doubt the Gate was guarded; in 1641 the
old “Horse Guards” was built for the Gentlemen Pensioners who formed the
Guard; but there was no wall round the Palace, there was no suggestion
of a fortress, there was no suggestion of a camp. Next, the Palace of
Westminster was always, as had been intended by Edward the Confessor,
connected with the Abbey. It had, to be sure, its own chapel--that of
St. Stephen’s; but it was connected by historical associations of every
kind with the Abbey. The ringing of the Abbey bells, the rolling of the
organ, the chanting of the monks could be heard by day and by night
above the music and the minstrelsy, the blare of trumpet and the clash
of arms. At Whitehall there was a chapel, but the Abbey was out of
hearing. When Henry removed his Palace from Thorney Island to York
House, it was a warning or a sign that he would shortly remove himself
from the domination of the Church.

[Illustration: BUCKINGHAM PALACE.]

As for the Court in the reigns of Elizabeth and James, we have full
details. The Yeomen of the Guard, who were the bodyguard, wore red cloth
roses on back and breast. When the Court moved from

[Illustration: THE HORSE GUARDS.]

Whitehall to Greenwich or to Theobalds, a vast quantity of baggage went
with it. Three hundred carts were required to carry all that was wanted.
What did these carts contain? Not furniture, certainly. Table-linen,
gold and silver plate, wine, and stores of all kinds, tapestry, dresses,
and bedding, kitchen vessels. As for furniture, there were as yet no
tables such as we now use, but boards on trestles, which were put up for
every meal; there were chairs and stools; there was tapestry on the
walls; there were beds; there were cabinets and sideboards; except in
the Presence Chamber or the Banqueting Hall there were no carpets. All
who write of England at this time speak with admiration of the chambers
strewn with sweet herbs, the crushing of which by their feet brought
out their fragrance; the nosegays of flowers placed in the bedrooms,
and the parlors trimmed with vine leaves, green boughs, and fresh herbs.
It is a pleasant picture.

Of treasures such as exist at the present day in Buckingham Palace,
Windsor, and other royal residences, there were few. Hentzner, a
traveler, in the year 1598, found a library in Whitehall well stored
with Greek, Latin, Italian, and French books; he says nothing of English
books. They were all bound in red velvet, with clasps of gold and
silver; some had pearls and precious stones in the bindings. He also
found some pictures, including portraits of “Henry, Richard, and
Edward.” There were a few other curious things: a cabinet of silver,
daintily worked, in which the Queen kept letter-paper; a jewel-box set
with pearls; toys and curiosities in clockwork. A few years later, in
1613, the pictures in Whitehall are enumerated. There were then
portraits of Henry VII., Henry VIII., Edward VI., Elizabeth, and Mary
Queen of Scots. There were also portraits of French and Spanish kings
and queens, and of the great ladies of Court. It is curious to remark
that no portrait then existed in Whitehall either of Mary or of Philip.
The list includes the portraits in the other palaces. There is not one
of Mary.

Let us assist at a royal banquet. It is an entertainment offered to Juan
Fernandez de Velasco, Duke de Frias, Constable of Castile, on Sunday,
August 10, 1604, in which the King opened his mind without reserve as to
peace with Spain. The Audience Chamber was furnished with a buffet of
several stages, filled with gold and silver plate. People were freely
admitted to look on, but a railing was put up on either side of the
room to keep them from crowding or pressing. The table was fifteen feet
long and three feet broad. The dishes were brought in by the King’s
gentlemen and servants, accompanied by the Lord Chamberlain. The Earls
of Pembroke and Southampton were gentlemen-ushers. The King and Queen,
with Prince Henry, entered after the arrival of the Constable and his
suite. After washing of hands,--the Lord Treasurer handing the bowl to
the King and the Lord High Admiral to the Queen,--grace was said, and
they took their seats. The King and Queen occupied thrones at the head
of the table under a canopy of state on chairs of brocade, with
cushions. On the Queen’s side sat the Constable on a tabouret of
brocade, and on the King’s side sat the Prince. The other guests were
four gentlemen forming part of the Ambassador’s suite. There was also at
the table, says a historian, a large company of the principal noblemen
in the realm. He enumerates twenty-one, and says there were others. How
they were all placed at a table fifteen feet long and three feet broad,
he does not explain. Perhaps there was a second table. A band of
instruments discoursed music during the banquet. The speeches and toasts
went on during the course of the dinner. First the King rose, and,
taking off his crown, he drank to the health of their Spanish Majesties.
Next the Constable drank to the Health of the Queen “out of the lid of a
cup of agate of extraordinary beauty.” He then passed the cup to the
King, asking him to drink out of it; and then to the Prince. He then
directed that the cup should remain on his Majesty’s buffet. At this
point the people present shouted out: “Peace! peace! peace! God save the
King! God save the King!”

[Illustration: OLD SCOTLAND YARD.]

The banquet, thus cheered by compliments, toasts, and the shouts of the
onlookers, lasted three hours. At its conclusion, which would be three
o’clock in the afternoon, a singular ceremony took place. “The table was
placed upon the ground, and their Majesties, standing upon it, proceeded
to wash their hands.” The King and Queen then retired to their own
apartments, while the Spanish guests were taken to the picture gallery.
In an hour’s time they returned to the Audience Chamber, where dancing
had begun.

Fifty ladies of honor were present, “richly dressed and extremely
beautiful.” Prince Henry danced a _galliard;_ the Queen, with the Earl
of Southampton, danced a _brando;_ the Prince danced another
_galliard_--“con algunas cabriolas,” with certain capers; then another
_brando_ was performed; the Queen with the Earl of Southampton, and
Prince Henry with another lady of the Court, danced a _correnta_. This
ended the ball. They then all took their places at the windows, which
looked out upon a court of the Palace. There they had the pleasure of
seeing the King’s bears fight with greyhounds, and there was very fine
baiting of the bull. Then followed tumblers and rope-dancers. With these
performances ended the entertainment and the day. The Lord Chamberlain
accompanied the Constable to the farthest room; the Earl of Devonshire
and other gentlemen went with them to their coaches, and fifty
halberdiers escorted them on their way home with torches. On the morrow,
one is pained to read, the Constable had an attack of lumbago.

There are other notes on the Court which one finds in the descriptions
of foreign travelers. Thus, the King was served on one knee; while he
drank his cupbearer remained on one knee; he habitually drank
Frontignac, a sweet, rich French wine; when Queen Elizabeth passed
through the street men fell on their knees (this practice seems to have
been discontinued at her death); servants carried their masters’ arms on
the left sleeve; the people, within or without the Court, were noisy and
overbearing (all travelers agree on this point); they hated foreigners
and laughed at them; they were magnificent in dress; they allowed their
wives the greatest liberty, and spent all they could afford upon their
dresses; the greatest pleasure the wives of the citizens had was to sit
in their doorways dressed in their best for the passers-by to admire;
they were accustomed to eat a great quantity of meat; they loved sweet
things, pouring honey over mutton and mixing sugar with their wine; they
ardently pursued bull and bear baiting, hunting, fishing, and sport of
all kinds; they ate saffron cakes to bring out the flavor of beer; they
spent great sums of money in tobacco, which was 18s. a pound, equal to
more than £6 of our money; their great highway was the river, which was
covered with boats of all kinds plying up and down the stream, and was
also covered with thousands of swans. The river, indeed, maintained as
watermen, fishermen, lightermen, stevedores, etc., as many as forty
thousand men. When we read of James kissing his favorites--a practice
nauseous to the modern Englishman--we must remember that it was then not
an uncommon thing, but quite the contrary, for friends to kiss each
other. In France and Germany men have always greeted each other with a
kiss. On entering a room a visitor kissed all the ladies present. Thus
it was reckoned unusual when the Duchess of Richmond (1625) admitted the
Duke of Brunswick to Ely House on the proviso that he must not kiss her.
He did not, but he kissed all her ladies


twice over in a quarter of an hour. And the Constable of Castile, the
day before the great banquet, kissed all the Queen’s ladies of honor.
Erasmus remarks that the English have a custom “never to be sufficiently
commended. Wherever you go, you are received with a kiss from all; when
you take your leave, you are dismissed with kisses; you return--kisses
are repeated; they come to visit you--kisses again.”

Those who read--and trust--the gossiping and scandalous memoirs of the
day acquire a very imperfect idea of King James’s Court. The physical
defects and weaknesses of the King are exaggerated: we are told that his
legs were weak, and that he rolled in his gait; the foreign ambassadors,
however, speak of him as a man of great strength and strong
constitution: we are told that he spoke thickly; there is nothing said
of this defect in the letters written by these visitors. That he lived
privately, and went not abroad, as Queen Elizabeth had done, is
acknowledged; that his Court was in any way ridiculous does not appear,
except in such a writer as Anthony Welldon. In this place, happily, we
have not to consider his foreign or domestic policy, or his lofty ideas
on Divine Right; but only his Court. In the fierce light which beats
upon a throne every weakness is made visible and appears out of
proportion. We must remember, however, that the blemishes are not
visible to him who only occasionally visits the Court, or witnesses a
Court function. We, for instance, are only outsiders: we know nothing of
the whispers which run round the inner circle. Those who are about the
person of the sovereign must experience, one would think, something of
degradation when they make the inevitable discovery that the King’s most
excellent Majesty, whom they have been wont to serve on bended


knee, is afflicted, like the meanest of his servants, with human
infirmities, and with weaknesses physical and mental. There are,
however, two kings; the one as he appears to the outer world, which only
sees him at Court functions; the other as he appears to his servants and
those about his person. If one of these servants reveals to the world
that the sovereign in hours of privacy was wont to relax from the cares
of state in the company of persons little better than buffoons, we may
acknowledge that the dignity maintained by the King in public and before
the eyes of the world was greater than James could always sustain. He
relaxed, therefore, too much in the opposite direction. Why parade the
fact? When one of his servants describes a drunken orgy at the Palace,
we remark that James was king for more than twenty years, that there is
no mention of any other drunken orgy, and that this deplorable evening
was in honor of the Queen’s brother, King of Denmark, who probably
thought that general excess of wine was part of the honor paid to him.
When we are told that James was afraid of a drawn sword, and turned his
eyes away when he knighted a certain person, we remark that this outward
and visible sign of fear is only recorded of him once and by one writer,
that no one else speaks of it, and that there is no proof whatever that
on this occasion he turned his head in sign of fear. That he loved
hunting excessively is only saying that he joined in the sports of his
time, and that he was always pleased to escape the cares and fatigues of
his place. That saint whom English Catholics still revere, Edward the
Confessor, was also excessively fond of hunting. When all this is said
we may add that this King, who loved buffoonery so much, was a good
scholar and a diligent student, a lover of literature and of scholars, a
writer of considerable power, a disputant of no mean order. King James
wrote the _Doron Basilikon_; he wrote a book on Dæmonology (who can
expect a king to be in advance of his age?); he wrote against the use of
tobacco; he translated many of the Psalms; he was constantly saying
things witty, unexpected, shrewd, and


     A Reduced Copy of Fisher’s Ground Plan of the Royal Palace of
     Whitehall, Taken in the Reign of Charles II., 1680.

 1. Lodgings belonging to his Majesty.
 2. To his Royal Highness.
 3. His Highness Prince Rupert.
 4. The Duke of Richmond.
 5. The Duke of Monmouth.
 6. The Duke of Ormond.
 7. The Duke of Albemarle.
 8. The Earl of Bath.
 9. The Earl of Lauderdale.
10. The Lord Peterborough.
11. The Lord Gerard.
12. The Lord Crofts.
13. The Lord Belassis.
14. The Lord Chamberlain.
15. The Lord Keeper.
16. The Council Officer.
17. Sir Edward Walker.
18. The Treasury Chambers.
19. The King’s Laboratory and Bath.
20. The Lord Arlington’s Office.
21. Sir Robert Murrey.
22. The Wardrobe.
23. Her Majesty’s Apartments.
24. The Maids of Honor.
25. The Countess of Suffolk.
26. The Queen’s Wardrobe.
27. Madam Charlotte Killegrew.
28. The Lady Arlington.
29. The Lady Silvis.
30. The Countess of Falmouth.
31. Mrs. Kirks.
32. Countess of Castlemaine’s Kitchen.
33. Colonel Darcy’s.
34. Sir Philip Killegrew.
35. Captain Cook.
36. Mrs. Kirke.
37. Mr. Hyde.
38. Mr. Povey.
39. Mr. Chiffinch.
40. Sir William Killegrew.
41. Sir Francis Clinton.
42. Dr. Frazier.
43. Father Patricks.
44. To Mr. Bryan.
45. Sir Henry Wood.
46. Sir George Carteret.
47. The Officers of ye Jewel Office.
48. The Quarter Waiters.
49. Sir John Trevors.
50. To Mr. Lightfoot.
51. To Mr. Vasse.
52. To Mr. Lisle.
53. Sir Paul Neale.
54. The King’s Musick House.
55. To Mr. Early.
56. To Sir Stephen Fox.
57. To Mrs. Churchill.
58. To Mr. Dupper.

* On this spot King Charles I. was beheaded.

epigrammatic; he was as tolerant as could be expected in matters of

Lastly, James made the Court of Whitehall magnificent during the whole
of his reign, by the splendor of the Masques.

When we think of this vanished Palace our thoughts turn to the Masques,
which belong especially to Whitehall--there were none at Westminster and
none at St. James’s. The Masque is of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries. It was a play performed on one night only; not by
professional actors, but by lords and ladies of the Court. The jewels
worn were real jewels; the dresses were of velvet and silk, embroidered
with gold and pearls; the scenery was costly and elaborate; the music
was new and composed for the occasion; the dances were newly invented
for that night only; the scene-painter and stage manager was the
greatest architect of the day; the words were written by the poet who,
in his lifetime, was esteemed by many the first of living poets. The
Masque was a costly, splendid thing,--a thing of courtly pomp,--a fit
plaything for queen and princess; a form of drama perfected by Ben
Jonson, not disdained by Milton, put upon the stage by Inigo Jones. As
for the play itself, the _motif_ was always simple, sometimes
allegorical, generally grave; the treatment was classical. The Masques
of Ben Jonson would be wearisome for the length of the speeches and the
slowness of the movement, did we not keep before our eyes the scenery
and the grouping of the figures. Their tedium in the reading is also
retrieved by the lovely verses and songs scattered freely over the
piece; the acting, the music, the scenes, the singing, the dancing kept
up the life and action and interest of the piece. There was an immense
amount of stage management, stage machinery, and decorations.
Shakespeare and his actors at the Globe and Fortune could neither afford
these splendors nor did they attempt even a distant imitation of them.
When the King commanded a play, it was put on the stage with none of the
accessories which belonged to the Masque. At Whitehall, as at Bankside,
the back of the stage represented a wall, a palace, or a castle; the
hangings--black or blue--showed whether it was night or day. But the
Masque was not a show for the people; it is certain that the
“groundlings” of the Globe would not have understood the classical
allusions with which it was crammed. At the present day a masque would
only be endured as a spectacle for the picturesque grouping, the beauty
of the actresses, the splendor of the dresses, the perfection of the
dancing, the lovely songs, and the admirable skill and discipline of the
company. When the principal actress was no other than the Queen herself,
who led off a dance, followed by ladies representing mythological
characters perfectly well understood by a Court of scholars, when the
scenery, new and beautiful, was changed again and again, even though the
fable was no great thing, the entertainment was delightful.

The general care of these and other shows was intrusted to the Master of
Revels. This office is described in an official book compiled by Edmund
Tylney, a Master of Revels, 1579-1610. He says: “The office of yᵉ Revels
consisteth of a Wardropp and other several Roomes, for Artificers to
worke in--viz., Taylors, Imbrotherers, Property-makers, Paynters, Wyer
drawers and Carpenters, togeather with a convenient place for yᵉ
rehearsals and setting forthe of Playes and other Showes for those

The first Master of Revels was Sir Thomas Cawerden, appointed in 1546.
He was followed by Sir Thomas Benger, Edmund Tylney, Sir George Busk,
Sir John Astley, and Sir Henry Herbert. With him the importance of the
post ceased; the office, however, was still continued. It survives--or
lingers--in the Licenser of Plays.

So few read Ben Jonson’s Masques that I ask no excuse for presenting
one. We will take the masque called “The Hue and Cry after Cupid.” It
was written as a wedding entertainment.

The scene represented a high, steep red cliff mounting to the sky, a red
cliff because the occasion was the wedding of one of the Radcliffs. The
cliff was also “a note of height, greatness, and antiquity.” Before the
cliff on the two sides were two pilasters charged with spoils and
trophies of Venus and Cupid: hearts transfixed, hearts burning, young
men and maidens buried with roses, garlands, arrows, and so forth--all
of burnished gold. Over the pillars hovered the figures of Triumph and
Victory, twice the size of life, completing the arch and holding a
garland of myrtle for the key.

Beyond the cliff, cloud and obscurity.

Then music began; the clouds vanished; two doves followed by two swans
drew forth a triumphant chariot, in which sat Venus crowned with her
star, and beneath her the three Graces, “all attired according to their
antique figures”--which is obscure and doubtful.

Venus descends from the chariot, and is followed by the Graces:

              “It is no common cause, you will conceive,
              My lovely Graces, makes your goddess leave
              Her state in Heaven to-night, to visit earth.
              Love late is fled away, my eldest birth,
              Cupid, whom I did joy to call my son;
              And whom long absent, Venus is undone.
              Spy, if you can, his footsteps on the green;
              For here, as I am told, he late hath been.

           *       *       *       *       *

              Find ye no track of his stray’d feet?”

    _1st. G._ Not I.

    _2d. G._ Not I.

    _3d. G._ Not I.

    _Venus._ Stay, nymphs; we then will try
              A nearer way. Look at these ladies’ eyes,
              And see if there he not concealèd lies.
              Perchance he hath some simple heart to hide
              His subtle shape in ...

           *       *       *       *       *

              Begin, soft Graces, and proclaim reward
              To her that brings him in. Speak to be heard.

Then the Graces begin, and one after the other for nine verses sing the
“Hue and Cry for Cupid”:

    _1st G._ Beauties, have ye seen this toy
             Callèd Love, a little boy,
             Almost naked, wanton, blind;
             Cruel now, and then as kind?
             If he be amongst ye, say?
             He is Venus’ runaway.

           *       *       *       *       *

    _2d G._ Trust him not; his words, though sweet,
             Seldom with his heart do meet.
             All his practice is deceit;
             Any gift it is a bait;
             Not a kiss but poison bears,
             And most treason in his tears.

           *       *       *       *       *

    _1st G._ If by these ye please to know him,
             Beauties, be not nice, but show him.

    _2d G._ Though ye had a will to hide him,
             Now, we hope, ye’ll not abide him.

    _3d G._ Since you hear his falser play,
             And that he’s Venus’ runaway.

After this Cupid himself comes running out from behind the trophies: he
is armed; he is followed by twelve boys “most antickly” attired,
representing the Sports and pretty Lightnesses that accompany Love under
the titles of Joci and Risus.

    _Cupid._ Come, my little jocund sports,
             Come away; the time now sorts
             With your pastime; this same night
             Is Cupid’s day. Advance your light,
             With your revel fill the room,
             That our triumphs be not dumb.

Then the boys “fall into a subtle, capricious” dance, bearing torches
with ridiculous gestures. Venus all the time stands on one side, the
Graces grouped around her. Can we realize what a pretty picture this
would make? When the dance is over, Venus and her maidens surround
Cupid and apprehend him. What has he been doing?

    “Have you shot Minerva or the Thespian dames?
    Heat agèd Ops again with youthful flames?
    Or have you made the colder Moon to visit,
    Once more, a sheepcote? Say what conquest is it
    Can make you hope such a renown to win?
    Is there a second Hercules brought to spin?
    Or, for some new disguise, leaves Jove his thunder?”

At this point Hymen entered, and the manner of his entry was thus: He
wore a saffron-colored robe, his under-vesture white, his socks yellow,
a yellow veil of silk on his left arm, his head crowned with roses and
marjoram, in his right hand a torch of pine tree. After him came a youth
in white, bearing another torch of white thorn; behind him two others in
white, the one bearing a distaff and the other a spindle. Then followed
the Auspices, those who “handfasted” the pair and wished them luck--_i.
e._, prayed for them. Then one who bore water and another who bore fire;
and lastly musicians.

Cupid at sight of Hymen breaks off:

    “Hymen’s presence bids away;
    ’Tis already at his night:
    He can give you further light.
    You, my Sports, may here abide,
    Till I call to light the bride.”

Hymen addresses Venus, paying the most charming compliments to King
James under the name of Æneas. He tells her that he is come to grace the
marriage of a noble virgin styled the Maid of the Redcliffe, and that
Vulcan with the Cyclopes are at that moment forging something strange
and curious to grace the nuptials; and indeed, at that moment Vulcan
himself, dressed like the blacksmith that he is, comes upon the stage.
He has completed the work:

    “Cleave, solid rock, and bring the wonder forth!”

Then, with a burst of music, the cliff falls open and discloses “an
illustrious concave filled with an ample and glistering light in which
an artificial sphere was made of silver, eighteen feet in diameter, that
turned perpetually; the _coluri_ were heightened with gold; so were the
arctic and the antarctic circles, the tropics, the equinoctial, the
meridian, and horizon; only the zodiac was of pure gold, in which the
masquers under the characters of the twelve signs were placed, answering
them in number.”

This is the description. The system of the Zodiac seems a strange thing
to present as part of a wedding entertainment; but such a thing was not
then part of school work, and when Vulcan called out at the masquers,
Aries the Ram, Taurus the Bull, Gemini the Twins, and the rest,
explaining how they apply to the conjugal condition, no doubt there was
much delight. This done, Venus, Vulcan, Hymen, and their trains sat or
stood while the masquers, assisted by the Cyclopes, alternately sang and
danced. There are seven verses to the song, and there were four dances.
The dances were invented by Master Thomas Giles and Master Hieronymus
Herne; the tunes were composed by Master Alphonso Ferrabosco; the scenes
by Master Inigo Jones; and the verse, with the invention of the whole,
by Ben Jonson himself. “The attire,” says the poet, “of the masquers
throughout was most graceful and noble; partaking of the best, both
ancient and later figure. The colours, carnation and silver, enriched
with embroidery and lace. The dressing of their heads, feathers and
jewels.” The names of the masquers were the Duke of Lenox, the Earls of
Arundell, Pembroke, and Montgomery, Lords D’Aubigny, Walden, Hay, and
Sankre, Sir Robert Rothe, Sir Joseph Kennethir, and Master Erskine. Here
are two of the verses:

    “What joy or honours can compare
    With holy nuptials when they are
        Made out of equal parts
    Of years, of states, of hands, of hearts!
        When in the happy choice
    The spouse and spousèd have the foremost voice!
        Such, glad of Hymen’s war,
          Live what they are
        And long perfection see:
          And such ours be--
    Shine, Hesperus, shine forth, thou wishèd star!

    “Love’s common wealth consists of toys:
    His council are those antic boys.
        Games, laughter, sports, delights,
    That triumph with him on these nights,
        To whom we must give way,
    For now their reign begins and lasts till day.
        They sweeten Hymen’s war,
          And, in that jar,
        Make all, that married be,
          Perfection see.
    Shine, Hesperus, shine forth, thou wishèd star!”

The Masque was short-lived. It was stately and dignified; it was
courtly; it was classical; it was serious; nobody laughed much, except
perhaps at the “antic” dances which were sometimes introduced. It
required fine, if not the finest, poetic work. It could not be
adequately presented without lavish expenditure. It demanded the
performance of amateurs. When the troubles of the next reign began
there was little desire for such entertainments, and no money to spare
for the production of a Masque on the old scale of splendor. When
Charles II. returned all the world wanted to laugh and to sing; the
Masque, slow and stately, was out of fashion. Charles made an attempt to
revive it, but without success. It was quite forgotten; the old
properties were stowed away and molded in the cellars till the fire came
and burned them all. And the stage effects, the sudden changes of scene,
the clouds and the rocks and streams were all forgotten, until they were
revived in the present century.

There are many memories of Whitehall on which we might enlarge; scenes
in the later life of Henry VIII.; scenes in the Court of Queen Mary;
tilts, feasts, and entertainments by Queen Elizabeth; the death of
Charles; the occupation by Cromwell; the mistresses of Charles the
Deplorable--with a great many more. These, however, belong to the things
already narrated. I have endeavored to recall certain associations which
have hitherto belonged to the Book of the Things Left Out; and among
them there are none so pleasing and so characteristic as the Masque in
the reign of James I.

Now there is nothing left of Elizabeth’s Palace at all; of Charles’s
Palace, only the latest and last construction, the Banqueting Hall. When
the fires of 1691 and 1697 swept all away except this building, there
perished a collection of courts and houses for the most part dingy,
without the picturesque appearance of the old Palace, which, if it was
crowded and huddled together, was full of lovely mediæval towers,
gables, and carved work. Whitehall as a building was without dignity and
without nobility. Yet one wishes that it had remained to the present
day. Hampton Court, as I have said above, remains to show the world what
Whitehall Palace was like.

William III. talked of rebuilding the place; but he died. Queen Anne
took up her residence in St. James’s. And Whitehall Palace vanished.



The Houses of Parliament--their history, their buildings, their
constitution--belong to the history of the Empire. They happen to stand
in the City of Westminster; but their history does not form part of the
City history. The House of Commons has been called to Westminster almost
without interruption for six hundred years. It sat for three hundred
years in the Chapter House of the Abbey; then for three hundred years
more in the Chapel of St. Stephen; when that was burned down the site
was preserved and set apart for the New House, which arose when the
ashes of the old had been cleared away. That site must not be considered
a part of Westminster; it is part of the Island--part of the Empire.


In a certain special sense, however, the House of Commons did belong to
the City of Westminster for a long time. A great many of the country
members lodged in the narrow streets round the Abbey. The reason is
plain: there were no streets or houses in the meadows lying north and
west of the Houses of Parliament; either the members must lodge in the
City of London and take boat for St. Stephen’s, or they must lodge in
Westminster itself. It is stated by a writer of the last century that
the principal means of support for the people of Westminster were the
lodging and entertainment of the members. The monks were gone; Sanctuary
was gone; the Court was gone; but the members remained, and so the
taverns remained, too, and the ancient reputation of Westminster as a
thirsty city was happily uninjured.

In another way Westminster created for itself a new distinction. As a
borough it became notorious for the turbulence and the violence of the
elections. Its central position, the King’s House always lying within
its boundaries, the City of London its near neighbor, naturally caused
an election at Westminster to attract more attention than an election at
Oxford, say, or Winchester. Again, the electors of Westminster were not,
probably, fiercer partisans than those of any other place, nor were
their candidates always of greater importance; yet it is certain that
for downright bludgeon rowdiness and riot, the rabble at Westminster,
when it turned out at election time, was equaled by few towns, and
surpassed by none.

Let us observe one point, which is instructive: the rabble had no votes;
the butchers, those patriotic thinkers, who paraded the streets with
clubs to the music of marrow-bones and cleavers; the chairmen, equal
patriots of opposite convictions, who marched to the Way of War and the
breaking of heads with their poles--formidable as pike or spear; the
jolly sailors, convinced as to the foundations of order, who came along
with bludgeons, thirsting for the display of their political
principles--none of these brave fellows had any vote. Yet the share they
took, the part they played, the influence they exercised in every
election, cannot be disputed. The vote, you see, about which nowadays we
make such a fuss, is by no means everything; in those days one stout
fellow with a cudgel at the bottom of the steps of the hustings might be
worth to his party fifty votes a day; he might represent as many voters
sent home discouraged, or even persuaded, by a broken head, to a radical
change of political principles.


In the year 1710, Swift says that the rabble surrounded his coach, and
he was afraid of having dead cats thrown in at the window, or getting
his glass broken. The part played by the dead cat in all
eighteenth-century functions, elections, pillories, and outdoor
speeches, was quite remarkable. In times of peace and quiet we hear of
no dead cats. The streets did not then, and do not now, provide a supply
of dead cats to meet all demands. It would seem as if all the cats of
all the slums were slaughtered for the occasion. Throughout the last
century the elections of Westminster became more and more riotous; there
were riots and ructions in 1711 and in 1721; in 1741 these were quite
surpassed by the contested election in which Lord Sundon and Sir Charles
Wager were candidates on the one side,--the Court side,--and Admiral
Vernon and Mr. Charles Edwin on the other. Lord Sundon, a newly created
Irish peer, took upon himself to close the poll by the help of a
detachment of Guards before it was finished. One vote an hour was
supposed to keep the poll open. The returning officer, however,
disregarding this convention, and, by Lord Sundon’s order, declared the
poll closed and Lord Sundon with Sir Charles Wager duly elected. There
was indignation; there was a question, which led to a debate in the
House; and finally the election was declared illegal. The victory thus
obtained by the populace against the Court party was celebrated long
afterward by an annual dinner of the “Independent Electors.” It marks
the change in our management of these things that there should have been
a Court party, and that the Court should think it consistent with its
dignity to take an active part in any election. That the king should
openly side with this or that candidate shows that the sovereign, a
hundred and fifty years ago, stood on a much lower level than the
sovereign of to-day.

The longest and fiercest contest, the one with the most doubtful issues,
the most violent of all the Westminster elections, was that of the year
1784. Of this election there was published a most careful record from
day to day. I suppose there is no other election on record of which such
a daily diary has been preserved. It appeared toward the end of the


year, and was published by Debrett, a Piccadilly bookseller. The
anonymous authors, who modestly call themselves “Lovers of Truth and
Justice,” begin the work with a narrative of the events which led to the
Dissolution of March 25, 1784; they then proceed to set down the story
of the Westminster election from day to day; they have reproduced many
of the caricatures, rough, coarse, and vigorous, with which Rowlandson
illustrated the contest; they have published all the speeches; they have
collected the whole of the Election literature, with the poems, squibs,
epigrams, attacks, and eulogies, which appeared on either side. Not only
is there no other record, so far as I know, of any election so complete
as this, but there has never been any other election, so far as I know,
where the fight was fiercer, more determined, more unscrupulous, and of
longer duration. The volume is, I believe, somewhat scarce and difficult
to procure. Its full title is “The History of the Westminster Election,
containing every Material Occurrence, from its Commencement, on the
First of April, to the Final Close of the Poll, on 17th of May, to which
is Prefixed a Summary Account of the Proceedings of the Late Parliament,
so far as they appear Connected with the East India Business and the
Dismission of the Portland Administration, with other Select and
Interesting Occurrences at the Westminster Meetings, Previous to its
Dissolution on the 25th Day of March 1784.”

This long title-page promises no more than the volume performs. It is
proposed, therefore, to reproduce in these pages, with the assistance of
the “Lovers of Truth and Justice,” the history of an election as it was
conducted a hundred years ago.

The Dissolution of March, 1784, and the causes which led to it, belong
to the history of the country and to the life of Charles James Fox. Let
us accept the fact that the General Election was held in April; that the
candidates for Westminster were Admiral Lord Hood and Sir Cecil Wray on
the Ministerial side, and Fox for the Opposition. The former was also
the Court side; the candidates on that side were called the King’s
friends; the King himself took the keenest interest in the daily
progress of the poll; he peremptorily ordered all the Court servants,
the Court tradesmen, and the Court dependents to vote for Hood and Wray;
and he actually sent a body of two hundred and eighty Guards to vote on
that side. No king, in fact, ever interfered with an election more
openly, more actively, or with less dignity. The


struggle, remember, of King _v._ Commons was not completed when William
of Orange succeeded James. The lesson taught by the struggle of the
seventeenth century was most imperfectly grasped by King George the
Third. On the other hand, the Prince of Wales, with the filial loyalty
which characterized him as well as his grandfather, used all his
influence on the side of Fox.

The temper of the City of Westminster, and the certain prospect of a
stormy time, was shown two months before the Dissolution, when a
document purporting to be a humble address to the King from the Dean,
the High Steward, and the Burgesses assembled at the Guildhall,
Westminster, was passed about for signature. It was accepted for what it
pretended to be, and was signed by twenty-eight hundred people, among
whom were a great many electors. Lastly, it was presented by Sir Cecil
Wray, one of the members, as from the Dean and High Steward.

A few days later, a meeting of the electors was called at the
Shakespeare Tavern, Covent Garden, at which this document was very
severely handled. It was affirmed that the Dean and the High Steward
actually knew nothing of the address, and that their names had been most
improperly affixed without their sanction. This was the beginning of a
great cataract of lies. Whether the names had been used with or without
sanction, mattered little; the allegation presented an excuse for a
resolution of confidence in Fox, which was passed with acclamation.

On February 10, another meeting, with Sir Cecil Wray in the chair,
adopted an address to his Majesty expressing confidence in the Ministry.
This meeting was, of course, described by one side as “very numerous and
most respectable,” and by the other as exactly the reverse: “Never was
there, perhaps, in the annals of all the meetings ever held in England,
so motley a group, so noisy an assembly, or one less respectable for its


Then followed handbills for distribution. The struggle, it must be
remembered, was one which could hardly occur in these days: it was, in
fact nothing short of a declaration of confidence in the King or the
opposite; for or against secret influence; for or against Court
direction, and the extension of prerogative. Here is a specimen of what
was written at the outset:

“Of all the features which mark the political character of the English
nation the most striking and remarkable is a perpetual jealousy of
prerogative.... Ask an Englishman what sort of Judge, Crown Lawyer, or
Minister, he most dreads: his uniform answer is a _prerogative_ Judge, a
_prerogative_ Lawyer, a _prerogative_ Minister. Is then a _prerogative_
King of so little danger to us that we are all at once to forget these
jealousies, which seem to have been twisted with our existence, and to
fall into a miraculous fondness for that prerogative which our ancestors
have shed their dearest blood to check and limit? Let the people of
England once confederate with the Crown and the Lords in _such_ a
conflict, and who is the man that will answer for one hour of legal
liberty afterwards?

“Can the people confide in His Majesty’s secret advisers? I say NO. And
I demand one instance, in the twenty-three years of this wretched reign,
when a regard to the liberty of the people can be traced in any measure
to the _secret system_.”

This document, which went on in a similar strain to a great length, was
handed about from house to house; no doubt a copy was given to the King.

A general meeting of all the electors was called on March 14, in
Westminster Hall. This assemblage proved everything that could be
desired; the hall was completely packed with an uproarious mob, chiefly
on the King’s side; the hustings were made a battlefield for the
possession of the chair, which was pulled to pieces in the struggle;
then the hustings broke down, and a good many on either side were
trampled upon and injured. Nobody could be heard; when it was understood
that the meeting was asked to express an opinion on the Address to the
King, nearly all the


hands went up. Fox tried to speak; a bag of asafetida was thrown in his
face; his friends carried him out on their shoulders; finally he
addressed the crowd from the bow-window of the King’s Head Tavern, in
Palace Yard. After the speech they took the horses from his carriage and
dragged him all the way to Devonshire House, in Piccadilly, with shouts
and cheers.

A so-called report of the meeting was then drawn up by Fox’s friends,
stating that the chair had been taken by Fox and that a new Address to
the King had been unanimously adopted. At the outset, therefore, neither
side was in the least degree desirous to present the bald, bare, cold,
unsatisfying truth.

On March 19 the Friends of Liberty held a great banquet at Willis’s
Rooms. They numbered five hundred; the dinner was fixed for half-past
five, but such was the ardor of the company, so great their
determination to do justice to the feast, that they began to assemble at
half-past three.

It is pleasant to read of civic and electioneering banquets--to see
pictures of the patriots enjoying some of the rewards of virtue. The
dinner was spread on six tables; and in order to prevent confusion,
everything was put on the table at once, so that when the covers--if
there were any covers--were removed, the company “saw their dinner.”
Then friends and neighbors helped each other with loving zeal from the
dishes before them; the waiters looked to the bottles, while the guests
handed the plates to each other. Only to think of this dinner makes one
hear the clatter of knives and forks, the buzz of talk--serious talk,
because the average elector of Westminster in 1784 was not a person who
laughed much; indeed, one


imagines that, after the humiliations and disgraces of the American war,
there could be very little laughter left in the country at all, even
among the young and the light-hearted. Music there was, however,--music
to uplift the hearts of the despondent,--violins and a ’cello, with
perhaps flutes and horns. Singing there was, also, after dinner. During
the banquet there was not much drinking; it would be sinful, with the
whole night before one, to destroy a generous thirst at the outset. Men
of that age were very powerful performers at the table; we neither eat
nor drink with the noble, copious, and indiscriminate voracity of our
ancestors; without any scientific observance of order these Friends of
Liberty tackled all that stood before them: beef and mutton, fish and
apple pie, turkey, tongue, ham, chicken, soup, and jelly--“plentifully
dispersed and fashionably set out.” Faces grew shiny with long-continued
exercise; those who wore wigs pushed them back; those who wore powder
found it slipping from their hair on their shoulders; bones--the
succulent bones of duck and chicken--were freely gnawed and sucked, as
was still the custom even in circles much higher than that which these
Friends of Liberty adorned.


At last the dishes were removed, and the business of the evening, with
the drinking, began. It is not stated, unfortunately, whether the
Friends of Liberty drank port or punch. Contemporary pictures incline
one to favor the theory of punch.

We of too degenerate age are wont to complain of the after-dinner
speech. Which of us could now sit out the speeches and the toasts at
this banquet, and survive? Even the Speaker would recoil in terror at
the prospect of such a night.

They did not drink the health of the King. His name was purposely
omitted--a thing astonishing to us, who cannot remember personal
hostility to the sovereign. Fox, who was in the chair, began with the
“Independent Electors of the City of Westminster”; he followed with “The
Majesty of the People of England,” “The Cause of Freedom all over the
World,” “The Glorious and Immortal Memory of King William the Third.”
Twenty-seven toasts are enumerated at length, with the ominous words at
the end, “Several other toasts were given.” Songs were sung by Captain
Morris of Anacreontic fame, Mr. Bannister, and others of the tuneful

In the midst of this growing excitement it was learned that the Great
Seal of England, which was in the custody of the Lord Chancellor, had
been stolen. Men looked at each other in amazement and dismay. What did
this thing portend? Who had caused it to be done? What did it mean? Was
it ordered by the King, or by Pitt, or by Fox? What deep-laid plot did
the burglary conceal? Nobody could tell. The King, rising to the
occasion, ordered a new seal to be made without delay. The robbery,
which had no political significance, was forgotten, and the mind of the
public returned to the General Election.

On March 25 the House of Commons was dissolved, and the candidates made
haste to issue their addresses to the “Worthy and Independent Electors
of the City of Westminster.” The Committee of Hood and Wray met at
Wood’s Hotel, and that of Fox at the Shakespeare Tavern, both in Covent
Garden. The Westminster hustings were at that time put up in front of
St. Paul’s, Covent Garden. If I remember aright, the hustings of the
election of 1868 were erected in Trafalgar Square; and I think they were
the last. Then, pending the opening of the poll, the merry game of abuse
and misrepresentation began, and was carried on with the greatest vigor
on both sides. Against Hood nothing at all could be alleged by the most
rancorous opponent; he was an Irish peer, newly created, and a
victorious admiral. Against Sir Cecil Wray, however, there were two or
three unfortunate circumstances.


Thus, he had been put into his seat by the recommendation and influence
of Fox, whom he now deserted. Of course, therefore, he was Judas, Judas
Iscariot, Traitor, Monster of Ingratitude. That was the first charge: in
default of anything else it was a good solid charge, to which his
enemies could always return. Plain ingratitude, however, has always
failed to command popular indignation. What can one expect? What does
everybody’s experience teach? “Gratitude, sir,” says the disappointed
man of Virtue, “no one expects; but----” I do not suppose that the
charge of ingratitude lost Sir Cecil Wray one single vote, any more than
unexpected inconsistency or a sudden change of front or a sudden change
of principle in these days affects the seat of a modern politician. The
electors, therefore, heard with unmoved faces that Sir Cecil was worse
than Judas Iscariot as regards treachery and ingratitude. What had the
Election to do with private gratitude? They therefore proceeded to vote
for him.

There was, however, another weapon--and one far more effective. He had
once called the attention of the House to the lavish expenditure of
Chelsea Hospital, which maintained the old soldiers of the country at an
annual cost of fifty-one pounds apiece. And on that occasion he declared
that, rather than continue this prodigality, he would like to see the
abolition of the Hospital! The abolition of Chelsea Hospital! And
Chelsea Hospital was in Westminster Borough! And that a Westminster
member should say this monstrous thing! And, after he had said it,
should dare to become a candidate again! Here indeed seemed a chance for
the other side! Would the electors--the patriotic, enlightened electors
of Westminster--return one who would actually abolish, because it cost a
little money, the old soldier’s hospital?

And there was a third weapon. Sir Cecil Wray had even proposed a tax on
housemaids! Horrible! Wicked! This Monster would actually drive out of
their places all the housemaids in the country! What would become of
these poor girls? What would they do? Must they be thrown, weeping and
reluctant, into the arms of Vice? Eloquence was exhausted, tears were
shed, wrath was aroused by the mere description of what would have
happened to these


poor girls had this tax been passed. In vain did Sir Cecil explain away
his words. There they were! In vain did he say that it would be cheaper
and better to give every man a pension of twenty pounds a year, with
permission to live where he wished. He had wounded the popular
sentiment--he said he would willingly abolish Chelsea Hospital. As
regards the housemaids, it was quite useless to explain that the master
would pay the tax, not the maid. The average elector did not want to
pay any more taxes; rather than pay this tax he would go without his
maid-servant--then what was the poor girl to do? With such excellent
weapons as these, the caricaturist, the lampooner, the writer of squibs
and the poet were amply provided.

First, by way of catechism:

     Who, in his advertisement, professes to be the protector of the
     fair sex?

     Sir Cecil Wray.

     Who proposed a tax on the poorest of the fair sex?

     Sir Cecil Wray.

     Who calls himself a soldier and a man of humanity?

     Sir Cecil Wray.

     Who proposed to pull down Chelsea Hospital?

     Sir Cecil Wray.

     Who has forfeited the good opinion of every man of honour,
     humanity, and consistency?

     Sir Cecil Wray.

Next, which is always a sure method of creating a laugh, and is moreover
very easy to manage, a leaflet in the Biblical style:

     And it came to pass that there were dissensions amongst the rulers
     of the nation.

     And the Counsellors of the Back Stairs said, “Let us take
     advantage, and yoke the people, even as oxen, and rule them with a
     rod of iron.

     “And let us break up the Assembly of Privileges, and get a new one
     of Prerogatives, and let us hire false prophets to deceive the
     people.” And they did so.

     Then Judas Iscariot went among the citizens, saying, “Choose me one
     of your elders, and I will tax your innocent damsels, and I will
     take their bread from the helpless, lame, and blind,” etc., etc.,

Or by way of posters, as the following:

                         To be sold by Auction


                            JUDAS ISCARIOT,

                 At the Prerogative Arms, Westminster,

                           CHELSEA HOSPITAL,

                   With all the live and dead Stock,
  In which is included the Cloaks, Crutches, Fire Arms, etc., of the
       poor worn-out Veterans, who have bled in their Country’s
                 Cause, their existence being declared
                          a Public Nuisance.

     Likewise the Virtue, Innocence, and Modesty of the harmless,
                      inoffensive Servant Maids.
          The Sale of this last lot was intended by Judas for
                the purpose of raising the supplies for
                       the Tax on Maid Servants.

                            JUDAS ISCARIOT

             is extremely sorry he cannot put up for Sale

                          PUBLIC INGRATITUDE,

               Having Reserved that Article for Himself.

       N. B.--To be disposed of, A large Quantity of Patent Dark
    Lanterns, and the best Price will be given for a set of Fellows
    who will go through thick and thin for a rotten back staircase.

          Huzza for Prerogative! A Fig for the Constitution!

It was then discovered--or alleged, which came to the same thing--that
Sir Cecil had married his own housemaid. The following not very
brilliant epigram is written “on Sir Cecil proposing a tax on Maid
Servants after having married his own”:

    When Cecil first the plan laid down,
      Poor servant girls to curse.
    He looked at home, and took his own
      For better and for worse.

The Chelsea business provoked a more worthy effusion:

    And will you turn us out of doors,
      In age, to want a prey--
    When cold winds blow and tempest roars?
      Oh! Hard Sir Cecil Wray!

    This house our haven is, and port
      After a stormy sea:
    Then shall it be cast down in sport,
      By hard Sir Cecil Wray?

    ’Twill break our heart these scenes to leave,
      But soldiers must obey;
    Yet in my conscience I believe
      You’re mad, Sir Cecil Wray.

    For who will see us poor and lame,
      Exposed on the highway,
    And not with curses load the name
      Of thee, Sir Cecil Wray?

    These walls can talk of Minden’s plain,
      Of England’s proudest day:
    I think I hear these walls complain
      Of thee, Sir Cecil Wray.

    If thou art bent the poor to harm,
      Attack the young and gay:
    Girls both in health and beauty warm,--
      But we are old, Sir Wray.

But Sir Cecil Wray had once published a volume of poems. Perhaps the
crudest stroke of all--if the poor man had the sensitive nature of most
poets--must have been certain parodies of these verses. Here are some.
The notes are, of course, part of the parody.


    Thou great epitome of little death, all hail!
    How blest thy fate beneath my Celia’s lovely nail!
    No more thou’lt skip from sheet to sheet alive and well,
    The furious nail and finger toll’d thy passing bell.

     N. B.--The allusion to the noise made by the animal’s sudden death
     is beautifully descriptive of a passing bell.


    To the head of that sow, what a back, chine,[7] and tail![8]
    Here, John, bring to Porkey[9] some milk and some meal.
    Desire your mistress and Patty[10] my cousin
    Come look at the mother and her baker’s dozen.[11]

    How sweet is the smell of the straw in her stye![12]
    It’s a mixture of oaten, and wheaten, and rye.
    What an eye has this fat little creature, indeed!
    But no wonder at that, ’tis the true Chinese Breed.[13]

           *       *       *       *       *

    The thirteenth my dear wife has told me she means
    To dress here at home, with sage[14] chopped in the brains:
    And the belly,[15] she says, shall be stuffed with sweet things,
    With prunes and with currants--a Dish fit for Kings:
    And egg sauce[16] we will have, and potatoes,[17] and butter,
    And will eat till neither one word more can we utter.

The election took place during the time of dismal depression following
the humiliation of the American War. There was one branch of the
service, and only one, which the country could regard with pride or even
satisfaction. This was the Navy; and of all the brave men who, in that
disastrous war, endeavored to uphold the honor of the British flag, Lord
Hood was the popular favorite. He was at this time in his fiftieth year,
and in the middle of his career. It is evident, from the silence with
which the writers on the other side treated him, that it was not
considered safe to attack him. Even the malignity of electioneering
warfare was compelled to spare the name of Hood. He was returned, of
course, and he continued to represent Westminster until the long war
begun in 1793.

As regards Sir Cecil Wray, the attacks made upon him, of which we have
seen some, were villainous enough to meet the case of the greatest
monster or the most brazen turn-coat: they were also powerless, for the
simple reason that the real foundation for attack was so extremely weak.
One can already perceive, behind this onslaught of combined bludgeon and
rapier, a harmless man of blameless private character; cultivated;
probably rather weak; who was ill-advised when he opposed his old friend
Fox, and when he brought forward Hood, a man enormously superior to
himself. That he obtained so many votes and nearly defeated his opponent
was due to the influence of the Court.

As for Fox, he was at this time forty-five years of age, and in the
midst of his unbounded activity. At the age of nineteen he was returned
for Midhurst. Before the age of twenty-five he had become a power in the
House of Commons; he had run race horses; he was a notorious gambler;
and had incurred debts to the total of £240,000; he was regarded as an
enemy of the King and a friend of the people. We shall see what the
other side could rake up against him.

(AFTER A PRINT A. D. 1784).]

First there were questions suggested: “Did you not” say, or do, this or
that; abuse Lord North and then join him; promise great things and
perform nothing; buy up all the usual scribblers in the City; cringe to
the electors? Then there were sarcastic reasons why Fox should be
supported: the admirable economy with which he conducted his own
affairs; his general consistency; his great landed estates; his hatred
of gambling.

Another set of questions insinuated that he was a private friend of one
Tyrle, executed for high treason in sending information to France.
Virtuous indignation, of course, and not political expediency, compelled
the plain and honest “Father” to ask whether the electors would vote for
the “high priest of drunkenness, gaming, and every species of debauchery
that can contaminate the principles we should wish to inculcate in our

They called him Carlo Khan, and Cogdie Shufflecard Reynardine, and they
made the most infamous attacks on the Duchess of Devonshire and the
other ladies who canvassed for him. Most of them are not to be quoted.
The following extracts are the most decent:

    Hail, Duchess, first of womankind!
    Far, far you leave your sex behind;
        With you none can compare:
    For who but you, from street to street,
    Would run about, a vote to get,
        Thrice, thrice bewitching fair!

    Each day you visit every shop,
    Into the house your head you pop,
        Nor do you act the prude:
    For every man salutes your Grace;
    Some kiss your hand and some your face,
        And some are rather rude.

    The girl condemned to walk the streets
    And pick each blackguard up she meets,
        And get him in her clutches,
    Has lost her trade; for they despise
    Her wanton airs, her leering eyes.
        Now they can kiss a Duchess!

The following lyrics are the commencement of a short satiric poem,
compelled, like the remonstrance of the “Father,” by the indignant heart
of the poet:

    See modest Duchesses, no longer nice,
    In Virtue’s honour haunt the sinks of Vice:
    In Freedom’s cause the guilty bribe convey,
    And perjured wretches piously betray.

In a lighter strain the following:

    Her mien like Cytherea’s dove,
      Her lips like Hybla’s honey:
    Who would not give a vote for love,
      Unless he wanted money?

    Alas! To reputation blind!
      I wonder some folks bore it:
    You’ve lost your fame, and those that find
      Can ne’er again restore it.

On the other side there was one capable of putting the Duchess in a more
amiable light:

    Arrayed in matchless beauty, Devon’s fair,
      In Fox’s favour takes a zealous part:
    But, oh! where’er the pilferer comes, beware--
      She supplicates a vote and steals a heart.

All the ladies were not on the side of Fox. Lady Buckinghamshire came
into the field for Hood and Wray. Unfortunately she was inferior to the
Duchess in personal charms, and the friends of Fox, one regrets to say,
had the bad taste to call her Madame Blubber. They made at least one
song about her, of which one can quote the first two stanzas:

    A certain lady I won’t name
      Must take an active part, sir,
    To show that Devon’s beauteous dame
      Should not engage each heart, sir.
    She canvassed all--both great and small,
      And thundered at each door, sir;
    She rummaged every shop and stall,
      The Duchess was still before, sir.

    Sam Marrowbones had shut his shop,
      And just had lit his pipe, sir,
    When in the lady needs must pop,
      Exceeding plump and ripe, sir.
    “Gad zounds!” said he, “how late you be!
      For votes you come to bore me,--
    But let us feel, are you beef or veal?
      The Duchess has been before ye.”

On Thursday, April 1, the polling began. The hustings were put up in
Covent Garden, and at 11 A.M. the candidates appeared before an enormous
mob. Fox’s address was drowned in clamors and shouts and curses, and by
the delectable music of marrowbones and cleavers. The show of hands was
declared in favor of Hood and Wray: a poll was demanded, and was opened

The polling went on, day after day, for more than six weeks. It was not
until Monday, May 17, that it was finally closed. During the whole of
that time Westminster was the scene of continual fighting, feasting, and
drinking. Lord Hood, about whose return there seems to have been no
doubt from the beginning, thought it necessary to protect his voters by
a body of sailors brought from Wapping. These gallant fellows were
stationed in front of the hustings, displaying the King’s colors, and
actually commanded by naval officers. It seems incredible that such a
thing should have been tolerated. But it was a hundred years ago. The
sailors assaulted and knocked down the voters on the other side. When
complaints were made, Hood’s Committee refused to send them away.

On Saturday, April 3, a body of Guards, nearly three hundred strong,
were marched to Covent Garden under orders to vote for Hood and Wray.

On April 5 the sailors met their match, for the chairmen, all stout and
sturdy Irishmen, came down to Covent Garden in a body, and after a
battle with cudgels and chair-poles in the fine old eighteenth-century
fashion,--a form of fight which gave every possible advantage to the
valiant, and every opportunity for personal distinction,--they drove the


from the field and remained in possession. The routed sailors made for
St. James’s Street, proposing to destroy the chairs; but they were
followed by the chairmen, resolute to preserve their property. Again the
sailors were driven from the field. The rioting continued, more or less,
during the whole of the Election. For the most part it was carried on in
Covent Garden, outside Wood’s Hotel, which was the headquarters of Hood
and Wray; and outside the Shakespeare Tavern, where sat Fox’s Committee.
For instance, one day a certain party of amiable and honest butchers
marched into Covent Garden wearing Fox’s colors. Of course it was quite
accidental that this procession, with its band of marrowbones and
cleavers, should strike up an inspiriting strain, accompanied by
derisive cheers, in front of Wood’s Hotel, and of course they did not
expect what followed--the appearance on the scene of the sailors armed
with bludgeons and cutlasses. A fight followed, in which the sailors
were driven back; someone from the hotel windows fired into the mob,
upon which the windows were broken. The arrival of the Guards prevented
fresh hostilities. A good many were wounded in this affair; happily, no
one was killed.

A more serious riot took place on May 11. It was supposed that the
polling would conclude on that day; the Westminster magistrates,
apprehending a riot, called together a large number of special
constables, and sent them to Covent Garden to keep the peace. The
polling went on quietly until three o’clock, when it closed for the day.
Then the fighting began between the butchers and the constables. Who
provoked it? The constables were sent, it was said, in order to get up a
riot. The butchers, it was said, began. Fox himself was knocked down.
The constables were defeated, one man being killed; and the soldiers
were called in.

Mr. John Hunter, surgeon, gave evidence in the inquest that followed.
The man was killed by injuries inflicted by some blunt weapon,
presumably a bludgeon. The jury returned a verdict of willful murder
against some person or persons unknown. The funeral of the unfortunate
man was carefully conducted so as to throw the odium of his death on
Fox’s side. He was buried, though a Whitechapel man, in the churchyard
of St. Paul’s, Covent Garden. The other people declared that he was
really buried at Whitechapel, and that the coffin placed in St. Paul’s
was empty. The funeral was conducted, of course, very slowly past the
Shakespeare Tavern and before the hustings. The widow followed in a
mourning coach, crying out of the window: “Blood for Blood!” The
procession was admirably arranged in order to provoke another riot,
which would certainly have happened had not Fox’s Committee caused the
polling to be stopped at two, instead of three, o’clock, so that when
the funeral arrived Covent Garden was comparatively quiet. The last day
of the struggle was on May 17, after forty-seven days of polling. The
result was:

    Lord Hood,                    6694
    Charles James Fox,            6234
    Sir Cecil Wray,               5998

Sir Cecil Wray demanded a scrutiny, to which Fox objected. The reason of
his objection appeared later on, when the subject was discussed in the
House, and it appeared that a scrutiny would probably last five years
and would cost thirty thousand pounds, which would have to be paid by
the candidates. It was therefore abandoned.

But the fun was not yet finished. A Triumphal Procession was formed, and
the successful candidate was escorted on his way to Devonshire House.
The following was the order of the Procession:

                         Heralds on Horseback.
                 Twenty-four marrowbones and cleavers.
                       The Arms of Westminster.
                    Thirty Firemen of Westminster.
                            Martial Music.
     Committees of the seven Parishes, with white Wands, following
          their respective banners and attended by numberless
                  gentlemen of the several Districts.
         Squadron of Gentlemen on Horseback in Buff and Blue.
                   Flag--The Rights of the Commons.
                         Grand Band of Music.
                     Flag--The Men of the People.
                           Marshals on Foot.
                            Triumphal Chair
              Decorated with Laurels, in which was seated
                   The Right Hon. Charles James Fox.
                         Flag--The Whig Cause.
                       Second Squadron of Horse.
                    Liberty Boys of Newport Market.
               Mr. Fox’s Carriage crowned with Laurels.
                  Banner Sacred to Female Patriotism.
                       Blue Standard, Inscribed
     State carriages of the Duchess of Portland and the Duchess of
         Devonshire, drawn by six horses superbly caparisoned,
              with six running footmen attending on each.
       Gentlemen’s Servants closing the Procession--two and two.

The Procession over, they all adjourned--Marrowbones, Cleavers, Liberty
Boys and all, to Willis’s Rooms, where they made a glorious night of it.

The Prince of Wales gave a _déjeuner_ in honor of the occasion to six
hundred “of the first persons of fashion.” They danced all night and
till six in the morning, and they all met again in the evening at Mrs.
Crewe’s Ball. Captain Morris took the chair after supper, and sang the
“Baby and Nurse.” He then proposed a toast, “Buff and Blue and Mrs.
Crewe!” to which the fair hostess responded, wittily and gracefully,
with “Buff and Blue and all for you!” Then Captain Morris gave them a
succession of songs “with a spirit that made every fair eye in the room
dance with delight.” At four o’clock they went back to the dancing and
kept it up till six or seven.

So ended the fiercest contest and the longest of which any history
remains. It is also, to repeat what has been already advanced, the only
election of which there has been preserved so complete a record. Page
after page, in the volume from which I have quoted, is filled with
paragraphs cut from the papers of the day, in which the most astonishing
ingenuity is devoted to the invention of new libels, the distortion of
old speeches, and the perversion of facts. We have seen that against Sir
Cecil Wray absolutely nothing of the least importance could be alleged,
because it was absurd to suppose that he was to be Fox’s henchman for
life. Fox had certainly introduced Wray to the Westminster electors, and
that was the only service he had rendered him. Against Fox himself very
little of importance could be alleged, because, even if he was a
prodigal, a gambler, and of doubtful virtue, the average Briton has
always loved a sportsman, and has never--at least, not until quite
recently--thought that a man’s gifts and powers as a statesman depended
upon his private morals. All the abuse, all the libels, all the
monstrous lies hurled about on either side were absolutely useless. I do
not believe that they influenced a single elector. Were the gentlemen
who played so beautifully with the marrowbones and cleavers influenced?
Were the Liberty Boys of Newport Market influenced? Were the residents
of Peter Street, Orchard Street, the Almonry influenced? They were not
voters. The voting qualification of 1784 was the burgage holding, the
tenant who paid scot and lot, and the potwaller. Did the presence of the
sailors assist the Court party? Did the valiant chairmen prove of any
real help to Fox? I think not. All these things amused the mob; none of
these things moved the elector. The one thing that damaged Fox was his
late coalition with Lord North, the man most heartily and thoroughly
detested in all the length and breadth of the country--the man
universally regarded as the chief cause of the national disasters and
humiliations. And I think that what hurt Sir Cecil Wray most was the
marching of the three hundred guards in a body to vote as they were
ordered, and the interference of the Court in commanding every person
connected with the household to vote against Fox. And for my own part,
had I been able to vote at that election, Fox should have had a plumper
from me if only to win one of the Duchess’s smiles; and if any other
reason were wanting, I should have voted for Fox because of all the men
of that most disagreeable period, Fox, to my mind, with all his faults,
stands out as the bravest, the most genial, and the most patriotic.



After the Palace and the Monastery, the City of Refuge, the Sign of the
Red Pale, and the Borough at Election-time, we turn to the City streets
and the people.

Now, if we include that part of the City lying west and north of Charing
Cross and Pall Mall, the part which has been built and occupied since
the seventeenth century, we are face to face with nothing less than the
history of the British aristocracy during the last two centuries. This
history has never been written; it is a work which cannot even be
touched upon in these pages: to consider any part of it in a single
chapter would be absurd. It belongs, like the history of the House of
Commons, to the City of Westminster, because most of its events took
place, and most of the people concerned lived, within the limits of that
City. Also, like the House of Commons, the quarter where the aristocracy
have had their town houses for two hundred years belongs to the national
history, and must be treated independently of the City.

The British aristocracy was never so much a Caste apart as during the
hundred and fifty years ending about the middle of this century. Their
younger sons had quite abandoned the ancient practice of entering the
City and going into trade; every kind of money-making, except the
collection of rents from land, had become unworthy of a gentleman. No
one could buy


or sell and continue to call himself a gentleman. There was a noble
Caste and a trading Caste, quite separate and apart. The noble Caste
possessed everything worth having; the whole of the land was theirs; all
the great offices of state, all the lesser offices worth having, were
theirs; the commands in the army and navy were theirs--not only the
command of armies and fleets, but also of regiments and men-o’-war; the
rich preferments of the Church--the deaneries, canonries, and
bishoprics--were theirs; the House of Commons belonged to them (even the
popular or radical members belonged to the Caste; in the election which
was treated in the last chapter, Fox, the Friend of Liberty, the chosen
of the Independent Electors, belonged to the Caste as much as his
opponents, Lord Hood and Sir Cecil Wray). Everything was theirs, except
the right to trade; they must not trade. To be a banker was to be in
trade; the richest merchant was a tradesman as much as the grocer who
sold sugar and treacle.

The materials for this history are abundant; there are memoirs, letters,
biographies, autobiographies, recollections, in profusion. The life of
the Caste during this period of a hundred and fifty years can be fully
written. The historian, if we were able to exercise the art of
selection, would present a series of highly dramatic chapters; there
would be found in them love, jealousy, and intrigue; there would be
ambition and cabal; there would be back-stairs interest; there would be
Court gossip, and scandal, and whisperings; there would be gaming,
racing, coursing, prize-fighting, drinking; there would be young Mohocks
and old profligates; there would be ruined rakes and splendid
adventurers--in a word, there would be the whole life of pleasure, and
the whole life of ambition. It would be, worthily treated, a noble work.

This Caste, which enjoyed all the fruits of the earth, for which the
rest of the nation toiled with the pious contentment enjoined by the
Church, created for its own separate use a society which was at the same
time free and unrestrained, yet courtly and stately. No one not born and
bred in the Caste could attain its manners; if an outsider by any
accident found himself in this circle, he thought he had got into the
wrong paradise, and asked leave to exchange. Again, among the Caste,
which, with a few brilliant exceptions, was without learning and without
taste, were found all the patrons of art, poetry, and _Belles Lettres_.
Still more remarkable, while the Caste had no religion, it owned the
patronage of all the best livings in the Church. And, while it enjoyed
an immunity never before claimed by any class of men, from morality,
principle, and self-restraint, the Caste was the encouraging and
fostering patron of every useful and admirable virtue, such as thrift,
fidelity, temperance, industry, perseverance, frugality, and
contentment. A wonderful history, indeed--and all of it connected with

Of course, another side presents itself. The Caste was brave--its
courage was undoubted; it was never without ability of the very highest
kind, though a great deal of its ability was allowed to lie waste for
want of stimulus; it was proud; if the occasion had arrived--it was very
near arriving--the Caste would have faced the mob as dauntlessly as its
cousin in France, whom the mob might kill, but could neither terrify nor

Again, there is the literary side. With the exception of a few names
belonging to Fleet Street, and a few belonging to Grub Street, most of
our literary history belongs to the quarter lying west of Temple Bar--in
other words, to Westminster. One might go from street to street,
pointing out the residence of Byron here, and of Moore there, of Swift,
of Pope, of Addison. And in this way one could compile a chapter as
interesting as a catalogue.

In the same way, the connection of street and noble residents might be
carefully noted down, with the same result. This, indeed, has been
already done by Jesse. If you read one or two of his chapters, taken
almost at random, you will presently feel that your wits are wandering.
For instance, here is a passage concerning one of the least
distinguished streets in Westminster:


“In Cannon Row stood the magnificent residence of Anne Stanhope, the
scorned and turbulent wife of the great Protector, Duke of Somerset.
Here, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, was the inn or palace of the
Stanleys, Earls of Derby. Close by was the mansion of Henry, second Earl
of Lincoln, who sat in judgment on Mary Queen of Scots, and who was one
of the peers deputed by Queen Elizabeth to arrest the Earl of Essex in
his house. Here, in the reign of James I., the Sackvilles, Earls of
Dorset, had their town residence; and here, in the time of Queen
Elizabeth, was the mansion of the great family of the Cliffords, Earls
of Cumberland.”

How much, gentle reader, are you likely to remember of such information
as this after reading twenty pages of it? How much, indeed, is it
desirable to remember? Why encumber the brain with names and titles
which are meaningless to your mind, and can restore for you no more of
the past life and bygone actors than a handful of Helen’s dust could
restore her beauty?


There is, however, another part of Westminster--a part which concerns us
more than Caste Land. It is the part which lies around the ancient
precincts of the Abbey. Here we touch Westminster; here we are not on
land that belongs to the country, nor among people who belong to the
country; we are in Westminster proper--in the streets which cannot even
now, when all the former spaces of separation are covered up and built
over, be called a part of London or a suburb of London. They are

These streets possessed, until quite recently, the picturesqueness that
belongs to the aged vagrom man. He hardly exists in these days; but one
remembers him. He was old--age had lent no touch of reverence or
dignity; he was clad in many-colored rags and fluttering duds; he leaned
upon a stick; his white locks were the only part of him that presented
any appearance of cleanliness; his face was lined and puckered, his
features were weatherbeaten and prominent, his eyes were wolfish. He was
admirable--in a picture. Such were the streets, such the houses, of
Westminster--that part of the City lying round about the Abbey. Those on
the west and south of the Abbey are comparatively new streets. In the
excellent map by Richard Newcourt showing London and Westminster in the
year 1658, we find Tothill Street completely built; Rochester Row does
not exist; Great St. Peter Street has a few houses, Great College Street
none; St. Anne’s Street has houses with gardens. The crowded part of
Westminster in the seventeenth century was that narrow area north of New
Palace Yard, of which King Street was the most important thoroughfare.
When we consider that this place was a great center of trade long before
and long after the building of London Bridge; that for six hundred years
it was close to the King’s House, with all his followers, huscarles,
archers, or bodyguard--we are not surprised that there has always been
about these streets the flavor of the tavern--always the smell of casks
and pint pots, of stale beer and yesterday’s wine. Where there are
soldiers there are taverns; there also are the minstrels and the music
and the girls. It may also be concluded beyond a doubt that the
Sanctuary was a thirsty place. Long after Court and Camp and Sanctuary
had left the place the name and fame of Westminster for its taverns and
its dens remained. These streets were a byword and a reproach well into
the present century. One or two streets there were that claimed for a
generation or so a kind of respectability. They were the streets lying
between New Palace Yard and Whitehall, such as King Street, and Cannon
Street, with one or two of later growth,--of seventeenth and eighteenth
century respectability,--such as Petty France, Cowley Street, and
College Street.

King Street, especially, if one may brave the reproach of cataloguing,
is full of history. Here lived Oliver Cromwell; his house is said to
have stood on the north side of the Blue Boar’s Head, of which the court
still remains. Sir Henry Wootton lived here; one of Caxton’s successors
set up his press in this street. It was formerly, as we have already
seen, a picturesque and beautiful street, with its gate at either end,
its overhanging gables, and its signs. Half a dozen taverns stood in
this street--the Swan, the Dog, the Bell, the Blue Boar’s Head, etc.
This little street, now so insignificant, was formerly, we are always,
by every writer, called upon to observe, the “highway” between London
and Westminster. But then nobody went by road who could go by river. The
Thames was the highway--not King Street--between London and Westminster;
by the Thames the Port of London sent its goods to the Court of
Westminster or Whitehall;


by the river came down country produce for Court and Abbey. There was
doubtless some traffic which found its way along King Street; but for
communication between Westminster and all other parts of the country
except the City and the Strand, we must remember that there was not only
the river, but the old, old road, that which formerly ran down from the
North to the marsh at St. James’s Park, and began again on the other
side of the river; the marsh was now drained, and the road, no longer a
ford, ran across it and formed the most direct entrance to the Court or
the Abbey from the North. We must remember, again, that nobody walked
who could ride; and that nobody rode who could take boat; walking along
streets unpaved, foul with every kind of refuse, muddy after rain,
stinking in dry weather, was never pleasant; therefore no one went afoot
who could go any other way. The streets which contained shops, such as
Cheapside, were kept clean and protected by posts; but King Street was
not one of these. Men who rode into Westminster entered either by King
Street or by Tothill Street; but no one came afoot if they could come by

In King Street died Spenser “for lack of bread,” said Ben Jonson. But he
goes on to add that the dying poet refused money sent him by the Earl of
Essex. The story has been accepted without question by almost everyone
who writes upon Spenser. Yet it is incredible on the face of it, when
one begins to consider, for the simple reason that starving men never do
refuse help, even at the last gasp. There is no doubt that in the Irish
Rebellion Spenser lost one child, who perished in the flames of the
burning house. He escaped, it is said, with his wife. That he was
desperately poor at this juncture we need not doubt; that he was
wretched is also without doubt; that he died in misery we need not
doubt; but if the Earl of Essex sent him money he would certainly have
taken it if he was starving; if his wife was with him he would have
taken it for her sake if he was dying.

As a matter of fact he was not suffering from want of money; and since
the death of an infant does not often kill the child’s father, we need
not suppose that he died of heart-break. Nor is it probable that he died
of a broken heart over the loss of MSS. He was Sheriff of Cork; he had
his estate, which was not lost, although the rebels burned his
house--they burned his house because he was Sheriff. He had, besides the
estate, a small pension; he had still his wife and his children, and his
friends. He was only forty-six years of age, a time when the world is
still lying fair and far stretched out before the pilgrim. None the less
he died--of what? Of fever caused by the excitement and the trouble of
the rebellion; by exposure; by this or by that--he died. He was buried
in the Abbey near the resting-place of Chaucer; all the poets wrote
elegies and threw them, together with the pens that wrote them, into the
grave of “the little man who wore short hair.” And his widow married
again and quarreled with her eldest son about the estate; and there were
descendants of Edmund Spenser in Ireland until a hundred years ago, when
the last one died.

Queen Square, which is now Queen Anne’s Gate, and Petty France, now York
Street, represent the respectable side of old Westminster. Peg
Woffington lived in Queen Square; so did Bentham. In Petty France
Milton lived when he gave up his chambers in Whitehall Palace. His house
was taken down a year or two ago. Hazlitt occupied Milton’s house for
some years.


Another respectable quarter was the group of streets at the back of
Dean’s Yard, known as Great College Street, Barton Street, and Cowley
Street. There is not anywhere in and about the cities of London and
Westminster a more secluded, peaceful retreat than can be found in these
three streets. The first, whose upper windows look out upon the broad
lawns and noble trees, formerly the garden of the Infirmary, now the
garden of the Canons, might be a street in Amsterdam if its ground-floor
windows were only higher; under this street still flows the stream
which once helped to separate the Isle of Bramble from the marshes and
the meadows; halfway down, hidden by stables, stands the old Jewel House
of the King’s House of Westminster; at the west end is the modern
gateway, still preserving some semblance of its former appearance, the
last that is left of the four gateways of the Abbey. It leads into
Dean’s Yard, the quietest of squares, and, under ancient gates, into
ancient cloisters and covered ways, and the relics and fragments of the
Benedictine Abbey. Behind Great College Street stand Barton Street and
Cowley Street. And for quiet and solitude these should belong to a city
of the dead; or better still, they should be what they pretend to be.
For the houses among themselves pretend to be the Cathedral Close; they
whisper to the stray traveler: “Seek no farther. This, and none other,
is the Close of the Cathedral or Collegiate Church of St. Peter. In this
quiet retreat live, we assure you, the canons and the minor canons. Step
lightly, lest you disturb their meditations.” There are many such spots
about London which thus pretend, and so carry themselves with pride: one
such, for instance, is in Bermondsey, affected by the memory of the
Abbey and the presence of the Parish Church; and another there is at
Hampstead; and in most country towns there is such a quiet, dignified
Street; one such street, so quiet, so dignified, stands in Albany, New
York State; and one in Boston, Massachusetts.

Once there was a tavern in Barton Street, known to all men by its sign
as The Salutation. The excellence of the painting is proved by the fact
that in the Commonwealth the same sign without alteration served for a
new name--viz., The Soldier and Citizen. After


the Restoration the Soldier once more became an Angel and the Citizen
returned to the Virgin Mary. But I think that the tavern languished.
Cowley Street was not named after the poet, as one would like to
believe, but after the village of Cowley, in Middlesex, by Mr. Booth
Barton, who built the two streets. There are other associations about
these streets; the name of Keats is mentioned. But they belong to the
catalogue. It is enough for us to recall the babbling brook which once
ran along the roadway here--on this side of the gray stone wall which
still stands, the wall of the Monastery. It ran then through the bending
reeds and the tall grasses of the marsh, and so out into the silver
Thames; the swans came sailing up the brook, and made nests in the low
bank of the eyot. The Abbot’s barge was moored close by the gateway, of
which a modern successor still stands; and there were drawn up on the
bank the boats in which the Abbot’s fishermen went out to catch salmon
and sturgeon in the river. Later on they built these quiet houses along
one side, something after the Dutch style; and they hung up before their
fronts a curtain of green Virginia creeper, but not to hide from the
windows the view of the broad lawns, the flower-beds, and the walnut
trees of the garden behind the wall.

This part of Westminster has always been full of taverns; first for the
solace of the men-at-arms, afterward for that of the Members of
Parliament. The tavern has always been the national place of recreation
and rest; for a time, it is true, the coffee-house displaced it, but
only for a time--the tavern came back again to favor. The signs of these
inns show the date of their erection. There was the White Hart of
Richard II.; the Brown Bear of Warwick; the White Swan of Henry V.; the
Old Rose of Henry VII. And there were the more common signs: the Blue
Boar, the Salutation, the George, the Green Dragon, The Barley Mow, the
Heaven tavern, the Fleece. One of the oldest of these taverns, the Cock,
remained with its open court and its galleries till twenty years ago,
when it was pulled down to make room for the Aquarium. The rafters and
timbers of this tavern were of cedar, and the interior was also adorned
with many curious carvings.

[Illustration: ORIGINAL SIGN, COCK INN.]

More remarkable than the taverns, which we have with us everywhere, were
the Almshouses of Westminster. Until they were destroyed they were
remarkable for their number, for their endowments, and for the quaint
pleasantness and beauty of their appearance. You may now look in vain
for the old buildings: they are gone; in their place we have the
consolidated almshouses and the consolidated schools.

There were almshouses--eight of them--in the Woolstaple, which is now
Cannon Street; they looked out upon the river, and the bedesmen turned
an honest penny by letting them in lodgings for Parliament men. There
were other almshouses founded by Henry VII., outside the Gatehouse in
Tothill Street. There was an almshouse for women founded by Lady
Margaret in the Almonry. But these were ancient things. Perhaps they
disappeared with the Dissolution; perhaps they were “consolidated” the
other day. Of the modern almshouses with schools attached, the most
important was Emanuel College, a lovely House of Refuge, which stood
until yesterday in James Street on the way from Buckingham Gate to
Victoria. After leaving the great mansions near the Park one came
suddenly upon the low red-brick quadrangle open at one side, with its
chapel in the middle and its broad smooth lawn and flower-beds in
front--as peaceful a spot as could be found anywhere. It made one glad
to think that Dives had really remembered Lazarus; it made one reflect
that perhaps money can be put to no better use than to consecrate it to
the maintenance of age. And now that College is taken down; soon the
site will be covered with residential flats, and Lazarus will retire to
his place upon the doorstep. Lazarus is old and worn out in the service
of Dives; he ought to be in an almshouse; he has got rheumatism in all
his joints; he wants a warm place and a quiet place to lie down and rest
in. While this venerable Hospital stood, the world--the world of
fashion, the world of pleasure--was reminded of Lazarus. It has
disappeared; this means that Lazarus is shoved aside, put out of sight,
forgotten; he spends his strength and his skill in the service of the
rich man, who knows and thinks nothing about him, and when his strength
and his skill fail there is nothing to remind his master that thus and
thus should he deal with his old and faithful servant.

All the romance of Westminster City lay in its almshouses and schools.
The City of London was fighting the battle of civic freedom; the City of
London was finding money to fill the King’s Treasury; the City of London
was sending its sails out to the uttermost parts of the earth. This
other City, which was not really a city, but only a collection of
houses, under the rule of Abbot and of Dean,--which had no trade, which
had no municipality, which was a gathering of riffraff and Sanctuary
rabble,--presented a continual spectacle of poverty, misery, and crime,
lying at the very gate of Abbey and of King’s House. Lazarus, actual or
prospective, lived in every house. The Dean


and Chapter had the poor always with them, as their tenants. They had
not only the impotent and the worn-out, but also the vicious and the
mischievous--the people who would not work. They had but to step outside
their gates in order to obtain illustrations for their sermons on the
extreme misery which, even in this world, follows such a life. The
general wretchedness moved the hearts of many. London itself once had
admirable almshouses; but those of Westminster, considering the
difference in population, are much more important. The City contained an
unparalleled collection of almshouses and free schools. But I do not
find any that were founded by the landlords of the City, the Dean and
Chapter of the Cathedral.


_By permission of “The Architect.”_]

If you walk down Rochester Row, you will find on the west side a large
modern building, with a hall and offices on one side of a quadrangle and
red-brick houses of pleasing appearance on the other side. These are the
consolidated or United Westminster Charities. They pulled down the old
almshouses, which were so picturesque and so lovely of aspect: they
destroyed the individual character belonging to every one; they rolled
them all together, and with the lump sum, subtracting the leakage that
went to conveyancers and architects, they built this pile.

Yes, it is very well: the pile is perhaps handsome; but I doubt if there
are so many bedesmen in the United Charity as there were in the separate
charities. And it is no longer the same thing. Each House formerly had
its own garden, in which the almsmen took the air; and its own chapel,
in which those on the foundation could remember the founder--Lady Dacre,
to wit; or Cornelius Van Dun, Yeoman of the Guard to Henry VIII., Queen
Mary, and Queen Elizabeth (his house stood near the present Town Hall);
or Emery Hill, or George Whicher, or Judith Kifford, or Nicholas Butler
Palmer. Busts and tablets outside the new buildings commemorate these
worthies, but where are their buildings gone? The Almshouses of
Westminster are all destroyed, and with them have perished the sentiment
and the romance of the streets.

Something still remains; for, with the most laudable desire to destroy
whatever can teach or suggest or soften manners or point to heaven, the
Charity Commissioners have not been able to destroy one or two of the
schools. There were formerly the Grey Coat School, the Green Coat
School, the Blue Coat


_By permission of “The Architect.”_]

School, and the Black Coat School. The Grey Coat School has become a
school for nearly four hundred girls; their old house still remains for
them--a most beautiful monument, built in the seventeenth century for a
poorhouse. The great hall in which the paupers formerly lived is now the
school hall; above it ran the old low dormitory, now thrown open to the
roof; there are paneled old rooms for board rooms; there are broad
passages and corridors; there are schoolrooms of later date; and at the
back, still uninjured, lie the broad gardens that belong to the time
when every house in Westminster had its garden.

In any map of London except those of the actual present,--say, in
Crutchley’s of 1838,--there is laid down in its place, just north of
Rochester Row (which is now Artillery Place), St. Margaret’s Hospital,
otherwise called the Green Coat School. This part of Westminster was
once called Palmer’s Village; the Hospital was founded by the parish for
the benefit of orphans. Charles II. endowed it; the Duchess of Somerset
gave the school a thousand pounds; other benefactions flowed in. Forty
years ago the place was thus described by a writer who is not often
eloquent in praise (Walcott’s “Westminster”):

“The Hospital of St. Margaret consists of a large quadrangle. Upon the
east side are the schoolroom, lavatory, and dormitories. The Master’s
house fronts the entrance--a detached building ornamented with a bust of
the kingly founder, and the Royal arms painted in colours widely carved
and gilded, which were, according to tradition, only preserved from the
destructive hands of the Puritans by a thick coating of plaster laid
over the obnoxious remembrancers of the rightful dynasty. The south side
is formed by the refectory and board room, wainscoted--once, it is
said, with old portions of the woodwork which stood in St. Margaret’s
chancel--to a considerable height, in large panels, upon which are hung
full-length paintings of King Charles II., by Sir Peter Lely, and Emery
Hill, an ancient benefactor to the institution, in the manner of the
same master. Over the mantelpiece is a beautiful portrait of King
Charles I., by Vandyke. The windows command a view of the Hospital
Garden, with its fragrant flower-beds and grassy plots--a pleasant
relief to the eye wearied with the interminable brick buildings of the
outer street, and well attesting the constant care bestowed upon it.

“Upon this foundation are maintained twenty-nine boys, who wear a long
green skirt, bound round with a red girdle, similar in form to that worn
by the boys of Christ’s Hospital.”

Where is this lovely place now? It is gone. On its site are some
branches of the Army and Navy Stores. Think what a city loses by the
destruction of such a place! The daily object-lesson in our duty to the
friendless and the helpless; the memory of bygone worthies; the
sentiment of brotherhood. That is one way of considering the loss.
Another way is to think of it as a place of singular beauty, of such
beauty as we cannot possibly reproduce. And we have willfully and
needlessly destroyed it! It is a national disaster of the gravest, the
most irreparable kind, that such monuments as old almshouses, old City
churches, old schools, old gates, old foundations of any kind, should be
given over to any body of men, with permission to tear down and destroy
at their will, and under pretense of benefiting the parish. Can one
benefit a man by destroying his memory? Can one


improve a parish by cutting off its connection with the past?




There is one other endowed school not yet destroyed. It is the Blue Coat
School, first opened in 1688 for boys. In the year 1709 the present
school buildings were erected. They consist of a charming red-brick hall
with the figure of a scholar over the porch; a little garden full of
greenery is at the back; at one side is the master’s residence, a
two-storied house covered all over with a curtain of Virginia creeper;
another little garden, full of such flowers as will grow in the London
air, is behind this house. But master and boys, when they look around
them, begin to tremble, for their place is old, it is beautiful, it
adorns the street, it is sacred to the memory of two hundred years of
Boy--thirty generations of Boy. It is still most useful--therefore one
feels certain that it is doomed; it must soon go, to make room for
residential flats and mansions fifteen stories high; it must, we have no
doubt, follow the other monuments of the Past, and be absorbed into
Consolidated Schools. If there were any other reason wanted for the
destruction of the School, it is the tradition that Wren built it.


To my mind Westminster possesses, apart from the Abbey, but one
Church--that of St. Margaret’s. Other modern churches there are, but one
does not heed them: they are things of to-day; even St. John’s and St.
Martin’s are but of yesterday. St. Margaret’s is eight hundred years
old; if not built by the Confessor, it was built--that is to say, the
first church on this site was built--soon after his death. The history
of St. Margaret’s Church must be told by an ecclesiastic; we need only
remember that Caxton lies buried here; there is a tablet to his memory
put up in 1820 by the Roxburgh Club. Raleigh is buried here--within the
chancel. James Harrington, author of “Oceana,” is buried here. John
Skelton, with whom we have conversed in Sanctuary, is buried here. Here
Milton was married to Katharine Woodcock, who died in childbirth a year


    Methought I saw my late espousèd saint
    Brought to me, like Alcestis, from the grave.
    Mine, such as yet once more I trust to have
    Full sight of her in heaven, without restraint,
    Came vested all in white, pure as her mind.
    Her face was veiled; yet to my fancied sight
    Love, sweetness, goodness in her person shined.


In the churchyard of St. Margaret’s were interred the remains of those
persons who were turned out of the Abbey at the Restoration: the mother
of Cromwell; his daughter; Admiral Blake, whose remains ought to have
been taken back again long ago; and in this church, or this churchyard,
have been buried a crowd of persons illustrious and of high degree in
their generation, whose deeds have not survived them and whose memory is
only kept alive by the monuments on the walls and nothing else. It is a
church filled with monuments: it reminds one of such a


church as the Grey Friars’ in the City, which was crowded with tombs of
the illustrious Forgotten.

Not far from the church is the old-new Burial Ground, in the Horseferry
Road. It is now a public garden, and a pleasant garden, with seats and
asphalted paths and beds of grass and flowers. Against the wall are
ranged the tombstones of the obscure Forgotten. I suppose it makes very
little difference to a man whether he has a headstone provided for him
against the wall of a public garden, or a tablet--nay, a
monument--against the wall of St. Margaret’s Church, as soon as he is
properly and completely forgotten.

St. Margaret’s, then, is the only church of which one thinks in
connection with Westminster. There is one scene, one little drama,
enacted or partly enacted in this church, which perhaps may belong to
the pen of the layman. It is the famous case brought before a Court of
Chivalry in the year 1387, to decide the dispute between Sir Richard le
Scrope and Sir Robert Grosvenor respecting the right of either party to
a certain coat-of-arms. This was no common case: it was the alleged
violation of a family possession, a family distinction. The case was
considered so important that more than three hundred witnesses were
called. They are nearly all shadows and empty names now; but one there
is who stands out prominent: his name is Geoffrey Chaucer.

The following is the evidence given by the poet in this great heraldic

“Geoffrey Chaucer, Esquire, forty years of age and more, having borne
arms for twenty-eight years, produced for the side of Sir Richard le
Scrope, sworn and examined. Asked if the arms Azure with a bend Or
belonged or ought to belong to the said Richard of right and
inheritance, said, ‘Yes’; for he had seen him thus armed in France
before the city of Retters, and Sir Henry le Scrope with the same arms
with a white label and a banner, and the said Sir Richard with the
complete arms--Azure and a bend Or; and thus had he seen them armed
during the whole time that the said Geoffrey was present. Asked why he
knew that the said arms belonged to the said Sir Richard, said that he
had heard speech of old knights and squires, and that they had always
continued their possession of the said arms, and for all his time
reputed for these arms in common fame and public ways. And also he said
that he had seen the same arms on banners, on windows, on paintings, on
robes, commonly called the arms of Le Scrope. Asked if he had ever heard
who was the first ancestor of the said Sir Richard, who first bore the
said arms, said ‘No’; but that he had never heard of any, but that they
had come of an old stock and of old gentlefolk, and had held the same
arms. Asked if he had ever heard of any interruption or challenge made
by Sir Robert Grosvenor, or by his ancestors, or by any one in his name,
to the said Sir Richard or to any of his ancestors, said ‘No’; but that
he was once in Friday Street in London, and as he went along the street
he saw hanging out a new sign made of the said arms, and he asked what
house was this that had hung out the arms of Scrope; and one other
replied, and said, ‘Not so: and they are not hung out for the arms of
Scrope, nor painted for those arms, but they are painted and put up
there for a knight of the County of Chester, a man named Robert
Grosvenor’; and that this was the first time that ever he heard tell of


Sir Robert Grosvenor or his ancestors or anybody bearing the name of

The case, at which between three or four hundred witnesses were heard,
was finally decided by “Thomas Fitz au Roy, Duc de Gloucestre, Counte de
Bukyngham et Dessex, Constable Dengleterre,” who, after due care and
deliberation, and the weighing of all the evidence, and consultation
with wise and discreet persons, finally adjudged “les dites armes
d’azure ove une bend dor avoir esté et estre les armes du dit Richard
Lescrop.” And so ended this great case, which somehow puts the poet
before us more clearly than even his “Canterbury Pilgrims.”

And so we come back to the streets proper of Westminster--_i. e._, the
slums on the west and south of the Monastery.

There have always been slums here, even before the Sanctuary rabble and
after. The streets lying about Tothill Lane, however, which were slums
from the beginning, only began in the sixteenth century. The map of
Anthony Van den Wyngeerde (A.D. 1543) shows only a few houses standing
round about the Sanctuary in the northwest corner of the inclosure;
there is a crowd of houses between King Street and the river, and on the
west there is nothing but open country: that part of the City which
contained the most infamous dens and the vilest ruffians, which was
called the “Desert” of Westminster, lying to the south of Tothill
Fields, grew up and ran to waste and seed in the course of the
seventeenth century. In the eighteenth we reaped the harvest of that
seed; at the end of the nineteenth we are still pulling up the weeds and
planting new flowers and sowing better seed.

The “Desert” was bounded on the north by Tothill Street, Broadway, and
Petty France, all with their courts--their sweet and desirable courts;
its southern boundary was the Horseferry Road; the Abbey lay along the
east; and the western marsh was the fringe of Tothill Fields, now marked
by Rochester Row, or perhaps Francis Street. A little remains--here a
court, there a bit of street--to mark what the place was like.

Hear what was written about Westminster so late as the year 1839
(Bardsley on “Westminster Improvements”): “Thorney Island consisted
chiefly of narrow, dirty streets lined with wretched dwellings, and of
numerous miserable courts and alleys, situate in the environs of the
Palace and Abbey, where in the olden time the many lawless characters
claiming sanctuary found shelter; and so great had been the force of
long custom that the houses continued to be rebuilt, century after
century, in a miserable manner for the reception of similar degraded
outcasts. The inhabitants of these courts and alleys are stated in the
reign of Queen Elizabeth ‘to be the most part of no trade or mystery, to
be poor, and many of them wholly given to vice and idleness.’ And in
James I.’s time ‘almost every fourth house is an alehouse, harbouring
all sorts of lewde and badde people.’ And again: ‘In these narrow
streets, and in their close and insalubrious lanes, courts, and alleys,
where squalid misery and poverty struggle with filth and wretchedness,
where vice reigns unchecked, and in the atmosphere of which the worst
diseases are generated and diffused.’”

In the little space of a thousand feet by twelve hundred, the courts
were sometimes so narrow that the people could shake hands across; the
tenements were


sometimes built of boards nailed together; there were no sanitary
arrangements at all; there was no drainage; typhus always held
possession; and actually under the very shadow of the Cathedral were
gathered together the most dangerous and most villainous wretches in the
whole country. Old Pye Street, Orchard Street, Duck Lane, the Almonry,
and St. Anne’s Street were the homes of the professional street beggar
and the professional thief. No respectable person could venture with
safety into these streets.

They are now quite safe; the people are rough to look at, but they are
no longer thieves and cut-throats by calling. Let us take a short, a
very short walk about the Desert. Alas! its glories are gone; the place
is not even picturesque: Vice, we know, is sometimes picturesque, even
in its most hideous mien. Orchard Street has one side pulled down, and
the other side presents a squalid, dilapidated appearance in gray brick;
it was once a fit entrance for the most wicked part of London. The
streets into which it leads--Great St. Anne’s Street, Pye Street, Peter
Street, Duck Lane (now St. Matthew Street) are all transformed. Huge
barracks of lodging-houses stand over the dark and malodorous courts;
the place is now no doubt tolerably virtuous, but the artist turns from
it with a shudder. There was a time when these streets were country
lanes, having few houses, and no courts; at this time many pleasant,
ingenious, and interesting persons lived in this quarter. For example,
Herrick the poet and Purcell the musician lived in St. Anne’s Street.
But we have already condemned the catalogue of connections. He who
seriously studies the streets learns the associations as he goes along.

Outside these streets stretched Tothill Fields and Five Fields. These
fields were to Westminster much as Smithfield and Moorfields were to the
City of London. Anything out of the common could be done in Tothill
Fields. To begin with, they were a pleasant place for walking; in the
spring they were full of flowers--the cuckoo flower, the marsh mallow,


the spurge, the willow herb, the wild parsley, are enumerated; they
contained ponds and streams; in the streams grew watercress, always a
favorite “sallet” of the people; in the ponds there were ducks--the
Westminster boys used to hire dogs to worry the ducks; it is not stated
who paid for those ducks. On the north side of the Fields was St.
James’s Park, with its decoy and Rosamond’s Pond, a rectangular pool
lying across what is now Birdcage Walk, opposite the Wellington
Barracks. Later on, market gardens were laid out in these low-lying


Tournaments were held in the Fields--not the ordinary exercises or
displays of the tilt yard, but the grander occasions, as in 1226 at the
coronation of Queen Eleanor. Here, in the same reign, but later, the
Prior of Beverley entertained the Kings and Queens of England and
Scotland, the King’s son, and many great Lords, in tents erected on the

Executions were carried out in the Fields, as when was taken Margaret
Gourdemains, “a witch of Eye beside Westminster,”--was it Battersea
(“Peter’s Ey”)? or was it Chelsea (“Shingle Ey”)?--“whose sorcerie and
witchcraft Dame Eleanour Cobham had long time used, and by her medicines
and drinks enforced the Duke of Gloucester to love her and after to wed
her.” Necromancers were punished here. In the reign of Edward III. a man
was taken practicing magic with a dead man’s hand, and carried to
Tothill, where his dead man’s hand was burned before his face.

Here was held the ordeal of battle. Stow relates one such trial. The
dispute was about a manor in the Isle of Harty. The plaintiffs, two in
number, appointed their champion, and the defendant his. The latter was
a “Master of Defense,” which does not seem quite fair upon the other,
who was only a “big, broad, strong set fellow.” Before the day appointed
for the fight an agreement was arrived at between the parties; only,
“for the defendant’s assurance,” the order for the fight should be
observed, the plaintiffs not putting in an appearance, so that the case
should be judged against them in default. The lists were twenty-one
yards square, set with scaffolds crowded with people--for who would not
go out to see two men trying to kill each other? The Master of Defense,
to whom the proceedings were an excellent advertisement, rode through
London at seven in the morning in splendid attire, having the gauntlet
borne before him; he entered Westminster Hall, but made no long stay
there, going back to King Street, and so through the Sanctuary and
Tothill Street to the lists, where he waited for the Judge. At ten the
Court of Common Pleas removed to the lists. Then the combatants stood
face to face, bare-footed, bare-legged, bare-headed, with their doublet
sleeves turned back, ready for the fight; and all hearts beat faster,
and the ladies caught their breath and gasped, and their color came and
went. Then the Judge gave order that every person must keep his place
and give no help or encouragement by word or by weapon to the
combatants. Next--this was the last of the tedious preliminaries: when
would they begin?--each champion took oath: “This hear you Justices,
that I this day neither eate, drunk, nor have upon me neither bone,
stone, nor glasse, or any enchantment, sorcerie, or witchcraft,
where-through the power of the word of God might be increased or
diminished and the devil’s power increased; and that my appeal is true,
so help me God, and His saints, and by this booke.”

Alas! instead of giving the word to fight it out, the Lord Chief Justice
remarked that the plaintiffs were not present; that there could be no
fight without them; and that the estate consequently went to the
defendant. Then with sad faces and heavy hearts the company dispersed.
No fight, after all--nobody killed! To be sure, the Master of Defense
invited the “big, broad, strong set fellow” to play with him half a
score blows; but the latter refused, saying he had come to fight and not
to play.

A great Fair was held in these Fields on St. Edward’s Day (October 12),
and for fifteen days afterward. It was instituted by Henry III., in the
hope of doing some mischief to the City of London. The Fair continued,
but after the first year it seems to have done no harm to the trade of
London. It continued, in fact, into the present century, when it was an
ordinary fair of booths and shows, with Richardson’s Theater--like
Greenwich Fair or Portsdown Fair. All these Fairs were alike. The two
latter I can remember. Unfortunately my visits to these renowned Fairs
took place in the afternoon; the real fun of the Fair, I believe, took
place in the evening. I remember a great crowd pushing and fighting and
springing rattles on each other; and I remember the performers outside
Richardson’s marching about in magnificent costumes; the band playing;
the clown tumbling; the columbine, a true fairy if ever there was one,
gracefully pirouetting; then all forming into line for a dance; and
after the dance the play in the tent behind. Such a Fair was that of
Tothill Fields, at night the resort of all the ruffians of Westminster
and Lambeth and half London. At least, however, while they were at the
Fair they were out of other mischief. The exact site on which this Fair
was held does not appear; but since it continued for the first quarter
of this century at least, we may look for the place which was the last
to be built upon. In Crutchley’s map of 1834 there are fields between
the Vauxhall Bridge Road and James Street--that is, northwest of
Rochester Row. There are also fields south of Vauxhall Bridge Road
toward Chelsea. The former site seems the more probable.

Of course so fine a situation as Tothill Fields for the favorite
diversions of a sporting people could not be neglected. Hither resorted
all the lovers of those old English games, cock-fighting, bear-baiting,
bull-baiting, cock-throwing, dog-fighting, and prize-fighting. There
were horse races. These sports were continued well into this century.
The Earl of Albemarle in his “Recollections” speaks of these sports. The
Westminster boys of his time haunted the houses called the Seven
Chimneys or the Five Houses,--they were the old pesthouses,--which were
the resort of the bullbaiters, the dog-fanciers, and other gentry of
cognate pursuits. Among them was the unfortunate Heberfield, commonly
known as “Slender Billy,” who seems to have been a good-tempered,
easy-going person, without the least tincture of morals. The following
is the strange and shameful story of his end:


He got into trouble for assisting the escape of a certain French general
who was on parole; took him probably to the south coast,--Lyme Regis,
Rousdon, or Charmouth,--and introduced him to a smuggler who ran him
across. He was caught, tried, and sentenced to imprisonment in Newgate.
Unhappily for him, the Bank of England was just then suffering heavy
losses from forgeries. They badly wanted to hang somebody,--no matter
who,--somebody, in order to deter others from forging notes. The story
is quite amazing, as Lord Albemarle tells it. Can we conceive the
Governing Body of the Bank of England meeting together and resolving to
entrap some miserable wretch into passing the forged notes, so that by
getting him hanged others would be deterred? This is what Lord Albemarle
says they did:

“The Solicitors of the Bank accordingly took into their pay a
confederate of Heberfield’s named Barry. Through this man’s agency
Heberfield was easily inveigled into passing forged notes provided by
the Solicitors of the Bank themselves. On the evidence of Barry,
Heberfield was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was hanged at
Newgate for forgery on January 12, 1812.”

The saddest of all the memories connected with Tothill Fields is that of
the triumphal entry of Cromwell into London after the “crowning mercy”
of Worcester. He brought with him the miserable prisoners he had taken
on that field. There were four thousand of them in all. They camped at
Mile End Green when Cromwell drove into London; the next day they were
marched right through the City and along the Strand to Westminster, and
so to Tothill Fields. On the way they received alms, oatmeal, and
biscuit from any who were moved of their pity to bestow something upon
them. So they lay in the marshy fields, where many died, until they were
sold as slaves to the merchants of Guinea. In Mr. J. E. Smith’s “History
of the Church of St. John the Evangelist” there is an entry which tells
its own story. It is from the Church-wardens’ Accounts of 1652-53:

“Paid to Thomas Wright for 67 load of soyle laid on the graves in
Tothill Fields, wherein 1200 Scotch prisoners, taken at the ffight at
Worcester, were buried, and for other paines taken with his teame of
horsse about amending the Sanctuary Highway when General Ireton was
buried. XXXS.”

How many of the remaining two thousand eight hundred ever got home
again? Chance once threw into my hands a tract which showed the hard
treatment and the barbarities to which Monmouth’s convicts in Barbadoes
were subjected: most of these were men of respectable family, to whom
money might be sent for their exemption from work in the fields, or even
for their redemption. But these other poor fellows were absolutely
friendless and penniless. And they were going to the Guinea Coast, the
Gold Coast, the white man’s grave! One hopes that the mortality on their
arrival was swifter and more extensive than even the mortality in
Tothill Fields, because death was certainly the best thing that could
happen to them.

When these papers first appeared I received a letter of expostulation
from a reader. He said that the streets of Westminster were not all so
disreputable as I seemed to think. He said:

“Westminster only became a slum within this hundred years. The old
Westminster workhouse had been the mansion of Sir John Pye. Sir Francis
Burdett was born in Orchard Street, and Admiral Kempenfeldt who went
down in the _Royal George_ had his house there, and not so very long ago
a pear tree bloomed annually in his garden. The father of Henry Boys,
organist of St. John’s, about 1830 to 1840, was a bullion worker and
carried on his business for many years and up to the thirties in Great
St. Anne’s Lane. My grandmother was born, 1770, in Peter Street, at the
corner of Duck Lane. She told me that all that neighbourhood was very
respectable in her girlhood, Duck Lane being the only exception. She
attributed the downfall of the locality to the cheap houses that were
built at that time in New Peter Street. Towards the end of the century
there was only one shop in Strutton Ground: all the rest being
public-houses. My mother was born in 1802 in Marlborough House, Peter
Street, then the premises of the Cudbear Company. She used to recall
Brown’s Gardens in her young days, that were between St. Peter Street
and the Horseferry Road. They were nursery gardens. Palmer’s village was
a collection of houses for workmen, built about the beginning of this
century or the end of last, between Emanuel Hospital and Brewer’s Green,
and accessible through an archway leading from the latter.”

I am glad to print this protest. I have, however, given my authorities
for what I have stated. It is quite possible that respectable streets
and good houses existed side by side with the slums. There are always
respectable streets and great houses in every neighborhood, just as
among associations of the greatest villains there are always some with
redeeming traits. Among the residents of Westminster our friend might
have mentioned Lord Grey of Wilton, Cornelius Van Dur, Yeoman of the
Guard to four sovereigns, Oliver Cromwell, John Milton, and Dick Turpin.

Hear, however, further from Mr. William Bardell, writing in 1839.

“Another of the peculiarities which this district presents is the number
of middle-men it contains: these generally possess themselves of a
house or houses, with gardens, large or small as it may happen; here
they erect, in open defiance of all building or sewers acts, a number of
tenements of the most wretched description, and to which the only access
is by a passage through one of the front houses; in process of time
these become lanes, or courts, or alleys, or places, or buildings, or
yards. These tenements are divided into separate rooms, and let weekly
by the middle-man, who subsists upon his beneficial interest in the
concern; and so numerous are the houses of this description in the
district, that considerably more than one-half of the number proposed to
be removed are let to weekly lodgers; but these places, most of them
old, and very slightly built, frequently with boards held together by
iron hoops, are so utterly destitute of every convenience, that the
heretofore pleasant gardens of Tothill are most terrible nuisances.

“It is in these narrow streets, and in these close and insalubrious
lanes, courts, and alleys, where squalid misery and poverty struggle
with filth and wretchedness, where vice reigns unchecked, and in the
atmosphere of which the worst diseases are generated and diffused. That
uncleanness and impurity are an unerring index, pointing out the
situation where the malignancy of epidemics more or less exists, is a
truth known and admitted from the earliest ages.”

“Dr. Wright, the assiduous and highly-intelligent medical officer to the
parish, stated before the same Committee, ‘that fever is exceedingly
prevalent, and had been very general in the months of April and May.’
The Doctor had upwards of thirty cases of typhus fever in one court
containing four houses; most of which cases it is probable would have
terminated fatally had the sufferers not been removed from that
locality; ‘that fever is propagated and continued in these miserable
courts long after the ravages of epidemics have ceased in more open

“Mr. Cubitt also has stated, that ‘the ground between the Almonry and
the western end of Palmer’s village is occupied by the worst possible
description of inhabitants. The land is exceedingly badly drained, or
rather not drained; and there being no proper outlets for the water, a
great deal of bad air must pass off by evaporation from the quantity of
stagnant water upon the surface and in the cesspools.’”

Here we make an end: it is not a Survey of Westminster to which you have
been invited; it is but this side and that side of the many-sided life
of this remarkable City, which is, as was pointed out at the beginning,
unlike any other city in the world, in having no citizens, but only
residents or tenants; no municipal life; which welcomed all the scum,
riffraff, and _ribauderie_ of the country, and gave them harbor; which
has always belonged to the Church, yet has never been expected to have
any morals; always its streets and courts have been crammed with thieves
and drabs, gamesters, sporting men, cheats, and bullies; and beside the
streets always stood the stately Monastery, the quiet cloister, the
noble Church, the splendid Court, the gallant following of king and
noble, and the gathering of grave and responsible knights and burgesses
assembled to carry on the affairs of the country. I have invited you to
restore Thorney as it was long ago, the stepping-stone and halting-place
of all the trade of the island, busy and noisy; the life of the
Benedictine in his monastery; the consecration of the Anchorite; the
strange life of the mediæval Sanctuary;


the Palace of the Plantagenets; the Palace of the Stuarts; the Masques
of James I.; the Parliamentary side of the last century; and the streets
and slums. A great many things have been purposely omitted from these
pages which belong to Westminster and have taken place there. For
instance, there is the School with its long line of scholars, afterward
famous. Nothing has been said about the School. There is, again, the
Abbey Church. Very little has been said about the buildings; the
additions, alterations, restorations: nothing at all has been said
about the monuments which crowd its aisles and transepts. There is
Westminster Hall. Very little, indeed, has been said here of the things
done within its walls: the Coronation Banquets; the Trials; the
Receptions. Nothing has been said concerning the executions and the
tournaments which have taken place in Palace Yard, Old and New. Nothing
has been said about the New Houses of Parliament. These things, and a
great many more which the reader can remember for himself, have been
omitted from these pages, partly because they belong to the history of
this country and may be found in all Histories--they happened in
Westminster and they belong to Great Britain; partly because they have
already been so well treated that it is unnecessary and would be even
presumptuous for me to attempt them; and partly because the space at my
disposal is limited, though the materials are practically inexhaustible.
These chapters are not to be considered as a History of Westminster, or
a Survey: they are pictures of the City with its Palace, its Abbey, its
Sanctuary, and its slums, from a time when London did not exist until
the present day.



The popular imagination pictures the Court of Charles the Second as a
place of no ceremony or state or dignity whatever; where the King
strolled about the courts and where there was singing of boys, laughter
of women, tinkling of guitars, playing of cards, making merriment
without stint or restraint, a Bohemia of Courts. We have been taught to
think thus of King Charles’s Court by the historian who has seized on
one or two scenes and episodes--for instance, the last Sunday evening of
Charles’s life; by the writer of romance; by the chronicler of scandal;
by the Restoration poets and the Restoration dramatists.

This view of Whitehall after the Restoration is, to say the least,
incomplete. Charles had a Court, like every other sovereign; he had a
Court with officers many and distinguished; there were Court ceremonies
which he had to go through; that part of his private life which is now
paraded as if it was his public life was conducted with some regard to
public opinion. What his Court really was, may be learned from a little
book by Thomas de Laune, Gentleman, called “The Present State of
London,” published in the year 1681, for George Lurkin, Enoch Prosser,
and John How, at the Rose and Crown. Since we have seen what were the
chief offices of the Confessor’s Court and of Richard the Second’s
Court, it may be useful to learn, from this book, the offices and
management of a Stuart’s Court.

_Its Government, Ecclesiastical, Civil, and Military._

1. _Ecclesiastical._--The Dean of the King’s Chapel was generally a
Bishop. The Chapel itself is a Royal Peculiar, exempt from episcopal
visitation. The Dean chose the Sub-Dean or _Precentor Capellæ_;
thirty-six gentlemen of the Chapel, of whom twelve were priests and
twenty-four singing clerks, twelve children, three organists, four
vergers, a sergeant, two yeomen, and a Groom of the Chapel. The King had
his private oratory, where every day one of the chaplains read the
service of the day. Twelve times a year the King, attended by his
principal nobility, offered a sum of money in gold, called the Byzantine
gift, because it was formerly coined at Byzantium, in recognition of the
Grace of God which made him King. James the First used a coin with the
legend, on one side: “Quid retribuam Domino pro omnibus quæ retribuit
mihi?” and on the other side: “Cor contritum et humiliatum non despiciet

In addition there were forty-eight Chaplains in Ordinary, of whom four
every month waited at Court.

The Lord High Almoner, usually the Bishop of London, disposed of the
King’s alms; he received all _deodands_ and _bona felonum de se_ to be
applied to that purpose. Under him were a Sub-Almoner, two Yeomen, and
two Grooms of the Almonry. There was also a Clerk of the Closet, whose
duty was to resolve doubts on spiritual matters. In the reign of good
King Charles the duties of this officer were probably light.

2. _The Civil Government._--The chief officer was the Lord Steward. He
had authority over all the officers of the Court except those of the
Chapel, the Chamber, and the Stable. He was Judge of all offences
committed within the precincts of the Court and within the Verge. In the
King’s Presence the Lord Steward carried a white staff; when he went
abroad the White Staff was borne before him by a footman bareheaded.
His salary was £100 a year with sixteen Dishes daily and allowances of
wine, beer, etc. The Lord Chamberlain had the supervision of all
officers belonging to the King’s Chamber, such as the officers of the
wardrobe, of the Revels, of the music, of the plays, of the Hunt; the
messengers, Trumpeters, Heralds, Poursuivants, Apothecaries,
Chyrurgeons, Barbers, Chaplains, etc.

The third great officer was the Master of the Horse. His duties are
signified by his title, which was formerly _comes stabuli_ or Constable.

Under these principal officers were the Treasurer of the Household, the
Comptroller, the Cofferer, the Master of the Household, the two Clerks
of the Green Cloth, the sergeants, messengers, etc.

In the Compting House was held the Court of Green Cloth, which sat every
day with authority to maintain the Peace within a circle of twelve miles
radius. It was so called from the color of the cloth spread upon the

The chief Clerk was an official of great power and dignity; he received
the King’s guests; kept the accounts; looked after the provisions and
had charge of the Pantry, Buttery, and Cellar. There were clerks under
him. The Knight Harbinger with three Gentlemen Harbingers and seven
Yeoman Harbingers provided lodgings for the King’s Guests, Ambassadors,
officers, and servants.

The Knight Marshal was Judge in all cases in which a servant of the King
was concerned; he was also one of the Judges in the Court of the
Marshalsea. He had six Provost Marshals or Vergers in scarlet coats to
wait upon him.

The Servants in ordinary were the Gentlemen of the Bedchamber, and the
Groom of the Stole, the Vice-Chamberlain, the Keeper of the Privy Purse,
the Treasurer of the Chamber, the Master of the Robes, the twelve
Grooms of the Bedchamber, the six Pages of the Bedchamber, the four
Gentlemen Ushers of the Privy Chamber, the forty-eight Gentlemen of the
Privy Chamber, the six Grooms of the Privy Chamber, the Library Keeper,
Black Rod, the eight Gentlemen Ushers of the Presence Chamber, the
fourteen Grooms of the Great Chamber, six gentlemen waiters, four
cup-bearers, four carvers, four servers, four esquires of the Body, the
eight servers of the Chamber, the Groom Porter, sixteen sergeants at
arms, four other sergeants at arms who attended on the Speaker and on
the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. There were four Physicians in ordinary,
a Master and Treasurer of the Jewel House, three Yeomen of the Jewel
House, a Master of the Ceremonies with an assistant and a marshal; three
Kings at Arms, six Heralds, and four Poursuivants at Arms; a Geographer,
a Historiographer, a Hydrographer, a Cosmographer, a Poet Laureate, and
a Notary.

These were the Officers of the Wardrobe: the Great Wardrobe, the
standing wardrobes at Hampton, Windsor, and other places, and the
Removing Wardrobe which was carried about with the King. For the
wardrobes were one Yeoman, two Grooms, and three Pages.

For the Office of Tents and Pavilions were two Masters, four Yeomen, one
Groom, one Clerk Comptroller, and one Clerk of the Tents. The Master of
the Revels ordered the plays and masques, &c. He had one Yeoman and one
Groom. Attached to the Master of the Robes were workmen, each in his own
craft. The Royal Falconer had thirty-three officers under him. The
Master of Buckhounds had thirty-four assistants; the Master of the otter
hounds had five under him. So had the Master of the Harriers. The Master
of the Ordnance had a Lieutenant, a master Armourer, and seventeen under
officers. There were forty-two messengers of the Chamber. There were
sixty-four Musicians in ordinary; fifteen trumpeters and kettle
drummers; seven drummers and fifes; two Apothecaries; two Chyrurgeons;
two Barbers; three Printers; one Printer of Oriental tongues. There were
bookseller, stationer, bookbinder, silkman, woollen draper, post-master,
and a Master of Cock-fighting.

There were two Embroiderers, one Serjeant Skinner, two Keepers of the
Privy Lodging; two Gentlemen, and two Yeomen of the Bows; one Cross-bow
maker; one Fletcher; one Cormorant keeper; one Hand-gun maker; one
master and marker of Tennis; one Mistress Semstress, and one Laundress;
one Perspective-maker, one Master-Fencer, one Haberdasher of Hats, one
Combmaker, one Sergeant Painter, one Painter, one Limner, one
Picture-Drawer, one Silver-Smith, one Goldsmith, one Jeweller, one
Peruque-maker, one Keeper of Pheasants and Turkies. Joyner, Copier of
Pictures, Watch-maker, Cabinet-maker, Lock-Smith, of each one. Game of
Bears and Bulls, one Master, one Sergeant, one Yeoman. Two Operators for
the Teeth. Two Coffer-bearers for the Back-stairs, one Yeoman of the
Leash, fifty-five Watermen. Upholsterer, Letter Carrier, Foreign Post,
Coffee Maker, of each one.

Ten Officers belonging to Gardens, Bowling-Greens, Tennis-Court,
Pall-Mall, Keeper of the Theatre at Whitehall. Cutler, Spurrier,
Girdler, Corn-Cutter, Button-maker, Embosser, Enameler, of each one.
Writer, Flourisher, and Embellisher, Scenographer, or Designer of
Prospects, Letter-Founder, of each one. Comedians, Seventeen Men, and
Eight Women, Actors.

Gunner, Gilder, Cleaner of Pictures, Scene Keeper, Coffer-maker, Wax
Chandler, of each one. Keeper of Birds and Fowl in St. James’s-Park,
one. Keeper of the Volery, Coffee-club-maker, Sergeant-Painter, of each
one; with divers other officers and servants under the Lord Chamberlain
to serve his Majesty upon occasion.

As to the Officers under the Master of the Horse, there are Twelve
Querries so called of the French Escayer, derived from Escury, a Stable.
Their office is to attend the King on Hunting or Progress, or on any
occasion of Riding Abroad, to help His Majesty up and down from his
Horse, &c. Four of these are called Querries of the Crown-Stable, and
the others are called Querries of the Hunting-Stable. The Fee to each of
these is only £20 yearly, according to the Ancient Custom; but they have
allowance for Diet, to each £100 yearly, besides Lodgings, and two

Next is the Chief Avener, from Avener, Oats, whose yearly Fee is £40.
There is, moreover, one Clerk of the Stable, four Yeomen-Riders, four
Child-Riders, Yeomen of the Stirrup, Sergeant-Marshal, and
Yeoman-Farriers, four Groom-Farriers, Sergeants of the Carriage, three
Surveyors, a Squire and Yeomen-Sadlers, four Yeomen-Granators, four
Yeomen-Purveyors, a Yeoman-Pickman, a Yeoman-Bitmaker, four Coach-men,
eight Litter-men, a Yeoman of the Close Wagon, sixty-four Grooms of the
Stable, whereof thirty are called Grooms of the Crown Stable, and
thirty-four of the Hunting and Pad-Stable. Twenty-six Footmen in their
Liveries, to run by the King’s Horse. All these Places are in the Gift
of the Masters of the Horse.

There is besides these an antient Officer, called Clerk of the Market,
who within the Verge of the King’s Household, is to keep a Standard of
all Weights and Measures, and to burn all that are false. From the
Pattern of this Standard, all the Weights and Measures of the Kingdom
are to be taken.

There are divers other considerable Officers, not Subordinate to the
Three Great Officers, as the Master of the Great Wardrobe, Post-Master,
Master of the Ordnance, Warden of the Mint, &c.

Upon the King are also attending in his Court the Lords of the Privy
Council, Secretaries of State, the Judges, the College of Civilians, the
King’s Council at Law, the King’s Serjeants at Law, the Masters of
Requests, Clerks of the Signet, Clerks of the Council, Keeper of the
Paper-Office, or Papers of State, &c.

3. _Military._--There is always a Military Force to preserve the King’s
Person, which are His Guards of Horse and Foot. The Guards of Horse are
in Number 600 Men, well armed and equipped; who are generally Young
Gentlemen of considerable Families, who are there made fit for Military
Commands. They are divided into Three Troops, viz.: the Kings Troop,
distinguished by their Blew Ribbons and Carbine Belts, their Red Hooses,
and Houlster-Caps, Embroidered with His Majesties Cypher and Crown. The
Queens Troops by Green Ribbons, Carbine Belts, covered with Green
Velvet, and Gold Lace, also Green Hooses and Houlster-Caps, embroidered
with the same Cypher and Crown. And the Dukes Troop by Yellow Ribbons
and Carbine Belts, and Yellow Hooses, Embroidered as the others. In
which Troops, are 200 Gentlemen, besides Officers. Each of these Three
Troops is divided into Four Squadrons or Divisions, two of which
consisting of one hundred Gentlemen, and Commanded by one Principal
Commissioned Officer, two Brigadiers, and two Sub-Brigadiers, with two
Trumpets mount the Guards one day in six, and are Relieved in their
turns. Their Duty is always by Parties from the Guard, to attend the
Person of the King, the Queen, the Duke, and the Duchess, wheresoever
they go near home, but if out of town, they are attended by Detachments
of the said Three Troops.

Besides these, there is a more strict Duty and Attendance Weekly on the
Kings Person on Foot, wheresoever he walks, from His Rising to His going
to Bed, by one of the Three Captains, who always waits immediately next
the King’s own Person, before all others, carrying in his hand an
Ebony-staff or Truncheon, with a Gold head, Engraved with His Majesty’s
Cypher and Crown. Near him also attends a Principal Commissioned
Officer, with an Ebony-staff, and Silver head, who is ready to Relieve
the Captain on occasion; and at the same time also, two Brigadiers,
having also Ebony-staves, headed with Ivory, and Engraven as the others.

There is added a Troop of Genadiers to each Troop of Guards, one
Division of which mounts with a Division of the Troop to which they
belong; they never go out on small Parties from the Guard, only perform
Centry-Duty on Foot, and attend the King also on Foot when he walks
abroad, but always March with great Detachments. The King’s Troop
consists of a Captain, two Lieutenants, three Sergeants, three
Corporals, two Drums, two Hautbois, and eighty private Souldiers
mounted. The Queens troop, of a Captain, two Lieutenants, two Sergeants,
two Corporals, two Hautbois, and sixty private Souldiers mounted. The
Dukes Troop consists of the like number with the Queens.

The Captains of His Majesties Guards always Command as Eldest Colonels
of Horse; the Lieutenants as Eldest Lieutenant-Colonels of Horse; the
Cornets and Guidons, as Eldest Majors of Horse; the Quartermasters, as
Youngest Captains of Horse; the Brigadiers as Eldest Lieutenants of
Horse; and amongst themselves every Officer, according to the Date of
His Commission, takes precedency, when on Detachments, but not when the
Three Troops march with their Colours, for then the Officer of the
Eldest Troop, commands those of equal Rank with him in the others,
though their Commission be of Elder Date.

Next immediately after the Three Troops of Guards, His Majestys Regiment
of Horse, Commanded by the Earl of Oxford takes place, and the Colonel
of it is to have precedency, after the Captains of the Guards, and
before all other Colonels of Horse, whatsoever change may be of the
Colonel; and all the Officers thereof, in their proper Degree, are to
take place according to the Dates of their Commissions. As to the Foot,
the King’s Regiment, Commanded by the Honorable Colonel John Russel,
takes place of all other Regiments, and the Colonel thereof is always to
precede as the first Colonel. The Coldstream Regiment, Commanded by the
Earl of Craven, takes the next; the Duke of Yorks Regiment next, then
His Majestys Holland Regiment, Commanded by the Earl of Mulgrave, and
all other Colonels, according to the dates of their Commissions. All
other Regiments of Horse and Foot, not of the Guards, take place
according to their Respective Seniority, from the time they were first
Raised, and no Regiment loses its precedency by the Death of its

At the Kings House, there is a guard for his Person, both above and
below stairs. In the Presence Chamber, the Band of Gentlemen Pensioners
wait, instituted by King Henry the VII., and chosen out of the best and
antientest Families in England, to be a Guard to His Majesties Person,
and also to be a Nursery to breed up hopeful Gentlemen, and fit them for
Employments, Civil and Military, as well abroad as at home; as Deputies
of Ireland, Embassadors in Foreign Parts, Counsellors of State, Captains
of the Guard, Governors of Places, Commanders in the Wars, both by Sea
and Land, of all which these have been Examples. They are to attend the
King’s Person to and from His Chappel, only as far as the Privy Chamber:
also in all other Solemnity, as Coronations, publick Audience of
Embassadors, &c. They are 40 in number, over whom there is a Captain,
usually some Peer of the Realm, a Lieutenant, a Standard-Bearer, and a
Clerk of the Check. They wait half at a time quarterly. Those in quarter
wait daily five at a time upon the King in the House, and when He walks
abroad. Upon extraordinary occasions, all of them are Summoned. Their
ordinary Arms are Gilt Pole-Axes. Their Arms on Horse-back in time of
War, are Cuirassiers Arms, with Sword and Pistol. These are only under
their own Officers, and are always Sworn by the Clerk of the Check, who
is to take notice of such as are absent when they should be upon their
duty. Their Standard in time of war, is a Cross Gules in a Field Argent,
also 4 bends.

In the first Room above Stairs, called the Guard-Chamber, attend the
Yeomen of the Guard of His Majesties body; whereof there were wont to be
250 Men of the best quality under Gentry, and of larger Stature than
ordinary (for every one was to be Six Foot high) there are at present
100 Yeomen in dayly waiting, and 70 more not in waiting, and as any of
the 100 die, his place is filled up out of the 70. These wear Scarlet
Coats Down to the Knee, and Scarlet Breeches, both richly guarded with
black Velvet, and rich Badges upon their Coats both before and behind,
moreover, black Velvet round broad Crown’d Caps, with Ribbons of the
King’s Colour; one half of them of late bear in their hands Harquebuzes,
and the other half Pastizans, with large Swords by their Sides; they
have Wages and Diet allowed them. Their office is to wait upon the King
in His standing Houses, 40 by Day, and 20 to Watch by Night; about the
City to wait upon the Kings Person abroad by Water or Land.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Kings Palace Royal (_ratione Regiæ dignitatis_) is exempted from all
Jurisdiction of any Court, Civil, or Ecclesiastick, but only to the Lord
Steward, and in his absence, to the Treasurer and Comptroller of the
Kings Household, with the Steward of the Marshalsea, who by vertue of
their Office, without Commission, may Hear and Determin all Treasons,
Fellonies, Breaches of the Peace, Committed within the Kings Court or
Palace. The Orders and Rules for the Demeanor of all Officers and
Servants, are hung upon Tables in several Rooms at the Court, and Signed
with the Kings own hand, worthy to be read of all Strangers.

The Court or House where the King resides, is accounted a Place so
Sacred, that if any Man presume to strike another there, and only draw
Blood, his Right Hand shall be cut off, and he committed to perpetual
Imprisonment, and Fined. All occasions of striking are also there

The Court of England, for Magnificence, Order, Number and Quality of
Officers, rich Furniture, Entertainment and Civility to Strangers, and
for plentiful Tables, might compare with the best in Christendom, and
far excels most Courts abroad. It hath for a long time been a Pattern of
Hospitality and Charity, to the Nobility and Gentry of England. All
Noblemen or Gentlemen, Subjects or Strangers, were freely entertained at
the plentiful Tables of His Majesties officers. Divers Dishes were
provided every day extraordinary for the King’s Honour. Two hundred and
fourty Gallons of Beer a day, were allowed at the Buttery-Bar for the
Poor, besides all the broken Meat, Bread, &c., gathered into Baskets,
and given to the Poor, at the Court-Gates, by Two Grooms, and Two Yeomen
of the Almonry, who have Salaries of His Majesty for that Service. The
Lord Almoner hath the Privilege to give the Kings Dish, to whatsoever
Poor Man he pleases; that is, the first Dish at Dinner which is set upon
the Kings Table, or in stead thereof fourpence a day (which anciently
was equivalent to four Shillings now); next he distributes to 24 poor
men, named by the Parishioners of the Parish adjacent to the Kings Place
of Residence, to each of them fourpence in money, a Two-penny Loaf, and
a Gallon of Beer, or instead thereof three pence in Money, equally to be
divided among them every Morning at seven of the Clock at the
Court-Gate. The Sub-Almoner is to Scatter new-coined Two-pences in the
Towns and Places where the King passes through in his Progresses, to a
certain Sum by the Year. Besides, there are many poor Pensioners, either
because so old that they are unfit for Service, or the Widows of any of
the Kings Servants that dyed poor, who have a Competency duly paid them:
Besides, there are distributed among the Poor the larger Offerings which
the King gives in Collar Days.

The magnificent and abundant plenty of the King’s Tables, hath caused
amazement in Foreigners. In the Reign of King Charles I. there were
daily in his Court 86 Tables well furnished each Meal, whereof the Kings
Tables had 28 Dishes, the Queens 24, 4 other Tables 16 Dishes each, 3
other 10 Dishes, 12 other 7 Dishes, 17 other 5 Dishes, 3 other 4, 32 had
3, and 13 had each two; in all about 500 Dishes each Meal, with Bread,
Beer, Wine, and all other things necessary. There was spent yearly in
the Kings House of gross Meat 1500 Oxen, 7000 Sheep, 1200 Veals, 300
Porkers, 400 Sturks or young Beefs, 6800 Lambs, 300 Flitches of Bacon,
and 26 Boars. Also 140 dozen of Geese, 250 dozen of Capons, 470 dozen of
Hens, 750 dozen of Pullets, 1470 dozen of Chickens, for Bread 36400
Bushels of Wheat, and for Drink 600 Tun of Wine, and 1700 Tun of Beer.
Moreover, of Butter 46,640, together with the Fish, and Fowl, Venison,
Fruit, Spice proportionably. This prodigious plenty in the Kings Court
caused Foreigners to put a higher value upon the King, and was much for
the Honour of the Kingdom. The King’s Servants being Men of Quality, by
His Majestys special Order went to Westminster-Hall in Term-Time, to
invite Gentlemen, to eat of the King’s Acates or Viands, and in
Parliament-time, to invite the Parliament-men thereto.

On the Thursday before Easter, called Maundy Thursday, the King, or his
Lord Almoner, was wont to wash the Feet of as many poor Men, as His
Majesty had reigned years, and then to wipe them with a Towel (according
to the Pattern of our Saviour), and then to give everyone of them two
Yards and a half of Woollen Cloth, to make a Suit of Cloaths; also
Linnen Cloth for two Shirts, and a pair of Stockings, and a pair of
Shoes, three Dishes of Fish in Wooden Platters, one of Salt Salmon, a
second of Green Fish or Cod, a third of Pickle-Herrings, Red Herrings,
and Red Sprats, a Gallon of Beer, a Quart Pottle of Wine, and four
six-penny Loaves of Bread, also a Red-Leather-Purse with as many single
Pence as the King is years old, and in another Purse as many Shillings
as the King hath reigned Years. The Queen doth the like to divers poor

The Form of Government is by the wisdom of many Ages, so contrived and
regulated, that it is almost impossible to mend it. The Account (which
is of so many Natures, and is therefore very difficult, must pass
through many hands, and is therefore very exact) is so wisely contrived
and methodized, that without the Combination of everyone of these
following Officers, viz., the Cofferer, a Clerk of the Green-Cloth, a
Clerk Comptroller, a Clerk of the Kitchin, of the Spicery or Avery, or a
particular Clerk, together with the conjunction of a Purveyor and Waiter
in the Office, it is impossible to defraud the King of a Loaf of Bread,
of a Pint of Wine, a Quart of Beer, or Joint of Meat, or Money, or
anything else.


Abbey, traditional origin of, 6

---- foundation by Sebert, 21

---- miraculous hallowing of, 21

---- church, relics in, 24

---- the, 98

---- Henry III.’s alterations, 145

---- tombs in, 162

---- coronations, 165

---- ---- Henry IV., 165

---- ---- Elizabeth, queen of Henry VII., 167

---- ---- Henry VIII., 168

---- ---- Elizabeth, 168

---- ---- George III., 170

---- ---- Victoria, 170

Aix Cathedral, 27

Almshouses, 341

Anchorite, the, 132

Apollo, Temple of, 20

Archers, Richard II.’s, 41

Aristocracy, history of, 325

---- caste, 330

Bacon, 64

Bailly, Inner and Outer, 48

Banquet, royal, 269, 277

Bardwell’s accounts of Westminster, 5

Barton Street, 338

Benedictines, 110

Black Friars, 253

Blue Coat School, 353, 357, 361

Breaking of sanctuary by Richard III., 182

Broken cross, 201

Brother Ambrosius, 111

Burdett, Sir Francis, 375

Burtt and Harrod, story of robbery of King’s Treasury, 150

Caxton, 211

---- birth and origin, 217

---- apprenticed, 219

Caxton at Bruges, 223

---- house of, 231

---- marriage of, 234

---- at Westminster, 235

---- death of, 246

Charles II., Court of, 381

Charter, Edgar’s, 29

Chaucer, 162

Chaucer’s monk, 126

Chess, 235

Chivalry, 38

City without citizens, 1

---- without industries, 2

---- without Folk’s Mote, 2

---- of the Abbot, 2

Civil Government, 382

Clock Tower, 82

Cnut, King, 35

Cnut’s “Hus Carles,” 41

College buildings, 53

Consecration, service of, 139

Coronation of Elizabeth, 168

---- of George III., 170

Coronations in Abbey, 165

Court, itinerant, 40

---- of Requests, Whitehall, 49

---- of Exchequer, 54

---- under Elizabeth, 267

---- in reign of Elizabeth and James, 267

---- of James I., 277

---- of Charles II., 381

Cromwell’s prisoners, 374

Cross of Neath, 155

Crypt of St. Stephen’s Chapel, 53

Cunningham, Peter, 216

Dean, authority of the, 4

“Desert” of Westminster, 363

Destruction of first church on Thorney, 20

Dissolution, 4

“Domus Anglorum,” 223

Drokenesford, John de, 156

Dyfan and Ffagan, 20

Eagle Tavern, 207

Edgar’s charter, 29

Edward the Confessor, 40

Elections: that of 1741, 294

---- ---- 1784, 294

Elizabeth, queen of Henry VII., in Abbey, 167

---- in Abbey, 168

---- coronation pageant, 168

Elizabeth Woodville, queen of Edward IV., 182

Emanuel Hospital, 345

Essenes, rule of the, 30

Evil May-day, 87

Execution in Tothill Fields, 370

Extent of King’s Palace, 61

Fair of St. Edward’s Day, 372

Ffagan and Dyfan, 20

Fight between London and Westminster, 78

First church on Thorney, founding of, 20

George III. in Abbey, 170

Gourdemains, the witch, 370

Great College Street, 337

Great Seal, seizure of, 306

Green Coat Hospital, 346

Grey Coat Hospital, 351

Gunpowder Plot, 78

Harrod and Burtt, story of robbery of King’s Treasury, 150

Henry II., 40

---- IV. in Abbey, 165

---- VIII. in Abbey, 168

Historical associations of the Palace, 62

Holbein Gate, 262

Horseferry Road, 359

Hospital, Green Coat, 346

---- Grey Coat, 351

House of Lords, old, 49

Houses of Parliament, 291

Hugh de Steyninge, 100

Inigo Jones, 251

---- ---- his design, 260, 261

Inner and Outer Bailly, 48

Invasion of Saxons, 20

Islip, Abbot, 239

Jews, massacre of the, 96

Kensington Palace, 250

Kilburn, the cell of, 147

King’s House, removal to Whitehall, 76

King’s Palace of Westminster, 38 _et seq._

---- ---- ---- Painted Chamber, 49

---- ---- ---- extent of, 61

King Street, 186, 335

----- ---- worthy inhabitants, 332

Knights, ceremony of creation, 165

Large, Robert, 221

Loftie’s theory of origin, 31

Lollardism, 104

London, map of, 28

---- a city of palaces, 39

---- old House of Lords, 49

---- and Westminster, quarrel between, 78

Long Meg, 207

Marsh, great, round Thorney Island, 8

Masque, “Hue and Cry after Cupid,” 283

Masques, 283

Matthew of Westminster, 151

May-day, Evil, 87

May-pole, the, 95

Members for City, 4

Messengers, service of, 71

Milton, 337

Miracle of Hallowing, 21

Mob in Old Palace Yard, 78

Monastic life, services, 103

---- ---- rules, 106

---- ---- state of abbot, 118

---- ---- diversions, 122

---- ---- Scriptorium, 146

Monks, life of, 146

Murder and sacrilege, 160

Neighborhood of Sanctuary, 186

New Palace Yard, 79

Officers of State, 44

Old House of Lords, 49

Old Palace Yard, 78

Old Pye Street, 365

Orchard Street, 365

Ordeal of battle in Tothill Fields, 370

Pageants, splendor of Richard II., 46, 65

Painted Chamber, 49, 64

Palace, picturesque character of the, 61

---- historical association of, 62

---- early morning in the, 65

Palace Yard in 15th century, 82

Park Lane, 32

Parliament suspended, 161

Pickering Cup, 206

Picturesque character of the Palace, 61

Pillory, New Palace Yard, Perkin Warbeck, 82

---- ---- ---- ---- Titus Oates, 82

---- ---- ---- ---- William Prynne, 82

Podelicote, Richard, 147

Prince’s Chamber, 49

Printing, invention of, 228

Prisoners of Cromwell, 374

Quarrel between London and Westminster, 78

Queen of Henry VII., Elizabeth, in Abbey, 167

Queen Anne’s Gate, 336

Queen Square, 336

Raleigh, 64

---- execution of, 78

Ramage, John de, 155

Recuyell, 234

Red Pale, 208

---- ---- sign of, 211

Refugees in Sanctuary, 182

Richard II., Palace in his time, 38

---- ---- his archers, 41

---- ---- his Court, 44

---- ---- ---- ---- Harding’s description, 45

---- ---- built Tower, 57

---- ---- asserts himself, 73

Robbery of Royal Treasury, 147

Rochester Row, 346

Roman civilization, 12

Rosamond’s Pond, 369

Rule of the Essenes, 30

Sacrilege and murder, 160

Sacrist, 154

Sailor’s riot, 318

St. Andrew Undershaft Church, 85

St. James’s Park, 369

St. Katherine Cree curate, 95

St. Margaret’s Church, 354, 355

---- ---- parish of, 3

St. Stephen’s Chapel, 53

---- ---- ---- crypt of, 53

Salutation Inn, 338

Sanctuary, 173

---- theory of, 174

---- refugees, 182

---- breaking of, by Richard III., 182

---- neighborhood of, 186

Saxon Church, destruction of, by Danes, 27

Saxons, invasion of, 20

Scrope _v._ Grosvenor, 281

Sebert, founder of Abbey, 21

Service, the, of the Palace, 41

---- of consecration, 139

Silent City, 4

Skelton, John, 194, 195

“Slender Billy,” 373

Slums, 363

Snipe in South Kensington, 30

Snuff-box, the Westminster, 373

Spanish prisoner, 159

Speaker’s Court, 319

Spenser, poet, 335

Stanhope, Anne, 339

Star Chamber, 54

Steyninge, Hugh de, 100

Taverns, 340

Thames highway, 332

Theory of Sanctuary, 174

Thorney Island, 3, 5, 6

---- ---- evidence of situation, 7

---- ---- ---- of excavation, 9

---- ---- ---- of ancient monuments, 11

Thorney Island, Roman remains on, 10

---- ---- place of trade, 16

---- ---- evidence of tradition, 19

---- ---- founding of first church, 20

---- ---- destruction of first church on, 20

---- ---- evidence of history, 23

---- ---- area of, 34

Tombs in Abbey, 162

Tothill Fields, 366, 372

---- ---- execution in, 370

---- ---- tournaments in, 370

---- ---- ordeal of battle in, 370

---- ---- Cromwell’s entry, 374

Tournaments in Tothill Fields, 370

Tower built by Richard II., 57

Trade route across Thorney Island, 15

Traditional origin of the Abbey, 6

Vanished palace, 248

Victoria in Abbey, 170

Wall of defense, 46

Watling Street, 20, 32

Westminster, Bardwell’s account of, 5

---- older than London, 33

---- King’s Palace of, 38 _et seq._

---- ---- ---- officers of state, 44

Westminster, King’s Palace of, service in, 44

---- ---- ---- Prince’s Chamber, 49

---- ---- ---- St. Stephen’s Chapel, 53

---- ---- ---- Painted Chamber, 49

---- and London, quarrel between, 78

---- elections, 293

---- streets of, 331

---- hustings, 1868, 307

---- “Desert” of, 363

---- the snuff-box, 373

---- slums, 363

Westminster Abbey, arms of, 99

---- ---- Scriptorium, noted, 146

---- ---- monuments of men of letters, 162

---- ---- Addison on, 164

Westminster Hall, 54, 85

Whitehall and Court of Requests, 49

Whitehall Palace, 248

---- ---- description, 259

---- ---- destruction, 265

---- ---- plan of, 280

Woffington, Peg, 336

Wolsey, Cardinal, 197, 257

Wool staple, 85

Wray, Sir Cecil, 307

---- ---- ---- posters, etc., 311

York House, 257


[1] Stanley, “Westminster Abbey,” p. 7.

[2] Edward the Confessor’s officers were named respectively the
Marshal; the Stallere (_Comes stabuli_, or Constable); the Bower-Thane
(Chamberlain); the Dish-Thane (Seneschal); the Hordere (Treasurer);
with, of lower rank, Carver, Cup-bearer, Butler, Seal-bearer,
Wardrobe-Thane, Harper, and Headsman.

[3] The rules, it is true, were relaxed in the case of scholars engaged
upon any learned work, and there must have been some such scholars at

[4] Here are some of the lesser offices: Infirmarer, Porter,
Refectioner, Hospitaller, Chamberlain, Keeper of the Granary, Master of
the Common House, Orcharder, Operarius, Registrar, Auditor, Secretary,
Butler, Keeper of Baskets, Keeper of the Larder, Baker, Brewer,
Carpenter, Carver, Sculptor, Bookbinder, Copyist, Conveyancer, etc.

[5] “King Richard II.”

[6] See Lacroix, _Les Arts au Moyen Age_, for a sensible _résumé_ of
the whole question.

[7] The chine is always considered the nicest part of the pork, either
roasted or boiled, and is monstrous fine eating when the Norfolk
Turkies are in season.

[8] The tail of a little roasted pig is a nice morsel.

[9] Porkey was the Sow’s name.

[10] Patty is an abbreviation of the Christian name Martha. Patty
contains five letters--Martha has six.

[11] A baker’s dozen is thirteen.

[12] Stye is the name of a place where hogs, pigs, and sows are usually

[13] China is a great place in the Eastern world, where I have never
been in. But I have cups and saucers, and tea, and a mandarin, and two
fire screens that were actually made there.

[14] Sage chopped in the brains is very common, and if the little
tongue is put among them, it makes the dish better.

[15] The place which contains the entrails, and when stuffed with sweet
things is delicious.

[16] Egg sauce is common in Ireland with pigs.

[17] Potatoes--a vegetable something like a turnip, but more like an
apple. They are sold in Covent Garden, and the Irish are fond of them.

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