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Title: Picturesque London
Author: Fitzgerald, Percy Hetherington
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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                          PICTURESQUE LONDON.


                               INSCRIBED
                           WITH MUCH REGARD
                                  TO
                  THE RIGHT HON. DAVID PLUNKET, M.P.,
                      FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS

                            [Illustration]



                         _Picturesque London_

                                 _BY_

                   _Percy Fitzgerald, M.A., F.S.A._

                           _ILLUSTRATED BY_

                             W. HATHERELL,
                             A. W. HENLEY,
                             W. C. KEENE,
                             HUME NISBET,
                           HERBERT RAILTON,
                              G. SEYMOUR,
                           W. F. YOUNG, ETC.

               _With a Frontispiece in Photogravure of_

                     “_THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT_.”

                  (_From a Drawing by_ HUME NISBET.)

                                London:
                            WARD & DOWNEY,
                                 1890.



PREFACE.


In the following pages I have attempted to describe the numerous
artistic treasures and beauties of London. These attractions are so
abundant and varied, that I have not been able to do more than select
specimens, as it were, of each class; but enough has been given to
inspire the reader with an eagerness to set out, and make these
discoveries for himself. The aim throughout has been to show that the
Metropolis is as well furnished with “the picturesque” as any foreign
city, and that there is much that is romantic and interesting, which,
without a sympathetic guide, might escape notice. There are various
modes of “seeing sights.” One, the most common, is the regular official
method “the Guide Book;” when the stranger goes round, and stares, and
takes care that he sees each object set down in his Book. No fruit or
profit comes from this process, which leaves a feeling of tediousness.
How welcome, on the other hand, is some living guide, the friend that
knows the subject, that can point out the special merits and beauties
with sympathy, describe in a few words why this or that is attractive,
or admired. What was before a mere blank mass of details, now becomes
vivified, and has meaning; something of this kind is, in a small way,
attempted here.

These “Travels in London” have been the result of many years’
exploration. I have always found a never-failing pastime to observe as I
walked, and made expeditions into far off and little known quarters,
rarely without discovering something novel and unexpected. I must add,
however, that these records do not pretend to be at all in the nature of
a “guide,” or to supply historical or archæological information. They
simply register impressions.

In the same spirit the Illustrations have been selected, so as to convey
the artistic feeling with which the various scenes impress us. I am
conscious too of shortcomings, especially when I think of the
conscientious labours of Peter Cunningham, Thornbury, and Walford,
though in another department of the subject; but these, I trust, will be
excused in consideration of the goodwill and enthusiasm, in which the
work has been carried out.

                                                                  P. F.

_Athenæum Club_,

  _September, 1890._



CONTENTS.


     I.--ST. MARGARET’S CHURCH, WESTMINSTER                            1

    II.--THE WESTMINSTER TOBACCO-BOX--THE WESTMINSTER PLAY             9

   III.--ASHBURNHAM HOUSE--THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT, &c.              16

    IV.--WESTMINSTER ABBEY                                            26

     V.--THE ADELPHI AND THE STRAND                                   38

    VI.--THE ROMAN BATH--COVENT GARDEN                                49

   VII.--THE NATIONAL GALLERY                                         57

  VIII.--SIR JOHN VANBRUGH AND ST. MARTIN’S LANE                      68

    IX.--PICCADILLY, BOND STREET, AND ALBERT GATE                     78

     X.--LINCOLN’S INN FIELDS                                         92

    XI.--THE OLD INNS--CLIFFORD’S, STAPLE’S, BARNARD’S                99

   XII.--DICKENS IN LONDON                                           114

  XIII.--WATERLOO BRIDGE, THE LAW COURTS, ST. PAUL’S, ETC.           122

   XIV.--OLD SUBURBAN MANSIONS                                       145

    XV.--OLD TOWN MANSIONS                                           154

   XVI.--OLD SQUARES                                                 170

  XVII.--THE OLD TAVERNS                                             176

 XVIII.--TAVERNS                                                     183

   XIX.--CITY WALKS                                                  195

    XX.--THE OLD CITY HALLS                                          206

   XXI.--ALLHALLOWS, ST. OLAVE’S, ELY CHAPEL, ETC.                   211

  XXII.--OLD ST. BARTHOLOMEW’S, ST. HELEN’S & OTHER CHURCHES         221

 XXIII.--WREN’S CHURCHES                                             232

  XXIV.--MODERN CHURCHES                                             240

   XXV.--THE CHARTERHOUSE--THE NEW RIVER                             249

  XXVI.--CANONBURY TOWER                                             253

 XXVII.--THE QUEEN ANNE STYLE--OLD DOORWAYS                          258

XXVIII.--CHELSEA AND FULHAM                                          266

  XXIX.--PUTNEY--FULHAM                                              272

   XXX.--CHISWICK, KEW, RICHMOND, AND THEIR SUBURBS                  277

  XXXI.--WILLIS’S ROOMS--THE PALACES                                 293



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


Houses of Parliament                                       _Frontispiece._

Garden of Ashburnham House               _facing_ p.                  18

Adelphi Terrace                             “                         38

Entrance to the Roman Bath                  “                         49

The Old Roman Bath, Strand                  “                         50

Covent Garden                               “                         53

St. Etheldreda’s Church                     “                        217

       *       *       *       *       *

The Cloisters, Westminster Abbey                                       2

Lambeth Palace                                                         8

In Little Dean’s Yard                                                 13

Tablet, Emanuel Hospital                                              15

The Staircase, Ashburnham House                                       17

The Blewcoat School, Westminster                                      19

Emanuel Hospital                                                      21

Westminster Abbey                                                     27

The Nightingale Monument                                              32

The Water Gate                                                        46

The National Gallery                                                  57

Statue of General Gordon in Trafalgar Square                          69

St. Anne’s Church, Soho                                               72

Across the Hall, Dorchester House                                     82

The Red Drawing Room, Dorchester House                                84

Statue of Sidney Herbert, by Foley                                    90

Sir John Soane’s Museum                                               94

Old Gateway, Lincoln’s Inn                                            97

A Corner of Lincoln’s Inn                                             98

Old Doorway, 24, Carey Street                                        100

Gateway, Staple Inn                                                  102

King’s Bench Walk                                                    103

Barnard’s Inn                                                        106

Clifford’s Inn                                                       107

Gray’s Inn                                                           108

The Fountain, Middle Temple                                          109

Fountain Court, Temple                                               110

Hall and Library, Gray’s Inn                                         111

Gray’s Inn Hall                                                      112

Garden Gate, Gray’s Inn                                              113

Doughty Street                                                       120

The Law Courts                                                       131

St. Paul’s Cathedral                                                 135

Chimney Piece, by Steevens                                           140

The Duke of Wellington’s Monument, St. Paul’s                        141

Cromwell’s House, Highgate                                           147

Fairfax House, Putney                                                148

Raleigh House                                                        151

Room in The Sir Paul Pindar Tavern                                   158

Sir Paul Pindar’s House                                              159

Room in Sir Paul Pindar’s House                                      160

Berkeley Square                                                      173

Mansion in Cavendish Square                                          175

The White Hart                                                       178

The George Inn, Borough                                              180

The Old Cock Tavern                                                  187

The Magpie and Stump, Portsmouth Street                              194

Fresh Wharf and St. Magnus’ Steeple                                  198

College Hill--Whittington’s House                                    199

View of the Tower from London Bridge                                 201

St. Giles’, Cripplegate                                              203

Old Doorways, Laurence Pountney Hill                                 205

Brewer’s Hall Courtyard                                              207

Allhallows, Barking                                                  212

St. Olave’s, Hart Street                                             213

The Savoy Chapel                                                     214

The Savoy                                                            215

The Crypt, St. Etheldreda’s                                          216

Old Roman Font in Crypt of St. Etheldreda’s                          217

Doorway, St. Helen’s                                                 221

St. Helen’s                                                          223

St. Etheldreda’s                                                     225

Gateway to Great St. Helen’s and Almshouses                          227

Belfry, St. Helen’s Church                                           229

Monument of Sir William Pickering                                    230

Steeple of St. Mary-le-Bow                                           233

Steeple of St. James                                                 235

St. Stephen’s, Walbrook                                              236

St. Mary Woolnoth                                                    238

Interior of the Oratory                                              243

Confessional in the Oratory                                          244

Our Lady’s Altar in the Oratory                                      245

The Sanctuary, Farm Street                                           247

Old Charterhouse                                                     251

Doorway, 70, Grosvenor Street                                        260

Doorway, Painter Stainers’ Hall                                      262

Extinguishers, Berkeley Square                                       263

Old Doorway, Whittington’s House                                     264

Cheyne Walk                                                          267

Old Putney Bridge                                                    273

Hogarth’s House, Chiswick                                            278

Maid of Honour Row, Richmond                                         281

Church Row, Hampstead                                                289

Grand Staircase, Buckingham Palace                                   295

Millais’s Studio                                                     297

Alma Tadema’s Former Studio                                          299

Herkomer’s Studio                                                    301



INTRODUCTION.


The subject of London, old and new, has ever offered a charm and even
fascination, attested by the countless works which crowd the shelves of
the library. The entries under the word “London” fill nearly a volume of
the British Museum catalogue. These old folios and quartos, grey and
rusted like the churches and halls they celebrate, have a dilapidated,
decayed tone, as though they also wanted “restoring”; and there is a
welcome quaintness and sincerity in the style of such antiquaries as
Northuck, Strype, Stowe, Pennant, and others, which contrast with the
more prosaic tone of the modern handbooks. These old scribes belonged to
that amazing and unrequited class, “the county historian”: such were
honest, laborious Whitaker and Plot. There is nothing more pathetic than
the record of these unselfish enthusiasts, who, after collecting
subscriptions and devoting their lives and life-blood to these huge
quartos, generally ruined themselves by the venture. Now, long after
they have mouldered away, their huge tomes fetch large prices at
auction; or some dapper editor of our day re-issues them, with airy
notes of his own, taking care to point out the various “blunders” of the
poor departed Dryasdust who laboured so faithfully and so modestly.

An interesting speculation might be found in considering the different
ways persons have looked on the great aggregate of London. For those of
fashion it is little more than an enlarged Grosvenor or Belgrave Square:
it has few associations, historical or otherwise; while its “curios” may
be useful as a sort of raree-show for the crowd. As the excellent
Boswell put it, “I have often amused myself with thinking how different
a place London is to different people. They whose narrow minds are
contracted to the consideration of some one particular pursuit, view it
only through that medium. A politician thinks of it merely as the seat
of government in its different departments; a grazier as a vast market
for cattle; a mercantile man as a place where a prodigious deal of
business is done upon ’Change; a dramatic enthusiast as the grand scene
of theatrical entertainments; a man of pleasure as an assemblage of
taverns, etc., etc.; but the intellectual man is struck with it as
comprehending the whole of human life in all its variety, the
contemplation of which is inexhaustible.”

Stowe, Maitland, Grose, Pennant, Brayley, Leigh Hunt, with J. T. Smith,
the author of “Walks in London,” the invaluable Peter Cunningham, and
other “guides and friends,” in their dealings with London town seem to
have been fascinated by one particular mode of treatment, viz.: the
tracking out of all the personages and the social and historical
incidents that are connected with particular spots. So diligently has
this sort of investigation been pursued that some sort of connection has
been established between every modern spot and corner and some great
memory. Old houses, old inns, old streets and chambers, have all been
thus registered and illustrated by quotations from books of their time.
As Leigh Hunt says, “Nor perhaps is there a single spot in London in
which the past is not visibly present to us, either in the shape of some
old buildings, or at least in the names of the streets, or in which the
absence of more tangible memorials may not be supplied by the antiquary.
In some parts of it we may go back through the whole English history,
perhaps through the history of man, as when we speak of St. Paul’s
Churchyard, a place in which you may get the last new novel, and find
remains of the ancient Britons and of the sea. There also, in the
Cathedral, lie painters, patriots, humorists, the greatest warriors and
some of the best men; and there, in St. Paul’s School, was educated
England’s epic poet, who hoped that his native country would never
forget her privilege of ‘teaching the nations how to live.’”

Elia seems to touch a more sympathetic note. He was, indeed, an idolater
of the city. “London,” he cried, “whose dirtiest Arab-frequented alley,
and her lowest-bowing tradesman I would not exchange for Skiddaw,
Helvellyn, James, Walter, and the parson into the bargain. Oh! her lamps
of a night, her rich goldsmiths, print shops, toy shops, mercers,
hardwaremen, pastrycooks, St. Paul’s Churchyard, the Strand, Exeter
Change, Charing Cross, and the man upon a black horse. These are thy
gods, O London! All her streets and pavements are pure gold, I warrant
you. At least I know an alchemist that turns her mud into that metal--_a
mind that loves to be at home in crowds_.” This is pleasant rapture. In
another place he grows almost wanton over what he calls “the furniture
of his world,” that is, “streets, streets, streets, markets, theatres,
churches, Covent Gardens, shops sparkling with pretty faces of
industrious milliners, neat seamstresses, ladies cheapening, gentlemen
behind counters lying, authors in the streets with spectacles ... lamps
lit at night, pastrycooks’ and silversmiths’ shops, beautiful Quakers of
Pentonville, noise of coaches, drowsy cry of mechanic watchmen at night,
with bucks reeling home drunk. If you happen to wake at midnight, cries
of ‘Fire!’ and ‘Stop thief!’ Inns of Court with their learned air, and
halls and butteries, just like Cambridge colleges; old bookstalls
‘Jeremy Taylors,’ ‘Burtons on Melancholy,’ on every stall. These are the
pleasures of London ... for these may Keswick and the giant brood go
hang.” And his humorous _penchant_ for the city was so strong that he
would call aloud, “_Give me Old London at fire and plague times_,”
rather than “healthy country air” and “purposeless exercise.”

The mutations in the aspect of London are taking place with an almost
alarming rapidity, so that it becomes difficult even to note them.
Hardly a week passes without some old street or mansion being menaced,
and marked for destruction. Of a morning we see the new and significant
“hoarding” set up: in a week or two we pass again, and the
“housebreakers,” as they are called, are hard at work with their
pickaxes, shovelling down the old Queen Anne bricks in showers of dust.
From year’s end to year’s end this goes on. The hungry eyes of the
speculator, or of the thriving man of business, are often fixed upon the
old Wren churches, which, in his view, so idly cumber space that might
be covered with useful warehouses at enormous rents. It is sad to think
that eventually it will be found impossible to resist this
never-relaxing pressure, and that within a few years the clearing away
of these venerable memorials will have set in. The recent clamour about
St. Mary’s in the Strand is truly significant, the spoilers knowing well
that if they can insert their wedge or pickaxe here, a happy beginning
will have been made. These old buildings have few authorized friends or
guardians beyond the amiable amateur.

“London,” as a writer in _The Builder_ says, “is still, in spite of all
pullings down, and removals of the so-called worn-out and out of date
buildings, full every here and there of quaint spots, and bits of
architecture, and even of poetic remembrances in dreary nooks and
corners. Many of the antique streets are yet in existence, as far as the
_plans_ of them go; and the irregularity of house pulling down and
improvement necessitates differences in the size and height of the
houses, which make up the crooked street, and leave the idea of it, as
it was, almost intact.”

It is fashionable to abuse the old city, to be ashamed of it, when
comparing it with foreign towns. Dr. Waagen, who was in London in 1838,
took away a not very favourable impression of London architecture. “The
outside of the brick houses,” he says, “in London is very plain, and has
nothing agreeable in the architecture, unless it be the neat and
well-defined joints of the brick-work. On the other hand, many of the
great palace-like buildings are furnished with architectural decorations
of all kinds, with pillars and pilasters. There are two reasons why most
of them have a rather disagreeable effect. They are destitute of
continuous simple main lines, which are indispensable in architecture to
produce a grand effect, and the decorative members are introduced in a
manner _entirely arbitrary_, without any regard to their original
meaning. This absurdity is carried to the greatest excess in the case of
columns, ranged here, as wholly unprofitable servants, directly before a
wall. This censure applies in an especial manner to most of the works of
the deceased architect, Nash. In truth, he had a peculiar knack of
depriving masses of considerable dimensions of all meaning, by breaking
them into a number of little projecting and receding parts.”

He is even more severe on some of the churches; for instance, All Souls,
in Langham Place, “a circular building in two stories, with Ionic and
Corinthian columns, surmounted by a pointed sugar-loaf.”

“If the immense sums expended in architectural abnormities had always
been applied in a proper manner, London must have been the handsomest
city in the world.” Exceptions, however, to this general blame, he
admits, are Somerset House, which has the air of a regal palace, and the
“new Post Office,” which has quite “a noble effect.”

It is interesting to reflect how the thoroughfares have affected eminent
persons. When Leigh Hunt saw a house with flowers in the balcony, or
otherwise prettily disposed or arranged with taste, he was seized with
an irresistible longing to knock at the door, ask for the proprietor,
and formally thank him for the pleasure he had given to a careless
passer-by! It might be curious to see this graceful appreciation pass
from theory to action; and conjure up the face of, say, some retired
cheesemonger as he came down to receive the compliment. His natural
sense would be--and would be in the case not merely of a retired
cheesemonger, but of an average person--an idea of affront. Johnson, as
we have been told again and again, enjoyed Fleet Street, though it must
be confessed the removal of Temple Bar has somewhat spoiled this
association. There was the idea of formal entrance to the City--much as
one would pass under the portals of an old castle to gain the courtyard.
The not unpicturesque oval where the Law Courts stand has gained, but
Fleet Street has lost. Nay, there was a pleasure, when vulgarly reared
aloft on an omnibus, in rumbling under that archway. It was like
entering an old fortified town.

One might be inclined to think that a few reflections, new or old, could
be suggested by the streets, where custom has so much staled any variety
that existed. Leigh Hunt again declares that there is not a single
London street--that endless world of flagging, stone, and brick--from
which the pleasant vision of a tree is not to be seen. I believe the
fact to be true in the main--certainly was true in his day. What curious
survivals still remain to us--such as would make the foreigner stop and
look back at long and eagerly, and go unheeded by the careless resident!
To give an instance or two: On a Sunday morning the early promenader is
likely to meet a little procession passing through the Mall of ten or a
dozen boys, gorgeously clad in scarlet coats of antique cut, richly and
profusely laced with gold, with black hose and shoes with buckles,
college caps with gold tassels. Few even in London have encountered
these little gentry, and if they did would wonder exceedingly. They
belong to the Court, and are the singing boys of the Royal Choir. Again,
to pass by Newgate Street and look in between the railings at the boys
of the old foundation of “Christ’s” busily engaged enjoying
football--what a quaint costume, the orange stockings, the monastic gown
confined with a leather strap--like a “Frere”--and the curious rule
which interdicts wearing hat or cap, apparently without injury. And we
have still left the “Beefeaters” or Yeomen of the Guard.

Indeed, few can conceive how many interesting streets, houses, corners,
churches, and general “surprises” are to be found by those who know
where to look for them. There are people who have been brought up, “man
and boy,” as it is called, in London, and lived there all their life
long, and who think it is little more than a repetition of the Strand
and Fleet Street, and that the City is all like Lombard Street. What
London abounds in is the picturesque and the poetical: there is really
an abundance of charming “bits,” of artistic buildings, and of relics as
noteworthy as any in a foreign town. Some of them we pass every day, but
familiarity obscures their merit. Others, too, we pass every day, but
they are hid behind screens and walls, or locked in behind old rusty
gates. Often thinking of these ignored treasures, I determined to
explore for myself, and see if I could do something in a humble way to
introduce to better notice this “Picturesque London,” or the
picturesqueness of London. Prompted by this sympathetic impulse, I have
for years made regular, diligent “travels in London” as an explorer, and
have been astonished at all I saw. It was true, no doubt, that many of
these things were described in the official guide-books, but after the
appraising, registering fashion of such works. What one has looked for
was some one with sympathy to point out the merits and beauties. I
pursued my new calling with a growing relish, often directed to inspect
curiosities by a friendly counsellor, more often stumbling on them by
accident. In time it was amazing what a number of old houses, old
doorways, old churches, old corners, I was thus introduced to, what
unsuspected treasures were laid open, and above all what a new fund of
entertainment was provided for a simple street promenader.

I shall now proceed to share my enjoyment with the courteous reader, and
we shall make our wanderings in rather a fitful way, chiefly as the
explorer made them, almost without system, dealing with these objects as
they lie grouped together within compass of a day’s travelling.



PICTURESQUE LONDON.



CHAPTER I.

ST. MARGARET’S CHURCH, WESTMINSTER.


We shall commence our pilgrimage at that striking and imposing scene,
the old “Broad Sanctuary,” Westminster. Few may have noted the quaint
obelisks which at intervals help to form the inclosure! Lately the
churchyard was laid down in grass, and the flagging removed; but it may
be doubted if this be a real improvement. The air of space seems
diminished. A sward of this kind is becoming in a genuine close, as at
Salisbury, where the cathedral is in the country; but here the minster
is in the heart of the town--in the streets--and the grass seems to have
an artificial air. Sixty years ago this inclosure displayed a number of
fine old trees, which would have been in admirable keeping, and a
picturesque adornment. But when the coronation of George IV. was at
hand, the obsequious Dean and Chapter determined to erect scaffolding
and ample theatres to view the procession; and the trees were cut down.
As Mr. Croker said, they had been so ill-advised or so greedy as to take
this step, and the “loss of this ornament to the public was great, while
the profit to the Chapter did not perhaps amount to £10.”

One solitary altar-tomb, carefully railed round, will be noted in this
large inclosure, and we may speculate as to the reasons for this
toleration, where all the rest have been swept away. The inscription is
almost illegible; but it is the memorial of a certain wealthy Mr.
Davies. He was the owner of all the estate where are now Grosvenor
Square and the adjoining streets; from him this enormous property passed
to the Grosvenor family, and Davies Street was so named in his honour.
No doubt it was owing to this august connection that his tomb was
allowed to remain. But his heritors might have the inscription re-cut.

[Illustration: _From a Drawing by_ HERBERT RAILTON.]

The group of buildings--the Abbey, Westminster Hall, the Houses of
Parliament, the bridge beyond, the Westminster School--might be set off
with prodigious effect were there one of real artistic instincts to
undertake the task. Nothing, for instance, can be meaner or more
ineffective than Palace Square with its statues. It is obvious that this
should be treated as a _place_, with an imposing and attractive object
as its centre; instead of which we find it divided in two by a broad
walk, and the whole effect is frittered away. There is something
grotesque in the statues ranged round _dos à dos_, huddled together
with a commercial view to convenience. A single statue, it may be said,
needs an area to itself to have proper effect; as we may see in the
_Place Verte_ at Antwerp, where that of Rubens is sufficient to give
point to the whole area.

In the shadow of Westminster Abbey stands a homely-looking edifice of
Churchwarden’s Gothic. Uninviting as is the exterior of St. Margaret’s,
its interior is most interesting and suggestive. Restored not many years
ago with excellent taste and reserve, it has been gradually beautified
under the direction and encouragement of the rector, Archdeacon Farrar;
so that, small and unpretending as it seems, a couple of hours may be
profitably spent in viewing it. The interior is of the collegiate
pattern, with a flat panelled roof supported by airy and elegant columns
with delicate mouldings. The walls have been judiciously allowed to
display the outlines of their stones, which furnish good detail and
background. No church of its size, perhaps, is so rich in tombs and
tablets, all of which are more or less interesting; and they are
disposed so as to heighten the general effect. Some are fitted on to the
light columns, shield-like, and bent to the mouldings. Most of the
memorials are of one formal kind; a bust or medallion in the middle, a
pediment above, and below a black marble slab or tablet with the
inscription. The marbles are mostly of rich russet tones, or of a plum
tint.

The idea of making the painted windows illustrate the story of eminent
persons connected with the place or parish is a happy one; for it
enriches as well as beautifies the church. The legends, moreover, have
been supplied by distinguished poets. One great window, which displays
its brown and amber glories in honour of Queen Elizabeth and Sir Walter
Raleigh, is a present from the Americans; and Mr. Lowell has written
these lines for it:--

    The New World’s sons, from England’s breast we drew
    Such milk as bids remember whence we came;
    Proud of the Past from which our Present grew,
    This window we erect to Raleigh’s name.

The window is a handsome one, and is richer and deeper in its tones than
its fellows. Long ago a meagre white tablet with a bold inscription was
placed here by “The Roxburghe Club,” to commemorate Caxton. Over the
tablet a painted window has recently been fitted, the gift of the
printers of London--a happy and becoming tribute; while the Laureate,
who has given abundant work to printers all over the globe, has supplied
these lines:--

    Thy prayer was “light, more light while time shall last;”
    Thou sawest a glory growing on the night,
    But not the shadows which that light will cast
    Till shadows vanish in the light of light.

Some of the side windows are poor and thin in tone, as if done in
water-colour; but the rich depth and gorgeousness of the great
window--as of old wine seen deep down in the glass--eclipses the rest.
There is also a window to the memory of the ill-fated Lord Frederick
Cavendish. The inscription is not particularly happy, and his
fellow-victim is described as “Mr. T. N. Burke.” Another commemorative
window which seems prosaic is that of the Jubilee, the Queen in the
centre, in full view of her great ancestor Elizabeth. Here Mr. Browning
furnished the verse:--

    Fifty years’ flight! Where should he rejoice
    Who hailed their birth, who as they die decays?
    This--England echoes his attesting voice,
    Wondrous and well, thanks, Ancient Thou of days!

A regular riddle or crux, which strains the wit, as we ponder over the
meaning. Merriment and wonder were alike excited by the last line, with
its odd punctuation:--

    “Wondrous and well, thanks, Ancient Thou of days!”

There is also the Milton window--the Poet’s wife and daughter are buried
here--given by another amiable American, Mr. Childs, with an inscription
by Whittier:--

    The New World honours him whose lofty plea,
    For England’s freedom, made her own more sure;
    Whose song, immortal as its theme, shall be
    Their common freehold while both worlds endure.

The last line seeming rather prosaic, the author good-naturedly offered
to substitute “heirloom” for “freehold.” But “freehold” stands. Another
window celebrates Sir Erskine May, whose severe, thoughtful face is
portrayed in various Scriptural attitudes--_e.g._, as the Faithful
Steward, with the legend “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Another interesting memorial was set up on December 18th, 1888, thus
further enriching the associations of the church. This was in honour of
the gallant Admiral Blake, and takes the shape of a three-light window
in the north aisle. The upper portions are of an allegorical kind; the
lower depicts incidents from Blake’s life, such as the indignity of the
ejection of his body from the Abbey in 1661, after the Restoration. Mr.
Lewis Morris, another of the poets of our time, has furnished spirited
verses, and sings:--

    Strong sailor, sleeping sound as sleep the just,
    Rest here: our Abbey keeps no worthier dust.

This fashion is interesting, and original too. For, as we pass from
window to window, we can review our history, and the striking lines
attached to each will linger in the memory. Thus we have five poets
contributing to the glories of these windows.

The old tablets with which the walls are incrusted have an interest from
the originality of the style and the richness of material. Here we find
the rather grim likeness of the worthy Palmer, and of Emery Hill, whose
almshouses and schools are still to be seen in Westminster. Many Court
ladies find rest in the church: such as Lady Dorothy Stafford, “who
served Queen Elizabeth forty years, lying in the bed-chamber;” or Lady
Blanche Parry, “chief gentlewoman of Queen Elizabeth’s Privy Chamber,
and keeper of her Majesty’s jewels, whom she faithfully served from her
Highness’s birth;” or Anne Ellis, “who was born in Denmark, and was
Bedchamber Woman to Queen Anne.” We come on a record “To the memory of
the right virtuous and beautiful gentlewoman, Mistress Margaret
Ratcliffe, one of the maids of honour to Queen Elizabeth, and who died
at Richmond.” Many of the men, too, have served their King, like
Cornelius Vandam, “souldier with King Henry at Turney, Yeoman of the
Guard, and Usher to Prince Henry, King Edward, Queen Mary, and Queen
Elizabeth;” or Peter Newton, “who served King James and King Charles,
and was Usher of the Black Rod.”

Some of the inscriptions are quaint and touching, like that which
celebrates “the late deceased Virgin Mistress Elizabeth Hereicke”:--

    Sweet Virgin, that I do not set
    Thy grave verse up in mournful jet
    Or dappled marble, let thy shade
    Not wrathful seeme, or fright the Maid
    Who hither, at the weeping Howres,
    Shall come to strew thy Earth with Flowres.
    No: know, blest Soule, when there’s not one
    Reminder left of Brasse or Stone
    Thy living Epitaph shall be,
    Though lost in them, yet found in me.
    Deare, in thy bed of Roses then,
    Till this world shall dissolve, as Men
    Sleepe, while we hide thee from the light,
    Drawing thy curtains round--Good night.

With much simplicity another lady, Dame Billing, frankly tells us of the
happiness she enjoyed with her three husbands, whom she sets down in
their order, “garnishing the tablet with their armes.” Another widow
records on an old battered “brass” the merits of one Cole, her latest
partner, at great length; whereof an extract:--

    In Parliament, a Burgesse Cole was placed
      In Westminster the like, for many years;
    But now, with Saints above, his soul is graced,
      And lives a Burgess with Heaven’s Royal Peers.

There is also seen here Pope’s well-known epitaph on Mrs. Corbett,
which won Dr. Johnson’s highest praise, though he takes the objection
that her name is not mentioned in the lines themselves. It is well worth
quoting:--

    Here rests a woman, good without pretence,
    Blest with plain reason, and with sober sense;
    No conquest she but her own sense desired,
    No arts essayed, but not to be admired.

Of this line the Doctor says with grim humour: “I once heard a lady of
great beauty and excellence object that it contained an unnatural and
incredible panegyric--of this let the ladies judge.”

    Passion and pride were to her soul unknown,
    Convinced that virtue only is our own:
    So unaffected and so composed a mind,
    So firm, yet soft, so strong, yet so refin’d;
    Heaven as its purest gold, by tortures tried,
    The saint sustained it, but the woman died.

Of a quaint sort is the following to a Westminster boy:--

_Richard Nott, aged 11 years. His Schoolfellow Walter Thomas made his Epitaph._

    Dear to his parents here doth lye,
    A youth admired for Piety,
    His years eleven, yet knew more
    Of God than many of threescore.

Another monument is that of Mrs. Barnett, who died in 1674, leaving £40
yearly for poor widows. A large oatmeal pudding is, or used to be, given
at the “Feast,” to commemorate that this “worthy lady” sold oatmeal
cakes at the church doors. Skelton, the poet, is interred here: also
Thomas Churchyard, Hollar, the famous engraver, and Colonel Blood of
regalia memory. There can be read here the entry of Milton’s marriage
with Mrs. Catherine Woodcocke, and of Edmund Waller to Ann Bankes. There
is also recorded the baptism of Thomas Betterton, the actor, in 1635.
Titus Oates, Jeffreys, and Bishop Burnet’s children were baptized here.
These are interesting associations.

But the glory of the whole is the wonderful window over the
Communion-table, with its fine depth of blue, a treat for the eye, and
satiating it with colour. This impoverishes, as it were, all the modern
performances near it. A great authority on painted glass, Mr. Winston,
declares it to be “the most beautiful work in this respect, of
harmonious colouring,” he was acquainted with. The subject is the
Crucifixion. It is divided into five compartments, three of which are
filled by pictures of our Saviour and the two thieves. Below them are
the holy women, a crowd of Roman soldiers, etc.; over the good thief a
tiny angel is seen, bearing off his soul to Paradise, while a little
demon has the impenitent one on his back. On one side is the portrait
of a young king at his prayers, arrayed in crown and mantle, with the
armed St. George overhead; on the other side a lady, also kneeling, over
whom watches St. Catherine. This window had quite a strange course of
adventures. According to one account, it was a present to King Henry
VII. from the Dutch States-General, and was intended for his beautiful
chapel. Another version runs that it was a present from the King and
Queen of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella. It took five years to make, and
by that time King Henry VIII. had succeeded. Whether his religious views
had altogether changed, or he had other reasons, the window was not set
up, and he made it a present to the abbey at Waltham. On the Dissolution
it was bought by General Monk, who brought it down to New Hall, where it
was well protected during the Civil War. From New Hall it passed to a
Mr. John Olmius, who sold the window to Mr. Conyers, of Copt Hall, where
it was set up; and there it seemed likely to remain. Unluckily it
entered into the minds of the Churchwardens’ Committee of St.
Margaret’s, in 1758, to have a thorough restoration of their old church.
Dreadful windows, the same that were to be seen about twenty years ago,
were put in: a common “household parapet,” as it was called, was added,
with the homely porch. But now they bethought themselves of Mr.
Conyers’s beautiful window, and bought it for 400 guineas. Thereupon the
Chapter, offended by its “Popish” character, commenced a lawsuit to have
the window removed; but the action was decided against them. There is a
loving cup which celebrates this victory. Thus this rich and glowing
feast of colour was retained. Below it there is a curious oaken reredos,
elaborately carved into the shape of a large picture--the Supper at
Emmaus--the work of a Soho artist some 120 years ago. The pulpit is a
rather fantastic thing, coloured like a sugar-plum. There is an antique
bench in the porch, used at the distribution of the weekly dole of
sixpences and bread to a number of poor widows.

Archdeacon Farrar, the Rector, takes jealous care of St. Margaret’s, and
has excited public interest in the church by his improvements and
reforms. He has opened it regularly for some hours in the day; numbers
are seen gazing in astonishment at the unexpected monuments and curios.

The churchyard that encompasses it is, however, associated with a
degrading history. There is somewhere in the inclosure “a nameless and
promiscuous pit,” as Archdeacon Farrar calls it, into which were flung,
shortly after the Restoration, the remains of some twenty Republicans
who had been interred in the Abbey. The bodies of Cromwell, Ireton, and
Bradshaw were hung up at Tyburn, and their heads fixed on pikes on the
top of Westminster Hall. But into the pit was cast the body of the
Protector’s mother, who was ninety years old at her death, the great
Admiral Blake, Dr. Twiss, and others of less note. It is fair, however,
to say that the Royal warrant did not order this outrage, and has a
specious reasonable air. It ran:--

     It is his Majestie’s express pleasure and command that you cause
     the bodies of the severall persons undernamed wᶜʰ have been
     unwarrantably interred in Henry the 7th and other Chappels and
     places wᵗʰ in the collegiate Church of Westminster since the year
     1641 to be forthwith taken up and buried in some place of the
     Churchyard adjoining to yᵉ said Church, whereof you may not faile,
     and for so doing this shall be yʳ warrant. Dated at yᵉ Court of
     Whitehall, Sept. 9, 1661.

[Illustration: LAMBETH PALACE.]



CHAPTER II

THE WESTMINSTER TOBACCO-BOX--THE WESTMINSTER PLAY.


In other ways our “Parish of Westminster” offers much that is still
quaint and old-fashioned and picturesque. A stranger seeing the view
from the Sanctuary for the first time will be moved to surprise and
admiration. The very irregularity, the straggling shape of the ground,
is original and pleasing. What a number of striking objects are here
congregated! Standing at the bottom of Victoria Street we see to the
right the Gothic Westminster Chambers, with the not ungraceful
commemorative pillar to the scholars who fell in the Crimea. Beyond is
the venerable Abbey, beside which is St. Margaret’s Church and
Churchyard. Beyond these is seen Westminster Hall and the elaborate
façade and towers of the Houses of Parliament. Between is the square
with the statues. To the left the old Sessions House, and in the
distance Westminster Bridge, Lambeth Palace, and the River. All this is
made animated by the ceaseless procession of vehicles, for here runs the
tide of life and business very strongly; and the long train of persons
making for the Strand from Pimlico passes by this route. All here is
interesting, and the foreigner could spend a day or two examining what
is grouped in this spot.

Few are aware of the existence of a worthy society, “The Past Overseers
of St. Margaret and St. John, Westminster,” who have been in the habit
of dining together at one of the taverns in the district for over 150
years. This body, not otherwise remarkable, are custodians of a singular
“curio,” which from small beginnings has, like the “deputy shepherd,”
been “a swellin’ wisibly” from year to year. This is “the Westminster
Tobacco-Box,” which is also an extraordinary, bizarre, historical
calendar of London during the long period of its existence.

It seems that in the year 1713 one of the “past” overseers, Mr. Henry
Monk, was in the habit of bringing to the tavern dinners his own private
tobacco-box, which he had bought for 4_d._ at a horn fair, and which he
good-naturedly placed at the service of his friends. In so cordial a
spirit was this little attention received, that he presented the company
with a tobacco-box for its own use when he should have passed away. As
a reciprocal attention the society had a silver rim placed on the box,
whereon were recorded the donor’s name and merits. This imparted a value
to the box, and it was intrusted to the charge of the overseer
for the time being. The next overseer--not to be outdone in
liberality--embellished the box with a silver plate, on which _his_ name
and achievements were set out. The overseer succeeding followed suit;
and thus grew up the rule or custom that every overseer should add a
silver plate or decoration suitably inscribed. After a few years the box
became overlaid with silver plates. Space failed, and it was now fitted
into an inclosing box, upon which the same process was repeated. Figures
and pictures came to be engraved on the plates; the notable event of the
year, whether battle, royal marriage, procession, or celebration, was
duly emblazoned; and still the box, or boxes, kept growing. As a result,
the box has become enormous, and has now the aspect of a massive
hexagonal silver-covered chest, which resolves itself into some
half-dozen boxes, one enclosed in the other, and all glittering with the
accumulated silver plates of 150 years. The outer chest or casket is
made from an old oaken beam that belonged to the Abbey. The general
aspect of the box is rather bewildering, with its pictures, portraits,
scrolls, odd costumes, dates, and inscriptions. At the annual dinner
there is a ceremonial of handing over the box to the new overseer, who
is solemnly enjoined by the senior churchwarden to take all care of the
article. He is to have and to hold it on the condition that it be
produced at all parochial entertainments he shall be invited to, or have
a right to attend, when it must be furnished, with tobacco sufficient to
fill three pipes at least, under forfeiture, in case of failure, of six
bottles of claret. Moreover, security in the sum of 200 guineas has to
be found.

The box has passed through some critical situations: once, in 1785, when
some thieves carried off from the dinner-table all the portable silver;
but, fortunately, the overseer had the precious box (or boxes) in safe
custody. In 1793 an unworthy overseer, named Read, having a claim on the
parish, actually detained the box till he was satisfied--nay, threatened
to destroy the box if he were _not_ satisfied. Thereupon a Chancery suit
was actually commenced to recover this Palladium of Westminster; and the
case was heard before Lord Chancellor Loughborough, who decreed that the
box be restored and the costs paid by the degenerate “past overseer,”
Read aforesaid. There was general joy; the solicitor who conducted the
suit was made free of the society, that “he may often” (so it runs in
the books) “have an opportunity of contemplating the box and its
recovery.”

In 1825 some odd regulations connected with the box were introduced. The
dinner which ushered it in was to be served by five o’clock, on the
actual striking of St. Margaret’s clock; the landlord, on failure, to be
fined two bottles of wine. He was to produce his bill at half-past
eight, under penalty of another bottle. When the Westminster
tobacco-boxes are opened out there is a glittering show indeed. Hours
might be spent deciphering their scrolls and records. There we may see
and read of the King and Queen and of Mr. Wilkes, the gallant Nelson,
Pitt and Fox, and Wellington, together with pictures of a “scratchy”
kind of the new prison, the trial of Queen Caroline, and other
interesting scenes. In 1746 Hogarth engraved a portrait of the Duke of
Cumberland inside the lid. What is to become of the box when it
bourgeons beyond manageable proportions? By-and-by it will have the
dimensions of a plate-chest. Before long, however, it is not unlikely
that some too practical past overseer will move “That this society do
hereby for the future suspend their practice of adding silver plates to
the tobacco-box; and that in lieu thereof ten guineas be subscribed
annually to the funds of Westminster Hospital. And that the box or boxes
be deposited in the Town Hall.”

In Westminster, as in other districts of London, there is a certain
local tone--healthy and independent, as though it were a separate town.
Chelsea, Islington, Holborn, all these have their _Town Halls_, some
built in rather imposing style. In each there is the Concert room, where
shows and entertainments are given to the lieges. At Westminster there
is the Choral Society, which has its capital concerts, singing, and
orchestra--all to the glory of local Westminsters, who have great repute
among their own people. There is something Flemish in this spirit, and
no doubt it will develop.

A few years ago there was a cluster of mean and squalid streets on the
ground where the Aquarium stands--with others of the Seven Dials pattern
leading to it. These have been cleared away with extraordinary rapidity,
and quite a new quarter has been formed, of which the Town Hall is the
centre. Not unpleasing, and effective also, is the large group of
buildings in irregular broken order that gather round it. There is
Christ Church and churchyard, across which a path has been made from
Victoria Street, and which is flanked by the new and grand “Iddesleigh
Mansions,” with its stained glass and outside galleries. Then on the
other side rise the enormous “St. Ermine’s Mansions,” rival to the
“Queen Anne’s.” The visitor should note the extraordinary decorations
over the doorways--two boys seated in a _dégagé_ attitude, their legs
projecting airily, projections not likely to remain long _in situ_. We
should note, however, the pleasing Vicarage just erected in the
churchyard, a compact and snug and picturesque little edifice. The
church is rude and bald enough, but a project is on foot for completing
the steeple. Then the place will be complete. Yet, strange to say,
fringing these pretentious edifices, meant for the opulent, are the most
squalid dens and alleys filled with cellars and “shanties,” with such
significant names as King’s Head Court, Smith’s Rents, Horse Shoe
Alley, and the like, where poverty reeks and flourishes well, as it
might be said, and where from half a crown to four shillings is paid
weekly for some crazy dilapidated chamber.

The performance of the Westminster Play, which takes place about a week
before Christmas, furnishes the Londoner with an opportunity for
dreaming himself away into old University or Cathedral life. Once within
Dean’s Yard a very pleasing delusion steals over him; and so appropriate
are the calm associations of the place that he will fancy himself
hundreds of miles away in some scholastic retirement, instead of being
close to the rattle of streets, of passing omnibuses and cabs and the
busy hurly-burly of Westminster. The pleasant old custom of the
Westminster Play still flourishes in all its vitality, and should be
cherished as one of those survivals which usefully keep green the few
romantic associations that are known to the capital.

It is evening at Christmas-tide as we come to the Sanctuary--quaint name
for the open space in front of the Abbey--the traffic seems at its very
busiest. The Aquarium hard by is getting ready for a busy night; its
electric arc lights are blazing. Beyond, the fierce light at the top of
the Clock Tower gives token of busy work within, for a so-called “autumn
session” is going on. Everything betokens din, bustle, and hard work.
Passing under the archway we are in “Dean’s Yard,” and what a sudden
change! It almost seems a monastic inclosure. The moon is at the full;
the noise of the streets is suddenly hushed. Here are the old-fashioned
buildings, low and antique, with the entrance to the Cloisters of the
Abbey. The chimes from the Clock Tower are giving out eight. Here, too,
is the Dean’s House, quaint, low and spreading, with a deceptive air of
ruin, mullioned windows, and the Canons’ residences beside it; the Head
Master’s house, too, all such as would be found in a Cathedral Close.
Here are small peaked windows, the walls bearing a look of rust and
ruin, but very sound. Passing through a dilapidated little archway, we
reach the square, where on the left is made out Ashburnham House, lost
in shadow; but its elegant iron gate is distinct enough; while in front
there is the old-fashioned and heavy irregular buildings of the
Westminster School, with its old-fashioned porch and steps, and
straggling doorways. A crowd of persons are entering--the youths, fine
lads, stand about in their caps and gowns. We pass up some cramped
stairs and find ourselves in the great dormitory, with alcoves on each
side, while overhead are seen the beams of the sloping platform which
support the spectators’ seats. For in this vast hall the performance is
given.

It is a gay and festive scene enough, brilliantly lit up, with a
handsomely painted proscenium at the end, while the huge sloping
platform is crowded. On the right the ladies of the audience are grouped
together in ascetic seclusion, much as ladies are placed in the
_Palchi_ during the Holy Week at Rome. Young scholastic aides-de-camp in
cap and gown distribute bills and show us to our proper places. The Head
Master, the cordial and energetic Dr. Rutherford, enters in state, and
with him the personages invited, who sit in rows in the centre. On the
right and left are the scholars, and dressed in the best West-end style;
a brave company. “Alas!” said Charles Lamb’s brother, “to think that
these fine, bright young fellows will one day become _stupid Members of
Parliament_.”

[Illustration: _From a Drawing by_ HERBERT RAILTON.]

The great thick walls on each side display their blackened stones, and
are pierced at the top with small, prison-like windows. These old walls
seem to speak, for they are covered over as closely as possible with
names--names of scholars, in large, well-cut, and very legible letters.
There is something very significant in these records, some of very well
known persons. The eye, almost at first, falls upon a bold, big-cut “E.
IMPEY”--a boy who was to become Sir Elijah, and to figure so prominently
with Warren Hastings. Formerly the boys used to climb up and cut their
names anyhow and every how; now it is reduced to a prosaic and regular
system: a payment of five shillings is made, and the appointed officer
arrives with his tools and ladder, and does the job, which rather
destroys the poetry of the thing.

Some pretty music is being played of a soft, winning kind--the
performers unseen--which lends a regular theatrical tone to the place. A
lad in cap and gown and white tie and kid gloves emerges from the
curtain and bends down to whisper to the Head Master, it is presumed to
obtain formal leave to begin. This ceremony was repeated at the
beginning of every act. Then the curtains are drawn aside, revealing the
beautiful view of Athens, painted with much grace and skill by Mr.
Cockerell, a combination between interior and exterior, which I believe
to be the true mode of presenting a drama. Nothing could be better, more
correct or realistic than the dresses. With the discoveries of pictures,
mosaics, medals, etc., we can really now dress a Greek or Roman with the
minutest accuracy and faithfulness. The hair, beards, etc., are trained
with such wonderful accuracy so as to suggest the true antique type of
face. The style of declamation was spirited and animated, much beyond
what might be expected from youths. There was a solidity and gravity,
and a total absence of fear and shyness. It would be affectation to say
the meaning was followed by the audience, though at professedly humorous
passages volleys of applause came from above, betokening the presence,
even here, of a disciplined _claque_, who must have applauded upon
signal. There were some grave and reverend pundits, who really
understood and followed every word--masters _en retraite_, perhaps--and
who were convulsed at every jest--though these seemed mild enough. At
the close there was the epilogue, full of allusions to current topics.
Altogether a very pleasing and interesting entertainment. There was a
suggestion, throughout of collegiate associations, from the presence of
the many gowned professors, canons, and others, who had only to walk
across from their numerous little quaint old residences either in “the
quad,” or the antique College Street or Dean’s Yard.

As the crowd poured out we crossed the courts once again under the
moonlight, everything still and remote, the great Tower of the Abbey
dimly outlined, the huge Victoria Tower beetling over all, the many
clocks, St. Margaret’s, the Abbey, “Big Ben,” and others of smaller
degree, chiming vigorously one against the other. Ashburnham House, fast
closed, was sleeping placidly in the moonlight. We passed the slow,
old-fashioned rooms of the Head Master, where there was a cheerful
restorative supper, not at all unwelcome after the long course of rather
perplexing Latin, where the guests were hospitably entreated by this
cordial host.

Towards midnight, as we came out from Dean’s Yard through the great
entrance, and were once more greeted with cab and omnibus clatter and
general hurly-burly, it really seemed again as though we had suddenly
emerged from the tranquil University cloister. The gowns, plays,
cloisters, old Latin, music, canons, etc., seemed part of a collegiate
dream--now rudely broken.

[Illustration:

    This is EMANUEL HOSPITAL
    of the Charitable Foundation of the Late
    LORD and LADY DACRES
    For the Maintenance of Ten Poor Men, Ten Poor Women,
    and Twenty Poor Children
    Under the Government of the LORD MAYOR & ALDERMEN
    of the City of LONDON
    Anno 1821 Resolved that the Boys & Girls be increased
    to the number of Twenty each to be educated
    & maintained in the Hospital.
    That a proper School Room & a Dormitory
    over the same, for the Boys, be erected.
    Anno 1844 Ten additional Boys Admitted.
    Anno 1845 Ten additional Girls Admitted.
    Anno 1847 The Establishment no Consists of Sixty.
]



CHAPTER III.

ASHBURNHAM HOUSE--THE HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT, ETC.


Passing from Dean’s Yard, through a Gothic arch which leads through the
Canons’ houses, we find ourselves in a large court, round which run the
old buildings of the Westminster School and its familiar dormitory.
Facing the school is a low building, within an inclosure, known as
Ashburnham House, an old Tudor structure of much interest, which a few
years ago was in serious peril. The valuable ground was coveted, and it
was proposed to level it and erect large modern buildings in its stead.
Happily public interest was aroused, pictures and sketches appeared in
the illustrated papers, and the plan was arrested. The interest lay in
the beautiful and elegant design of its interior, which though of modest
scale is so exquisitely laid out and designed as to suggest an air of
spaciousness. There is no doubt that it is the work of Inigo Jones, who
is also credited with having designed the older dormitory of the school.
On entering, a low hall presents itself, with a door facing us, through
which can be seen a glimpse of the old garden behind.

Standing in the airy hall, which though of small size yet appears
spacious, and is panelled round with delicately indicated mouldings, we
see on the left a low arch over a slightly inclined stair of three or
four steps, and beyond which the regular stair with its balustrade is
seen. This of itself offers a highly original effect. The staircase
itself has the most gentle ascent. The walls, generally white, are
broken up by delicate mouldings and pilasters crowned at the top by an
oval lantern of elegant shape, and there is a general architectural
effect produced of the most pleasing kind. Neither is there anything
elaborate, nor are the surfaces too much loaded. We feel that the
groundwork is panelling, and therefore only suited to the lightest
treatment. With the mouldings are combined stucco tracery of the best
school.

In the same spirit are the two beautifully proportioned rooms treated,
door cases presenting rich borderings and the ceilings rich
embroideries of stucco. Even the shape of the windows is worthy of
study, as they let in the proper amount of light, and no more, and are
exactly proportioned.

[Illustration:

The Staircase in
Ashburnham House.

_From a Drawing by_ HERBERT RAILTON.]

The exquisite proportion of the lines, and the general air of space and
room, the rich, elaborate stucco and carving, all displayed in its
proper place, and yet not too rich, will give delight to the trained
architectural mind. One feature is the simple, unadorned panelling
exhibited near the ground, and which contrasts with the decoration on
the higher portions. The rich swelling stucco border of the oval lantern
at once recalls that of the room in the Barbers’ Hall, which is
confessedly from the same hand. The whole is really a gem, and again
suggests the strange failing of modern architects, who, in our day, seem
to neglect the laws of classical proportion which lent such a grace to
works of architecture at so late a period as one hundred years ago. As
for stucco, it seems hopeless to look for any comprehension of its
principle. The latest elaborate expression is seen on the ceilings of
the new Constitutional Club, which offers a mass of heavy details,
suggesting such contours as the familiar “porridge” assumes on cooling.

The charming way in which the few remaining rooms--all that are
left--open off the landing, is another of the attractions of this gem,
about whose future one feels a little anxious. There is no doubt it is
in a precarious state, if not rickety, and is unsuited for the
requirements of the school which is carried on there. The landing might
be a room itself, so airily is it treated; quite in keeping, too, is the
view from the windows, original in its way, unsuspected perhaps by those
familiar with the ordinary aspect of the old Abbey; for there rises
before us the grim old and much-neglected flank of the fane, with its
mouldering buttresses and decayed windows, which the restorers have,
fortunately, not thought worthy of their attention, as being too retired
to meet the public eye. Some judicious restoring, cleaning, and
repairing might be expended on the old house, which has an air of slight
dilapidation. The present general tone of white certainly adds to the
effect of lightness, and it is questionable whether the effect would be
improved by exposing the old oak panelling.

On passing out at the other end of Dean’s Yard, we find ourselves in a
tranquil, old-fashioned street, College Street. This might be a portion
of a close in an old cathedral, so placid and silent is it; the houses
being of that small, unpretending order in which canons and choristers
might reside. There are carved doorways, there is cheerful red brick,
while a few houses are overgrown from top to bottom with a rich clothing
of greenery. At the end we have a glimpse of the river and barges
passing lazily by. In front stretches the old cobble wall of the Abbey
gardens, full of old trees: the iron-grey walls of the schoolhouse,
capped with the old richly-cut cornice, are seen within, Lord
Burlington’s work--while over all rises the huge and solemn tower, the
great Victoria--offering quite a suggestion of Canterbury Cathedral. In
the wall are little unassuming portals, with the name of a canon or two
inscribed on them, and cart or carriage rarely disturbs the solitude. In
short there is scarcely anything in town more grateful, or more in tone
with the Abbey itself than this little street, or indeed the region in
which it is. Taken with the Cloisters, the old houses and little courts
in the Dean’s Yard, and the School Square and Ashburnham House, all is
perfectly in keeping.

The district round seems to partake of this conventual and retiring
character. Going on a little farther we come to the massive, curious
church which stands in Smith Square, the houses running round being of
an odd, old fashion, unlike anything in London. It might be in a country
town. This quarter, too, is one of those which has a distinct character,
even in its squalor. But it is still pervaded by the ecclesiastical,
cathedral flavour of the Abbey adjoining.

We scarcely expect to find lessons in art among the slums and squalid
streets of Westminster, nor could we hope to light on much in

[Illustration: GARDEN OF ASHBURNHAM HOUSE (_page_ 18)]

[Illustration:

THE
Blewcoat School
Built in the Year
1700
]

the way of antique survival. Yet here we come on at least three
interesting old edifices--almshouses and schools--which in their aspect
and surroundings offer a charming sort of surprise. Passing out of
Victoria Street, where there is much crush and noise at “The Stores,”
and down a small alley, we come to a little gem of its kind, as it will
seem to the true artist, a small charity school, standing in its walled
inclosure. It is of Queen Anne date and pattern, and is no more than a
simple square little hall. But how quaint and varied is it! how
admirably are its surfaces broken! while every side offers a different
pattern. The honest brick is of a fine plum colour; the wall is daintily
divided by pilasters; delicate, unobtrusive cornices run around; the
windows are shaped in proportion, and the four doorways are of such
varied elegance that it is difficult to decide between them. The whole
approach in front, the gateway and its piers, iron work, the flight of
steps, the door itself--all strike one as being the work of a tasteful
artist. Over the door is the pleasantly rococo figure of “The Blew Coat
Boy” in his niche. There is a little garden behind, with steps leading
down, and a sort of _dédendance_ attached, similar in style, but acting
as a kind of foil. There is a charm about the little unpretentious
building that is extraordinary. Unhappily it needs repair and
restoration, though it is not dilapidated. No one, however, seems to
care for it, and a builder has been allowed to construct a sort of
“_lean to shed_” beside it. By-and-by it is likely enough to pass away
and to be swept off so coveted a piece of ground. All who appreciate the
grace and charm of architecture must admire it.

Passing by this interesting structure and walking down a little farther
in the direction of James Street, we come to a bit of almost rural
life--a perfect picture, which few would suspect could be found so close
to the busy haunts of men. This is a group of old almshouses known as
Lady Dacre’s--a large square, covered on three sides by the buildings.
They are exactly of the pattern that would have delighted the late
Frederick Walker, and might be found in the outskirts of some old
country town. In front there is a high railing of good old florid iron,
with a handsome gateway in the middle. Through the rails we can see the
forlorn garden, offering an air of “large desolation” and neglect, with
a look of tranquil abandonment. In the centre there is a low block of
buildings with a quaint cupola, or lantern, rising over a pediment
filled with decayed sculptures. At the side are two pretty little gates
by which you can enter and walk round, and play “the contemplative man,”
past the low doorways, over each of which are faint characters with the
name of a parish. A dim-faced clock gives hoarse and wheezy note of
time; but there is no one to be seen.

Retracing our steps and crossing Victoria Street by “The Stores,” we
pass into Rochester Row. Near the Westminster end we come to a large old
house of a delightful pattern, with vast inclosed gardens or grounds
behind. This is the “Grey Coat” School, with its fine tiled roof,
central block, and wings. Nothing can be better than the rare solid
brick-work and the air of solidity and comfort. Some directing Goths
have, however, erected a barbarous sort of colonnade or passage exactly
before the door of entrance, thus spoiling the effect of the façade.
Everything is in excellent keeping, even to the high substantial wall
round it. But the fair expanse of ground behind is coveted, and already
a slice has been taken off for a large factory.

In front there used to stand, not long since, another group of
almshouses, which the worthy Palmer and Emery Hill, erst citizens of
Westminster, had erected. These were pulled down, and an attempt has
been made to erect something of the same _genre_, but with indifferent
success.

As we survey the so-called improvements of London, the thought often
recurs--how much a little more taste would have beautified the changes!
But we seem helpless in this matter. No one appears to have a conception
of what the requirements or opportunities are of a particular situation.
There is, for instance, a statue of Cœur de Lion, by Marochetti, before
the House of Lords--which is _flamboyant_ enough to be effective--yet
how feebly disposed is it! It seems to shrink, or to be huddled away in
a corner. We have so few equestrian statues, we ought to make the most
display we can with them. Note the poorish pedestal, only a few feet
high. This statue ought to be in the centre of a _place_, on a high
commanding pedestal; and there, would really have effect.

[Illustration:

Emanuel
Hospital

Hume Nisbet
]

People often lament that the old Cathedrals, both in England and abroad,
are so crowded up, and incrusted by mean buildings and streets; but do
they gain when these are cleared away? One of the most picturesque
glimpses of the Abbey is to be obtained from a point _vis-à-vis_ to the
Peers’ entrance, near the equestrian statue. There is a perfect
old-world charm over this little corner, at the end of which the great
arched buttress of the Chapter House--a happy bit of restoration--shows
itself. The air of repose and tranquillity is extraordinary. You would
think you were in an old rural town.

We are so familiar with the great Westminster group of buildings, the
Houses of Parliament and Westminster Hall, that we scarcely can
appreciate the imposing magnificence of the site and disposition. But
foreigners are often struck with astonishment and admiration at the vast
elaborate workmanship and detail; and certainly for a modern work the
Parliament House is singularly successful in the effort to reproduce the
old Gothic. The irregularity and originality of the treatment of the two
towers, the _flèche_, etc., is worthy of all praise. Of course faults
may be detected, and it is said there is a monotony in the repetition of
the panelling, which suggests wood-carving, as though wrought by
machinery. When the plans were discussed it was proposed to raise the
platform on the river side to the full level of the ground in Palace
Square, or rather to that of the Bridge, and this would certainly have
had an imposing effect. But the difficulty was what to do with
Westminster Hall. There was an angry controversy between Pugin and Sir
Charles Barry, and between those who represented them, as to their
respective shares in the design, a point which the impartial spectator
will have little difficulty in deciding. Pugin’s spirit is to be
recognized everywhere and in all the details, and it was impossible that
so pervading an influence should not have its effect in the constructive
portions also. Barry’s other works offer nothing like this--nothing so
free or fanciful. The luxuriance of florid details is indeed
extraordinary, and the lavish profusion of ornament seems to belong to
some gem of a private chapel rather than to the surfaces of so vast a
building. But it is melancholy to note the evidence of decay, and this
delicate tracery, though apparently preserving its shape and form, is
mouldering away. Any “under-cutting” in this climate is doomed. The
_general_ decay of the main stone-work which caused such alarm many
years ago has happily been arrested; a vast quantity of the decayed
material has been cut out and renewed. But there is a constant repair
going on, and little “crow’s nests” are to be always seen crusted round
one or other of the delicate “finials.”

Some palpable mistakes, due to economy, can be detected at once. The
intention of the architect in designing so long and so low a structure
was to relieve it by the two Towers, which were to “carry up” the
eye--like spires. The great Victoria Tower, whose enormous proportions
can only be appreciated when we are close to it, seems as vast and
massive as the Tower of the Town Hall at Ypres--that wonder of the
world. Yet the whole idea of its imposing height has been sacrificed: it
is indeed difficult to believe that it is as high as the dome of St.
Paul’s. As Fergusson says, “the Victoria Tower partly dwarfs the portion
of the building near it. Yet in the original design it was intended to
be six stories in height, which increase would have lessened the sense
of breadth, making it more airy. Unfortunately the architect had the
weakness of often changing his original purpose, consequently the
entrance, instead of being only of the height of two stories of the
building as at first proposed, now runs through and makes the adjacent
House of Lords ridiculous. If the size of the gate is appropriate the
Lords are pigmies. Worse than this, at the back of the great arch is a
little one, one fourth its height, through which everything must pass.
The counterpart of all this is the House, which looks much smaller than
it really is.”

The fact is, that when the Tower was approaching completion the House of
Commons, in a fit of economy, interposed and refused to allow it to be
carried to its proper height. It is now therefore some thirty or forty
feet too short. Its proportions seem clumsy and stinted, and it is
really unpleasant to contemplate. The _flèche_ that rises from the
centre of the building is really beautiful and elegant, covering (which
few would suspect) the great central Hall, and, with these various
towers and spires forms a charming assemblage, to which the Abbey
unhappily does not contribute, for its central tower ought to be
furnished with a _flèche_, or an octagonal lantern, like the one at St.
Ouen at Rouen. Wren, it is known, prepared a design, which however was
laid aside.

As we look up at the Clock Tower, it suggests some curious
recollections--first, associated with the “Big Ben” within, which has
its history. Few may recollect that it was so named after Sir Benjamin
Hall, then Commissioner of Works. Unnoticed too, perhaps, by the
incurious is the fact that “Big Ben” has long been cracked, but has done
his work effectively for years. Yet the hoarse, rather jarring tone
betrays this damage hourly. Forgotten also that it was designed by a
bell amateur, Mr. Becket Denison, and that there was a controversy and
discussion which long raged fiercely about the bell. It could not be
even settled what note it uttered. It is astonishing to think that the
large hand of the clock is over fourteen feet long. From the elaborate
open-work character of the “cap,” or head, of the clock-tower, as well
as from its function of holding a number of bells large and small, for
which there is no room save in the body of the tower itself, it was
intended that the whole should be pierced, and have an airy, open
treatment like a church spire. This was actually the architect’s design,
as will be seen from the slits that run all the way up. These, however,
he was forced to “glaze,” and fill in with windows, which gives the
whole a heavy, clumsy air, instead of a lightness and elegance. The
system of lighting the dials is elaborate, and the cost enormous. There
is quite a fire-chamber behind. Offenders against Parliamentary
discipline have been consigned to the Clock Tower for custody; and, as
may be imagined, the chief portion of their sufferings, night and day,
must have been the alarming booming of the bells, which were quite close
to their ears.

The great embarrassment for the architect of the Houses of Parliament
was Westminster Hall, which stood in the way and seemed really
irreconcilable. If left detached, with a space between it and the new
building, there would be little room for the latter between it and the
river; if combined with it, it was incongruous, being of a totally
different style. The latter course was adopted, and it was turned into a
sort of vestibule or entrance hall to the two Houses. On æsthetic
grounds this was a blunder, for it has lost its significance as a
separate work, and has always been in protest, as it were, against its
degradation. From the outside everyone may conclude that here are two
distinct buildings, yet on entering it is found to be merely a passage
or approach for the other. Barry was so sensible of this that he
determined to hide or screen it altogether, and he left designs for a
building to be carried in front, and which was to go round the whole
yard. There was to be a grand imposing tower, with arched entrance gate
at the corner, facing Parliament Street. This costly scheme was never
carried out, and instead, the Hall has been taken in hand by Mr.
Pearson, fitted with a cloister and buttress, battlements, etc., after
its own style. This of course only imparts a more general discrepancy,
for its general plainness and rudeness of treatment make the details of
the new building appear trivial; while in return their minuteness and
delicacy causes the Westminster Hall to appear yet more rude and rough.

What shall be said of the magnificent interior of the Hall, its unique
open and bewildering roof, a marvel of construction, with its history
and traditions and trials? But it is curious, as we walk through it, to
see how completely the effect has been destroyed. By opening out the end
and adding ascending steps, with a passage beyond, its purpose has been
changed, and the sense of space and size abolished. You merely pass
through it, instead of entering it and staying there. It is no longer a
great chamber. There is a handsome stained glass window seen beyond, of
the style called “Perpendicular,” a portion of which, strange to say, is
cut off by the beams of the roof. It was, however, Barry’s intention to
raise the roof all through by hydraulic machinery--an intention that
never will be carried out, and so the blunder or eyesore remains.

It is curious what uncertainty exists as to the roof of this fine Hall.
It is generally supposed to be made of Irish oak, as stated by Macaulay
in his account of the trial of Warren Hastings. Others maintain that it
is of Normandy chestnut, others again that the roof alone is of chestnut
and the ribs of oak.

Everyone is familiar with the two Chambers, with their fine and gorgeous
decorations, enriched brass and iron work, carvings, paintings, etc. The
House of Commons originally had an elegant open roof, elaborate to a
degree, and furnishing the leading “note” of the chamber. It was found
at once that the speeches were inaudible, and the architect was allotted
the ungrateful office of destroying his own work--having to set up a
flat panelled ceiling many feet below his tracery and Gothic work. This
has answered perfectly, and the space between is utilized for lighting
purposes. It may be added that when it was determined not to proceed
further with Barry’s designs, the Palace was completed by his son, a low
colonnade being added, the ornamental details of the Clock Tower being
continued to the ground. The _grilles_ and railings which were also
added seem like the colonnade, but have not the same elegance as the
building, and offer a different treatment.

The Gothic clock-face caused the architect a vast deal of thought, and
it was only after many experiments that the existing mode of attaching
it to the tower was devised. It is considered very successful. Prince
Albert, it is said, insisted that the whole upper portion should be of
metal. The tower has, within the last few years, been turned into a sort
of beacon or gigantic lamp-post--not, indeed, to give light or a warning
of danger--but to announce to whom it may concern that the House is
_not_ up. This acts as a pernicious schoolmaster, and insensibly
preaches what is mean and degrading. The tower was a useful and faithful
servant, “Big Ben” booming out--albeit a little hoarse and cracked--the
hours by day, the huge illuminated dial telling the hour by night. But a
gap was made in the fretwork over the dial, and an ugly semicircular
lantern thrust out, which gives out a fierce glare while the House is
sitting. The handsome Clock Tower is now present to our minds as a sort
of gigantic candlestick, with the associations of smoke, fierce heat,
flare, and glare. The light is not hung out from the tower beacon-wise,
but the tower itself is the beacon.



CHAPTER IV.

WESTMINSTER ABBEY.


For the casual sightseer, however eager, the visiting of the “official
shows”--whether in public picture galleries, museums or cathedrals--is
often a weary business enough. After the first surprise he passes from
object to object, _staring_, and gradually subsiding into a kind of dumb
indifference, and troubled with the feeling that so much more remains to
be seen and reviewed. He really knows not what is to be admired or
distinguished from its fellows. But if, by a happy chance, there were at
his elbow some guide who could select and illustrate for him by a few
observations what was remarkable, and “the why and wherefore” of its
merit, what was singular, and this without show and pedantry or
lecturing, how happy and comfortable would be his situation! One of
these days we shall have guide-books on this principle instead of the
heavy treatises stored with historical and other information, and which
require hard study at home. Such “shows” as the National Gallery, the
British Museum, Westminster Abbey, and St. Paul’s, eminently require
some such mode of illustration. The Abbey itself is one of the most
interesting and richly stored places of the kind in the world, and an
entertaining hour or two can always be spent there, even by the
hackneyed Londoner. That exquisite gem and “perfect chrysolite,” Henry
VII.’s Chapel, may be visited again and again with ever increasing
wonder and delight. So too with the wonderful irregularity of the
chapels, which seem to grow out of the main structure. We are amazed at
the rich and costly tombs, scattered about in profusion, and perfectly
astonishing in their welcome variety of design. These are indeed
buildings in themselves; each teeming with suggestion and stored with
ideas.

There are many Londoners who have never visited the “wonder of the
world,” as it has been styled, Henry VII.’s Chapel, and which it is
impossible to enter without being oppressed with a sense of overpowering
astonishment and admiration. As we lift our eyes, the beautiful roof
overpowers us with its exquisite forms and delicate ornamentation, its
wealth of details that seem to float so airily, and appear to be
crystallized foam, or lace work. The architect is confounded at the
combination of enormous weight and solidity with infinite delicacy, and
notes the art with which the burden is distributed.

[Illustration

Hume Nisbet.
]

The wonderful miscellany of posturing figures in the Abbey, the men,
women and children, gods, goddesses, cupids, river gods, smirking
bishops leaning comfortably on their elbows, warriors ascending to
Heaven, sea fights, marble firmaments, &c., have been often described
and ridiculed. Still they are curious as an expression of the feeling of
their day, and, as progressive changes in treatment, are of value as
signifying the tone of social and public thought. As Professor
Westmacott has shown in one of his lectures, even the early reposing
figures in the chapels betoken the religious feeling of the time. “The
recumbent effigies,” he says, “with uplifted hands and serious
expression, arrest attention, and are aids to reflection. But the time
came when the mere personal honour and glorification of the subject was
to be illustrated. The figures are now found turned on their side and
leaning on their elbow, and look out from their resting-place as if
inviting the notice and admiration of the passers-by.” This contrast is
perfectly just, but is it not the effect of the change of religion, and
in the national feeling towards the dead? The old pre-Reformation
monuments are plastic reminders to pray for the dead--their images are
displayed with a grave and sad solemnity; they are shown kneeling or in
tranquil repose. On the other hand, the obstreperous displays of
warriors crowned by pagan “Victories” betoken a time when the nation was
engaged in wars and desperate struggles. The bishop on his elbow
conveyed the idea of stalled and comfortable ease at a period when
little was expected from the pastoral office.

“How revoltingly misplaced too,” says another writer, “is the
shouldering, elbowing strife, with which, like advertising placards or
rival shops with every trick that can be devised for glaring prominence,
they struggle to outstare each other, as if the very well-being of the
defunct depended upon whose statue shall be seen first, or whose epitaph
read oftenest! How calmly, amid all this feverish strife, lie the modest
retiring memorials of the mighty or the worthy of old, from the
dignified reposing figures of the royal Plantagenets to the unpretending
brasses of the untitled and humble, if indeed modern selfishness has
left any uncovered!”

Every Monday and Tuesday, as is generally known, the whole Abbey is
thrown open to sightseers, who may range unguided, and as they list,
through the beautiful Henry VII. Chapel and the side chapels. The shrine
of the Confessor is in a very shattered and mouldering state, but the
wonder is that everything is in such excellent preservation. A reason is
given for this state of decay. Once, when they were putting up Lord
Bath’s monument, in presence of a great crowd, a mob broke in, so that a
number of gentlemen who were standing on the ledge at the back of one of
the royal tombs were seized with a panic and tore down the canopy of the
tomb to defend themselves with the fragments. There is an odd bit of
economy, by-the-way, in the direction of showmanship which might be
remedied, and which has an air of shabbiness, viz., the setting out the
names of the tombs and chapels on dirty cards in pen and ink.

As we make our careless and perhaps superficial promenade from chapel
to chapel, we are almost bewildered by the number and variety of the
huge edifices, rather than monuments, which record the memory of the
great seigneurs who repose below. These are all of grand and solemn
proportions--great gloomy pillared archings and entablatures--huge
altars below, tiers and galleries, and angelic or kneeling figures. The
materials are of the richest--costly deep-toned marbles and bronzes.
Connected with each there is a regular history, which chroniclers like
Dean Stanley have set out at great length. Indeed, a full history of
Westminster Abbey would fill many a portly volume. We may, without
following in the laborious steps of these historians, take a few
glimpses at the more striking, and that without any order.

These vast structures, often of a solid and massive pattern, rising to
sixty or seventy feet, with columns, arches, carvings, bronzes and rich
onyx-like marbles, could not have been reared in our time under some
twenty thousand pounds, the Wellington monument, not nearly so
elaborate, costing some twenty-seven thousand.

Here, for instance, in St. John the Baptist’s Chapel, we find ourselves
before Lord Hunsdon’s enormous monument, which is truly imposing, and
considered by Fuller “the most magnificent” in the Abbey. As Dean
Stanley points out, its sumptuousness was intended as an _amende_ for
the earldom three times granted and three times revoked, the Queen
herself coming to him when he was dying and laying the patent on his
bed. “Madam,” was his reply, “seeing you accounted me not worthy of this
honour whilst I was living, I count myself unworthy of it now that I am
dying.” It is worth while thinking of this scene, as we gaze on its
stupendous and stately proportions, and learn that it is the loftiest in
the place. But what a point this little story gives to this spectacle of
empty magnificence!

In St. Nicholas’ Chapel we are struck by another of these vast and
overpowering tombs, reared aloft, rich in its copper tones and
decorations, crowned at the top by a wrought picture. This is in honour
of a high dame, Mildred, Lady Burleigh--“a very expensive monument,” as
it is described. It is divided into two compartments, one elevated over
the other. In the lower lies Lady Burleigh, in a recumbent posture, with
her daughter, Lady Jane, in her arms, and at her head and feet are her
children and grandchildren, kneeling. In the upper compartment is the
figure of a venerable old man, supposed to be Lord Burleigh, on his
knees, as if in fervent prayer. In this chapel, also, are “two beautiful
pyramids dedicated to children”--one a child of two months old,
“overlaid by his nurse; he was the son of Mr. Nicholas Bagnal;” the
other, a child of a year old, daughter to Harlay, the ambassador, who
had “her heart inclosed in a cup and placed at the top of the pyramid!”

One of the aisles of the north transept is crowded up with some very
striking, interesting, and original tombs, and here an hour might be
spent profitably if the reader cared to trust himself to judicious
guidance for a few minutes, instead of being led sheep-like by the
guide, or wandering vacantly about, depending on his own resources. It
is customary to speak of “The Poets’ Corner” as the most interesting or
most popular portion; but the one I am speaking of is more dramatic.
Here, one of the first things that strikes us is a Roman general,
perched on a pedestal as though he were going to topple over, and which
is said to have been the first monument set up in the Abbey proper. But
the eye is more attracted by a striking monument in St. John’s Chapel--a
great slab or table, supported on the shoulders of four kneeling
knights, whilst on the table is the armour of the knight himself, who is
reposing below. The grace and chivalry in these warriors is
remarkable--they have no air of subservience. The knight himself was Sir
Francis Vere, a famous warrior. It was erected by his widow, but it is
said to have been imitated from the Count of Nassau’s tomb at Breda.
“Hush! he will speak presently,” Roubiliac was heard to say, in rapture,
as he gazed on one of the figures.

But more striking is the Norris tomb in St. Andrew’s Chapel--dark,
embrowned, rich and stately: Lord Norris, a stout warrior, reposing,
while round him kneel his six sons; their faces, attitudes, etc., are
worthy of long study. Of the six, four fell in battle--“that right
valiant and warlike progeny of his, a brood of martial-spirited men,”
says Camden. What an interest this imparts as we look on this memorial!
One figure will be noted as looking cheerfully upwards, as if to heaven.
As we gaze on the sleeping warrior and his valiant sons kneeling round
him, the whole becomes a living family picture.

One of the many impressions left on us, after a promenade through the
Abbey, is admiration for the fertility and plastic vivacity, if one may
so style it, of Roubiliac. In all the fantastic shapes in which this gay
Frenchman displays his talent, he is never conventional or monotonous,
or repeats himself; he is always dignified, and if extravagant and
theatrical, rarely departs from correctness in his modelling. This
extraordinary man seemed “to do what he pleased” with his clay. His
draperies particularly, though too elaborate and multiplied in folds for
strict sculpture, add a richness to the detail, and indeed suggest a
treatment that is usual in bronze; though time, by softening away sharp
edges and mellowing the natural colour into a rich tawny yellow, has
really imparted a metallic tone. It is said that his fashion of working
these draperies was to arrange the linen, fixing it with starched water;
he thus carved the marble directly, unassisted by a model, as was the
practice of Michael Angelo. All his groups have what artists term
_bravura_--a quality which, though not correctly classical, is always
evidence of talent. Would indeed that in our time our formal sluggish
sculptors indulged oftener in his sort of “dash!” Roubiliac’s limbs
offer a display of muscle and sinew extravagant enough, but showing much
life and action.

There are two of his works which have extraordinary merit: that to the
Duke of Argyll, and the more melodramatic one to Lady E. Nightingale.
The former is really noble, full of movement and suggestion. Fame is
seen writing the hero’s name and achievements on the wall behind, though
the writer has only got as far as “Duke of Argyll and Gr----,” the
“conceit” being that this latter title did not descend to his heirs, and
expired with him. The grace and earnestness of this figure is
remarkable; but the one stooping forward in front as Eloquence, the arm
outstretched, the robe gathered up on it, the body bent, the head eager,
has always commanded admiration. Canova was quite astonished at its
beauties, and after surveying it for some minutes declared that it was
the noblest thing he had seen in England. It is a characteristic work of
the time, and shows the great powers of Roubiliac in invention and
execution, but, like all his works, it is deficient in the repose
necessary in a place of worship. The same criticism applies to his
monument of Handel close by. The expression of rapt attention with which
he appears to be listening to celestial music is admirable, and the
execution is, as usual, good; but the whole design is too theatrical for
a church.

The well-known Nightingale monument is a wonderful _tour de force_, and
every sculptor must admire it for its extraordinary “cleverness” in
every point of view. It is of course altogether melodramatic, and no
doubt travels outside the bounds of plastic art. Above is seen, in a
sort of arched recess, the dying wife, supported by the arm of her
husband, who is starting back in terror from what he sees below. A sort
of iron door, as of a vault, has opened, and a grisly awful skeleton, in
a sheet, half out of the vault, is about to launch his dart at the lady.
There is a contrast of pictorial effect, for the arch is bluish grey,
the iron door black, and the skeleton yellow. It has been a stock show
for a hundred years or so. Here is _bravura_ indeed; but the reckless
extravagance is redeemed by the amazing cleverness and poetry and even
pathos of the show. Nor is dignity wanting. The dying wife is a graceful
figure, which, says a good judge, “would do honour to any artist. Her
right arm and hand are considered by sculptors the perfection of pure
workmanship. Life seems slowly receding from her tapering fingers.” A
tradition of the place runs that a burglar, who had got into the Abbey
by night, was so scared by the figure of Death that he incontinently
dropped his tools and fled. The crowbar is still preserved and shown!
This monument, generally associated with Lady Nightingale, the daughter
of Lord Ferrers, also commemorates her husband, Joseph Nightingale, and
was erected according to a direction in the will of their son. The lady
died in 1734, aged twenty-seven; the husband in 1752, aged fifty-six.
This survival of eighteen years, during which time the sorrowing spouse
had erected no monument, somewhat impairs the dramatic force of the
picture.

[Illustration: The Nightingale Monument]

Our sculptor used to grumble at the injustice done to the position of
what he considered his best work, that of Wade. The marshal’s profile is
displayed upon a medallion over which a female figure with wings is
springing upwards with much spirit and animation to drive back Time with
his scythe, etc. The figures are almost as vivacious as some of those by
Rude, on the Arc de l’Etoile, including a mourning Hibernia (whose child
he was) with a derelect harp, stringless.

Nearly as entertaining is Roubiliac’s memorial of an obscure General
Hargrave, close by: a wonderful piece of execution, and which would be
as attractive as the Nightingale one were it placed lower. The general,
an excellent, spirited figure, but grotesque, is seen starting out of
his bath we had almost said--but it is his tomb, his sheet falling away
from his naked form, one attenuated leg lifted timorously over the edge.
He has been roused by the Judgment: a little angel is sounding the trump
aloft in the marble clouds. There are drums and cannon, a marble flag;
whilst, on the right, a spirited Time is seen thrusting down Death,
holding him in fact on the ground, a grisly skeleton, done with infinite
art and reality--bones, cartilage, etc., all complete. As a sort of
pictorial background, we see the Pyramids, dislodged and tumbling to
pieces, the stones falling in all directions: altogether one of the most
elaborate _tours de force_ in marble existing. But the whole is placed
so high that details are lost. It is astonishing to think that an artist
of such power and taste should have condescended to this vulgar and
ineffective realism, which was, moreover, beyond his material. Near is
Fleming’s, another military tomb; two figures, one seated on an arch,
with a pyramid behind, over which are spreading trees with a cleverly
imitated drum and a flag. The memorial to Sir Peter Warren, in the north
transept, has great merit. It consists of a spirited bust of the
admiral, bluff and dogged, yet good-natured, in which “realism” is
carried so far as to furnish marks of small-pox on the cheeks! The
mourning female figure beside him has been admired, and is graceful
enough; whilst a vigorous Hercules bends over him. The legs and arms may
be noted for their muscularity, and it is said the sculptor obtained his
pattern legs from those of a stalwart Irish chairman; the arms were
compounded from another herculean specimen of the same race.

Roubiliac “cut,” as the vergers would call it, seven or eight monuments
in the Abbey: Lady Nightingale’s, the Duke of Argyll’s, Sir Peter
Warren’s, Hargrave’s, Fleming’s, Admiral Wade’s, and Handel’s. Some of
these are inferior works, or are perched so high as to be beyond our
appreciation. The sculptor was dreadfully put out at being thus “skied,”
but he could not always look for so fine a position “on the line” as he
had for his Duke of Argyll. Not long before his death the Abbey had
become somewhat crowded, and the practice of building up monuments
against the windows had set in, with shocking results. Nearly all the
nave windows have been thus encroached upon, built up with supporting
screens. After a careful examination I find that these amount to about a
dozen, which could readily be cleared away, to the enormous advantage
and beauty of the fane. No more important improvement than this could be
conceived, or more popular if effected, for here the barbarous ignorance
of our forefathers is displayed to the coarsest extent. The best of the
monuments would gain by being brought low down: they might be set up in
the cloisters, for instance, or made a present to St. Paul’s.

Roubiliac had a pupil, one Read, who on his death “carried on the
business;” concluding that by occupying his studio, it would be assumed
he could supply the same article to the public. Strange to say, this
theory was accepted, and he was employed for large and important works.
Many have seen or heard of the famous “Pancake” monument, put up to
celebrate a now forgotten Admiral Tyrrel, who in some engagement abroad,
aboard his good ship the “Buckingham,” met his death. He died on shore,
but was consigned to the deep. Furnished with these heroic materials,
Mr. Read set to work. Room being scarce he was given half of a deeply
embayed window, and determined to excel all other efforts. His master
himself had made a strange prophecy which seemed to point to this very
monstrosity, for on the pupil boasting that when he was out of his time
he would show the world what a monument ought to be, “the other looked
at him scornfully and said: ‘Ven you do de monument, den de vorld vill
see _vot d--d ting you vill make_.’” And so it proved. There is to be
seen on the left an enormous “practicable” flag of white marble, with
all the folds, etc., balanced on the right by the ship “Buckingham,”
about the size of the flag. All the intervals are filled in with what
seem to be corals, waves, etc., an extraordinary jumble, whilst in the
centre was seen ascending from the sea the figure of the deceased
admiral going up to heaven--which Nollekens always declared was like a
man swinging from a gallows with a rope round his neck. Unluckily the
reforming Dean Stanley deprived us of this entertainment, and strangely
cut away the admiral altogether, yet leaving the other monstrosities. As
the Dean said, humorously, the artist’s object seemed to be “to present
the Resurrection under difficulties.”

In the south transept there is a monument to Garrick, representing the
actor standing in a fantastic attitude, having suddenly drawn aside a
pair of curtains to reveal himself. This excited the derision of Elia,
and yet it is effective enough, and expresses Garrick’s humour fairly.
Notwithstanding all Mrs. Garrick’s doting affection for her spouse, it
is said this had to be put up by other hands, and the donor declares
that he appealed in vain to her for her approbation or aid. Close by is
a very quaint and original monument to the learned Grævius, who is shown
seated in an easy attitude on the side of his sarcophagus, looking at a
book in a careless happy mood. There is a quaintness about this that
causes a smile.

Of sculptors so eminent as Flaxman and Chantrey there are few examples,
and these not particularly remarkable. In the north transept is the
ambitious monument to Lord Mansfield, who is presented seated aloft in a
judicial chair, on a ponderous circular base, on whose various tiers are
found Justice and the other unavoidable attendants. This has been
admired, but the effect is grotesque, the Chief Justice, with a very
homely air, appearing as if he was about to call on “Brother Buzfuz.”
But we go round to the back, and find an exquisite female figure, in
the best style of sculpture, with much grace of attitude, refinement of
curves and softness and delicacy of the skin. Here we come upon those
tremendous piles of masonry which Westmacott and Bacon introduced,
enormous pyramidal screens on which flounder as it were huge marble
figures, Neptunes and other gods and goddesses, while the suffering hero
reposes in the middle nearly naked, with weeping nymphs bent over him.
These vast efforts were no doubt owing to the great sums given by public
grant; Bacon receiving for his “Lord Chatham” £6,000, Nollekens for the
“Three Captains,” much more. Chantrey, the foremost of modern sculptors,
is scarcely represented here at all.

There is a pleasing figure of Horner, full of character in the face and
eyes, with an almost pictorial expression. By what must have been some
miscalculation the scale is too small, and as we turn from the huge Sir
William Follett--a plain, roughly-finished work of Behnes’--it seems the
likeness of a half-grown youth.

The two Pitts, father and son, are here: the great earl in the north
transept--his monument wrought on the most tremendous scale--a vast
screen or pyramid of stone filling in the span between two pillars.
Below are enormous reclining gods. But raising one’s eyes aloft we see a
small dapper figure set in a niche, and stooping forward to address the
public. It is the great earl in a court dress. Far away at the west end,
and actually perched over the door, is his gifted son, treated in the
usual heroic style; the statesman standing aloft and airily on a huge
base of marble, “arrayed in his parliamentary robes as Chancellor of the
Exchequer. History, in a kneeling posture, is recording his words; and
on the opposite side Anarchy seated in chains.” There is also a kneeling
negro. Close by him, but on the ground, is one of the most singular yet
amusing effects in the Abbey, a memorial to the lamented Charles James
Fox. The deceased statesman is shown in a recumbent attitude, with a
rueful face, on a mattress, “expiring in the arms of Liberty,” his
enormous figure as fat as marble can make it, at his feet, Peace,
reclining languidly; an African on one knee, with his arms clasped to
his breast as if in gratitude. The whole effect is gross, and suggests a
corpulent man who has just had, or is about to have, his bath. Fox’s
physique was untreatable for poetical purposes; yet we are assured that
when Canova was taken to inspect this figure in Westmacott’s studio, he
declared to Lord Holland “that neither in England nor out of it had he
seen anything that surpassed it.” The king gave a subscription of 1,000
guineas, a handsome tribute considering his Majesty’s known feelings
towards Mr. Fox.

On each side of the arched doorway of the screen we find two imposing
monuments which seem to fill their places in a satisfactory way, and
are in harmony with the situation. That on the left of the spectator
commemorates Sir Isaac Newton. The pendant to Newton’s is Lord Stanhope,
a warrior. Both are conceived in a fantastic vein. Newton’s was designed
by an architect, Kent, who also conceived the well-known, familiar
figure of Shakespeare, leaning in a graceful attitude on an altar, and
which is almost accepted as a portrait, so familiar has it become. The
figure of Newton is exceedingly good, dignified, and well executed. He
is seen reposing on a couch, leaning on his elbow, an uncomfortable
support. Over him is an enormous sphere, “projecting from a pyramid
behind,” which seems to fill the whole space, and which is scored deeply
with erratic lines delineating, we are told, “the course of the comet in
1689, with the signs, constellations, and planets.” But then comes a
singular conception: on the sphere is seated Astronomy, a huge female
figure, with her book, in a very thoughtful, composed, and pensive mood.
The inevitable chubby cherubs are of course present, employed suitably
to their strength in supporting or struggling with a scroll. This
combination leaves a singular impression.

The military memorial on the other side seems by its treatment to have
been intended to correspond. A robust Roman warrior is reposing after
his labour, leaning also on his elbow, but holding in one hand a
marshal’s staff, in the other “a scroll.” Before him stands “a cupid
resting upon a shield.” Behind him rises a marble tent, the canvas folds
portrayed minutely, and then, marvel of marvels! on the top of this is
seen perched a large lady, Minerva! Behind is a slender pyramid. This
wonderful combination must be seen to be appreciated. Rysbraeck, a
Dutchman, the author of this composition, was another of the Abbey
sculptors who was in fashion. He worked somewhat after the pattern of
Roubiliac; but he had not the easy grace and versatility of the
Frenchman.

There are many whimsicalities, as they may be called, to be seen in the
Abbey, witness the huge table tomb, with accommodation on its broad
black marble slab for three persons, Lord Exeter’s, who had prepared
this roomy accommodation for himself and his _two_ wives, one to repose
on each side of him. There, accordingly, he lies, arrayed in state, in
the centre; on his right his first lady, a beruffled dame, but on his
left--a blank space. It seems his second lady was offended at the place
of honour being given to her predecessor, who was of somewhat lower
degree, and flatly refused to be laid there.

A favourite show with the guides is that of the lady “who died from a
prick of a needle”--Lady Elizabeth Russell, in white alabaster. She is
holding out her finger, indeed, but is really pointing to the
death’s-head at her feet. The Duchess of Newcastle’s tomb will be looked
at with interest by admirers of Elia, who will recall his praise of the
“high fantastical lady.” We should note her ink-bottle and book,
showing her literary taste, for she was the authoress of thirteen folio
volumes. Her husband is beside her, who once made the remark that “a
very wise woman is a very foolish thing.” The row of modern full-length
statues of patriots, orators, and politicians in the north transept has
an odd effect, and suggests a visit to the waxworks. Some are very
inferior. By-and-by, when they are toned down, they will look better and
less offensive. Modern coats, trousers, shoes, etc., are unsuitable for
treatment in marble. There is a very striking cluster of the three
brilliant Cannings. An excellent _coup de théâtre_, this placing the
trio together--George, the statesman; Earl Canning, Governor of India;
and the “great Eltehi,” Sir Stratford. The first is Chantrey’s
work--though it has rather the air of an actor with his toga; and it is
curious to contrast with this attempt at spiritualizing the realistic
style of the other two by Foley. If we turn to some of the inferior ones
close by, we shall feel at once the want of a cultivated artist. Lord
Beaconsfield, for instance, by Raggi, lacks poetry and expression, and,
indeed, proportion, for the head is surely too small for the trunk. The
robes droop ponderously, and do not reveal or indicate the figure. Peel,
by Gibson, meant to be highly oratorical, is of a rather conventional
sort. Lord Palmerston, on the other side, in his Garter dress, looks a
Merry-Andrew. There is an absurdly homely expression on his face. It is,
indeed, a most extraordinary spectacle, and not to be matched in any
country, this row of _marble men_; but it were to be wished that they
had been allowed to assume the proper yellowish or tawny hue, instead of
being diligently scrubbed at intervals. Note the downcast, doomed look
in the eyes of Castlereagh--a forecast of his sad fate, death by his own
hand, and a burial here amid the howls and execrations of a furious mob.

So much for this wonderful temple and its extraordinary treasures and
curios.



CHAPTER V.

THE ADELPHI AND THE STRAND.


The little streets that descend from the Strand to the Embankment are
mostly old-fashioned and picturesque in their way--perhaps from the
contrast they offer to the noise and “sea-shell roar” of that busy
thoroughfare. Many end in a _cul de sac_ with an open aërial gallery as
it were, whence we can look down on the silvery Thames below, with all
its noble bridges. All these quiet alleys have some interesting or
suggestive memorial to exhibit; their houses seem of the one
pattern--sound and snug--of the early Georgian era, and mostly given
over to the “private hotel” business. It may be conceived how much more
interesting and piquant it was when these alleys led straight down, as
many did, to the water’s edge, now set far off by the Embankment. The
curious mixture of associations, as we wander up and down; the strange
incredible squalor of some portions, the comparative stateliness and
imposing air of others, the pretty gardens, the way in which memories of
Garrick, Franklin, Peter the Great, the Romans, Charles Dickens, and
many more, are suggested and jumbled together at every turn, make the
old familiar Strand one of the most interesting quarters in London.

This may seem a puzzling statement. As all the world knows there is
little or nothing of pretension about the streets--the houses are mean,
the shops poor. There are no stately buildings--save indeed one theatre,
handsome enough; and the church of St. Mary-le-Strand, lately in a
precarious way, is threatened with removal. For all that it will be seen
that a person who starts to explore the Strand and its “dependencies,”
with instructions what to look for, will have a very enjoyable
pilgrimage.

The Adelphi and the Adelphi Terrace are familiar enough; but it is not
so familiarly known to the passing crowd that they were named after
certain “Brothers”--an eminent family of architects--the brothers Adam.
These remarkable persons have left the most enduring marks of their
talent and influence all over London. It is a sign of ability, and even
of

[Illustration: ADELPHI TERRACE]

genius, thus to make a strong impression on one’s generation. The Adam
style is felt and appreciated to this hour, and as we walk about London
it constantly forces itself on us for recognition. We know it by its
grace and delicacy, and generally dignified treatment; above all, by a
proportion that triumphs over inferior means and materials. As we walk
it is possible to stop and say “Yonder is an Adam house.” All their
effects are nicely calculated; such as the depth of a pilaster, the size
of a window, the relation of the stories. The late Mr. Fergusson notes
particularly “their peculiar mode of fenestration.” “They frequently,”
he says, “attempted to group three or more windows together by a great
glazed arch above them, so as to try and make the whole side of a house
look like one room.”

The leading and inspiring member of the family, John, went to Italy to
study. He devoted himself to a single building, the famous Palace of
Diocletian, which he selected for the sensible reason that it presented
a unique pattern of the dwelling-house of the ancients, whereas
attention had mostly been concentrated on their public buildings. These
studies bore fruit in a perfect system. The enthusiastic Scot, having
conceived this idea, betook him to Spalato, taking with him a skilled
French artist to make the drawings, while he himself took all the
measurements. As we turn over the sumptuous atlas-folio tome which
embodied his labours, we wonder at the energy and magnificence which
then directed such projects. It was published by subscription, and the
roll of distinguished names, from the King down, shows what patronage he
enjoyed. The work is one of the most pleasing and romantic of such
records.

The arrival of the two _dilettante_ strangers in the ruined and deserted
town excited suspicion, and it being assumed they were making drawings
of the fortifications, they were ordered to desist. But these and other
difficulties were overcome. Interest in this extraordinary and
astonishing ruin has lately been revived by Mr. Jackson’s charming book;
and from the beautiful drawings made in Adam’s work we see that it was a
picturesque, rather forlorn, town with dilapidated fortifications round
it on the sea-shore. There were to be seen the remains of the superb
galleries of the Emperor, the temples and the banqueting halls, with the
richly carved capitals, colonnades, friezes, etc., all in sound and
excellent condition. Even the turning over of these pictures seems like
being in a dream, with the Claude-like Italian shore before us, the
splendid ruins, which appear to want little more than roofing,
stretching high above the coast, so as to have the finest view of the
sea. More than a century has gone by since that visit, and some strange
changes have taken place; the inhabitants have been reverent, but,
straitened for room, have built their houses through the palace. As the
stranger wanders through the streets he comes on columns and arches
embedded in modern walls, while the two pagan temples which the Emperor
built have since been converted into a cathedral and church, without any
rude violence being done.

No words could give an idea of the size, the richness of details, the
comparative preservation of this amazing structure. Most notable was the
beautiful arched terrace or gallery, which was raised up, overhanging
the sea, and which stretched along for many furlongs. The splendid
courtyard, with its rich friezes, capitals, pillars, and embroidery, all
in capital condition, save the roof, shows what the old Roman work was.
But it was the terrace that struck the imagination of the young student.
On his return, commissions came pouring in, but the family had conceived
a bold, ambitious scheme, which was, indeed, the fruit of the Dalmatian
studies. The terrace just alluded to filled the mind of the traveller.
In the Strand, at Durham Yard, the ground seemed to take much the same
shape, and his dream was to rear, on double and triple rows of arches,
just such a terrace, which should look down on the Thames. Such was
clearly the origin of our familiar Adelphi Terrace.

No sooner was the scheme conceived than it was taken in hand in an
ambitious style. Money was wanting, but, being Scotchmen, the brothers,
Robert, John, Thomas and William, found a patron in their countryman,
Lord Bute, without whom they could not have hoped to obtain the Act of
Parliament they desired. They began their works in the Adelphi in 1768,
leasing the ground from the Duke of St. Albans. A steep incline, which
may be seen now in Buckingham Street, descended from the Strand to the
Thames, and their plan was to raise on a series of massive arches quite
a new quarter of streets, fronted to the Thames by a handsome terrace.
The brothers calculated that their vaults would be used as Government
storehouses, but in this they were disappointed. They also found
themselves engaged in a lawsuit with the Corporation, as they had
encroached on the foreshore of the Thames, and these checks led to
serious pecuniary embarrassments in prosecuting the enterprise. In 1773
they found themselves obliged, after mortgaging their property, to take
the unusual course of raising funds by lottery. They obtained an Act of
Parliament allowing the issue of tickets for the scheme. In this way
they raised some £218,000, and the houses to be built appear in some way
to have been the prizes. The whole enterprise was brought to a
conclusion in a very short time, the buildings, arches, etc., all being
completed by 1775, having taken only about five years. The stately
mansions on the terrace were eagerly sought. Garrick established himself
at No. 4. Indeed, a volume might be written on the lives and adventures
of the tenants of the Adelphi or those associated with it--the hapless
Barry the painter; Dr Graham, the quack, and his “celestial bed”; Lady
Hamilton, who was his subject; Topham Beauclerk, the man about Town,
and Johnson’s friend; old Mrs. Garrick, who was there so lately as 1822;
with Mr. Blanchard, the amiable and popular _littérateur_ and dramatist,
who lately resided there. He declared that he was but “two shakes of the
hand” away from David. Lord Beaconsfield, it was believed, was born on
the terrace, though this is doubtful; while “Tommy” Hill, the friend of
Theodore Hook, and the Paul Pry of Poole, resided here. Mr. Attenborough
has long occupied the gracefully decorated houses that lead from the
Strand, and his books and records could unfold some strange stories of
adventure. And finally, to bring in “the potentiality of growing rich
beyond the dreams of avarice,” the great banking house of Coutts spreads
away in different directions over the quarter. Mr. H. Wheatley, who has
written much that is curious and interesting on the Adelphi, tells us
the history of the bank:--

“It is not known when the business was removed to the Strand, or the
exact locality to which it was so removed, but the house is described as
The Three Crowns, next the Globe Tavern, and it is believed that John
Campbell, the founder of the bank, was there in 1692. Campbell was
succeeded by Middleton, who was succeeded by George Campbell. The firm
was then known for a time as Campbell and Bruce; from 1751 to 1755
George Campbell was sole partner. At the latter date James Coutts, who
married a niece of George Campbell, was taken into partnership, and the
firm became Campbell and Coutts. In 1760, James Coutts, the sole
partner, took his brother Thomas into partnership. He died in 1778, and
the sole charge of the bank devolved upon Thomas Coutts, and from that
time to this the style of the famous house has been Coutts & Co.

“Although the houses built on the site of the New Exchange were not old
when the Adelphi was planned out, the Brothers Adam, who were known to
Coutts, were employed to build a new house. This they did with a
slightly architectural elevation, the symmetry of which has been
somewhat injured by alterations of late years. In the house built by the
Adams, Thomas Coutts lived for many years, and his dining-room and
drawing-room, with their handsome marble chimney-pieces and fine
mahogany doors, are still unoccupied. When Lord Macartney was on his
embassy to China, he sent over some Chinese wall-paper to Coutts, which
was hung on the walls of one of these rooms, and there it still is.”

Garrick, when he came to London and set up with his brother as a wine
merchant, opened their small place of business near here, perhaps where
Durham Street now stands. Towards the end of his life, after an interval
of nearly forty years, he returned to this humble spot to inhabit a
stately mansion on the terrace. We can see now the imposing and floridly
painted ceiling, and admire the spaciousness and grace of the
apartments. These houses are all well designed, the rooms of noble
proportions--particularly the drawing-rooms. They have a unique feature
of a basement in two stories, and you seem to descend into the bowels of
the earth. Now they are given up to offices and public purposes, but
when richly furnished, decorated, and inhabited by persons in Garrick’s
position, the effect must have been admirable. Once after a dinner-party
on a summer’s eve, the company adjourned to the noble terrace, looking
down at the shipping and the bridges, and Boswell, who was
present, describes the scene. It is curious that the brothers
should--unconsciously, no doubt--have renewed the old family street
names of one hundred years before. Just as they found streets named
after George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham--so they christened their
work, as we can see, Robert, John, William, James, and Adam. “Off” Alley
not long ago ran between Buckingham and Villiers Streets--but the name
has been changed of late years.

Still, the wonderful work underground almost excites more interest and
astonishment than what is on the surface. The busy passers-by in the
Strand will note a huge yawning archway at the bottom of a short
inclined street which leads into these catacombs. The work is of a
massive cast, the arches being regularly groined in Gothic fashion. Mr.
Wheatley, who has explored them, tells us: “The arches below form one of
the most remarkable sights in London, but it is a sight that only a few
are privileged to see. I have wandered through these arches with wonder,
under the obliging guidance of the custodians. Below you there is a very
town, much of it filled with bottles of old vintages. The arches were
many of them open for years, and formed subterranean streets leading to
the wharves on the Thames. They were constructed (as stated on an old
engraving) so as to keep the access to the houses level with the Strand,
and distinct from the traffic of the wharves and warehouses. They extend
under the whole Adelphi, including Adam Street, from York Buildings, and
were also carried under the additional buildings at the end of Salisbury
Street. In many places there are double tiers of arches. Some twenty
years ago the Dark Arches had a bad name on account of the desperate
characters who congregated there and hid themselves away in the
innermost recesses, but at last the place was cleared out, and the
greater portion of it closed in. The extensive cellarage of Messrs.
Tod-Heatly gives evidence of the former state, for one of the alleys is
styled Jenny’s Hole--and the arch above was known as the Devil’s Bridge.
The disgraceful condition of the arches could not have existed for any
length of time, as, some forty years ago, the place was well cared for
by the wharfingers, and at nine o’clock at night a gun gave a signal for
the gates to be closed.”

One of the most singular incidents in this stupendous undertaking is the
short lease which was given and accepted. The result was that it expired
in the year 1867, and the whole fee, with streets, houses, etc., passed
into the hands of Messrs. Drummond. This was a fine property to gain in
such a way. It was, however, rather dilapidated, and there were signs
of sinking in the terrace or of failure in some of the arches, but this
proved to be merely a trifling matter. The whole was thoroughly repaired
and restored. Unfortunately it was thought proper to plaster over the
façade of the terrace, which destroyed the graceful arabesques, which
are, however, left on the flanking houses behind; though Walpole
humorously declared that the embroidered pilasters reminded him of
“warehouses laced down the seams, like a trull in a soldier’s old coat.”

Among their other plans the brothers did not forget a chapel. This was
built at the corner of James and William Street, which the bankers,
however, soon absorbed into their premises. To join this, however, a
covered bridge was necessary, for which the firm had to obtain an Act of
Parliament. The old banker “did not wish,” says Mr. Wheatley, “the view
from his drawingroom window to be spoiled,” so he built a low house in
John Street, and arranged with the Adams that the opening, now Robert
Street, should be opposite this, so as to form a frame for his
landscape.

Every one knows the “Adam” work--the long pilasters and medallions on a
brick background, each enriched with arabesques and garlands of a
delicate character. They sought, too, the beauties of proportion and
space, regulated by principle and calculation. In many an old house we
recognize their ceilings; a great circle in the centre, filled in with
tracery in very low relief. Their designs have been published, and
display fancy and variety. Portland Place and its stately mansions, with
their broad surfaces of brick, have a certain dignity; but
the houses have been sadly disfigured by additions. The pleasing
old-fashioned-looking Fitzroy Square seems like a bit of Bath. The
brothers are said to have been the first, in London at least, who
attacked the difficult problem of imparting to a number of detached
mansions the air of being portions of one whole, which in architecture
is a deception most intolerable and not to be endured. For there is a
perpetual struggle of assertion between the two principles going on--the
separate houses making protest, as it were, by their individuality
against being considered one great expression--while the long façade in
its turn contradicts and overpowers the individuality. There are also
some Adam houses in York Place, easily recognizable. Finsbury Square is
their work, though Finsbury Circus staggers one. There is a terrible
monotony in the place, though the line of the circus is graceful. It was
probably a “job” akin to a painter’s “potboiler,” and to be done
cheaply. It is to be suspected that Gwydir House, in Whitehall, which
has been defaced by alterations, was their work. Plaster and delicate
stucco-work--the patterns apparently taken from arabesque work--light
garlands and vases wrought in very slight relief, these were all
combined with yellow brickwork. Ceilings, chimney-pieces, furniture,
carriages, garde-vins, plate-boxes, were also designed by the brothers
on these principles.

Some of the most imposing and effective work of the architects is to be
seen at Sion House, Isleworth. The great library displays all the
resources of the school in the way of bold treatment with beautiful,
elaborate work, garlands, Cupids, pilasters, embroidered in low relief.
The chimney-pieces, ceilings, and all display this elegance and charming
variety. It may be mentioned in proof of the elaborate study and pains
devoted to their profession by these brothers, that in the Soane Museum
all their minutely elaborate designs are to be seen. But would we have a
really good idea of the brothers’ work, let us set out for Oxford
Street, and pause in front of Stratford Place. Here we see a perfect
architectural arrangement--the two terraces stretching down, the ends
turning into Oxford Street, forming ornamental flanks, while the end is
closed by a graceful classical mansion rising in the air with its
pediment and pillars. The eye rests on it with comfort and satisfaction,
and we admire the perfect ease and proportion of the lines. We turn and
go our way, having gained a sense of general refinement. It should be
recollected that the work of the brothers has not received fair
treatment. Their idea was a combination of stone with yellow brick, and
their two tints were intended to harmonize. In almost every instance the
stone pilasters have been painted over, which gives a hard, artificial
effect--the loftiness as well as the divisions of the stone are lost;
the brickwork, too, has been coloured, and so the intention of the
architects has been lost. In Mansfield Street, which lies westward of
Portland Place, there is a broad, stately mansion, with spacious, lofty
chambers, a goodly specimen of the nobleman’s house. It is worth looking
at, for the attempt to “spiritualize” the stables by adorning them with
Adam crescents and decorations. Horace Walpole noted in his copy of
Pennant that this house was built on the model of a French Hôtel. Close
to it are some highly elaborated bride-cake doorways in the best Adam
style.

The screen that runs in front of the Admiralty, in Whitehall, was also
the work of the brothers, and there is a little history connected with
it. The hideous portico within is said to be constructed in defiance of
all laws of proportion or architectural decorum. The pillars were, in
fact, intended for a much larger edifice, and were found “handy” by “my
lords” for this building. They, however, presented such an odd spectacle
that the Messrs. Adam were called in, and devised the screen in front.
The passer-by may now deem it singular that this structure should have
been hailed with delight as a beautiful and classical work; it was
engraved, and even in architectural books high praise has been given to
it for its “chasteness” and perfect adaptation to the purpose intended.
This has often been a puzzle to persons of taste; for there is a
curiously dilapidated air, a sort of ramshackle look, which seems to
exclude it from such a category. The present writer one day found out
the reason of this failure. It had been mauled and altered, and with
completest success so far as the destruction of the motive and purpose
of its erection. As it originally stood it was a screen with a central
arched entrance, on each side of which were two short recessed
colonnades, which made an agreeable and original break in what would
otherwise have been a blank wall. But the spoilers came presently. The
First Lord desired to have one gate to enter by, another to drive out
when crowded parties were given. Two such were accordingly broken in the
colonnades to the right and left. The centre arch became useless, the
whole ceased to exist as a screen, and, pierced with so many openings,
lost all character. Few mutilations have been so characteristic and
ignorant.

At every turn in London the amateur of Adam work will find abundant
evidence of their taste. In Berkeley Square there is Lansdowne House,
built after a favourite Adam pattern. Even the gate and walls show the
same grace and proportion, and the elegance of the little ornament on
each pillar will attract observation. In Harewood Place there is a fine
Adam house, and a few in Dover Street.

Buckingham Street is another of the quaint, bright streets in the
Adelphi, leading down to a cheerful opening, whence, as from a balcony,
we look down on the animated Thames below, with its passing barges, tugs
and river steamers: a scene which at first sight must impress the
foreigner.

Here is the sequestered little mall, with its dozen trees, once a
charming little promenade when the river ran beside it. This scene has
been painted by Canaletti, and there are old engravings from the
picture, representing promenaders in the costume of the day. The river,
covered with ships and wherries, washes the walls; the old trees display
their luxuriant foliage: but they are now stunted and decayed, and the
whole has a dingy, forlorn aspect. It was once one of the gayest,
brightest spots in London. For at the end stands the famous and much
admired water-gate, or York Stairs, as it was called: it could be seen
from the Strand, and persons eager to go on the water, hurried down here
to embark. Owing to the construction of the Embankment, the gate has
lost all meaning and purpose to an almost ludicrous extent. Instead of
the water washing the steps, as it did not many years ago, the gate is
sunk down, all awry, in a pit, and the ground is raised high about it.
It is a pity that a little public spirit is not forthcoming to shift it
again to the water’s edge, its proper position. Unhappily the monument
is in a sadly decayed condition--all the square edgings worn round and
smooth, and the sculptures almost obliterated--so, abundant restoration
would have to attend the removal.

This interesting approach from the Strand has yet more associations to
increase its value. We note the remains of former state and dignity, at
the bottom of the street. On the left hand is a remarkable house of some
antiquity, which, as one of the useful medallions of the Society of Arts
tells

[Illustration: THE WATER GATE.]

us, was occupied by the Czar Peter on his visit to London. Its various
chambers are now given over to the Charity Organisation Society, to a
maternity association, etc.; but on going up the stairs we see palpable
vestiges of the magnificence of the place, which must have had some
connection with old York House. For we find ourselves in a spacious and
imposing drawing-room, of which the entire walls are oak as well as the
flooring, while the two elegant doorways are embroidered round with a
rich carved flowering border. But it is the unique ceiling that will
excite admiration, consisting of a thick wheel-like border, filled in
with the boldest and richest stucco-work, presenting solidly wrought
roses and leaves. This encircles a painted allegorical piece, but so
grimed with dirt that the subject cannot be clearly seen. It is but
little damaged. One could fancy this room restored and furnished, and
the rude Muscovite seated in congenial proximity to his favourite river.
The side of the house that looks over the Embankment, though covered
with whitewash, displays a tall elegant central window of a decorated
kind, showing that the whole must in its best days have been of a
spacious and imposing character. The view from this window, as indeed it
is from all these corner houses giving on the river, is charming. On the
opposite side of the street, a few doors higher up, is another old
mansion of some pretence--also given over to offices--and noteworthy for
the twenty or so grotesque heads, one of which is set over every window.
It is hard to account for this odd form of adornment, unless it came
with the Dutch. They are found in many quarters of London, some putting
their tongues out to the spectators, others crying, laughing, etc. This
mansion is believed to have been the one occupied by Mr. Secretary
Pepys, and so we look at it with interest.

But this does not exhaust the associations of the Adelphi. There we
lately saw the “house breakers” hard at work levelling what has some
very pathetic associations with the early life of Dickens. For many
generations now, a dilapidated miscellany of shanties has been visible
from the terrace; a shed, outhouses, a small mean-storied thing in the
last stage of decay, with an ancient cart or two lying up in ordinary.
Across the wall ran a faded half-effaced legend, in what were once gold
letters on a blue ground:--

                       +-------------------------+
                       | THE FOX-UNDER-THE-HILL. |
                       |  HOARE & CO’S ENTIRE,   |
                       |   AND BRILLIANT ALES.   |
                       +-------------------------+

It was hard to conceive of anything “brilliant” in such a place, save
the little half-starved boy employed at the blacking factory in
Hungerford Market, who used to make his way thither. “One of his
favourite localities,” says Mr. Forster, “was a little public-house by
the water-side called the Fox-under-the-Hill, approached by an
underground passage, which we once missed in looking for it together;
and he had a vision, which he has mentioned in ‘Copperfield,’ of sitting
eating something on a bench outside and looking at some coal-heavers
dancing.” This memorial has for years borne a dismal forlorn aspect,
very suggestive of this despairing season in Dickens’s childhood.
Within these few months, therefore, it was like losing a friend to find
the “brilliant ales” gone and the house all but levelled.

On the higher level of the terrace, facing the Strand, are some
gloomy-looking hotels, of many windows, “The Caledonian” and “The
Adelphi.” There is here the air of dingy old fashion, so well suited to
Pickwick, and we know that this Adelphi Hostelry is the “Osborne’s
Hotel,” where Wardle and his daughter Emily put up, and where the droll
scene occurred of Mr. Snodgrass being secreted during dinner--the fat
boy running “something sharp into Mr. Pickwick’s leg” to attract his
attention. As we look up at the first-floor windows the scene rises
before us, and the whole appears in harmony with the humours of
Pickwick. Most natural is it, too, that the Wardles should put up at
such a house, for the dingy furniture, etc., all seems to belong to that
era.

Here in the Adelphi we come upon a handsome building which houses the
useful Society of Arts, its energetic Secretary, Sir H. Trueman Wood,
and Librarian, Mr. Wheatley, so well skilled in London lore.

The story of the luckless Barry is most pathetic, and as we sit in the
fine meeting-room of the Society and look up at the painter’s crowds of
animated figures that line the walls, it comes back on us with a strange
vividness. He had something akin to the character and erratic temper of
Haydon, the same despairing sense of talent neglected and put aside; the
same struggle with the Academy, and a quarrelsome eccentricity. A
difference, however, between the two men was that Barry’s work on the
walls speaks for him and proclaims his fine academic culture, his grace
and poetry in the beautiful, well-designed figures and groups, and the
refined transparent colouring; with which we have to contrast the
heavily-painted, earthy-looking portraits of the Sovereign and her
Consort, which by some strange lack of congruity have been thrust into
this classical company. One can conceive, however, the difficulties of
dealing with a man who insisted on representing the death of Wolfe with
a number of perfectly nude figures standing round, and who in his latter
days of penury and neglect, when asked out to dine, insisted on
tendering two shillings to his host in payment of the meal! These fine
pictures cover a canvas that spreads round the room. To obtain the fame
and expanse of canvas allowed by such an undertaking, the artist offered
to do the whole work gratis; not, however, it may be supposed, that when
the work was done the Society left him without remuneration. As the
result proved, he was fairly well paid for his labours. The variety, the
fine workmanship displayed, the grace of the figures, are extraordinary
when we consider it was the work of one man.

Having thus concluded our exploration of the Adelphi, we may fairly ask
the Londoner who passes through the Strand a dozen times in the day,
could he be prepared to find so much that is novel in this familiar
district?

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO THE ROMAN BATH.]



CHAPTER VI.

THE ROMAN BATH.--COVENT GARDEN.


But in this exceedingly modern Strand, where we are so eager to clear
off the only bit of antiquity left us--the graceful church of St.
Mary--what Monkbarns would think of looking for his “ancient Romans,” or
anything connected with them? It is an astonishing surprise to find that
we have only to turn out of the Strand hard by St. Mary’s Church, and
see staring at us an invitation to come and look at a genuine,
recognizeable, Roman work, in sound condition. We pass under a sort of
archway, down a steep paved lane, lined with low white-washed walls and
a few old houses, with a glimpse of the river beyond, and see the board
before us, with directions “☛ TO THE OLD ROMAN BATH.” On the left rises
the towering wall of the New Strand Theatre (and it is wonderful they
did not sweep the Romans away), and we come to a sort of shanty of a
house such as we would see in a village, white-washed, a languid green
creeper overgrowing it, which imparts quite a rural look. At the iron
gate we are met by a showman of the place, who does his work
intelligently enough, and communicates such details as he has picked up.
Opening a door to the left and descending a few steps, he suddenly
plunges us into a low cellar-like chamber. As we grow accustomed to the
dim light, there is a sense of astonishment on looking round and finding
ourselves before a genuine unmistakeable bath. It is a fairly sized,
vaulted chamber, solidly built, with curved ceiling lit by a little
semi-circular window perched high on the left. The bath is in the
centre, rounded at one end and square at the other. On the opposite side
are two or three stairs or tiers, and where it touches the water we can
recognize the true fashion of Roman workmanship--the thin tiles of
cheerful red, hard as iron, and the imperishable cement which has stood
and resisted the water for centuries. The stately Roman look of the
whole, even the massive grace in decay, is extraordinary. Extraordinary
too is the volume of water, the purest and most delicious in London,
which pours up at the rate of some ten tons a minute, and is _recherché_
in the district, being sold at a fixed tariff. It is remarkable that
this interesting relic, rare in any capital, should be so little known
and so little esteemed. It is highly desirable that the bath should be
secured to the City without loss of time, and its destruction thereby
saved.

On the other side is another bath, known as “Lord Essex’s” plunge-bath,
which has its interest also. It is elegantly designed, with rather
original little steps for descending into the water. The bath is of a
sort of buff-coloured marble, and is known to have been made, and
perhaps used, by the Earl of Essex some three centuries ago. Our
cicerone goes so far as to affirm that the Good Queen Bess was fond of
taking an occasional “dip” here, and rather illogically points to a sort
of darkened window or passage in proof of his assertion. But without
introducing this august lady at all, or the Earl, the bath is
sufficiently old and interesting to stand, if we may use the metaphor,
on its own bottom. Holywell Street, close by, is evidence of the
traditions of a holy source in the neighbourhood, and Essex Street is
not far away. But how many who pass through the Strand daily for years
have ever been to see the Old Roman Bath?

“Within memory of man,” says Mr. Roach Smith, “huge masses, with trees
growing upon them, were to be seen at London Wall opposite to what is
now Finsbury Circus. They were probably--like what may still be seen
opposite Sion College, and in various places with warehouses, in obscure
courts and in cellars, near Cripplegate--the core of the Roman wall
denuded of the facing stones. In 1852 was discovered a portion which the
Corporation had given to the Church Building Society to be pulled down,
but it was happily saved; it had been preserved so long owing to a
buttress built against it in the Middle Ages. But though saved, owing to
earnest representations, it was built into a stable.”

There are indeed scarcely any of the associations of London more
impressive or overpowering than its connection with the Roman Empire.
There is of course the common vague and popular idea of “Roman remains”
found all over England, and the “local museum” can generally boast some
well-grimed vessels of various shapes, which are labelled “Roman.” There
is often, too, the “incised” slab on which may be deciphered some
“Roman” lettering, as ambiguous as that discovered by Mr. Pickwick.
Nothing, however, is so astonishing to the casual spectator as the
abundance and splendour of the real Roman remains found in London. The
Guildhall Museum, where they are stored in quantities, might be a
portion of the Vatican Museum. The Roman glass and pottery alone would
fill a warehouse, and their variety and beautiful shapes and materials
are perfectly astonishing. We say nothing of the tablets and statues,
etc., and fragments of brickwork found about Blackfriars, but what
really recalls the Roman domination in the most forcible and practical
way is the superb Roman pavement, about 14 feet long, with its round
end, which must have covered a goodly sized vestibule. The

[Illustration:

The
Old
Roman
Bath, Strand.

Hume Nisbet
]

brightness, the brilliancy of the colours, the freshness of the whole,
the boldness of the treatment, excite wonder, and call up before us the
conquerors who walked over it in this actual London of ours, with its
cabs and policemen and costermongers, which presents a nation so opposed
to every idea of Rome. The Guildhall Museum, viewed in this light,
offers a real surprise when it is thought that the inanimate objects
here found--hundreds of bronze implements for domestic use, combs,
looking-glasses, cups, bottles, lamps, bowls, in profusion of pattern,
all were the work of this fallen and departed race.

The most impressive of these memorials is the old Roman Wall, still to
be seen close to Cripplegate Church, and which affects the spectator
much as would one of the fragments to be found in Rome. There it rises
up before us, in the street called “London Wall,” a stretch of about 50
yards long, and lofty, now made to do duty, which really secures its
preservation, by being built into houses. This seems to add to the
effect. A narrow strip of garden runs in front, so as to separate it
from the pavement. In the curious diversity of colour and detail which
the Roman wall always presents, owing to the ripe mellow tint of the
brick, which contrasts with the white of the rocky cement, and to the
general dappled tone, there is found a variety and air of suggestion.
The whole seems to be caked and crusted into a rocky mass, which still
speaks of the imperishable, enduring character of the conquerors. It
does credit to the City Fathers that they have preserved this relic,
which is really a striking ornament. Not far off is a curious fragment
of a tower, of the same character, and which rises with odd effect in
the busy City. It is indeed most interesting to find that the
antiquaries can follow the course of the wall with almost perfect
certainty by fragments of this kind which have shown themselves at
intervals. Some years ago, passing by the Broadway on Ludgate Hill, I
found an intelligent crowd gathered about some houses which were being
pulled down; a portion of the old Roman wall was being removed, and all
were staring with an absorbed interest, while certain persons learned on
the subject, or affecting to be so, discoursed to the rest.

The little hilly Southampton Street, Strand, is interesting, leading as
it does into Covent Garden Market. Near the top is No. 27, Garrick’s old
house, where he lived so many years until he became “grand” and moved to
a stately mansion on the Adelphi Terrace. It is said that this change
injured his health, the terrace being exposed and unsheltered, the old
house being “snug and quiet.” This became an hotel, “Eastey’s,” and
later was dressed up with plaster mouldings. It is now in the possession
of a business firm. With excellent feeling and good taste a handsome
shield with Garrick’s arms has been set up in the hall, which recalls
the fact of its having been Garrick’s residence, that in that parlour he
had read Othello to a number of his friends, and in the drawing-rooms
had given a party, during which Goldsmith arrived, wishing to borrow a
guinea, but had gone away without having had courage to do so. The
doorway which separates the back and front parlours is an elegant piece
of work, most gracefully carved and moulded. I never pass by the house
without looking in and recalling the pleasant scene described by Tate
Williams when he came to exhibit his talents to the actor; and when he
noticed this very door moving softly, and found that Mrs. Garrick was
listening unseen to his mimicries.

The destroyers have lately been very busy in Covent Garden, where there
have been wholesale clearances. Gone now is an entire block in Bow
Street, where stood the old police court, the foundations of which the
blind magistrate Fielding had laid, after his own house had been burnt
to the ground by the Gordon rioters. This, however, could be spared; but
not the Piazza in the market behind, Inigo Jones’s work. This is
literally being nibbled away. Some years ago was razed the section where
the old “Hummums” stood--a house known to Johnson, who used to relate a
curious ghost story associated with it. A new, fresh, and gaudy
“Hummums” has taken its place, with much unpicturesque iron sheds for
the market. At the corner was the old “Rockley’s,” described by Mr. Sala
nearly thirty years ago, a house of call for actors and Bohemians. There
is now a new Rockley’s. Last year another portion of the Piazza--that
behind Bow Street--was levelled, and with it that quaint specimen of the
old London hotel, the Bedford, with its coffee-room, curved
old-fashioned windows, entresols, bar, etc., to say nothing of its air
of snugness and comfort. A few years ago another section, the one that
touches “the old Evans’s,” or Cave of Harmony, was taken down, but was
rebuilt. Thus out of the four sections there is now left to us but one,
whose grace and proportions all amateurs must admire. It is said that
Inigo Jones intended to imitate the Piazzas he had seen in Italy; and it
will be noted how fine is the proportion of this fragment, and what an
air of spaciousness he has imparted to it. The line of the arches, the
intersections in the ceilings, the general gaiety of the whole are
extraordinary; and to be the more remarked when we turn to the rebuilt
portion, which seems narrow, over-grown, too tall for its width, and
generally dismal.

No one looking at St. Paul’s, Covent Garden--this “Barn Church”--would
believe that it is the most complete specimen of the Tuscan order of
architecture known, for no ancient building of the kind exists in Italy
or elsewhere. The extraordinary depth of its porch, the projection of
its eaves, and the general rudeness and simplicity of its details have
always obtained praise. Ralph, in the last century, declared it to be
“one of the most perfect pieces of architecture that the art of man can
produce.” Walpole, however, pronounced it to be a complete failure.

It must be confessed it looks ungainly enough. The truth is, as designed
by Inigo, and in its original state, it was a finely-conceived
structure.

[Illustration: COVENT GARDEN.]

The architect wished to present a purely Doric building; though some
maintained it was of a “barn-like order,” the pediment and pillars are
impressive from their boldness and deep shadows. It has lately undergone
an odd process of restoration, or rather transformation. The whole of
the stone casing has been removed, and a flaming brick one substituted.
Few edifices have been more vilified than this; and it must be confessed
it is ugly enough. But it has been sadly mauled and outraged. The
original building was burned, and the present one is a sort of replica
with alterations. Passing by it, I have paused again and again, seeking
to discover what was the cause of the apparent failure, and what a man
of such eminence could have had in view in conceiving so bald, rude
even, and unattractive a building. At last I discovered the secret. It
was not he--as might be expected--but the fires, and what was as bad as
the fires, the restorers and alterers, that were responsible. It should
be remembered, too, that this is the _back_ of his building, the front
being really stately and imposing enough, could there be a fair open
view of it obtained. This back presented a deeply-embayed porch, the
foot-way running in front; but to gain space for the market, arches were
cut in the flanking walls, and the foot passengers were made to pass
through the porch. There was the secret. The walls being continued to
the line of pillars, a shadowy depth or recess was gained, in keeping
with the heavy cornice, and so much was added to the length of the
church. In old prints we can see this effect. The pathway ran _in front_
of the pillars, instead of behind them, as is now the case. In short, it
was then a porch instead of a colonnade, which it is now. This shows how
a mere touch, as it were, will destroy the whole character of a work.
Further, the whole used to be garnished with some very piquant lanterns,
vanes, sun-dials, etc., which imparted a lightness and finish. The
restorers have not thought fit to replace these. The church and its
churchyard cover a large inclosure in the block between the market and
Bedford Street, and can be seen through gratings opening into the four
streets that lie round it. It ought to be thrown open and laid out as a
garden. Few even suspect its existence. In this great churchyard lie
some of the most interesting notabilities who haunted Covent Garden in
their life--actors chiefly--such as old Macklin.

Mr. Thackeray has a picture of Covent Garden which admirably conveys the
impression left by the place. “The two great national theatres on one
side, a churchyard full of mouldy but undying celebrities on the other;
a fringe of houses studded in every part with anecdote or history; an
arcade often more gloomy or deserted than a cathedral aisle, a rich
cluster of brown old taverns--one of them filled with the counterfeit
presentments of actors long since silent: a something in the air which
breathes of old books, old painters, and old authors, a place beyond
all other places one would choose in which to hear the chimes at
midnight--a crystal palace--which presses timidly from a corner upon
many things of the past: a withered bank that has been sucked dry; a
squat building with columns and chapel-looking fronts, which always
stand knee-deep in baskets, flowers, and scattered vegetables; a
population that never seems to sleep, and that does all in its power to
prevent others sleeping: a place where the very latest suppers and
heartiest breakfasts jostle each other over the footways.” It is so long
since this picture was done, that the strokes are altered and the
details scarcely recognizable. But the tone is still the same. The old
stately-looking building at the corner of the Piazza was once the town
house or palace of a nobleman, and has been often engraved. More
interesting, however, is it to think of it as the “Cave of Harmony,”
once directed by the well-known “Paddy Green.” It was then the earliest
type of Music Hall, where sober and serious glees were sung by choir
boys, while the audience consumed kidneys and chops and baked potatoes,
washed down by stout. This combination has passed away, and supping to
music is no longer in vogue. The place was hung round with a vast number
of curious theatrical portraits, old and modern, some of merit, while
Paddy himself, red of face, walked about and conversed with the guests.
When he saw anyone waiting or apparently neglected, he interposed with
friendly courteous excuses, summoned waiters, and remedied the
oversight. To the casual visitor to town this was altogether a novel and
curious entertainment. Later it became the Falstaff Club, which went the
way of ephemeral clubs. It is now the New Club.

Close as this district is to the Strand--and it is within a stone’s
throw--it has a charm of old fashion that is extraordinary. Unhappily
the devouring “Market” is rapidly absorbing the whole. Two entire sides
have been swept away to find room for carts and vegetables. The eminent
ground landlord seems insatiable in this respect; though it must be said
that it is difficult, if not impossible, to resist the pressing advances
of the dealers. It is said that a small space or coign of vantage is let
three times over to successive tenants in the course of the twenty-four
hours. The old Bow Street Court, and the buildings beside it, have been
drawn in and swallowed up; the Floral Hall, erst a concert room, is now
converted into a market. The lease of Drury Lane Theatre, close by, will
run out in a few years, and it is rumoured will yield itself up to the
inexorable market. This, as I said, is but the pressure of
circumstances. “Facts are stubborn,” but the force of trade is
irresistible.

We often lament the destruction of old houses with traditions, and the
present writer has often joined in such jeremiads. But here is the test.
Some one of moderate income, as most persons are, is the proprietor of
some sacredly antique monument,--let us say Fairfax House at Brixton,
standing in its “fayre grounds.” Presently the district has come into
request; the speculative builder is about, and by-and-by a heavy,
substantial sum that would yield an annuity is offered for the whole.
The æsthetic proprietor cannot resist, for he will rationally argue,
that if he decline, he will be paying an amount equal to the annuity he
declines for the pleasure of retaining his old monument. Notwithstanding
this process of unceasing destruction there is much left to interest,
and the old tone of the place remains: as Mr. Hare points out, even the
very names of the streets surrounding it, often carelessly and
familiarly pronounced, have a suggestive significance.

Indeed, the London traveller, or contemplative man, whether promenading
or gazing listlessly from his “knife-board” as he frets against the
stagnant progress of his vehicle, may furnish himself with plenty of
entertainment by speculating on the names of the streets through which
he passes. The whole life of the great city could be traced by the aid
of its street names. Thus, Fleet Street and Holborn were called after
two rivers which crossed those thoroughfares, the Fleet and the Bourne;
the Fleet also giving its name to the ill-omened prison. The modern
christening of streets is rather of a formal, artificial kind, and has
not the spontaneous natural character of the older names, which were
given as a matter of convenience by the inhabitants of the locality. The
origin of the familiar Piccadilly has been hotly debated; and a
plausible theory has been offered--that one Higgins, a haberdasher, had
invented a sort of spiked ruff, suggesting the “piccadille,” or lance,
and out of this he made a fortune, which he invested in houses along the
famous thoroughfare--then a rural lane. The Adelphi quarter was so named
by the “Brothers” Adam, architects; to whom London also owes the Adelphi
Terrace, Portland Place, Fitzroy Square, Stratford Place, Finsbury
Square, and other buildings. John, Robert, and Adam Streets, as we have
seen, recall their names. Close by we find George, Villiers, Duke, and
Buckingham Streets, betokening that all this was the property of Charles
II.’s favourite. On the other side of the Strand there are Charles,
Henrietta, and York Streets; and it is unlikely that it ever occurs to
the market gardener’s mind, or even to the intelligent publishers who
flourish there, that these are the names of the hapless Charles I., his
Queen, and brother. A vast number of streets take their names from
territorial landlords--such as Bedford, Oxford, Essex, Arundel, and
others. A bit of family history is illustrated by various small streets
contiguous to the Strand. Thus, one of the Bedford family married
Catherine, heiress of Brydges, Lord Chandos, and later, Lord Tavistock
married a daughter of Lord Southampton. These alliances are now recalled
by Catherine, Chandos, Tavistock, and Southampton Streets. Bow, with its
bells and church, is said to be derived from the Norman arches in the
crypt; and Bow Street from its bent shape. Fetter Lane was the street
of beggars or “Fewters.” Pentonville has a plain and unsuspected origin,
being named after a certain Mr. Henry Penton, M.P., who flourished in
the present century. King’s Cross is another delusion; for, while we
expect venerable associations akin to the Eleanor Cross, we are shocked
to learn that here stood a poor effigy of George IV., long since
removed. Lombard Street, of course, was a compliment to the banking
natives of Lombardy; and Threadneedle Street was Three Needle Street,
the Merchant Taylors’ Company being located there. Bunhill Fields, the
great graveyard, was really Bone Hill Fields, and Houndsditch a ditch
into which dead dogs were often cast. The Minories was originally the
Minorites, an order of Poor Clares so named; and Mincing Lane was
similarly distorted from the Minchin nuns, who had their convent at St.
Helen’s, Bishopsgate. Goswell Street was God’s Well. At Tokenhouse Yard
and thereabouts tokens used to be made. A fowl market was in the
Poultry. Bread Street and Milk Street were devoted to the sale of those
useful commodities. The curiously and picturesquely named Knightrider
Street is most significant of all; for through it used to pass in
procession the train of knights going to the joust. Rotten Row is said
to derive its name from “rotteren” (to muster); but it is more likely to
be a slang word expressive of the peculiar composition of the ground.

The large family of Ludgate, Bishopsgate, Cripplegate, Billingsgate,
etc., all, of course, betoken the different City gates which stood in
the localities. Billingsgate is said to be named after King Belin;
Cripplegate after St. Giles, an abbot said to have written a work on
palsy, and also venerated as the patron of lepers. It may be noted that
the old statue of Queen Elizabeth which decorated Lud Gate is still to
be seen in Fleet Street. Spitalfields was named after St. Mary Spital;
Moorfields and Finsbury, or Fensbury, from the marshes; St. Bride, or
St. Bridget, gave her name to Bridewell; indeed, a vast number of our
streets have some such pious associations. It would take long to go
through the full list of derivations; but these specimens will show how
interesting and fruitful is the inquiry.

The naming of a street requires much tact, and is really a difficult
office. Witness the clumsy suggestions and debates when Northumberland
and Shaftesbury Avenues were formed. Thames Avenue or Thames Mall would
have been better and more picturesque for the first, and Shakespeare
Road for the second. The old “Paragons,” “Circuses,” “Crescents,” have a
pleasant sound. In compliment to the great prose poet of Cockneydom, we
ought surely to have a “Dickens Street,”--a good, sharp, well-sounding,
and serviceable name.



CHAPTER VII.

THE NATIONAL GALLERY.


[Illustration]

This great collection really holds the first position among the
galleries of Europe, not for the number of pictures, but for their
choiceness and value. The building which contains the collection has
been assumed to be rather a failure, and many a jest has been made upon
what are called its “pepper casters,” an article which its cupolas
suggest. Yet upon the whole it is a classical, well-proportioned
building, with a fine, imposing façade. Of late years a new gallery has
been added in the rear, whose Italian campanile rears itself awkwardly,
and is inconsistent with the Grecian style of the rest. Sir Frederick
Leighton has spoken with just severity of this incongruity. The new
rooms are stately and lofty, united by imposing central halls, floridly
decorated, contrasting oddly with the low and shabby chambers beside it.
Still, the smaller area is more effective for the display of pictures;
they are brought closer to the eye, are seen more comfortably, and there
is the feeling of being in a private gallery. The small but beautiful
collection at The Hague has its peculiar charm from these conditions.
Within the last few years the great entrance hall has been remodelled
and treated sumptuously, laid out with flights of stairs, pillars of
costly African and other marbles, profuse gilding and painting. But the
effect is scarcely satisfactory: the pillars are thin, and ill
proportioned to this work, and seem more ornamental than serviceable,
while the complicated umbrella and stick arrangements seem to do
violence to the natural construction of the building.

The Gallery owes much to its accomplished director, Sir F. Burton, who
is an artist of the Academic school, with much fine taste and feeling,
and power of drawing. The days when men were trained in the schools, and
when studies of the human figure (on one of which Mulready would expend
months) were labours of love, are unhappily passed away. To Sir F.
Burton’s admirable judgment we owe the real development of the
collection, and its almost universal character. If we might make an
objection, it would be that there is almost a surfeit of works of the
earlier Italian school of the Pre-Raphaelite time, and there is
something monotonous in the innumerable altar-pieces and sacred pieces
set off with richly gilt and carved architectural framings. On the other
hand, it is admitted that the English school is imperfectly represented.
At the same time nothing could be more difficult than to form a really
representative gallery of English works, owing to the shiftings of taste
and criticism. This can be seen by considering the once-admired Vernon
collection, where figure all the “Augustus Eggs” and “Redgraves,” and
which seem scarcely worthy of a place in a public gallery. At the
Academy Exhibitions we find every school imitated--French, German,
Dutch. Still it would not be difficult to apply some principles in the
selection, and to define what might be considered a purely English
character in landscape, portraits, or _genre_.

A serious difficulty is what to do with the accepted bequests which for
half a century or so have held possession. These keep their place by
virtue of law and Acts of Parliament, and as they entered in company
with works of real value, there would be an ungraciousness in rejecting
them. The pigments of this era seem to have faded: the pictures are
flat, stiff, and, in some cases, seem the work of amateurs. One instance
of this “white elephant” sort of donation is the picture of Rembrandt’s
“Night Watch,” said to be a copy of no startling merit, which is yet
allowed a conspicuous place.

The visitor is assisted by guides and guide-books of all kinds; one, a
full, reformed one, in two volumes, has been issued recently. I always
think that a model guide-book, such as the eager but uninformed public
would desire, has yet to be devised. The usual system is after this
pattern: The name and number is given, then the painter and school, say,
“The Umbrian School”--with the size of the picture in inches, a few
lines about the painter, his birth and death, and to what “school” he
succeeded; then a rather banal description of what the figures are
doing--which the spectator can discover for himself without assistance.
These points, such as size in inches, and the description, are, of
course, valuable for the Waagens and other critical persons, but are
_caviare_ to the visiting public. I venture to say that the questions
every one puts to himself on seeing a “famous” picture are these: “Why
is it that this work is so admired? What are the particular merits?” The
effect is admittedly good and beautiful; but it seems so like many
others that we have seen, excellent, pleasing; but it puzzles us to say
_why_ it exceeds in merit the others. How delightful, on the other hand,
and improving is it, when it is our good fortune to be attended by some
real critic and trained judge, who in a few words points out the merits,
the contrast of colour, the drawing of that arm, the difficulty overcome
in grouping in figures! Again, what is _style_? Corot, the French
landscape painter, is deservedly admired, and the spectator, looking at
his catalogue, will exclaim, “_Oh! that is a Corot._” He sees, with
wonder, a sort of marsh or fen with gloomy “furry”-looking trees. He is
told of the enormous price this small work fetches in the market, and
wonders again. It seems to him sketchy, blurred, and unfinished, perhaps
meaningless, but it _must_ be a great work from its price: he cannot
puzzle it out, and he has to pass on to others. The critic, however, at
his elbow, will draw him back and tell him, first, what the Corot theory
was, viz., that nature has moods of humour, of feeling and passion,
which can be noted, just as we note expression on the human countenance;
that this often becomes so marked and absorbing that we do not observe
mere details. The painter, who wished to seize the humour or expression,
passes by all details of leaves, branches, etc., and even the outlines,
so that the spectator, like the painter, will note only, say, the
general _sadness_ of the whole. This is roughly and, perhaps, broadly
expressed, but it furnishes a sort of key. But we now look at our Corot
with a different interest, and its meaning gradually grows upon us. So
with the Dutch school. We pass from one to the other in the Peel
collection, from Teniers and Van Steen to De Hooge, with a sense of
sameness. There are the usual “Boors” and “Vrows” carousing or dancing;
or there are “Interiors” by De Hooge; or Hobbema, with his alleys and
trees, all great, clever, finished minutely, and curious. But we have no
key, and there is a mystery beyond us. Here, again, we should reflect
that this “style” is due to the conditions of climate and character.
Dutch skies are sad and sombre, the country flat and bare, the long
avenues of trees add to the mournful feeling; the interiors are dark.
There is a wonderful, much-admired Hobbema, here a “grand piece,” as it
is called; an alley of long bare trees stretching away from the
spectator, a landscape spreading away beyond. The spectator as he gazes
will feel a curious sense of melancholy, owing to the flat wastes, the
trunks exposed to the sweeping winds, the earth redeemed by stern toil
from the sea, the feeling of isolation, with a suggestion of the
indomitable Dutch character, which has battled successfully for
centuries with the ocean, and which finds a relief in scenes of
carousal. They have no mountains or valleys, or woods to draw from. The
houses in the cities are narrow, their rooms small and dark; hence
everything is looked at in miniature; hence, too, the laborious finish.
Hence, too, plenty of dark corners and shadows. All which explains
Rembrandt’s traditional effects, his faces emerging from dark
backgrounds. Hence, too, the costume of the Dutch portrait, with its
white collar and black jerkin. In the small dark rooms, panelled with
dark oak, the light falls only on the face; rich-coloured clothes would
lose their lustre. So with De Hooge’s picture of the “Entrance to a
Dutch Yard,” where there is a welcome but unexpected stream of light,
and which is treated as light that enters into a dark place.

I have often thought, too, how interesting it would be if there were
some critics to explain the treatment and manipulation adopted by
different painters! Why did Gainsborough, for instance, deal in
exquisite streaky greens and translucent blues; how is it that his faces
are so delicate and tender? The fact is, different painters see things
with different eyes, and the figure presents itself differently. One
will note only the expression as worthy of representation, another the
colours of the face, another will be struck by the attitude, the
richness of the dress, etc. Denner saw nothing but lines and wrinkles.
It is with painting exactly as it is with authorship. One will relate a
fact exactly as it occurred, another in newspaper style, another with
touches of character; another has a certain charm of description; yet
another is poetical.

To give a more particular illustration of how enjoyment would be
increased by some such critical aid as this, let us pause a moment
before this fine full-length portrait of Lewis, the actor, which hangs
in the vestibule of the hall--a smiling figure in a sort of Spanish
dress. It is the character of “The Marquis” in “The Midnight Hour,” and
is painted by Sir Martin Shee, erst President of the Academy. There is
something effective and pleasing about the picture, but most persons
content themselves with a glance and pass on. Now, suppose we inform him
that Lewis was a comedian of the old “airy” school, was noted for his
elegant style of representing people of rank--that is to say, personages
gay and witty, without condescension--carrying themselves through
difficult situations without embarrassment, and making love in a very
irresistible way. Shee had seen Lewis many times on the stage, and knew
him _au bout des ongles_; these gifts were present to him; so, selecting
this favourite character, he embodied here an epitome of all its
attractions. With these facts in view, we look again at the picture, and
how different it appears! There is the delightful expression, half
rallying, half of enjoyment, a general refinement, with a graceful
carriage--in short, a regular bit of comedy is going on before us.

In some of the great “Gallery” pictures--such as Sebastian del Piombo’s
“Raising of Lazarus”--the assistance of judicious criticism is really
essential. We must be instructed how and why to admire. Otherwise, as in
other kindred instances, such as with pictures of the Caraccis, we see
only a number of Scriptural figures in robes, blue or scarlet, grouped
together; no doubt large, dignified, impressive, but not by any means
interesting. There is a general conventionality. Yet this “Raising of
Lazarus” has been criticised by Hazlitt, Haydon, and others in a very
interesting way, and our catalogues of the future might profitably have
these inserted. Dr. Waagen thought this picture the most important of
the Italian school that England possesses. He adds that the “first
glance would teach us that the figure of Lazarus was drawn, though not
painted, by Michael Angelo.” The figure of our Saviour he praises for
its nobility, and “in Lazarus the transition from death to life is
expressed with wonderful fidelity. In the other figures gratitude,
astonishment, conviction, doubt are to be traced.” I fear there are few
of the thousands passing who would gather this or anything from the
first glance, or note any of these things.

There is one picture considered the cynosure of the whole, on account of
the vast price (some £70,000) given for it--the Ansidei Raphael. Of this
we might venture to say that the effect scarcely corresponds to the
outlay; or rather, that were it placed among the other Italian estimated
pictures, and divested of its history, it would not probably attract
much notice. This may seem heretical, but I am confident it is true.
With the critical, of course, it is different, though I fancy it would
be a difficult task to give a nice, accurate, and judicial appreciation
of its points of attraction, going beyond mere phrases of praise. I
confess, if choice were offered, I would prefer the more “taking” Soult
Murillo in the Louvre. _Pace_ Sir Frederick Burton, it seems also to
suffer from the heavy mass which does duty as frame--the excessive
gilding impairs the colours, and it is constructed with a sort of
basement which stands “in the air” unsupported, which seems to imply
that it ought to be on a bracket or altar.

A crying blemish to the collection is the room full of fantastic
pictures, so called, the terrible legacy which Turner bequeathed to the
nation. These grotesques have neither form nor meaning, and seem to be
mad, wild caprices. There is nothing to match them in existence, and no
gallery, private or public, would tolerate them. Some are nothing but
streaks and smears--yellows and blues utterly amorphous; yet admirers
will protest that there is some deep-seated “no meaning” mystery
beneath, which study and sympathy will reveal. Some arrangement by Act
of Parliament or otherwise should be made for disposing of these
performances, which we have heard again and again excite the derision of
the foreigner as “_polissonneries_.” The serious and responsible works
of Turner are here, and excite admiration: but these, it is well known,
were the eccentricities of his dotage. Some of his large grand pieces
are truly fine, such as “The Sea Fight” and the beautiful Italian
landscape placed as a pendant to the well-known Claude, though it is
easy to note that the exquisitely sultry luminousness of the French
painter cannot be approached, Turner’s atmosphere, from the very
contrast, being somewhat thick and heavy. Any one who goes from picture
to picture of Turner’s, those, I mean, of his sane manner, with care and
regularity, will be lost in wonder at the variety of his styles, and
will conclude that he could “do anything.” The mistake of his later days
was his attempt to simulate with colours atmospheric tones and effects,
such as the “actual sense of effulgence” in the sun when we attempt to
look straight at it, or the glare from a passing train, or a steamer
showing lights and letting off steam.

Perhaps the truest “painter” of the modern English school who could be
called a master, and whose works would stand the test of criticism, is
Wilkie. No praise could do justice to that masterpiece, “The Blind
Fiddler,” with its minutely delicate handling of faces and hands, yet
offering a grand breadth of style. The beautiful limpid colouring, the
firmness, yet delicacy, of the touch, the pleasant, quiet, unforced
humour of the scene--akin to that of Goldsmith--the brilliancy and
largeness of treatment, are perfectly miraculous in a youth little more
than twenty. Neither Mieris nor Meissonier have works that can be
classed with this gem, which, by-the-way, would gain by being hung
higher. His picture of “The Beadle” leading away the Mountebanks and
their Dancing Dogs, with figures brilliantly and exquisitely finished,
is not, however, his best specimen. We should note the contrast with his
well-known “Knox Preaching,” which seems the work of a different hand.
Many would be puzzled at this; but art critics know that Wilkie altered
his style completely after a visit to Spain, and affected a rich, juicy,
full-coloured tone, even adopting a large unfinished “streaky” manner.
In this contrasting of style we may profitably turn for comparison to a
picture truly unique, of which, as Lamb says, “One species is the
genus,” and which may be coveted by any gallery, that is, the famous
“Treaty of Munster,” by Terburg, a small cabinet picture, the gift of a
private person. This extraordinary little masterpiece is worth an hour’s
study, and illustrates all the principles of painting. There are some
fifty or sixty figures, and the force, dramatic expression, and feeling
of the whole is surprising. Every minute face is distinct, and leaves
the air of perfect finish; yet, if we look closely, we shall see the
workmanship is rough and bold. Mr. Ruskin has happily illustrated this
valuable principle by a minute vignette of Turner’s, which decorates his
“Italy.” It represents the marvellous windows and elaborate details of
the Ducal palace in Venice, all within a couple of inches; yet, if we
take a magnifying glass, we shall find that none of the objects
represented are actually drawn. There are only a number of dots and
touches, and yet the effect of the relief, details, and carvings is
perfectly conveyed. On the other hand, had the details been actually
_drawn_ on so small a scale, these details would at a distance have
failed to convey the idea intended. Here is one of the secrets of
largeness of style. Meissonier has much in common with Terburg. Our
fashionable modern painters have little idea of relative values. They
copy all before them with the accuracy of a photograph.

A little study of one who is the glory of this Gallery, viz. Constable,
will illustrate this better. A landscape painter may copy carefully and
minutely a spreading cornfield, with reapers at work and effects of
sunlight, but, as was said in the case of Corot, there is a mystery in
landscape which only genius can discover. This is not to be interpreted
as Corot found it was, by wholesale sacrifice of details, but by
studying the art of making these contribute to the general effect. The
really great painter seems to work in this way: he sees or discovers an
“effect”; it becomes an inspiration, it takes possession of him, and it
imprints itself vividly on his pictorial memory. He notes the same
effect under other conditions, and so the idea becomes generalized. Thus
a great marine painter, on an occasion, watches the form of waves in a
storm, or a peculiar effect of light. As to mere mechanical painting,
that becomes, or should become, as the language he speaks; neither does
he require the object or model to be before him to paint from, save by
way of suggestion or correction. It is to be suspected that the average
modern painter does not work on these principles. He _copies_ everything
from without, and not from within. The great painter who has found
inspiration in his landscape will only copy so far as to ensure
topographical correctness, but his main purpose is to produce the
general effect or inspiration which is imprinted on his memory. Such is
the meaning of the impression left by Constable’s work. The trees,
pastures, figures, are all subsidiary to the _tone_ of the whole, the
grand feeling of open air which spreads beyond the narrow, contracted
limits of the frame. As _he_ felt the largeness, so is the sense of
largeness produced in the spectator. One well-known picture will
illustrate this more effectively.

Like the human face, the cathedral has its cast of expression, a kind of
soft tenderness, or placid, quiet solitariness, wholly different from
the air of perky sharpness and strutting detail which photographs
present. Turning to the “Salisbury Cathedral” of this painter anyone
that has seen the original will recognize how he caught the poetry, the
contrast of the grey building with the green sward of the close, and the
deep tone of the trees, and the beautiful significance of the spire,
which seems almost to be a natural product of the landscape. These
spires, indeed, always seem to give a different sort of interpretation
to the place in which they stand; and every person of sensibility will
own to different impressions as he passes on the railway by Canterbury,
Peterborough, or Ely. In the case of the Salisbury spire there is a
certain sharpness which contrasts with the dark and angry cloud behind,
and gives an air of menace and hostility.

To take another illustration. There are photographs and engravings in
plenty of the picturesque Dover Harbour, with its cliffs and castle.
Many who have seen the place in its various moods have wished for some
reminder, and may have found the traditional sketches of commerce
accurate enough, but insufficient to restore the old charm. As the
traveller returning from France approaches, he notes the pyramidal
character, the junction and blending of the castle with the clouds
behind it, the contrast of the glaring white cliffs with the grey of the
sea; there is, besides, the grand air of large security and shelter
afforded for centuries back. Now, there is a picture by Turner--in which
all these complex ideas are abundantly suggested; he has caught the
whole tone of the place, dealing with the skies above and the waters
below, quite as elaborately as with the town and harbour; indeed, these
are subsidiary. In this way it is true a great artist becomes an
interpreter, as well as a painter, of Nature.

It is difficult not to feel a sort of enthusiasm and deep admiration
when standing before these grand works of Constable. There is a breadth
and solidity, a massiveness, about his style and treatment. The secret
might be the sense of dignity, the imparting of a _grand personality_ to
the trees, the grass, the water, and everything represented. As we look,
the details seem to grow and be enriched. It is not surprising to learn
that the introduction of one of his pieces into France was the
foundation of the school for landscape in that country. The Gallery is
well furnished with other masterpieces of his, and the visitor will
study them with delight. If we look at the “Flatford,” or the “Haywain,”
we shall see and recognize the power, the mixture of emotions suggested,
the grand tranquillity of the country, the variety, the sense of
distance, and, as we said, the air of _state_; as for the colour, its
depth and richness are not even approached in our day.

To turn to another of our English masters, it must be said that Landseer
was hardly a “painter” in a strict sense. He really only took portraits
of animals--and of particular animals. A “painter” would generalize
more, and in this view Herring’s horses are more pleasing, and exhibit
the animals in their relation to surrounding objects. Of course, in
producing fur, hair, etc., Landseer is unequalled. This can be further
illustrated by a painting here of Morland’s, who is usually associated
with certain vulgar subjects, such as pigs, coarse hinds, and the like,
masterly in their way. This portrays a heavy cart-horse and pony
entering their stable. The sort of living interest infused is
extraordinary, with the languid, helpless expectancy of the pair, the
general tone of the stable. We would place it above anything Landseer
has done. This will be seen if we compare this stable scene of Morland’s
with the well-known “Horse-shoeing,” which has quite an artificial air.
Among the finest Landseers are, no doubt, the “Newfoundland Dog” and the
capital, vigorously-painted creature who personates Alexander in the
visit to Diogenes. In his latter works he became rather tame and insipid
in his colour and touch, as we can see by turning to “Peace and War.”

Thirty or forty years ago among the chief attractions of the Academy
were pictures by Ward, O’Neil, Crowe, Mrs. Ward, Frith, and others. Such
were “James II. receiving the News of the Arrival of William,” “The
South Sea Bubble,” the “Derby Day,” and “The Railway Station.”

Leslie, Maclise, Eastlake, Ward, and many more have all fallen
considerably in public esteem. Many years ago there was a general
exhibition of Leslie’s works, and it was curious to see how the
assemblage revealed his defects--the “chalkiness” of his white, his thin
colour, his general stiffness. This was the result of the Academic
school, when drawing was much insisted upon. Nowadays, when the French
imitative system is in vogue, a hard pure outline, it is contended, is
not in nature. The figure is softened or blended with the background
according to experience.

There are some pictures at which we look with astonishment; the gaudy,
glaring figures all dressed in variegated fashion and crowded together.
It may be said these are like “Tableaux Vivants,” and painted, it might
be, from grouped figures. It will be noted that all are in the light,
and there are no shadows; indeed, no point of view conceivable could
take in so many objects at a time. There is little or no “composition,”
and the laws of Academic arrangement seem to be set aside. These
pictures, admired, gravely discussed by the critics, have long since
found their legitimate place. We have, indeed, only one purely Academic
painter--the President of the Royal Academy--who has been trained in the
“schools,” and whose work is always elegant, graceful, and honest. If he
has to present a draped figure with an arm exposed, the arm and hand are
truly “drawn.” There is an exquisite contour exhibited which pleases the
eye; the drapery falls not merely in natural, but airy folds, while the
tints are of a delicate harmony. There is, in short, composition, and we
turn away refreshed. Not so much could be said of some of our popular
portrait painters, whose hands are not outlined, but blurred, though
dashing, and whose drawing is misty.

Another painter once in high repute, and scarcely thought of now, was
Etty, assumed to be the most gorgeous colourist of his day. We look now
at his nude nymphs sailing in boats, and wonder a little at this
reputation, though there are plenty of tints of lake, and rich black
tresses, and cobalt. Somehow these works now seem heavy, and not so
brilliant. Would we seek a genuine colourist, let us turn to this little
cabinet Bonnington, who has left but few examples, but whose works are
precious and much esteemed in Paris. Another rare master of this kind is
Muller, of whom there are few specimens. These small cabinet pictures, a
few inches square, produce extraordinary effects of force and
brilliancy, and gorgeous colour.

To enumerate the attractions of this great collection would, it need
hardly be said, take long, but one must speak of the famous “Chapeau de
Poil” of Rubens (“The Felt Hat,” not, as it is vulgarly known, “The
Chapeau de Paille”). As any one can see for himself, there is no _straw_
hat in the case. These, with the wonderfully powerful and abundant
Rembrandts, the “Sassoferrato” (blue-hooded) head, the Murillos, the
Reynolds and Gainsborough portraits, the grand Constables, the Turners,
the Claudes, the great Rubens landscape, the Hogarth series, the
Wilkies, Landseers, Moronis, Botticellis and Bordones may be considered
the “stock pieces” of the place. Frith’s “Derby Day,” and Rosa Bonheur’s
well-known “Horse Fair,” and the room full of Landseers, furnish the
holiday starers with delight. Rosa has, however, “gone down” somewhat in
the estimation of connoisseurs, and her horses and her style of painting
do not seem quite so marvellous nor so wonderful as they did originally:
her colouring is somewhat sketchy. There are other artists of later date
concerning whom we must also revise our judgments.

Our own Sir Joshua is here handsomely and abundantly represented. The
charm of this great painter is extraordinary; the grace, “distinction,”
and variety of his treatment are no less remarkable. “Lord Heathfield”
exhibits robust serenity with the rugged good-humoured face, and the
fine generous scarlet of his coat. The variety of Reynolds’ attitudes,
considering his countless sitters, is truly astonishing. One of his most
powerful efforts is the well-known head of Dr. Johnson, in the Peel
Collection. Here should be noted the suggestion of suffering, so
delicately conveyed, the curious look of expectancy, the air of softness
and even gentleness, infused into the rough lineaments. Our moderns make
their sitters stare from their frames, and every one says “How like!”

Gainsborough is a painter in whose praise one is tempted to grow wanton.
We are often inclined to wonder where he found the sea-green, cobalt
blue streaks. His faces are worthy of study. As will be seen, he conveys
the idea perfectly of transparency of skin, that is, we see the colour
below, _through_ the upper cuticle. The large picture of the Baillie
family in the vestibule is one of his finest works. There is the bold
firmness of touch, a rich stroke, and a certain brilliancy. This is the
more astonishing, as in his larger pictures and portraits there is
often an unpleasing coarseness. The term “master” may be certainly
applied to him, as it may be to Reynolds, Gainsborough, Wilkie,
Constable, Morland, perhaps Wilson, and a few more. Lawrence was a
portrait painter, not a master.

No painter is more accepted on account of his rank and prestige than
Rembrandt, and the collection is singularly strong in his works. There
is a sort of conventional idea of what a Rembrandt should be--a yellow
old man or woman looking out of a dark background. Yet few think how
luminous is his work. Thus, the old Vrow in the ruff is an amazing
specimen of his power; and it is worth while looking closely into the
face to see the vigorous fashion in which the strokes are dealt out, the
paint being literally plastered on, but with profoundest method. For we
have of course moderns who can lay on their paint as with a trowel, thus
assuming a vigour they do not possess. Each of his strokes have a
meaning, and it was not his intention to give an air of raised surface.
No one has approached him in the rich tone of his _golden_ tints.

The great Italian portraits here--the Moronis, Pordonones and others--we
have to grow acquainted and intimate with, to discover their power. The
“Tailor” of the first has been often praised for its expression and
dignity. The attitude is delightfully significant of his calling,
without, however, the least vulgar emphasis; so with that of the lawyer.
We learn in these that grace and propriety belong to all castes and
conditions. The costumes enter largely into the expression. When will
our moderns recognize the fact that a portrait must be _intellectual_,
both in the painter’s and in the sitter’s share? At the Academy
exhibitions we see Mayors, City men, Parliamentarians, and others, whom
nature has furnished with parts of a low money-getting type, and whom
our artists faithfully portray in dignified attitude and recognizable
shape. The sitter has done his best to look stately and “like a
gentleman.” Yet this is _not_ his likeness. But were we to see this man
in his counting-house with his clerks at a crisis, we should find him
becoming animated, ready, resolute, his features light up, and the low
vulgarity disappears. Your Moronis and others have found out this
secret.

There are some great canvases of Paolo Veronese in the large room:
“Alexander receiving the Family of Darius,” and others; but the visitor
turns from their comparatively dull tones with a little disappointment.
Any one who has seen the grand and brilliant “Marriage of Cana,” in the
Louvre, is spoiled for future judgment. That superb and brilliantly
animated scene seems to be the work of another master.

I could linger longer on these interesting themes, and have done little
more than touch on some of the great masterpieces here collected. But it
is not vanity to say that the visitor who has studied principles akin to
what we have been imperfectly setting out, will find a new, unsuspected
enjoyment in a visit to a Picture Gallery.



CHAPTER VIII.

SIR JOHN VANBRUGH AND ST. MARTIN’S LANE.


It is curious that most of the great London architects should have come
from Scotland. Among these the most distinguished are Chambers, the
designer of Somerset House, Campbell, Rennie, Gibbs, and the Brothers
Adam. All these have left their mark upon the great city. The Barry
family were Irish; Pugin and Vanbrugh of foreign extraction; while Inigo
Jones was a Welshman. Wren, however, outweighs the rest, and he was an
Englishman.

Vanbrugh was an interesting character, and his scattered works abound in
London and its suburbs. This brilliant man has scarcely obtained the
full credit he deserves for his numerous and versatile gifts, for he
adorned no less than five professions. He was soldier, dramatist, and
manager; an architect and a herald to boot: to say nothing of his being
a wit and a poet. His plays, “The Relapse,” “The Confederacy,” “The
Provok’d Wife,” and “The Provok’d Husband” are among the works that no
theatrical gentleman’s library should be without. His great mansions at
Blenheim and Castle Howard are monuments of his skill, and his fables
were considered by Pope to be superior to those of La Fontaine. In
soldiering and management he was not so successful, though he was
persuasive enough to obtain from the nobility and gentry £30,000 with
which to build an opera-house in the Haymarket on the exact spot where
Her Majesty’s Theatre now stands. When this theatre was finished hardly
a word could be heard, and the voices of the actors had the effect of
low undulating murmurings. The object of the designer, however, was to
furnish an interior for both music and Italian opera; and it would pass
the wit of our Phippses and Emdens to supply a building which would be
equally suited for acting and singing.

It seems to be the fate of every architect of eminence who is favoured
with a “commission” for some vast public building to suffer hardship and
sordid treatment at the hands of the authorities. It was so with Wren,
Barry, Street, and above all with Vanbrugh, who had to go to law with
the Marlboroughs to obtain his fees. He was himself sued by the
contractors and workmen, who could obtain no money from either the
family or Government. The story of this persecution is to be found in
the curious Vanbrugh papers. More curious is it to discover, as the
writer did lately, that there is still standing in London his old
mansion, the very first attempt he made, which (though dilapidated
enough) seems still hale, stout, and strong. When it became known, about
the year 1702, that the wit and dramatist had turned architect and had
actually built himself a mansion in Whitehall, it became the subject of
much ridicule; and Dr. Swift was merry on the shape and peculiarity of
the new building.

    One asks the waterman hard by,
    Where may the Poet’s palace lie?
    At length they in the rubbish spy
    A thing resembling a goose-pie--
    A type of modern wit and style
    The rubbish of an ancient pile.

[Illustration: STATUE OF GENERAL GORDON IN TRAFALGAR SQUARE.]

It seemed unlikely that this “goose-pie,” amid all the vicissitudes of
Whitehall, could have escaped demolition. But recently the writer of
these notes came on a rather minute description of the place, drawn up
in the year 1815. As it then appeared, it was a low, long building in
three divisions, two stories high, with arched windows, three in each
compartment. Further, the brothers Adam had taken it in hand, and added
two wings or vestibules, projecting forward and decorated with their own
peculiar “fan-like” ornamentation. This was satisfactory for
identification; though no one of our generation was likely to recall
such a structure in Whitehall. But almost at the first search it was
revealed. There it stood flanking the Banqueting Hall in the shape of
the dilapidated, gone-to-seed museum known as the United Service
Institution. This was the original Vanbrugh “goose-pie” family mansion,
answering in every point to the description, encumbered with the Adam
additions, effective and not without merit. It is, however, in rather a
squalid state; and it is safe to prophesy that in two or three years it
will have disappeared. It is curious to think of the brilliant author of
“The Relapse” living here nearly two hundred years ago.

Close as it is to Charing Cross, St. Martin’s Lane and the district
about it still retain an old-fashioned air. At its very entrance we note
one of the most effective and effectively placed buildings in London,
the fine church, St. Martin’s, with its soaring and conspicuous steeple
and stately portico. The levity of our time was never better illustrated
than by the proposal to cut away the steps to gain a few feet of
roadway, and it was actually gravely suggested and discussed whether it
would not be the best course to remove the portico wholesale, and place
it at the back of the church! From every direction, almost, the spire
can be seen, and from every quarter the church forms a pleasing point of
view. It was built by Gibbs, and its interior is in Wren’s peculiar
favourite manner--a vaulted ceiling supported on columns, which, in
their turn, support galleries, their bases being covered up by the
massive pews.

St. Martin’s Lane is a far more interesting street than might be
supposed, being full of strange Hogarthian memories. Bishop Horsley told
the antiquary so oddly named “Rainy-day Smith,” that he had often heard
his father describe the time when St. Martin’s Church was literally “In
the fields,” and when there was a turnpike leading into St. Martin’s
Lane. Mr. Smith wrote this over sixty years ago, and there have been
enormous changes since then. There are two curious little lanes or
passages turning out of it on the right hand as you go up, one of which
bears the name of “May’s Buildings, 1739,” in faint characters. This was
built by a gentleman of that name, whose house is still to be seen at
No. 43, a sausage shop, a striking and elegant piece of brick-work,
though unpretending. It was thus that it struck “Rainy-day Smith,” fifty
years ago, who was much praised in his day for “his attention to old
houses.” He says that Mr. May’s house “consisted of two pilasters
supporting a cornice; and it is, in my opinion, one of the _neatest
specimens of architectural brick-work in London_. The site of the White
Horse livery stables was originally a tea-garden; and south of it was a
hop-garden, which still retains that appellation. The extensive
premises, No. 60, were formerly held by Chippendale, the most famous
upholsterer and cabinet-maker of his day, to whose folio work on
household furniture the trade formerly made constant reference. It
contains in many instances specimens of the style of furniture so much
in vogue in France in the reign of Louis XIV., but which for many years
past has been discontinued in England. However, as most fashions come
round again, I should not wonder if we were to see the unmeaning scroll
and shell-work, with which the furniture of Louis’s reign was so
profusely incumbered, revive; when Chippendale’s book will again be
sought after with redoubled avidity, and, as many of the copies must
have been sold as waste paper, the few remaining will probably bear
rather a high price.”[1] Another house that always attracts attention is
the one numbered 96, and which deserves notice for its artistic
doorway--certainly one of the most effective in London for its flowing
style of carving and elegant design. It is now a cloth shop, but Mr.
Smith describes it as being in his day “one of the oldest colour-shops
in London, and has one of the very few remaining shop-fronts where the
shutters slide in grooves. The street-door frame is of the style of
Queen Anne, with a spread-eagle, foliage, and flowers, curiously and
deeply carved in wood, over the entrance, similar to those remaining in
Carey Street and in Great Ormond Street. The late Mr. Powel, the
colourman, and family inhabited it; and I have heard him say that _his
mother for many years made a pipe of wine from the grapes which grew in
their garden, which at that time was nearly one hundred feet in length_,
before the smoke of so many surrounding buildings destroyed their
growth. This house has a large staircase, curiously painted, of figures
viewing a procession, which was executed for the famous Dr. Misaubin,
about the year 1732, by a painter of the name of Clermont, a Frenchman,
who boldly charged one thousand guineas for his labour; which charge,
however, was contested, and the artist was obliged to take five hundred.
Behind the house there is a large room, the inside of which Hogarth has
given in his _Rake’s Progress_, where he has introduced portraits of the
doctor and his Irish wife.”

Passing on beyond St. Martin’s Lane, we enter that curious street
dedicated to bird and dog fanciers and frame makers, Great St. Andrew
Street, but which in truth popularly ranges itself under the designation
of “The Dials.” We stop before a mouldy shop, No. 42, whose window is
filled with as disagreeable a category of objects as was found in the
establishment of the apothecary in _Romeo and Juliet_--skulls, jaw and
thigh bones, skeletons of monkeys, stuffed birds, horns of all kinds,
prepared skins, and everything unpleasant in the anatomical line. When
Dickens was busy with his _Mutual Friend_, a _confrère_--Mr. Wilkie
Collins, I think--described to him a strange character, a
bird-stuffer--and “articulator” of bones and skeletons--and the idea so
“tickled” the writer that he at once put in “Mr. Venus,” the intimate of
Wegg. This original character excited much attention; and a friend of
the great writer, as well as of the present chronicler, Mr. C. Kent,
passing through this street, was irresistibly attracted by this shop and
its contents--kept by one J. Willis. When he next saw Mr. Dickens he
said, “I am convinced I have found the original of ‘Venus’;” on which
said Mr. Dickens, “You are right.” Anyone who visits the place will
recognize the dingy gloomy interior, the articulated skeleton in the
corner, the general air of thick grime and dirt.

In full view of St. Martin’s Lane, and next to where the old
Northumberland House stood, stood the house that was remarkable as
having been the first that was numbered in London. Readers of old
letters will notice with surprise how readily a person’s residence was
found by the post; “To Mr. Sterne, in ye Pall Mall,” was sufficient.
This seems almost a mystery.

[Illustration:

St. Anne’s
Church
Soho.
]

In the London churchyards there is plenty to interest the explorer, but
it may be doubted if anything could be more tragically romantic than is
offered by two memorials, found in two old churchyards--separated by one
easy half-hour’s walk. The moralist will find profit, and a curious
meditation over the instability of things, in his visit to these two
interesting spots. Standing on that ill-shaped open _place_, the former
Regent’s Circus, and looking along the bend of the new Shaftesbury
Avenue, we can see the blackened and ungainly steeple of old St. Anne’s
Church in Soho, now unexpectedly revealed by the clearances and
“demolitions.” This clumsy, eccentric object seems to take the shape of
a vintner’s cask perched airily on a spire, and must be pardoned to the
memory of Wren, as one of those architectural freaks in which he
occasionally indulged when invention failed him. To the same class
belonged those extraordinary obelisks and other devices which he has
placed on some of his towers. The church is a very old and interesting
one, dating from 1686, and looks out on Dean Street. It has attained a
sort of celebrity from its musical services; and the Princess of Wales
and other distinguished persons are often found in the congregation. The
old rectory, where, up to the present incumbency of Dr. Wade, the rector
used to reside, stands where it did, beside the church, its rows of
ancient windows having a cheerful prospect of the churchyard; but the
actual rectory is in the quaint Soho Square. The churchyard is a very
large forlorn piece of ground opening upon Wardour Street, and it was
taken in hand some years ago by the improvers and spoilers. The
tombstones were all collected together and laid down neatly as a sort of
pavement, the rest planted with grass. It is now given over to a large
colony of fowls, which pick up a livelihood and enjoy a sort of _rus in
urbe_ there. One would have thought these measures were preparatory to
throwing open the place as a recreation ground; but the gates remain
fast locked, and the public may not enter now.

On the outside wall of the church are seen two tablets, which arrest the
attention; one to the memory of Hazlitt, of an extraordinary kind,
setting forth his peculiar opinions; the other to an actual genuine
king, who, after his abdication, died in England. The king’s coffin was
placed in the vaults beneath, where the clerk recollects seeing it many
years ago. But among the other bizarre proceedings which marked the
course of the “improvements,” the vaults were completely filled up with
sand, and the contents, as it were, obliterated. The inscription, which
is the work of Horace Walpole, runs:--

     Near this place is interred THEODORE, KING OF CORSICA, who died in
     this parish, Dec. 11, 1756, immediately after leaving the King’s
     Bench Prison, by the benefit of the Act of Insolvency, in
     conveyance of which he registered his kingdom of Corsica, for the
     benefit of his creditors.

    The grave, great teacher, to a level brings
    Heroes and beggars, galley-slaves and kings;
    But Theodore this moral learned ere dead--
    Fate poured its lessons o’er his living head,
    Bestowed a kingdom and denied him bread.



His story is sad, romantic, and perfectly true; for he was a real
crowned king and adventurer. His name was Newhoff, and he had figured in
many capitals in many countries, making himself useful to the smaller
potentates, and had finally succeeded in impressing the Corsican
insurgents with the idea that he was a personage of power, and could
find them assistance. They were tempted by his offers to lead them. One
morning he arrived in a ship laden with cannon and other stores, and
landed arrayed in Eastern dress and attended by black servants. Received
with acclamations, he was duly crowned, lived in a palace, put himself
at the head of an army, and fought battles.

Soon, however, his supplies failing him, he went away to raise money in
Holland, but did not succeed. He then came to London, was arrested by
his many creditors, and thrown into the King’s Bench. He took advantage
of “the Act,” and registered his crown for the benefit of his creditors.
On his liberation he did not know where to go, and went in a chair to
the Portuguese Minister’s, whom he did not find at home. The fallen
king, literally not possessing a sixpence in the world, was charitably
taken in by a Soho tailor, fell ill the next day, and died; his coffin
and interment were paid for by this worthy tradesman, who said he wished
for once to have the credit of burying a king.

Another strange being was laid in the vaults, but only temporarily, in
the year 1804. This was the eccentric Lord Camelford, whose adventures
and intemperance were always exciting attention. He was shot in a duel
by Captain Best, reputed the best shot in England, which was the odd
reason given by his antagonist for meeting him. “Six quarts of blood,”
we are told, were found in the cavity of his chest. All the denizens of
Soho crowded round Mr. Dawes’s shop in Dean Street to see the
crimson-velvet coffin, adorned with cherubim of silver and “wrought
gripes,” as it lay in the St. Anne’s vaults, until the strange provision
of his will could be carried out. It seems he had once passed many hours
at a romantic spot by a lake in the Canton of Berne, where there were
three trees. A sum of £1,000 was left to the proprietor, and he directed
that his body should be transported thither and placed under one of the
trees. There was to be no monument; he only wished “the surrounding
scenery to smile upon my remains.”

Here also rests the beautiful maid of honour, Mary Bellenden, to whom
the Prince of Wales showed his devotion, which was of an extravagant
kind, by taking out his purse and counting his money. “If you go on
counting your money,” said she, “I will run out of the room.” This
beauty was secured by Colonel Campbell, later Duke of Argyll. Her royal
admirer had made her promise that she would let him know whenever she
made her selection; but she forgot, or omitted purposely, to do this.
She thus incurred his bitter dislike; and whenever her duties compelled
her to attend at Court, which she did with some alarm, this gracious
person always took care to whisper some ill-natured speech. She did not
live to share her husband’s honours, and now sleeps in the well-sanded
vaults of the old Soho church.

Now taking flight across London to “the Marble Arch” and to the Queen’s
Road, we reach the old Bayswater burying-ground, where it is assumed
that one of our great humorists lies buried. It is not, however,
generally known that there are well-founded doubts as to whether
Yorick’s “dust” is to be found beneath his headstone, and whether the
“mortal coil” he shuffled off in Bond Street has not been sacrilegiously
transported away.

Sterne the _recherché_, the friend of wits and nobles in Paris as well
as London, died on March 18, 1768, in mean lodgings, No. 41 Old Bond
Street, a silk bag maker’s. Mr. Loftie, however, believes that the house
was No. 39B, now Messrs. Agnew’s. The Shandean gave up the ghost
piteously enough, abandoned by his family, and by a strange chance a
footman, sent by a convivial party to inquire “how Mr. Sterne was,”
arrived almost exactly at the moment of dissolution, and saw him pass
away. This person was one James Macdonald, “own man” to Mr. “Fish” (so
nicknamed) Crauford, a person of fashion; and he has recorded this
curious incident in his valet-memoirs.

Now, this departure of poor Yorick was disastrous enough. His whole
career, indeed, was one of eccentric gambadoes on his hobby-horse; but
he never reckoned that after his death, yet another grimly grotesque
chapter was to be added to his Shandy record. It was hard enough that so
jocund a person should die so miserably--or, as he might have thought
it, die at all; and there was a hideous contrast between the crowd which
the _viveur_ was always secure of, and this sad desertion.

But the funeral was in keeping. It might have been expected that a Canon
of York, one holding the curacy of Coxwold, would have had many
mourners; but the English humorist was attended to the grave by--how
many will it be supposed?--two mourners! One was Becket, who published
the defunct’s works; the other, old Sam Salt, one of Elia’s Benchers, a
Shandean in his way, though why he attended seems as mysterious as why
the others stayed away. This humble _cortège_ took its way to the old
burying-ground near Tyburn, and there, on the west side, poor Yorick’s
remains were duly consigned to the earth.

More than a year passed away, when, in July, 1769, a strange report got
into the papers: “It is rumoured that the body of Mr. Sterne, the
ingenious author of _Tristram Shandy_, which was buried at Marylebone,
has been taken up and anatomized by a surgeon at Oxford.” This must
have astounded Hall-Stevenson and other jovial Shandeans. It was likely
enough to be true. The meanness of his burial, the beggarly account of
mourners, was a plain hint to the resurrection-men that here was a
subject not likely to be watched or inquired after. The remains were
certainly “lifted” and disposed of, like the late Mr. Gamp’s, “for the
benefit of science.”

Mr. Edmund Malone, who had much of his friend Boswell’s taste for small
gossip, tells us that he had heard that the body was sent to Cambridge,
and sold to a surgeon there for dissection. He adds, that a friend of
Sterne’s, coming in during the operations, told him that he at once
recognized the features. This was the last outrage that poor Yorick
could have dreamed of--worse than what befell his own Slawkenbergius, or
the sufferers by the famous Tagliacotian operation. Yet there seems
little reason for doubting Malone’s account.

There is a third version, which supplies even the name of the
anatomist--one Mr. Charles Collignon, B.M. of Trinity, who died in 1785,
and who on this occasion had invited some amateur anatomists to see him
operate on “a subject” just received from London. After the recognition
it was too late to suspend the dissection, which had nearly been
completed. It is added that the friend of Mr. Sterne fainted away.

So far the tale seems supported. But there is a further bit of evidence,
such as it is. In a copy of the _Sentimental Journey_ the owner has
written a curious note to the effect that “the Rev. Mr. Green told me
that, being at Cambridge a short time after, he saw the skeleton, and
had the story confirmed to him by the Professor himself.” Yorick,
therefore, besides suffering the original indignity, would seem to have
been regularly anatomized or “articulated,” according to the science of
Mr. Venus. It might be worth inquiring whether any such skeleton is
preserved in the Cambridge museums, private or public.

The ghastly story is further supported by the fact that at the time the
rifling of graves was a regular practice, and the Tyburn burying-ground
was a favourite _locale_ for such depredations; so much so that only a
few months before it had been guarded by watchers and a stout
mastiff-dog. “This burial-ground,” says Mr. Hutton, in his useful
_Literary Landmarks_, “is situated between Albion and Stanhope Streets.
Sterne’s memorial, a high but plain flat stone, stands next the centre
of the west wall, under a spreading, flourishing old tree, whose lower
branches and leaves almost touch it.” The explorer will find in the
burying-ground a headstone and flourishing inscription set up by
strangers--for the widow and daughter were left in extreme poverty, and
had to be relieved by a subscription made on the York racecourse. Two
Freemasons, signing themselves “W. and S.” furnished this tribute:

                   NEAR THIS PLACE LIES THE BODY OF
                  THE REVEREND LAURENCE STERNE, A.M.
                       DIED SEPTEMBER 13, 1768,
                            Aged 53 years.
                    _Ah! molliter ossa quiescant._

                   *       *       *       *       *

            If a sound head, warm heart, and breast humane,
            Unsullied worth and soul without a stain;
            If mental powers could ever justly claim
            The well-known tribute of immortal fame,
            Sterne was _the man_ who with gigantic stride
            Mowed down luxuriant follies far and wide, &c.

And they added at foot, that although he “did not live to be a member of
their society, yet, as all his incomparable performances evidently prove
him to have acted by rule and square, they rejoice in this opportunity
of perpetuating his high and irreproachable character to after ages.”

Nearly every portion of this effusion is inaccurate or untrue. His body
did not lie there; he was fifty-seven, not fifty-three; he died in
March, not September, and on the 18th, not on the 13th. His head was not
“sound”; his worth _was_ “sullied”; and acting “by rule and square” was
about the last thing we would give our Shandean credit for. It will be
noted that the words are “near this place,” so that it does not mark the
spot of interment.

Under these circumstances there would be a certain hollowness and
uncertainty attending any form of memorial in this particular spot. On
the other hand, it must be said that the existing stone--a wretched
thing, with its wretched inscription--would not have been set up by the
two Freemasons if such painful rumours were abroad. The very preparation
of the stone would have occupied some weeks or months.

Many years ago the writer suggested that a memorial should be placed in
York Minster, of which cathedral Sterne was prebendary. The Dean was
favourable to the project, as also was his Grace of York. A few
subscriptions were obtained, notably from the late Mr. Carlyle and Lord
Houghton, but beyond this there was little encouragement. This project
might now be revived, as there is a taste or craze for recording
monuments. It may be added that Sterne’s “Eliza” is entombed with all
the honours in Bristol Cathedral, a “very elegant piece of statuary”
(_vide_ local guide books) marking the place. It says that in this lady
“genius and benevolence were united.” So they were in her less fortunate
admirer, for whose cenotaph might be prepared a simple medallion on the
minster wall, with the short inscription, “Alas, poor Yorick!”



CHAPTER IX.

PICCADILLY, BOND STREET, AND ALBERT GATE.


Wonderful changes have been made at Hyde Park Corner within a few years.
Many have considered that this was one of the most effective
architectural bits in London. For here was the great archway with the
avenue beyond, while facing it was the elegant screen or colonnade,
through which was seen the Park and the procession of carriages and
promenaders. A dreadful and ungainly alteration has been made. A sort of
unmeaning triangular slope has been cleared, the arch has been carted
away and placed at an extraordinary and unmeaning angle. The space has
been cut up in roadways, with triangular or rather mutton-chop-shaped
“refuges,” in one of which an equestrian statue of the Duke of
Wellington has been set up. The bold irregularity of the
whole--barbarous almost--causes a feeling of despair, for no amount of
statues or decoration will cure the original radical defect. What must
be lamented most is the injury to the beautiful open colonnade, designed
by Mr. Decimus Burton to stand at the side of a street, and to be faced
by other buildings. Now it looks too poor and mean to flank such a vast
open _place_. Yet a little knowledge and care would have secured an
effective arrangement. The arch should have been left where it was, even
though it stood isolated. It was a monument. The mischief is now done,
and seems irreparable.

Through the screen we can see among the trees the great bronze statue
erected “by the ladies of England “ in honour of the conqueror of
Waterloo. Since the days of its being cast there has always been
irreverent jesting at the expense of the particular “ladies of England”
who had chosen to offer this nude figure as a token of their admiration.
Mr. Croker, however, once, reviewing a Frenchman’s account of a visit to
London, thus vindicated the fair dames:--“Let it be known,” he says,
“that the ladies of England had nothing to do with the selection of this
brazen image. Both are the work, as we believe, of a self-elected
committee, in which we doubt whether there was a single lady; and the
whole affair was got up, we have heard, by the artist and half a dozen
_dilettanti_, who cared little about the ladies or Wellington, or a
triumphal monument, but were enraptured at the idea of erecting in
London the copy of a statue which they had admired at Rome.”

Close beside is the house of the “Iron Duke.” A few “oldest inhabitants”
will recall how remorselessly, after all his windows had been broken by
the mob, he kept his iron shutters down until the day of his death, a
span of five-and-twenty years, once pointing to them significantly when
the crowd attended him home with flattering shouts. It was a fine
rebuke.

Here we come to the Byron statue, a sort of schoolboy, in jacket and
trousers, sitting on a triangular lump of metal, with a poorish dog.
This is surely not the ideal of the noble poet. Instead of stopping with
a reverential gaze and thinking of Childe Harold, we only wonder what
this queer bit of pantomime signifies. The pedestal has been likened to
“a cake of Pears’ soap.” It is the work of the once famous Belt, who
obtained the commission from a committee of noblemen and gentlemen of
taste. At the trial it was contended that one Verheyden had furnished
the design, or the drawing of the design, and there was much fury of
contention, cross-examination, etc., on this point. Those who wish to
see what this Verheyden could do, may study the two graceful female
figures over the door of the handsome New Water-colour Exhibition
building in Piccadilly, and which were actually carved “_in situ_,” as
it is called--a difficult feat.

Towards Knightsbridge we note the two large mansions which flank the
entrance to the Park. One of them, long left untenanted, obtained the
sobriquet of Gibraltar, because “it was never taken.” Here the once
famous speculator Hudson lived, an extraordinary instance of financial
reverse and romance. The story of “the Railway King,” as he was called,
illustrated the meanness of fashionable life, and there were many tales
circulated of the flatteries and homage of great ladies. Forgotten now
are the jests that used to circulate as to the sayings and doings of his
spouse, whose extraordinary and original “derangement of epitaphs” were
better even than those of her famous prototype. This millionaire’s fall
was as sudden and rapid as his rise. By a curious coincidence, one of
the great houses close by in Grosvenor Place, the one built for the
residence of the Marquis of Westminster, but never occupied by him, was
tenanted during the French war by another gigantic speculator--Dr.
Strousberg, also a Railway King--the crash of whose fall resounded
through Europe. The Albert Gate Mansion is now the French Embassy.

These two large houses are associated with Lady Morgan in a pleasant
way. When she came to live in William Street, about the time of the
Coronation, Mr. Cubitt had just taken the Belgravian district in hand,
but the road presented a very different aspect from what it does now.
There was no entrance to the park here, nor was it needed, as no one
wanted to enter, save Lady Morgan herself--with her a good reason.
There was the great Cannon Brewery, with a smoking chimney;
public-houses, too, galore, as indeed there are now; such are true
Tories, and never move or change. “I must have a new gate,” she
declared, “where the ‘Fox and Bull’ pothouse now stands. There is a
rural air over the whole that is pretty. What I want is a gate where the
old sewer tap now moulders, and flanks a ditch of filth and infection. A
sort of little rustic bridge should be over it, which would not be
without its picturesque effect.” Lord Duncannon, of the “Woods and
Forests,” was appealed to, but declined to grant the favour, on the
ground of the block at Hyde Park Corner--“It would not be desirable to
establish another thoroughfare near it.” What an amusing book could be
written on the sapient reasons offered by public men for not undertaking
schemes, commencing with Lord Palmerston’s wise prophecy as to the Suez
Canal!

More interesting is it still to pass on a little beyond to Albert
Terrace, one of the most charming _locales_ in London as to its rearward
view, though the front is dusty and noisy, and perhaps disagreeable. But
in the mornings, you may look out on the park as on your own grounds.
Here used to reside Charles Reade, the author of “It’s Never Too Late to
Mend,” one of the men of genius of the day, though he once mystified his
friends and others by the strange inscription along his garden wall--I
well remember reading with astonishment the large letters on the
parapet--“Naboth’s Vineyard”: a protest against the ground landlord, who
coveted his tenement “hugely for the detriment thereof,” and its
re-creation in the shape of Belgravian terraces. Now one of those
_monstre_ ranges of building to hold innumerable tenants, and which are
in such favour, is being erected. By-and-by the whole of the
old-fashioned little terrace, with its pleasant gardens, will disappear.

Returning to the Corner, we pass Hamilton Place, recently--yet it seems
long ago--a _cul de sac_, and no vulgar thoroughfare. What a contention
was raised by the invaded fashionables when it was proposed to throw it
open to general traffic! Now the waggons and cabs trundle through the
sacred precinct, and one hardly credits the fact that it was so lately a
gloomy and deserted inclosure. Here lived the old Chancellor Eldon, who,
for so august a personage, was plagued in a most amusing way during the
Queen’s Trial. The Government had agreed to find her a town house in
default of a palace, and her friends maliciously selected one in
Hamilton Place, next door to the Chancellor. The horror and anguish of
the old gentleman may be conceived, since the noble lady was always
attended home by shouting mobs, and appeared at the windows while her
friend, Alderman Wood, made speeches. He wrote to the Government to say
that if this was allowed he would be driven from his house and his
office at the same time. The Government gave directions accordingly; but
the Queen’s friends seemed to be bent on his annoyance, and proposed a
subscription to purchase that house and no other. The poor Chancellor
had actually to buy it, as the only way to save himself from
persecution, though he was lucky enough to re-sell it again without
loss.

It may be noted that there are some survivals in London which almost
savour of feudal times. All may notice those “bars” which are maintained
in certain districts, fashionable, or formerly fashionable, and which
are kept strictly select, the guardians severely refusing passage to the
heavily-laden waggon or market cart that desires to pass through; none
of this class are admitted but have business in the inclosure. This is
like one of the nobles’ privileges on the eve of the French Revolution.
More strange is it to find that on a certain day in the year His Grace
of Bedford closes his “bars” altogether at Gordon Square, Gower Street,
and other points of that district, and luggage-laden cabs, making for
Euston and King’s Cross, have to get round by circuitous roads as best
they can. This is done to keep the right “alive,” but it seems a
monstrous thing. Once this private property has been turned into a
public street, the privilege of private property should cease, as the
inhabitants pay rates for the use of the road.[2]

A glimpse of Park Lane, of its strange fountain, is “a sorrow for ever,”
painful to the eye in spite of its Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton,
presided over by the flaming gilt female blowing hard at her trumpet.
The last is the peccant part, and were she removed the three poets might
look dignified and respectable. Of all ugly things in the metropolis,
drinking fountains offer the largest variety. There our professors of
deformity revel, and the more pretentious and costly the attempt, the
greater hideousness is the result. The idea generally is to produce
something imposing and architectural, a sort of temple or building, if
possible--ridiculous when it is considered that a little cheap “squirt”
of water, dribbling into a basin, is the entire aim and end. You have
all the apparatus of a grand “fountain,” only without the gush of water.
There is a pretty marble boy’s figure in St. James’s Park, by Jackson,
close to Queen Anne’s Gate. For years, however, it has been

[Illustration: ACROSS THE HALL, DORCHESTER HOUSE.]

allowed to remain in a mutilated state, the nose having dropped off.
There is another by Dalou, of yet more artistic pretension, behind the
Royal Exchange in the City. It represents a fleshly woman, wrought in
marble, who is busy with the old maternal office of suckling her child,
oddly suggestive to the wayfarer who is slaking his thirst below. As one
passes it, it recalls the facetious W. S. Gilbert’s pathetic chorus in
“Iolanthe”:--

    “Had that refreshment been denied
     Then your Strephon must have died.”

The ingenious artist, a refugee, I believe, in the Commune days,
introduced the school of Carpeaux among us, but did not receive the full
patronage he merited. One of these most terrible combinations is that
temple in the Sanctuary at Westminster--a mixture of mosaics, marble,
and metal, ever grimy and slimy and squalid. There is, however, one
artistic work, in Berkeley Square, well worthy the attention of
amateurs. This, a graceful female figure, represented as pouring the
water from a vase--the work of a well-known sculptor, Munro. But the
statue is rather decayed and what marble could stand our weather?
By-and-by the features, fingers, etc., will drop away.

Park Lane, with its stately mansions and choice collection of noble
owners, is a charming thoroughfare, and suggests, a little, portions of
the Champs Elysées. The houses on the whole are poor and old-fashioned,
ingeniously altered and shaped to modern use, with a ludicrous
disproportion to the enormous sums paid for them, and which is in truth
paid for the situation. It will be noticed what shifts are resorted to
to gain room and make the most of the precious ground, the “areas,” as
they may be called, being generally covered in and turned into kitchens,
over which a garden is laid out. In foreign countries, palaces, or
noblemen’s “hôtels,” would be reared on each site. Here is the Earl of
Dudley’s bright, smiling mansion,[3] with a colonnade and verandahs,
with those of the Marquis of Londonderry, the Duke of Westminster, and
other grand seigneurs. An amusing work might be made, setting out the
stories of these houses and their tenants, and no doubt there is at this
moment some Greville or Raikes, busy putting down notes and anecdotes.

One of the finest and most architectural mansions in London is the
Italian villa of Mr. Holford, Dorchester House, to be found here. This
elegantly designed structure is favoured by its situation on a “tongue”
of land, and is enriched internally by some splendid monumental
chimney-pieces, the work of the accomplished but ill-fated Steevens,
whose story we shall relate further on.

Returning into Piccadilly, a few doors from the Duke of Cambridge’s
mansion, Gloucester House, we note a curious arrangement, a sort of
landing in front of a doorway, with a green door, like that of a
cupboard, on a level with the street. This was associated with “Old Q,”
the famous old _roué_, the Duke of Queensberry, whose house it was. This
disreputable person lived to a vast age, till he could not walk, when a
machine was devised that let him down, Bath-chair and all, to the
street; and this cupboard contained the apparatus.[4] Another
arrangement was the keeping a servant mounted on a pony by the
curbstone. At a signal from “Old Q,” when anyone passed that he wished
to see and talk with, or wished to know more of, the menial cantered off
in pursuit.

[Illustration: THE RED DRAWING ROOM, DORCHESTER HOUSE.]

There are other houses hard by which illustrate curious mutations of
life. Here, for instance, is a handsome mansion, built by Mr. Beresford
Hope for his private residence, and from the designs of a French
architect, one of the rare specimens in town. In time it passed from his
hands, and is now the Junior Athenæum Club. Further on, an imposing
stone mansion, crescent-shaped in its façade, and of classical
character, was, I believe, built by the late “Marquis of Steyne”--or
Hertford, rather--at, of course, great cost, and equally, of course,
never inhabited by him. For thirty or forty years, I believe, it
remained in this ghostly condition, until his strange, eccentric course
came to a close, and more rational successors arrived. Passing on, we
reach Cambridge House, once the mansion of the ever-popular Palmerston.
There is something dignified, yet unpretending, in this house, not to
say classical; it seems suited to a prime minister. Here were those
parties and receptions, where the adroit hostess was supposed to have
the art of cementing political ties. It is now a club, and enormous
additions have been made on the ground behind. Few know that it was in
this row that the Hamiltons and Lord Nelson lodged when they came to
London, and where the hero’s weakness was exhibited in most open and
unbecoming manner, which has been good-naturedly glossed over by his
countrymen.

The White Horse Cellar, a most interesting old place for its traditions,
lingered on, bow windows and all, till a few years back. The revival of
the old coaching days saved it. But now it has been fashioned into a new
modern hotel. There is hardly a more exhilarating and original spectacle
to be seen than occurs here in the full “swing” of the season, at the
close of a summer’s day, between six and seven o’clock. At this time
gather elegants in glossy hats and frock-coats with waists, ebony sticks
with silver knobs, like miniature “black rods;” together with wiry
elderly gentlemen, like the curious water-colour portraits that used to
be seen in Sams’ old shop at the foot of St. James’s Street. A few years
ago “Sams” was swept away, with all his curious water-colour noblemen in
tight trousers and strange hats, and a vast Dutch house has taken its
place. The coach seers are all well shaven, and wear check cravats. Some
stand on the steps, others on the _pavé_. Less aristocratic beings
cluster there too, straws in the mouth, or emerge from the cellar below.
Now the clock hand is within a quarter of an inch of the hour, and hark!
the faint winding of a horn from the Knightsbridge direction, then
another nearer, from the Strand side. The coaches are coming up true to
their time--to a minute. There they are--the bright yellow, the dark,
the grey panelled: the policeman puts back the traffic; up they roll,
well laden; ladies bright and cheerful; the scarlet guard; the coachman
confident and secure, and bringing up his team with exquisite nicety, as
a river steamer captain puts his vessel alongside. What fine horses and
fine harness! Coachman, copper-coloured by the sun and the dusty roads
of Dorking, flings down his reins and strides in, as if every second
was precious, to keep some appointment in the office. The metal ladder
is put up, the ladies assisted down. It has been a delicious day among
the velvet greens of Dorking.[5]

The large detached building near St. James’s Hall, erst the shop of
Attenborough--name of good and evil omen to many--had become a haunt for
exhibitions. The first was in the “old days,” that is what time the
wonderful Sarah brought over all her models and pictures, and with a
pleasing, harmless vanity exhibited them. The scene of her first
reception there comes back on us--the wiry creature, leaning on her
crutch stick, flanked by a certain lad, receiving the company. The
curious specimen of the Parisian confidential man-servant--exactly like
those on the stage--who took the tickets--was interesting in his way. He
gave the idea that he knew secrets, and, better still, could be trusted
with them. The motley nature of the crowds was also amusing; consisting
of “swells,” artists, press, all in a jumble. Not undramatic was the
meeting of the tall German Ambassador and the diva. There was a
theatrical trickiness in the show, though there were one or two works at
the most that were of extraordinary merit--the Drowned Boy, and the
heads of Girardin and Busnach.

On a balmy morning there is nothing more agreeable than a walk in the
Green Park, and the happy mortals, or immortals, who own the houses that
look into it--Salisburys, Ellesmeres, Spencers, _e tutti quanti_--may be
envied as you walk. There are a few trees, and there are generally some
lazy mortals seated on the green chairs under their shade, and perhaps
sleeping. We look up at the house that seems all bow-window, and call up
“old Rogers,” who was there but yesterday, with his breakfasts, his
exquisitely choice pictures, his epicurean tastes, his social life,
which he may be said to have created, and his stories, which in his old
age and decay he used to repeat in a strange formal way, and always in
the same words.[6] After his death, when he was an enormous age, he was
of course speedily forgotten; his treasures, more speedily still, were
sold by auction, with his elegant house.

Nothing more piteous can be conceived than the closing years of a
veteran breakfast giver. Crabb Robinson describes his final efforts in
this line with a sort of dismal but doubting satisfaction. The _rôle_ of
professional breakfast and dinner giver--_i.e._, of one who wishes to
have a reputation for these things--must be an unsatisfactory one, and
bring but poor return. It is ever recurring, and the thing has to be
done over again; for, alas! nothing is so true as that _the stomach has
no memory_.

We may glance up Bond Street, the Rue de la Paix of London, at the house
occupied by Messrs. Agnew. Bond Street is specially devoted to the craze
for picture exhibitions, where there are a half-dozen, including the
Grosvenor and Doré Galleries. The portico of the Grosvenor Gallery was
originally that of some palace in Italy, and is admired for its
elegance. It was purchased by the owner, and set up here. In the South
Kensington Museum is the screen and balcony of a church, a beautiful
work, which had been torn down and condemned, and was rescued in the
same manner. Here is found the home of the Fine Art Society; and above,
Goupil’s, a model of elegance. Note the bronze decorations of the era
and the rich tone of the interior. In Bond Street, too, is Long’s Hotel,
lately rebuilt, an historic house, celebrated in fashion and fiction.
There is an old novel called “Six Weeks at Long’s,” and it is probably
the scene of the fight between Nickleby and Sir Mulberry Hawk. Opposite,
where a number of new shops stand, used to be the Clarendon, a
fashionable dining place forty years ago.

At the corner of Grafton Street stands a big house, unpretending and
old-fashioned. Here, at “No. 22A,” resides Henry Irving, the favourite
and fashionable tragedian. His rooms are rich and luxurious, as becomes
so conspicuous a person. In Bond Street we find the agents who enabled
the impoverished aristocrat to enjoy the pleasures of the theatre, for
here has flourished time out of mind the great “Mitchell.” The annals of
the Mitchell House might be about as interesting as those of the
Christies. It was Mitchell who introduced the French plays, and engaged
the famous Ballerinas. His shop even to this hour preserves the old
tradition, and the windows are filled with the graceful lithographs,
after Chalon and D’Orsay, of Mario, Grisi, Cerito, Taglioni, together
with little plastic figures of Tamburini, Paganini, and other artists.
It is enough to look at one of the _figurantes_ to see what an
exquisite art dancing was in these old exploded days. It was then
literally the poetry of motion. There is now motion enough, but no
poetry. The ghosts of these personages must haunt this place. There are
still on sale here that curious series of likenesses of his
contemporaries executed by D’Orsay, a vast number. They are clever, but
amateurish, and not such rigid, literal likenesses as the photographers
have accustomed us to.

Returning to Piccadilly we pass into the regions that branch away, Duke
Street, Bury Street, King Street, and the rest, and enter Bachelor Land,
where every old house has been furbished up, and made to take the shape
of apartments for gentlemen. The class of persons who lodge here are
notoriously _exigeant_--old gentlemen coming to town to enjoy
themselves, and requiring all their comforts to precede them. Apartment
letting here, therefore, becomes almost scientific, and would astonish
the rude operators elsewhere. The retired butler and retired lady’s
maid, who have joined their fortunes, “work like horses.” The
grandfather of Brummel, the dandy, was a retired servant of Lord
Liverpool’s, and kept one of these lodging houses in Bury Street.

Here, in King Street, is Christie’s--which has been, however, more
disastrous than Crockford’s to many an artistic gull. Never can be
forgotten the ridiculous displays at one or two of the famous picture
sales five or six years ago. Within the last twenty years there have
been great days at “Christie’s,” when on the “view” days the streets
were blocked with carriages, and the _dilettanti_, in a sort of mad
fervour, gaped, and raved, and bid for works whose value is now admitted
to be about a quarter of what was then paid. Not to be forgotten was the
spectacle and pressure of the perspiring, enthusiastic, and ignorant
dowager, with her daughters, pushing her way round and staring at the
works; and the grave, subdued excitement of the courteous administrators
of the place, who felt how much was at stake. There were other field
days, when the noble Dudley contended for the great Sèvres jars and won
them at ten thousand guineas. It would also be a history of human folly,
and infatuation of cracked amateurs, who nibbled away their fortune, in
confidence of their own precious judgment, when all they bought was to
“fetch double hereafter.”

This rather grimed waste of brick wall on the south side of King Street
is “Willis’s Rooms,” familiar enough; but it is not so well known that
here used to be held the old “Almack’s” balls. They were instituted a
full century ago as gambling and dancing rooms. There is a pleasant
old-fashioned flavour in the term “The Rooms,” and there are “the Rooms”
still at Bath, and at York. These are of a pleasing rococo pattern, rich
and florid, and the design is of the good old spacious school, now
extinct. “Willis’s Rooms” is the sole survival of such things in London.
Some years ago we had the Hanover Square Rooms, of the same kind, long
since converted into a club. The rooms in King Street are enriched with
florid old stucco, but it has been coloured, to suit the tastes of the
day, with execrable feeling. Almack was originally one MacCall, a Scot,
who came to “Town,” and thinking his name somewhat too provincial,
reversed the syllables. Close by is the St. James’s Theatre, built by
Braham, and where, till the hour of her death, his daughter, Lady
Waldegrave, had her box. This pretty house has since been enlarged after
the modern fashion, and a balcony added; and the observer may note that
the ceiling and the portion of the auditorium nearest the stage, with
the panelling of the boxes, belongs to the old theatre.

Hard by is the picturesquely-placed old Palace of St. James’s, which,
however, has been sorely maimed by later improvements; witness the
“skimpy” colonnade in its court. The really effective bit is the
old-fashioned gateway, with its towers of fine, rubicund brick, hard as
stone, as ripe in colour and crusted as old port. It is a welcome,
familiar object, well proportioned, with a Dutch quaintness and effect
in its belfry. How pleasant and satisfactory it is may be conceived by
simply imagining it away from the bottom of St. James’s Street. Some
fifty years ago it was suggested to George IV., by his Minister, that
the whole Palace should be sold, and pulled down, to supply resources
for building ugly Buckingham Palace! Mr. Whistler has noted the gaiety
of the scene, and has done an etching of the lively, cheerful view.
Every passer-by avails himself of the services of the pleasant, cheerful
clock, and its agreeable unpretending chimes. Our old friend the tower
is all for practical use, his cupola sheltering the bells, his gate for
passage, his dial for telling time. And what a right well-proportioned,
conspicuous dial it is! It is seen at once that the building was
intended for it, and it for the building, whereas in numberless
so-called clock towers the clock face seems to have been merely “stuck
on” as an afterthought, or a hole made in which a dial was inserted.
There is art in so simple a thing as this.

Few undertakings have been more ridiculed or sneered at than the quarter
of Regent Street which was for a time one of the boldest and most daring
schemes in the way of building that could be conceived. It has always
been the fashion to speak of the plaster palaces, and the pretence of
the architecture, but there can be no doubt that Waterloo Place, the
Quadrant, and the houses of Regent Street are the most effective and
gayest portions of London. The general design is admirable, and the
Quadrant is particularly graceful and original. Waterloo Place and the
terrace and steps leading into the Park are picturesque and foreign.
Even the Insurance Office, with its piazza, closing the vista afar off,
could not be spared. The two blocks on each side passing Carlton House
Terrace are singularly effective. The

[Illustration: STATUE OF SIDNEY HERBERT, BY FOLEY.]

conception had a perfect airiness and magnificence; and we may be
certain forms the ideal of London for persons at a distance. It is
curious to think that within living memory there was a stately palace
standing where the terraces now are--the well-known Carlton House, which
displayed an open colonnade somewhat of the pattern of the Duke of
Westminster’s house in Grosvenor Street. The problem set to the
architect, Nash, was to make an attractive thoroughfare up to Portland
Place, and thus join the new Regent’s Park with the Green Park. The
Quadrant within living memory was far more imposing than it is now,
owing to the lofty colonnade which ran in front of the shops. This,
however, was found to interfere with trade and public order; it was
accordingly removed: the line of the parapet may be still followed along
the walls.[7] The cost of this important work was very little, scarcely
a million and a half, which included all charges, purchase of ground,
and goodwill, and the return in annual rentals was put at about
thirty-five thousand pounds, which at three per cent, was a fair
investment for so important a scheme. For his own residence the
architect designed the old Gallery of Illustration, with its courtyard
in front, which contained a long, well-designed gallery at the back,
still to be seen, intended for the display of architectural objects. It
is now a Club. The variety of patterns displayed in Regent Street does
credit to the imagination of the designers; and the curious in styles
will have no difficulty in identifying some houses that are the work of
Sir John Soane, and which exhibit his special oddities. The impetuous
Pugin used to describe the whole as “a nest of monstrosities.”



CHAPTER X.

LINCOLN’S INN FIELDS.


In no part of London is there felt such a mixture of sensations as when
we enter Lincoln’s Inn Fields. There is a tone of old-fashioned repose
mixed with quaintness, and a “large air of neglect” too. There are
ancient houses enough and decayed chambers. The Square itself has a
certain pleasant old fashion, and is not trimmed up as are the modern
ones. It is rather an old garden run to seed. There is a tradition that
it is the exact area of the base of one of the Pyramids; but this has
been found by measurement not to be exact. I never pass the side of the
Fields that faces the Inn without examining with a deep interest the
range of mansions that line it, once inhabited by personages of state
and quality, now by clerks. These are of an architectural and stately
pattern, and though altered, cut up, subdivided, and otherwise
disfigured, can, by a little exercise of the imagination, be readily
restored to their former state.

The large bare and gaunt structure in Sardinia Street is the old Embassy
Chapel, which dates from the seventeenth century, and the sanctuary
portion of which is held to be the work of Inigo Jones. Its large
vaulted ceiling is certainly in his manner, and suggests the arcades at
Covent Garden. The faded old gilding and foreign decorations of the
interior, the painted pillars and capitals, and the curious tiers of
galleries, like the stern of a Spanish argosy, are interesting; and we
call up the turbulent nights of the Gordon Riots, when it was sacked and
set on fire. In one of the houses opposite Franklin lodged, with a pious
Catholic widow, when he was pursuing his trade as a humble printer. The
side of the Fields adjoining the chapel has a particular interest from
the stately houses before alluded to. We may note the large, well-carved
roses and fleur-de-lys which ornament them, and Inigo’s favourite type
of stone pilasters and capitals on a brick ground. The finest and most
picturesque old house to be seen in London, close by, in Great Queen
Street, is also his work, and almost as he left it. The roof and the
enriched capitals and bold cornices are very striking; but the lower
portion has long been a shop, which makes the whole look insecure. At
the corner of this street, and looking into the Fields, is the great
mansion of the notorious and intriguing old Duke of Newcastle, with its
courtyard in front and sweeping flight of steps--a very striking pile,
with its fine stairs and stately and spacious apartments, now devoted to
offices. A few doors lower down we are arrested by a large open paved
courtyard, with two enormous piers capped by gigantic vases of the most
massive and florid kind. Here there now appear to be two houses; but a
second glance shows us that this is another imposing mansion, with a
handsomely designed front, which the moderns have cut up into two: it
was, in fact, the residence of the Lindseys, Earls and Dukes of
Ancaster. Another mansion of theirs, even larger, is still to be seen on
the Chelsea Embankment, close to Battersea Bridge. Often from familiarly
we overlook much that is interesting; but this house in Lincoln’s Inn
Fields proclaims its ancient significance in a striking way. Next to it
is a granite mansion of the Lord Burlington era, with an elegant and
original semicircular portico, also divided into two houses.

There is a house here which has associations connected with Charles
Dickens, interesting and even romantic. This was the residence of John
Forster, so well described by Charles Dickens in his will as “my
_trusty_ friend.” The happy propriety of this word will not be
questioned by any one who knew John Forster well. I have many a letter
of his before me, addressed from this handsome residence from 1855 to
1860, the palmy days, when he and his friend were full of ardour and of
plans, in the “full swing,” as it is called, of success and reputation.
This house, No. 58, may be known by its handsome exterior and
architectural portico. Here, surrounded by his well-selected books, were
gathered the most celebrated _littérateurs_ of the day, and notably the
bright and amiable “Boz.” It was in 1844 that, hurrying home from
Switzerland, he fixed a particular night at these chambers for the
reading of the “Chimes.” This came round on a Monday, December 2nd, when
a number of his friends were assembled to hear the charming little story
read aloud by its gifted author, of which Mr. Forster writes in the
_Life_, “No detail remains in my memory, and all are now dead who were
present at it, excepting only Mr. Carlyle and myself.” These words were
written in 1873--but very soon Mr. Carlyle followed, and after Carlyle
the amiable writer himself.

Maclise sketched the scene, brilliant in its pencil outlines, every
stroke full of character, and the whole pervaded by a gentle humour. “It
will tell the reader all he can wish to know. He will see of whom the
party consisted, and may be assured, with allowance for a touch of
caricature, to which I may claim to be considered myself as the chief
victim, that in the grave attention of Carlyle, the eager interest of
Stanfield and Maclise, the keen look of poor Laman Blanchard, Fox’s rapt
solemnity, Jerrold’s skyward gaze, the tears of Harness and Dyce, the
characteristic points of the scene are sufficiently rendered.” Thus
wrote Forster of the scene. Nothing, too, is more gracefully romantic
than the figure of the inspired young author reading his work, a slight
“halo” round his head; and though the “trusty” owner of the rooms makes
good-natured protest against the mode in which he has been dealt with,
it is impossible not to recognise the likeness.

John Forster was the last of the cultured, refined school of literary
men, well trained by a rigorous course in all the schools--journalism,
politics, biography, theatrical and artistic criticism. No man had a
nicer taste in all matters of art. His judgment of a player, a poem, a
book, a picture, was ever excellent, fortified by judicious remark and
reasons that were a ready instruction. Most of all, he was one of the
heartiest appreciators of _humour_, and of a good thing. I shall not
forget, as a choice entertainment, how he one night read aloud to a
small circle, Ben Jonson’s _Every Man in his Humour_, with such fine
elocution and excellent dramatic power, principally bringing out the
Kitely passages, which he himself had performed on some famous
occasions. It was simply masterly. This same spirit directed him in the
qualification of his taste for pictures, rare MSS., bindings, books,
sketches, and the like.

[Illustration: SIR JOHN SOANE’S MUSEUM.]

On the opposite side of the Fields is the strange Soane Collection,
given to the public under eccentric conditions, which seem contrived to
discourage all access. Capriciously selected days, during certain months
of the year, as capriciously selected, ensure that no one, without
inquiry or trouble, can ascertain the proper time for a visit. Not more
than twenty persons are to be admitted at a time, and none at all on
rainy days. Such are, or at least were, the testator’s rules.

Through this museum and the strange crowded miscellany which is packed
into it, one must always wander with mixed feelings of astonishment,
puzzle, amusement, pity, bewilderment and admiration. At times we might
be looking at the choicest cabinets of a dainty collection, so elegant
and precious are the things collected; at another, at the heterogeneous
gathering found in a marine dealer’s shop. This is the secret of the
extraordinary feeling as we go from room to room. It is a museum in a
private house. Every inch of space, every corner, every bit of wall is
literally “stuck over” with scraps and odds and ends of sculpture and
fragments. All seem to have been as fish to the owner’s net. Medals,
coins, casts, drawings, engravings, models in cork and in wood, books,
paintings, broken bits of sculpture, stained glass, sarcophagi,
“cinerary urns,” bronzes, gems, Etruscan vases, MSS., busts, with a
hundred oddities, are all gathered into the heterogeneous mass. This
variety is what gives the collection its charm, everything is so
conveniently placed under the eye: a contrast to the _ennui_ of
wandering through vast halls, as we have to do in great public museums,
where you _stare_ but do not look; while there is such an air of
snugness, that the whole has a charm of its own, not to say fascination.
You walk through a private house. Some of the pictures have the highest
merit, such as Hogarth’s fine series of the “Election,” which are
interesting as having been in the possession of Garrick, and purchased
at Mrs. Garrick’s sale in 1823 for 1,650 guineas--a great price then.
There are fine Canalettis and Turners, and many pleasing pictures by
inferior artists. Of course the great attraction is the famous Belzoni
sarcophagus, purchased for £2,000.

But with all these evidences of good taste there is an extraordinary
mixture of fantastic, if not eccentric, things, which seems incredible
in a man thus cultivated. Thus, on the basement floor there is a sort of
theatrical or Vauxhall imitation of a monk’s cell, contrived by some
arrangement of old stones and tawdry stained glass, of the yellow tint
which was in high fashion for hall lamps and greenhouses forty or fifty
years ago, and so delighted was the owner with his contrivance that he
thus expatiated on the result:--

“Returning from the oratory, you proceed to the _Parloir_ (as he calls
it) of Padre Giovanni. The scriptural subjects represented on glass are
suited to the destination of the place, and increase its sombre
characters. The other works of intellectual and highly-gifted talent,
combined with the statues, etc., _impress the spectator with reverence
for the monk_. From Padre Giovanni’s room the ruins of a monastery
arrest the attention. The interest created in the mind of the spectator
on visiting the abode of this monk will not be weakened _by wandering
among the ruins of this once noble monastery_. The tomb of the monk,
_composed_ from the remains of an old ornament, _adds to the gloomy
scenery of this hallowed place_. The pavement, _composed of the tops and
bottoms of broken bottles found among the gravel dug out_ for the
foundation of the monastery, furnishes an admirable lesson of simplicity
and economy, and _shows the unremitting assiduity of the pious monk_.
The stone structure at the head of the monk’s grave _contains the
remains of Fanny, the favoured companion, the delight, the solace of his
leisure hours_, whose portrait, painted by James Ward, R.A., may be seen
in the breakfast-room.” All which nonsense about “_Parloirs_” and Padre
Giovanni and his faithful dog can only cause a smile.

Leaving the “ruins,” turn we now, as the old guide book would put it, to
the “monument court”: “in the centre is an architectural _Pasticico_, of
about thirty feet high, composed of an extraordinary miscellaneous
jumble, the pedestal upon which the cast of the Belvedere Apollo was
placed, a marble capital of Hindoo architecture, a capital in stone like
that at Tivoli, and another of a Gothic sort. These are surmounted by
various architectural groups placed one upon the other, _and the whole
is terminated by a pineapple_.”

This small, cramped, and inconvenient tenement is worth considering as a
curiosity from the ingenuity with which the owner has contrived to make
the most of his space and materials. One room has no less than seven
doors, one communicating with the vestibule, the other with the front
room, whilst that on each side of the fireplace opens into a small book
cabinet lighted from above; these latter most happily contrived. The
Picture Cabinet gives a happy effect to a vista from the gallery; one
critic says “it is perfectly fascinating in its result.”

Passing into the inclosure of the old Inn adjoining, we cannot but
admire the “elderly repose,” (Elia’s phrase), the old-fashioned air of
the green, and the fine sound old houses over which the great tower of
the Law Courts lifts itself. The line of houses that look on the small
square--like an old-fashioned garden--have a pleasing air of
tranquillity. A sort of low booth or shop projects here with odd effect,
and serves as the headquarters of a volunteer corps. Turning by it into
a narrow passage, we find ourselves in a little retired inclosure, with
a tiny walled garden which belongs to an old sequestered house; and,
going on further, we find some decrepit gabled mansions peering down at
us; and beyond, some gloomy passages leading out into Chancery Lane,
lined with finely-crusted mansions, the back of the old Inn, while an
ancient tavern, the Old Ship, rears itself conspicuously. All this
miscellany is oddly antique, and Dickens like.

At the other end of the Fields the unclean disorderly passages about
Clare Market still “flourish”--if that term be appropriate. Here are two
extraordinary old taverns: one black with age, its upper stories
overhanging the pavement and propped up with rude beams of old wood
serving as columns. This is the Old “George IV.” The other is “The Black
Jack,” whose name is significant evidence of its antiquity. One or other
of the taverns is associated with the immortal Pickwick, and is presumed
to be the Magpie and Stump, where Lowten, Perker’s clerk, spent many
convivial hours. These grimed old places are quite in harmony with the
traditions of Jack Sheppard and Joe Miller, which haunt them. Both will
soon be gone. In Chancery Lane, almost facing Carey Street, is an arch,
through which we get a glimpse of the old Rolls Chapel, which seems a
ghostly place and abandoned.

Lincoln’s Inn itself is an attractive building enough. The old heavy
brick gateway, grimed and encrusted with the dirt of centuries, has an
air of impressive gloominess. All the old buildings adjoining it on one
side have been levelled and replaced by these Elizabethan gabled
structures. The venerable gate itself is now menaced, it is said, by
Lord Grimthorpe, and indeed, but for protests, would have been improved
away. There is no reason, however, why it should not be restored. A
consummation to be wished is, that some modified system of restoration
could be introduced, that is, by introducing new bits here and there
where there is weakness. But no--the work must be thorough, and from the
ground.

[Illustration: OLD GATEWAY, LINCOLN’S INN.]

The old, interior court of Lincoln’s Inn, daily traversed by hundreds of
incurious clerks, is charming from the delicately-designed corner towers
the little windows perched up and down, the pleasing irregularity, and
general rusted tones of the old brick. Even the modern hall which faces
the gate has a quaint and becoming air of old fashion, and is in
keeping. But the plaster should be stripped away and the brick revealed.
Close by, on the right, is the characteristic chapel, which rises so
curiously on its arches, with fan-work of Inigo’s design, while beyond
we have glimpses of the trees and sward of the “fayre gardens.” The new
modern chambers are in an excellent Elizabethan style, and, through the
obliging aid of London smut, already begin to harmonize with the rest;
and though the stately “Stone Buildings” close by are of quite a
different style and pattern, the mixture is not unpleasing. In half a
century or so the whole mass will have been well blended together. The
effect is extraordinary when one suddenly turns out of the narrow,
crowded, noisy Chancery Lane, with its lines of omnibuses, cabs and
carts, into this college-like seclusion, where scarcely a sound can be
heard.

[Illustration: A CORNER IN LINCOLN’S INN.]



CHAPTER XI.

THE OLD INNS--CLIFFORD’S, STAPLE, BARNARD’S, ETC.


As we turn from the bustle and hurly-burly of Fleet Street, hard by St.
Dunstan’s--an effective modern church--we see a retired alley, leading
by a curious little archway into Clifford’s Inn. It is difficult to
conceive the sudden surprise as we find ourselves in this forlorn
inclosure. It might be a fragment of some decayed country town, or of
some of those left-behind corners we come upon in an old Dutch or
Flemish hamlet. Here are a few ragged, blighted trees, a little
railed-in square without grass, inexpressibly unkempt, like a disused
burial-ground, on which blink sadly the ancient crusted mansions
surrounding the old “Chambers.” Behind us, and next the low entrance, is
a sad-looking dining-hall--a small, steep-roofed little building that
might hold a score of diners. Above it is the usual pert little
lantern-clock. No doubt in the last century the Dutch tradition of such
things survived. Its two or three blackened, well-grimed windows have a
shining metallic look, and there are shadowy outlines and leadings which
betoken armorial work and stained-glass emblems. Here are old, tattered,
yet still serviceable houses, encrusted together, as it were, and toned
into a deep copper colour; their tiled roofs are sinuous, with eaves
shaggy as old eyebrows; while above is a picturesque form of dormer
windows which suggest Nuremberg, coupled, half a dozen windows in a row
together, under a low, tiled roof. Thus is there roof upon roof. The
mellow gloomy tone of the whole is quite “Walkerish,” and would have
pleased the lamented artist. In a corner are other retired
white-plastered houses. The general solitude is rarely disturbed, save
by some hurried messenger or man of business taking a fancied short cut
from Chancery Lane to Fleet Street; the tailor, with his forlorn book of
patterns displayed, seems little disturbed by customers. The Inn,
however, is still inhabited, and the names of tenants are displayed at
the doors. They look down into the forsaken and grassless “square”--so
called--whose shaky gate of twisted iron excludes trespassers. The old
Inn has remained in this precarious state for some years. The “Antients”
have not found the way to sell their property--as they deem it. Some
morning, however, the new clean hoarding will be found set up, and the
“housebreakers” with their picks will be seen at their work. A Naboth’s
Vineyard of this sort is a perpetual challenge to ingenuity to surmount
all impediments.

Clement’s Inn is close by, just beside the Law Courts. The gardens of
both touch each other, separated only by a railing, and have something
of the air of the Temple Gardens in miniature. A little quaint,
well-designed Queen Anne villa, as it might be called, juts into the
centre, and seems a residence that might be coveted. A well-known
dramatic critic lived with his family for some years in the inclosure,
and has described to us the delightful sensation of looking out on this
agreeable plaisaunce, where his children played, quite with the feeling
that these were his own grounds: while close outside were Wych Street
and the busy Strand. It is not surprising that the old Inn, with its
close-like retirement, should have been affected by literary men and
others of tranquil pursuits. It was in one of these places that the late
Mr. Chenery lived in solitude, editing the _Times_ from his modest
chambers; and it was here, too, that he was seized with his last
illness, and died, it was said, with but little attendance.

[Illustration: OLD DOORWAY, 24, CAREY STREET.]

Even after the wholesale clearance for the Law Courts, when an
incredible number of streets and houses were swept away, there lingered,
till last year almost, a number of tortuous alleys and passages; and
urchins lay in wait to guide or direct the wayfarer who wished to gain
Clare Market or Drury Lane. Here were some extraordinary houses, which
“doddered” on, crutched up by stays and props; and a beautiful carved
doorway, with garlands and a Cupid on each side as supporters, was
lately to be seen here; but it was soon torn away--probably to be sold
in Wardour Street. It was sketched by an artist, who set up his easel in
presence of an admiring crowd, and engraved to illustrate the writer’s
account of the place. The old hall of Clement’s Inn has, fortunately,
been preserved--a bright, cheerful structure of red brick, compact and
well balanced, with its tall, florid, and elaborately-adorned doorway at
the top of a flight of steps. It has fallen into the hands of a printing
firm, who have added on a piece at one end. Still, even as it stands, it
is pleasant to see it, and it lends a gaiety to the inclosure. In the
grass-garden used to stand the old sundial, supported by a bronze negro,
which one morning, on the dissolution of the Inn, disappeared. There was
a general clamour at the loss of the old favourite.

The dissolution of Clement’s Inn was one of those greedy acts of
spoliation which seem almost incredible, but which have often occurred.
It would appear now that the members of these bodies have some right to
sell and divide among themselves the property of which they are
virtually only trustees. A more amazing proposition could not be
conceived. Some years since we read in a morning paper this “Bitter
cry”:--“As I was passing through Clement’s Inn this morning I was
astonished to see the negro sundial that has stood, or rather knelt, in
the centre of the garden for over a century and a half, dismounted from
its pedestal and lying ignominiously on its back on the grass. What had
this ‘poor sable son of woe’ done to deserve such treatment? I found
there had recently been a private auction amongst the members of the
Honourable Society of the Inn, and that this well-known statue had been
knocked down for £20 to one of the members, and that having been
disposed of, the Inn itself, the pictures, plate, and other effects were
now following in its wake. Surely Lord Clare, who brought this figure
from Italy early in the year 1700, and presented it to the Inn, little
contemplated its ultimately falling into the hands of a private
individual.” This negro is well modelled and effective in his attitude,
and it is pleasant to find that he has been restored, not to his
original position, but to a good place on that agreeable _plaisaunce_,
the gardens of the Temple, close to the river, and through the railings
the passer-by can see the negro renewed and polished, still supporting
his sundial.

In Wych Street, where Theodore Hook declared he was always regularly
blocked up by a Lord Mayor’s coach at one end and a hearse or
market-cart at the other, we find the entrances to two other Inns,
Dane’s and New Inn--now “pretty old,” as Elia said of the New River.
Dane’s deserves little attention, as it is a simple lane, lined with
modern houses, somewhat of the Peabody type; the well-shuttered windows
of New Inn, ranged along one side of Wych Street, suggest the long files
of jalousied windows in some retired street in Calais or other French
town. To visit the place on some dark evening, and with the lights
twinkling from the windows, recalls this foreign air more strikingly.
Enter, and it seems the inclosure of some tranquil old college. On the
right there is a shadowed recess surrounded by old houses, from which
projects the sound and solid old dining-hall, with its bold cornices
and square windows, now lit up. Beside it are enclosed gardens and
lawns. There is plenty of open area, plenty of breathing-room and
apparent tranquillity: scattered lights are seen here and there: there
is a general romantic and peaceful tone over the whole.

[Illustration: GATEWAY, STAPLE INN]

Yet more interesting and original is a visit to Staple Inn, into which
we enter from Chancery Lane, meandering through it into Holborn. The
variety and incongruity of the place is singularly piquant. There is
the florid gateway, in modern but good taste, from which we descend by
a flight of broad steps. The old Hall is garnished with two lanterns,
one square and glazed, the other circular; with a quaint door at the
side, over which is the usual sensible clock. There is another square
beyond, on which the other side of the Hall displays itself; and thence
we pass through a low, old-fashioned arch out into roaring Holborn. It
seems almost dreamlike. This arch, with its ponderous wooden gates, is
sunk in one of the well-known picturesquely-framed houses which front
Gray’s Inn Lane or Road. They overhang the street in satisfactory style,
and “hold their own,” as it is called, with Rouen. These have been
restored and put in sound condition by the Prudential Assurance Company
who purchased the Inn, and who it was expected would “develop the
property” in the usual way. Fortunately, they have only repaired and
improved it, and let it out to “desirable tenants.” Strange places are
these old Inns. Not many years ago the little kitchen used to be busy
periodically, when the “Antients” met to dine. These Antients were
usually worthy tradesmen and solicitors, etc., of the neighbourhood; and
pleasant evenings enough they spent. Houses were to be had for “a song,”
and a pleasant Bohemian who lived there used to declare that at times
his rent was quite forgotten.

[Illustration: KING’S BENCH WALK.]

Associated with these places, and to cover their uselessness, the
Antients received students and instructed them. In the last century this
was actually carried out, and “Readers” gave lectures. And at Clement’s
Inn, up to a recent period, a reader arrived regularly from the Temple,
who however remained for but one evening, when he was invited to dine
and was courteously entertained. There used to be a practice of holding
what were expressively termed “moots and boults” in the hall after
supper, when one of the Antients, learned in Coke, set points for
discussion, which a student was required to answer. There was indeed
something very quaint and interesting in the theory, at least, of these
societies. There was a sacred division, of the upper table, where the
“Antients” sat to the number of eight to a dozen. The lower tables,
where the students sat, were fewer in number. Grace after dinner was not
said, but rather acted. Four loaves, closely adhering together, a type
of the Four Gospels, were held up by the chairman, who then raised them
three times as symbolical of the Holy Trinity. They were then handed
over to the butler, who hurried with them out of the hall with an
affected haste, as though not to lose a moment. This ceremony is of
extraordinary antiquity and of religious origin. The Antients had the
privilege of electing persons from the lower class into their body,
which was done after a number of years’ probation. It was impossible to
discover any title or right in these persons beyond long custom, though
trustees were appointed whose title was as shadowy. They dined together
at certain intervals in the mysterious little halls, each person paying
his own charges.

But the whole interest in the institution is easily discoverable, and
rested on certain profits divided among the Antients, and these depended
on the rooms in the Inn, which as they fell vacant were disposed of,
each tenant paying a sum down, usually about £400, for his life use of
the premises. This sum was divided among the Antients.

Furnival’s Inn, which faces its truly genuine companion opposite, Staple
Inn, is sadly modern, having been rebuilt about a century ago. Yet there
is an old fashion about it. There is a certain attractiveness in the
comparatively old and old-fashioned hotel, which fills the further
extremity, and which has an air of snugness and comfort with its trees
in tubs and cheerful _jalousies_. This arises from the perfect repose
and retirement, the shelter from the hum and noise of Holborn. Outside
there is one of the genuine old taverns, Ridler’s Hotel, where people
like Mr. Pickwick might descend. Its bow-windowed coffee room and
glass-enclosed bars will be noted, as well as the dark stairs. There are
very few of this pattern of tavern left, and where the old tavern life
is pursued. There is one at the West End, in Glasshouse Street, which
seems exactly what it must have been sixty years ago. There are the old
“boxes,” the sanded floors, the coats and hats hung up, and the kettle
on the hob.

But perhaps of all these places, “Barnard’s” is the quaintest and most
old-fashioned, from its irregular and even straggling aspect. Entering
from Holborn, by a simple doorway a little below its neighbour, Staple
Inn, we pass the snug little porter’s room, for it is no lodge, facing
which is the truly effective dining hall, though “hall” is too ambitious
a term for what is really a largish room. Yet how old, rusted and
crusted and original it seems, with its steep tiled roof, and elegant
little lantern and clock! The windows glitter as with diamond panes, and
we can see the patches of stained glass in the centre of each. A small,
business-like porch is fitted on at the side, with its little iron gate
in front, while round the tiny court are the good, sound old brick
mansions. Beyond again is a glimpse of the trees, and a garden, rather
forlorn it must be said; beside which is a strange accumulation of old
framed houses, all white and overhanging. These must be of very great
antiquity, and seem crazy enough. The life in these retreats must be
strange, with a sort of monastic tinge. Here “chambers” and rooms, etc.,
are to be had at low rates.

One of Dickens’s happiest scenes describes Thavies Inn, a curious little
recess at the Circus end of Holborn, “a narrow street of high houses,
like an oblong cistern to hold the fog.” Of Barnard’s Dickens seems to
have had a poor and disparaging opinion, for it is described (by Pip) as
“the dingiest collection of shabby buildings ever squeezed together in a
rank corner as a club for Tom Cats.” Staple Inn is really an
interesting, pretty retirement; there is a strange charm in its trees
and quaint old hall, which have evoked an abundance of sentiment, and
prompted some graceful sketches. Many a stranger and hurried American
enters by the effective archway, leaving the din of Holborn behind, and
changing of a sudden to unexpected peace as of the country, anxious to
trace the abode of the characters in Edwin Drood. Mr. Grewgius’s
chambers can be identified as Number 10 in the inner quadrangle, for it
is described as “presenting in black and white over its ugly portal the
mysterious inscription of P. J. T., 1747. Perhaps John Thomas, or
perhaps Joe Tyler, for a certainty P. J. T. was Pretty Jolly Too.”
Landless’s rooms are given with a graphic touch which recalls the whole
place: “The top set in the corner, where a few smoky sparrows twitter in
the smoky trees as though they had called to each other, ‘let us play at
country.’”

These old dining halls of the old inns have a certain character, with
their lantern, clock and weather-cock; an honest dial generally, with
bold gold figures that all the inn may read as it runs. Within, a
business-like, snug chamber, with a great deal of panelling and a
permanent “dinner” flavour. They really give a character or note to the
little squares in which they stand. These places are gradually
dwindling, and in a few years will be extinct. Close by Bream’s
Buildings, out of Chancery Lane, there used to stand another inn,
“Symonds’,” which it is hard to call up again, yet it disappeared only a
score of years ago and figures a good deal in the legal scenery of Bleak
House. “A little pale, wall-eyed, woe-begone inn, like a large dustbin
of two compartments and a sifter. It looks as if Symonds were a sparing
man in his day, and constructed his inn of building materials which took
kindly to the dry rot and to dirt and all things decaying and dismal,
and perpetuated Symonds’ memory with congenial sadness.”

I take from the _St. James’s Gazette_ the letter of a reminiscent who
refers very pleasantly to the poetry and people which Dickens has
associated with the “old inns.” I may add that in the account referred
to the connection of Dickens with the old inns was purposely omitted, as
the article was purely descriptive, and special books have been devoted
to “Dickens in London.”

[Illustration: BARNARD’S INN.]

“Time was when on an allusion to Barnard’s Inn it was impossible to keep
one’s pen from writing of Pip and Herbert Pocket who had there once
(once! they have still) their lodging. Or Staple Inn, and straightway
one’s thoughts flew to Hiram Grewgius, and Neville, and Mr. Tartar, and
‘the flowers that grew out of the salt sea.’ Or Gray’s Inn, and one
smiled over the recollection of Mr. Parkle and his friend, and of the
gentleman who, by the help of the leeches and Mrs. Miggot, was restored
to health. Or the late Lyon’s Inn, which should be as indissolubly
connected with the name of Mr. Testator as ever it was with that of the
unfortunate Mr. William Weare. Mention Furnival’s, and you speak of the
place where the most part of ‘Pickwick’ was composed; Lincoln’s, and I
drink to the memory of Miss Flite and Esther Summerson, of Richard and
Ada.

“But my object in writing is to say that if any one after reading Mr.
Fitzgerald’s paper should journey to those charming forgotten spots of
which he speaks, let him walk to the end of the little square in
Barnard’s Inn, and he will find, on looking beyond the south wall, that
straight before him stands an old cowhouse of the time of George I.
Often have I loitered about this quiet place, but never realized what
that building was till one day an old man passed trundling a
wheelbarrow. ‘_All thet’s left of the farm_,’ quoth he, nodding at the
shed; and not till then was I conscious that at the close of the
nineteenth century, in the heart of what Mr. Gosse calls ‘Londonland,’
there is still to be seen, suggestive of green meadows and syllabubs,
such a countrified relic of the ancient inhabitants of Holborn.

[Illustration: CLIFFORD’S INN.]

“Also one should visit Clifford’s Inn, where once, somewhere high up on
the fourth floor, George Dyer was to be found; which reminds me that,
though the New River is covered over in Colebrooke Row, Lamb’s cottage
exists pretty much as it did on the day when gentle G. D., staff in
hand, plunged into the waters that rippled tranquilly along. Poor Dyer!
Of all places, Clifford’s Inn is not the one where I would choose to
live and die: rather Staple, with its bright little terrace; or
Clement’s, bereft though it is of its sundial, the gift, brought from
Italy, of Goldsmith’s Lord Clare. There is a mouldy air and a dismal
about the quaint Tudor hall (the Inn’s principal ornament), where Sir
Matthew Hale sat to settle the citizens’ claims after the Great Fire;
and though the hammered iron railings and the gates and the trees would
all come out charmingly enough in an American magazine, I don’t think
even one of the admirable Yankee artists could make much of a picture of
these dilapidated dreary mansions.

[Illustration: GRAY’S INN (page 112).]

“Then, on your way west, stay at Somerset House, where there is a
certain wreathed and domed room I wot of which will repay you for a
somewhat toilsome ascent up a fine staircase. This gallery was built by
Chambers for the use of the Academy (you will recollect Ramberg’s
picture, engraved by Martin, of a Private View here in 1787), and
Reynolds has been here before you, and here he delivered his Discourses;
and all the great men and women of the first half of the century have
passed over this threshold, including the famous Dr. Parr, who tells how
he came in the Princess of Wales’s train.”

[Illustration: THE FOUNTAIN, MIDDLE TEMPLE.]

Ever new and welcome are the charming gardens and squares of the two
Temple Inns, so charmingly irregular in their disposition. The peaceful
tranquillity of the region is extraordinary; one could wander there for
an hour, gazing across the fair grounds at the glistening Thames, which
bounds this view, and the barges and steamers slowly gliding past. The
straggling diversity of the buildings, old and new mingled together, is
not unpleasing, to

[Illustration: FOUNTAIN COURT, TEMPLE.]

say nothing of the arcades, the stately halls, libraries, and the
fortress-like church. The well-known, prettily-named “Fountain Court”
has its reputation for picturesqueness--has been sketched by Dickens
with a true feeling of its charm--the fountain, ever rippling softly,
with the terrace and the few old trees shading the old red brick, in a
Dutch-like fashion, is truly unique. We love the various old courts and
meandering passages. “Brick Court,” where poor “Goldy” had his rooms.
The hall here is magnificent and imposing, and its elaborate roof
second only to that of Westminster Hall and Hampton Court Banqueting
Room.

[Illustration: HALL AND LIBRARY, GRAY’S INN.]

As we stray on and on we come to one of the most quaint and attractive
residences conceivable, the residence of Dr. Vaughan, the Master of the
Temple, with its pleasing garden in front raised on a terrace, its green
_jalousies_, and general rural air, though its rear is but a few yards
from the Strand. Those who relish genuine old English houses, well
framed and overhanging the path, will wander here into the Temple Lane,
on turning out of the Strand. Curious are the dark and somewhat crazy
twisting stairs. Many years ago there was yet another row of these
ancient houses standing, among which were Dr. Johnson’s chambers; the
door-case and its frame were actually sold by auction by Messrs.
Puttick. The ponderous gate-house is said to be the design of Inigo
Jones. The _soi-disant_ Cardinal Wolsey’s palace is a curious relic
enough, more curious still from being now in the hands of an
enterprising hairdresser. Without admitting its lofty claims, the
carvings and wrought ceilings are interesting.

But to find the true monastic air of retirement, with something of the
tone of an ancient park or grounds long forsaken, commend us to Gray’s
Inn. From the din and roar of the noisy, clattering Holborn, we can
escape by arches and alleys, and then of a sudden find ourselves in this
still, sequestered retreat. We wander along a quaint flagged lane, by
the old chambers propped on stout pillars, or a short arcade, with
glimpses of the green plaisaunce seen through old well-wrought iron
railings. Most effective are the elaborate iron gates and piers that
open on the gardens. Here we have the welcome rooks, the few survivors
of the tribe in London.[8]

[Illustration: GRAY’S INN HALL.]

The somewhat bare and gaunt squares are set off by the old Hall and
Chapel, disfigured, however, by modern plastering and other garnishing
in the Nash manner. It is a pity that the honest old brick could not be
restored to view. The hideous modern platitude, known as Verulam
Buildings, and which excited Elia’s indignant lamentations, is of course
hopeless, and must be endured. Curious as an instance of antique squalor
and dilapidation is the row of buildings on the west side of Gray’s Inn
Road. Some years ago there was a delightful entertainment given here,
which proves that the practical spirit of the age has not wholly
extinguished the poetical sense. A “Masque of Flowers” was presented in
the old Hall under the direction of Mr. Arthur à Beckett, performed by a
bevy of fair maidens and brave youths, most of whom--as was
fitting--were connected with the profession of the law. The old squares
became ablaze with light and crowded with gallant company, the
unfrequented lanes well filled with “coaches” from the West End. It was
altogether a pleasant and appropriate festival.

[Illustration: GARDEN GATE, GRAY’S INN.]



CHAPTER XII.

DICKENS IN LONDON.


Dickens, indeed, is so bound up with the old places of London that it
may be said that he has lent a peculiar flavour and charm to all town
peregrination. He certainly must be considered to have been the best
interpreter of the City to us. He supplied the tragic and comic
grotesque meaning of the old courts, shops, alleys, “all-alones,”
“rents,” etc. “The reminiscences of his stories,” says a late visitor,
“meet us at every turn, in the ancient churches, hemmed in on all sides
by gigantic warehouses, in their melancholy deserted graveyards, with
their ragged grass, their blackened trees, and neglected gravestones. In
the odd boarding-houses and unaccountable inns that had buried
themselves up strange courts, and lurked, half hidden, in unaccountable
alleys, and presented themselves in quiet behind-the-age squares. In the
spacious halls of opulent companies, which showed but an old-fashioned
porch in a narrow quiet lane, but which presented to those who were
permitted to enter their portals a superb range of apartments teeming,
mayhap, with old furniture and valuable pictures, and doubtless giving
on a quiet garden, worth no one knows what a square foot for building
purposes, but preserved from the ravages of the builder, merely to
gladden the eyes of the plump City sparrows, and of the master, the
wardens, and the clerk of these most worshipful corporations. So too in
the curious old banking-houses, in the mouldy old counting-houses where
so much money was made; in the difficult-to-find but cosy chop-houses
where you could get a chop or a steak--and such a chop or a
steak!--hissing hot from the gridiron; in the methodical old clerks, the
astonishing octogenarian housekeepers, the corpulent beadles in their
splendid gaberdines, in the ticket porters, the bankers’ clerks chained
to their pocket-books, the porters, the dockmen, the carters, the
brokers. Down by the waterside, along Thames Street, through the narrow
lanes and passages leading thereto, you continually saw some spot, some
character or incident that recalled something in one of the stories you
knew so well.”

With such a guide the old streets and houses long since demolished and
being fast demolished every day, revive before us; with them rises the
oldfashioned London, its humours, its society of fifty years ago. One
of the results of this association is that as we walk through some of
these old-world quarters, such as Goswell Street or “Lant Street, Boro’”
(where Bob Sawyer gave his party), the whole Pickwick, or rather Dickens
flavour seems to pour out, and the figures live again. It is not
surprising that this connection between the gifted writer and the old
bricks of London should have become a study, and a very engaging study,
and in antiquaries’ accounts of the great city it is now become
customary to trace the haunts and localities of the places described in
his novels. In an unpretending but lively little book Mr. Allbut has
undertaken this labour of love, and furnished a very useful little
handbook to the Dickens explorer. From this one might profitably glean a
few passages. It will be noted what a poetical instinct the great writer
had in this respect, and he caught the true “note” as it were of making
selection of what was best fitted for his purpose. This power of vividly
imprinting the locality on the mind might be illustrated by that dismal
gate and alley, “Tom all alone’s,” of which the site only remains in
Bedfordbury, just out of Chandos Street, where the huge Peabody
Buildings rise, though it has been claimed for other localities. Indeed,
close to the upper end of Shaftesbury Avenue there is a strange forlorn
alley with a dilapidated tottering old inclosure beyond, which would
exactly serve for the original. And in Russell Court, that curious
winding passage leading to the pit door of “Old Drury,” we fancy we see
the gate of the dismal burial ground on whose steps Lady Deadlock was
found. It still looks exactly as in the print, “with houses looking on
on every side, save where a reeking little tunnel of a court gives
access to the iron gate.” This depressing intramural burial ground has
been garnished up into a recreation inclosure, and is but a trifle less
gloomy than a cheerful mortuary house built at one side.

Dickens always delighted in the mystery attendant on banks and their
cashiers, old mouldy mercantile houses where yet a large and safe
business was done; and these things he could interpret and give
significance to, just as Wordsworth and the later poets did with their
favourite district. When Temple Bar was removed in 1878, there was
removed with it a building which touched it, and was as old and grimy,
Child’s venerable bank. It is difficult to call up either structure now,
though the frequent “omnibus outside” may have occasionally turned his
eyes to the blackened walls and to the windows in the Bar, a sort of
store room where were kept stacked away all the old account books of the
firm. The late Peter Cunningham was allowed, I believe, to rummage here,
and discovered some curious documents, among which were cheques drawn by
Nell Gwynne, who kept her account with the Childs or the predecessors of
the firm. Speaking of the old house Dickens says, in the “Tale of Two
Cities”:

“Tellson’s Bank, by Temple Bar, was an old-fashioned place even in the
year 1780. It was very small, very dark, very ugly, very incommodious.
Any one of the partners would have disinherited his son on the question
of rebuilding Tellson’s. Thus it had come to pass that Tellson’s was the
triumphant perfection of inconvenience. After bursting open a door of
idiotic obstinacy with a weak rattle in its throat, you fell into
Tellson’s down two steps, and came to your senses in a miserable little
shop, with two little counters; where the oldest of men made your cheque
shake as if the wind rustled it, while they examined the signature by
the dingiest of windows, which were always under a shower-bath of mud
from Fleet Street, and which were made the dingier by their own iron
bars proper and the shadow of Temple Bar.”

Dickens just lived to see the extraordinary wholesale reformation that
took place in the construction of the Holborn Viaduct, with the
levelling and sweeping away of some of his most popular localities. The
Holborn Valley before lay between two steep hills, of which Snow Hill
was one, and on Snow Hill was “The Saracen’s Head,” where Mr. Squeers
invariably put up. This old hostelry stood close to St. Sepulchre’s
Church, on the ground, Mr. Allbut states, now covered by the new police
office.

“The Wooden Midshipman,” one of the most effective and playful conceits
of Dickens, might be pointed out as an illustration of his mode of
illustrating stories. Take away the little figure from the associations
of Cap’n Cuttle and Sol Gills, and much life and colour seems
abstracted. Only so late as the close of 1881 the “Midshipman” was
flourishing at a house in Leadenhall Street, nearly opposite the India
House. In that year some tremendous operations in demolition and
re-erection were being carried out, and the “Wooden Midshipman” received
notice to quit. A pleasant writer, Mr. Ashby Sterry, with a specially
delicate touch, and who has written some “Tiny Travels”--so
called--because they are merely visits to places familiar and close at
hand, often more enjoyable than the official far-off showplaces--heard
of what was going to be done, and made a hasty pilgrimage to take a last
look. He tells us how he was affected. “With his quadrant at his round
black knob of an eye, and his figure in the old attitude of indomitable
alacrity, the midshipman displayed his elfin small clothes to the best
advantage, and, absorbed in scientific pursuits, had no sympathy with
worldly concern. When I was a boy, the very first book of Dickens’s that
I read was ‘Dombey and Son.’ Passing down Leadenhall Street shortly
afterwards, I noted the ‘Wooden Midshipman,’ and at once ‘spotted’ it as
the original of Sol Gills’s residence. The description is so vivid and
exact that it is unmistakable.” This was the old-established firm of
Norie and Wilson, nautical instrument makers, established since 1773,
and which, as it seems to me, had a thoroughly Dickens flavour--that
name _Norie_. The firm had associations with Nelson, kept up diligently
their old-fashioned connections, and took pride in their Midshipman.

“A more popular little officer in his own domain than our friend it
would be difficult to find. At one time the Little Man used to get his
knuckles severely abraded by passing porters carrying loads, and was
continually being sent into dock to have a fresh set of knuckles
provided. Old pupils, who had become distinguished naval officers, would
pop in to inquire what had become of the genius of the place, and many
have been the offers to buy him outright and remove him. Several
Americans have been in lately and have offered his proprietors very
large sums if they might be allowed to purchase him and take him to New
York. It is furthermore on record that King William the Fourth on
passing through Leadenhall Street to the Trinity House raised his hat to
him as he passed by.” All this is quaint enough. But before this account
appeared he had been already taken away carefully, and set up at his new
quarters, No. 156, Minories, where he still continues to take his
observations. But he is sadly out of keeping. The old shop is described
as being curiously appropriate, so snug, and so unobtrusive, so ancient
and conservative in its fittings. On the eve of the levelling of the
place, the visitor was invited in by the owner, “It is with a sad
heart,” he says, “that I accept the courteous invitation of Mr. Wilson
to take a last look at the premises, and listen to much curious gossip
about the old shop and its frequenters. The interior of the shop, with
its curious desks and its broad counter, is fully as old-fashioned as
its exterior.” He then went upstairs, passing up “a panelled staircase
with a massive handrail and spiral balusters to the upper rooms. I look
in at Walter’s chamber, and see the place in the roof where Rob the
Grinder kept his pigeons. I spend some time in a cheerful panelled
apartment, which at one time was the bedchamber of Sol Gills.” There is
something, however, too remote in thus identifying minutely the various
rooms and scenes; for Dickens, as the writer has shown, like all good
writers, “abstracted” in all his creations or adoptions, and would have
found a loss of power had he copied strictly. It was the tone of the
place that inspired him. When I myself came by that way a little later,
the whole was gone.

Again, many have noted in the vicinity of Clare Market, in Portsmouth
Street, the old overhanging shop devoted to the sale of waste paper and
bones. Some years ago it was boarded up and shored up, and it became
known of a sudden that the original of Dickens’s “Old Curiosity Shop”
was doomed to “demolition.” Then was witnessed one of those strange
rushes after “fads” so peculiar to the Londoner. “All day long on
Saturday the narrow pavements of Portsmouth Street--that quaint
southwestern outlet from Lincoln’s Inn Fields--were besieged by a crowd
of sympathetic sight-seers, who had journeyed there from all parts of
London ‘to worship at the shrine of Little Nell.’ They stood four deep
in front of the ‘Crooked Billet,’ staring curiously over the way at the
rickety old timber house with a projecting story, on the plaster face of
which was boldly inscribed, ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’, Immortalised by
Charles Dickens. Here and there among them was an artist, busy with
pencil and note-book taking down sketches of the tumble-down old place;
and one could not fail to distinguish the noisy demonstration of the
American traveller, as he demanded to know, with nasal eagerness, ‘If
that really was the home of Little Nell.’ For a year or two past, at any
rate, it had been one of the stock visiting places of American tourists.
‘They went there to worship,’ a neighbouring shopkeeper said; ‘took off
their hats when they got through the doorway, and asked questions about
Quilp and the Grandfather as if they had been actual persons. The ladies
were the worst. I have known them get down on their knees and burst out
crying about Little Nell.’ Miss Mary Anderson might have been seen there
more than once, with her heart full of tenderness for the little maiden;
and so delighted was the fair American with the ancient dwelling and its
overhanging story that the doors of the Lyceum were opened to the
fortunate occupant whenever she chose to go.” The place had been
condemned by the Board of Works, but that body moved very slowly, or
there had been a reprieve. With American shrewdness, the American
actress, Lotto, brought this scene into an adaptation of the story she
was about to play.

Latterly it is becoming a pleasant hobby, notably in the case of the
Americans, to diligently follow in the footsteps of Dickens, and visit
and identify all the scenes he placed in his novels. Year by year these
are disappearing. Numerous pleasant articles have appeared in American
magazines, with pretty illustrations, and carried out in a very fond and
tender spirit. Indeed, this _culte_ of Dickens is growing every day; but
it will be a serious loss when all his houses and haunts have been
pulled down. There will be a link lost then between him and us.[9] We
have only to walk to the Marble Arch, and there we see his last town
residence, No. 5, Hyde Park Place, a solemnly genteel, if not
monotonous, residence, that belonged to Mr. Gibson. It is astonishing,
indeed, how every step, turn, and corner in London is somehow associated
with this great master of fiction--chambers, old streets, slums, etc.
The secret is, he delighted himself to associate his fancies with some
particular locality, and this feeling inspired him. There is a
remarkable passage in his life where he deplores the difficulty of
writing, when far away from the bustle and motion of London streets. It
will be remembered how he set off to “choose a house” for Sampson Brass
in Bevis Marks. It is impossible to look at Bevis Marks now without
calling up that strange character. You feel he _must_ have lived there.
So with Lant Street, Borough, the residence of Mr. Sawyer, and which has
the suitable dinginess: all this is pleasant to the pedestrian, the
scenery being so much in keeping. In a few years, when everything is
altered and pulled down, we shall have only the _site_ left by which to
recall old associations.

Near the bottom of Parliament Street, and almost opposite the Home
Office, is a narrow lane leading into Cannon Row, whence could be long
seen the rear of the unfinished Opera house. At the corner stands a
third-rate public-house, suggesting one of the extraordinary incidents
in London, where meanness and opulence are ever side by side. This
public-house is associated with the hardships of Dickens’s boyhood, in a
very characteristic recollection, which he relates himself. “I remember,
one evening (I had been somewhere for my father, and was going back to
the Borough over Westminster Bridge), that I went into a public-house in
Parliament Street, which is still there, though altered, at the corner
of the short street leading into Cannon Row, and said to the landlord
behind the bar, ‘What is your very best--the _very best_--ale, a glass?’
For the occasion was a festive one, for some reason: I forget why. It
may have been my birthday, or somebody else’s. ‘Twopence,’ says he.
‘Then,’ says I, ‘just draw me a glass of that, if you please, with a
good head to it.’ The landlord looked at me in return, over the bar,
from head to foot, with a strange smile on his face; and instead of
drawing the beer, looked round the screen and said something to his
wife, who came out from behind it, with her work in her hand, and joined
him in surveying me. Here we stand, all three, before me now, in my
study in Devonshire Terrace. The landlord in his shirt-sleeves, leaning
against the bar window-frame; his wife, looking over the little
half-door; and I, in some confusion, looking up at them from outside the
partition. They asked me a good many questions, as what my name was, how
old I was, where I lived, how I was employed, etc., etc. To all of
which, that I might commit nobody, I invented appropriate answers. They
served me with the ale, though I suspect it was not the strongest on the
premises; and the landlord’s wife, opening the little half-door and
bending down, gave me a kiss that was half-admiring and
half-compassionate, but all womanly and good, I am sure.”

When a bachelor, he lived in Furnival’s Inn, No. 15, on the right as you
enter, but on his marriage removed to 48, Doughty Street. In this clean
little street there is a prim monotony, every house being of the same
cast--small, and suited for a clerk and his family. These seem indeed
miniature Wimpole Street houses; but they have a snug, comfortable air,
and it is something to pause before No. 48 and think of “Oliver Twist”
and “Nicholas Nickleby” written in this study. With increasing
prosperity he moved from this humble but snug quarter to a more
pretentious mansion, “Tavistock House,” where he lived for ten years.
There are three houses standing together in this rather forlorn-looking
waste, which stands in a _cul de sac_, and his is the first. “In
Tavistock Square,” says Hans Andersen, “stands Tavistock House. This and
the strip of garden in front of it are shut out from the thoroughfare by
an iron railing. A large garden, with a grass plat and high trees,
stretches behind the house and gives it a countrified look in the midst
of this coal and gas steaming London. In the passage from street to
garden hung pictures and engravings. Here stood a marble bust of
Dickens, so like him, so youthful and handsome; and over a bedroom door
were inserted the bas-reliefs of Night and Day, after Thorwaldsen. On
the first floor was a rich library, with a fireplace and a writing
table, looking out on the garden; and here it was that in winter Dickens
and his friends acted plays.” Turning out of the road one is struck by
the rather stately air of the mansion. During these ten years he made it
re-echo with his gaiety and cheery spirit. It had, however, a damp or
dampish air, which all such edifices seem to contract. The trees and the
verdure generally do not flourish. Later it become the residence of Mrs.
Georgina Weldon, _née_ the beautiful Miss Treherne.

[Illustration: DOUGHTY STREET.

Where the last portion of “Pickwick” was written.]

A mile or two away is Devonshire Terrace, No. 1, a later residence of
the novelist, where he wrote “Master Humphrey’s Clock,” “David
Copperfield,” and other works. It is found near the Marylebone Road.
This, too, is in an inclosure set back from the road, and was humorously
described by its tenant as “a house of great promise (and great
premium), undeniable situation and excessive splendour”; while it struck
his friend Forster as a handsome house with a garden of considerable
size, shut out from the New Road by a brick wall, facing the York Gate
in Regent’s Park.

In Gower Street is a house associated with some scenes in the boy
Dickens’s life, full of pain and misery. At No. 4 (it was then) Mrs.
Dickens set up a school, or tried to do so. Mr. Allbut has found that,
owing to a change in the numbering, the present No. 145 is the former
No. 4. It is a strange feeling to stand before it and recall his own
disastrous, even tragic account of this early misery:--“A house was
soon found at No. 4, Gower Street North; a large brass plate on the door
announced Mrs. Dickens’s establishment; and the result I can give in the
exact words of the then small actor in the comedy, whose hopes it had
raised so high. ‘I left at a great many other doors a great many
circulars, calling attention to the merits of the establishment. Yet
nobody ever came to school, nor do I recollect that anybody ever
proposed to come, or that the least preparation was made to receive
anybody. But I know that we got on very badly with the butcher and
baker; that very often we had not too much for dinner; and that at last
my father was arrested.’”... “Almost everything by degrees was pawned
or sold, little Charles being the principal agent in these sorrowful
transactions ... until at last, even of the furniture of Gower Street,
No. 4, there was nothing left except a few chairs, a kitchen table, and
some beds. Then they encamped, as it were, in the two parlours of the
emptied house, and lived there night and day.”



CHAPTER XIII.

WATERLOO BRIDGE, THE LAW COURTS, ETC.


Descending now to the river’s side we may think what amazing progress
has been made in developing and adorning this noble stream, and all
within twenty years! Three or four great monumental bridges, the almost
Roman Embankment; the railway running under ground, the red-brick
terraces at Chelsea, the palatial hotels at Charing Cross and Waterloo
Bridge; Northumberland Avenue now built over on both sides, the many
statues; the large and flourishing plane trees, and the gardens! What a
change from the sludgy, sloppy land and foreshore, the mean barges and
fringe of poor houses and shanties, and the “Adelphi Arches” of evil
name! It has now quite an air of state and magnificence.

The Embankment itself was a prodigious change from sedgy shore and
“slob” land; but the change on the Embankment itself within a few years
has been something extraordinary. Great terraces, vast rows of mansions
are rising along its banks, and impress us with a sense of state and
splendour. Within half a mile or so we have the rich and original Houses
of Parliament, Westminster Bridge, the new Police Offices, the enormous
terrace of Whitehall Mansions, the National Liberal Club, the great
Hotel Metropole, the Charing Cross Bridge, the Adelphi Terrace, and the
superb Waterloo Bridge. Strange to say, the other side of the river is
old London still, mean warehouses and shanties disfiguring the shore.

Then we come to Cleopatra’s Needle, with its odd and romantic
adventures. As we stop to look, its extraordinary history rises before
us. It is certainly one of the oldest monuments existing, after its long
sleep in the sands; its being made a present to the English, and left
neglected because impossible or difficult to remove. As all know, it was
brought here by Sir Erasmus Wilson, was cast off and lost in a storm,
recovered again, and finally happily moored off the Embankment. Here, by
some elaborate pneumatic operations that consumed months, it was
successfully raised. It may be said that the “fitting up” of the obelisk
has been done inartistically, the plinth, base, etc., being of the
modern fashion, and rather out of keeping.

But the great glory of our river is Waterloo Bridge. This remarkable
monument deserved Canova’s praise, who declared that “it was worthy of
the Romans.” It is really more a roadway than a bridge, and grandly and
loftily is it carried through the air, the approaches being made to suit
it, a reversal of the common operation.[10]

This noble structure spans the river with the dignity of an aqueduct. It
is really a fine, impressive work, such as could hardly be conceived in
our time. There is no graceful bend as in ordinary bridges; it is a
stately, _straight_ road carried across the broad river. No wonder it
has excited the admiration of foreigners, and a French critic has spoken
with rapture almost of its merits. Here are his words: “If in the course
of Revolutions, the nations of a future age should one day demand where
was formerly the new Sidon, and what has become of the Tyre of the West,
which covered with her vessels the sea, most of the edifices devoured by
a destructive climate will no longer exist; but the Waterloo Bridge will
exist to tell remote generations ‘here was a rich and powerful city.’
The traveller on beholding this superb monument will suppose that some
great Prime Minister wished by many years of labour to consecrate for
ever the story of his life by this imposing structure. But if tradition
instruct the traveller that six years sufficed for the undertaking, that
an association of private individuals was rich enough to defray the
expense of this colossal monument, worthy of Sesostris and the Cæsars,
he will admire still more the nation which prompted the work.”

The author of this eloquent passage did not know that a private company
had expended over a million in their project, and were fairly repaid
their outlay; but his admiration would have been increased had he
foretasted that the work would have been finally purchased by the
wealthy Metropolis, and presented as a free gift to the citizens.

The Waterloo Bridge toll-gate now seems part of ancient history. Elderly
people of a new generation will be saying to their children, “I
recollect when there was a turnstile here and toll-houses, and every cab
was stopped to pay twopence,” while a careless and “superior” allusion
in a leader might run, “People will smile to think how those of the last
generation, hurrying to catch the train, could have so calmly and
patiently submitted to this importunate levy!” The public, however, grew
so deft and experienced that the traveller was always ready with his
cash, while the toll-man, co-operating, handed out the proper change in
a second. This he contrived by long practice and by sense of touch,
having a number of pockets, one for pennies, another for silver, etc.
Many years ago Dickens was taken down the river of a night by the
police, and heard from one of the toll-men some curious experiences
concerning the suicides for which the bridge was then in high fashion.
“The Bridge,” as the toll-man informed him, “was originally named the
Strand Bridge, but had received its present name at the suggestion of
the proprietors when Parliament resolved to vote three hundred thousand
pounds for the erection of a monument in honour of the victory.
Parliament took the hint,” said Waterloo, with the least flavour of
misanthropy, “and saved the money.” Of course the Duke of Wellington was
the first passenger, and of course he paid his coin, and of course he
preserved it ever more.[11] The treadle and index at the toll-house (a
most ingenious contrivance for rendering fraud impossible) were
invented by Mr. Leathbridge, then property-man of Drury Lane Theatre.
This was the now familiar “turnstile,” known so well at every
exhibition, but then quite a novelty.

Dickens ensconced himself in the toll-house and had a long and
interesting talk with the toll-man on all the incidents he observed in
his professional life. First, of the “suicides,” which now appear to
have “gone out” with the tolls. “This is where it is,” said Waterloo,
“if people jump off straight forwards from the middle of the parapet of
the bays of the bridge, they are seldom killed by drowning, but are
smashed, poor things; that’s what _they_ are; they dash themselves upon
the buttress of the bridge. But, you jump off,” said Waterloo to me,
putting his forefinger in a buttonhole of my great coat; “you jump off
from the side of the bay, and you’ll tumble, true, into the stream under
the arch. What you have got to do, is to mind how you jump in! There was
poor Tom Steele from Dublin; didn’t dive! Bless you, didn’t dive at all!
Fell down so flat into the water that he broke his breast-bone, and
lived two days!”

“He considered it astonishing how quick people were! Why, there was a
cab came up one Boxing-night, with a young woman in it, who looked,
according to Waterloo’s opinion of her, a little the worse for liquor;
very handsome she was too--very handsome. She stopped the cab at the
gate, and said she’d pay the cabman then: which she did, though there
was a little hankering about the fare, because at first she didn’t seem
quite to know where she wanted to be drove to. However, she paid the
man, and the toll too, and looking Waterloo in the face (he thought she
knew him, don’t you see!) said, ‘I’ll finish it somehow!’ Well, the cab
went off, leaving Waterloo a little doubtful in his mind, and while it
was going on at full speed the young woman jumped out, never fell,
hardly staggered, ran along the bridge pavement a little way, passing
several people, and jumped over from the second opening. At the inquest
it was giv’ in evidence that she had been quarrelling at the ‘Hero of
Waterloo,’ and it was brought in Jealousy. (One of the results of
Waterloo’s experience was, that there was a deal of jealousy about.)
‘Sometimes people haven’t got a halfpenny. If they are really tired and
poor we give ’em one and let ’em through. Other people will leave
things--pocket-handkerchiefs mostly. I _have_ taken cravats and gloves,
pocket-knives, toothpicks, studs, shirt pins, rings (generally from
young gents early in the morning), but handkerchiefs is the general
thing.’”

At the point where the Charing Cross Railway bridge crosses the river,
the most startling change of all has been made, and within not many
years. That useful personage, the “oldest inhabitant,” or indeed even an
old inhabitant, will rub his eyes as he thinks of Old Hungerford Market
and the old Hungerford Suspension Bridge which has been twice enlarged.
So dense is the traffic growing at this place that it seems of necessity
that a large open _Place_ should be made, a slice being taken from the
adjoining gardens. And here is a suggestion for some enterprising Ædile
as he is called. Too little, indeed nothing, is done for the
entertainment of the people in London. Neither music, nor shows, nor
reviews of soldiers, nor anything entertaining is supplied. Were such an
open space provided, and a kiosk or pavilion, an orchestra erected, a
pleasant and cheap attraction for poor, much-neglected Demos would be
found. Of a summer’s evening we could call up a picture of the
Embankment crowded, and the river covered with boats, the crowd
scattered, promenading, or seated--a _café_ or two busy. Such
entertainment of this cheap, healthy kind the population is fairly
entitled to: it is astonishing that something of the kind is not thought
of.

Close by Waterloo Bridge rises that stately and imposing range of
buildings, Somerset House. This vast pile, designed by Chambers, was
erected with little trouble or fuss, and in a comparatively short time.
In our day we must have “committees,” and competitions and discussions,
and a distracted responsibility ending in complete confusion or
uncertainty, and for the result such a comparative failure as the New
Law Courts. Much of the riverside effect is lost owing to the
Embankment, for the terrace rose actually straight out of the river, and
now seems rather purposeless. We are so familiar with our public
buildings that it becomes difficult to criticise them seriously.
Somerset House, taken as a public office, with its vast accommodation
and its stately river front, will hold its own with any similar building
in Europe. It is interesting, too, as being the work of the last English
architect who attempted to carry out the sort of classical style
inherited from Inigo Jones, and introduced from Italy. The entrance, or
covered ways from the Strand, have been admired by architects. It is a
curious instance of the small value of allegorical decoration, that the
great heads which form the keystones of the arches were intended to
signify the great English rivers, and were the work of one of the most
eminent sculptors of his time--Wilton--while in some of the medallions
are to be recognized likenesses of the Georges. We may lament that this
pure Grecian style, always effective, has so completely fallen out of
favour, not its least merit being its always continuing sound and in
respectable repair. Chambers has left his mark all over the kingdom; and
in Dublin there are some majestic buildings, notably Trinity College
Hall and Chapel, and Charlemont House, from his designs.

Sculptors and painters have always been fond of sketching the
picturesque additions which the river’s banks afford, and Mr. Whistler
has been very successful in depicting the banks of Chelsea and
Battersea, as well as the old encrusted shanties and warehouses beyond
London Bridge.

London is held in high favour by the sketcher, and certainly offers
attractions not to be found elsewhere. As Mr. Arthur Severn tells us,
much that is beautiful in the way of landscape is still left, but
Londoners, “in their money-making and slavery to fashion,” are blind to
it. “How many people are there who think of looking at the view from one
of our London bridges, at the picturesque groups of sailing barges, at
the curious effects of light behind, and the towers of Westminster in
the distance? How many men wending their way homewards from the City on
the top of an omnibus in summer ever thought of noting the flood of
golden haze in Oxford Street, a street which from its position is
peculiarly adapted for the study of sunlight effects? Here, on a
midsummer afternoon, our eyes may be opened to one of the greatest
truths in Turner’s work, his great knowledge of the artistic treatment
of light.

“When the declining orb flushes all the stream, and the black barges
come sailing smoothly down or pass across the broad water-way, their
tawny sails enriching the already golden glow, and the picture is backed
up in the distance by dark masses of indistinct wharves, chimneys,
spires, and towers, those of Westminster Abbey and the Houses of
Parliament being the most shapely and conspicuous, we have surely a
subject unrivalled of its kind, demanding the utmost artistic skill for
even its most meagre reproduction; and, again, there is often a peculiar
freshness in the breeze that follows the tide from the sea, and the sky
seems to open up unwonted depths. This appearance is caused by the
innumerable tender gradations of light.”

Not many years ago the banks close to Somerset House were attractive
enough, owing to certain old hotels, the Arundel and others, whose
quaint bow windows and galleries hung over the river. These lingered on
till recently, but their place has been taken by a row of very effective
Dutch-looking houses with cupolas and mullioned windows. These hotels
and lodging-houses are in high favour with a particular class of
visitors to town, and we fancy that this living over the river has
almost the flavour of a foreign city. During festivals such as the Derby
week, all the little river streets are filled to overflow--the hotels,
overfull themselves, billet their guests about; and we see the group of
travellers led away by the Boots, to some of these “succursals.”

Here too is the little grimed terrace over the station of the
underground railway company, who, beside their locomotives, have to keep
stationary engines, both here and at Victoria Station, pumping day and
night, otherwise the line would be flooded. It is amusing to recall the
flourishing of the papers when the line was opened; the beatific vision
that was dwelt on of the terrace being crowded with votaries of the
_dolce far_, gazing placidly on the waters, smoking and communing.
Nothing of the sort took place, it is needless to say. No one was at the
pains of ascending the steps to gain, or cared to be enclosed in a sort
of yard; and the Company soon had gates attached and shut it up. Hard by
Waterloo Bridge used to be moored a dilapidated old hulk in which the
River Police used to dwell, uncomfortably, as it may be imagined. It,
however, added a nautical flavour. With the march of events came a
change. They are now moved to one of the unoccupied barge piers--a
pleasant, sheltered, floating tenement where they have abundant flowers
and almost a garden. From the steamers passing by they appear to be very
comfortable and happy. The old sheer hulk has been taken away and a more
sightly training ship substituted, through whose ports can be seen a
handsome piece of cannon; and of a summer’s evening a crowd lines the
balustrade of the Embankment watching the sailors at drill. At another
of these unoccupied or disused piers the Humane Society has its house,
not at all unneeded, for the ghastly dramatic elements associated with a
great river are never lacking here. The _habitué_ who takes his daily
walk by this route to the City is certain, periodically, to see the
slow-moving boat close under the walls, with the man in the stern
casting the drag, and if he wait a reasonable time may see the “body of
a fine young man,” or some unhappy, draggled woman brought up. Sometimes
the police boat, or “tub,” of the Humane Society is seen pulling with
frantic haste to the piers of the arches, invariably too late to recover
the poor wretch whom the man patrolling the little pier has
seen--strange vision!--flying down to the waters from the parapets of
Waterloo Bridge.

Some years ago there was a strange floating structure at Charing Cross;
it was one of the undertakings literally “floated” amid the flowery
acclamations of the papers, which spun whole cocoons of columns anent
the advantages that were to accrue; the town bathing, and learning
swimming; general cleanliness and strength of the population improved,
while numerous other establishments would follow, etc. Notwithstanding
these prophecies the thing languished from the first--the town looked
coldly on. It then took a strange freak, and some ingenious
Professor--was it Gamgee?--devised some mysterious process by which,
with the aid of steam engines and acids circulating below, artificial
ice could be formed. Skating accordingly took place, but somehow that
did not flourish, and the somewhat ungainly tabernacle, daily rising and
falling with the tide, then reverted to its old function of a swimming
bath. It has long since been removed.

The cluster of buildings at Blackfriars Bridge, and indeed the whole
view here, with the widening river and St. Paul’s dome rising
majestically, is fine and noble. The City of London School is a
satisfactory work of good proportions, filling its site worthily; but
the same cannot be said of its neighbour, the Sion College Library,
which affects much and is decidedly poor in the result. The Royal Hotel
fills in the corner admirably, and is perhaps the only hotel of
importance in London “run” upon foreign lines. It must be pleasant to
live there for a season perhaps, and it is likely the sojourner would
have quite a new and different idea of London from the conventional one.
The Moorish building facing it, and now the headquarters of the
Salvation Army, has an excellent and piquant effect. An extraordinary
and unusual arrangement will be noticed here, viz., that of three
bridges crossing the river almost side by side.

Returning now to the Strand, in Garrick Street, close to Covent Garden,
we find the most interesting Club in London--a sort of theatrical
museum--THE GARRICK CLUB. Its wonderful collection of portraits of
actors, and of dramatic scenes, is truly extraordinary, and we can fancy
no more pleasant entertainment for a person of cultured theatrical
tastes than to be “taken over” the club on the privileged Wednesday, by
some well-skilled person, and to be shown all that is curious.

The club was originally a sort of convivial resort for actors and
literary men, and met originally in a cosy house in King Street, Covent
Garden. It expanded into its present handsome club house--not, it is
said or lamented, without losing its original _cachet_. The pictures
were mostly collected by Charles Matthews “the elder,” of facetious
memory, and he seems to have embarrassed himself by the sacrifices he
made to secure them. In his difficulties he was induced to exhibit them
with the hope of making a little money, and he comments with bitter
sarcasm on the result of the experiment. It was astonishing, he said,
how passionately eager every one was to see them when they were at his
home--and strangers used every art to obtain admission. But when they
were offered for exhibition, no one was inclined to pay a shilling to
see them. Mr. Durrant Cooper bought the collection, and _lent_ them to
the club, in the hope that it would buy them; but, as its resources did
not enable it to do so, he most generously gave it as a free gift.

Though many of the portraits are copies--and some very inferior
ones--the general charm of the collection is the striking merit of the
workmanship. There are some scenes by Zoffany, in his most brilliant
manner, miracles of gay colour and vivid touch--the well-known scene
from “The Clandestine Marriage,” with the portraits of King and Mrs.
Baddeley, is, in my opinion, the gem of the whole, and, if put up for
sale, would fetch a very large sum. It is astonishing that this fine and
spirited painter, who inherited his style from Hogarth, should not be
more valued. The fine _bravura_ portraits of Woodward and Cibber in the
dining-room are very striking, as well as the many works of that
brilliant painter, Clint. The stage antiquarian will be amused at the
contemporary scenes of the Garrick era. The great actor as Macbeth, with
the daggers, etc., appearing in a wig and coat and long _scarlet_
waistcoat--“like the Lord Mayor’s coachman,” it was said.

The club possesses many theatrical “curios” and relics. Shoe-buckles,
snuff-boxes, etc., of this and that celebrated performer. It acquired
lately what I look on as the most characteristic and valuable
theatrical collection that exists, viz., three stout volumes of bills,
sketches and criticisms, gathered by one Nixon, an artist who flourished
towards the end of last century, and not only knew Garrick, Kemble, Kean
and the rest, but had a knack of sketching them. There is a portrait of
Irving by Millais, presented by the actor, but it is scarcely worthy of
the artist. Strange to say its library is its weakest part; though there
is a fair gathering of plays and memoirs, this department is not so
strong as it should be.

This Garrick is a pleasant place of tryst, and has that motley
complexion which makes it more agreeable. Here are found all the actors
of established position--_littérateurs_, soldiers, lawyers. The “Father
of the Club” still happily flourishes at a great age--a link with the
past.

       *       *       *       *       *

As we enter the great church-like hall of the LAW COURTS, we notice that
to the right one of the lower arches is filled in with a memorial to the
architect of the structure, the late Mr. Street. There is a large
sitting figure, well sculptured, a monumental inscription of high
compliment and panegyric in which it is conveyed to the spectator that
all the wonders he sees about are the single work of this man thus
celebrated. The result is singular, as the stranger naturally turns to
survey the work which had brought its creator such unusual honour. He
sees a hall with painted windows, which any architect of the time could
have designed, while through the door he is led away, to the right and
left, through catacombs and dark passages. This exhausts the effect of
the interior, and no one surely deserves a memorial, meaning plainly “si
monumentum requiris, circumspice,” who had contrived such a combination.

Granting that the hall is harmonious and pleasing, albeit narrow and
thin from its length, this introduction of the monument is surely a
curious instance of the inappropriate; though we might understand and
accept a tablet in a retired place which recorded the single fact that
Mr. Street had designed and built the work. This bold flamboyant
structure, which engrosses and encroaches on the architectural work,
disturbs the _coup d’œil_ and entraps the spectator; for he expects to
find the glories of some eminent lawyer or judge in whom the entire
kingdom is interested. It is utterly out of keeping, and causes us on
the instant to challenge its right to be there at all.

In Brussels, as we look down from the Place Royale, we see at the bottom
of the hill the magnificent Palais de Justice, a stately monument,
worthy of the Cæsars and of the race which reared the Town Hall at
Ypres. This building may be objected to in many points, but there can be
no question as to the grandeur of the architect’s conception and the
thorough logic and grasp of detail which distinguishes it. It really
astounds one to think of this modest, unpretending little kingdom,
rearing without fuss or show so

[Illustration: THE LAW COURTS]

splendid a pile, massive and enduring as the Pyramids, and conveying to
all Belgians a stately, dignified embodiment of the law. This work will
be standing and admired as a wonder hundreds of years hence. But with
our great kingdom, after years of consultations, selection, debate,
changing and rechanging, doing and undoing, after endless chatter about
“the New Law Courts,” “progress of the New Law Courts,” “Street’s great
work,” etc., the result is the cluster of odds and ends to be seen at
the entrance of Fleet Street! If an architect had purposely contrived to
give the effect of a number of detached buildings and “dependences,”
added one to the other at different times, he could not have been more
successful. One could fancy the idea of a great central hall being
conceived with a row of courts on each side. The great hall would then
be the prominent object, and express itself in a demonstrative way; it
would be seen from afar, with its courts attached to the side in a less
obtrusive fashion. But the hall shrinks back from the front, and seems
to hide itself behind the unmeaning-looking porch, over which runs the
curious little Gothic gallery. The two octagonal towers in front are
obtrusive enough, and claim more attention than the hall, yet they only
hold dark spiral staircases, which lead to the court gallery at the
side, though they affect to have some duty connected with the hall.

More defective still is the disposition of the _façade_, which is
intended to express a central hall with two wings, while beyond is a
sort of register house and offices with a clock tower. Now these
offices, having inferior functions, should surely have been marked off
distinctly, and proclaim that they were mere “dependences.” But it will
be seen that they are in the same style and have the same importance,
nay, a portion is a _replica_ of one of the “wings” of the Hall, which
makes the whole outline indistinct.

The great hall has merits, and there is a certain calm elegance about
it, though it suggests something ecclesiastical rather than legal. It is
said that a flight of stairs leading to the arcades above had almost
been forgotten, and was supplied by some afterthought. The arrangements
for access to the different courts and waiting rooms are of the most
extraordinary kind, through dark passages, up winding breakneck stairs
and bewildering crannies. The public when they find themselves in the
hall and naturally seek access to the courts, are sent out of the
building, and have to struggle up a winding stair in the two towers
outside. No idea can be given of the dark galleries above, of the sense
of oppression, the want of air and light which is found in them. The
Courts are gloomy caverns, where artificial light has nearly always to
be used. Every arrangement is more or less inconvenient, and there are
incessant complaints. The truth is, the whole should be courageously
remodelled. Stone galleries should run round the great hall, gained by a
broad monumental double flight of stairs; these galleries should lead
directly to the several courts. All the minute subdivisions of passages,
waiting rooms for jurors, waiting rooms for witnesses, which only
bewilder, should be swept away. A new set of courts should be erected on
the vacant piece. The whole fault arises from squeezing too much into a
small area. Some such heroic remedy will assuredly be carried out sooner
rather than later.

Close to the Law Courts, and on the spot where Temple Bar stood, has
been placed the notorious “Griffin,” which excited a storm of ridicule
when it was set up. It will hardly be credited that this grotesque
thing, which consists of a sort of pedestal, little more pretentious
than a drinking fountain, with its monster on the top, and two small
effigies at the side, cost some £10,000! The late Mr. Street offered to
design a new archway which would harmonize with his building and be
suitable to the traffic, but this was declined.

It seems almost to be the destiny of London monuments to be pulled down
with indignity, and perhaps sold to some one in the country to ornament
their mansions. The stones of Temple Bar, after lying in a yard for some
ten years, were bought by Sir H. Meux, and transported to his place,
“Theobalds,” near to Waltham Cross, where it has been re-erected as a
gateway to the avenue. The stones were numbered, but the rains washed
off all the paint, so the architect had a difficult puzzle to fit them
together. It is said to have a very imposing and satisfactory effect.
But a place might have been found for it in town. The old railings in
front of St. Paul’s were sold to some one in America. Mr. Sala, who has
much curious lore of this kind, discovered that the stones of old London
Bridge were carried off to build a house in Kent, and that the fittings
of the Star Chamber now decorate a dining-room in Sir Edward Cust’s
house; while the grand staircase of Northumberland House does duty in a
mansion at South Kensington. Mr. Sala knows of a house not far from
Leighton Buzzard, where the chimney-piece of the Rubens-House at Antwerp
is fixed; and Mr. Barnum informed him that he “was in treaty” for the
old timber of the Traitor’s Gate at the Tower. Perhaps some disposition
of this kind might, after all, be the best fate for the old stones of
the Burlington colonnade, now lying derelict at Battersea.

       *       *       *       *       *

Returning to the Law Courts, it may not be remembered what a story of
embarrassment and trouble and heated controversy is associated with the
building. It began with the competition of designs, which went on for
years. A plan was accepted, then set aside. When we find fault with the
general failure of the interior arrangements, it should, in fairness, be
borne in mind that the architect was cruelly hampered, checked and
interfered with. At the time the hard, unsympathetic Ayrton was in
office, who seems to have pursued the same course that he did in the
case of the unhappy Alfred Steevens, the sculptor. To insure some
miserable savings in the outlay, he appears to have insisted
systematically on paring away everything that could not be justified by
the strictest utility. Towers were shortened, ornament of all kind was
suppressed--and above all, he insisted with Procrustean severity, on
almost impossible accommodation being provided, which had to be
furnished to the sacrifice of light, air and room. Hence the darkened,
stifling chambers, narrow passages, and tortuous communications. This
was indeed being “penny wise and pound foolish.”

It is perhaps forgotten that nearly the whole structure was erected by
foreign workmen--Germans principally--who were imported at the time of a
great building strike, and lived in the inclosure. At the termination of
the strike they continued in their employment.

The familiar clock which projects over the street was the subject of
many experiments and failures. As it is there is something ungainly and
lacking in proportion about it. It was tried in various positions, but
the truth is it is not adapted to the tower, and the old and
old-fashioned carved and gilt dials which are seen in the bye lanes of
the City are infinitely more _cheerful_ and effective.

It was long “on the cards” whether the Courts should be built on the
Embankment instead of in their present _locale_. It is unfortunate that
the former site was not selected. The effect would have been as imposing
as it was convenient; but it was thought to be too far away from the
haunts of the barristers--from the Temple and the Inns of Court.

The most splendid “Palace of Justice” in the world has been recently
completed by “poor little Belgium.” Nothing more monumental, more
stately, gigantic, can be conceived than the new Courts at Brussels. It
towers over everything, and almost astounds.

       *       *       *       *       *

Perhaps the most striking and imposing structure in all London is the
great Cathedral of ST. PAUL.

In a pleasing passage Mr. Justin McCarthy has recorded his impressions
of the aspect of this wonderful building. Many years ago, when he was
beginning his literary career in London, he used, he said, to come down
the river as far as Blackfriars at all seasons and in all weathers, and
he never came near to the Bridge without observing the magnificent dome
of St. Paul’s. He would go into one of the niches and lose himself in
the singular beauty of the noble dome, rising out of the mist or gilded
by the sunlight. It was always beautiful and always touching, no matter
what the weather might be. Seen dimly shining through fog or mist it had
a certain charm, because it seemed to be like some building in a distant
phantom city of which you could only imagine a dim outline. When he
looked around him and saw the hurrying crowds of people and heard the
noise, the tumult, the incessant tramping, the constant talk of the
passers-by, it seemed to him a sort of poetic duty to lift himself, for
a few moments at least, out of the daily commonplace of life, and have a
sort of communion with that ideal world which was floating high above
him. He added, that there were two points of view from which such a
picture could be looked at; to consider whether the real and ideal ought
to be brought into juxtaposition or be compared and contrasted with each
other to make a true picture, whether in life or in art. The very dome
of St. Paul’s would not be so beautiful were it not for the bustling
crowd below, nor would the crowd seem so real without the calm dome
above.

More wonderful still is the view from the surging gathering at the
bottom of Ludgate Hill, where all the ways meet. There is the raging
tumult, the hurrying from the City and to the City, the business, the
traffic, the confusion; yet calm, unruffled above all, rises the great
dome, like some work of nature and with all the mistiness of a mountain.
The railway bridge across is not by any means a blemish, and most
picturesque is the quaint spire of the church half-way up the hill, said
to have been placed there by Wren as a foil to his greater work. Its
elegant Italian

[Illustration]

mouldings are well worthy of study, as well as the exquisite proportions
of the spire, exactly adjusted to the tower and building below.

There are some other interesting points associated with the great
Cathedral and its construction, which may be suggested to the casual
visitor. He will note the imposing portico which fronts him as he
approaches from Ludgate Hill, which is in two tiers, one placed over the
other, with a double row of columns. It has been often compared with
that of St. Peter’s, which offers a single portico of the ordinary
pattern, and is considered to be more simple and imposing. Wren,
however, could not procure from the quarries blocks more than four feet
in diameter, and as lofty columns, to exhibit due proportion, should be
far thicker, he was thus compelled to content himself with short columns
in two tiers. The same difficulty was found at St. Peter’s, but there
the portico is comparatively low, and the columns short.

With all the claims to admiration of this great work, the critical
architect, or indeed the amateur, finds other blemishes. One of the most
conspicuous is the treatment of the side aisles, where they join the
nave and transepts. The most careless observer will be struck by the
confusion and make-shift air of the whole. A gallery runs across each,
with a low second arch. Below there is a sort of apse, from which open
out the two side aisles. This complicated arrangement destroys the
general grandeur. The chapels on the right and left near the bottom are
set down to the inspiration and influence of the Catholic Duke of York,
who, it is said, hoped in better times to use them for his own faith.
But it is not likely that such interference would have been tolerated.

The curious statue, or group of statues, in front of the Cathedral,
representing Queen Anne, with images of the kingdoms at her feet, is not
ineffective. It had gradually fallen into decay, and her Majesty’s
features had fallen away. A fanatic once climbed over the railing and
was discovered hammering ferociously at the nose, figures, etc. The
damage was never repaired. Later the Corporation determined to have it
altogether renewed, and the commission was given to the notorious Belt,
whose supposed wrongs and hard treatment had excited great noise and
sympathy. During the progress of the new _replica_ the sculptor
unluckily “got into trouble,” and being found guilty of a serious charge
of fraud, was consigned to prison. The work, however, went on, and was
completed in prison, where, by the indulgence of the authorities, the
sculptor was allowed to do his modelling, carving, etc. This work
therefore may be said to have been executed by a convict under sentence.

This suggests the incuriousness of the London public as to some of their
monuments. Many will recall the perplexing statue which once stood in
the centre of Leicester Square. Antiquaries could not agree as to the
individual it represented, and from time to time amusing and heated
discussions broke out on the subject. Meanwhile the statue began
gradually to go to pieces. But no one thought of interfering. Soon it
appeared with a wooden prop under the horse, which was accepted as
satisfactory for some time. By-and-by came a _farceur_ who fitted it up
with a broom in one hand and a saucepan on its head. And this
degradation was tolerated. At last it was carted off.

But it would be idle to expatiate on the impressive beauty of St.
Paul’s, which rises with such solemn majesty, and towers so tremendously
over the clustered houses at its feet. There are some curious
particulars associated with this great cathedral which are perhaps
little known to “the general.” The huge walls which form its outline, it
will be noted, are of the height of the central aisle, and suggest a
lofty interior of cruciform shape. But when we enter we find that the
interior does not correspond to the exterior. There is a great central
nave, flanked by narrow aisles, much lower in height, while the choir
seems contracted. It is only by comparison that we discover that the
exterior is deceptive, and pretends to represent far more space within
than really exists. The side aisles are really but half the height
represented on the outside, and there is a whole “mock story” over the
aisles, which seems a pretence scarcely worthy of so great an architect.
Indeed, this system of sham is carried out through the whole, the
interior scarcely anywhere corresponding to the exterior.

But there is a greater surprise in the case of the famous dome. It is
generally assumed that what is seen inside the church is but the inner
surface of the outer dome. But in nearly every constructed dome there is
an inner shell, with a space between it and the outer dome. The reason
is, it would be impossible to raise so ponderous a piece of vaulting in
the air. Only a construction of a small and shallow kind could be thus
supported, and a light outside shell of timber and lead is framed over
it. But few could suppose what a tremendous disproportion exists between
the outer and innermost shells of St. Paul’s dome, the latter being some
fifty feet below the other! The daring plans of Wren made him adopt no
less than _three_ casings for this dome. His object was to surmount all
by a massive stone lantern, to be capped by the gilt ball and cross; but
the difficulty was that the weight would be so great that no system of
arching would support it. He therefore carried up from the base whence
the dome springs an enormous funnel-shaped cone of brick, on which he
securely built his stone lantern, the sides of the funnel being
perfectly straight. This erection, which is so lofty that it would
hardly stand under the roof of the nave, is, in parts, only a couple of
bricks thick, yet it supports a massive structure in the air; and to
prevent its spreading at the base, the ingenious architect wound round
it a vast chain, which he sunk in molten lead.

Outside the funnel was placed the grand dome, which is simply a wooden
shell covered with lead, while, to hide the funnel within, a second dome
was constructed below. This is the one that exhibits the Thornhill
paintings. A grand dome is like an epic for the architect, and the story
of the dome of St. Peter’s is a romance; but when we think of an
architect carrying up with him to the clouds, that is, to the height of
360 feet from the ground, a stone temple 40 or 50 feet high, to be there
perched securely, defiant of storms, the head grows dizzy. Nor does this
exhaust the singularities of the structure. The line of the circular
wall that is behind the visitor to the Whispering Gallery slopes inwards
at a sharp angle, and continues to do so all the way upwards.

“I think,” says Hawthorne, “I must have been under a spell of
enchantment to-day, connecting me with St. Paul’s; for, trying to get
away from it by various avenues, I still got bewildered, and again and
again saw its great dome and pinnacles before me. It is very beautiful,
very rich. I did not think that anything but Gothic architecture could
have so interested me. The statues, the niches, the embroidery as it
were of sculpture traced around it, produced a delightful effect.

“The exterior of this fabric, no less than that of its Italian rival, is
remarkable (as seen from its immediate vicinity) for deceptive
smallness. Few spectators from the surrounding roads would believe the
dimensions of any part, if stated to them. This defect (which some by
singular sophistry have tried to prove a beauty) arises here chiefly
from the want of a scale, owing to the fence preventing our seeing any
human figures near the foot of the building, or even judging of the
distance that separates us from it.” This fence, however, has been
removed. To quote a shrewd architect:--“It takes little to humble a
cathedral, and this little, Wren’s successor contrived to add, in his
mock balustrade over the second cornice; a thing protested against by
Wren without seeing it--how much more had he seen its barbarous
design!--and, what is worse, a thing studiously contrived to give a
false scale; and it is therefore taken by every eye as a perfectly safe
measure of scale. We know that a balustrade is meant to lean upon, and
therefore, wherever we see one, we conclude it to be 3 or 4 feet high. A
_mock_ balustrade, _nine_ feet high, never enters our calculations, so
that when we see such an absurdity, on a building 90 feet high, if we
have other scales we are simply puzzled, but if, as in this case, we
have _none_, the building is at once reduced to 30 or 40 feet.” This
theory, however, will scarcely hold; for a statue placed at a great
height must, to appear of ordinary size, be made of colossal
proportions.

Within will be noted the massive piers and arches which support the
dome, and which are of enormous strength below as well as above ground.
Many will be puzzled by the little gallery and second arch which
disfigure the four corner arches. It is believed that some signs of
settlement were noted or feared during the work, and that Wren took this
mode of strengthening the supports.

The latest addition to the glories of the Cathedral is the new reredos,
set up in the year 1888, at a cost of over £30,000. This is an enormous
structure, apparently suggested by the sumptuous altar in the Oratory;
it rises to a vast height, and is a rich composition of rare marbles,
gildings, and statues. Notwithstanding, the effect on the Cathedral is
most unhappy, and instead of being an ornament it is really a
disfigurement, as any one can see for himself. It seems like a great
solid screen; it does not harmonize with the style of the Cathedral, and
seems to cut off a portion of the choir. The side columns have quite a
“skimpy” air, and appear to do no duty, having nothing to support,
suggesting the lines on those in front of old Carlton House:

    “Care colonne, che fate là?
     Non siamo in questa verità.”

The depth and mistiness of the apse behind is lost. The accomplished
architect of the fane had these objections in view when he designed a
fine baldacchino, supported on rich twisted columns, which would have
left the view open and increased the sense of distance. It is really
melancholy to find how architects have lost this sense of
appropriateness in all their attempts.

In a side chapel on the right is seen the Duke of Wellington’s monument,
an ambitious structure, somewhat after the pattern of Queen Elizabeth’s
monument in the Abbey. There is a sad story of disappointed hopes and
failure associated with it. The artist, Alfred Steevens, was an
enthusiastic person, full of ardour, and accomplished. He could paint as
well as mould, and saw here a chance, as he fancied, of “immortalizing
himself.” He flung himself into the work, but only to pass from disaster
to disaster. He had modelled his style a good deal after the Elgin
marbles, and in Holford House there is a great chimney-piece of his
execution, of which the model is shown in the South Kensington Museum;
figures in rather contorted attitudes, with brawny, muscular, and fleshy
limbs; these were his favourite peculiarities, and as they contrasted
with the tame conventional school of his time, it was considered genius
and not extravagance.

Full of high aspirations, he accepted the commission which was to give
him immortality, and agreed to execute it for the sum of £14,000.
Considering that the whole was nearly twenty feet high, and comprised
carvings and marbles, and bronze castings and much delicate detail, this
was cheap. But the artist was a careless, unbusiness-like man; the cash
was served out to him as he asked for it by Mr. Penrose, the architect
of “the fabric.” He took his time over the matter, and one day it was
discovered that almost the whole sum was spent and scarcely half the
work executed. The

[Illustration: CHIMNEY PIECE, BY STEEVENS.]

[Illustration: THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON’S MONUMENT.]

modelling was fairly complete, but there were the castings, the
erection, etc.; the artist had no more money to go on with, and ruin
stared him in the face. In this condition he fell into the hands of Mr.
Ayrton, a rough official, without delicacy, and who only looked to his
strict duty. This unfeeling but still conscientious man--at least, to
the nation--peremptorily called on the artist to deliver what he had
been paid for to perform, and, on his failure, actually seized on his
studio and all his models, by way of execution. The unfortunate sculptor
wrote a piteous letter, appealing to Mr. Gladstone for mercy, which had
no result. There was much hubbub. Mr. Ayrton was abused by some and
praised by others, for doing his duty by the nation. At last, after much
clamour, and appeals _ad misericordiam_, it was resolved that he should
have another chance; further time was given, some more money was
granted, and the ill-fated artist set to work with what spirit he could
muster. Before he could do much he died, and the “job” being now left on
their hands the Government had to make what they could of the business.
An artist was found who undertook to complete the whole for £5,000 or
£6,000 more, and it was finally set up at a total cost of £27,000. There
can be no question that the poor artist was in the wrong and behaved
badly; but at the same time it must be said this improvidence was owing
to a good spirit. He wished to furnish the best of work and the best of
material. In this view, the visitor should note the exquisite and
perfectly pure character of the marble columns, and that there are no
exceptions to this excellence is owing to the generous recklessness of
the sculptor, who rejected many pieces before he accepted one that was
suitable. The beautiful delicacy of the tracery on these columns is
worth notice, and could only be brought out by a material of a
corresponding delicacy. The general result, however, is unsatisfactory.
The artist intended to have a small equestrian figure on the top, which
the rough Ayrton declared would exhibit the Duke as “riding over his own
recumbent body,” so an emblematic group was proposed instead. This
pedestal, however, is still left vacant. The monument is, moreover,
unsuited to the place, and so large for the area that no proper view of
it can be obtained. The large window behind still further hinders the
effect. At the time it was judiciously suggested that it should be
shifted and placed across the chapel, with the wall for a background.
The sarcophagus on which the Duke reposes is oddly balanced on a small
base, and his head and feet project between the columns. Steevens has
done other work, but there is a certain violence and extravagance in his
conceptions which must modify the high opinion once entertained of him.

St. Paul’s does not offer so much farcical entertainment as the Abbey in
fantastic memorials; but the figures displayed have an unvarying
tameness and platitude. Few would recognize Dr. Johnson in the undraped
man with the head bent down, the work of Bacon, and which is reared at
the corner of the choir. Here we find a number of ponderous generals and
commanders, not one of whom shows the spirit displayed by the effigies
at Westminster. Still there are some of interest, one or two of
Flaxman’s, such as that of Howard: the Napiers, however, are dreadful.
All the modern work is rather indifferent; witness the black doors to
the sham tomb, flanked by two “lumpy” figures. Worst of all are the
amateurish relievos let into apsidal spaces in the aisles, in memory of
regiments. The iron gates to the choir aisles are really fine pieces of
work, solid and yet airy in treatment. The treatment of the choir, under
modern rearrangements, has had the effect of narrowing it to an
extraordinary degree. The organ, divided in two and perched aloft at
each side, has helped this effect, and the stalls encroach too much. It
is forgotten now that the arched screen gallery placed at one of the
doors stood across the entrance to the choir with the organ at the top,
the fine commemorative inscriptions to Wren below, “Si monumentum
requiris, circumspice.”[12]

The wonderful solid railings round the Cathedral are the
admiration of the ironfounder. It has been noted that those of St.
Martin’s-in-the-Fields appear to have come from the same foundry. Like
everything connected with the great Cathedral they have a little
history. They cost, to begin with, nearly £10,000. They are of a fine
colossal pattern, to show, as it were, that their service is worthy of
the church they protect. If we would contrast with them specimens of
poor workmanship, we shall find them at the Law Courts, which are fenced
round with fragile and pretentious railings, which look as if a strong
arm could pull them down in a few moments. Of the St. Paul’s railings an
art-writer has said truly: “These celebrated railings are examples of
that old art of working in iron which once flourished in England and
died out almost suddenly. Their history is singular. When the Cathedral
was completed tenders were invited for supplying the ironwork, and it
was found that one of the tenders sent in was so much lower than all the
others that it was at once accepted. The rails were duly delivered, and
proved to be of cast iron. The specifications had, by accident, never
mentioned hammered or wrought iron, and all the other conditions
prescribed had been fulfilled. So the railings had to be accepted; and
they are to-day almost as perfect as when they were first put up. The
casting certainly was of the finest description. Hammered iron would
have shown corrosion long ago; but the skin to some extent protected the
surface. In the cast-iron cannon of early date the skin was invariably
left on, and so the outsides of the pieces actually show less rust than
the insides. A railing of hammered iron fixed into stone coping with
lead soon becomes a battery in which the ironwork suffers constantly.
The damp and fog and rain, unequally affecting the two surfaces, set up
electrical action, and the iron gradually gives way. Had those railings
round St. Paul’s been of the best wrought instead of the best cast
metal, we should to-day have seen the bases all attenuated and eaten
away like the posts to which gondolas are moored at the doorway of a
Venetian palace.” A portion, as we have said, is now in America.

Of all the many questions that have exercised the artistic world the
treatment of the interior dome of St. Paul’s has caused the greatest
perplexity. Experiments of all kinds have been made to try the effect.
Nearly all the angles have been fitted with costly mosaic work, but any
one can see for himself that the effect is not what might be expected,
or in the least satisfactory. The reason is, that the colouring is too
sombre and heavy, and not of the gay, bright, and radiant character
which mosaic demands. The prominent portions have been gilt, but in a
“niggling” way, and, the stone remaining soiled and stained, the effect
is bad. The Whispering Gallery was treated experimentally by such
artists as Sir Frederick Leighton and Mr. Poynter, who set up round it
simulated figures and other decorations, but without result. The truth
is, these decorations do not suit our skies and fogs, nor the rough
state of the rest of the Cathedral. The only treatment would be painting
the whole in gay cheerful colours, as in St. Peter’s; but this again,
for many reasons, would not be desirable.

About the year 1825 an accomplished architect, Mr. Elmes, brought
forward a plan for improving the churchyard, and which would have set
off the Cathedral with extraordinary effect. He proposed to take down
all the houses surrounding it and rebuild them after a large uniform
plan so as to follow the outline of the Cathedral.

       *       *       *       *       *

One of the pleasantest incidents in these London explorations is the
sudden discovery of some quiet sequestered nook or corner, so sheltered
and forgotten that the great hum and roar of the streets does not reach
it. These agreeable surprises occur oftener than one would imagine, and
in places where we would least dream of looking for them. Nowhere is the
current of life and traffic so congested as on Ludgate Hill: the stream
surges up and down the hill, yet here we come upon such an oasis.
Turning out of Paternoster Row, and passing near its aorta, as we might
almost style Stationers’ Hall Court, we stand before a red arch and
gateway, quite modern, but not out of keeping. This is the entrance to
Amen Court, happily named, a little sequestered square, where the canons
of St. Paul’s live when they are “in residence.” Nothing more lazy,
dreamy, or retired can be imagined. The hum of the City seems without,
and shut out as by walls. The inclosure is quite monastic. You enter at
one gate, pass round three sides of a square, and out by another. There
is a central block of old, grimed, well-worn, and well-caked brick
houses, in front of which spreads out a vast expanse of ground ivy,
spread out like a carpet: who would think of or expect such a thing?
There is a grass plot and flower beds and more old brick houses, with
bits of shining brass on which are inscribed the canons’ names. Here is
life dozed away; but the sound of the Cathedral bell reaches us.



CHAPTER XIV.

OLD SUBURBAN MANSIONS.


It is always pleasant to see some old, well-preserved mansion, with its
pictures and doorways in good condition, the attendant housekeeper
directing attention in her prim “show-woman” way to the carvings by
“_Grumbling Gibbons_” (a phrase once actually uttered). More grateful,
however, is it to come by chance on some neglected, unsung mansion which
is celebrated by no flourishings of housekeepers, and which lingers on
in its modest seclusion. Such used to be Hoghton Tower in Lancashire,
with its long-forsaken court and leaden statue in the centre, its
terraces and balustrades, all sad and dilapidated, but now restored to
its old uses.

There are still to be found about London suburbs a few of the old and
picturesque family mansions built in the days of King William or Queen
Anne. These veterans of ripe, time-defying brick, spacious and even
elegant in their proportions, excite more interest than many of us are
able to explain. Some of the best have been levelled. A few still
exist--usually altered and added to, for the use of schools or
“institutions”; but not many of them are likely to last much longer.

Last year we heard of a fine old house at Wandsworth that had been
doomed: it was to be cleared away by some builder of suburban villas. It
was a very interesting specimen of its kind. It stood back a little from
the road--presenting a rather imposing front of ripe and hard old red
brick, with a richly-carved tympanum curiously protected from the
incursions of the birds by a wire netting--a building well disposed and
balanced, with two little low wings or “dependences” peeping from behind
luxuriant shrubs. Over all was that sort of red rust which gives a
grateful look of ripeness to old brickwork. The doorway was well and
richly carved. Welcome, on entering, was the prospect of the old hall,
dusky, panelled in oak, and crossed by three airy arches, well carved,
with light pillars suggesting a colonnade. Beyond was the stair, rising
effectively in short lengths. The elegant, twisted rail, slight but
stable, the solidly-moulded balustrade--were admirably effective and
interesting. The wall of the stair was richly dight with allegorical
painting; whilst in the carved ceiling, among the clouds and vapours,
were stately medallions with portraits. The colours, though somewhat
faded and overlaid with grime, were in good order, and when cleaned
would no doubt make a brave show. Verrio’s work--a country job--we may
easily believe it to be. All through the mansion was abundant panelling
and doors, with cornices richly cut. There was a perplexing little room,
seemingly sliced off some greater apartment, the ceiling of which also
displayed pictorial glories--two tremendous dames seated on clouds, one
handing a sealed letter to the other. In the broad ceiling over the
stair a medallion picture, said to be a portrait of the Duchess of York;
and another believed to represent Queen Anne. In all this there was a
sense of surprise mingled with a tranquil charm, a kind of new
sensation. It was pleasant to think that the hard and grinding London
practical spirit had overlooked this graceful relic. The spirit of Anne
seemed to flutter through the old chambers. But it was on passing
through to the back, to the old-fashioned “grounds,” that this sentiment
was intensified. Looking up we could see that its back façade was as
architectural as the front, displaying another richly-carved pediment
and scutcheon with what appeared to be a cipher. The solemn brickwork,
rusted and mellow, looked down on an old-fashioned, low-lying
plaisaunce. From the richly-carved doorway we entered upon a stone
platform, two gracefully-curved flights of steps sweeping down to the
garden. Here you could scarcely believe that you were close to the
high-road and to the ever-jingling tram-cars. Beyond, there were shady
old trees and velvet lawns, strongly marked by an old-fashioned air of
tranquillity. This old place is said to have been the residence of the
Princess Anne and her husband. For my part, I have no hesitation in
accepting the tradition. In any case, let us hope that the spoiler will
not be allowed to intrude. There are but few of this pattern in or near
London, and none so interesting as this “Wandsworth Manor-house.”

Another house is also interesting, not merely from its merits as a
picturesque structure, but also from its associations. Half way up
Highgate Hill, which leads us to a cluster of old houses and on to
Hampstead, where there are many more, we come to a solid,
impregnable-looking building, rising in its garden, and standing retired
behind a low wall and surrounded by old trees. This is Cromwell’s House,
which, the tradition runs, was inhabited by him, or by one of his
generals--Ireton, most probably. This fine old building impresses us by
its massive and picturesque air, its high roof and “shaggy” eaves, its
heavy solid cupola, and its rich and beautiful carvings. The very wooden
gates of the period have been retained, with their delicate carvings in
low relief. The tone and colouring of the brickwork is of a mellow
genial crimson, almost a raspberry tint, the mouldings are all delicate,
yet bold and firm, a model for modern artists in brick; they are as
sharp

[Illustration: CROMWELL’S HOUSE, HIGHGATE.]

as on the day they were wrought and will stand time and weather for a
century to come. The doorway is heavy and massive. The whole aspect of
this fine old mansion suggests that we are a hundred miles away from
London. When we enter, we find nothing but deep-brown oak, heavily
corniced doors, a hall all set off with the same material, sombre and
mysterious. Beyond is the stair, which has a celebrity of its own: it is
laid out in the always effective style of short flights of half a dozen
steps, with then a turn at right angles, and a landing, as though our
fathers, like Hamlet, were “short and scant of breath,” and liked to
ascend leisurely. There are fine massive balustrades and--here is the
curiosity of the thing--at intervals rise carved oak statuettes of the
Parliamentary soldiers with singular and pleasing effect. It is
astonishing that these _bizarre_ ornaments have escaped destruction
hitherto, and that accident or design has not damaged or destroyed them.
The old house is now a children’s hospital, and nurses and matrons pass
up and down the Parliamentary staircase. But this occupancy suggests
misgivings, as a hospital, once it begins to flourish, has a fashion of
expanding or levelling regardless of antiquarian associations. The
choice piece of ground, the gardens behind, and the fine healthy,
stimulating air are tempting enough; and a few years may see the
Cromwellian house levelled, and an imposing modern, but hideous pile
reared in its place.

A scientific pilgrimage in search of the old London houses and mansions
would discover even much more that is interesting and novel. London
abounds in such. But here the same old story of disaster has to be
repeated--the best are going or gone. Not by the slow processes of the
leveller and builder, but through some onsets which work wholesale.[13]

[Illustration: FAIRFAX HOUSE, PUTNEY.]

Among the solid old houses in the London suburbs, few attracted the
pedestrian more powerfully than the imposing residence at Putney, known
as Fairfax House. This pile of old brick was a welcome adornment to
that pleasing bit of Putney which was close to the bridge. Its great
length, old ivy, quaint gables and grounds, gave it a particular
attraction. Yet, in 1886, the word went forth that it was to be
levelled, and the ground built over.

Many protests were made, among others, by a lady who had been a former
resident. “I lived,” she pleaded, “for nineteen years in that dear old
house, and would take any trouble to prevent its destruction. It is
older than he mentions. The house was built by one Dawes, a merchant, in
the reign of Henry VIII. Queen Elizabeth used to breakfast in the
oak-panelled drawing-room, waiting for the tide, to ford the river on
her journeys from Sheen to London. This gave it the name of the Queen’s
House, by which it is called in the older documents, and by which it was
known till the present name was given after General Fairfax was
quartered there. The house was added to in the reign of Queen Anne; this
date is given on one of the two sun-dials on the walls. Much more lofty
rooms were built over the low drawing-room. Besides its picturesqueness
and historic interest, the old house has the merit of being built in a
substantial style only too rare in these days. The best preservation
would be if some rich man would buy. Could not the garden be saved also?
Such a variety of fine old specimen trees is rarely to be met with even
in much larger grounds: and the house would be much spoilt by having the
garden destroyed.”

But some practical-minded surveyors, in whose hands was the sale of the
house, came to demolish the story: “Many erroneous statements have been
published, and we may state that there is no shut-up room in the house.
There was formerly an enclosed space in the cellars, but this was opened
some years ago, and nothing whatever was discovered. There is no
indication of any subterranean passage, and it would be difficult to
propound any theory to account for its supposed existence. There is
every reason to suppose that the house was never visited by Queen
Elizabeth, and this supposition is strengthened by the fact that no
portion of the house (which we have carefully inspected) appears to be
of older date than her reign. If Queen Elizabeth was ever entertained in
the oak-panelled drawing-room, as has been stated, the room must then
have presented a totally different appearance, as the present panelling
is about the date of the Restoration, and much of the work in the house
is of considerably later date. It is also practically certain that
Fairfax never took up his quarters in Fairfax House, although it is
probable that his Commissary-General, Ireton, might have done so.” It is
probable that few owners of moderate income, who were offered a large
sum for some relic of antiquity, would decline, no matter how æsthetic
their tastes. The result of the discussion was that the house was
levelled, and over its fair gardens was built a row of practical and
unlovely shops.

In the year 1888, a number of famous and historic houses were offered
for sale by Messrs. Lumley. These included the old Shaw House at
Newbury. “This may claim to rank, from an historical point of view,
among the most interesting places in the southern counties. The
beautiful Elizabethan mansion house, built by John Doleman just three
centuries ago, is that same Shaw House, otherwise ‘Doleman’s,’ which
figures so prominently in the exciting story of the second battle of
Newbury. It is one of the few remaining sixteenth-century houses which,
while it is in good preservation, has suffered nothing from the rash
hand of the restorer, and its bowling-greens, fish-ponds, yew walks and
paths along the Lambourne, and even the defensive works thrown up by the
Royalist army, are still there to illustrate its remarkable history.” On
the same day was offered for sale Carshalton House--whence Dr. Radcliffe
was summoned to attend the death-bed of Queen Anne, and did not go. This
mansion has its richly-timbered grounds and “fayre” gardens, and
beautiful iron gates. There was also “submitted to public competition”
Chalfont Park and Lodge, which was praised by Horace Walpole; also “The
Oaks,” associated pleasingly with General Burgoyne’s drama “The Maid of
the Oaks,” an old castellated red-brick mansion, standing in well-wooded
grounds. Gatton House, with its marble hall, was also sold, once
connected with the notorious and corrupt old borough. This was not bad
for a single day’s work. The probability would be that the buyer would
turn his purchase to immediate profit, level, and sell materials, and
lay out the grounds for villa residences.

Yet one more agreeable old mansion, whose fall is hovering in the
balance, or has been already determined, is the pleasing Raleigh House,
out at Brixton.[14] It stood, or stands, in some charming grounds,
old-fashioned, and rather secluded. For some years an agitation has been
going on in the district to secure it as a park.

It is nearer to London, however, that the old houses disappear with the
rapidity of a pantomimic change. The temptation of a garden and
“grounds” is irresistible. Now where a single house stood you can trace
a street of villas or terraces. A keen, sympathetic antiquary, living at
Stoke Newington, Mr. Andrews, kept mournful watch on this, and some
years ago recorded these baleful efforts:--

“Like autumn leaves, the ripe old red-brick mansions of the seventeenth
and early part of the eighteenth century, which stood in their spacious
grounds surrounded by lofty buttressed walls, and which gave a peculiar
character to our London suburbs, are falling around us. Only a few
months have passed since I recorded the demolition of Fleetwood House;
last month the end of

[Illustration: RALEIGH HOUSE.]

Kensington House was narrated, and I have two others to add to the
series this month. The flat little branch line which ran out of Lower
Edmonton was terminated at its Enfield end by a fine old red-brick
mansion of the period of Queen Anne, which was utilized as the terminal
station. This alteration would seem to necessitate the erection of a new
station and the removal of the old one; so that probably before these
lines are in the hands of the reader, the pick will be at its cruel work
upon the fine old pile. The front of the house has good specimens of
carved and moulded brickwork. The central portion of the front is,
perhaps, one of the finest pieces of English brickwork in existence. It
consists of an elaborate entablature, with a segmental pediment and four
pilasters, which divide the front into three spaces, the central space,
which contains a large window, being twice as wide as the lateral ones,
each of which contains a niche, semicircular in plan, with a
semicircular head, filled in with a well-carved cherub’s head. Above the
niche is a panel containing swags of fruit and flowers, well carved out
of brickwork. The entablature is very elaborately moulded and carved,
the cornice having delicately-moulded dentils. Each pilaster has a
carved composite capital. The bricks of which this portion of the front
is formed are small, and the joints are almost imperceptible. All the
carving is out of the solid brickwork, and none of this work appears to
have been cast. The front contains, in addition, four windows, with
carved brick architraves and label-heads. The other features are the
usual ones found in houses of this period. All the rooms are panelled.

“The other old house is at the foot of Denmark Hill, Camberwell, and was
till lately known as ‘Denmark Hill Grammar School.’ It was erected by
Sir Christopher Wren upwards of two hundred years ago, and is said to be
the last specimen of his work in the neighbourhood. It was once the
residence of Mrs. Thrale, and during her occupancy Dr. Johnson was, no
doubt, a frequent visitor here, as he was at Kensington House. The
mansion was, on the 16th ult., sold in upwards of a hundred lots for old
building materials, and two hundred small houses will shortly spring up
on the site.”

The changes which have taken place in the City have been so
imperceptible that we are scarcely conscious of the alteration of old
landmarks and lines of streets. They have been well summarized by a
laborious antiquary in one of the daily papers:--

“The amount of rebuilding that has taken place in the last ten years far
exceeds that necessitated by the Great Fire. With the exception of the
Regent’s route, cut through from Carlton House up to Regent’s Park,
there is no important thoroughfare that has not changed its appearance
in the last few years. The Strand and Piccadilly are on the maps what
they were long ago, but one by one, and sometimes in small groups, so
many houses have been pulled down and rebuilt that their appearance is
considerably altered. Where entire rebuilding has not been effected,
refronting has been adopted in many cases, as, _e.g._, in Gower Street,
Hans Place, and several houses in Mayfair. Mount Street and its
neighbourhood is new, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, is not recognizable, while
Flood Street and others adjoining have been swept away. The aspect of
Whitehall is greatly changed of late years, and Spring Gardens is all
but gone. Michael’s Grove, Brompton, has undergone a thorough
transformation. The whole area about Lower Sloane Street, where was the
Old Chelsea Market, with its neighbouring courts, has been cleared, and
is already partly rebuilt. The completion of Lennox Gardens and Cadogan
Square was followed almost immediately by the rebuilding of Leete
Street, Draycott Place and Street, and part of the King’s Road.
Shaftesbury Avenue and the new Charing Cross Road are showing their
influence right and left of them, and the whole of that part of London
is becoming new, while their existence has already altered the character
of life in the celebrated Seven Dials neighbourhood.”



CHAPTER XV.

OLD TOWN MANSIONS.


The old mansions of nobles and gentlemen in Grosvenor Street, Brook
Street, Hill Street, Cavendish Square and Portman Square are generally
of a fine and dignified pattern. There is an imposing air about the
halls. The staircase is laid out in a noble style. The reception rooms
are grand, and disposed in an original way, a surprise to us who are
accustomed to the modern pattern of “front and back drawingrooms.”

Some of these old mansions offer a pleasing study, and excite admiration
from their good effect. The Burlington Hotel has lately added to its
premises a couple of old and stately mansions of this grand pattern. The
decoration is the most interesting feature, consisting of garlands and
panelling, wrought in a sort of massive stucco and laid profusely on the
walls, with a rich but heavy effect--“surfaces,” as they are called, of
the boldest pattern. Everywhere are medallions and flowers.

Close by was a more interesting pile which for years many passed by
without even a look of curiosity. This was a large building at the
bottom of Old Burlington Street, apparently a factory or warehouse. “Few
persons living,” says an agreeable reminiscent, writing in February,
1887, “can recollect the old Western Exchange, which in 1820 was one of
the sights of London. It ran parallel with the Burlington Arcade, the
entrance being from 10, Old Bond Street, to which house it is still
attached, and was at one time the grand banqueting hall. This hall is
170 feet by 105 feet, is very lofty, and has spacious galleries all
round, supported by handsome Doric columns, highly decorated. There are
numerous ante-rooms covering a large space of ground at the rear of
several houses in Old Bond Street, the whole abutting on the Burlington
Arcade, to which at one time there was an entrance. Its existence dates
back to about the end of the sixteenth century, when the northern part
of the street ended here. New Bond Street was then an open field known
as Conduit Mead, named from one of the conduits which supplied this
part of London with water.

“In 1820 this place was converted into a bazaar, known, as already
stated, as the Western Exchange. Though a fashionable resort before
dinner of the idle and well-to-do, it did not last many years. Since
then it has had a chequered existence, being occupied by commercial
firms for various purposes. It is now about to be demolished, to erect
on its site ‘commanding premises’ for a West-end firm of coach-builders,
and thus one more of the few old London houses with a history will soon
have disappeared.”

In various streets of the neighbourhood are to be found some fine,
well-preserved houses of excellent pattern. In Clifford Street there is
an ironmonger, or dealer in chimney-pieces, and as we enter his “store”
we are surprised to find ourselves in one of the handsome architectural
halls of the old days. Low, but richly adorned, columns, fluted, and
with Corinthian capitals, support the ceiling, which is as richly worked
with panels and devices. On the left a stair rises, in very short
flights of half a dozen steps, between two of the columns, and the
balustrades are quite monumental in their solidity. All is as stout and
solid as it was a century and a half ago, when no doubt it was
constructed. Such a sight as this is a pleasing surprise to the
traveller in London.

Many will recall the fine old “Kensington House,” a long, tall,
high-roofed building of many windows, which stood behind a low wall in
that suburb. It was ever interesting to pass by, for one thought of
Louise de Querouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth, who lived there; of the
French school held there after the Revolution by the Prince de Broglie
as principal, to whom King Charles X. was pupil; and of Mrs. Inchbald,
who lived here when it was a boarding-house. It was a pity to lose so
fine a mansion, and with such gardens behind.

In 1872 this and another fine old house, with wings, were levelled to
make way for Baron Grant’s imposing but ugly palace, and a space of
seven acres was cleared. Many will recall the gigantic green lattice
work reared at each side to fence out the adjoining houses. The edifice
and grounds cost close upon £300,000, equivalent to a rental of £15,000
a year. By the time it was completed its owner was ruined, and he never
lived in it.[15]

In some of the old-fashioned streets in Westminster we find noblemen’s
or gentlemen’s houses disposed inside after a pattern which might be
commended to the study and imitation of our modern architects. Not long
since we were in a house in Park Place, whose interior seemed strikingly
original and elegant. The staircase was in a sort of well, and the
drawing-room landing took the shape of a kind of balustraded gallery,
whence you could look down on the company ascending. The drawing-room
had a piquant window, whence there was a view of the stairs. Though this
was a small house there was a general tone of spaciousness. There are
modest houses in the little streets leading out of the Strand which
display the same elegance of arrangement.

One of the most pleasing, or quaint, survivals is a little tranquil
corner in Westminster known as “Queen Anne’s Square,” or Gate. A very
few years ago this might have altogether escaped the town traveller, so
abandoned was it; but now it has come into fashion; the great “Mansions”
tower over it, the ground is coveted, and is increasing in value every
hour. Here are some houses of a truly antique pattern, high-roofed, with
broad eaves, dormer windows, and, finally, some seven or eight doorways
all of the same pattern, carved elaborately, each taking the shape of a
sort of projecting canopy with pendent bosses. The whole is in perfect
keeping, and is after one design--pillars, door-case, and railing. The
effect is charming, and elaborate as the doorways are, the workmanship
is so sound that they are in admirable condition, and have stood wind
and weather for a couple of centuries. The artistic visitor will note
the beautiful proportion of the pilasters, the due and effective breadth
of the mouldings, while even the railings--simple and in such contrast
to the pretentious and modern railings--are in keeping. In the corner of
the square is the statue of Queen Anne. But already the refashioning has
set in; stories are being added, the dormers swept away, and presently
the houses will be modernized and rebuilt, the doorways coveted by the
dealers, or disposed of for a good price in Wardour Street. One of the
quaint oddities of the place is the grotesque faces which dot the walls,
each different.

Within a couple of doors of the Adelphi Theatre are to be seen two
houses, “quaint and old,” belonging to the Charles II. era--one said to
have been the house of Drayton the poet--carved and original. I suppose
few who pass hurriedly by, observe them. The old houses in London, of
great pretensions to beauty, are very few. Of course there are a goodly
number of simply antique mansions.

In James Street, and looking on the Wellington Barracks, is a quaint old
Queen Anne house, extremely simple in treatment, but original. It is
well worth looking at from its cheerful, gay brickwork, and the
arrangement of the windows, disposed irregularly. It has quite the
suburban or Richmond-like air, and ought to be on a common. Indeed,
there is a quaint air of old fashion about this James Street rarely
found in a London street.

Perhaps a gem of a house, as it might be called, is the one in Great
Queen Street--No. 56, which was before alluded to. It consists of a most
original, red-brick front, with pilasters adorned with rich and even
elegant Corinthian capitals; above runs a no less rich cornice, while
some piquant dormer windows give point and emphasis. Happily it has
fallen into the hands of a worthy firm who deserve credit for having
maintained it in its old perfect shape; but the necessities of trade
have entailed the “excavation” of the lower storey, which of course
destroys the effect. Still, as it is, this charming relic--the tradition
runs that it was the work of Inigo Jones--is ever welcome to the
passer-by, from the rich warm, mellow tint of its brick--its
“closeness,” the whole being as smooth as a billiard table--and the
general soundness of the work. This must have been built two centuries
ago. What house of our day will stand for half a century, even with
abundant renewings and repairs?

Two of the most beautiful and elaborate Old London houses are those to
be found side by side at the end of Mortimer Street, out of Regent
Street. There is a grace and richness in the carvings and general design
which suggest some of the old Flemish houses in Antwerp and Bruges. Very
few, I fancy, have ever noted this piece of architectural embroidery,
which is as solid as it is interesting.

But it is melancholy to think of all that has been swept away, even
recently. Forgotten now is the so-called Shakespeare Tavern, that stood
a few years ago in Aldersgate Street, an extraordinarily picturesque
specimen of the framed house, richly carved, overhanging the street, all
gables and bows, a wonderfully effective example of the old wooden
structures. In a short time we shall be looking for such things in vain,
and have only pictures and photographs to remind us of them. Further
down, on the opposite side of the street, stood, at the same period,
that curious specimen of a nobleman’s town mansion, Shaftesbury House,
with its huge stone pilasters and rambling façade. This also is
levelled. It is something, however, to have seen these things. Nor must
I forget a welcome surprise, or “treat” as an enthusiast would put it,
in the way of old houses, which occurred many years ago, when it was
announced in the papers that there was a special old house in the City,
in Leadenhall Street, on the eve of being pulled down, and which every
connoisseur ought to see before its destruction. I repaired thither with
the rest, and was more than gratified, for a more instructive or
effective survival could not be imagined. It was an old mansion of a
thriving merchant in the days of Queen Anne. Outside it was gloomy, with
an archway, under which you entered into a courtyard, round which spread
the houses and offices. The front was clearly devoted to the business of
the office; in the dwelling, just behind, the merchant and his family
resided. But in what state! and what evidence of wealth and taste! There
was a noble staircase with ponderous balustrades; the walls and ceilings
were painted in allegorical devices--gods and goddesses and clouds;
rooms all panelled in oak with carved cornices--such was the spectacle!
This was the fashion of the day, the combination of business with
opulence. The merchant had not then his box in the country, to which he
repaired at evening, but lived in the town. Here was a glimpse of the
old City--state and trade commingled--merchant and family and clerks and
wares all under the same roof. In a few days the pickaxes were busy on
the paintings!

[Illustration: ROOM IN THE SIR PAUL PINDAR TAVERN.]

So lately as December, 1877, an action was brought by the owner of the
Sir Paul Pindar Tavern in Bishopsgate Street to restrain the
neighbouring hospital from pulling down the adjoining old house. The two
houses were said to be to some extent framed together, so that parts of
the rooms of one would be immediately above or below the rooms of the
other. The two had probably formed originally one house. The buildings
were old and interesting, and the plaintiff deposed that he attributed
much of the value of the good-will “to the antique and quaint appearance
of his house.” It appeared that the one house was separated from the
other by a timber-framed partition, and that a portion of this had been
removed _to enable the South Kensington authorities to get some large
and handsome ceilings_. Already Sir Paul Pindar’s house leans ominously,
as though the foundations were giving way. This elegant old mansion
might be placed in a museum, so profuse and delicate are the carvings
and carved panellings. Mr. Birch tells us it was built about the year
1650, the owner being a wealthy merchant, who gave a sum of £10,000 to
old St. Paul’s Church. The ceilings of the two rooms are exceedingly
rich, one representing, in flat relief, the sacrifice of Isaac, the
other being divided into geometrical patterns. What will become of this
work when the old building has to be taken down?

[Illustration: SIR PAUL PINDAR’S HOUSE.]

Mr. Birch notes with much praise the fine old mansions of St. Helen’s,
their fine design and material, of “cut brick.” The date 1646 is on one
of the pilasters. He thinks--and is probably right--that it is the work
of Inigo Jones, who was employed on the church, where some of the
screens and also the doorways are of his design. In No. 9 is to be seen
a good fire-place. To the same architect also, Mr. Birch attributes “a
very noble chimney-piece” in the house No. 25, Bishopsgate
Street--Crosby Hall Chambers. It is a duty of rather mixed experience,
the hunting up these relics, and the request to be admitted to see a
room or hall upstairs is sometimes received suspiciously, but often
enough very cordially. In some cases the City mind cannot understand the
taste that prompts such inquiries. But on the whole there is a courtesy
and cordiality of reception which is gratifying, the owner seeming
flattered that his property should attract the notice of the curious.
Mr. Birch, always a sympathetic observer, describes an old chamber in
the Ward Schools of St. Botolph, Billingsgate, as a perfect gem, with
its fine oak panels running round, in each panel an excellent painting
in _chiaro oscuro_. Another imposing chamber is that one at Islington
where the Directors of the New River Company meet, with its fine ceiling
wrought with an oval in Inigo Jones’s manner. But in truth there is an
abundance of these old apartments in London, stately, dignified, but
comparatively unknown and difficult to find.

In Hanover Square and George Street there is quite a Dutch tone, as any
one will see who pauses and glances from one house to the other.
Removing the shops, in imagination, as well as the plaster with which
the old brickwork has been encrusted, and peopling them with fine
company, carriages waiting at the door, we can see what the old pattern
was. Many are rich in pilasters and cornices, and it will be noted that
most of the windows are slightly arched. They are, in fact, of the same
pattern as some of the stately mansions in Grosvenor Square inhabited by
the “nobility and gentry,” and would have the same effect if occupied by
such tenants. A curious and elaborately adorned house stands on the
right of the church--the fashionable St. George’s.

[Illustration: ROOM IN SIR PAUL PINDAR’S HOUSE.]

To an artistic eye one of the pleasantest sights is an old-fashioned
mansion standing in its garden, with an elegant gate of twisted iron,
monograms, and a gilt helmet, it may be, interlaced, with sinuous leaves
gracefully bent. Through its openings we see the straight flagged walk
leading to the fan-shaped steps, with the smooth flowing rail of
hammered iron, opening out in a graceful curve. The doorway is tall and
narrow, with an overhanging cornice. The windows exhibit a feeling of
design and balance. There are the high, the solidly imperishable carved
eaves which no damp can penetrate. The whole has an air of grace; it
suits its garden, and its garden suits it. Out at Clapton, nearly
opposite to the Salvationist Barracks, is a house of this pattern;
pleasing, if only as a survival of the well-designed suburban house, and
which will well repay a walk. It is now a ladies’ school.

       *       *       *       *       *

The larger mansions in London, which answer to noblemen’s “hôtels” in
Paris, are few, and are not very imposing of their class. Of this grand
and pretentious kind there are barely half a dozen. The old
Northumberland House, with its well-known lion--now levelled--was
perhaps the only one with historical associations. The Brothers Adam,
who have done so much for the metropolis, do not seem to have been
sufficiently appreciated in this line. Their work is found abundantly in
the country and suburbs, in houses of “noblemen and gentlemen.” The
speculator is ever casting hungry glances at these tempting morsels. One
of the finest of these mansions, so interesting from its associations,
was Chesterfield House, with its graceful façade, flanked by colonnades
joining the two wings, its harmonious yet unpretending combination of
spacious rooms and fine staircase. Of late years this mansion passed
through all the vicissitudes of a “letting house,” and was finally
disposed of to a wealthy magnate who is said to have shown much ability
and skill in “exploiting” his purchase. In the gardens a row of
magnificent mansions, stables, etc. was reared. The ground covered by
the wings was also built over, and the house, shorn of its charming
colonnades, now disposed against the blank brick walls at right angles
to the main building, serves as a residence for the proprietor himself.
It was whispered that this clever arrangement of the purchase had
recouped the whole outlay, and that the mansion is now rent free. The
room where, as the tradition runs, Johnson waited, is now lit with the
electric light!

Devonshire House, whose gloomy and rather dilapidated wall is familiar
to all who pass through Piccadilly, is “a neat, plain, well-proportioned
brick building,” a description that well suits its unpretending merits.
There is also Lansdowne House adjoining, on the north, which has a large
expanse of garden and grounds. It is one of the earliest works of the
Brothers Adam, and after their favourite pattern, a central block with a
pediment and four columns, two lower wings adhering, as it were, to it.
It is said that the reception apartments when thrown open for
festivities will hold a larger number of guests than any other London
house. It has its grand gallery, one hundred feet long, with a famous
collection of statues and pictures. Perhaps, says a certain guide book,
in an amusingly odd criticism, “there is no other collection in which
the human countenance appears with such glorious attributes of mental
expression and artistic execution.” It may be said, however, that this
at least applies admirably to the famous Reynolds portrait of Sterne,
with its very original attitude and Voltairean glance. The Duke of
Westminster’s mansion in Upper Grosvenor Street had probably originally
one of those dismal walls which excited Sir W. Chambers’s reprobation.
There is now in front a striking, open colonnade, or “columniated
screen,” as the architects call it, with two gateways, probably
suggested by that in front of old Carlton House. Through this is seen
the rather ordinary mansion itself, which somehow suggests an “hôtel” in
the faubourg. Facing the park are the gardens, which have been curtailed
by the erection of a somewhat ponderous gallery to hold the pictures.
Here is one of the most famous London collections, with ten Claudes,
eleven Rubenses, and seven Rembrandts, and over one hundred works by
masters of the first and second rank. This is the remarkable feature in
the case of these noble London mansions, viz., the curiosities of the
picture gallery or art collection, suggesting the show palaces at Rome
and Genoa. A sad specimen of failure, after abundant promise and lavish
outlay, is offered by Apsley House. This was an old brick house which
the Iron Duke purchased for nearly £10,000, and proceeded to patch and
remodel, with the most unprofitable result. There are many stories of
his dissatisfaction and disappointment at the result, and of the costly
shifts to which he and his architect, Wyatt, were led to resort to. It
was admitted that it would have been better and cheaper to have reared
an entirely new edifice. Here is a gallery and many choice works of art,
the most interesting of which is Canova’s colossal statue of
Napoleon--the first object which greets the visitor.

Few would imagine that in that fast-decaying city, Dublin, are to be
found some of the finest and most architectural specimens of the
nobleman’s house. It is pitiable to see these stately piles falling into
ruin, or turned to baser and, at least, unsuitable uses. There are some
half a dozen still remaining, worthy of admiration from their beautiful
proportion, noble and spacious apartments, and exquisite stucco. The
Duke of Leinster’s in Merrion Square is now occupied by the Royal Dublin
Society. Another, in William Street, belongs to a commercial firm; Lord
Alborough’s, a name long associated with Mr. Holloway and the “cure of a
bad leg of long standing,” with its private theatre and chapel forming
two wings, has become a barrack. Lord Charlemont’s, in Rutland Square,
designed by Sir W. Chambers, is a public office. The friezes, ceilings,
and other decorative works in these places are truly astonishing and
indeed incomparable, and, it is said, a number of Italian artists were
brought over specially for the work. Nothing indeed shows the decay of
taste so much as the contrast between the older patterns of chimneypiece
and the new. Not many years ago there was a sort of _bande noire_
established in Dublin, who bought up all these artistic fittings, with
the result that almost every old house in the county was ruthlessly
stripped of its adornments, which were taken away to embellish
newly-built houses in London. One private gentleman, who was concerned
in a building speculation, secured no less than forty or fifty
chimney-pieces at one swoop!

An imposing pile of building rises on one side of Piccadilly, between
the Arcade and the Albany, whose great archway leads to the most popular
of exhibitions, that of the Royal Academy. This pretentious and florid
mass is already grey and ancient-looking. Yet not many years back its
place was filled by a long, prison-like, well-grimed, and very dead
wall, literally blackened with the dirt of a century, and more. In the
centre was a huge, massive gateway, that might have opened into Newgate.
This forlorn-looking place was old Burlington House, which seemed as
though no one ever lived in, or entered it. Few supposed that within
there was a building and architectural combination of an original order,
which had often excited the admiration of connoisseurs--the work of the
_dilettante_ Earl of that name, whose skill is still to be admired in
the spacious York Assembly Rooms, for which he furnished designs. In his
alterations of his house in Piccadilly there was much pleasing grace. It
was of only two stories, which can still be noticed, but they are now
groaning under the superimposed third story laid on them by the modern
architect. They seem to protest----

    Lie heavy on him, earth, for he
    Laid many a heavy load on thee.

Those who about twenty years ago passed by its grim portals might have
wondered how this monastic air could have recommended itself to the
English nobility, for it was to be noted that all the great houses in
London, with an exception or two, preserved this air of hostile and
barricaded exclusion. Long ago Sir William Chambers, the architect of
Somerset House, after remarking how in Italy and France the gates of
palaces are always of open ironwork, so as to allow the house within to
be seen, added this pleasant criticism:--

“In London many of our noblemen’s palaces towards the street _look like
convents_; nothing appears but a high wall, with one or two large gates,
in which there is a hole for those who choose to go in or out, to creep
through: if a coach arrives the wide gate is opened indeed, but this is
an operation that requires time. Few in this city suspect that behind an
old brick wall in Piccadilly there is one of the finest pieces of
architecture in Europe.” Here he alludes to the well-known colonnade,
which, on the conversion of the place to its present purposes, was
carted away ignominiously to Battersea Park.

It was a happy and original idea of the noble architect’s. For as he
looked from the windows of his house, his nice artistic sense was
offended by the blank space of the wall in which his gateway was
pierced, and he filled it up with this imposing semicircular colonnade,
which must have formed a stately and ennobling object for the eye to
rest on. Horace Walpole gives this natural account of the surprise
produced on its first introduction to him. “I had not only,” he says,
“never seen it, but had never heard of it. I was invited to a ball at
Burlington House; as I passed under the gate at night, it could not
strike me. But at daybreak, looking out of the window to see the sun
rise, I was surprised at the vision of the colonnade that fronted me. It
seemed one of those edifices in fairy tales that are raised by genii in
a night time.” Of another mansion planned by Lord Burlington, but since
destroyed, Lord Chesterfield said in his lively way: “That to be sure he
could not live in it, but intended to take the house over against it, to
look at it.” This was as handsome a compliment as the sarcastic peer
could offer. But there were other additions to be supplied to the scene.
The house itself was flanked on each side with stately dependences
joined to it by corridors, a system of arrangement to which the older
architects were partial.

Some forty or fifty years ago, one of the Cavendish family remodelled
the house, abolished the gardens, and allowed the familiar Arcade to be
cut through them; while not many years ago the final change was made,
and the house, purchased by Government, was given over to what may be
styled the Artistic and Scientific Societies. The beautiful colonnade
was levelled and carried off to Battersea Park, where the stones now lie
piled on each other, and are decaying away. The late Mr. Ferguson, an
admirable, critical architect, has pointed out the shocking, meagre,
treatment that the house has received--the new story being heavier than
the one underneath, and the monstrous stone arcade placed in front, as
if on purpose to even further shorten the story below. Any
unprofessional person can see for himself how discordant is all this,
but “the job,” as it may be called, was not done by the architect of the
new buildings. “Burlington House, at present, is only remarkable as an
example to show how easy it is to destroy even the best buildings by
ill-judged additions or alterations; an upper story has been added more
solid, with an order taller than that in which it stands, so as utterly
to crush what was a _piano nobile_ of the building. The result is, that
what a few years ago was one of the most elegant is now one of the very
worst architectural examples in the metropolis.”

Another interesting pursuit for the “Traveller in London” is the
visiting of old houses where famous persons have lived or died. It is a
curious sensation, this, of halting before some cenotaph of this kind,
especially when it wears its old habit, and has not been altered. You
think how many times they ascended those steps and entered the always
open door. There was his room--there his study. In most instances the
reflection is, how poor, how mean the tabernacle! Never did this recur
with such force as on a visit to Enfield to Charles Lamb’s old house--a
poor, stricken little dwelling--one in a mean cluster, so straitened and
small, with a little doorway through which you could scarce squeeze. Yet
here he gave parties, and lived amid madness and misery. Friends came
down from London to see him. The Society of Arts has furnished aid in
this direction, and like some Old Mortality goes round London recording,
and keeping alive, these memories by fixing pretty, circular tablets on
the front of the more notable mansions. This good work is being
gradually extended, but it takes time; for it entails negotiation with
the proprietors, some of whom are slow to understand what is intended.
But, in truth, if one were to diligently search the “lives” and
“memoirs,” an enormous list could be made. The American, Mr. L. Hutton,
has done this recently, with singular painstaking. The difficulty is,
however, that in the last century “numbers” were not in fashion, and
people gave generally the name only of the street. Sir H. Wood, the
secretary of the Society, has given an account of his pleasant labours,
by which it would appear that the complete list of tablets to the
present time is as follows:--

James Barry, 36, Castle Street, Oxford Street; Edmund Burke, 37, Gerrard
Street, Soho; Lord Byron, 16, Holles Street; George Canning, 37, Conduit
Street; John Dryden, 43, Gerrard Street; Michael Faraday, 2, Blandford
Street, Portman Square; John Flaxman, 7, Buckingham Street, Fitzroy
Square; Benjamin Franklin, 7, Craven Street, Strand; David Garrick, 5,
Adelphi Terrace; George Frederick Handel, 25, Brook Street; William
Hogarth, 30, Leicester Square; Samuel Johnson, 17, Gough Square, Fleet
Street; Napoleon III., 3A, King Street, St. James’s; Lord Nelson, 147,
New Bond Street; Sir Isaac Newton, 35, St. Martin’s Street; Peter the
Great, 15, Buckingham Street, Strand; Sir Joshua Reynolds, 47, Leicester
Square; Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 14, Savile Row; Mrs. Siddons, 27,
Upper Baker Street; Sir Robert Walpole, 5, Arlington Street.

We find also--Henry Cavendish, Sir Humphrey Davy, Charles Dickens,
Thomas Gainsborough, Count Rumford, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Joseph Mallord
William Turner, and Josiah Wedgwood. It is hoped that arrangements may,
in most of the above cases, soon be completed. This is not so
interesting a list as might be made; many more of greater importance
might be added. Sterne, for instance, lodged in Old Bond Street, at a
cheesemonger’s, as Mr. Cunningham ascertained; James Boswell in Halfmoon
Street and Downing Street; William Penn, in Norfolk Street, Strand. The
site, at least, of the Turk’s Head Coffee House, where the Literary Club
met, might be easily ascertained. Theodore Hook’s and Charles Lamb’s
house, in Colebrooke Row, should certainly be noted.

There is another admirable society especially devoted to cherishing the
interest in old London buildings, and which has already worked
admirably. This is “The Society for Photographing Relics of Old
London,” and which has been excellently directed by Mr. Alfred Marks, of
Long Ditton. Already no less than eighty-four pictures have been taken,
many of which are already the sole and faithful records of what have
been swept away. These are very different from the average photograph,
being artistic to a high degree, done in low tones with effective
shadow, of large size, and mounted on a bluish grey card, so as to throw
out the picture. The list includes--the “Oxford Arms” Inn, Warwick Lane;
houses in Wych Street and Drury Lane; Lincoln’s Inn; St. Bartholomew the
Great, and adjacent houses in Cloth Fair; Temple Bar; houses in
Leadenhall Street; Gray’s Inn Lane; Brewer Street, Soho; the “Sir Paul
Pindar;” Staple Inn, Holborn Front; Canonbury Tower; Barnard’s Inn;
Christ’s Hospital; Churchyard of St. Laurence Pountney; houses in Great
Queen Street and Aldersgate Street; twelve views of the Charterhouse;
the Southwark Inns; old houses in the Borough and Bermondsey; St. Mary
Overy’s Dock; Sion College; Oxford Market; Little Dean’s Yard;
Ashburnham House; Banqueting House, Whitehall; Water Gate, York House;
Lincoln’s Inn Fields; Lambeth Palace Gate House, Great Hall, and
“Lollards’ Tower”; old house, Palace Yard, Lambeth; old houses, Aldgate;
“The Golden Axe,” St. Mary Axe; No. 37, Cheapside; No. 73, Cheapside;
old house, Great Ormond Street; old house, Queen Square, Bloomsbury;
shop, Macclesfield Street, Soho.

Another old mansion whose loss is to be lamented is that of the
Tradescants, in South Lambeth. It had fine old grounds attached, and
venerable trees. Indeed, in Lambeth, up to a recent date, there was an
abundance of picturesque, heavy-eaved houses, often sketched by the
artist. This, of the Tradescants, had been visited by Charles I., Pepys,
Atterbury, and others. “On this spot, which until the last few weeks
(1881) remained a rare pleasaunce amid bricks and mortar and smoke, were
grown the first apricots ever seen in England. These, tradition
declared, were stolen from the Dey of Algiers’ garden by John
Tradescant, who had joined an expedition against the Barbary pirates.
‘Tradeskins’ Ark’ was a favourite show place of the Londoners, and its
contents subsequently became the foundation of the Ashmolean Museum in
Oxford. In the gardens grew noble trees, which long relieved the
dinginess of the decaying neighbourhood. But the axe has been laid at
the root of the tall trees. The shrubs have been torn up, the absurd
little temples to Flora have fared roughly at the hodman’s hands, and
this winter every trace of the ‘Ark’ itself has disappeared.”

Not long ago the public was invited to take farewell of a great
merchant’s mansion, declared positively to be the last-surviving
specimen of the kind. Vast crowds came accordingly, and visited every
portion of this interesting old place, which however was not so
imposing or effective as the old destroyed house in Leadenhall Street. I
went with the rest. It was situated in the interesting Austin Friars,
where you enter from the street under an arch and find yourself in the
grounds and inclosure of the old Augustine monastery, now covered with
houses, but still laid out in curious winding passages, and not
unpicturesque. On the right is the old Dutch Church. “With difficulty,”
says an explorer, “we find the old house, which is like a manor
house--No. 21--having its steps and garden--waste enough. It could be
traced on maps, and had a regular pedigree, from its first possessor,
Olmius, a Dutch merchant, in King William’s time, from whom it passed to
the French family of Tierrenoult, from them to the Minets--eminent
bankers in the days of the First French Empire--and from them to Thomas
Le Marchant, whose descendant held it as representative of the firm of
Thomas, Son, and Lefevre. From these last holders the present owner, Mr.
John Fleming, acquired the property.” It is described as “a large
red-brick structure, lined throughout with quaintly carved panels and
wainscoting, and its many rooms are capacious, lofty, and comfortable.
Entering the old hall through a fine doorway, the merchant’s
counting-house is seen to the right, and his morning room and many
remains of ware rooms to the left. Below this are capacious cellars,
containing mysterious hiding places, and a remarkable vaulted strong
room with an iron door. Here, too, was an old stone well, the water of
which was used by the present owner until he discovered that there were
some human bones at the bottom of it. In the vaulted kitchen there is a
veritable old Dutch oven, faced with fantastic blue tiles, representing
courtiers caracoling on fat Flanders mares, and the figures alternate
with illustrations of tulips and tiger-lilies. Outside are the old
red-tiled stables, and brew-house with gabled roof; and these look on
part of the Garden of the Mendicants, still containing a gnarled old
fig-tree that has at spasmodic intervals borne fruit, but ends its life
next week. Returning to the hall we mount a broad staircase with large
twisted balustrades and rails, every step of which is ornamented with
intricate floral decoration. The panelling was of a rather meagre kind,
with small mouldings up a narrow stair, and getting on to the red-tiled
roof, with a stone parapet surrounding it, we can see what may be called
the scheme of this extraordinary old property. The house is surrounded
by other old buildings--all alike sentenced to destruction next Monday
morning--and scraps of gardens, and over the way we see the huge modern
buildings that now stand on the site of the Drapers’ Gardens, which
existed in many a living person’s memory. There was something pathetic
in the forlorn look of the whole, particularly of this abandoned bit of
City garden, with its broad flight of riveted Purbeck flag steps and old
iron handrails approaching it. Lofty, comfortable, highly respectable,
and in its true sense ‘snug’ is the dining-room on the first floor,
with its many ingeniously-contrived cupboards and good woodwork. The
outside displayed the sad-coloured tint of old and grimed brick.” Coming
by a day or two later, I found the hoardings already up, and the
“breakers” at their work.

Turning out of High Street, Kensington, close by the station, and
descending “Wright’s Lane” for a hundred yards or so, we find ourselves
before another of these surviving old mansions--Scarsdale House. There
is the venerable brick wall running along the road and enclosing a
garden as old, while the mansion, with its tiled roof, turns its
shoulder to the road and looks toward its fair garden. A pleasing
gateway, with piers surmounted by well-carved vases of graceful pattern.
Entering we find ourselves in a spacious garden of the old Manor House
pattern, a broad walk, with piers halfway down--remains, probably, of a
terrace--and at the bottom a sort of ruined pavilion or summer-house;
steps lead down from the old doorway into the garden, and the house,
with its tiled roof and dormer windows, forms a pleasing background.
There is a pleasant air of repose and abandonment over all, and no one
would suppose he was in the heart of a busy quarter of London.

Within we find all in keeping. The spacious reception and drawing-rooms
are long and lofty, and “walled” with old panelling, heavily moulded,
which have not been disfigured with paint or even varnish. The staircase
is in short flights, with broad landings, and has fine substantial
balusters of oak, with richly-twisted rails. The doorways are black as
ebony, and carved elaborately; and an entrance to one of the bedrooms is
deeply embayed, and offers an effective union of arched and square
doorway combined, supported on carved pillars. There is an abundance of
recesses and shadowy places, and the whole has quite a picturesque air.
Long may Scarsdale House be spared! though railway companies and
speculative builders have the valuable ground in their eyes, and would
be glad--the latter, at least--to erect a showy Scarsdale Terrace, or
Mansions, “suitable for noblemen, gentlemen, Members of Parliament, or
bachelors of position.”

Another interesting house is to be found in a mean street just out of
Leicester Square, next Orange Street Chapel, where the great philosopher
Newton lived--a poor, whitened, tumbling-down place, that will not hold
together long. It is a melancholy spectacle. Some thirty years ago it
was a sort of restaurant, dignified by the name of “Hôtel Newton.”
Persons before that date recalled the aspect of the house, which
appropriately displayed the actual observatory on the top, used
regularly, it was said, by the philosopher. A Frenchman who occupied the
house, and who carried on the calling of an optician, professed to have
many of the philosopher’s instruments, which he offered for sale to the
curious in such matters. After he passed away the observatory was
removed, amid much lament over such a heathenish sacrifice. It came
out, however, that the whole was an imposture; the observatory had been
constructed by the Frenchman himself, and the sale of the instruments
was akin to the sale of the bits of bronze which professed to be
portions of the adjoining statue of Charles I.!

Flaxman’s house is close to that interesting square--so suggestive of
Bath--Fitzroy Square. Canning’s house is in Conduit Street, but has been
fashioned into a shop. The name, however, does not excite much interest,
as we are too near his time; though this objection would not hold in the
case of Lord Beaconsfield, whose house in Curzon Street, Mayfair, might
be acceptably distinguished by a tablet.



CHAPTER XVI.

OLD SQUARES.


The old, smaller squares in London are very interesting from their
tranquil, retired air and antique pattern, and venerable trees. None is
more characteristic than Queen Square in Bloomsbury, with its pleasant
Queen Anne and Georgian houses running round. Most of these inclosures
were laid out originally after the Dutch manner, which is still
apparent. It must be a curious solitary sensation to live in one of
these retreats, and they are affected by students and literary men. Old
fashion, indeed, reigns in Queen Square, though now they have pulled
down some of the houses to rear hospitals. The houses have a pleasant,
tranquil air, though within they are gloomy enough. Everyone knows the
curious half solemnity, half chill, inspired by an old Queen Anne house,
such as one has experienced in Church Row, Hampstead. Here, you would
think you were miles away from town, in some sleepy suburb. At the upper
end lived Dr. Charles Burney--the father of the brilliant Fanny
Burney--in a house which had been inhabited by Alderman Barber, and to
which Swift was accustomed to resort. This house, I fancy, was one of
those recently pulled down to give place to the hospital. In this worthy
mansion one has the interest that one takes in all connected with
Johnson.

Not far away is another antique square, very old-fashioned, and with
good houses, Red Lion Square. The inclosures of both these places have
more the air of “grounds” than of the prim and trim modern square. There
is a certain wildness, and the grass grows carelessly. But it is now
completely invaded by business, and every house is subdivided into
offices. Curious little foot-alleys lead into it from various quarters.

Another interesting little square is the one yclept Golden. Many a
Londoner scarcely knows of its existence, and many more have never seen
it; yet it is within a stone’s throw of Regent Street. It is prettily
proportioned, the grass flourishing with extraordinary greenness, and in
the centre rises an effective statue. Not so many years ago private
persons of high respectability lived here, among others Cardinal
Wiseman. Now it is entirely given over to commercial offices, and has a
busy air in consequence. It would seem strange now to look for any
person of condition residing here. Some of the most forlorn and dismal
places are those curious squares found in the long roads that lead out
of London. There is one such near the Old Kent Road, built in a
pretentious style and now utterly gone to seed and decay. All the
doorways, of a curious pattern, are the same, so are all the windows. No
one walks there, no custom appears to visit it. It seems one mass of
abandonment and we hurry away depressed. Soho Square is really quaint
and interesting: it is in a sound and flourishing condition; and so full
of interest, that a small book has been written on its history. Nothing
is more pleasing than the sudden glimpse that is obtained of it from
Oxford Street, or from Dean Street, its fine old trees spreading out
umbrageously. The old houses have a quaint, solid air, notably those at
the corners. Still flourishes the old Soho Bazaar at one corner, a visit
to which in days gone by was thought a treat and a wonder for children.
The houses, with the streets surrounding, are valuable as suggesting how
old London of a hundred and fifty years back must have looked. It can
have been little altered, and though shops have been opened in many of
the lower stories, these have in many instances retained their old
parlour shape. One is struck by the handsome quality of the mansions,
the sound, solid doors, and the “detached” character of each house; that
is, each was finished by itself, and not built in “rows.” A long blank
wall pierced with windows, now a chapel, was formerly Mrs. Cornely’s
Ridotto Rooms. On the same side of Soho Square we may note a singularly
handsome house, architectural in its bold pilasters and cornices, and
the cheerful red of its brick, which suggest that famous old Inigo
Jones’s house in Great Queen Street. This imposing-looking edifice
belongs to the flourishing firm of Crosse and Blackwell, who have taken
pains to keep it in sound condition, and have fitted up one of the
handsome old chambers as a sort of baronial hall, with oaken panellings
and ornamental chimney. Wardour Street is suspiciously close at hand,
but the spirit that prompted the work was good. Some of the houses
display curious devices--faces, roses, and fleur-de-lys. Close by, in
Oxford Street, we find the wine-famed Messrs. Gilbey in occupation of a
rather stately building with a heavy porch and architectural front. It
is long forgotten now that this was erst the Pantheon, originally one of
the most beautiful buildings ever erected in London, as we can learn
from the fine series of engraved plates published in its heyday. The
interior was burnt early in the century, and it was reconstructed, but
not with the same magnificence. It has a curious history
therefore--being used as an opera house, and a place of entertainment
for assemblies. A well-known man of fashion in Sheridan’s days, Colonel
Greville, was much concerned with its fortunes.

Indeed, a history of the London squares would have extraordinary
interest and romance, and there are many odd details associated with
them. Who knows, for instance, that the eminently grave and respectable
mansions round Russell Square were actually built out of the square
itself?--the bricks being obtained from an immense pit dug in the
centre, which still lies in a hollow. The air of Portman Square used to
have a reputation for extreme salubrity and mildness, and Mrs.
Montagu--who lived in one of the corner houses, and entertained her
chimney sweeps there--used to declare that “it was the Montpelier of
England.” One of the most genuine and truly old-fashioned squares is
Berkeley Square--where the trees are ancient, their branches spreading
away close to the ground. The grass seems extra rich and green, as
though long laid down. Of a sunny day there is a most picturesque effect
from the shade cast on the grass by the branches. We seem to be straying
in some old park, and there is a tranquil, retired air. These little
effects are overlooked by the incurious sojourners in town. Belgrave
Square dates from only the year 1825, and was the work of the Messrs.
Cubitt, the houses being designed by an Italian. Hanover Square, and
George Street adjoining, is certainly one of the most notable and
characteristic portions of London, for its almost picturesque old
houses. These are in fine condition, but so familiar is the locality
that few will perhaps have taken note of them. The square and street
date from the time of George I., and, it is stated, “exhibit many
examples of the German style of architecture in private houses.” Indeed,
we have only to pause before some of the houses at the upper end of
George Street to see the truth of this. Within there are fine specimens
of staircases and panellings. “The view down George Street, from the
upper end of the square, is one of the most interesting in the whole
city; the sides of the square, the area in the middle, the breaks of
building that form the entrance of the vista, the vista itself, but
above all, the beautiful projection of the portico of St. George’s
Church, are all circumstances that unite in beauty, and render the scene
perfect.” Mr. Malton says, “This view has more the air of an Italian
scene than any other in London.” Harewood House, on the north side of
the square, was built for the late Duke of Roxburghe, but purchased by
Lord Harewood: it was designed, as can be seen at the first glance, by
the Adams. These tall houses of George Street, with their bright
cheerful tint, their long windows, have within fine spacious staircases
of infinite variety, walls handsomely panelled and richly decorated,
and, above all, fine ceilings elaborately wrought in good old stucco
work. In some of the houses the drawing-room walls are set off with
medallions in low relief of the Wedgwood pattern. This old stucco work
is now a lost and beautiful art. Mr. Aitcheson, the accomplished
architect, has recently explained its true principles, which are totally
at variance with the modern system. One of

[Illustration: BERKELEY SQUARE.]

the most attractive of the houses here is the Arts Club--a fine,
interesting specimen, with rather florid ceilings exhibiting very
delicate work, fine inlaid marble chimney-pieces, and a “flowing”
staircase. Though a small mansion, it offers that curious air of
spaciousness which arises from the sense of proportion being duly felt
and carried out.

While wandering through the immediate district of Hanover Square, where
the same school of architects seems to have inspired the work, I came on
a house of pretension which many an explorer would overlook, and which
has certainly escaped the notice of the careless wanderer. At the top of
Old Burlington Street is a large mansion, a centre block and two wings,
which now does duty as two or three distinct establishments. One wing
forms the entrance and hall, with a circular stair built into a sort of
rotunda, from which open richly-carved doors and doorways. The other
wing is pierced by a long tunnel which leads by a kind of alley to St.
George’s Church. The centre block is given over to a house agent. Here
too is abundance of mouldings and decorations, with a monumental
fireplace, over which is a sort of panelled chimney-piece. This contrast
with the practical uses for which the place serves is curious. Behind is
a large building or hall which can scarcely be made out from the street,
so built in is it. This is now known as the Burlington Hall, and used as
a Young Men’s Association. This place, with all its dependences, must
date from the middle of last century.

Portman and Cavendish Squares offer a great variety of mansions, well
built and well designed--such specimens of the interiors as I have seen
are remarkable for their noble stone staircases, florid ironwork
railings, and heavily panelled walls. The beautiful solid work with
which noblemen and gentlemen used to adorn their mansions can be well
illustrated by a casual instance which lately came under my notice. A
gentleman who was fitting up his West End house was informed by his
builders that a mansion was being pulled down in Grosvenor Street, I
think, and that some of the fittings could be secured for the usual “old
song.” Among these were a set of massive mahogany doors--_portes
battantes_--of the finest description, the mouldings being set off with
richly gilt brass.

St. James’s Square has a cheerful dignity of its own: one of the most
dramatic incidents of the century took place in one of the houses. When
the issue of the battle of Waterloo was unknown, a wealthy Mrs. Boehm
was giving a grand ball, at which the Regent was present. All the rank
and fashion of London were there, the windows lit up and open, for the
night was sultry; the crowd gathered thickly, looking up at the
festivity and the clustered figures. It was after midnight, when a roar
came from the distant streets, which increased and swelled, and was
borne into the room. The dancing stopped, and those looking on witnessed
an indescribable scene of tumult and joy. A chaise and four
approached--flags projecting from the windows: an officer, Major Percy,
leaped out, carrying his flags, rushed upstairs, and coming up straight
to the Prince, knelt on one knee and announced the great victory. Poor
Mrs. Boehm’s ball was ruined, for the Prince and everyone departed
instantly. But the scene rises before us on some of the summer nights
when festivity is going on in the square.[16]

How very few “West-enders” have penetrated so far as Fitzroy Square,
which, though close to Tottenham Court Road, is somewhat difficult to
find. There is an attraction in its stately façades, one side of which
is the work of the Brothers Adam, and has quite the flavour of Bath.
Another side was designed by an inferior artist; while the remaining
ones are in the ordinary style. Anyone who would wish to feel thoroughly
“old-fashioned” should come and live here. Not many years ago, before
the era of studio building set in, it was much affected as a haunt of
artists; but now it offers a curious “running to seed” air. It is,
however, well worth a visit, and a person of taste, by contrasting the
two sides, will see how skilfully a true architect can lay out a pile of
buildings.

[Illustration: MANSION IN CAVENDISH SQUARE.]



CHAPTER XVII.

THE OLD TAVERNS.


Old inns in London may perhaps owe their repute to the share they have
in the scenery of Pickwick and Nickleby. The London inns and inn-yards,
still used as houses of entertainment, are among the last few survivals
which link us to the antique customs of old London. These are now being
swept away with a pitiless rapidity, and in a dozen years more not one
will be left. The enormous, sheltering, tiled roofs, the galleries,
balustrades, crannies, winding stairs, joined to make these singular
structures picturesque, with their lights and shadows, suggestive of the
buildings in an old Normandy town. The strange part is that these
hostelries seem to do business up to the moment of their extinction; and
even when that occurs, the traffic is transferred to a parasite
public-house bearing the same name. In most cases, however, the
tradition of its being a halt or starting place for carriers and country
waggons is maintained, as the great railway companies have seized on
many to serve as their goods depots. Hence we find the Bricklayers’ Arms
and such places, from under whose archways now rumble forth the Pickford
vans, instead of the favourite “Mouldy’s Iron Devil,” the six or
eight-horse waggon of our grandsires. The old inns were frail and
precarious structures; and it is a marvel that they should have survived
so long, the vast expanse of tiled roof being warped and bent in eddying
waves, while the crazy stairs and galleries of ancient wood were rotten
with age. Many of the Dickens inns were in the City, notably the one in
which Mr. Squeers put up when he used to repair to London to collect
victims for his school. Mr. Squeers’s house, with many other curious
places, was swept away when Snow Hill was abolished, and the Holborn
Viaduct carried through to Newgate Street.

Two picturesque specimens--the “Old Tabard,” in the Borough, and the
“Warwick Arms,” close to Paternoster Row, would have found admirers in
Nuremberg or Rouen. The latter was a remarkable specimen from its size
and elaborateness, with its huge roof, rambling galleries and crannies,
cavernous dark shadows, and general air of mystery. The tiled roofs of
these buildings seemed to grow bent and warped from age and weakness,
and fall into those wavings and twists which form an element of the
picturesque. The wood of the balustrades grew black and grimed; it was
strange that what appeared so crazy should have held together so long.
The “Tabard,” though it did not date from Chaucer’s day, as many
innocently fancied, was a genuine structure of the seventeenth century.
The wonder, in truth, is that any of these fragile structures should
still be in existence. Perhaps the most remarkable and most interesting
of the old inn-yards was that of the “Four Swans,” which stood till some
eight or ten years ago in Bishopsgate Street. This was considered the
most perfect and best preserved of all, having more galleries, and
having been the scene of a stirring adventure during the Roundhead and
Cavalier wars. Its neighbour, the “Green Dragon,” was levelled about the
same time. What a pleasing twang, it may be said, is there about the
titles of these hostelries, which contrast with the more prosaic
designations of latter-day life!

Of these old inns, with their yards and galleries, there are but two or
three in which the business of entertainment is still carried on. There
is the old “Bell Inn,” a grimed, caked, red-brick, ancient building,
with its sign of the Bell, a china shop in front, and an archway
according to the old pattern. Entering, there is the true old-world
flavour--the galleries, the tumble-down stairs fashioned of
wood-panelling with projecting eaves, the files of bells outside, the
kitchen to the left as in a foreign hotel, strange little rickety
stairsteps as from the cabin of a ship, with also the occasional
appearance of a figure in one of the galleries. The inn life here, from
these arrangements, is certain to correspond--every one is, as it were,
in evidence. You can hardly dream of the noisy Holborn just outside. It
is very different in the regular hostelries, where everything is at the
top of the house or at the bottom, not, as here, all round about it.
London has many of these quaint surprises to those who wish to see them.
Here is to be seen the low arch, under which the coaches and waggons
drove into the inn-yard, with its galleries running round, from which
chambermaids looked down or called to those below. Even now it seems a
strange order of things and a quaint arrangement, and you wonder how
business is carried on at such places.

It is, however, when we cross London Bridge and enter the Borough that
we come to the region of inn-yards. Here began the road to Canterbury,
and here, in the old times, the waggons and coaches arrived with their
goods and passengers; and we are at once struck with the innumerable
yards and small inclosures into which these vehicles used to drive.
There were a large number of these inns, most of which remain in some
shape, surviving at least as public-houses. There were the old “King’s
Head,” the old “White Hart,” the new “White Hart,” the “Old George,” the
“Queen’s Head,” the “Nag’s Head,” and the “Spur.” Few only of the old
pattern remain, and their days, or hours in one case, are certainly
numbered. The first is the old “King’s Head,” of which a fragment--some
thirty or forty yards long--still stands all ruinous and forlorn, with
its two ancient galleries or balustrades in a sadly tottering state, its
anatomy exposed in a heartless fashion at each end. One could be
sentimental and mournful over it. It is surrounded by new spick and span
brickwork, and a new “King’s Head” insolently confronts it and seems to
flourish.

[Illustration: THE WHITE HART.]

“In the Borough,” says the author of “Pickwick,” “there still remain
some half-a-dozen old inns which have preserved their external features
unchanged. Great, rambling, queer old places they are, with galleries
and passages and staircases, wide enough and antiquated enough to
furnish materials for a hundred ghost stories. It was in the yard of one
of these inns--of no less celebrated a one than the ‘White Hart,’ that a
man was employed in brushing the dirt off a pair of boots:” the
introduction as the world knows, of Mr. Pickwick to the immortal Samuel
Weller. The yard is then described: “It presented none of that bustle
and activity which are the usual characteristics of a large coach inn.
Three or four lumbering waggons, each with a pile of goods beneath its
ample canopy about the height of a second-floor window of an ordinary
house, were stowed away beneath a lofting which extended over one end of
the yard; and another, which was to commence its journey in the morning,
was drawn out into an open space. A double tier of bedroom galleries
with old clumsy balustrades ran round two sides of the straggling area,
and a double row of bells to correspond, sheltered from the weather by a
little sloping roof, hung over the door leading to the bar and
coffee-room. Two or three gigs or chaise-carts were wheeled up under
different little sheds and pent-houses.”

The guests, it would appear, slept in rooms giving on the galleries all
round; for, we are told, “a loud ringing of one of the bells was
followed by the appearance of a smart chambermaid in the upper sleeping
gallery, who after tapping at one of the doors and receiving a request
from within, called over the balustrade” to Sam. Presently the “bustling
landlady of the ‘White Hart’ made her appearance in the opposite
gallery, and after a little vituperation, flung a pair of lady’s shoes
into the yard and bustled away.”

It is curious to think that this scene was a description of what was
going on about fifty years ago, and was kept up for many years after
“Pickwick” was written. The picture of that morning--the chambermaid
coming out of the room in the gallery, the landlady throwing the boots
down to Sam--still rises before us as we turn into the yard. Two sides
of the inclosure now remain, but it shows how imposing an establishment
must have been the house that in Dickens’s time would be called “the
_celebrated_ ‘White Hart Inn.’” The huge tiled roof is there, and the
double tiers of galleries, with the doors of the guests’ chambers. But a
wooden shed has been built round the lower portion, close to where Sam
stood and was questioned by Mr. Perker and Mr. Wardle. Clothes-lines
hang across the galleries, and a few years ago squalid women could be
seen looking down and surveying the intruders, just as the chambermaid
and landlady looked down upon Mr. Weller. A waggon lies up in ordinary
in the corner, as it did in Dickens’s day. The whole is black, grimed,
rusty, and decayed, and fills the mind with a sort of melancholy, as
things “fallen from their high estate” do. By the right rises a flight
of stairs leading to the gallery, close to which is a quaint, short
balcony. Such is the old “White Hart,” or all that is left of it, which,
however, still accommodates a certain number of tenants. On the other
side is the newer “White Hart,” with its long row of glass windows,
seeming a comfortable place enough.[17]

Our next halt is at the “George,” which has really a bright and

[Illustration: THE GEORGE INN, BOROUGH.]

bustling air of business. It is a not unpicturesque courtyard from its
very irregularity, the old wooden galleries being alternated with
buildings of a different pattern, some projecting forward. The galleries
are gay with paint and plenty of flowers; and altogether one might seem
able to take one’s ease in one’s inn here very fairly. Even more
picturesque is the “Queen’s Head,” a little lower down, a very effective
gathering of irregular buildings. It has its two galleries on the left,
but another portion has been boarded in for greater room and comfort. A
tall archway in the centre block offers a De Hooghe-like glimpse of
another court beyond, while a bow-windowed bar-parlour has been built
out in front, and suggests a Captain Cuttle flavour. Here, too, is the
heavy tiled roof, over which rises a little peaked cupola, not without
effect. One hardly hears the hum of the Borough without. Who “puts up”
at these places? What sort of “entertainment for man or beast” is there?
How long do the guests stay? These are questions of high mystery. The
people who dwell here must have ways of their own, and be influenced by
the dispensations under which they abide. This conversing from aloft,
with occasional pausing to look down and see what is going on, lends a
sort of vitality to what would otherwise be a sleepy and antiquated kind
of existence. To this old arrangement, as is well known, it is that we
owe the form of our theatres. The old inn-yard being a favourite place
of entertainment, the guests would gather in the galleries to look over;
the floor suggested the later pit; while the stage was set up, facing
the archway, at the far end.

In Covent Garden, under Inigo Jones’s _loggia_, are found some old inns
of a thoroughly Pickwickian sort, with the bars and snuggeries which are
fitting background for a gathering of Dickens’s men and women. These are
“The Tavistock” and “The Bedford,” in high favour with country
bachelors. They must be as old almost as the colonnade itself; while the
“Bedford Coffee House” has quite a history of its own, resplendent with
the names of Churchill, Hogarth, the steak-ordering Duke of Norfolk, and
many a son of fame besides. Still flourishes also the “Hummums,” where
Parson Ford saw the ghost, as described by Dr. Johnson; but it has been
rebuilt.

On the top of Hampstead Heath, and situated in a most picturesque spot,
is “Jack Straw’s Castle,” a little inn which has a reputation of its
own. ’Tis said to be the highest point in the quarter, and though so
close to town, has an antique and truly rustic air. The pleasant
Hampstead mornings, with the keen air of those northern heights, the
glimpses of cheerful old red-brick houses, the vicinity of Church Row,
one of the most effective “bits” of old brick architecture in the
country, the delightful undulations of the Heath, all make “Jack Straw’s
Castle” a most acceptable hostelry, though John Sadleir was found hard
by, with his silver poison cup lying some yards away. Readers of
Forster’s “Life of Dickens” will recall the many rides of the novelist,
accompanied by his “trusty” friend, to this inn, and the pleasant
_tête-à-tête_ dinners that followed. Indeed, a pleasant volume might be
made on “The History of Old Inns, and Those who Frequented Them.” One of
the most famous is of course the “Red Lion” at Henley, where Johnson and
Boswell stayed--Johnson, indeed, had a particular predilection for
taverns. He was one of their most ardent votaries; he remains their most
eloquent apologist. In the inn at Chapel-house, after “triumphing over
the French for not having in any perfection the tavern life,” he went on
to enlarge upon them in a discourse which has become historical. “There
is no private house,” he declared, “in which people can enjoy
themselves so well as at a capital tavern. Let there be ever so great
plenty of good things, ever so much grandeur, ever so much elegance,
ever so much desire that every body should be easy; in the nature of
things it cannot be: there must always be some degree of care and
anxiety. The master of the house is anxious to entertain his guests; the
guests are anxious to be agreeable to him; and no man, but a very
impudent dog indeed, can as freely command what is in another man’s
house as if it were his own. Whereas, at a tavern there is a general
freedom from anxiety. You are sure you are welcome; and the more noise
you make, the more trouble you give, the more good things you call for,
the welcomer you are. No servants will attend you with the alacrity
which waiters do, who are incited by the prospect of an immediate reward
in proportion as they please. No, Sir; there is nothing which has yet
been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced, as by a
good tavern or inn.” Thus did he discourse to Boswell; while to Hawkins
he asserted that a tavern chair is the throne of human felicity.



CHAPTER XVIII.

TAVERNS.


The old London taverns and chop houses are disappearing year by year,
but there are a few quaint survivals which are interesting. Take it that
on some winter’s evening, we have passed through old Holywell Street,
where the gas is flaring wildly over the doors, and emerge at the foot
of the picturesque St. Clement Danes’ tower, in whose belfry windows are
red lights, while its bells are clanging away noisily, worked by the
strong arms of “the College of Bell Ringers.” We hurry on, passing
through the old Bar, which once seemed like entering a fortified town,
and only wanted a drawbridge; then see to the left, over a little low
porch, the illuminated beacon of “The Cock,” cheerfully inviting
entrance. The long bent passage, with the swing-door at the end, had an
air of ineffable comfort--there was a glimpse of the cozy bar beyond. To
the right hand, as the swing-door opened and shut, you saw the jovial
red curtains within, the blackened mahogany boxes, the hats hung up, and
the sanded floor. It seemed like a whiff of the “Old Maypole.” You
understood at once the significance of Dickens’s old inns, which he
seemed to revel in. How snug that corner seat near the fire--just
holding two--with the stout table in front--the kettle singing close to
you--from below came the sound of cheerful hissing, as the tender chops
or “dinner steak” was being prepared “to follow” or not, as it might
be--to be succeeded again by the peculiar “rare-bit,” the unapproachable
stout, fine port, and finer whiskey!

It was a curious sensation to find refuge here after a weary day, and
look round on the characteristic figures, mostly solitary, dried up, old
lawyers, who have spent their day in company with deeds and papers. They
would have their tumblers of old Scotch--more as a companion for their
thoughts--and you could see their faces wandering placidly to the fire
as if tracing some of their favourite quiddities and quillets there.
Here, too, was to be found the adventurer come to seek his fortune in
the great town, brooding over the buffets already met with, planning how
to fend off others, yet finding a soothing comfort in the placid
retirement of the old hostel.

“I may here mention,” wrote an old City solicitor named Jay, “that the
‘Cock Tavern’ in Fleet Street has been a noted resort of lawyers for
more than two centuries. When I first went there, no chops or steaks
were cooked, but gentlemen and tradesmen went there in the afternoon to
smoke their pipes (cigars being then very little used). The landlord at
that time held a high position in Whitbread’s brewery. It was at this
time kept open during the night, and until the early hours of morning
were far advanced it was often a difficult matter to find an unoccupied
seat. The gentlemen who frequented it were members of the Temple and
other Inns of Court, and used their own silver tankards bearing their
crests, which were exposed to view against the wall of the bar or
coffee-room; and I have still many pleasant reminiscences of oyster and
other suppers furnished at this house; a man from a neighbouring
fishmonger’s being specially retained to open oysters for the numerous
customers, who with sharp appetites kept him fully employed.”

To many persons who have never entered a tavern in their lives, “The
Cock” had a certain charm of association, mainly owing to its having
been celebrated in verse by the Poet Laureate. Perhaps few, again, are
familiar with all he has said or sung upon the subject, contenting
themselves with the oft-quoted lines to the “plump head waiter at ‘The
Cock,’” which gave that personage an immortality. The lines on “Will
Waterproof’s” visit have an extraordinary charm of pensive retrospect
and solitary meditation, and convey an idea of the tone of the old
place, and of the fancies it is likely to engender in some solitary and
perhaps depressed guest. A series of pictures and moods is unfolded in
this charming poem, a sort of dreamy rumination and pleasant sadness;
visions float upwards in the curling fumes of the smoker’s “long clay.”
But only a great poet could extract a refined quintessence from the
mixed vapours of chops and steaks.


WILL WATERPROOF’S LYRICAL MONOLOGUE.

MADE AT “THE COCK.”

    O, plump head waiter at “The Cock,”
      To which I most resort,
    How goes the time? ’Tis five o’clock.
      Go fetch a pint of port:
    But let it not be such as that
      You set before chance comers,
    But such whose father-grape grew fat
      On Lusitanian summers.

       *       *       *       *       *

    And hence this halo lives about
      The waiter’s hands that reach
    To each his perfect pint of stout,
      His proper chop to each.
    He looks not like the common breed
      That with the napkin dally;
    I think he came like Ganymede,
      From some delightful valley.

       *       *       *       *       *

    Ah, let the rusty theme alone!
      We know not what we know.
    But for my pleasant hour, ’tis gone,
      ’Tis gone, and let it go.
    ’Tis gone: a thousand such have slipt
      Away from my embraces,
    And fallen into the dusty crypt
      Of darken’d forms and faces.

       *       *       *       *       *

This sketch of the “head waiter at the ‘Cock,’” is the portion of the
poem that is the best known and oftenest quoted. But the rest is full of
noble, sad pictures.

The region about is a sort of tavern-land; there used to be a strange
ramshackle place opposite, “Tom’s,” or “Sam’s,” or “Joe’s,” (we forget
which), with the old “Rainbow”; and hard by was “Carr’s”--the older
“Carr’s,”--which owed its repute to a sentence in “Household Words,”
which praised the “capital cut off the joint, washed down by a pint of
good Burgundy.”

You passed through a little squeezed and panelled passage to enter “The
Cock,” and at the end of the passage was seen the little window of the
“snuggery,” or bar, most inviting on a winter’s night, with something
simmering on the hob. There sat one whom we might call “Miss
Abbey”--like Dickens’s directress of the “Fellowship Porters”--to whom
came the waiters, to receive the good hunches, “new or stale?” which
she, according to old unvarying rule, chalked down, or up, on the
mahogany sill of the door. All was duly sawdusted. The ceiling of the
long, low tavern room seemed on our heads. The windows small, like
skylights, opened upon the hilly passage or lane outside. There were
“boxes” or pews all round, with green curtains, of mahogany black as
ebony. But the coveted places--say about a sharp Christmas-time--were
the two that faced the good fire, on which sang a huge kettle. The
curious old chimney-piece over it was of carved oak, with strange
grinning faces, one of which used to delight Dickens, who invited
people’s attention to it particularly. There was a quaintness, too, in
the china trays for the pewter mugs, each decorated with an effigy of a
cock. On application, those in office produced to you a well-thumbed
copy of Defoe’s “History of the Plague,” where allusion is made to the
establishment, and also a little circular box, in which was carefully
preserved one of the copper tokens of the house--a little lean, battered
piece, with the device of a cock, and the inscriptions “The Cock
Alehouse,” and “C. H. M. ATT. TEMPLE BARR, 1655.” The _Intelligencer_,
No. 45, contains the following advertisement: “This is to notify that
the Master of the Cock and Bottle, commonly called the Cock Alehouse, at
Temple Bar, hath dismissed his servants and shut up his house for this
long vacation, intending (God willing) to return at Michaelmas next, so
that all persons whatsoever, who have any Accompts with the said master,
_or Farthings belonging to the said house_, are desired to repair
thither before the 8th of this instant July, and they shall receive
satisfaction.”

It is a pity to find that there is not the conservative continuity in
the line of waiters which should be found in such a place. They seem to
come and go--go rather than come. They used to be all “in key,” as it
were--had grown stout and old in the service. Latterly, time, in its
whirligig changes, had brought round changes almost revolutionary, and
we found strange, unsuitable beings in office. One was a dry, wiry man
of despotic character, who administered on the new modern principles,
unsuited to the easy-going manners of the place. He dealt with the
customers in a prompt, almost harsh style. He knew and recognized no
distinction between old frequenters and new. I fancy he was not popular.
His place was really in the new “restaurants”; but here among the
“boxes” and pews, and on the sanded floor, he was an anachronism. With
the old habitués he was a perfect fly in the ointment. When he found
himself unpopular, he adopted a strange device to recommend himself--the
compounding a curious sauce, which he called “Pick-ant,” and which he
invited guests to try. It did not much avail him, and death has since
removed him to pay his own score.

Mr. Mark Lemon, who had to pass the tavern every day on his road to the
“Punch” office, lower down, has laid a scene in one of his novels at the
little tavern.

In early days, when the then unknown Tennyson dwelt in lofty chambers up
behind the balustraded parapet of No. 57 Lincoln’s Inn Fields (west
side), he used to resort to the “Cock” for his quiet five-o’clock
dinner, where after a pint of the special port, he probably wrote the
famous verses on Will.

An American visitor was fortunate enough to see the poet engaged in
discussing the favourite delicacies of the place:--

“I had the good fortune the other day to come upon Tennyson taking his
chop and kidney at that house, some three doors above the old Temple
Bar, which he has made famous, the ‘Cock.’ I had the curiosity to look
for the ‘half pint of port’ in the poem, but I saw at the bard’s elbow
no wine, fruity or crusted, but a plain pewter of stout, which the
author of ‘Locksley Hall’ discussed like any northern farmer of them
all. He is aged and worn, and bent in the back, with hollow chest; but I
think these are rather the effects of a brooding habit of mind and body
than the marks of physical debility, for he looked tough and muscular.
Tennyson is not a beauty. There was the head-waiter at the ‘Cock,’ and
it was fine to see him waiting on the Laureate. The man was
tremendously conscious of his distinction, and kept watching guests out
of the corner of his eye, to see if they were admiring him. His manner
to Mr. Tennyson was delightful, at once respectful and friendly--just as
if he felt himself a partner in the work which has given the ‘Cock’ a
sort of literary reputation.”

[Illustration: The Old Cock Tavern]

There were old rites and customs of service maintained according to
tradition. Your good clay pipe was brought to you, and the twist of good
and fragrant tobacco. An anchorite or Temperance League man would find
it hard to resist the apparatus for mixing the “brew” of “hot drink” or
“Scotch,” the little pewter “noggin,” the curling rind of lemon with the
more juicy fragment of the interior, and the tiny glass holding a
sufficiency of sugar, with the neat black jug filled from the copper
kettle always boiling on the hob.

Alas! we have now to lament the fate of the pleasant, social snug old
“Cock.” In course of time the buildings around it fell into decay, or
were demolished. The Law Courts were built and opened; the fish shop
close by was taken down and removed to another district. To this state
of things it came at last--that every house near it had gone, and there
only remained a sort of little tunnel with the swinging glass door, with
the gilt, defiant Cock above, while behind was the old tavern, standing
solitary in its decay. People wondered at this vitality, and how in the
general wreck and destruction the old hostel was not swept off. But the
heroic Colnett kept his ground. The old liquor, the old pipe and
“screws” were still supplied as of yore. The customers were staunch.
But, what consternation, when, one morning it became known that the gilt
presentment of the bird--the supposed “Grinling”--had disappeared, had
been stolen in a vulgar way, much as the famous Gainsborough Duchess had
been cut from her frame! Now it was felt indeed that the charm was gone;
there was nothing to rally round. Still we clung to the old place. But,
somehow, with the loss of the bird it was felt that a change had come
over the place.

But the last stroke came. One day it struck the visitor that the chop
had lost the old succulent flavour. It was a good chop, but had not the
aroma. So marked was this that inquiry was made. “The meat was
good--_the best Spiers and Pond could supply_.” What! Had it come to
this! Spiers and Pond! Yes, it was true--the eminent caterers had taken
over the place--the “Cock” of the Plague, of Pepys, of Tennyson, and of
the Templars! This was a sad business--the knell of the place was rung.
As the bird was gone the nest might go too. After that blow I fled the
place and never returned.

The end was not long in coming. The eminent firm of caterers did not
long pursue their venture. In a very short time hoardings began to be
set up, the tunnel was invaded, and the “Cock” closed for ever. Farewell
now to the dreaming, ruminating winter’s night, the mellow Scotch, the
screw of Birdseye. The last incident connected with this destruction
was, however, appropriate enough. One of the famous old tankards,
adorned with a suitable inscription--“a pint pot neatly graven”--was
sent to the Poet who, we say, had done so much for the place. The
Laureate wrote gracefully:--

     “Mr. Earringford, I have this morning received the ‘Old Cock’
     Tavern tankard. Will you give my best thanks to Messrs. Spiers and
     Pond for their present, and tell them that I shall keep it as an
     heirloom in my family, as a memorial not only of the old vanished
     tavern, but also of their kindness.--Yours faithfully,

                                                            “TENNYSON.”



On the site of the old Tavern, where was the fish shop, etc., the Bank
of England has just reared a splendid and imposing Italian edifice,
which harmonizes well with the Law Courts. The proprietor has moved to
the other side of the street, taking with him all his properties--the
old mahogany boxes, fireplace, tankards, etc.--reconstructing a sort of
ghostly “Cock.” Even the gilt bird, a very spirited piece of work, even
if _not_ Grinling’s, flourishes away over the door. But it is not the
same thing--can never be.[18]

There were two other taverns almost _vis-à-vis_, and each with antique
claims. One, “The Rainbow,” which boasts a remote pedigree. But though
you enter in the favourite Fleet Street style, through a narrow passage,
the place itself has undergone much restoration. “Dicks’” the other, was
down one of the Temple lanes, dark and grimed, and somewhat rudely
appointed, as though it wished to rest its claims entirely upon its
“chops and steaks,” and upon nothing else. “Dicks’” used to be labelled
outside “Ben Jonson’s Noted House,” and boasted of having enjoyed the
custom of that eminent man. “Dicks’” however, has gone. It has fallen
into the hands of Germans, who hold a table d’hôte.

The art and science of cooking chops is not nearly so highly esteemed as
it used to be in the last century, when noblemen and gentlemen
frequented taverns, and clubs did not exist, save at taverns. The
history of the lately revived Beefsteak Club is familiar; its huge
gridiron is still to be seen in its old feasting room at the Lyceum
Theatre, with its admirable motto, “If it were done when ’tis done,”
etc. The greatest chop and steak eater of his day, and patron of this
club, was the Duke of Norfolk, a gross and coarse feeder, who often
astounded visitors by his consumption of successive steaks brought in
“hot and hot,” and consumed voraciously.

Fleet Street, interesting in so many ways, is remarkable for the curious
little courts and passages into which you make entry, under small
archways. These are “Johnson’s Court,” “Bolt Court,” “Racquet Court,”
and the like. Indeed, it is evident that the strange little passage
which led to the “Cock” must have been originally an entrance to one of
these courts on which the tavern gradually encroached. Much the same are
found in the Borough, only these lead into greater courts and inn yards.
But in Fleet Street there is one that is specially interesting. We can
fancy the Doctor tramping up to his favourite tavern, the “Cheshire
Cheese.”

Passing into the dark alley known as “Wine Office Court,” we come to a
narrow flagged passage, the house or wall on the other side quite close,
and excluding the light. The “Cheese” looks, indeed, a sort of dark den,
an inferior public-house, its grimed windows like those of a shop, which
we can look in at from the passage. On entering, there is the little bar
facing us, and always the essence of snugness and cosiness; to the right
a small room, to the left a bigger one. This is the favourite tavern,
with its dirty walls and sawdusted floor, a few benches put against the
wall, and two or three plain tables of the rudest kind. The grill is
heard hissing in some back region, where the chop or small steak is
being prepared; and it may be said _en passant_, that the flavour and
treatment of the chop and “small dinner steak”--are there breakfast and
luncheon steaks also?--are quite different from those “done” on the more
pretentious grills which have lately sprung up. On the wall is a
testimonial portrait of a rather bloated waiter--Todd, I think, by
name--quite suggestive of the late Mr. Liston. He is holding up his
corkscrew of office to an expectant guest, either in a warning or
exultant way, as if he had extracted the cork in a masterly style.
Underneath is a boastful inscription that it was painted in 1812, to be
hung up as an heirloom and handed down, having been executed under the
reign of Dolamore, who then owned the place. Strange to say, the waiter
of the “Cheshire Cheese” has been sung, like his brother at the “Cock,”
but not by such a bard. There is a certain irreverence; but the parody
is a good one:--

    Waiter at the “Cheshire Cheese,”
    Uncertain, gruff, and hard to please,
    When “tuppence” smooths thy angry brow,
    A ministering angel thou!

It has its regular habitués; and on Saturday or Friday there is a
“famous rump-steak pie,” which draws a larger attendance; for it is
considered that you may search the wide world round without matching
that succulent delicacy. These great savoury meat pies do not kindle the
ardour of many persons, being rather strong for the stomachs of babes.

Well, then, hither it was that Dr. Johnson used to repair. True,
neither Boswell, nor Hawkins, nor after them Mr. Croker, take note of
the circumstance; but there were many things that escaped Mr. Croker,
diligent as he was. There is, however, excellent evidence of the fact. A
worthy solicitor named Jay--who is garrulous but not unentertaining in a
book of anecdotes which he has written--frequented the “Cheshire Cheese”
for fifty years, during which long tavern life, he says, “I have been
interested in seeing young men when I first went there, who afterwards
married; then in seeing their sons dining there, and often their
grandsons, and much gratified by observing that most of them succeeded
well in life. This applies particularly to the lawyers, with whom I have
so often dined when students, when barristers, and some who were
afterwards judges.

“During the time I have frequented this house there have been only three
landlords--Mr. Carlton, Mr. Dolamore, and Mr. Beaufoy Moore, the present
one; and during each successive occupation the business has increased. I
may here mention that when I first visited the house, I used to meet
several very old gentlemen who remembered Dr. Johnson nightly at the
‘Cheshire Cheese’; and they have told me, what is not generally known,
that the Doctor, whilst living in the Temple, always went to the ‘Mitre’
or the ‘Essex Head’; but when he removed to Gough Square and Bolt Court
he was a constant visitor at the ‘Cheshire Cheese’, because nothing but
a hurricane would have induced him to cross Fleet Street. All round this
neighbourhood, if you want to rent a room or an office, you are sure to
be told that it was once the residence of either Dr. Johnson or Oliver
Goldsmith! Be that as it may, it is an interesting locality, and a
pleasing sign--the ‘Old Cheshire Cheese Tavern,’ Wine Office Court,
Fleet Street--which will afford the present generation, it is hoped, for
some time to come, an opportunity of witnessing the kind of tavern in
which our forefathers delighted to assemble for refreshment.”[19]

Doctor Johnson died in 1788--and this solicitor’s acquaintance with the
place began scarcely twenty years after the Doctor’s death. The old
frequenter’s memory would therefore have been very fresh. His style too,
is pleasant. This worthy reminiscent dedicates his labours, in a quaint
inscription, “To the Lawyers and Gentlemen with whom I have dined for
more than half a century at the ‘Old Cheshire Cheese Tavern,’ Wine
Office Court, Fleet Street; this work is respectfully dedicated by their
obedient servant, Cyrus Jay.”

On the other side of Fleet Street we can see the “Mitre Tavern,” closing
up the end of a court--but not the old original “Mitre,” where Johnson
sat with Boswell. It was pulled down within living memory, and with it
the corner in which the sage used to sit, and which was religiously
marked by his bust. Yet, even as it stands in its restoration, there is
something quaint in the feeling, as you enter a low, covered passage
from Fleet Street, and see its cheerful open door at the end. There are
other taverns with such approaches in the street. The “Old Bell” is
curiously retired. The passage to the “Mitre” is as it was in Johnson’s
day, and his eyes must have been often raised to the old beams that
support its roof. Even in its modern shape it retains much that is
old-fashioned and _rococo_. It is like a country tavern in London, with
its “ordinary” at noon--and a good one too--and its retirement; so close
and yet so far from the hum and clatter of Fleet Street.

From the old tavern we pass into the open _place_ where St. Clement
Danes stands--one of the most Dutch-like spots in London, to which idea
the quaint and rather elegant tower lends itself. To hear its chimes,
not at midnight, but on some December evening, when the steeple is
projected on a cold blue background, while you can see the shadows of
the ringers in the bell-tower, offers a picturesque effect. The bells
fling out their janglings more wildly than any peal in London: they are
nearer the ground, and the hurly-burly is melodious enough. Those tones
the Doctor often heard in Gough Square and Bolt Court, and within he had
his favourite seat, to this day reverently marked by a plate and
inscription. Yet St. Clement’s is in a precarious way, and before many
years its fate will be decided.

It is perhaps Gough Square, to which one of the little passages out of
Fleet Street leads, that most faithfully preserves the memory of
Johnson. It is rather a court than a square; so small is it that
carriages could never have entered, and it is surrounded with good old
brick houses that in their day were of some pretensions. The Society of
Arts has fixed a tablet in the wall, recording that “Here lived Samuel
Johnson.” The houses are of a good, sound old brick; some have carved
porticoes, and one is set off by two rather elegant Corinthian
pilasters. There is a pleasant flavour of grave old fashion and
retirement about the place, and little has as yet been touched or pulled
down. Johnson’s house faces us, and is about the most conspicuous. He
had, of course, merely rooms, as it is a rather large mansion; a little
shaken and awry, queerly shaped about the upper story, but snug and
compact. It was lately a “commercial family boarding-house,” and the
hall is “cosy” to a degree, with its panelled dado running round and up
the twisted stairs, in short easy lengths of four or five steps, with
landings--which would suit the Doctor’s chest. The whole is in harmony.
We can see him labouring up the creaking stairs. A few peaceful traders
are in occupation of the Square--printers, and the like. It is an
old-world spot, has an old-world air, and suggests a snug country inn.

But, turning back to Essex Street, and not many doors down on the left,
at the corner of a little cross passage leading to the pretty Temple
gate, with its light iron work, we come on the “Essex Head Tavern,” an
old, mean public-house of well-grimed brick. It was here, in his decay,
that Johnson set up a kind of inferior club. Boswell is angry with
Hawkins for calling it an “alehouse,” as if in contempt; but certainly,
while the “Cheshire Cheese,” the “Mitre,” and the “Cock” are taverns,
this seems to have been more within the category of an ale or
public-house. It has been so rearranged and altered to suit the
intentions and purposes of the modern “public,” that there is no tracing
its former shape. In the passage there is a little room known as the
“parlour,” underneath which accommodation has been found for a cobbler’s
stall. The proprietors should surely have Johnson’s “rules” hung up.
Probably they never heard of his name.

[Illustration: THE MAGPIE AND STUMP, Portsmouth Street.]



CHAPTER XIX.

CITY WALKS.


The charm of exploring the City is ever novel--to me at least. Not every
one has thoroughly fallen under the spell; for an occasional visit is
not enough. One should linger, and come again and explore, and be led
hither and thither by the humour and attraction of the moment. At the
different seasons of the day, morning, noon, and evening--nay, on the
Sunday even, when it becomes an astounding wilderness--it offers quite
different aspects, and a succession of surprises. It is in truth another
city, another people, we never can get rid of the notion that we are
entering a foreign town. Often has been described the aspect of the
overwhelming tide of busy men, all hurrying and crowding and pushing
past at a brisk speed; the carriages, waggons, carts, incessantly moving
in a crowded procession; the hum and roar in the ears. The vast size,
solidity, and imposing stateliness of the buildings astonish us. But
more pleasing is the picturesque irregularity, and windings and curves
of the bye-streets or alleys, changed by the tall and massive structures
which line them into Genoa-like streets, lacking only the _grilles_ and
the gloom. Here is the contrast to the West End; and here is seen the
different spirit which animates the merchant, as compared with the
smaller trader. _His_ ideas are magnificent: he must have his trading
palace and warehouses beetling, lofty, and of granite or Portland stone,
a great arch or portal for the entrance; a sort of City architecture has
been engendered specially to meet his wants.

Most “West-enders” rarely travel beyond the Exchange and the banking
streets adjoining. But until Cornhill is passed, this peculiar aspect we
have been describing is not met with. It is when we reach Mincing Lane,
and Mark Lane, and Leadenhall, and Fenchurch Street, that we come upon
these grand and endless ranges of business palaces. Sometimes, as in the
case of Fenchurch Court, the greater thoroughfares are joined by a long
paved footway, lined with these vast storied buildings. It seems a bit
of Brussels city; the office windows, it may be, looking out upon a
small patch of churchyard, allowed to linger on in a grudging way. This
irregularity is often as surprising as it is picturesque; witness that
fine, massively pillared doorway, last fragment of some noble mansion,
which is the entrance to a descending covered way, leading first to a
tavern and thence into Leadenhall Street. It is in these imposing alleys
that we come upon some conventual-looking City Hall, its great gates
closed, its windows forlorn-looking, and barred like some disused
monastery.

A fine imposing view, which gives the best idea of the state and
magnificence of the Great City, is to be found at a spot exactly in
front of the Mansion House. From here no less than eight distinct vistas
are to be obtained along nine distinct streets and alleys, each
exhibiting something worthy of admiration, and the whole offering
contrast and variety. Add to this the tide of life running at its
strongest, and the busiest “hum of men” conceivable. In front is the
Mansion House itself, a heavy pile, of little pretension or merit.
Beside it, a short street is terminated by the quaint spire of St.
Stephen’s, Walbrook, which contrasts with the rude stonework of the
church itself, and is considered a gem in the way of church building,
and held by Wren himself to be his masterpiece. Next stretches away the
comparatively new Queen Victoria Street, with its rows and blocks of
stone mansions, the huge pile of the National Safe Deposit Company being
conspicuous. Near to it opens up the busy Cheapside, with the stately
and original Bow Church half-way down, projecting its friendly clock
face over the street. “Within the sound of Bow Bells” is a familiar City
phrase, but I confess I have never heard the sound, though most have
heard Sir J. Bennett’s odd chimes over his shop. Next, at right angles
almost, comes Princes Street, with a church at the end, and some banking
houses built in the curious Soane style. Then interposes the Bank of
England itself--a not unpicturesque structure considering its straggling
shape. Then Threadneedle Street, with its vista of almost Genoese
buildings, mostly banks--gloomy and massive, and straying from the level
line with picturesque irregularity. Between it and Cornhill rises the
Royal Exchange, with its ambitious imposing portico of many pillars,
commanding all issues. Half way down Cornhill, rising with a charming
irregularity, is the showy tower of St. Michael’s. Next to the right is
Lombard Street, with more dungeon-like banking houses, while between
this and the next street stands the very unique and much admired church
of St. Mary Woolnoth, set off by a luxuriant tree which projects its
leafy branches over the road. Next comes King William Street, with
glimpses of the “tall bully,” the Monument, and at the end the Sailor
King’s statue. And so the circle is complete. Let any one stand on the
central “refuge,” as we have been doing, and turning, survey
deliberately each issue, and he will feel surprised to find how much he
has habitually overlooked, and how much there is to admire.

But the stranger who would gather the most impressive notion of the
grandeur of the City should pause at Fenchurch Street, before entering
Cornhill. Here the crowd, the block, the hum, the roar, even the crowd
pushing on, and the state and solemnity of the buildings and streets,
will most affect him. Here are the darkened streets of the great
banks--some carrying on their business in huge palaces where the street
is so narrow that the lamps have to be lit; others preferring to retain
the old-fashioned structures. There is one very striking building at the
corner of Throgmorton Street--The National Provincial Bank of England,
monumental almost, and of really good architecture, displaying a row of
statues on the top. Another building of great state and pretension is
the Consolidated Bank, in Threadneedle Street. Through all the doors are
pressing and pouring in a stream of persons, all in a hurry. Every
place--telegraphic, shipping exchanges, etc.--seems crowded to
overflowing. Business is everywhere.

Perhaps the grandest and stateliest of all these City streets is Lombard
Street, not from its associations merely, but from the imposing
character of its mercantile palaces. As we enter from Threadneedle
Street end there is quite an air of magnificence in the massive,
richly-wrought buildings which line both sides of the narrow winding way
in a sharp curve. The great pile at the corner, where the “Crédit
Lyonnais” carries on its business, has a stately effect.

A picturesque incident of the City streets is the recurrence of lanes of
warehouses striking out of the busy highway, and which, all narrow, and
lined by lofty warehouses, wind down, where they can, to the river.
These alleys, not so long since, could be found in one long,
uninterrupted course from the Strand to Wapping, but the Embankment has
cut off the earlier series. In the City nothing is so genuine or so
truly mercantile as these not unpicturesque little descents, with their
cranes, lofts, and waggons waiting below. One of these vistas, which
suggests a scene in a foreign city, is the view down Fish Street Hill,
the Monument rising on the left, the bottom closed by the imposing
effective church of St. Magnus and its elegant steeple. A fine old tree
blooms beside it. Hard by is the steep and gloomy St. Botolph’s Lane,
filled with its venerable and busy warehouses, every floor having its
crane. There is something pleasing in this old-fashioned shape of trade,
and the whole suggests the traditional view of the London merchant and
his business.

In some November evening, when the air is fresh and cool and clear, and
there is a dark “gloaming” over the whole city, it is pleasant to go
down to the Embankment and embark in one of the swift river steamers
bound for the City. How inspiring is the evening air! The river is lined
with lights, and seems twice its ordinary size. Landing at London
Bridge, we take our way up one of the narrow winding warehouse-lined
streets, which lead up to the busy main thoroughfares. Nothing is more

[Illustration: FRESH WHARF AND ST. MAGNUS STEEPLE.]

poetical than the church towers which rise in these lanes: one in
Martin’s Lane, whose church has been removed, looks, with its projecting
clock-dial, like a perfect Italian campanile. There are glimpses of
shadowy gardens and inclosures, such as that on Laurence Pountney Hill,
which might be a patch of some foreign town. On one side of Cannon
Street the windings of the lanes are singularly picturesque either by
night or day, and the newer, later buildings fall in harmoniously. This
is owing to the irregular shape of the ground.

[Illustration: COLLEGE HILL--WHITTINGTON’S HOUSE.]

Few views could be found more suited for the etcher than the one to be
seen as we look down College Hill. On the left are the two richly-carved
monumental gates, side by side, leading into the courts of what is
supposed to have been Whittington’s house. Higher up is a modern,
red-brick, not ineffective building, of a gorgeous pattern. The eye is
then led down to the bottom of the steep and winding lane, which seems
closed by the elegant steeple of a church in wrought clean grey stone,
so high and airy in its treatment as to recall the charming old Town
Hall at Calais. From its side is projected the well-gilt clock-face,
richly glowing on a well-carved bracket.

In truth there is this perpetual charm and flavour in the old City which
few are aware of--a sort of antique air which recalls old Flemish
cities. The flagged square behind the Exchange seems like a mart--the
busy hum, the perpetual, headlong _va-et-vient_, the general bustle and
brightness, are all suggestive, and the bye streets, such as the old
Thames Street, that skirts the river, the oddly-named Garlick Hill, and
others, have all a strange, foreign effect, being narrow lanes, yet
having fine old churches and towers rising to a great height. The
infinite variety of these Wren steeples is well known, and there is a
curious effect in the reflection that, alone and deserted and useless as
they appear, crowded into dark corners, so that even with the utmost
“craning back,” you can scarcely see to the top, they still produce
their effect for the world at a distance, and are seen rising gracefully
from afar off--from river, rail, and bridge--producing a solemn and
imposing effect. A pleasant and almost poetical contrast can be
furnished by viewing one of the busiest of City streets under different
conditions; much as in a Diorama we are shown the same view by day or by
night. If at the busiest hour of the day we descend from London Bridge
into Thames Street, which passes under one of its arches, we shall see a
curious specimen of antiquated trade, and very much what might have been
noted a hundred years ago. The side next the river is lined with wharves
and rather tottering warehouses, while innumerable steamers, crowded
together in apparent confusion, are discharging their cargoes of fruit
and vegetables, principally oranges, lemons, onions, currants, etc. The
air is heavy with the odours of these articles, intermingled with that
of dried and fresh fruit, stores of which line the other side of the
street. An enormous army of porters are engaged in carrying these wares
from the vessels, and they are borne on peculiarly-constructed cushions
which rest on their heads and shoulders. There is thus a perpetual
procession; while the street is blocked up by waggons loading and
unloading, and in the air the cases are seen swinging and ascending to
the different lofts. Further on we come to Billingsgate, where the fish
is discharged, with a confusion of its own, which however is more
apparent than real. This scene is really extraordinary, and is, a
survival; for all this work should surely be carried on at the docks,
and not in a thoroughfare.

But would we see the strangest of contrasts--we need only visit this
street on a Sunday in the winter time, between five and six o’clock.
Then it seems literally a Street of the Dead. We have often walked from
end to end almost without meeting a single person. The silence is
oppressive: instead of the former Babel of shoutings, clatter of carts
and confusion, every house and shop and warehouse is fast closed and

[Illustration: VIEW OF THE TOWER FROM LONDON BRIDGE.]

deserted, as if it were Plague-time. The lamps flicker feebly, and we
might without stretch of imagination conceive it was now the middle of
the night. Heavy shadows hang over the corners. The church towers loom
out at the corners of the ascending alleys; but the doors are closed and
their bells are silent. We hear the sound of foot-falls echoing loudly
as some one draws near--a solitary policeman, who continues his patrol
sadly. We are separated by but a row of houses from the great river, but
that highway is really silent. The steamers are at rest. The lamp-light
here and there flashes feebly on the names of the great dealers and
middle-men, set up over their mean and tottering shops, where thousands
of pounds are “turned over” in a day. Billingsgate is fast closed, not
an oath nor a word of its famous vocabulary is in the air. This air of
solitude and desertion is one of the most extraordinary sensations
associated with the City, and the impression is worth experiencing. We
ascend by one of the alleys, and come once more into something like life
and motion and see the clattering cabs and omnibuses hurrying by.

Again, what can be better than the view as you walk towards Cripplegate,
through winding streets, and begin to see the old gaunt, quaint,
weather-beaten tower of St. Giles’s Church rising above the houses?
There is nothing in London better than this solemn tower, formed of old
stones half the way up, the other half of grimed, caked brick, the whole
surmounted by an odd and quaint belfry. We might think we were in some
Belgian town. Then, the old churchyard behind, with the path winding
round by a short cut to other streets; the old wooden houses that adjoin
it, overhanging the street, and that seem “caked” to it; and, finally,
the strange doorway of the church, decorated with its significant
supporters--a skull on one side and an hour-glass on the other--wrought
in the spirited fashion of Cibber.

In the City there are many strange places like this, with narrow winding
streets and antique names. Of a bright, sunshiny day, for instance,
there is one portion which is picturesque, animated to a degree, and
worthy of a painter. Standing in the street and looking down towards the
Monument and the point where King William and other streets converge
towards London Bridge, the buildings and warehouses and churches all
rise and cross each other at various angles, catching the light in
different ways. There is the statue, such as it is; the elegant steeple
of the church in Thames Street; the glimpse of the bridge and the river;
the enormous busy traffic; and the effective Monument itself. Then going
on, we look down on the picturesque Thames Street, passing under the
arch, and which is as it might have looked two centuries ago. Here is
the picturesqueness of trade. The London merchants and their men thus
carried on business centuries ago. Then the river itself, “noble”
certainly--with the vessels and steamers crowded in rows at the wharf
sides, and the huge landing warehouses--seen from the middle of the
bridge, is a wonderful sight to behold.

Another picturesque surprise awaits us on turning out of Cannon Street
into a sort of bye-lane or slope that leads down towards the river.
This

[Illustration: ST. GILES’S, CRIPPLEGATE.]

little, concealed quarter is charmingly irregular, an odd miscellany
compounded of straggling lanes and inclosures, churches, churchyards,
halls, old houses, and lofty mansions of fine old brickwork. One has
been partially rebuilt and furnished with additions and excrescences
which have not improved it. Turn to the left, along a road cut through
the old burying ground, and you are led into a curious little
old-fashioned, rambling sort of square--half business, half residential.
A “vestry hall” gives on the disused burying-ground, as also some mouldy
business houses, while here begins Laurence Pountney Hill, which takes
us out into the main street. I fancy it is at this point there is to be
seen the finest old brick house in London, taking it all in all. This is
a rather sweeping statement, but it can be justified. Down this
quaintly-named Laurence Pountney Hill, stand two grimed, solid old
houses--handsome, truly, in their design and decoration. We look first
at the elaborate, richly-carved, and wrought doorways, so original and
florid in design; and indeed lift our eyes in admiration to the lofty
and stately façade of this fine and ripe piece of antique brick,
well-toned, full of dark shadows, and marvellously effective. The
cornice is like nothing that is to be seen in London, the supports being
grouped three together, thus giving a fine effect. There has been some
alteration in the house, and of odd taste, and an addition has been
built out right in front. But the two doorways, with their shell-shaped
crests and lace-like carvings, are truly wonderful. The general effect
of this charming, tranquil little retreat, devoted to business, with its
trees and old graveyard and carvings, its secular air of solitude as you
turn in from the noisy street, is singular and pleasing. One or two of
the old windows display the old heavy flat sashes, in contrast to the
new plate-glass. Going a little to the left we find ourselves in a small
square, surrounded by warehouses, old and new, some gloomy and grimed,
while we pass on between two miniature churchyards, each displaying a
few altar-tombs, and some twig-like trees. A forlorn enough prospect for
the clerks busy at the windows. These curious patches of churchyards are
raised, like terraces, while a path descends between them. Such strange
combinations, common enough in the City, always suggest pictures in
Dickens’s stories, and add so great an attraction to his incidents. They
make City figures live again in the old courts and lanes; such as those
houses of business where we find the Cheeryble Brothers.

There still linger on about the City several shops of the old pattern,
which also recall the flavour of Dickens’s scenes and characters. There
is a sort of pride in preserving these places intact and in their old
fashion. Close to the Exchange may be seen a small, obscure-looking
confectioner’s, with a sort of bow window filled in with small panes. It
seems such a shop as would be found in a sleepy country town--say
Dorking. This is the well-known “Birch’s”--a poorish-looking place for
entertainment, it might be thought. Yet there is nothing in this
assumption. Nowhere in London can you fare more sumptuously or at such
varied prices. The little shop has flourished for much more than a
hundred years, and its original proprietor became an alderman. The Birch
family has disappeared; but “Ring and Brymer” hold sway, artists who
contract for all the great City dinners at the Mansion House and
elsewhere.

[Illustration: OLD DOORWAYS--LAURENCE POUNTNEY HILL.]

In Fenchurch Street there is a curious old grocer’s
warehouse--Davidson’s--with the low, small-paned windows, bowed out, and
running all along in front, while an old-fashioned crane is seen
projecting. Overhead the shop displays its sign--three gilded
hundredweights: within, the place is low and more old-fashioned. Nearly
opposite is another well-gilded tavern sign--a spirited Spread Eagle, as
well carved in its way as the well-known “Cock” in Fleet Street, which
has the reputation of being Grinling Gibbons’ work. All through the City
the wary explorer will still meet with these signs--the most curious of
which is the half-moon which projects from a shop in Holywell Street.



CHAPTER XX.

THE OLD CITY HALLS


One of the pleasantest surprises in our City wanderings is when we stray
into some unfrequented street with a _bizarre_ name, and pass by an
antique but sound old doorway, _porte-cochère_-like, but with an air of
solemn desertion which suggests a back street in some old-fashioned
French town. It seems a nobleman’s “Hôtel,” relic of former
magnificence. Thus we pause in Addle Street (odd name!) arrested by the
Brewers’ Hall, a really interesting place. Here is a fine, solid,
old-fashioned structure, with bold roof and oval windows, a flamboyant
gateway, floridly carved, and ancient massive wooden gates which open
with a “hatch,” really remarkable in its effect. Lifting the latch we
enter the silent inclosure, which might be one of the old retired
colleges at Cambridge, and not an antique survival in the heart of
London. The courtyard is original: the façade fronts us with its rows of
louvre windows, pierced in the ripe and red old brick; the long windows
below them, with their small leaded panes, furnish light to the great
Hall, and are framed in a rich mass of carving, flowers and fruits. To
the right a fine bold staircase leads to the Hall. Not a soul is to be
seen; and our footfalls echo in the deserted court.

In every direction we see old, flamboyant black oak. How imposing is the
entrance to the Banqueting Hall, and really monumental--a massive
ponderous gateway of black oak, with pillars and pediments and capitals,
and figures soaring and gesticulating aloft, and flanked by solid
panelling! Within there is the great oaken gallery, the tall windows,
with the leaded panes. There is nothing finer in London than the great
fireplace and mantel, which rises to the ceiling and offers an
extraordinary display of the carver’s art. Below, it takes the shape of
a sort of gateway, supported by solid pillars; while above there is a
stately shield and inscription set in flourishings, and garlands of
fruits and flowers, wrought in the most lavish and effective fashion.

A courteous superior official in charge shows us these things, and all
that there is to be shown, with a hearty interest, as though rarely
disturbed. The

[Illustration: Brewer’s Hall Court-yard.]

“Brewers” have now little _raison d’être_. The old kitchen below has its
interest--a vault-like place used once a month when the “Brewers”
feasted. It is interesting as retaining all the old culinary apparatus,
a venerable old table, and a curiously-florid leaden cistern, with a
seventeenth-century date and decorations, suspended in a corner. It is
in sooth an interesting old-world place, dating from 1673.

In a small and compact court in Monkwell Street we come upon the Hall of
“The Barber Surgeons.” On the right, as we enter, is an old portal, with
a capacious, elaborate, well-carved shell over the door, filled in with
the arms of the guild, very boldly wrought, and with abundance of
flowers. These pronounced and florid doorways are always pleasant to
see. But this is one of the places where the restorer has been at work,
pulling down or shifting. The old Hall has gone long since; but there is
a charming, exquisitely-proportioned chamber of small size, enriched in
all its details, as indeed is all the ceiling, with fine carvings or
stucco work. The lantern is peculiarly Inigo’s, and is to be seen at
Ashburnham House and in other mansions of his work. On the walls are of
course the famous Holbein--the Barbers receiving their charter from
Henry VIII.--and some choice characteristic portraits by Lely and
others. One admires, too, the old oaken stairs, broad, and of short
flights. The Barbers, it seems, give pensions to certain working folk,
beginning from about £6 a year: they have some thirty-six on their list;
and I noted a number of them waiting patiently in the offices to put
forward their claims.

The little descending streets and lanes that lead down out of Cannon
Street, with turns and intersecting lanes, make up quite an antique
quarter, so well stored are they with strange, gloomy old buildings and
corners of an old-world character. On Dowgate Hill, almost the first
house we meet is the old Hall of the Skinners’ Company, with its gate
and archway, and small courtyard. Within we are confronted with one of
those elaborately magnificent old doorways, porch rather, all
embroidered with massive and yet florid carvings, which make us all
wonder at the imagination and free hand of the worker. There is the
usual spacious and good hall, and broad oaken stair, solid oak balusters
and fine door-cases, with garlands and old mouldings; but upstairs we
are shown what is the pride of the place, the great “CEDAR ROOM,” a fine
long chamber, entirely panelled in this precious wood, believed, though
nothing is known, to have been a present from some Indian connection of
the Company. Much reasonable pride is taken in this unusual adornment;
the air, too, is scented with its fragrance. But here again the
improvers have been at their work. There is a fine architectural cornice
running round, intended to give support to a flat ceiling, but it was
thought that the effect would be heightened by raising the ceiling, and
accordingly a “coved” one has taken the place of the old one, which is
out of keeping and character. The whole, too, has been gaudily
decorated; the cedar everywhere copiously overlaid with gilding, panels
let into the coving and adorned with ’scutcheons, etc. Far better and
more appropriate had the old venerable panelling been left unadorned.

In one of the little steep darkened lanes that descend towards Thames
Street from Queen Victoria Street, Little Trinity Lane, we are attracted
by a very remarkable doorway, richly carved and elaborate, yet strangely
out of keeping with the poor mean house to which it is attached. This is
The Painter-Stainers’ Hall, one of the most retired and least
pretentious of the Halls, and yet, like many an unassuming person,
recommended by extraordinary gifts. Entering a shabby room to the left,
we find, as usual, a widow-like woman waiting her turn, while some one
else is pressing her claims at the desk. The whole seems to have the air
of a discounting office in a rather small way of business. The Painter
“Stayners” have a legacy of £80,000 to administer, the interest of which
supports some two hundred pensioners. Going up a rather rickety stair,
we are introduced to the old Hall itself, a genuine thing enough, of
suitable dinginess and subdued old fashion. It has unhappily been spoilt
by thrusting an adjoining room into it, the wall being supported by
pillars and arches. A quaint feature, too, is the door through which we
have entered, a little low arch supported by pillars, over which
projects a small balcony, where, as I was informed, the ladies sit
during festivals. The panelled walls are covered with pictures, which
are made to suit the panels, and thus seem to belong to the walls. There
is a dark monastic air over the whole, and a curious, old-world,
sequestered look. Here are held the little dinners of the society, “the
Worshipful Company of Painters, otherwise Painter Stainers,” as they are
careful to describe themselves, though, if not careful, one is apt to
use the phrase “Paper Stainers.” The modest Hall was formerly more
attractive than it is now, and the glories of its ceiling have long ago
disappeared. The little corporation is highly interesting, as, previous
to the founding of the Royal Academy, it was the body that represented
the interests of English painters. Decorative painting, such as was
largely employed in ornamenting carriages, ceilings, and barges, seems
to have come under their supervision, and the society was occasionally
invited to give a certificate as to whether such work was fitly
executed.[20]

Few could imagine what is the number of these City Companies; there are
close upon eighty, each with its funds, officers, charities, and
dinners. Only about one half are provided with Halls; the rest dine at
restaurants or at one of the noted City taverns, where the invariable
“Ring and Brymer” cater. Turtle is of course the City luxury, and one of
the sights of the city is the aquarium at “The Ship and Turtle,” where
may be seen through the glass from fifty to a hundred turtles at a time,
paddling lazily about and waiting unconsciously the hour of sacrifice.

On Dowgate Hill also, we find another of these quaint Halls. A rather
elegant, modern, pierced gate of ironwork closes up an archway, and,
looking through, we see an inviting Court within. Entering through the
arch, which passes under a deep mass of houses, we find ourselves in a
charming little courtyard with quite an Italian air, set round with an
arcade supporting a rubicund brick building with elegant windows and
airy carvings; some modern additions and renovations have been combined,
with excellent taste. There is mural painting too. Such is Dyers’
Hall--a pleasing, piquant little place.

While lamenting the loss of the old patterns of Hall, pulled down, or
destroyed by fire, we must admire the sumptuous, and even magnificent,
buildings which have taken their place; such as the massive, floridly
decorated façade of the Drapers’ Hall in Throgmorton Street. This
street, as it bends or winds, has a majestic, almost Genoese, air; its
great gloomy buildings rise solemnly on each side of the narrow street,
foreign in tone; towards the close of the business day, the street
becomes filled with crowds of animated noisy figures pouring out of the
Stock Exchange, and debating their bargains in the open air. This
scene--the narrow street, the stately shadowy buildings frowning down on
the figures--suggests one of the retired picturesque streets in Ghent,
or even in some Italian city. The busy, substantial negotiators have a
burgher-like air, and the whole is utterly different from anything to be
seen in the trivial West End. The Drapers’ Hall is a vast and ponderous
mass, already blackened with age, though young in years, but very
striking in character, with its enormous and richly florid cornice, bold
windows, and heavily arched portals. As we look through the iron rails,
we can see a retired court, curious contrast to the noisy scene without.
The old “Drapers’ Gardens” used to stretch down the whole street that
turns out of Throgmorton Street, and were admired for their tranquil air
of old fashion. Gradually they have been encroached upon; warehouses
have been reared, and a fragment only now remains. Even this remnant,
however, is welcome, and the promenade down the alley leaves an
impression as of something old-fashioned and rural. Such are a few of
these very striking “survivals.”



CHAPTER XXI.

ALLHALLOWS, ST. OLAVE’S, ELY CHAPEL, ETC.


The old City Churches offer an inexhaustible field for a London
explorer. There is nothing more touching than the air of utter
abandonment of some of these forlorn structures, appropriately situated
in some fast-decaying quarter. They seem closed for ever; and with many
are associated strange histories.

The gloomy, ancient church of Allhallows Barking impresses the visitor
in an extraordinary way. It is difficult to give an idea of the
blighted, solemn desolation of this woe-begone fane. The name of the
place in which it stands, “Seething Lane,” seems fitting enough. The
neighbouring houses have fallen away from it and have been excavated out
of existence by Metropolitan Railways, etc., and, as a last degradation,
a house has been built over its porch. One face of it projects along
Tower Street on a sort of abject terrace--a squalid, abandoned
churchyard, with a few starved trees flourishing their bare branches.
The old mould, quite grassless, lies thick. There the gaunt tower, with
its meagre, decayed lantern, and its worn, stripped sides, rises
blighted by neglect. The two low aisles that range beside the nave have
the same piteous air.

Not far away is another of these blighted fanes, St. Olave’s, Hart
Street, whose dismal entrance gateway is set off with a gruesome
representation of skulls and cross-bones elaborately carved, offering
with its decayed and rusted iron gate a truly depressing prospect. This
seems a souvenir of the Plague time. It is a strange, gruesome feeling,
looking through the close railings of the barred gates, into this rueful
inclosure. Entering from “Seething Lane,” under a quaint gateway, we
pass across the forlorn graveyard. The interior is interesting and
original in the shape of its arches and aisles, and well lined with
mural tablets. Two are in memory of Samuel Pepys and his wife, with
their alabaster busts and inscriptions. It is pleasant to find oneself
in company with the piquant and agreeable chronicler.

Wandering on, we come to a very effective and picturesque
structure--the old Cripplegate Church, which affects one with the
strangest feelings of a forlorn kind. Its grim old square tower rises in
an abandoned fashion, as though it felt that no one cared for it, that
it is but an obsolete survivor amid the lines of new and magnificent
warehouses that have been built about it. On its top platform is perched
a sort of kiosk-shaped lantern; from within, as I stand below, booms out
the solemn melodious bell. Its clock-face is fixed, not at the centre,
but at one side, with _bizarre_ effect. The church is hedged round by
ancient buildings with projecting framed bow-windows, and the florid
gate of its churchyard is set off with a well-carved hour-glass, lying
on its side, flanked by a skull and crossbones--grim supporters. This is
gruesome enough. On the top of each are two more upright hour-glasses.
The church within has been trimmed up, painted and decorated, in an
unpleasing modern way. Milton’s tomb, which faces the door, has been
“done up handsomely,” with a Gothic canopy, and altogether made smart
and pretentious: all round the walls are curious black tablets with
florid carvings as black.

[Illustration: ALLHALLOWS BARKING.]

[Illustration: ST. OLAVE’S, HART STREET.]

The district about is truly interesting; we could wander for hours
through the irregular streets, which meander in the most agreeable way,
and suggest Antwerp and other Flemish towns. Every now and again we come
on a church. Rome is held to be over-supplied with churches, one, it is
said, for every day in the year; but there must be nearly as many in
London, set down in corners and paved lanes, whence rises some majestic
tower in picturesque fashion.

[Illustration: THE SAVOY CHAPEL.]

Even the modern places of business contribute to the effect. One effect,
common enough, is that of finding a pretty garden, encompassed by lofty
business buildings, traversed by a walk for pedestrians only, which had
erst been a churchyard, converted to profane use. One specimen of this
treatment, and suggestive enough too, is to be seen close to Mincing
Lane, where the “Clothworkers” have their garden. Here used to be the
churchyard of _Allhallows Staining_--quaint name. The church was
levelled, but the old tower was left, and stood solitary and
picturesquely for a time. Then it also was cleared away. The churchyard
was levelled, the tombstones carried off, and the whole built over and
turned into a yard!

I have often thought that one of the great charms in exploring London is
the abrupt change which often occurs when we pass from the roar and
clamour of some modern crowded thoroughfare into some sequestered,
silent inclosure, which seems almost monastic in its privacy. This
peculiar sensation can be secured in many districts. It is thus strange
to turn out of the Strand near to Wellington Street, and descend the
steep incline into the old Savoy. There we come upon the rather forlorn
graveyard, with the chapel and its grim, rude tower, which is somewhat
after the fashion of an Italian Campanile, and which, in spite of
conflagrations and restorations, still retains its sad, gloomy aspect.
The inclosure has been built round, the old place has been sadly
straitened and profaned. A theatre behind it, roystering clubs, baths,
etc., facing it; but the ancient trees remain, and the graveyard has a
garden-like aspect. What is called a fashionable wedding--performed by
the excellent and popular chaplain--lights up as it were the old place;
the denizens of the neighbouring courts and streets gather; showy
carriages cluster on the steep incline, and the bridal procession offers
a not unpicturesque effect as it has to wind its way across the
graveyard, and becomes the admiration of all. For the view within little
can be said, as the whole is bare enough, having been restored and
coloured in the “heartless” days.

[Illustration: THE SAVOY.]

But we now come to a gem of its kind--one of the antiquarian treasures
of London--yet little known and little visited. In one of the streets
leading out of Holborn Circus--at the threshold of the City, of banks
and mercantile business--we find a retired street, or _cul de sac_, of
modest old-fashioned houses, which are approached through a carefully
guarded gate. This is Ely Place, and here, a little way down on the
left, is to be found this rare cynosure. It is interesting in every
view--from its historical associations, the strange vicissitudes through
which it has passed, its narrow escapes from destruction or conversion
to profane uses, and its precious and native grace. The old houses of
the street have a sleepy air, which is in keeping, and no clatter of
carts or carriages disturbs the solitude. The place is given over to
commission agents, native and foreign, while the celebrated firm of
solicitors, “Lewis and Lewis,” together with the graceful chapel, divide
the attractions of the street.

[Illustration: The Crypt. S. Etheldreda’s

Hume Nisbet
]

The chapel stands back from the roadway, from which is a descent of
steps which leads to the level of the lower chapel or crypt. For here is
the singular interest of the building; there are two chapels, one under
the other, and apparently of equal pretension. Entering, we find
ourselves in gloom, Cimmerian almost, in a long, low crypt, with lights
glimmering at the far end. The ceiling still shows the original,
roughly-hewn beams, like the timber framing in the hold of a vessel,
while down the middle a row of eight short, blunted columns supports it,
from each of which the supporting timbers radiate, fan-like. The lancet
windows at the side are remarkable as revealing the enormous
thickness--it seems about twelve feet in depth--of

[Illustration: S. Etheldreda’s Church.]

the almost Roman wall, though on the right-hand side either necessity or
convenience has prompted the filling of these recesses with
confessionals. On the left, near the altar, a flight of steps leads up
through a Gothic door to a cloister, whence other stairs wind on to the
elegant chapel above. Here opens a perfect surprise, from its two vast
windows, which through all vicissitudes and disfigurements have been
treated tenderly, and have excited the admiration of architects and
amateurs. The grace or proportion displayed in window and wall, the
unobtrusive decorations, the fine old ribbed roof--these and other
attractions make this chapel one of the genuine treasures of London.

Scarcely any locality in the City so plainly tells its story as does the
little quarter round the chapel. It is dedicated to St. Etheldreda, and
up to about a hundred years ago had always been intimately connected
with the see of Ely and the Cathedral city itself. As an instance of the
religious associations still lingering in the district, there will be
noted close by, in Holborn, one of those remarkable old inns, of which
only a few are left, in Southwark chiefly, which retain the old inn-yard
with two tiers of galleries. This specimen is a very antique one; of
ripe old brick, but sound and in good condition. Its sign is THE OLD
BELL, and many will have noticed it. Now we find that about the year
1290 Bishop Kirkely bequeathed to the convent at Ely his mansion house
called the Bell, or “le Bell,” together with some cottages in Holborn.

[Illustration: Old Roman Font discovered under the Crypt of S.
Etheldreda’s]

There must be octogenarians in the district whose parents could have
described to them the vast group of buildings and gardens which stood
here so lately as a century ago--the old Palace of the Bishops of Ely,
with banqueting hall, cloisters, and dwelling house; the “fayre
plaisaunces” and gardens were to be seen then, though in sad disorder;
and the whole must have offered a very striking specimen of the many old
spacious inclosures of which there are now but few left. By-and-by there
will be none.

To Grose we owe a carefully-drawn plan, which gives the position of
every building and outhouse, and shows what a large establishment it
must have been. The whole inclosure with its gardens, cloisters, etc.,
covered the space of ground between Hatton Garden and Saffron Hill. It
is easy to follow the disposition of the buildings by this plan. The
large arched gateway stood a little beyond the Prince Consort’s
equestrian statue. The old banqueting-hall was near where the porter’s
lodge at the entrance of Ely Place stands, and the cloisters covered the
ground between it and that on which the right-hand row of houses is
built.

It had often been proposed by the Bishops to sell their property; and in
1768 the Government thought seriously of buying it for a prison. At last
Dr. Keene, Bishop in 1772, obtained an Act of Parliament authorizing him
to dispose of the whole to the Crown, it being proposed to erect
Government offices on the site. The sum was £6,500, and a clear annuity
of £200 to the Bishop. This Dr. Keene had been consecrated in the little
chapel in the year 1752, and indeed much Protestant parochial work seems
to have been carried on there through all its vicissitudes. Six Bishops,
it is recorded, died within the precincts. With the sum paid by the
Government, and £3,600 “dilapidations” to be recovered from the Bishop,
it was proposed to build a new mansion. This was accordingly done, and
the present plain, stone-fronted house to be seen in Dover Street,
marked with a mitre, furnished succeeding Bishops with a less
responsible, if less picturesque residence. Then the work of levelling
and devastation set in. The entire pile, cloisters, banqueting-hall,
etc., were razed to the ground. The chapel only was left.

The fate of the pretty chapel, thus spared, was to be precarious. It was
to pass through all sorts of changes, some of a degrading kind. It was
humiliating to find this monument associated with all the vulgar
elements of the “proprietary chapel,” a chaplain being secured to “draw”
a congregation, the crypt being, as in the case of the chapel of “Rev.
Charles Honeyman,” let off for stores or wine-vaults, to increase the
receipts.

But it would not do. It may have been that there was something in the
place uncongenial to true Protestant feeling; but it is unquestionable
that the long tide of ill-luck and ill-omen which had steadily pursued
it since it was diverted from the old faith, was destined to continue.
Worshippers would not come. The chapel was once more closed. The
incumbent went away, and was made Bishop of Barbados. In vain the Bishop
of London appealed in a powerful address, saying what a matter of
regret it was that so “valuable a building, in every respect calculated
for purposes of public worship, should remain unoccupied.” The
Archbishop of Canterbury joined his efforts, and by the united exertions
of the two prelates, it was contrived to reopen the chapel after a
closure of nearly three years. In 1836, the Rev. Mr. D’Arblay, no doubt
the son of the lively Fanny Burney, tried what he could do. But “a few
Sundays only had elapsed when Mr. D’Arblay was attacked by an illness
which, after a short and severe struggle, terminated in his death.” It
was no wonder the Bishops found it difficult to keep the place open. We
next find it handed over to a Welsh congregation, which seems to have
held possession without disturbance or interference until the expiration
of the lease in 1876. They removed to the antique, Dutch-like Church, on
St. Bennet’s Hill, Paul’s Wharf.

On Wednesday, January 28, 1874, the chapel was put up to auction, by
order of the Court of Chancery, at the Mart, Tokenhouse Yard. There was
much interest excited, and Sir Gilbert Scott, the eminent cathedral
architect, who always took a warm interest in the little chapel, was
present. After some bidding it was sold to a “Mr. M‘Guinness of the
Royal Exchange.” Who was this gentleman? What would he do with his
purchase? It became known that the chapel had passed into the hands of
the Order of Charity, directed by Father Lockhart. In a very short time
money was subscribed and the work of restoration taken in hand. The
pretty fabric at this time indeed presented a sad and piteous spectacle.
The churchwardens had done their worst with it. Galleries, panelling,
and a neat, flat, plastered ceiling had overlaid all the old Gothic
work; the windows were rudely mauled, doors broken in the wall, etc. It
was not, therefore, without some trepidation that the architects began
their work. But some agreeable surprises greeted them. In breaking
through the plaster ceiling they found the old fourteenth-century
timbers of the Gothic roof fresh and sound, and wanting but little
restoration. The old west window, which was totally obscured by walls
and rubbish, it was found could be cleared. From the crypt a vast amount
of rubbish, or _débris_ was removed, disclosing a chapel, that very
little would restore to its old ecclesiastical purposes. Sir Gilbert
Scott took interest in the work, and the Duke of Norfolk, after
subscribing liberally, presented the large and beautiful stained-glass
window which fills the east end, and is said to have cost close on
£3,000--a very richly-bright performance of the jewelled glass pattern,
abounding in florid and elaborate designs, for which the graceful and
numerous divisions furnish an opening. It is indeed a feast of rich and
mellow colouring.

Unfortunately it is so built round that it is impossible to restore the
two effective side-towers with their peaked cones. These were bold, of
hexagonal shape, and of three stories. They gave a support and finish,
which, in its present shape, the façade lacks. Another marked feature
was the niches at the side of the great window, which were deeply sunk,
as if to hold statues, and not, as now, almost flush with the surface of
the wall. This is an important architectural aid, as breaking the
monotony of the wall. It was “Charles Cole, Esq., architect and builder”
as he was, who removed the four “towerlets” and squeezed the chapel in
between two “neat” dwelling houses. Let us hope that by-and-by, these
adjuncts will be restored.

But there is yet a more effective view still of this charming monument
which would escape the careless visitor unless he were directed. Going
to the bottom of the street, he will turn to the left, passing through
an archway into a curious sort of inclosure, half “industrial
tenements,” half stabling. There he will see displayed to him the whole
flank of the old Ely Chapel, worn, grey, well rusted. The exceeding
beauty and fair proportions of the building are here shown at their
best, and one will find much delight in contemplating the four beautiful
windows, displaying their extraordinary grace, and contrasted with the
steep, tiled roof. These windows would well repay the architect’s study,
from their symmetry and the charming way in which they are proportioned
to the wall space, while the restorer has done nothing to interfere with
the grave and solemn tones of the old wall. At the end can be seen one
of the old corner towers, much disfigured and overlaid, but worthy of
restoration, and projecting from this corner, at a right angle, are some
ruined fragments of what seems the old cloister.



CHAPTER XXII.

OLD ST. BARTHOLOMEW’S, ST. HELEN’S, AND OTHER CHURCHES.


[Illustration: DOORWAY, ST. HELEN’S.]

After walking beside the handsome and imposing Smithfield markets for a
short distance, we reach the open square where, close to Bartholomew’s
Hospital, stands one of the most extraordinary old churches in London,
second only in interest to the other antique memorial whereof the worthy
Dr. Cox was lately incumbent, viz., St. Helen’s. All that is connected
with this venerable fane is characteristic; the approaches and
surroundings are piquant, and will surprise the antiquarian visitor. It
suggests one of the lorn, abandoned-looking churches we occasionally
meet with in one of the “dead cities” of Belgium. We enter under a
Gothic arch, cut through an old brick house, one of whose two stories
overhangs. This arch is full of grace and very perfect, but a portion of
it has been ruthlessly built into the adjoining house, while, with
painful incongruity, a “dealer in pickled ox-tongues” proclaims his
occupation in large letters over the gate. Passing in we find yet
stranger contrasts, for here is seen a sort of “Tom All-alone’s,” a
strangely solitary and gloomy churchyard, desolate to a degree,
surrounded by backs of gabled houses a couple of centuries old, all
rickety and tottering, but inhabited; while the small contracted
churchyard shows its old tombstones, scarcely able to keep themselves
erect. On the wall to the right are some loose tablets, while facing us
rises the old brick tower. There is something so solemn, so grimed and
neglected, about the air of this building as to be almost pathetic. This
old tower, in its stern and stout decay, has ever a strange effect. It
shows all that mournful neglect which so affected Mr. Ruskin in the case
of the old Tower at Calais. It suggests its brother of Chelsea, and is
capped by one of those quaint, old-fashioned belfries so common in the
City. There is always something melancholy and grim in these solemn
remnants, standing up stark and stiff, and still unshaken, though their
“day” has long since gone by. Here too is the old rusted clock with its
faded gold characters. Even the little, disused doorway and balcony
half-way up have an odd, _bizarre_ look.

No church has ever met with such rude, pitiless treatment as this. One
would think that it was regarded with the dislike some unnatural mother
has to her child, for every kind of affront and neglect seems to have
been heaped upon it. Everyone was welcome to treat it as he listed. A
long and handsome nave once covered the ground now devoted to the
churchyard, and was ruthlessly levelled some centuries ago. Aisles and
chapels were cut away bodily, and converted into dwellings. A
blacksmith’s forge was formed out of one of the transepts, while a
fringe factory was actually carried on over the Lady chapel, or all that
remained of it. A walk round the grand and maltreated old building--one
of the most curious and original sights in London for the
antiquary--reveals how encrusted it is on all sides with lawlessly
encroaching tenements which have preyed on it during centuries. It is
one of the most curious feelings to go round outside, groping as it were
in search of these adjuncts, and to actually find them.

Round the old church are to be found Rouen-like streets, highly antique
and picturesque, such as “Cloth Fair,” with old, overhanging houses, and
space for but a single carriage to pass; the backs of most of which
tenements are caked and crusted to the old fane. Overpowered as it is,
we can see it struggling uneasily with these oppressive neighbours. By
diving down

[Illustration: ST. HELEN’S.]

strange lanes and passages and _culs de sac_ we obtain stray peeps at
its venerable figure. Here is an old dilapidated Gothic window sunk down
in a pit, with a fragment of a chapel covered with fine mouldings.
Indeed, this little quarter could scarcely be matched as a
characteristic specimen of a certain phase of London life in the City,
where the herd of workers cluster together thickly and economize every
inch of space. At front, sides, and rear of the old fane, old and new
wooden and brick houses are heaped together in disorder, according as
the convenience of the site offered favourable opportunity. Close by is
a little flagged square with a dozen alleys starting from it, with two
or three old mansions of last century. No alley runs straight for a
dozen yards together, but winds and twists, and perhaps brings you back,
to your surprise, to the point from which you started.

A plan of restoration has been happily carried out, and within a very
short time. So reverently and temperately has it been done, that this
rare, desirable impression of age has not been disturbed. Before its
restoration, the spectacle that this old fane presented was truly unique
and astonishing. It was left to a grim and desolate abandonment, the old
iron gates half hung from their hinges; all was ruin. The sense of
desolation for the visitor was oppressive. One stared with a sort of awe
as one wandered among the grimed and blackened columns--stumbling over
the uneven floor. The shadows settled everywhere--we expected to see the
ravens and night birds flitting about. The grimness and dilapidation
were extraordinary, but still the effect was unique--the air of size was
increased by the sense of “vast neglect” and desolation. No one seemed
to care for it and its unutterable griminess, or indeed what became of
it; you went away overcome by its gloom and the desolation of the whole.

But now what a change! The vicar has prompted and carried out the work
with admirable discretion. The intruding fringe factory has been bought,
the blacksmith’s forge will soon be disposed of, and the clang of hammer
and anvil will no longer be heard within the church itself. The
architect, Mr. Ashton Webb, has done his work in a judicious and
effective way. There is none of that glaring effect of a dazzling new
white stone, so painful in restored cathedrals; all is of a subdued and
mellow buff, and old stones have been either left in their places, or
others of sound condition have been worked in. The effect is really
charming. At the altar end the apse has been restored, continuing the
Norman arcade all round. The quaint old oak roof has been retained and
repaired. The old altar-tombs of rich, well-coloured marbles, are in
their place, and we gaze with astonishment at that noble and elaborate
one of the Mildmay family (_circa_ 1589), and at the eccentric little
tablet of black marble that is perched high up on the side wall.

The architects speak with delight of the beautiful Norman arches and the
sturdy cylindrical columns supporting the “triforium” or gallery, which
was so long built out by a wall. The finest, almost overpowering, effect
is produced by the grand central lantern, which leaves a sense of
dignity and size.

Piquant, also, is the little projecting _loggia_ with its mullions,
whence old Abbot Bolton--his cipher, “a bolt,” is to be seen--used to
look down on the devotions below. In short, there is nothing wanting in
this interesting building that can attract. If objection may be taken,
it is to the oak-work of the gallery and stalls, which is not bold
enough to harmonize with the rest, and the same may be said of what Lamb
would have called the rather “pimping” character of the leaded panes
over the apse. These should have been bolder and even ruder. Such is
this venerable old fane, to which the wholesale restorers and “trouble
tombs” should repair to learn how to carry out their duty.

[Illustration: ST. ETHELBURGA.]

It is a strange effect, the looking down near London Bridge Station into
the low-lying graveyard below, out of which rises the venerable old
church of St. Saviour’s, Southwark. It is cathedral-like in its
proportions, and grim and stark in its flint-built walls. Though well
preserved, it has the usual air of solitariness and desolation common to
most City churches.[21] It is really a grand, cathedral-like, old place.
Inside it is “boxed up” and partitioned off in a curious way enough; but
its tombs are full of touching interest. There is a simple stone in the
floor inscribed with a name familiar to all, “Philip Massinger, a
stranger.” “John Fletcher, died August, 1625,” is on a second stone; and
“Edmond Shakespeare, died December, 1607,” says the stone under which
the poet’s brother rests. And then we step across the piece of old Roman
mosaic in the floor to that part of the church where John Gower’s memory
is kept fresh by an imposing monument. A thorough restoration of this
old fane is now in progress.

The old churches in the desolate portions of London, by Shoreditch and
Whitechapel, Wapping and Southwark, though many were built by Wren, seem
blighted by the squalid districts in which they stand. We may
commiserate the fate of the vicars in charge, who pursue their calling
under cheerless conditions. The old forlorn and disused Rolls Chapel,
which always suggests some maltreated Dutch church, contains an artistic
gem which is worthy of a special visit. “It is little known,” says the
judicious Mr. Hare, “that within its walls is one of the noblest pieces
of sculpture that England possesses--a tomb which may be compared for
beauty with the famous monuments of Albergati at Bologna, and of Guigni
at the Badia at Florence.” This praise is not a whit too extravagant;
for elegance and beauty of design nothing can approach it. It is in
memory of Dr. John Young, Master of the Rolls in the time of Henry VIII.
A plain arch incloses a casket-shaped sarcophagus on which the figure
reposes. On the surface within the arch is a representation of Our
Saviour, flanked by cherubs wrought in delicate relief, after the
fashion of Donatello, with exquisite pictorical effect. The graceful
original design of the sarcophagus suggests one of those Florentine
chests intended to hold _trousseaux_, and along the bottom runs an airy
scroll as if carelessly cast down, and without the usual formality of
such things. Much of the effect is due to the beautiful sense or
instinct of proportion, and to the simple lines of the inclosing arch,
which is not elaborated in any way: it is supported by short pillars and
their capitals according to the usual form. This severity and reserve
produce the happiest result in giving effect; while the beauty and
mellowed richness of the tones of colouring and the air of gentle
repose are extraordinary. The whole is the work of Torrigiano, Henry
VII.th’s Italian artist, whose _chef-d’œuvre_ is in Westminster Abbey.

One of the most picturesque and interesting streets in London is
Bishopgate Street, which even now presents a very fair idea of how an
old London street looked a couple of centuries ago. Many of its old
wooden houses remain. Here are strange old churches that have never been
altered or restored; curious, retired little courts and squares, old
inns, an old hall or palace, like Crosby Hall, with a fine carved house,
Sir Paul Pindar’s; while the traffic of the street and the general air
seem to take insensibly the tone and complexion of an old-fashioned,
obsolete kind. The course of the thoroughfare winds and bends in an
original way, and it seems now to be, what it used to be, a busy
highway, one of the great roads that led away out of London to the
country. Still do the waggons and carriers depart in numbers, and the
old inn yards whence the coaches used to set off, are used for kindred
purposes.

How interesting are the old objects here clustered together! The Crosby
Hall Palace, now a restaurant; the retired Crosby Square, into which you
pass by an archway from the street; the quaint old church of St.
Ethelburga, the truly interesting church of St. Helen’s, in Great St.
Helen’s, also entered by an archway. From this a few winding turns lead
us to the Ghetto, or Jew quarter, Bevis Marks, St. Mary Axe and
Houndsditch, names that have, from association, a curious scent or
flavour.

Anyone possessed of taste and curiosity, whether he be architect or
amateur, should be glad to see Crosby Hall, one of the most graceful and
pleasing buildings in London. It is curious to think that this busy,
bustling eating-house was once the Palace of “Crook’d-back Richard.” The
framed and gabled front hangs over the street, displaying the
well-restored ’scutcheons. There is an abundance of painted windows:
when we pass into the squares, one of which are on each side, and see
the great towers and mullioned windows that stretch behind, sheltered
from the street, then the extending beauty of the relic strikes one.
Loud and noisy as is the hum and clatter of Bishopsgate, all becomes
mysteriously still in the old-fashioned tranquil square, and if it be
growing dark the light within will illuminate the “richly dight” panes,
and the tall window is shown in all its beauty as it reaches from the
ground almost to the top of the elegant tower. “We doubt,” says a good
critic of these Lancastrian windows, “if there be any specimen, in any
style, more graceful or more void of superfluities and affectations.” If
we enter the other square on the left, the picturesque Great St.
Helen’s, through the archway, we shall see the other end of the old
hall, with an elegant window projecting, looking like a fragment of an
old abbey.

Within the Hall we find, thriving and busy, a spacious restaurant,
crowded to excess at lunching hour. The grand old hall, where King
Richard is supposed to have feasted, is now crowded with an enormous
multitude of hungry City men. The proportions of this grand chamber, its
Lancastrian arched windows, placed high up, and the beautiful oriel
recess or window, have always excited admiration. Many years ago it was
used as the home of a literary society, but is now put to more practical
uses. In spite of the vulgarizing associations of the public restaurant,
there is imparted a sort of vitality and dramatic animation which seems
in keeping, and at least makes the old building glow with health and
vigour.

[Illustration: GATEWAY TO GREAT ST. HELEN’S, AND ALMSHOUSES.]

In the last century this place was actually degraded into a packer’s

[Illustration: BELFRY, ST. HELEN’S CHURCH.]

warehouse; the hall was ruthlessly cut into two stories, while a covered
flight of steps led up to the first; and in a print of the time the
packer with a chest on his back is actually shown ascending. This flight
was built against the beautiful oriel. One is tempted to expatiate long
on this charming little corner and dainty bit of art, whose grace the
true connoisseur will recognize and appreciate. Who could think of such
a gem being found in an eating-house or restaurant? The grand hall thus
has quite a baronial and banqueting appearance, and for exquisite
detail and beauty “is one of the most perfect things domestic
architecture ever produced.” It is said, indeed, that this building is
the only existing remnant of the domestic architecture of old London,
and dates from the year 1466.

[Illustration: MONUMENT OF SIR WILLIAM PICKERING.]

The two squares or “_Places_” adjoining, as they may be more properly
called, are in their way full of a picturesque interest. Great St.
Helen’s is a sort of surprise as we pass from the din and hurly-burly of
the crowded street into its tranquil, secluded retirement, where all
sounds seem distant or muffled. Round us are old houses of sound red
brick, devoted to business, but with a snug “Cheeryble” air. On the left
is an almshouse, not of much accommodation, with an inscription that it
was founded by a Lord Mayor Judd, a name still of importance in the
City. Opposite is a fine, handsomely-carved doorway, worthy of study,
while at the farthest corner rises a much-grimed old mansion, a fine
specimen of old brickwork, set off with pilasters and enriched capitals
and tablets, after the pattern of Inigo Jones; within one of these is a
fine old staircase of much effect.

But in the centre is the old, well-known church itself--an aged,
crumbling, sad-coloured, quaint-looking place, turning towards us the
ends of its two forlorn aisles, rather bent or stooped with its years.
Between these rises a poor, attenuated lantern, on which again is
perched another, with quite an antique old-world air, and a certain tone
of squalor in its two lanky windows. In front is a poorish strip of
churchyard through which a walk has been cut, leading to a door. But on
the right there is a fine, pretentious doorway, with its Jacobean, bold
“flourishings”--a cherub with puffed cheeks, and fine mouldings, while
the old timbers and bolts are still to be seen.

A worthy old sextoness, who has her show business well by heart, is
fetched from a queer little old house to do the honours of St. Helen’s.
The interior of this venerable church, with its straggling shape, its
one transept, its magnificent and dignified old tombs, is truly
surprising. Not less curious is the way it speaks of the old
arrangements that have passed away. The absent transept signifies the
place where the St. Helen’s nuns used to hear mass. The ruins of the
convent were to be seen in the last century. But the grand, stately
tombs, with their canopies and the reposing knights in armour--one of
which, our sextoness boasts, “is superior to anything in the Abbey”--are
really a surprise.



CHAPTER XXIII.

WREN’S CHURCHES.


Few who pass through the City or travel by the river pause to think and
compare the innumerable spires and towers that rise in all directions,
and lend a Flemish grace to the prose of City life. The most conspicuous
are the work of Sir Christopher Wren. No little charm, it may be said,
is found in the effective grey of the Portland stone, with its black
staining in the shadows--due to deposits of London smoke. But while all
praise is due to Wren for his excellence and versatility, it must be
remembered that no architect has ever received such a commission as the
building of some forty great churches--everyone having an important
tower or spire, and situated in every conceivable and favouring
locality. To crown all, this lucky artist was intrusted with the rearing
of one of the most famous cathedrals in Europe. The variety is shown in
the different materials he uses, there being nine steeples of stone,
nineteen spires of timber and lead, with twelve solid towers of stone.
The great secret of their excellence is the admirable workmanship and
system of construction. It is declared, on architectural authority, that
they are now as sound as in the year they were erected; and, certainly,
no one ever sees them under repair. The mixture of square tower and
tapering spire is most original, and the junction between the two is
varied in the most pleasing manner. The most famous are Bow Church, or
St. Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside, and St. Bride’s, in Fleet Street. These are,
however, meant to be rich and elaborate, as being in busy and important
thoroughfares. Those in more retired places, lanes and alleys, are not a
whit less effective, though not so pretentious. A favourite pattern with
Wren is the contrasting of a very plain, square tower with a short stone
campanile of two or three little stories, with most graceful results.
Other good specimens are St. Michael, College Hill; St. James’s, Garlick
Hill; and St. Stephen, Walbrook. Some steeples soar aloft from the
towers--full-fledged spires--while there are some fantastic, which seem
unworthy, and, indeed, difficult to conceive in a man of such genius.
The spire of the well-known Piccadilly church, St. James’s, is
attenuated; St. Edmund’s, in Lombard Street, St. Swithin’s, St.
Martin’s Ludgate, St. Mary Abchurch, and a few more are of this rather
poor pattern. The fashions of his towers are very familiar--having,
generally, four rich pinnacles, or rather towerlets, rising from the
ground at each corner. Mr. Taylor, the architect, has written a very
pleasing book on Wren’s towers and spires, with airy sketches of each,
so that the reader can compare for himself.

How admirably situated is St. Bride’s, in Fleet Street, at the end of
the recessed opening or narrow court, and where it rises with original
effect! There is an additional piquancy in this perpetual recurrence of
steeple and spire, as if suggesting the _piety_ of the City, and the
excessive devotion of London; the truth being that these are but
religious cenotaphs--survivals--having no congregations.[22]

There is a curious story associated with St. Bride’s steeple, which can
be seen from Fleet Street through the picturesque opening beside the
_Punch_ office, made within living memory. “The steeple,” Mr. Godwin
tells us, “was actually curtailed of eight feet of its height, the
alteration being made out of his own whim by a stone mason.” If we look
at it closely, we shall see how rudely and abruptly the extremity is
finished off.

[Illustration: WREN’S STEEPLES--ST. MARY-LE-BOW.]

One of the most impressive views--and least known--is that to be gained
from the top story of the new, or newest, Post Office at St.
Martin’s-le-Grand. As we look from this aerie the effect is one of
entrancing surprise and mystery. Out of the mist of the City rises
quite close to us the vast dome of St. Paul’s; below lie all the roofs,
while round, far and near, are seen dotted about the innumerable towers
and spires, on which we look _down_, instead of looking up to, as is
usual. There is nothing so grand, so vast, so full of awe as this in
London--everything seems so vast and crowded.

Apropos of London towers, one of the most truly graceful and effective
is that of St. Clement Dane’s Church in the Strand, though it is
encumbered with a clumsy church behind. Often of a winter’s evening, as
you come down Holywell Street, or Booksellers’ Row, you hear its merry
chimes jangling out, growing more and more noisy and riotous as you
approach. It may be some moonlight night, when its graceful outlines are
projected against the bluish sky behind, while the tower windows, lit up
from within, show where the ringers are at work. Such a revel of
pleasant jangling, all in wildest confusion, and having quite a
Christmas tone! One is inclined to linger on, and think it some street
corner in Ghent: or else recall old Samuel Johnson, who used to repair
here many a time and oft. There is here a regular “College” of ringers,
who practise their “triple bob majors” with regularity and skill. A
tablet recently set up in the porch records how on Jubilee Day a peal
was rung of some 50,000 changes, which perforce took some hours.

It were vain, of course, to praise the matchless Bow Steeple, the best
view of which is gained from the Royal Exchange. Its originality,
solidity, and airiness are extraordinary. If a fault might be hinted at,
“the centre core behind the columns, one could have wished,” says Mr.
Taylor, “had been slightly thicker.” The tone and colour--everything is
charming. Within, however, it hardly seems to correspond. Indeed, many
of Wren’s interiors are disappointing--giving the air of some large,
gloomy hall or chamber, rather than that of a church, set off with
ponderous carvings. He had another favourite system, exhibited in St.
Stephen’s, Walbrook, and St. James’s, Piccadilly, and also imitated by
his pupils, of rows of slight pillars, dividing the interior into
aisles, and which support vaulted roofs. These are also made to do duty
in supporting the galleries.

Architects have fallen into raptures over one of Wren’s City churches,
this St. Stephen’s, Walbrook, which, externally, seems mean and
neglected. Says one: “If the exterior and belfry of this church have
uncommon grace and decorum for that age, it is the interior that
constitutes its fame. Though a simple cell inclosed by four walls, the
tameness of that form wholly disappears behind the unique and varied
arrangement of its sixteen columns. They reproduce and unite almost
every beauty of plan to be found in all the cathedrals of Europe. Now
they form the Latin cross, with its nave, transept, and chancel; anon
they divide the whole space into five aisles, regularly diminishing from
the centre to the sides; again we perceive, in the midst, a square
apartment with recesses on all its sides--a square, nay, an octagon--no,
a circle. It changes at every glance, as we view the entablature, or the
arches above it, or the all-uniting dome. With the same harmonious
variety we have every form of ceiling brought together at once--flat,
camerated, groined, pendentive, domical--yet no confusion. The fitness
to its destination is perfect; every eye can see the minister, and every
ear is within hearing distance of him in every part of the service. It
is the most beautiful of preaching-rooms; and though only a sketch, and
executed only in counterfeit building, would, if carried out in Wren’s
spirit instead of his employers’, form the most perfect of Protestant
temples.”

Of this church, Ralph, an art critic of one hundred and fifty years ago,
declared that “it was famous all over Europe, and was justly considered
Wren’s masterpiece. Perhaps Italy itself can produce no modern building
that can vie with this in taste or proportion: there is not a beauty
which this place would admit of, that is not found here in its greatest
perfection.” Architects relish the ingenuity of the arrangement; for the
whole roof and dome is supported by the columns, and are quite
independent of the main walls. It should be remembered that it was built
before the erection of the present Mansion House; which has intercepted
much of the flood of light that Wren reckoned on to set off his airy
columns and arches. The barbarous churchwardens at one time even wished
to block up the windows on one side, but were checked.

[Illustration: WREN’S STEEPLES--ST. JAMES’S.]

It is easy to interpret the impression of beauty left by the interior,
which is owing to the elegance of the cupola in the centre, which seems
to be supported airily on these grouped columns. But succeeding visits
to the church more and more betray the blemishes caused by modern
treatment and so-called improvements. The revealing of the long bases
of the columns, by clearing away the pews, leaves an impression that the
visitor is below the level of the floor. The columns now seem “lanky,”
as if the ground had been cleared away and their bases exposed. The
introducing of gaudy colouring into this and the adjoining church of St.
Mary Woolnoth has much impaired the architectual effect, multiplying
details and destroying the simplicity of the whole. It is clear that a
uniform tone, a suggestion of stone colour, is what is required. This
charming fabric has further attraction in the monumental and florid
organ, with its gallery and doorway below forming one structure, all of
the darkest and most solid oak, suggesting what is to be seen in some
Flemish church.

[Illustration: ST. STEPHEN’S, WALBROOK.]

As we stand by the Mansion House we see beside us an elegant-looking
church of Italian pattern, and situated picturesquely at the corner of
two streets. We enter, and find ourselves in a beautifully proportioned
square chamber, richly decorated with cornices, pilasters, and oak
carvings. The rector and churchwardens claim, indeed, that it is “the
most striking and original in the metropolis, and without a prototype
in England.” So beautiful did it appear to the French architect,
Servandoni, that when planning his famous church of St. Sulpice, in
Paris, he reproduced in facsimile this façade. It will be noted that it
is of a curious kind--a sort of double tower--and has impressed many
with the admiration which its enthusiastic rector and churchwardens feel
for it.[23]

[Illustration: ST. MARY WOOLNOTH.]

This really original church has been described as “an exquisite example
of the Italian style. The interior is no more than a gracefully designed
chamber, after the pattern of the Roman _atrium_, with twelve coupled
and richly-decorated columns running round.” “It is impossible,” says an
enthusiast, “to leave the description of this _delightful interior_
without noticing the galleries; they are so designed that, though
prominent, they do not interfere with the general effect, nor destroy
the simplicity and elegance of the design.” As we have said, the variety
exhibited in Wren’s churches is always extraordinary. Nothing can be
more original and graceful than the interior of St. Swithin’s, opposite
the station in Cannon Street, with its elegant cupola painted by Sir J.
Thornhill. The most charming exterior in its unpretending way, from its
just proportions, is that of the church on Ludgate Hill. It will be
noted how delicate and yet efficient are the mouldings and ornaments,
and the perfect grace of the spire--so airy, and yet so exactly suited
to the plain building below.

It may be added here that there are some curious and interesting things
to be seen in a pilgrimage round the London churches. As in the grim
All-hallows Barking, there is the font, elaborately carved with
grotesque figures by Grinling Gibbons, and in St. Alban’s church, Wood
Street, on a pillar over the pulpit, an hour-glass in a brass frame--no
bad hint for preachers _de longue haleine_. Under Bow Church, in busy
Cheapside, we may see the genuine old Norman arches and vaultings; few
know that a court used to have its sittings here, and hence took the
name of the Court of Arches.

Perhaps the most singular and eccentric specimen of a steeple to be
found in London is that of St. Luke’s, near Clerkenwell. This is an
enormous, ponderous obelisk, some thirty or forty feet high, with its
plinth and steps, perched on the top of a heavy tower. There are also
other freaks in this direction which excite our astonishment.

There is a stately old church--the work of Hawkesmoor--in Hart Street,
close to the British Museum. It is well grimed and blackened over, but
there is something imposing in its Pantheon-like portico, and above all
its extraordinary, and possibly unique, steeple. This is of a very
daring and original pattern, and consists of a pillared lantern, on
which rises a sort of heavy, massive stone pyramid that ascends in
graduated steps. Carried to a great height, it terminates in a circular
pedestal, with a garland running round it, and on the pedestal is--what?
The reader is little likely to guess. A gigantic statue in Roman guise
of His Majesty George I.! There is something quaint and exceptional in
this form of steeple. And yet, so judicious and effective is the
architecture of the whole, so impressive, that there is really nothing
grotesque in the result. During a short interval lately the adjoining
houses were levelled and the whole of the church exposed to view, with
excellent effect. Many who have never noticed it before have been struck
by its originality and dignified air. But now the builders are erecting
hoardings, so this glimpse will have been but a temporary one, and
by-and-by the church will be shut out once more.



CHAPTER XXIV.

MODERN CHURCHES.


After passing in review these stately fanes, centuries old, we turn to
survey what the genius of modern architecture has contributed in this
way to the adornment of London. The contrast is extraordinary. In the
churches built within a century or so, we find little expression or
meaning; nothing that tempts us to linger--their builders seem
uninspired. There are indeed but two or three that have any pretension.
One, ambitious and vast, is Sir Gilbert Scott’s gigantic Gothic temple
at Kensington, which replaced a quaint old-fashioned church. In spite of
its cost and size, it is singularly bald and unsatisfactory. The tower
and spire are of unusual proportions; but the whole is inexpressive and
cold. So awkwardly placed is it, that the door cannot be reached without
an exposed walk through the inclosure, and on weddings and such festive
occasions a long covered way has to be erected to enable the parties to
reach their carriages under shelter. We may also turn to the remarkable
church of All Saints, in Margaret Street, the work of an architect of
much feeling and ability, Mr. Butterfield. We should note how on a small
patch of ground he has grouped his church and presbytery, so as to
convey the idea of space and of something imposing. The mixture of black
and dull red bricks is very happy and successful, and the beauty of the
lines of the spire, seen from many quarters, is remarkable. We always
look upon this pile with interest, as carrying out with perfect success
the aims intended. The little inclosure in front is cleverly disposed,
and, though next the street, has quite a monastic air. Within, the
effect of gorgeous and rich details is quite overpowering, the walls
being one mass of costly marble, fresco paintings, pictures wrought in
encaustic tiles of delicate hues, and painted windows. The defect,
however, is the excessive darkness--“inspissated gloom,” Dr. Johnson
would call it. Nothing in mediæval work can exceed the magnificence of
the reredos and the wall that rises above it, disposed in arches and
tiers, and set off with painted figures and mosaics. The workmanship
everywhere cannot be surpassed--iron work, gilding, carvings, all are of
the best. The beautiful lines of the lancet-shaped arches should be
noted, with the sharp and delicate carvings of the capitals. Nothing,
indeed, has been spared on this great and costly work. Many of the
houses opposite are given up to pious works, and occupied by large
communities of Sisters, who are seen at every hour flitting through the
neighbouring streets.

The churches erected by Roman Catholics display far more variety and
architectural graces. The Catholic chapels of fifty years ago were
chiefly foreign, sheltered by the various Embassies. Such was the little
French chapel close to Baker Street; those in Spanish Place, near
Manchester Square; the Bavarian in Warwick Street, and the Sardinian
Chapel in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. This latter building was sacked and
burnt by the mob in the fury of the Gordon Riots. The same fate befel
the still more modest chapel in Warwick Street, Golden Square. These
Embassy chapels have still a foreign air in their interior arrangement,
displaying a faded gaudiness and old-fashioned elaboration. Passing
Warwick Street Chapel we may note its shabby exterior, suggesting some
struggling conventicle; but this unobtrusiveness was designed purposely,
in the hope of its not again attracting the notice of the “religious”
mobs. Fifty years ago the place was in the highest vogue, for here the
most eminent singers used to lend their voices to the services, and the
late Mr. Braham flourished off, and made the old rafters ring again with
his stentorian notes. Not far away, just out of Soho Square, is to be
seen another grimed and neglected-looking edifice, a stretch of gloomy
brickwork, with rows of windows, having the general air of a disused
Assembly room. This, curious to say, was actually its original function.
For, over a hundred and twenty years ago, it was the well-known “Mrs.
Cornelys’,” where her masquerades and ridottos, the most brilliant in
London, were held. Mrs. Cornelys, after being patronized by all “the
nobility and gentry,” came at last to “selling asses’ milk” in the
suburbs, and died in a wretched way. Her “rooms” after some vicissitudes
were “converted” into a chapel.[24]

The chapel in Soho Square is not the only instance, by-the-way, in
London of a building converted from profane to pious uses. There are
several in London which, after serving to entertain frivolous audiences,
changed hands, and gathered congregations of a more serious kind. Even
the late Court Theatre had done duty as a Methodist conventicle, and the
balcony which used to hold the worshippers merely changed its name to
the “Dress Circle.” Many will recall a floating legend of their
childhood, how, after one church or chapel had been thus “converted,”
and a masquerade was given in the sacred precincts, a mysterious figure
of Satan, whom no one could identify as a mortal, had been seen flitting
about.

Within twenty years or so an extraordinary change, and even revolution,
has taken place. Though these old fanes still linger on, a number of
handsome and imposing churches have risen, some spacious, others
magnificent in their decorations, most of them excellent in design; not
a few, in attraction and interest, are superior to modern Protestant
structures. The most distinguished of these contributors to the glories
of London are the Pugins, father and son, Hansom, Scholes, Clutton,
Bentley, and Herbert Gribble; the last, designer of the Oratory. The
name of Hansom is recalled to the Londoner at almost every hour, as the
one who has most increased the “public stock of harmless pleasure” and
convenience, being the inventor of the famous vehicle so poetically
named by Mr. Disraeli, “the gondola of London.”

In the grandiose and ambitious style there are the three great
cathedrals of St. George’s, Southwark, the Pro-cathedral, Kensington,
and the Oratory. Next in order may be placed the Jesuits’ Church in Farm
Street, and that of the Carmelites at Kensington. Then there is the
great church at Moorfields, with the handsome and spacious Italian
Cathedral in Hatton Garden.

Crossing the river we pass into the Southwark district and come to a
tongue of land close to the Kennington Road. Here, nearly fifty years
ago, the elder Pugin obtained, as he fancied, the one great chance of
his life, that of rearing a grand Metropolitan Cathedral after his own
unfettered designs and aspirations. But never was there to be so piteous
a tale of hope deferred and frustrated. The structure was conceived on
the most costly and ambitious scale, and would have taken a quarter of a
century and perhaps a quarter of a million to complete. It was
wonderful, however, that in those early and straitened days so much
could have been accomplished. The builder of our day, who surveys this
pile, will be astonished to learn that it cost but the bagatelle of
£30,000. It could hardly be erected now for double that sum. Its length
is some 240 feet, its width about 70.

The committee of prelates and influential laymen who undertook the work
had conceived the idea of a fine agglomeration, consisting of a great
Cathedral, with a presbytery, convent and schools attached. Pugin was
called on to supply a complete plan, which he prepared, as may be
conceived, with enthusiasm. On an appointed day it is related that he
attended, and submitted a series of his always beautiful drawings, a
cathedral, chapter house, cloisters, convent, etc., forming a vast and
picturesque pile of buildings. These were received with admiration, when
a practical member of the company put some questions as to the cost.
Another followed with a question as to the time necessary for carrying
out the ambitious design. The architect, without directly replying,
quietly contrived to get back all his drawings into his hands, rolled
them up, took his hat, and walked away from the astonished committee
without a word!

[Illustration: INTERIOR OF THE ORATORY.]

Being later asked for an explanation, he replied, in his rough style: “I
thought I was dealing with people who knew what they wanted; but your
absurd questions showed me my mistake. No cathedral was ever, or could
be, built within the lifetime of a single man. As to its cost, how can I
tell? Building materials may increase to double their present price in a
few years.”[25] He was induced to supply a more modest, though still an
ambitious, design, and this had eventually to be re-shaped, as the funds
fell short.

The original plan, still preserved, was a truly magnificent one, with
its great central tower, and lofty soaring proportions, with which
contrast the rather mean dimensions of the present edifice, which is
low, but of great length. “It was spoilt,” he said, “by the instructions
of the committee that it was to hold 3,000 people on the floor at a
limited price; in consequence, height, proportion, everything was
sacrificed to meet these conditions.”

[Illustration: CONFESSIONAL IN THE ORATORY.]

But let us hear Mr. Ruskin on this excuse: “St. George’s was not high
enough for want of money? But was it want of money that made you put the
blunt, overloaded, laborious ogee door into the side of it? Was it for
lack of funds that you sunk the tracery of the parapet in its clumsy
zigzags? Was it in parsimony that you buried its paltry pinnacles in
that eruption of diseased crockets, or in pecuniary embarrassment that
you set up the belfry foolscaps with the mimicry of dormer windows,
which nobody can ever reach, nor look out of? Not so, but in mere
incapability of better things.... Employ him by all means, but on small
work. Expect no cathedrals of him; but no one at present can design a
better finial. There is an exceedingly beautiful one over the western
door of St. George’s; and there is some spirited impishness and
switching of tails in the supporting figures.”

There is some truth in these bitter lines--but there is more injustice.
Probably the writer has long since repented of his warmth.

Pugin’s tempestuous nature was, it may be conceived, fretted and goaded
by the unavoidable checks and restraints necessarily laid upon him. But
as it stands he has succeeded in leaving a fine work behind, which one
day a wealthy congregation will take in hand and, perhaps, adapt to the
original design.[26]

[Illustration: OUR LADY’S ALTAR IN THE ORATORY.]

We pass to the last built of the important Catholic edifices, and which,
perhaps, after St. Paul’s, is the most imposing and ambitious
ecclesiastical building in London, namely the Oratory. For spaciousness,
splendour of adornment, fine music, and the style of the services this
is an extraordinary institution, considered as the work of an
unestablished and unendowed communion. Some forty years ago the
Oratorians were to be found at a public room in King William Street,
Strand. During the second Great Exhibition, of 1862, they moved to South
Kensington, where they erected a new church next door to the Museum.
Here was also built a large monastery, a hall for Societies, etc., the
final development of which was the present imposing fane. Some years ago
a competition was declared, and the design of Mr. H. Gribble selected.
Whatever objections may be taken to particular details and treatment,
there can be no question as to the successful result, and the crowds who
visit it, much as sightseers do foreign cathedrals, are impressed and
astonished at its proportions and magnificence. At almost every hour of
week days some of the curious are found there; while on Sundays, after
the services, a long stream of visitors promenade round and round,
surveying the chapels and altars.

The cost of this building is said to have been close upon £80,000, and
though completed inside, its façade and outer dome has still to be
supplied. This will entail a further cost of over £20,000. Its
construction was followed with much interest by architects, owing to the
fact that concrete, cast _in situ_, was used for the dome and arches of
the nave and transept, a practice adopted by some of the old Italian
architects.

The altar of Our Lady, in the right-hand transept, is really a most
extraordinary prodigy in marble work, either for its vast dimensions or
its elegance of florid treatment. The mixture of colours, the flowing
grace of treatment, the blending of statuary with rare marbles, the
exquisite easy manipulation, in times, too, before marble-machinery was
known, all join to make it a most astonishing work. Not but that there
is something meretricious in the composition, and severe critics would
hold that it was of a “debased school.” It is believed that such a work
could not be attempted now at a less cost than eighty or a hundred
thousand pounds. The design, too, is original, that of a sort of
pillared temple formed of exquisitely-tinted marbles. The columns are
all fluted, and the flutings filled with inlaid marbles. Spirited
statues to the number of eleven are grouped with the main fabric, and
reposing figures and fluttering cherubs are disposed with all the ease
and freedom of terra-cotta. We feel a sort of artistic pang as we think
of the fate of this striking work, which was long the ornament of an
Italian church at Brescia, erected by the family of a local architect,
as an inscription records. Under the suppression of religious orders in
Italy the church was levelled, and its altar sold for the bagatelle of
£2,000. No doubt it looks a little out of keeping with the waste of bare
unfurnished wall about it, and seems to be a stranger under our cold
skies, exciting much the same feelings experienced when we look on the
magnificent Rood-screen to be seen in the museum next door. This piece
of ambitious _rococo_ work did duty in the splendid cathedral of
Bois-le-Duc, where only a few weeks ago we were looking at the

[Illustration: THE SANCTUARY, FARM STREET.]

spot it filled, and where something seemed to be lacking. The scrapers
and polishers and restorers had been at their fatal work, so execrated
by Lord Grimthorpe; Renaissance work was pronounced unfit for a Gothic
cathedral; and it was ruthlessly pulled down and sold for a song to our
Government. It may be said that such opposing styles are not to be
always condemned; they represent the form and pressure of their era; and
there is often something piquant in the combination where the works are
of merit. Our own cathedrals often present such contrasts. The apse of
the Oratory is now being decorated with painting, gilding, and marbles,
and when completed will no doubt present a rich appearance.

Some forty years ago the Jesuits obtained permission to build a church
in the most fashionable quarter of London, a privilege that was obtained
not without difficulties, and was subject to the condition that they
should also take charge of a poor and impoverished chapel in the slums
of Westminster. It was almost impossible to secure a suitable site in
Mayfair or near Grosvenor Square, so the church was built in what is no
more than a stable lane, then known as Berkeley Mews, at the back of
Mount Street, but which has assumed the name and dignity of Farm Street.
The church is a beautiful, well-designed Gothic building, built by
Scholes, added to, and altered by Mr. Clutton. The _coup d’œil_, to one
standing at the door, is striking and attractive, from the display of
painted glass, which fills not only the great altar window, but all the
clerestory, as well as from the rich garniture of the sanctuary. The
sanctuary and chapel, close by, present a spectacle of costly
enrichment, the walls being a mass of coloured marbles, deep green and
mellow strawberry tint, encompassing elaborate mosaic pictures, and
gilded carvings. There is a small arcade to the right which opens into
the adjoining chapel: an organ picturesquely projects on the left;
beneath are gilt grilles and gates, while the richly-carved altar, all
pinnacles and niches and figures, fills the centre. The altar is the
work of the elder Pugin, and is a fine specimen of his manner,
suggesting much, but too crowded with details. The communion rails are
his design also, the pulpit, we believe, is from the same “eminent
hand.” The new organ is one of the richest and most powerful in London.



CHAPTER XXV.

THE CHARTERHOUSE.--THE NEW RIVER.


Within a few hundred yards of Smithfield will be found the Charterhouse,
a visit to which “soothes” the mind with all manner of antiquarian
associations. The old square in which it stands--Charterhouse
Square--has quite an antique flavour; and here is to be seen many a
quaint old house devoted to “boarding,” or to unpretending hotel life,
and which looks snug and comfortable. We can fancy simple folk from the
rural districts coming to town and putting up there. These places seem
to belong to a mode of society now antiquated or gone by, or to the
manners and customs such as are described in “Pickwick” and “Nickleby.”
It must be pleasant for the stranger to look across at the old, quaint
lantern of the Charterhouse and hear the recurring chimes. Unhappily,
the old square, which is so suitable an introduction, has been already
nibbled at by the builders and “jobbers.” A visitor, writing to the
_World_, touches “the key” of the place: “Anyone going any day to Grey
Friars will always find the monastery gates swing wide, a courteous
guide at his post in the lodge, and a delightful treat in store in the
shape of sundry shadowy grey quadrangles, some beautiful panelled
tapestried rooms where Princess Elizabeth, journeying from Hatfield _en
route_ for her coronation, tarried five days, and a preserved Jacobean
chapel full of interesting monuments. The bell rings at six, just as it
did when Lovelace jotted rhyme on the covers of his exercise books; and
as the tolling ceases the stray visitor sees creeping in old gentlemen
(with _chapeaux bras_ of spreckled straw, slouched cavalier, or decorous
chimney-pot), so like Codd Ajax, Codd Soldier, and true Codd
Gentlemen--so like that surely they must be the same! In Wash-house
Court, the last remnant of the monastery, the porter shows the windows
of the rooms supposed to be occupied by Colonel Newcome, and he declares
that dozens of questions are asked referring to Thackeray’s creations.”

There has been a prodigious deal of building and restoration in the
Charterhouse, with much of what is styled Churchwardens’ Gothic. The old
church has been so well panelled and painted in this sense, that it
offers little that is ancient--though the porter throws open a cupboard
to show the stones of the venerable old wall. The old dining-hall, with
its gallery and scutcheons, is more potent. After all, the most
effective portion is the old, quiet, deserted courtyard, all rusted,
with its two mullioned windows and moss-grown pavements. It seems like
one of the old colleges at Cambridge. This institution is in the
balance, as it were. There are schemes in the air for removal to the
country, for reforms, and pensioning off.

One of the most satisfactory monuments in London is the sad-looking old
gateway in Lincoln’s Inn. The restorers were slowly working their way
down, clearing away and rebuilding in view of increased rents, and the
old gate would probably have been swept off, but that some one has
raised the cry of alarm. We can ill spare this fine old piece, which
dates from 1518. The effect of entering under the archway--the decayed
old timbers of the massive door, the highly-picturesque little towers,
the corners and crannies on the left, the glimpse of the winding stair,
and the old Inigo Jones chapel on the right, make this a pleasant bit of
antiquity.

There are many turns and corners in the City which forcibly suggest
“bits” of foreign towns. One of the most effective is a narrow alley
which leads out of Newgate Street to the entrance of Christ’s Hospital,
where the white tower of the church rises with picturesque effect close
to the old copper-red archway that leads into the hospital. Here is an
old churchyard, on which looks the effective brick building, with its
high roof and eaves of the time of Wren, while the quaint statue of King
Edward, arrayed in old-fashioned garb, is perched in a niche. This
little corner and alley wears quite a calm and peaceful air of
retirement. Contrast between different styles is always welcome and
original.

As the busy pedestrian hurries through Newgate Street, he has perhaps
often paused to note the quaintly-attired, half-monastic, Christchurch
lads enjoying their football, their fine hall and arcades rising behind.
There are said to be over eight hundred of these lads on the foundation,
which dates from the time of King Edward the Sixth. It is curious to
note how the old monastic tone and ritual of the foundation has lingered
on to this hour. On each Thursday in Lent this is strikingly shown by an
antique and interesting ceremonial, when hundreds of City folks,
burghers, and others, flock to see “the public supping” of the lads,
conducted with much obsolete observance and character. The hour named is
half-past six, but long before the time the company crowds the
picturesque corridors and cloister. Entering by the tall Wren steeple
through the rubicund brick gateway, crossing the court, the great Hall
is seen with its huge emblazoned windows illuminated from within. This
vast chamber, of extraordinary length and loftiness, is a modern work,
but a signal success. The dimensions and spaciousness are really
extraordinary, and it will readily hold several thousand persons. It
has its music gallery at one end, with an organ large enough for a
cathedral, and at the other end rows of raised seats for eager
spectators. Down the room are set out the rows of long oaken tables to
accommodate the eight hundred lads, or it may be a thousand. Very soon
the spectators are settled in their places, and the boys begin to defile
in regular divisions, seating themselves with their backs to the tables,
until the wished-for moment arrives. There is a conventual simplicity in
the fare--a bowl of milk with a plain “hunch” of bread. Each table is
provided with two long candles, profusely garnished with flowers, so as
completely to hide them. This is a traditional custom, and a pretty
effect is produced when, on a signal being given, all are lit at the
same moment.

[Illustration: OLD CHARTERHOUSE.]

The last Thursday night in Lent had a special attraction, as a Royal
Duke, who is working President of the School, was to visit the place. He
made his solemn entry, attended by various of the civic fathers in
robes, with wand-holding governors following. A particularly gorgeous
beadle, in a yellow robe, led the way, while the organ struck up the
National hymn. Down the side of the room was hung what is probably one
of the largest pictures in the world, being about seventy feet long by
some fifteen high. This portrays the foundation of the establishment,
and exhibits the King, surrounded by innumerable figures, possibly
representing the professors and their scholars, of his time. On these he
is conferring the honour of the foundation. A young collegian ascended
the pulpit, and began a series of prayers of antique fashion, in which
every class according to their degree, was duly prayed for. He was
careful to include members of the “Most Honourable Privy Council,” the
Sheriffs, Town Councillors, Aldermen; while profoundest gratitude was
expressed to the founders, and to all those kind friends, governors,
masters, and others who devoted their time to the school. So many had to
be “remembered” in these prayers that considerable time elapsed, during
which the eight hundred were anxiously and voraciously contemplating the
_cates_ which they dare not profane. But there was the “Old Hundredth”
to be gone through, and very melodious were the tones of the lads; and
yet another hymn, and finally a prayer, when with picturesque effect all
those little monks went on their knees, each in his place.

There was a simplicity in all this which was very pleasing. After about
twenty minutes of devout suspense, during which time Justice Greedy’s
“clapper” must have been noisily heard at work in the clamorous stomachs
of the lads, the welcome signal was given, and they were permitted to
fall on the victuals. Later the signal was given to break off, by sharp
blows on the table, when there followed a fresh series of old
observances which showed the monastic origin of the place.

The lads who had waited on each other now brought huge baskets to carry
away the fragments of bread, etc., the tables were cleared, and the long
white cloths carefully folded, which led on to the last and most
interesting part of the exhibition, when each division of the eight
hundred passed in its turn before the President. Every two advanced
together and made him a low bow, or “bob,” which was carefully returned;
each division closed up with the servitors, one carrying the basket on
his shoulder, another the knife-box, a third the cloth, while a small
monk not unpicturesquely wound up the procession, bearing the two
garlanded lights.



CHAPTER XXVI.

CANONBURY TOWER.


The outlying districts of London have each a curiously marked colour and
flavour of their own. Thus “the Borough,” the district about Bishopgate
Street, the City itself--and Islington, all have a distinct and
recognizable air. It would take long to define the elements of each, but
the skilled denizen has no difficulty in distinguishing. Islington has a
bustling, almost foreign air, and in some sense deserves its epithet
“merry.” A little beyond Islington there begins a district of so special
and curious a kind as really to have effect on the mind and spirits of
the traveller. For here he finds a succession of tame, spiritless villas
and terraces, gardens and small squares, not dilapidated, yet all
running to seed as it were. There is a general look of monotonous
hopelessness that cannot be described. No one seems to be about or
doing. There is one compensation--the good, clear, inspiring air. This
is felt as we mount those gently-rising hills which lead out of the main
road, and land us among the still more saddening squares and
abjectly-correct terraces. One of these is Canonbury Road, at the top of
which the atmosphere is positively “bracing,” and here--that is, a
little way on--we come to a most interesting old memorial, well worthy
the long jaunt from the West End.

In strange contrast with its associates rises a grim and gaunt old brick
tower, solid, massive, and lofty, against whose veteran sides lean some
old gabled houses, part of the structure. A thick and friendly coat of
ivy covers a goodly proportion of the old body. An antique rail
surmounts the top, while a meagre weathercock gives point and finish to
the whole. There is a certain majesty and breadth about this venerable
relic, which rises here to a great height, wrapped in the dignity of its
own desolation. There is always, indeed, a sense of sadness in the
spectacle of one of these old brick towers, all scarred and
weather-beaten with the storms and batterings of fortune.

Standing before the low-arched doorway, a genuine portal, the door
itself a bit of oak, framed and duly knobbed, I remind myself that this
picturesque tenement is associated, oddly enough, with some of the
pleasantest literary memories. Like its mediæval neighbour, old “St.
John’s Gate,” it was the refuge and shelter of the destitute “hack” more
than a hundred and twenty years ago. A regular line of _littérateurs_
have had the odd fancy of deserting their busy Grub Street, and of lying
_perdu_ here, either from choice or necessity; and it is easy to call up
the rather ungainly figure of Doctor Goldsmith toiling up Canonbury
Hill, and hiding here from his creditors.

A worthy woman--albeit garrulous--guides us over the old tower. After
saying that “she knew Oliver’s life well,” she added, “Them poets seem
to be always poor and in want.” It was astonishing to see the number and
spaciousness of the chambers in the old place, and their picturesque
rambling disposition. One was struck with admiration at the two spacious
rooms on the second and third floors, finely proportioned and baronial,
each adorned with ebony-toned oak panelling reaching to the ceiling, and
each with an elaborately carved mantelpiece, such as would have rejoiced
Charles Lamb at Blakesware. The delicacy and finish of the work cannot
be surpassed. There are old solid doors, black as ink, hanging on hinges
a yard long; fragments of old oak banisters; while in the upper stories
windows with diamond panes are still seen. The stair mounts in an
irregular way: off which are curious chambers and many odd “crannies.”

About 1766, the bookseller Newbery, as we learn from the pleasant
account of him just published, contracted with a Mr. Fleming, the then
tenant, to board and lodge the poet for £50 a year. According to this
authority, Goldsmith’s room was that on the second floor, and here he is
described as reading to one of the younger Newberys passages from his
MS. George Daniel, the bibliophile, who made a pilgrimage to the
tower--if he did not reside there--and gathered up the traditions, found
that the first-floor room was believed to have been the Doctor’s, and
“an old press bedstead in the corner” was shown in proof. Two families,
the Tappses and the Evanses, had been in care of the place for over 140
years: and Mrs. Tapps used to retail many stories about the poet to her
niece, who was in possession at the time of Mr. Daniel’s visit.
Washington Irving was so much interested by the place that he took up
his abode there for a time. Other tenants have been the eccentric Dr.
Hill, of Garrick’s happy epigram--

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

with Smart, the mad poet, who wrote an epic in Bedlam; Humphreys,
another poet; “Junius” Woodfall; Chambers, who wrote an encyclopædia;
and Speaker Onslow. A later resident was Seymour, the artist, associated
with the earlier numbers of “Pickwick,” who shut himself up here with a
fellow student to study “High Art,” a line he fortunately abandoned for
what was his real gift. What rooms in London offer so curious a
succession of tenants? Some time ago a “Young Men’s Association” fixed
itself here, but the young men are fled, and once more “desolate is the
dwelling of Morna.” The view from the platform on the roof was almost
confounding: the vast champaign spreading away below to the wooded hills
of Hampstead and Highgate; while the keen inspiriting air blew from
these heights. It was a surprise even for a fair and _spirituelle_
antiquary of our acquaintance, who was tempted up to the dizzy
elevation, and could scarcely credit that London offered such a
spectacle. St. Paul’s seemed to lie at your feet.

This old brick tower dates from the fourteenth century, and belonged to
the canons of the gloomy Church of St. Bartholomew, another fine but
fast-decaying monument. It belongs to “the Marquis”--that is, to the
Marquis of Northampton--of whose provident care and attention this fine
old relic is well worthy. If such relief be much longer delayed it will
come too late. A few hundred pounds would do much in the way of
restoration. It would make a museum, or even, as a show-place, would
benefit the district, drawing visitors. There is an ominous rumour that
it is intended to pull it down, as cumbering the earth, and to sell the
ground for building.

The West-end Londoner who has never explored the quarter that leads to
the northern heights will be agreeably surprised by the antique,
original flavour of “Merrie Islington.” At night or evening the bustle,
glare of lights, jingling of bells, and converging of tramcars, the
enormous crowds waiting or passing, the fine clear air, the steep hilly
streets, the glimpse of the open country, and the general animation make
up quite a foreign scene. There is even a half-rural air, with the
stunted or “pollarded” trees, the terraces and mouldering gardens in
front, and the little superannuated houses; carriers’ carts are waiting
loaded and ready to set off for villages and towns a few miles away.
Here converge half a dozen streets, two or three steep hills, and
innumerable lines of tramways and omnibuses. Every instant the cars and
’busses are arriving and departing, enormous crowds are waiting to get
in and go their way, and the jingling of the bells, the metallic sound
of the wheels, the chatter of voices, supply a sort of music of an
original kind. The most picturesque effect arises from the trains of
cars perpetually coming up the hills from the town below, and arriving
as it were, unexpectedly--arriving from round the corners, and crossing
each other in bewildering confusion. When all is lighted up the
spectacle for bustle and animation and crowd quite suggests a busy
foreign city, from the glare of innumerable lights, to which Islington
seems highly partial. The Islingtonians, it may be noted, are
healthy-looking folk, for the place is high and the air inspiring, as
any jaded Londoner journeying from the west will find. Close beside us
are two well-known places of amusement, the “Grand Theatre,” some
fifteen years an obscure music hall, suddenly becoming celebrated, owing
to _Geneviève de Brabant_ and Miss Emily Soldene; to say nothing of the
two “_John-Darms_,” as the French comic soldiers were invariably known
at Islington, one of them performed in broken English by a droll
Frenchman. Before us is the Agricultural Hall, where the Mohawk
Minstrels, highly appreciated, perform.

Old Sadler’s Wells Theatre introduces us at once to the New River,
officially constituted and recognized by a large reservoir and offices,
where it “pulls itself together,” as it were, after its long forty
miles’ journey from Amwell in Hertfordshire, before beginning its work
in London. The old theatre, brimful of curious associations, still
struggles on, and presents itself as a very quaint, old-fashioned pile.
In prints of old Sadler’s Wells--and very pretty they are--we are shown
this rural playhouse on the bank of the New River itself, with a row of
trees between, and a man in a cocked hat fishing. As is well known, this
position by the river used to be turned to dramatic uses, the waters
being let in for aquatic spectacles. The shade of Grimaldi must haunt
the place. The track of the New River can still be made out, running
beside the theatre, but it is now covered in.

The old mansion in Clerkenwell which serves as the head office of the
New River Company is worthy of the energetic, gallant, and beruffled Sir
Hugh Myddelton, the Lesseps of his time. His statue is to be seen in
Islington; and in all the annals of English pluck and perseverance there
is nothing better or more encouraging than the indomitable pluck of this
intrepid water purveyor--himself “a company.” The board room of the
building is a fine, picturesque apartment in a good old style; its
ceiling, a good piece of florid decoration, laid out in carpet pattern,
or like a flowerbed, with rich stucco borders--a circle within a square,
and a border round that again. Panelling runs all round, and there is an
elaborately-wrought mantel, with carvings and other decorations.
Corinthian pillars flank it, one on each side, and the whole chamber has
a lightsome, spacious look and general air of state.

Among Lamb’s quaint and interesting recollections of his time at
Christ’s Hospital, one, of a little boy’s scheme which was never carried
out, seemed always highly original. He once, he tells us, planned an
expedition to discover the source of the New River; that is, to follow
its course to the original spring in Hertfordshire. But, as may be
conceived, this was far too arduous an undertaking for a schoolboy. The
New River seems to have been always associated with Lamb’s course in a
mysterious way. In his school-days the summit of holiday enjoyment was
to be taken to it to bathe: an extraordinary proceeding, which nowadays
would be a high crime against manners. At one time he fixed his
residence on its very bank, at Colebrooke Row, and his letters have
constant allusions to his “old New River.” He was proud of his little
house. “You enter without passage into a cheerful dining-room, etc.” It
was from this mansion, as readers of “Elia” know, that George Dyer, the
blear-eyed pundit, walked straight into the river, and was fished out,
having had a narrow escape indeed. He lived to marry his charwoman in
his old age, to his great comfort.

It is impossible to pass this house without being affected with dismal
associations. It stands in a most desolate stretch of houses, and the
buried river in front seems to add to the forlornness. Since Lamb’s day
the river has been covered in, and is, as it were, lost to view. But as
we come to Canonbury it suddenly shows itself in a rather cheerful
fashion between green banks and trees. Following it diligently, we see
it rippling away between its banks--very pellucid on the whole, and not
too broad for an active jumper to clear at a bound. It does not seem
more than two or three feet deep. Here there are abundance of shady
trees; and the houses have their little gardens coming down to the edge,
with cosy seats, a stray Japanese umbrella spread--all exactly as if it
were some real river and not an unpretending make-believe runnel. But
has it not come all the way from “pleasant Hertfordshire,” and recreated
many a cit’s heart, who of a summer’s evening has his afternoon tea at
the river’s edge? Presently our old New River dives underground once
more, and seems hopelessly lost. Here I was completely puzzled to find
it again. With much difficulty and many inquiries, and many false scents
too, I caught it up; when I saw it strike out across the country,
meandering over a rich green pasture in diligent fashion, with a pretty
open walk beside it. Thence it passed under the road, by some
old-fashioned houses with gardens and overgrown with creepers. Here is
the prettily-named region of the Green Lanes, and an old-fashioned line
of houses called Paradise Row, which looks out on spreading “park-like
meadows,” to use the auctioneers’ term; and here our river seems to have
regularly got free and started off across the grass, never stopping till
it reaches Stoke Newington. Here, however, it meets with rough usage;
for the company have erected large buildings, pumping-engines, and
reservoirs, and, as it arrives from Hertfordshire, it is detained
prisoner until it accumulates in volume. In short, the amount of
agreeable twirling and general aquatic vagaries pursued by the pleasant
little stream during its course must be extraordinary. It brings
pleasure and rurality wherever it goes. I was sorry to part company with
it, and would gladly have pursued it further on its rural course.



CHAPTER XXVII.

THE QUEEN ANNE STYLE--OLD DOORWAYS.


The so-called “Queen Anne style” has within the past few years displayed
itself in every shape of extravagance, running riot, as it were, in
fantastic freaks of brick. Entirely new quarters, as in the regions
close to Sloane Street, have sprung up, entirely covered with these
singular edifices. They seem to be dark, uncomfortable tenements, with
peaks and gables of the most elaborate kind, and are certain to require
constant repairs.

Considering that England has been the country of bricks, it is
astonishing that so little is known of the principles of brick-building,
which the modern development seems to defy. In foreign countries nothing
can be more satisfactory than the treatment of this material, always
used in a way that will best set it off. The effect of brick is produced
by the display of broad surface, and by the exhibition of masses of
brick, as in towers. Being of one geometrical size and pattern bricks
have little cohesion; whereas stones, of irregular sizes and patterns,
can be blended into masses difficult to separate or dissolve. All these
florid gables are certain to disintegrate; and, further, owing to the
system of laying bricks in masses of mortar, the process of
disintegration is made more certain. The lumps of mortar soon dry up and
powder away, and the bricks do little more than rest upon one another.
Bricks or tiles are very friable and brittle, and any bold cutting or
carving, though it may look stout and effective at first, will certainly
decay and drop off in fragments, owing to the lodgment of wet in the
cracks, etc. Any one that studies the old brickwork will discover that
the mouldings, pilasters, etc., are of the most delicate character and
in low relief, so as to attract rain or decaying dirt as little as
possible.

The rather piquant Hans Place used to be one of the most retired and
picturesque inclosures in London. In shape it is an octagon, the houses
thin, narrow, and compact, well suited to the person known to
auctioneers as “the bachelor of position,” or the old maid of snug
resources. The little “Square,” with its low railing, ancient trees and
flowers, had a monastic air. The place was completely shut out and shut
in also. At this moment it is being regularly and gradually rebuilt,
and the uniform narrowness of the space filled by each house gives
opportunity for a Bruges-like picturesqueness of design and variety.
Rents have gone up amazingly, as the houses have gone up; and the
“bachelors of position” have given place to families of a more opulent
class. A very striking entrance to the little square has been made from
Lennox Gardens, between two stately mansions with towers which
correspond in design. In a few years the whole will have been
reconstructed, and for variety of pattern and contrast there will be few
things more effective in London.

The use of terra-cotta has certainly been carried to an excess. It is
now used as a building material, like stone or brick, instead of as mere
“dressing” or ornament. Owing to its warping in the “baking” the
jointing is bad and irregular, and cracks speedily show themselves. Even
the decorative portions, garlands, boys, etc., seem never in the airy
spirit of the material, and are too elaborate and “undercut.” Some years
ago there was a fashion of profusely carving the brick, _in situ_, in
rich and florid relief, for which the material is too frail and
perishable.

It is pleasant, however, to find that a “brick style” is now being
gradually evolved, much more suitably adapted to the material and its
purposes. In the long terraces now rising on the numerous ruthless
clearances are to be seen specimens treated after genuine delicate
principles, that is, masses of surface, with bold, simple, and light
projections, instead of the toy, or cardboard, surfaces hitherto in
fashion. This new evolution is probably not intentional, and has worked
itself out on fixed principles.

Indeed, a diligent pilgrim through London will discover many modern,
pleasing houses of brick and terra-cotta, which, if somewhat _bizarre_,
have striking merit of design. A remarkable group of this kind of
edifice will be found at Courtfield Gardens, near Earl’s Court. These
mansions are of original and even fantastic design, being built of a
yellow terra-cotta, and running wild in richness of decoration and
general treatment. The porches, doorways, windows are all irregular: the
work is costly and beautiful; even the steps in front are inlaid with
marbles and mosaics. The visitor is taken by surprise. It is pleasant to
find that the beautiful type of Bruges houses, models of endurance and
grace, has been “discovered” by our architects. So simple and yet so
varied is this pattern that a large volume has been published, depicting
all the most notable examples.

Charles Lamb complained of the gradual destruction of the antique
fountains that were being abolished in his time; and in our day the
lover of old London picturesqueness has to bewail the steady and certain
destruction that is going on around him year by year. Old gateways, old
churches, old houses, with, of course, their old doorways, are fast
disappearing. The old doorways, of which there are very many in London,
with their attendant lamps and railings, would not have held their place
so long but for their fine, solid workmanship needing no repair. They
add distinction and perhaps additional money value to the houses
themselves.

In Grosvenor Street, where there are many fine old mansions, there are
some effective doorways which exhibit the depths, lights and shadows,
and the effective air of having a door’s duty to do; while the richness
of the carving in the two little “girders” that support the mouldings
are wonderfully pleasing. Here we find an unpretending but most
effective doorway, at No. 50, quiet and pleasing, with a fanciful
carving of a Lion’s head; No. 48 is also worthy of notice.

[Illustration: DOORWAY, 70, GROSVENOR STREET.]

In the same street there is one charming house, No. 70, of rich, warm,
tinted brick; and, though grimed enough, yet still with a dignity of its
own. It boasts a graceful doorway, though it suffers from the window
next to it being turned into a second door. Another porch in the same
street, and worthy of a glance, from its unpretending yet effective
grace, is that of No. 73, which is compact, small, yet deep, with a
little carving, which is sufficient; even the lamps lend effect. In Old
Burlington Street, at No. 30, is to be found a plain and simple doorway,
very singularly effective and well proportioned. The great noblemen’s
mansions in Grosvenor Square have all received ponderous portico
decorations; but the little doors they shelter betray the original form
of entrance. One of the most odious, and at the same time favourite, of
these shapes is the conversion of the whole portico into a chamber or
box, by which shift a sort of mean hall is gained, but there is no
shelter.

In Henrietta Street, Cavendish Square, are to be found some doorways of
distinct patterns, examples, also, of architectural merit. They are of
stone, and treated as stone should be, with boldness and simplicity.
There is a grace in the device--two sprays crossed, a bold head, the
arrangement of the lines being in the Renaissance fashion. These
meritorious bits of art are Nos. 11 and 12, the latter disfigured by
being painted raspberry colour.

Crossing now the line which separates trade from fashion, viz., Oxford
Circus, we shall see what doorways are to be found in a promenade
Citywards. Off Portland Street, in little-known Mortimer Street, are two
notable houses, Nos. 70 and 72. These are treated from top to bottom in
a rich style of “embroidery” that recalls some old Bruges house. Sir
Paul Pindar’s House is justly admired: but these have almost an equal
claim to admiration. There are borders, and “devices,” and ’scutcheons,
and a general air of grace and elegance. Like all such tasteful
structures, they appear to be in sound condition. What is the history of
these two houses? We search in vain the folios of the untiring Smith and
his fellows. The doorway of one has a richly-carved, semi-circular
border runner, but broken and raised over the centre to admit of a panel
decorated with sprays. These attract little attention, and will probably
be soon swept away, but they are certainly remarkable enough. Passing
into Holborn, and halting not far from the well-known restaurant of that
name, we find a curiously retired little street, almost a _cul de sac_,
and known as Featherstone Buildings. Here will be seen no less than
seventeen richly-carved doorways, each with its canopy and pilasters and
deeply-embayed mouldings and recesses, all, too, in excellent
preservation. A curious contrast this to the homely character of the
owners or lodgers. Next we pass to a better-known street, Great Ormond
Street, which had almost a sort of reputation for its ornaments; but,
unhappily, the demolisher has been at work of late, and but little is
left. There is one elaborate doorway of an imposing sort, that of the
office of the Royal Standard Benefit Society, lofty, arched, and
supported on columns, a very elaborate and handsome piece of work.
Opposite these is one really graceful and beautiful, No. 17, all
embroidered, with a sort of lace-work carving down, and well-wrought
“ears” supporting the canopy. No. 8 is also worth attention. Only a few
years ago there were several remarkable houses here, notable for their
railings, lamps, etc., but they have been levelled.

[Illustration: DOORWAY, PAINTER STAINERS’ HALL.]

Passing down to the rear of the new Law Courts, to Carey Street, there
was standing a few years ago a very remarkable house that might have
been transported from Normandy. There was, indeed, nothing resembling
it in London. It was a corner one, with a high wavy roof, bold massive
eaves and gables, its upper storey hanging over the street and supported
on a pillar. Its doorway was surprisingly elegant, and nothing could
exceed the grace and freedom of the carving of the two boys who
supported it. But it was carted away, no doubt disposed of as a work of
art, and the house was soon after levelled.

[Illustration: EXTINGUISHERS, BERKELEY SQUARE.]

Pursuing our rambles as far as Cannon Street, we turn into Laurence
Pountney Hill, and there are surprised at the sight of an imposing
coupled doorway, treated in a masterly style; the date, 1703, showing us
that this style of work was in vogue at the beginning of last century.
It will be noted in favour of this sort of work, what a rich variety of
treatment has been offered the specimens we have been considering.

Passing yet lower down into Queen Victoria Street, we find among a
number of levelled houses that old building known as the Painter
Stainers’ Hall, with a pleasing and effective doorway, set off by
carving of garlands and flowers, with the shield and arms of the company
in the centre. Finally, making our way to College Hill, we find
ourselves in front of what is called “Whittington’s House,” which is
remarkable for its arched doorway, treated in a florid and original
fashion. The circular window over it adds a point and character to the
design.

[Illustration: OLD DOORWAY, WHITTINGTON’S HOUSE.]

In Hatton Garden there are many doorways of different types. Grecian
triangular pediments supported on bold Ionic columns, and forming bold
porches. The rusticated style, too, is found here in abundance. Nos. 81
and 102 are worth looking at.

Wandering down the wharves at Lambeth, and hard by the hideous iron
bridge, where we expect to find marble yards and trusses of hay and
mounds of coal, we come on a magnificent doorway, richly carved and of
the shell pattern; carved, also, are its pilasters. This work seems as
sound as it was on the day it was set up. In Essex Street, Strand, on
the right hand as we go down, we shall find some half a dozen doorways
of merit, each of a different pattern and offering curious variety of
treatment. In the City, close to Tower Hill, and in Seething Lane, and
in quiet St. Catherine’s Court, we shall find some really imposing
doorways, some grouped and thus made more effective. So also in Broad
Street, off New Oxford Street. In Soho, once a fashionable quarter, in
Gerrard Street and in Dean Street, there are some fine examples. There
are some hundreds, in short, to be discovered in London; and they are
well worth searching for.

At No. 8, Grosvenor Square, will be noted some airy and elegant
treatment of old-fashioned iron railings, and which have been but little
restored. It is not, moreover, limited to the doorway, but extends along
the area. There are many doorways in London where a bit of “flourish”
connects the brick wall next the door with the iron railing of the area
with not unpleasing effect. In Greek Street, Soho, there are many of a
solid kind, and we have mentioned how rich the adjoining Dean Street is
in such entrances. These all speak of stately mansions to correspond,
fine stairs, and spacious halls.[27]



CHAPTER XXVIII.

CHELSEA AND FULHAM.


Every Londoner of taste should make himself familiar with his river,
ever placidly winding on and offering a spectacle of grace that never
palls. It supplies a constant suggestion of rural beauty, even if we go
no further in search of it than to Battersea, where there is a quaint
Dutch tone. At Chelsea its many fitful changings begin. But even here,
within a few years, what violent alterations, and how much has been
lost! Here, for instance, is a sketch which I made not very many years
ago, which is scarcely recognizable now.

“Beyond Battersea Bridge the tiled houses begin at once; the footways
along the banks are sternly blocked, and we begin to see those charming
slopes and swards, and snatches of old houses playing hide and seek with
us between the trees. Here, we might, as it were, suddenly awaken one
who has travelled much, and ask him, as he rubs his eyes, to name the
river abroad on which he is sailing; to say whether it was the Dutch or
German portion of the Rhine, the Meuse, or any other important river. To
the eye not too much familiarized, it has a curiously foreign air. But
as we glide on and draw in to shore we observe a shaded walk, sheltered
by two rows of tall trees. On a long, irregular pier, not of the correct
hewn stone, modern pattern, but of earth and wood, or piles, and through
the trees and that delightful shade which dapples all the walk in
patterns, though outside it the sun is blazing fiercely, we see figures
promenading, and beyond them as background--a cosy row of red brick
houses--an old-fashioned terrace, of the brick of Queen Anne’s special
hue, with twisted iron railings and gates in front. At the edge of the
road in front of the trees is an irregular wooden railing, against which
loungers rest. Below them are boats drawn up. As we glide on we come to
the centre, where the trees open, and a little suspension pier juts out
to let the steamers land passengers; and behind the pier the terrace
breaks into a crescent. Here we land, and find ourselves on ‘_Cheyne
Walk, Chelsea_.’ The whole has the air of one of those Dutch views we
see in picture shops. There is a deal of grass-green paint; Dutch-built
barges of a varnished yellow lying low in the water; and as we walk
along in the shade the strong Dutch smell ‘grows,’ as from the canals,
and makes the delusion stronger. One would like to live in this Cheyne
Walk, as many great people did a long time ago, and as Maclise did only
yesterday. There is his house, with a little garden in front, as they
all have, and a gate of elegant iron tracery, with initials and flowers
worked in. Inside they are all panels and stucco, with noble
chimney-pieces, and gardens behind, stretching far back with shady
trees, and some a fountain.

[Illustration: CHEYNE WALK.]

“Everything is in keeping, even to the old rickety timber bridge, which
crosses the Thames, ascending steeply, and resting on what seems a
series of birdcages, but which is now disappearing piecemeal. Beyond the
bridge there is a charming bit of the river; and on some summer’s
evening after a sultry day, when the water has a glassy, lazy, brimming
look, and a faint haze is over the low-lying banks on the other side,
and the houses and the church slope up in pyramid shape, it has all the
air of a continental scene. Here the Chelsea watermen cluster and
lounge, leaning over the wooden paling, and as they talk looking down
into the glassy water, which is as languid as they are. Some old Manor
House behind us, revealed by its French Mansard windows in the roof, by
its projecting eaves, and its two great wings, has now been plainly cut
up into four houses; and the centre one, overgrown with ivy and
creepers, has all the windows open, its balconies filled with the family
reading or chatting, the maids sitting working on the top balcony; while
through its door we see the cool, shady hall and the green trees of the
garden beyond.

“The ‘watermen’ flourish here, gradually driven from the other ‘stairs.’
So do their boats, which are in vast numbers; and indeed here is rowed
the annual watermen’s race for the coat and badge left by the Irish
actor, Dogget, with money added by some of the London Companies. In the
windows was the bill of the Royal Chelsea Theatre, where, on this
special night, Mr. Welkinghorn takes his benefit in the Moor of Venice;
with, for a second piece, the appropriate Tom Tug; and on which occasion
‘the Chelsea watermen have kindly consented to attend in their coats and
badges.’ All this was primitive enough and welcome, and scarcely to be
expected in a London suburb. Here was once Saltero’s coffee-house,
familiar to readers of Coleridge and Lamb, a river inn very popular
once--indeed popular up to a late date. Salter was body servant to the
great Sir Hans, and came with him from Ireland, and then formed one of
those queer, good-for-nothing ‘museums,’ which captains of vessels often
get together and bequeath to some country town, where they are shown
with pride.”

This little picture is--if I may say it--a very faithful one of Chelsea
as it used to be.

The headlong rapidity with which everything that is pretty or
interesting in London is being swept off is truly extraordinary. It
seems but yesterday--it is little over ten years ago--when London had
its two charming _al fresco_ gardens, the Surrey and Cremorne. The
latter was a most original place, lying as it did by the tranquil river.
So pretty a garden did not exist near London, and there was a quaint air
of old fashion somehow preserved, suggesting Ranelagh and Vauxhall. Of a
summer’s evening it was pleasant to glide down by steamer, touch at the
crazy pier, now passed away, walk by the river’s edge to where the old
trees rose high, thick, and stately--you expected to hear and see the
rooks--through which came the muffled sounds of music and glittering,
flitting lights. Even the gate was old and stately, and its ironwork
good. Within, there was the blaze of light at the dancing platform; the
old-fashioned hotel--nobody surely ever boarded or lodged there, or
could--with bowed wings all ablaze with lamps; the “boxes” running round
for suppers; the not unpicturesque bars; the capital theatres, for there
were several dispersed about here and there and everywhere; and the sort
of procession headed by an illuminated placard announcing the name of
the next show. Then would the band strike up a stirring march, the drums
clattering, the brass braying, and in military array lead the way,
attended by all the rout and crowd, who fell in behind and tramped on
cheerfully to renewed enjoyments. The dancing was always an amusing
spectacle, from the rude honesty with which it was carried out; not the
least amusing portion the dignity of the M.C.’s. The people sitting
under the good old trees--the glaring booths--even the fortune-teller in
his dark retirement, as in a deep grove, all this made up a curious
entertainment never likely to be revived. We cannot go back to these
things. The Surrey Gardens went before, as these have gone, long since.
Now these elements are gathered up into aquariums, great halls, perhaps
“hugely to the detriment” of the public. So peace be with the manes of
Cremorne!

Turning out of Cheyne Walk, we find ourselves in Cheyne Row, which seems
still and old-fashioned as some by-street in a cathedral close. Here are
small, sound, old red-brick houses of the Queen Anne period, or
so-called Queen Anne period. And here, at No. 24, lived Thomas Carlyle,
in whom neighbours and neighbourhood might well take pride. A compact
dwelling, next to the one with a verandah and substantial porch. Its
neighbour on the other side boasts the good old eaves which it has
lost--but _en revanche_ it has its “jalousies.” Within, there is a
strange air of old fashion, and the furniture as antique. The
inhabitants, or vestry perhaps, have honoured him. For close by is a
rather imposing square--yclept Carlyle Square--a nice and unusual shape
of compliment. They point out his house, and at the photographers’ and
print shops, during his life, you could buy photographs of house and
owner.

Once, and not long before his death, the writer found himself sitting
with the philosopher, who in his kindly fashion had allowed himself to
be modelled by very inexperienced hands. This “bust”--if it is entitled
to the dignity--is beside me now, in the old, broad, felt hat, the
grizzled beard below, and the heavy coat up about his ears, for he
seemed to feel the cold. That was a pleasant hour, for he talked in his
pleasantest vein. There have been occasions when I have smoked a
“churchwarden” with him, but these were on rare festivals. Now the old
house seems fast going to decay, and is unlet, strange to say, though a
tenant is sought. There is over it that curious sense of blight which
seemed to settle on the sage himself in his later days, when even the
visitor was struck by the chill, forlorn look of the rooms and
furniture.

The lower end of the “walk” is closed by the Church. There is nothing
more picturesque in London than old Chelsea Church, with its grimed old
red-brick or brown-brick tower, and its tablets and tombstones fixed
outside, high on the walls of the church, up and down, like framed
pictures--an unusual adornment; the effect, as may be conceived, is the
quaintest. So, too, with the little appendix, or round house, attached
to it, with the odd figures, and the Hans Sloane altar-tomb under a sort
of shed or canopy. The tower, however, is the attraction, suggesting
something Dutch, and rising sad, solemn, and grizzled. Indeed, the view
here is quaint and pretty, and recalls a bit of the Scheldt; especially
in the time of the old wooden bridge, kept together with clamps and bits
of framing, with the high hunchback look we see on the bridges over the
Rhine.

We now pass from the genuine antique to its imitations, and reach the
curious cluster of modern-old houses to which the new Embankment has
furnished ground. Some are bold and effective, and the whole group,
which has gradually extended down the Embankment for a long distance, is
worth a special visit. They bear quaint names, such as the Old Swan
House, the White House, Carlyle House, Shelley House, River View, and
the like. Farnely House and its neighbours are good imposing monuments
of brick. Shelley House, with its attached theatre, is in an adjoining
street. This place of “amusement” brought its owner endless annoyance
and expense--a lawsuit finished it, and now it stands unused. The house
with the curious white bow windows, set in something that looks like the
stern of an old man-of-war, will attract attention; we should note the
“Clock House” with its handsome dial projecting; likewise the house at
the corner, with its elaborate _grilles_ over most of the windows. But
turning down Tite Street--Mr. Tite was an eminent architect of a few
years back, now of course almost forgotten--we come to the White House,
a curious, quaint structure, stiff as an American’s dress-coat about the
shoulders, which is, or was, the dwelling of a well-known American
artist, celebrated for his “nocturnes in green” and “symphonies in
blue,” which caused jesters such merriment, to say nothing of his
Peacock Chamber, one of those two, or nine days’ wonders which furnish
society with something to talk of.

In the little square or tongue of ground near Cheyne Row will be noticed
an elaborate lamp, supported by contorted boys. This was one of the
rejected patterns for the series that was to decorate the Embankment.
The one chosen consists of contorted dolphins, and is not very
effective.

At Vauxhall Bridge we come to a curious conceit, that would have
“arrided”--Lamb’s word--the heart of Dickens. Here is a large yard
devoted to the sale of ship timber, for which old vessels of
course are bought and broken up. But there remain always the old
figure-heads--strange, curious, gigantic efforts, that make one wonder
what manner of man the designer was. Nor are they without merit or
spirit. They rise towering with a strange stark air, and look over the
wall with much of the dazed astonishment the animals showed in Charles
Lamb’s copy of Stackhouse’s Bible. Here are Dukes of York with a fatuous
expression, the Janet Simpson, or Lady Smith, and Iron Dukes--all, it
must be said, wrought rather vigorously, and looking with eternal
solemnity over the wall, each some six or eight feet high, to the
surprise of the stranger. The natives are familiar with them.

Turning up from the Embankment, we pass a very antique row of houses,
Paradise Walk, with its heavy-browed eaves, grimed, tiled roofs and
little gardens in front, a general decay over all. This curious range of
buildings, which is in Wren’s style, is worth a few moments’ inspection,
especially the one with the effective bit of old iron gateway; as well
as the strange institution which forms the last house, entitled “The
School of Discipline,” which, it seems, has been flourishing--for it
would not have endured over sixty years otherwise--since 1825. It was
founded by the worthy Elizabeth Fry for the training of servant girls.
What the “discipline” is, what the school, are things not generally
known. It was hard by here that a few years ago a ghastly bit of
sensation engaged the attention of the penny papers and their special
reporters, who invaded these sleepy precincts. Two young men arriving
from the country, flush of money, took up their abode in some
disreputable house, where they revelled for a week till their resources
were exhausted, when both attempted suicide, one succeeding. It proved
that they had embezzled the moneys of their employer, and then fled to
London, burying themselves in this obscure region, where they escaped
detection. Further on we reach the green in front of the Hospital. This
must have had a fine effect when the Hospital could only be seen from
the bottom of this great expanse; but now the high road has been
ruthlessly cut across it, with no effect but that of convenience. The
old overhanging public-house, the “Duke of York,” is curious, and gives
the _locale_ a sort of rural air. But this, indeed, is shared by the
King’s Road, which has a sort of special country-town air, as distinct
as what merry Islington offers. This is the scene of Wilkie’s famous
picture of the Chelsea veterans receiving the news of the Waterloo
victory. There is an air of retired and retiring simplicity in the shops
and little by-streets.

The quaint “physick” gardens belonging to the Apothecaries--a
benefaction of Sir Hans Sloane--will next attract the eye, if only by
the magnificent old yew which rises grim and sepulchral in the centre.
Whether the apothecaries walk in this piece of ground and peep over the
rails at the passing boats on the river is uncertain--they surely do not
“cull simples,” for they can buy them cheaper than grow them. But it is
a pleasing inclosure--a surprise, considering its position--suited to
calm tranquillity and meditation.



CHAPTER XXIX.

PUTNEY--FULHAM.


The first glimpse of the river at Putney Bridge seems always new, with a
never-failing charm. Indeed, all these clusterings on the river where a
bridge crosses--Putney and Hammersmith--have for the Londoner walking
out, say of a Sunday, an air of picturesque old fashion. The bridges at
Kew and Richmond, with their graceful ascent and elegant arches,
harmonize delightfully, and their tone and colour and delicate greys
contrast with the green of the foliage and the patches of red brick. It
is curious to note the two church towers at Fulham and Putney, which
rise so picturesquely at each end of the bridge. The old Putney wooden
bridge, with its piles and zigzag bulwarks, has been swept away.

The fine new stone bridge is a great and much-desired convenience, but
the sentimentalist will lament its crazy wooden predecessor, rising so
steeply and propped on angular wooden cages that were patched and
repaired over and over again. This was dear to artists and etchers. The
best portion was the gloomy old “Toll House,” with its antique roof of a
Nuremberg pattern, grimed and shadowy. This was so suggestive of mystery
and romance that in the days of realistic dramas, like the “Streets of
London,” it was taken into a “sensation” piece. On the hoardings was a
huge coloured picture, representing the structure by moonlight, with
some such heading as--“THE MURDER--THE OLD TOLL HOUSE, PUTNEY!!”[28]

On the Fulham side there are a few antique houses with gardens and iron
gates, and one which is clearly the work of Vanbrugh, from its heavy
gate-porch. There is a little “Georgian” terrace of old-fashioned houses
with gardens in front on the left, leading to the church, next to which
stands the vicarage house and school. Here is a charming old churchyard
with a public path through it. The church itself has been restored in
“spick and span” fashion, but in the porch we are faced by a florid and
truly gigantic mural tablet, which covers the whole wall, in memory of
one Elizabeth

[Illustration: OLD PUTNEY BRIDGE.]

Timpany. This curious work of art is worth looking at, as well as the
strange monument to Lord Peterborough within--apparently a
field-marshal, standing on a pedestal, with two smaller pillars beside
him, on one of which is laid carelessly his gauntlets, on the other,
parts of his martial gear. In this verdant churchyard lie many Bishops
of London--their palace is close by--with Lord Ranelagh, who has a
massive granite monument erected by his regiment--and also Theodore
Hook, of facetious memory.

Passing out of the churchyard to the river-side we come to the
well-known “Bishop’s Walk,” a raised causeway that runs beside the moat
which encloses the palace. This pleasing path, which commands the
grounds, is the playground of boys, but is not without its dangers.
There used to be a notice: “This path is dangerous.” “Whether the danger
arises from the episcopal cows which graze peacefully on the
water-meadows adjacent, and, with their sleek coats and calm, sleepy
eyes, seem as little mischievous as possible, or from more occult
sources of peril, it is not easy to determine. But a passer-by is better
informed: ‘It’s the kids,’ he states succinctly. And it seems that the
children of the neighbourhood ‘snatch a fearful joy’ in fishing for
sticklebacks and newts from the grassy margin of the episcopal moat, and
some have tumbled in and been drowned.”

Nothing strikes us so much as the fine old trees and the numerous yews
which rise sadly and solemnly beside the Bishop’s Palace. The view from
The Walk of the placid, solemn retirement of the grounds, with the
cheerful old red of the house and its tiled roof peeping through the
trees, is very pleasant. The late Samuel Read, who had a charming gift
for catching the spirit of these old houses, and whom a practical
publisher of Christmas numbers once praised as “_the best moated-granger
he knew_,” would have revelled here. Entering by the gate, left open, we
stroll up to the rather grim-looking quadrangle of solemn black and red
brick in a diapered pattern. Nothing can be more pleasing than the still
retirement of the inclosure with its circular and waterless basin in the
centre, and the imposing doorway facing the archway. The windows are
long and diamond-paned, and flush with the wall--lank and
gloomy-looking. There is the picturesque lantern over the hall or
chapel. No one is to be seen. It is scarcely wonderful that Dr. Temple
should be fond of this sequestered place, or should have abandoned and
shut up his town mansion.

If we pursue the river bank we come to Hurlingham, a fine old mansion,
the scene of many a fashionable joust--polo, and the rest. Many a
traveller by the River Thames will have noted the Crab Tree Inn, a
quaint and old--very old--house of entertainment. Indeed there are
numerous old houses, some of historic interest, but rapidly tumbling
into decay: such is old Munster House, at the corner of Munster Road,
which is as awry and contorted with age as an ancient crone is with “the
rheumatics,” behind whose high walls is seen a large stretch of grounds,
solemn nodding yews, and gloomy foliage. Passing on to Parson’s Green we
shall find plenty of fine old houses, architectural even in
style--Duncannon House and others. We may note also Arundel House, by
the road-side, with its quaint grounds and projecting pavilion at the
rear. So many old trees and old gardens are found here that the birds,
as it may be imagined, flourish exceedingly.

For those who love the pure “old fashion,” and the ways of old fashion,
there is nothing more refreshing than a Sunday stroll by these antique
towns and villages. Familiar and “Cockneyfied” as are such places, it is
surprising what picturesque little “bits” will here repay a little quiet
searching. These have often engaged the artist, but the antiquary and
lover of the antique prettiness have not been so diligent. Numbers of
little “corners” and old houses are revealed along these river banks as
we walk. At Battersea, when we turn out of the “speculative builders”
region and enter “Vicarage Road,” with its old house and gate, and
railing of excellent ironwork, we come straight on a sound, solid old
mansion of ripe brick, standing in charming grounds, with a velvet sward
and fine old trees, the river flowing beside--a perfect surprise, for it
has quite a manorial air. There are a number of these old riverside
mansions--retired, snug, and very close to London town, with the air of
being miles away. Some of these have been utilized for fashionable
suburban clubs, just such a one as “BARN ELMS,” of which you have a most
pleasing view as you walk along the river’s bank from Putney to Town.

At Hammersmith, Chiswick, Kew, and a few other places there are terraces
built along the river-side, which bear the name of the MALLS. There is a
quaint _rococo_ tone in these titles; and it is pleasant to fancy
oneself living in some old house on Chiswick or Hammersmith Mall. For
instance, Hammersmith Mall has its row of old trees stooping over the
river; its files of pleasure boats drawn up by the boat-houses; the
Dutch barges, always furnishing colour. There are curious winding lanes
behind houses, and yards which have been allowed to encroach on the
banks and have thus driven back the path, with a small canal and a
bridge across. Across the river will be noticed a row of mellow old
red-brick mansions, snoozing, as it were, in the calm content of a
tranquil old age, with a welcome Flemish air.

Beginning our promenade at Hammersmith, we pause before a fine old
Williamite or Queen Anne mansion, on the right, of a cheerful red--“The
Mall House,” it is called--with a suitable old gate of twisted iron, and
a little lawn in front. In looking at an imposing specimen of this kind
one is ever struck by the admirable proportions, and the mode in which
the windows and doorways are disposed to each other. There is a
grace--and proportion, too--in the two or three steps which, as it were,
unfold themselves with a slight rail on each side, which expand
fan-like, without the unnecessary _spikes_. This old mansion had
originally overhanging eaves, and no doubt a high roof; but some modern
occupant has raised the whole a story, using common yellow brick
instead, with shocking and barbarous effect, and the whole stands an
extraordinary monument of wanton disfigurement; for it would have been
as easy and as cheap to have made the alteration somewhat in harmony. I
never pass this somewhat roughly used mansion without a feeling of
sympathy, if not sorrow.

Further on we arrive at Linden House, a very solid structure of yellow
brick, after a style that was in fashion during the last century, with
wings, bows, and a little belfry--always a pleasing finish--and of an
honest buff. This style is to be found on Clapham and other commons.

Pursuing our walk to Chiswick we find something to interest and please
at every step--the Eyot, the barges again, the genial, tranquil air, and
the old houses with the older gardens, such as Cedar House, with its
spreading trees on the pretty lawn; Walpole House, with its simple gate;
Lingard, or Bedford, House, an imposing solid structure. Here is the
unpretending-looking yard and factories where small steam launches and
such fry are being manufactured by Messrs. Thorneycroft. We turn up
Chiswick Lane, and note, on the left, a row of genteel ancient
houses--infirm, no doubt, and not a little “ratty”--with a row of trim
and pedantic old trees standing sentry in the path in front.



CHAPTER XXX.

CHISWICK, KEW, RICHMOND, AND THEIR SUBURBS.


This little town, or village, of Chiswick is charming in every way, from
its church and pretty churchyard and its situation between river and
road. The walks hard by have the sylvan air of green lanes. There is the
“Mall,” and Chiswick Lane, up which as you glance from the river you can
see the little red-rusted terrace of Queen Anne houses, with its antique
railings and rural surroundings, a row of “pollarded” trees in front.
Facing the church is an old roadside tavern, “The Burlington Arms,” most
quaintly picturesque; and on the other side a fine old detached house
standing in its garden. We are glad to find here one of the old burly
independent and well-built “Manor Houses,” standing by the roadside and
flourishing. These must be comfortable structures to live in, with their
heavy eaves and solid walls, gardens behind and lawns in front. It is in
the occupation of a Chiswick doctor. The churchyard, which has quite the
air of a garden, has many tombs of pretension, and almost a theatrical
tone, from the players and artists who sleep there. Somehow it seems
more particularly associated with Drury Lane Theatre and Garrick, whose
name, with many compliments, is seen here and there. Here are his verses
on Hogarth’s tomb, which was carefully restored some years ago by a
modern Hogarth “of Aberdeen”; the visitor, reading over the much-admired
lines, is invited to “drop a tear.”

Here also is Garrick’s scene painter, De Loutherbourg, who is declared
on his tablet to be the equal of the greatest masters who are named,
which is certainly praise too extravagant. Not far off is Holland,
another Drury Lane performer, whom Foote saw laid here in what he
coarsely called “the family oven,” his father being a baker.

Following the pretty high road, a little farther on we come to a fine
old mansion, standing back from the road in a sort of open square,
flanked by two rows of low houses of the pattern seen in a cathedral
close, a sort of thick shrubbery filling up the centre. This is BOSTON
HOUSE, which has behind and round it a vast and interesting garden that
stretches away towards the river. These beautiful old grounds cover
seven acres, and have noble old trees, notably an immense and spreading
yew which can be seen from the road, with one of the oldest acacias in
England. This has long been a young ladies’ school. The old house
retires shyly from the road, and is flanked or sheltered by a few houses
as old on each side. Thus there is a sort of quaint square in front.
Lately a board was displayed, announcing that the place was for sale,
and still later it was secured--the inevitable fate of such places--for
a charitable institution.

[Illustration: HOGARTH’S HOUSE, CHISWICK.]

As we trudge along the high road we approach an object that should have
extraordinary interest for the artistic mind. A high wall runs along the
path. Within it is to be seen a much-dilapidated old house, its shoulder
turned to the road, and which, like many a dilapidated old person, has
the air of having seen better days. Its squalor is so marked, windows
shattered and patched like an Irish shanty, that we wonder at finding
such a spectacle on a country road. There are children as squalid, and a
general air of discomfort. This is Hogarth’s old home. “Hogarth House”
it is called, which he purchased about 1750, when he had grown
prosperous, and whence he used to drive into town in his carriage. The
good old red brick seems sound enough, and I fancy it would not be
difficult to restore and repair. It is surprising that some artist or
_littérateur_ does not purchase it, as it could be secured no doubt “for
a song”; and there would be the additional gratification of earning
public gratitude. One “fine morning” it will be found that it has been
swept away, and a row of “Hogarth Villas” erected in its stead. Indeed,
a week or so ago a warning voice--to which no one will attend--sounded a
call that it was tumbling into ruin.

Beside the river runs a wall which encloses the grounds and gardens of
Chiswick House, the Duke of Devonshire’s villa, a classical structure,
built by that nobleman of elegant taste--Lord Burlington, whose work is
to be seen not only in London, but at York and other places. His
buildings all exhibit this character, and are effective. This Italian
villa, with the cupola to its octagon room rising over the pillared
pediment, is in his best style. Not far away on the roadside is another
villa, with an ambitious portico and pillars which may have been
designed by the same amateur. It would be a surprise now-a-days to find
a nobleman designing houses.

Kew, hackneyed and “cockneyfied” as it is, offers charms of its own that
do not stale by custom as we approach it by the river bank; it seems to
breathe a tone of soft and even melancholy tranquillity. The
beautifully-designed grey bridge, with its gracefully-curved gentle
ascent and descent, seems to suit the umbrageous shore on the Richmond
side. It should be noted that few rivers have been so fortunate in their
bridges as the silvery Thames. They are always graceful, and harmonize
with the banks, particularly those of Richmond, Henley, Kew, and many
more. There is a little Mall at Kew, as there is at Mortlake, formed of
stunted, narrow, and old-fashioned houses. The Green at Kew,
notwithstanding the tea-houses and tea-gardens and the “touting” notices
at the gates, has a truly _rococo_ and rural air which it is not likely
to lose. The cheerful white posts, the church perched down in the
middle, the old houses round, the grim, forlorn palace and the cheerful
trams, all add to the effect. There is a fine and imposing old house on
the right as you face the gardens, which was no doubt one of those
occupied by the young Princes during the unhappy residence of George
III. Opposite is the porch and ancient dependencies of the palace, so
lately tenanted by the “old Duchess of Cambridge.” The air seems thick
with the memories of the terrible days when the king was seized with
madness, and the London road was alive with the carriages of ministers
and physicians constantly posting down.

Of Richmond it is hard to tire, and it happily still retains its air of
old fashion. The town itself, in spite of many changes and new shops,
has an old, drowsy, and quaint air. Only a few years ago there stood
close by the railway a terrace of Queen Anne houses, of the brightest,
cheerfullest red and whose white doorways were miracles of elaborate
carving. They are gone now. As you walk up the street it is always
pleasant to think of the little bye lanes and twisting alleys that can
lead you on at any moment to the spacious Richmond Green, which, as it
were, accompanies the town on its way. I like to see Billett’s
confection shop, where are the only true and genuine “maid of honour”
cakes--excellent, special things, in their way. Billett’s shop in the
early times seemed an awe-inspiring place, and a palace of dainties.
There is an old-fashioned “cut” about the shop itself; and there was a
pleasant quaintness in this recent protest of the proprietor, and his
honest sensitiveness about his cake:--

     “SIR,--The writer of your admirable article on ‘Richmond Park and
     Town’ observes that ‘The pastrycook’s shop seems to have wandered a
     little away from its old locality, and it may be that its genealogy
     is doubtful.’ I would simply say that the business has been in the
     hands of the present family for over fifty years, and that the
     ‘maids of honour’ have been sold at this same shop for nearly 200
     years. The house itself is about 300 years old. In conclusion I may
     add that the pastry has, I hope, lost nothing of its traditional
     flavour since the days when it is on record that £1,000 was paid
     for the secret of how to prepare them. The same sum of money has
     since been paid for the recipe.

                             “Yours truly,

                             “J. T. BILLETT, JUN., the Proprietor.

     “Richmond, June 8th.”

To celebrate the recent jubilee, Billett gave away an extra “maid of
honour” for every dozen purchased.

Years ago, in boyhood’s happy hours, Richmond seemed a very imposing
place to live in. There was a regular society of great and small
personages. There were lady patronesses, and people used to come all the
way from town for “our annual Richmond ball,” always given at the Castle
Hotel, that seemed then, with its fine river terrace and gardens and
ball-room, a most stately and awe-striking hostelry. Now it seems a
poorish place enough, and has lain unlet and abandoned for the last
twenty years. What music and fiddling and dancing was there! What barges
coming down in the season laden with cheerful company! There is
certainly a pleasing _rococo_ tone, recalling the old-fashioned flavour,
which has not yet departed. The rows of genial red Queen Anne houses
ranged round the common have even now a tranquil air--their tints are
mellowed by age--and they have architectural effect which contrasts as
effectively with the rows of the modern buildings as an elegant, faded
old lady does with some flaunting miss. The mixture of hue on these old
commons ever pleases; the green--even the white rails--the sleepy
tranquillity, the old-fashioned people who doze away life. There was a
colony that included Maria Edgeworth’s brother, a genial old man, who
gave parties; and I recall the great convulsion arising out of the
dispute between rector and curate. Richmond was rent into factions, but
the curate, weaker vessel, was driven out. He came round in a cab, and
bid adieu to all the friends who had stood by him in his trial, which
was thought very graceful of him.

[Illustration: MAID OF HONOUR ROW, RICHMOND.]

The Green is one of the most piquant of Greens, from its delightful,
straggling air. To look at the terrace that juts forward
prominently--pleasantly named MAID OF HONOUR ROW--is exhilarating from
the gaiety and brilliancy of the houses. Never was brick so rubicund, or
sashes and railings so brilliantly white. The Maids would have been in
spirits here. The design is capital, and the carving and ironwork all
match. Would there were more! But there are other old houses of merit
dotted about, while a little alley will lead you, by surprise, into the
main street. But the Green seems to have lost its genuine air of old
fashion since the day--some years ago--the old Richmond Theatre, that
filled in the far corner, was removed. It was reputed the oldest theatre
in the kingdom, and there, in that very tier of boxes, had the King,
George III., often sat and enjoyed the play, having driven over from
Kew. There was something particularly quaint and picturesque in this
cluster of buildings. You ascended the stairs _outside_ the theatre,
under a raised shed.

The curious old playhouse seemed to be exactly what should be found on
such a common. It recalled the old theatre at Tunbridge Wells which gave
on the Pantiles. It almost revived one of Dickens’s theatres, such as
Crummles might have managed, for then it was really a picturesque thing,
with stairs mounting outside, right and left to the boxes, while you
descended into a sort of well to reach the pit. Attached to it, and
growing out of it, was a sort of hexagonal dwelling-house, with a tree
planted by Queen Elizabeth, so the legend runs. There was something of
the old fashion of a weather-beaten three-decker in the look of the
place: it was a genuine thing--had the genuine flavour. Since then
someone plastered it over and modernized it, but the old balustrades and
stairs outside were left. This venerable tabernacle had a fitful time,
being on the whole more closed than open. It nodded and dozed through
the rest of the year. What excitement when it was to be opened for two
nights only, with _The Green Bushes_, a delightful entertaining piece,
and _so_ romantic--in the suburbs, and in “boyhood’s hour”! Occasionally
a company of London amateurs took it for one night, playing _London
Assurance_, having friends on the Green; then all old ladies and old
maids made an exertion, and the fly was sure to be ordered the night
before.

At another corner of the Green is the old Sheen Palace, with its fine
old archway, under which you pass, its indistinct blazonry and hexagonal
towers. This genuine fragment has been judiciously restored, and
fashioned into a snug dwelling-house, which secures its existence.

On the river’s bank, just as we turn down to the bridge, where there is
one of the most beautiful and exhilarating views of the river, we come
to a remarkable old house, a fine specimen of Georgian brickwork. This
imperishable-looking, rubicund structure is known as the Trumpeter
House, from two curious figures placed in front. It is in a sequestered
corner of its own, and might be built of iron, so firm and hard is it,
defying time and damp. Behind is its old-fashioned sward, with curious
old trees, a cedar of Lebanon, trimmed hedges, and sunk fences
stretching down to the river walk, to which, too, it displays an
imposing, snowy portico and pillars on a background of cheerful red.
This must be one of the best specimens of brickwork in the land. Old
Richmond is full of suggestions and old associations. There is a tablet
to Kean’s memory affixed to the old church. There is Mrs. Pritchard’s
house, Sir Joshua’s, Thomson’s the poet, and many more. In the middle of
the town we come upon a friendly sign-post, directing us in all
directions--a hospitable custom adopted in all these places, such as
Twickenham, Kingston, etc.

On a pleasant road, not far from the station, we pass a fine, portly,
red-brick mansion, well known as Miss Braddon’s (Mrs. Maxwell), which is
notable for still preserving the quaintly-formed long garden, or alley,
with a summer-house at the end, as if for bowls.

Isleworth, a charming suburb for the suburban Richmond, looks very
pleasing and picturesque from the opposite side of the river: here you
can see our long-lost Charing Cross Lion, who, as many think, was carted
away into space, or “shot” somewhere into the river. But there he
stands, defiant as ever, on Sion House--another of his ancestral
homes--associated, too, with charming Sunday walks by the river, say
from Kew to Richmond, where the ineffable _softness_ of the stream on
some balmy sunny day is best perceived. Hard by Isleworth is an enclosed
house and grounds--an antique villa a couple of centuries old, well
known as belonging to a sterling veteran actor long associated with the
old Haymarket. In this charming inclosure he has dwelt for many years,
and by assiduous but enjoyable toil created a garden with winding walks
and labyrinths, having a picturesque old yew as something to begin with.
On one enjoyable riverside Sunday I made my way down, having been often
bidden, and here I was welcomed by one of the best specimens the
profession can offer. Grateful is that bit of green-sward--like
velvet--the table set out near the overshadowing yew, the old porch at
home, the world and its hum shut out by the enclosing wall. This is the
home of the veteran Howe--a link with the rare old Haymarket days.

Taking our way up Richmond Hill--noting the still rustic, pleasingly old
fashioned air of the houses and villas as we ascend--we shall, of
course, pause to enjoy the oft-celebrated, ever-admired view, if a
proper day. It has a charm that cannot be surpassed, notably the silver
glistening of the riband that winds away below. It is only when you live
in the place that you learn the nature of the charm.

Before reaching Kingston we pass through Norbiton, where we welcome,
close to the roadside, the unwonted music of the rooks, now too rarely
heard. We can see their nests high in the tall trees, and then one or
two quaint “demesne houses,” quite in keeping with the rooks.

It is likely that there are many who have never explored old Kingston
town, and assume that it is of the same pattern as Kew or Putney. It is
a curiously attractive and original place enough, and its market-place
might be that of some old country town a hundred miles away. Here are
plenty of framed and gabled houses overhanging the street, and combined
together with a really pleasing variety. The number of old inns here
clustered is truly extraordinary--The Wheatsheaf, The Sun, The Ram, The
Griffin, a former great posting-house, with its archway and huge yard;
and even the Assembly Rooms, still in vogue. The Market House is
modern, but harmonizes pleasantly; there is a monumental
drinking-fountain, and a mysterious old stone, known as “the coronation
stone,” fenced carefully round. There is the old church and its
churchyard just touching the street. One Sunday morning, when I was
wandering here, there came across the old Market Place a small
procession, the town clerk leading, his fellows behind, one bearing a
mace, and behind the _Mayor!_ in his gown, for the little town boasts
this privilege. They were making for the church; and the whole had a
quaint air.

The Thames here is charming, and beside it are well-framed fishing inns,
such as “The Anglers,” with names of the hosts that seem appropriate--by
“J. Silver,” and the stranger “Everproud.” There is the silvery-looking
bridge close by, with its graceful, hilly curve.

Another of these Thames-side towns, one that interests with an ancient
quaintness, is the pleasant Teddington. How charming is that walk from
Richmond, by Twickenham, by the old-fashioned though fast modernizing
Strawberry Hill, Teddington, Kingston, until we reach Hampton Court! The
old High Street, Teddington, is really but little altered from the days
of Peg Woffington, who died there. There are many old and curious
houses, and inns as old, one kept by “Cornhill”--odd name! But at the
far end of the town, at the opening “turn,” we come upon the row of
three antique houses, well rusted, and with many well-leaded windows and
having an air of sleeping tranquillity. They are well overgrown with
creeping plants and are labelled “Mrs. Margaret Woffington’s Cottages,”
and are in fact the almshouses founded by the wayward, eccentric being
when she became “good.” They were built out of the money left to her by
“Old Sweny,” the manager, to inherit which she had to conform to the
established religion. New almshouses, however, have been built in
another quarter of the town, and the old ones are let out to the
inhabitants. Here is one of the most charming and picturesque old
churches in the country, of a most rural and attractive kind, “standing
in its own grounds” as it were, a garden-like churchyard, where, to use
Sir Lucius’s description, “there is snug lying,” or the snuggest lying.
The old church is very low, has its red-tiled, well-rusted roof bending
in the most sinuous lines, with a quaint little lantern, and double
aisles. Teddington Church, it need not be said, is figured in many a
picture and has often done duty in a Christmas number, with the
parishioners walking through the snow, or the ringers “ringing the old
year out at midnight.”

Nothing is more welcome than the contrast between the ever-varying
glimpses of the turns and windings of the river, as revealed either at
Putney, Hammersmith, Kew, Richmond, or Hampton Court. At Putney it
assumes a sad, Dutch-like aspect: it is straight, and wide, and bare. At
Kew, as we look upwards, it has an umbrageous tone: the banks are well
wooded. At Richmond there is a beautiful and sylvan grace, like a
charmingly-painted scene in an opera; while at Hampton Court there is
something not only graceful, but original, varied, and animated.
Hackneyed as Hampton Court is--overdone and invaded by the crowds of
holiday folk on a Sunday--its graces never seem to pall on the visitor.
We pass from the station to the ugly iron bridge, and get our first
glimpse of the tranquil “glistening” river that winds away right and
left, truly “silver” in its surface, like a stream that wanders through
some daintily-kept _plaisaunce_ or ornamented grounds; while beyond is
seen, amid the grove, the mellowed red of the old palace, surely one of
the most interesting piles in England. Nor are the attractions of the
approach by other routes at all lessened. If we arrive from Teddington,
coming from Strawberry Hill, we find a beautiful sylvan and
health-giving promenade. Then comes the wall enclosing Bushey Park, the
famous avenue of chestnut trees, and the “round point,” with its
circular sheet of water.

The little town itself is rural enough, with its comfortable-looking
hotels, old-fashioned if not old, and the busy scene before
them--waggonettes, carts, carriages drawn up, horses “baiting” within,
and huge crowds clustered round the handsome, well-ornamented gateways.

Within are the beautiful old gardens and the winding avenue which lead
on to the wonderful Palace and its grounds--that clustering of great
brick courtyards and towers very little touched and “improved” by the
restorers.

How imposing is the long and stately façade that looks across the
gardens to Bushey! So solid and yet so rich in its decoration and stone
dressings. This is one of Wren’s most successful works; so varied and
original in its treatment. With all our fantastical modern freaks, no
one seems to have caught or adapted this style, the florid circular
windows particularly. How curious is it to look at the old tennis court,
where the King’s nobles and gentlemen played the game--a solemn,
mournful place of recreation now. The courtyard within and fine
colonnade--how fine and dignified! The florid embroidery in stone-work
seems exactly to suit the cheerful, sunshiny brick. A walk in these wide
_loggias_ on a wet day would be a welcome diversion. Within are the
superb suites of rooms allotted to favoured _protégées_ by the grace of
the Crown: but few could form an idea of the great accommodation. On one
“flat” alone, enjoyed by a single family, there are seventeen or
eighteen rooms. The grand staircases at the side that lead up to these
suites, and ascend to the roof almost, are pointed out as instances of
Wren’s ingenuity. He wished to make the ascent as easy as possible. They
were placed therefore in long low slopes, each containing a vast number
of steps.

From this court we pass into the portion built by Wolsey, which is the
most charming and interesting of the whole. Here, too, we must admire
the grace of the architecture, the beautiful proportions of the
gate-towers, and the tone of the old brick, softened into a ripe creamy
pink. Very little has been altered or renewed, everything is as Henry
and Wolsey saw it--the extraordinary florid old clock, and the effective
and vigorous terra-cotta heads of Roman Emperors fitted into the
brickwork with forcible effect. They were a present from the Pope of the
time.

The great banqueting hall is an imposing work, with its noble open roof
and vast proportions. But these things are really not to be appreciated
on a visit--when we stare and have to pass to some other part of the
“show,” where we stare again. In visiting old towns and old cathedrals
we should reside, and let the spirit of the place grow, or steal
gradually upon us. When a feeling of companionship arises we get
familiar, and find ourselves looking on it again and again. But with
short and hurried glances little is really gathered--we have seen, but
not known.

It will be noted that what we have been considering is not the hackneyed
or popular view, which consists in following the lazy herd as it
promenades wearily from room to room--the king and queen’s chambers--or
the waste of innumerable pictures, including the Hampton Court beauties
and the Field of the Cloth of Gold and other notable “curios.” There is
of course entertainment in this, but the real attraction is in the place
itself, where we might wander for days.

Now taking a flight in a totally opposite direction we light on the
riverside at Greenwich; familiar enough, “the Ship,” or whitebait
district at least. But as we leave the town behind and ascend the steep
Croom’s Hill, we come upon many a pretty bit, and on plenty of sound old
houses. Halfway up we note a curious garden pavilion of true Jacobean
design, such as is found in old English gardens, like those of
Stonyhurst. It is of elegant design, with open arches at the side and
well-proportioned mouldings. Within, the ceiling is richly stuccoed
round a circular panel, intended to hold a painting, but now the whole
is decayed and gone to ruin. On a summer’s evening the owners of the
garden could sit here and overlook the road as well as the gambols in
Greenwich Park. There is the legible date on it, 1675. It must have been
connected with some stately mansion in whose gardens it was situated,
but now swept away.

A little higher up, and next the pretty Catholic chapel, is a genuine
old mansion, of rather Renaissance design, all white-washed over and
sadly mauled, older than the usual Queen Anne ones. It is a pity that
such are not carefully restored by some wealthy citizen, for they would
be effective. On the other side of the chapel is a fine specimen of old
red brick, shining as a pippin, and even sounder than on the day it was
built. Still higher up on the hill, and peeping over an inclosure, is a
fine steep-roofed old house in its garden, its face turned to the park,
its back, which we confront, overgrown. This mixture of green and red
with the more delicate tint of the shingle roof makes a cheerful
combination. There are many old houses perched down in a delightfully
irregular fashion here and there on the side of the hill, each with its
trees and inclosure making a settlement for itself. Most have a history
of some sort--notable persons having resided in them. At the top, facing
the open country, the Blackheath valley lying below, we come to the
Ranger’s House, of rubicund brick and pleasing design, but disfigured by
a covered passage to the gate. This was the late Duke of Albany’s
residence, and long before his time was the mansion of the stout,
coarse, and much-outraged Princess Caroline of Wales, about the time of
“the Book” and other disgraces. As I often stand before it, and knowing
her history well, the image of the high jinks that used to reign here
rises before me, the Opposition ministers, Percivals, Gilbert Elliots,
etc., travelling down to dine, and have what were very like games of
romps in the gardens behind. In the same line of road is a fine old
crusted mansion of some pretension, with solemn antique grounds behind,
and a compact, snug, and reverent air.

Farther away from town are found other attractive spots--in the way of
surprises--with much that is curious and original. As specimens of this
kind of voyage of discovery might be suggested Edmonton, Enfield,
Eltham, or Croydon. We need not dwell on the unsophisticated and rural
character of these hamlets and towns, the fine invigorating air that
sweeps along the high roads, the sense of cheerful exhilaration. In
themselves the old coaching roads are full of interest.

Eltham is a pleasant, inviting, and novel sort of place, with a fair
open country about it, breezy pastures and fine old trees spreading
away. In many of these distant suburbs, as they may almost be called,
there is this park-like wooded look, as though we were in the heart of
some rich country. Antique houses line the roadside--there are few new
ones. Searching out the old Palace, we are struck with the “rurality” of
the road, the row of fine old trees which line it, which was once an
avenue. One could hardly find more remarkable houses outside a Christmas
number. Those we see here are high-roofed and long-windowed--with the
old panes--which must at least be as old as Elizabeth. Each has its
gardens round it, and looks snug and comfortable. Here is an old
“moated” house, the water running lazily below--for the road is a
bridge--actually round the foundations. To this mansion much has been
done by way of restoration. Coming to the Palace, it is delightful to
meet with the elegant and original banqueting hall, ruined fragment as
it is. It suggests the equally interesting Crosby Hall in the City, and
there is a bay or oriel window of the same character. We know the
pattern, the wall running up for a dozen feet or so where the
Perpendicular windows begin. There is a peculiar charm about this style,
something graceful and satisfactory.

But would we recreate ourselves with some of the finest specimens of old
brick, we must go yet further afield. Let us repair to Tottenham, that
is, beyond the town, at the point where the road turns off to Enfield.
There the country is charmingly old-fashioned, the air delicious, the
route has the look of a coach road, with its great flourishing trees.
Here are the fine Anne or Georgian houses, plum-coloured almost,
untouched and sound as on the day they were built. The doorways are well
carved. More remarkable is the sort of Manor House in its grounds,
known, I think, as the “Lion House,” from the spiritedly carved lions
which adorn the gate-posts.

If we walk on to Enfield and Edmonton, we shall be yet more gratified.
Enfield is really remarkable for the variety of its mansions. As we walk
along the pretty high road, oddly called Baker Street, we come upon many
mansions in large expanses of grounds, and enclosed within walls, but
their fine iron gates allow a satisfactory view. “Lovers of Queen Anne
architecture,” says a good authority, “will do well to study here.” Some
of these houses are perfect pictures--such as artists revel in and
portray for the Exhibitions. They are perfect surprises from their
old-world air, everything being in harmony. One is known as Enfield
Court, which contains “quaint specimens of brickwork and a fine terraced
garden, with clipped yews.” There is an old Hall for the admirers of
Inigo Jones.

Indeed, the various places of this kind which are within easy reach of
London offer extraordinary and unsuspected entertainment.

But of all these suburban places, perhaps the hackneyed Hampstead and
Highgate offer an unfailing attraction. Nothing is more remarkable than
the change from the dull heavy London atmosphere below to the keen,
inspiring, vigorous air on these northern heights, which is palpable and
felt at once as we ascend. In spite of the “demolitions” that meet us as
we climb Hampstead High Street, the place still seems to retain its
old-fashioned, quaintly-pleasing features; its alleys and lanes straggle
and wind and turn with delightfully-picturesque effect; a row of
venerable trees will line a raised path beside an old wall, while houses
and short terraces of the true Hampstead pattern, odd, square, and
cheerful, abound. Retired corners, shady lanes, small gardens enclosed
within ancient walls, old lanterns, these are everywhere. No wonder
artists covet these old tenements, and, it is said, give fancy prices
for them. Winter and summer bring an equal, though varied, charm to the
place. In winter there is a pleasant air of shelter and retreat; in
summer umbrageous shade. Nothing can be more artfully arranged with a
view to picturesque effect than the mixture of houses and general
rusticity; it is country and town blended in the most pleasing fashion.
The old gnarled trees rise on high paths overhanging the road, and over
the walls behind peep

[Illustration: CHURCH ROW, HAMPSTEAD.]

the cheerful red dormer windows of some quaint Georgian mansion--“The
Grove,” or Grove House. As we wander through the place the impression is
always the same, a pleasing, old-fashioned tranquillity, the alleys
winding irregularly, little shaded corners and open places. And then the
memory of Clarissa--most pathetic of heroines, and her painful, sad
story--too painful almost to read. It used to be said that Frenchmen
were found here asking to be shown “The Flask Inn,” where the persecuted
maid took refuge. There is, or used to be, a Flask Inn in Flask Walk,
and there is another ancient “Flask,” most picturesque, at Highgate. But
the original, genuine Inn might escape the curious. It will be found on
the breezy summit of the Heath, at the corner of Heath Street, and
facing the reservoir. It is now a private mansion standing in a spacious
garden.

On the other side of Hampstead there is the attractive Church Row, a
unique range of “Queen Anne” houses, through whose windows can be seen
glimpses of waving trees and shrubs in the gardens behind. The bottom of
the little street is closed by the church, with its quaint, copper
spire--not older than the last century, but old enough to harmonize
fairly. Round it spreads away its rural churchyard, with paths across
it.

One of the most delightful walks, familiar enough to Londoners, is that
from the breezy summit of the Heath round to Highgate. Here stands the
old inn, Jack Straw’s Castle, to which Dickens and his trusty friend
Forster used to ride out on some “shoemakers’ holiday,” halting to
regale themselves on a chop after their labour of the week. At this old
hostelry we have stayed for a week or so, in snug quarters. There was a
certain piquancy and originality in the situation; it was “so near and
yet so far” from town. The ceaseless halting at the door of the
innumerable travellers’ vehicles was curious to note. No one seemed to
have power to resist the attraction. The fine old, solid mansion beside
it, with its garden, seemed enviable.

A quarter of a mile further on we come to that truly Pickwickian inn,
“The Spaniards,” where Mrs. Bardell was arrested: a charmingly
old-fashioned, rural house, with its tea gardens. We never pass it
without calling up the scene--the hackney coach waiting at the gate,
Mrs. B. and her friends at one of the little tables, and Mr. Jackson
entering with his assistant. In catching this local flavour the novelist
was unrivalled. It is difficult to describe the particular charm of a
walk through a country district, but this to Highgate is unrivalled.

How inviting too, and antique, is the town! The group of old red-brick
houses at the top--some detached, with gardens as old--all are inviting.
Here are some quaint inns--one curious one, with the remains of the
“pike,” where persons coming to London were “sworn,” a pair of horns
being brought out to add effect to the ceremony. It was here that an
innkeeper stepped the horses of her present Majesty, and was allowed to
display the Royal Arms as his sign, with a commemorative inscription. On
the descent are some fine old country seats, mansions with grounds well
wooded and park-like. Most of these are being gradually absorbed by
charitable or religious institutions, which might seem at first sight a
guarantee for their preservation. But, alas! as the institution begins
to flourish, the old mansion is certain to be taken down and rebuilt.
One fine old place is in the hands of a religious order which has just
completed an imposing Byzantine temple, whose Eastern cupola is a
landmark.

There are districts more familiar and of minor importance which are yet
well worth exploring. Such are the inviting green lanes round Barnes
Common and Roehampton; and on the roadside of the latter place we pass
by what is perhaps the finest specimen of the old brick mansion near
London. This brilliant, genial, _riant_ bit of brick is worthy the
notice of our modern architects in that material--the novelty and
stateliness of the design, the combination of stone dressings with the
brick, being worthy of Wren himself. This is Roehampton House, Lord
Leven’s mansion.

The hackneyed Clapham even has attractions of its own in many a fine,
old, well-preserved house and grounds, in that capital, serviceable
style of architecture which was fashionable about a century ago--a
well-designed central block of yellow brick with a high roof and two
wings, to which it was united by a short colonnade. In front was a small
circular lawn, protected by a sort of fence. Old trees filled in the
back and flanks. This combination was highly effective. On one side of
the common is a charming and original Queen Anne terrace, Church Row,
which we have noted before--every house panelled, old gates of twisted
iron, flights of steps and carved doorways.

There is surely no air so keen and bracing as that which sweeps with
such vigour across the fine open common of Blackheath. The houses that
fringe the common have a quaint air of old fashion, somewhat sad
coloured and of that dull “gamboge” tint which Elia spoke of, but they
have a good snug appearance. Such is “Montpelier Terrace,” and “The
Paragon,” which must have been considered a great effort in their day.
The Paragon is a semicircular row of “desirable” mansions, built with
some state and pretension--the pattern for a “Paragon” being usually two
semi-detached houses joined by a low colonnade--while in front there is
an oval inclosure. There are Paragons in most of the suburbs--as at
Streatham--and one close to London, in the Kent Road, a dispiriting and
decayed place.

Close by the Paragon, and on the gentle descent that leads down into the
little town of Blackheath, is a clump of umbrageous planting, with a
little iron gate opening into pretty and well-sheltered grounds.
Entering, for it is open to all, a walk leads us up to what is something
of a surprise. Here we are confronted by a fine solid building of the
Wren pattern, high roofed, deep gabled, and red bricked. Its many
windows are set off with deep green “jalousies,” and in the middle there
is a pediment and pavilion with the two statues of the founder and
foundress, standing side by side, in their old-fashioned dress; below
are carved flourishings and graceful garlands of stone flowers, with a
deep and spreading archway, through which we see the interior of a
square. This is Morden College, a retreat founded for reduced or
comparatively genteel persons. The archway is lined with oak panelling
and long oaken benches, acceptable in the summer, where the collegians
mostly sit and gossip, and perhaps smoke. Within the square a pretty
colonnade runs all round, convenient for pleasant walking in wet
weather. There is the old sundial looking down, and a quaint clock-tower
with a bell, lantern, and weather-cock. Altogether a drowsy, picturesque
old place, dating from 1675. Few would suspect even the existence of
this sequestered and interesting place, which is absolutely hidden in
its umbrageous shelter. There is a dreamy poetical air over it, and
though fully tenanted it seems a perfect solitude--occasionally a
“collegian” may flit across the court. A chapel is on one side of the
archway: on a Sunday, opening the door gently, you will see all the
collegians assembled. The building itself, which seems sound, has
mellowed with time into an harmonious red.

[Illustration: Old Richmond Theatre.]



CHAPTER XXXI.

WILLIS’S ROOMS--THE PALACES.


Returning now from these delightful suburban walks, we find ourselves
once more at the West End. The London traveller, if he but learn the
habit of diligently using his eyes as he walks, is certain to find at
every turn something to entertain him, or something novel that he has
not before observed. On the other hand, by cultivating incurious habits,
the careless observer will come to look on the streets as merely tedious
places of passage from one point to another--and the more speedily the
monotonous transit is effected the happier he is.

Lately, passing through King Street, St. James’s, I paused before a
familiar building, passed by thousands in their daily rounds without its
exciting speculation or notice. Yet what curious memories it excites!
“CHINNOCK, GALSWORTHY, AND CHINNOCK ... To be sold ... fifty-five years’
lease ... 8,000 square feet, etc.” And had it actually come to this? Set
out, too, upon an ominous black board hung on the old wall! And this the
once-famous Almack’s! It had been offered already for sale in April on a
fixed day, but the bidders were not sufficient; and so we have come to
Chinnock, Galsworthy, and Chinnock, as per board, who are willing to
treat with private parties. Shade of Lady Jersey! Shade of Lady
Tankerville! Ghost of Princess Lieven! and spirit of the Iron Duke, once
refused admission because he had not on a white cravat or the suitable
breeches!

It was in King Street, St. James’s. Here was the long, well-grimed,
dingy waste of bricks, prison-like, and recalling Mrs. Cornelys’ old
rooms, now a chapel, close to Soho Square. Yet that Newgate-looking
structure, how it contrasted with the brilliant festivals inside! A
hundred and fifteen years of gaieties and revels--such is the exact life
of Willis’s Rooms. We must feel sorry that they are now to “go,” for
they are the last surviving “Rooms,” as they are called, of the good old
pattern left in London. For a time we had the old Hanover Square Rooms
for concerts and dances; good _rococo_ things; but they have been
nibbled away into a sort of club or hotel. But behind that old dingy
waste of wall what balls, festivals, charity dinners, bazaars!

It was in 1765 that a Scot who came up to London conceived the design of
erecting fashionable rooms on the pattern of the casinos abroad. His
name was McCall, the syllables of which he ingeniously reversed into the
celebrated “Almack”; and he brought his countryman, the renowned Neil
Gow, from Edinburgh, to lend the music. The building was erected
hurriedly, from the designs of Robert Mylne, of course another Scot, who
had built Blackfriars Bridge. On the opening night, in February, the
rooms were half empty, for the fashionable world was suffering from
colds and was afraid to go. The walls were imperfectly dried, and the
rich ceilings were dripping; though Almack protested that hot bricks and
boiling water had been used in the structure. The place, however, grew
into fashion, and at the suppers, Almack himself, “with his broad Scotch
face and in a bag-wig,” was seen attending; while his wife, in a sack,
“made tea and curtseys to our duchesses.” This worthy man died in 1781.
How Almack’s passed to Willis is not clear. The Willises were a musical
firm in their day. Gambling was carried on in the Rooms, and enormous
sums were lost and won in a night. Its greatest days, however, were
during the Regency, when the famous “Almack’s Balls” were given under
the haughty control of “Ladies patronesses,” the Jersey, the Lieven, and
others, and when the most exclusive system was in vogue. Gronow and
Raikes tell many stories of the arrogance of these dames, when to obtain
a “voucher” became a matter of favour and delicacy. The Almack’s Balls
were continued in some shape, and under less exclusive conditions, until
recently, when they were finally given up.

It is a curious feeling to enter and promenade through these forlorn and
ghostly chambers. The doors stand open, and we can wander in and up the
grand stone stair--the banisters oddly encased in crimson velvet.
Everything is laid out on a noble, spacious scale. Gloomy and even
dismal now seems the great ball-room on the first-floor--scene of so
many “festival dinners” and dances--with its fine chimney-piece,
floridly embroidered ceilings, “set-off,” as it was fancied, with
hideous modern colouring, now faded and inexpressibly shabby. The old
scheme was white and gold. But here are still the fine old English
mirrors, with their garlands and carvings; and the tall pillars behind
which Neil Gow and his fiddlers played; and the chandeliers, of Venetian
glass apparently, with their chains and lustres and bulbous drops,
elegant enough. Here are all the old-fashioned “rout” seats and chairs
and tables huddled together and piled up on top of one another. Many a
“bad quarter of an hour” has been spent here whilst awaiting nervously
the chairman’s signal to “reply to the toast”; and here is the very spot
where I once sat “peppering,” as it is called, in an

[Illustration: GRAND STAIRCASE, BUCKINGHAM PALACE. (_From a Photo by_
MR. E. KING.)]

unpleasant mood of suspense; the long tables spreading away and crowded
with unfeeling diners, hundreds “feeding like one,” who would desire
nothing better than a “break-down.” It is a curious, agitating feeling
when, on a sudden hush, one has to rise with a “Mr. Chairman!” For a
second every face is turned to see and wonder, and ask whose the face is
seen indistinctly afar off.

Below is the “concert-room,” a fine, well-proportioned apartment. Around
are many vast chambers: one where the gambling went on, and Charles Fox
and Lord Carlisle lost huge sums. It is difficult to give an idea of the
dismal impression left as we promenade these ghostly chambers. On the
walls are a score and more of portraits--all of the one “Kit-kat” size,
many by a forgotten artist--Knapton. These represent members of the
still existing “Dilettante Society,” who used to meet in one of the
rooms. Three of these pictures, of a large size, and exhibiting
full-length groups, were the work of Sir Joshua, and are to be seen in
the National Gallery. A history of this elegant club, which has
published splendid folios, has been written by my friend, the late Sir
F. Pollock.

And so we come out into old King Street again, to read once more on the
prosaic board that the whole will be sold as “a going concern,” with its
licence, goodwill, etc., and that this and a great deal more may be
learned from the worthy auctioneers aforesaid.

There are plenty of these ghostly chambers in London, and the feeling on
disturbing their antique solitude is a curious one. It is specially
present when we invade the repose of the now disused PALACES, some of
which are interesting places enough, but have a particularly forlorn and
faded air.

No building has been so rudely, even coarsely, treated as the venerable
old Palace, St. James’s, whose gate tower is so interesting and piquant
a monument. Portions have been burnt and re-built; but the
“restorations” seem always to have been carried out on the meanest and
shabbiest fashion. Witness the meagre, skimpy colonnade in the
courtyard; the wretched brickwork; the poor, “starved” rooms; the
tottering chimneys “stuck on” outside, and the patched air of the whole.
The old chambers within, though spacious and imposing enough, are
strangely dingy, and seem not to have been painted or “refreshed” for a
century. The place looks as though it were abandoned altogether, which
no doubt it is. Yet a small sum judiciously laid out in the way of
trimming or restoration would do much; were even mullioned windows
substituted for the present unsightly and incongruous “sashes.”

Hard by is that great modern pile, Buckingham Palace, the work of George
IV., which took the place of the pleasant old Buckingham House, which,
as we can see from the prints, was something after the pattern of
Marlborough House. This lumbering, uninteresting mass, though built of
stone, is made more unattractive still by being painted over, owing to
the decay of the material. Within there are many vast chambers of state
which, on rare occasions of high festival, are lit up and crowded with
rank, beauty, and fashion. The ball-room is a fine and richly-decorated
apartment, and the grand staircase is “monumental” enough. No one who
has not visited them can have an idea of the size, or apparent size at
least, of the gardens and pleasure grounds behind, which have been
artfully protected from vulgar observation by large raised banks and
thick planting. It is a pity that this sacred preserve is not, as in
continental cities, opened to the crowd; it would be an addition to the
few _agréments_ of London. It is now almost forgotten that in front of
the palace, before the erection of the present façade, stood the Marble
Arch, that curious freak of George IV., who, however, intended that it
should be enriched with a spirited group on the top. The present
situation, where it is useful as an omnibus station, seems unsuitable.

[Illustration: MILLAIS’S STUDIO.]

Another of these old derelict places is Kensington Palace. This, with
its “dependences,” still remains a very “lively” bit of architecture,
rather original in its design; the irregular façade being judiciously
broken up. The various offices, stables, guard-houses, etc., even the
little entrance gate on the Kensington Road, have a welcome piquancy,
and are most effective in their way. Here we have the true old-fashioned
tone. A portion is inhabited; and, with the pretty gardens, has the air
of a flourishing country house; but the state chambers are all chilly,
darkened, and given over to desolation. It is truly a pity that these
fine old places could not be utilized as picture galleries or museums,
like Hampton Court; the very fact of free circulation, and the visits of
the public, would preserve them and save them from rusting away.[29]

The wanderer or walker in London will find a district close by the
Palace very welcome and pleasing--the well-known Campden Hill. For a
spot so embedded in town it has a curious _rural_ note of its own, an
old-fashioned air, as though it declined altogether to go with the
times. The air, too, is tempered and softened; there are numbers of
pretty places, with their spreading grounds, old trees, and older
villas. Those persons who have been fortunate enough to secure ground
here in good time are to be envied. The curious part is that it is
bounded all round by the most uninviting prosaic districts--on one side
by the frowsy Notting Hill Gate, on the other by the common high road to
Hammersmith, all crowded with omnibuses and carts. But ascend the gentle
hill, from whatever direction, and you find yourself puzzled by the
antique simplicity and suburban air of the place. Of course there are
eyesores and blemishes--the dreadful waterworks in the very centre, to
say nothing of numerous modern “Follies,” fantastic freaks in the way of
enormously tall houses, and other monstrosities. Coming up the broad
cross road which joins Notting Hill and Kensington, we ascend a sort of
sheltered lane, with all sorts of ancient tenements, somewhat “shaky,”
each with its garden and enclosing wall, such as one might encounter at
Kew or Chiswick. Many of these have been judiciously adapted and added
to by the thriving artist or _littérateur_. This portion may be called
the _town_ side of Campden Hill; and here are also the modern builders’
terraces.

[Illustration: ALMA TADEMA’S FORMER STUDIO.]

Here stands the modern Campden House; but a far more interesting
structure is the old, “Little Campden House,” with its heavy roof and
eaves, and old-fashioned air, but with an abandoned look, presenting no
tangible idea to the present generation, yet in its day it and its
enterprising owner furnished much talk and speculation in artistic
circles. Mr. Wooler was passionately fond of theatricals, and the
private theatre in his house became celebrated, the owner himself
gravitating towards the genuine stage.

A striking evidence of the luxury of our time is found in the
magnificent, and even sumptuous, workshops in which our painters pursue
their labours. This was prompted by the great artistic revival which
occurred nearly twenty years ago, when there was the “sensation”
auctions at “Christie’s,” and the works of modern artists were fetching
enormous prices. All the great painters designed and built themselves
these luxurious temples. Unluckily, many of lesser light, and lesser
ability, followed the example, often with disastrous results. The craze
abated; prices have fallen rapidly, and numbers of these handsome
structures now stand tenantless. Holland Park, and the district
adjoining Melbury Road, etc., is the locality favoured; and there is
undoubtedly a kind of old-fashioned, semi-rural tone about the place
that justifies the selection. There are also a few in St. John’s Wood.

The House of the President of the Royal Academy is, as might be expected
from one of such taste and training, the most striking and effective.
Here we see the effect of a marked personality; and there is even
something sympathetic in the structure. It has often been described, by
Mrs. Haweis and others; but more as though it were some glittering
museum, of whose treasures an inventory is given. As we stand before it,
in Holland Park Road, we are struck by the fashion in which it
harmonizes with the locality; the sequestered lane, the old-fashioned
scraps of garden, where the good old trees live and thrive, and the
lingering old houses. There is a kind of gentle tone over the scene, and
a pleasant, retired air. The house, though not large, has an air of
monumental solidity; severe in style, built of bricks, which are
beautiful from their rich and almost roseate hue--though we are inclined
to make a somewhat diffident protest against the overhanging room,
supported on iron columns, which has lately been projected at one side.
This somewhat enfeebles the solid and stately air of the whole. Behind
there is a delightful garden, not walled round, or “trimmed” up, but
separated by a hedge or paling from the road. There are old trees and
grass, and a general rustic _laissez faire_.

The interior is a poetical dream, Oriental or Moorish in its
magnificence. With exquisite art the studio is planned as the “note” or
central feature of the whole; the stairs, the halls, and vestibule all
prepare the visitor for the main attraction.

[Illustration: HERKOMER’S STUDIO.]

“Turning aside,” says Mrs. Haweis, “from the foot of the stairs, we pass
through peacock-green arches, with deep gold incisions, into the third
Hall, called of Narcissus, which strikes a full deep chord of colour,
and deepens the impression of antique magnificence. A bronze statuette
of the fair son of Cephisus, from that in the Naples Museum, stands in
the midst of it. Here the walls are deepest sea-blue tiles, that shades
make dark; the floor is pallid (the well-known mosaic of the Cæsars’
palaces), and casts up shimmering reflected lights upon the
greeny-silver ceiling, like water itself. The delicate tracery of the
lattices brought bodily from the East, and which rise to right and left,
having the complexity and colour of the skeleton of a leaf, and guarded
by glass outside; the fine alhacen of carved wood which lines the
central alcove facing us, with its four rare Persian enamels of women’s
figures, and its shelves of Persian plates; the brilliant little windows
that break the sunshine into scarlet and gold and azure flame; the
snow-white columns of marble that stand against red at every angle; the
fountain that patters and sings in its pool of chrysolite water--most
perfect colophon to all the colours and the outer heat. We wander round
and enjoy the toss of its one white jet from a bed of water wherein
descending ridges, step-wise, have the semblance of the emerald facets
of a great green stone.

“The hall takes the form of a Greek cross, with slender columns as
aforesaid at the angles, set against rose-red slabs. But the entrance is
flanked with columns of a larger girth, made of red marble, with golden
capitals. The walls are lined with Syrian azulejos of soft and varying
blue and white arranged in panels, surmounted by a broad frieze, as yet
unfinished, designed by Walter Crane, in a beautiful running pattern of
fawns and vines, carried out in gold Venice mosaic. Above it rise
courses of black and white marble, and above again the golden dome.

“Over the entrance we see the overhanging black of the Zenana we have
not yet visited, that Eastern nest that juts like a closed-in balcony
high up the wall. Between it and the doorway lies a great purple panel
blazoned with a verse of the _Koran_ in Arabic, and through the arch we
see the distant staircase winding beyond the purple shadows of the
intervening hall.”

The studio itself is of a business-like, practical sort, though it is
stored with choice treasures and inspiring bits of antique colour. In
short, the artistic feeling of the accomplished man who prompted the
whole is felt everywhere.

There is a good deal of the “peacock blue,” and other colouring that
combines with it. This somewhat “barbaric” scheme of colour is scarcely
suited to our country; and the rich tint is likely enough to fade, or
grow darker and yet darker, with time. We select this studio as a
typical one, though it exceeds its fellows in magnificence and eastern
_luxe_.[30]

At Palace Gate, at the entrance to Kensington, Sir John Millais has his
studio, in a substantial house, designed by Mr. Hardwicke. The studio,
however, is a simple building, attached to the house. Mr. Alma Tadema’s
studio was an old house in Porchester Terrace, on the banks of the
canal, which he had fitted up and adapted to his purposes. He has now,
however, built himself a new one. Mr. Hubert Herkomer’s is down at his
well-known artistic colony at Bushey.



INDEX.


Adam, the Brothers, 39

Adelphi, The, 40

All-Hallows Staining Church, destroyed, 214

All-Hallows Barking, Church of, described, 216

All Saints’ Church, Margaret St., described, 240

Amen Court, St. Paul’s, sequestered enclosure of, 144

Anne’s, St., Church, Soho, and its Associations, 73

Austin Friars, House destroyed in, 167


Barn Elms at Putney, 275

Barnard’s Inn, 105

Barry, the Painter, his Adelphi Pictures, 48

Bartholomew’s, St., rudely treated, 221;
  “Blacksmiths’ Forge and Fringe Factory,” 222;
  judiciously restored, 224

Bell Tavern, The Old, 177

Berkeley Square, 172

Billett’s “Maids of Honour” cakes, 280

Blackheath, its “Paragons,” etc., 291

“Blew Coat” School, The, 19

Bow Steeple, 234

Brewers’ Hall, The, described, 208

Brick, Proper Treatment of, 258

Bride’s, St., Steeple, Story connected with, 233

Burlington House, described, 163


Campden Hill and its old Houses, 29

Canonbury Tower, 253

Carlyle, Thomas, Visit to, before his death, 269;
  his House, 269

Catholic Churches in London, 241

Changes in London by demolition, and rebuilding, 152

Chapels, The Embassy, 241

Charterhouse, The, 249

Chelsea, “Modern Antiques” at, 270

Chelsea, Old Church of, 270

Chelsea “Physick Garden,” The, 271

Chelsea, Sketch of, a few years ago, 266

Chenery, Mr., A tenant in Clement’s Inn, 100

Cheshire Cheese Tavern, The, Account of, 190

Chesterfield House, 161

Chiswick Church and Old Houses, 277

Christ’s Hospital, Public supping at, 250

City, Charm of exploring, 195

City Companies, Vast number of, 209

Clapham, Church Row, 219

Clement Danes, St., Romantic View of, 234

Clement’s Inn, its Garden House, 100

Clifford’s Inn, described, 99

Clock Tower, The, 25

Cock Tavern, The Fleet Street, Account of, 185

College Street, Westminster, picturesque, 18

Covent Garden and St. Paul’s Church, 52

Cripplegate Church, 202, 212

Crosby Hall, fine Oriel Window in, 229

Cornelys’ Rooms, Mrs., now a Chapel, 241

Cremorne Gardens, Sketch of, 269

Cromwell House, 146


Dane’s Inn, 101

Devonshire House, 161

“Dickens in London,” Various associations, 115;
  His Wooden Midshipman, 116;
  His sketches of the Inns of Court, 117;
  His residences in London, 118

Dining Halls in the Old Inns of Court, 107

Doorways, Old, Various specimens of, described, 260;
  Old Carved, in Carey Street, 100

Drapers’ Hall, 210

Dublin, Old Houses in, 216

Dyers’ Hall, 209


Edmonton, Fine specimens of Brick at, 288

Eltham, 287

Ely Chapel, District round, 217;
  The Old Bell, 217;
  Palace of the Bishop, 217;
  Sold to Government, 218;
  Precarious condition of the Chapel, 219

Emanuel Hospital, Westminster, 20

Essex Head Tavern, 194


Fairfax House, Putney, 148

Farm Street Chapel, 248

Fitzroy Square, 175

Forster, John, Scene at his house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, 93

“Fox-under-the-Hill” Tavern and Dickens, 47

Fulham, “Bishop’s Walk,” at 274;
  Old Houses and Church, 272

Furnival’s Inn, Holborn, 104


Garrick’s House in Southampton Street, Strand, 51

George Street, Hanover Square, 172

George’s, St., Cathedral, Southwark, 242

George Tavern, Boro’, 180

Golden Square, 170

Gough Square, Johnson’s House in, 193

Gray’s Inn, 112

Greenwich, described, 286


Hampton Court, described, 285

Hammersmith Mall, 275

Hampstead and Highgate, Charms of, 288

Hanover Square, described, 159

Hans Place, Antique tone of, 258

Helen’s, St., Church, 230

Highgate, Walk to, 290

Hogarth House, described, 278

Howe’s House, Mr., at Isleworth, 283

Hyde Park, described, 78


Inns, Old, “The Flask,” 289;
  “Jack Straw’s Castle,” 290;
  “The Spaniards,” associated with “Pickwick”, 290

Isleworth, 283

Islington, Old-fashioned air of, 255


“Jack Straw’s Castle”, 181

James’s, St., Palace, Gateway, and Dial, 80


Kensington House, 155;
  and Palace, 297

Kew Palace, 278

King’s Head Tavern, Boro’, 178

Kingston Market Place and Inns, 283


Lamb, C., his house in Colebrooke Row, described, 257

Laurence Pountney Hill, a Picturesque Enclosure, 204

Law Courts, The, criticised, 130

Leadenhall Street, Old House in, described, 157

Leicester Square, Statue in, 136

Leven’s, Lord, House, at Roehampton, 291

Lincoln’s Inn, Old Gateway, 98

Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Old Taverns near, 96;
  Fine Houses in, 92

London Relics, Fate of, 132


Magnus’, St., Tower, Poetical effect of, 132

Mansions, Old, in London, 154

Marble Arch, The, 297

Martin’s St., Lane, 70

Mary Woolnoth, St., 237

Masque of Flowers in Gray’s Inn, 113

Mitre Tavern, The, 192

Monuments in Westminster Abbey described, 28

Morden College, Blackheath, 291

Mortimer Street, Richly decorated Houses in, 157


National Gallery, The, its Pictures and Painters criticised, 57

Nightingale Monument in Westminster Abbey, 31

New River, The, 256;
  its pleasingly erratic course, 257

Newton’s House, Leicester Square, 163


Olave’s, St., Hart Street, 212

Oratory, The, described, 245


Painter Stainers’ Hall, 209

Palace, St. James’s, described, 296;
  Buckingham Palace and Gardens, 295

Pantheon, The, 171

Paradise Row, 271

Parliament, Houses of, described, 20

Paul Pindar’s, Sir, House, 159

Peacock Room, The, (note) 302

Photographing London Relics, Society for, 166

Post Office, General, View from, 233

“Private Prayer,” Result of opening a Church for, (note) 237

Pugin, the Architect, 242

Putney Bridge, Old, 272

Paul’s, St., Cathedral, 134;
  Dome of, 137;
  Monuments in described, 141;
  Railings round, 143;
  Reredos, 139


Quadrant, The, Regent Street, 90

Queen Square, 170


Raleigh House, Brixton, 150

Regent Street, Its merits, 89

Richmond, Its Green, and Maid of Honour Row, and Old Palace, 281

Richmond Playhouse, 282

River at Charing Cross, 127

Rolls Chapel, Beautiful Tomb in, 226

Roman Bath, and Roman Remains, 49

Rooks in London, 112

Roubiliac, The Sculptor, and his Work, 30


Sadler’s Wells Theatre, 256

Saviour’s, St., Southwark, 226

Savoy Chapel, 215

Scarsdale House, Kensington, 168

Severn, M., on “Sketching in London”, 127

Soane Collection in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, 94

Soho Square, 171;
  Chapel near, 241

Somerset House, 126

Square, St. James’s, 174

Squares, Old London, 170

Staple Inn described, 102

Steeples, Eccentric, 238

Steevens, Alfred, Sad Story of, 139;
  Specimen of his art in the railings of British Museum, 265

Stephen’s, St., Walbrook, 234

Sterne, Ghastly Story connected with, 75

Street Names, Origin of, 55

Studios, Some--Herkomer’s, 312;
  Sir F. Leighton’s, 300;
  Sir John Millais’s, 302

Sundial, Negro, in Clement’s Inn, 101


Tablets on Celebrated Houses, 165

Teddington, 284

Temple, Inns in the, described, 109

The “Antients” in the old Inns of Court, 103

Theodore of Corsica, his story, 73

Tottenham, 288

Tradescants, House of, 166

Trumpeter House, Richmond, 282

Tyrrel Monument, 34


Vanbrugh, the architect, and his work, 68

Vauxhall, Figure-heads at, 270


Wade, Marshal, Grotesque Monument to, 45

Wandsworth Manor House, 145

“Warwick Arms,” The Old, 175

Waterloo Bridge, Praise of, by a French critic, 123;
  and the Embankment, 122;
  The Toll-keeper and Dickens, 125

Wellington Monument, St. Paul’s, History of, 139

Westminster Abbey described, 26

Westminster Hall, 23

White Hart Tavern, Boro’, 178

Whittington’s House, 199

Willis’s Rooms and its associations, 293

Woffington’s Almshouses at Teddington, 284

Wren, Sir C., his Churches, 232;
  Steeples, 233


York House and Gate, 46


FOOTNOTES:

[1] This has turned out a singularly accurate prophecy. Chippendale’s
work now fetches an enormous sum whenever it appears at a sale by
auction. It lately brought close on £30.

[2] Few are aware of the number of these mediæval obstructions, of
which there are some 250 in London. “In most parishes there are two
or three; in some the number reaches thirty or forty. The whole
metropolitan area is dotted with them. There are nine in Marylebone;
thirty in St. Pancras, principally on the Camden Estate and Crown
property. St. George’s, Hanover Square, has a dozen; St. Mary,
Islington, twenty; St. Giles’s, Camberwell, sixteen. There are four
each in St. James and St. John, Clerkenwell, in Chelsea, and in
Woolwich. Paddington has five; but the number increases, sometimes by
leaps and bounds, until we reach such totals as 27 for Wandsworth, 28
for Lewisham, and 36 for Fulham. Poplar has only one, but it reconciles
the deficiency to its self-respect by levying a toll. The privilege of
shutting out vehicles is highly prized in some parts of St. Pancras,
and highly paid for. It makes a substantial addition to the rent, and
it constitutes a sort of permanent charge on the rates, in the form of
payment on the original cost of the roads.”

[3] Of the wealth of the late Earl an incidental proof carelessly
escaped on the occasion of the fire at Cortachy Castle, when it was
stated that his lordship had brought sixty servants and some four or
five thousand pounds’ worth of furniture for this summer excursion,
just as an ordinary family would take a few articles to complete the
furnishing of a house taken at the seaside! Further, it was mentioned
that fifty sovereigns belonging to her ladyship were saved; they had
been left on her table just as “the gentle reader” himself might leave
some pence on the chimney-piece.

[4] But, as I write, this memorial is being removed, and the whole
façade is being cased with stone.

[5] Lately died Selby, the Liston-faced coachman, with his low-crowned
hat, who drove to Brighton and back in the surprisingly short time of
seven hours 51 minutes, for a wager. His funeral was an extraordinary
spectacle, followed by more than a score of coaches, laden with
wreaths, and driven by “the fancy.” This recalls the interment of “Tom
Moody.”

[6] Mr. Dickens used to relate how, at one of his last dinners when
in this senile state, the servant, who had the whole _répertoire_ by
heart, would suggest and prompt. “Tell the gentlemen, sir, about Mr.
Selwyn and the Duke of Queensberry, sir,” etc., on which the old man,
set a-going like some musical-box, would start off on his narrative. He
was a sad spectacle.

    Nose and chin to shame a knocker,
    Wrinkles that would puzzle Cocker.

One of the best stories told to us by Mr. Dickens in a railway
carriage--unpublished, too--we must repeat; but the voice cannot
be supplied: it was that of Justice Stareleigh, as given at the
“readings,” very slow and funereal:--

“The Honour-a-ble Augustus Stanhope, one of the most fashionable
bloods of his day, fell in love with the lovely Miss Beauclerk, who
did not re-turn his passion. He bribed her maid to secrete him in her
cheea--mber. When she came up to attire herself for a ball, he emerged
from his concealment. She looked at him fixedly. ‘Why don’t you begin?’
she asked, after a pause. She took him for the ’airdresser!”

[7] It was in December, 1848, that the Quadrant colonnade, “one of the
most elegant architectural features of the Metropolis,” and certainly
an effective addition to the pretentious glories of Regent Street, was
removed. There were, however, sound utilitarian reasons for the step,
the colonnade being the resort and shelter of disorderly characters at
night. Each of the columns, it was stated by the auctioneer, who sold
them in lots, weighed 35 cwt., and had cost £35 to put up. There were
270 in all, and 144 realized about £1,000. These now form unsuspected
portions of other buildings in various parts of the country.

[8] Lately, passing near Camden Town, I noticed a crowd staring
vacantly at the top of a very lofty old tree, and was delighted to
note an immense nest in process of construction, with a couple of the
“inky-coated” on solemn guard.

[9] In the room in which I now write he has often sat, and often has it
re-echoed to his jocund laugh. His paper-knife and paper weight marked
C. D. are beside me. His ghost should flutter near at hand.

[10] The architect of the bridge, Sir John Rennie, gives a curious
account of the plans that were proposed towards the beginning of this
century for the improvement of the river:--“A committee,” he tells
us, “called the Committee of Taste, was appointed, in order to design
such improvements as were imperatively required in the neighbourhood
of Charing Cross, the Strand, and Holborn and Oxford Street. This
Committee consisted of the late Lord Farnborough, John Wilson Croker,
Sir John Soane, Sir Robert Smirke, Nash, and others. To its labours
we are indebted for Trafalgar Square and the improvements in the
Strand, Cockspur Street, the Haymarket, the old Opera House, and those
between Oxford Street and Holborn, which are really very good, and the
architecture, although not altogether faultless, is nevertheless, taken
as a whole, very effective; in fact, nothing like these improvements
has been effected since. The new street from Waterloo Bridge to Oxford
Street, undertaken soon after, has been a miserable failure; instead of
taking a direct line, they availed themselves as far as they could of
the old miserable intervening streets, so that this thoroughfare, which
ought to have been one of the best in London, is now one of the worst,
and the increase in the value of the property on each side has been
very little. But if this street had been made in a straight line, and
of ample width, the shops and buildings on both sides would have been
of a superior character, and would have yielded far higher rents, which
would have gone a long way towards paying part of the expenses, if not
the whole.

“About this time Sir F. Trench, who moved in the most fashionable
circles, and was a great amateur in architecture and fine arts, was
seized and enraptured with the idea of constructing quays along the
banks of the Thames between Whitehall and Blackfriars Bridge, and
converting the space so recovered from the shore of the Thames into
a handsome carriage-drive and promenade ornamented with gardens and
fountains. He applied to the late Mr. Philip Wyatt and myself to assist
him in preparing the designs and in obtaining an Act of Parliament
to carry it into effect. Trench said he had no doubt that sufficient
money would be obtained. He accordingly, with his great influence
and indefatigable activity, formed a committee of the highest class;
neither were the ladies excluded; amongst others, the beautiful
Duchess of Rutland took the greatest interest in the undertaking,
and at the first meeting, which took place at Her Grace’s house, she
was unanimously voted to the chair, and conducted everything in the
most business-like manner. Lord Palmerston, then Secretary for War,
took a leading part, and it is singular that many years later his
Lordship, then Premier, should have proposed a similar measure, and
the continuation of the coal duties for carrying it into effect, which
was adopted; but when we proposed the undertaking and the mode of
raising the funds, notwithstanding our powerful committee, the idea was
considered chimerical. For this and other reasons the project fell to
the ground.”

[11] As the great Duke was the first to pay the halfpenny toll, it
might be interesting to know who was the last passenger to pay it; for,
of course, there must have been a halfpenny received which was the
last. I understand that the late Mr. Thomas Purnell--whose incisive
criticisms in the _Athenæum_ some years, “fluttered the dovecots” of
the dramatists, and which were signed “Q.”--claimed the distinction of
being positively the last passenger that paid the halfpenny.

[12] A piece of Irish wit may be quoted here. It was proposed to erect
a monument to a well-known Dublin physician in one of the public
cemeteries, and the inscription was debated. Some one suggested this of
Wren’s!

[13] There has been an enemy working underground during the past
years--an ogre more wholesale and omnivorous than has yet appeared.
This arises out of the burrowing of the underground lines in the
City--the grand teredo, such as bored its way to the Mansion House
Station from the Tower. It has been stated “that there has been no such
general demolition since the days of the Great Fire. _No less than 130
houses, some of them the oldest in London, and two of the City halls,
have been pulled down in order to construct the new thoroughfare which
continues Gracechurch Street to Tower Hill._ The general destruction
is added to by the tunnelling of the link line from the Tower to the
Mansion House.”

[14] With such rapidity are the blows struck, and so capricious too is
the spoiler in his work, now hurrying on, now suspending altogether,
that it becomes difficult to bring the record “up to date,” as it were.

[15] It was sold “in lots” in 1882 for about £10,000; the grand marble
staircase, which cost £11,000, went to Madame Tussaud’s for £1,000,
where a portion may be seen. The massive gilt _grille_, or railing
that faced the street, cost £3,500, and was bought for Sandown for 300
guineas. Being all levelled and cleared the ground was laid out and
sold, when it was found there was room for seventy-five houses.

[16] Many will have noted the curious iron posts fixed in the ground in
front of one of the corner houses. These are real cannon, captured in
one of Admiral Keppel’s victories, and presented to his family.

[17] Since writing the above, the “White Hart” has been demolished.

[18] “The fate of the Cock Tavern was decided yesterday, when a special
jury at the Recorder’s Court in the Guildhall awarded £9,000 for the
freehold, and nearly £11,000 to the lessee and occupier, in all about
£20,000. It was proved that the profits were £2,000 a year. A casual
visitor would have great difficulty in believing the fact. The ancient
dinner haunt was a small, dingy snuggery, greasy with the steam of
fifty thousand dinners. It hardly seated a score guests, and served
nothing but steaks, chops, and kidneys with ale and stout for liquor.
Counsel for the lessee, in addressing the court on the amount of award,
said he had himself seen only that day three of Her Majesty’s judges
at luncheon hour in the neighbouring law court sitting over their chop
and pewter of London stout in The Cock. The only articles reserved in
the old place are the mantelpiece, a massive work in oak, of the time
of James I., and the sign of the house, which was carved by Grinling
Gibbons.”

[19] A sympathetic frequenter of the “Cheshire Cheese” has sent me a
glowing account of its alternations, which I can cordially endorse.
“The ‘Cheese’ is really the last of our old taverns, conducted on
genuine principles, which one wishes to cherish. When genial spring
has brought forward vegetation the waiter’s cheerful intimation that
‘Asparagus is on, sir,’ recalls the fact forcibly to your notice. When
later, ‘’Am and peas’ can be secured, the vision of early summer is
perfect, and is not even disturbed by boiled beans and bacon. In the
hot, sultry days, cool salads are appropriate, and when these disappear
there is a closing in of daylight and a general warning that the year
is past its prime. Then does the ‘Cheese’ draw its blinds and light
its gas, stoke up its fires and announce its great puddings. Yet,
further ahead, when raw November days come upon us, the savoury smell
of Irish stew--that fine winter lining for the hungry--pervades the
place, and so the season goes round. Of all the changes brought about
by the rolling year, however, none is so popular as the advent of
the pudding, though it means frost, and damp, and cold winds. _The_
pudding (italics for ‘the,’ please) has no rival in size or quality.
Its glories have been sung in every country, even the _Fort Worth Texas
Gazette_ having something to say on the subject. The pudding ranges
from fifty to sixty, seventy, and eighty pounds weight, and gossip has
it that in the dim past the rare dish was constructed to proportions
of a hundredweight. It is composed of a fine light crust in a huge
china basin, and there are entombed therein beefsteaks, kidneys,
oysters, larks, mushrooms, and wondrous spices and gravies, the secret
of which is known only to the compounder. The boiling process takes
about sixteen to twenty hours, and the smell on a windy day has been
known to reach as far as the Stock Exchange. The process of carving
the pudding on Wednesdays and Saturdays when it is served is as solemn
a ceremony as the cutting of the mistletoe with the golden sickle of
the Druids. The late proprietor, Mr. Beaufoy A. Moore, could be with
difficulty restrained from rising from his bed when stricken down
with illness to drive to the ‘Cheese’ and serve out the pudding. No
one, he believed, could do it with such judicious care and judgment
as he did. The dining-room is fitted with rows of wooden benches and
wooden tables without the slightest pretence of show. But the cloths
are white and clean, and the cutlery bright, while the china service
is of that ancient and undemonstrative blue design which delighted our
forefathers, and is known as the willow pattern. The glasses are large,
thick, and heavy, and might be used with effect in an argument. But
the silver is silver, not Brummagem, and has seen more service than
would destroy half the property of modern public-houses. On the walls
hang three prominent objects (in addition to the usual advertisements
of brands of champagnes and clarets), viz., a barometer, a print of
Dr. Johnson, and an old oil painting by Wageman, representing the
interior of the room with a gentleman trying his steak with his knife,
a waiter holding up a port wine cork in the well-known attitude ‘two
with you’; and a cat rubbing her oleaginous hide in anxious expectation
against the leg of the settle. This picture, like one in the bar, is
an heirloom, or rather a fixture, which cannot be sold, but must pass
from landlord to landlord. The fireplaces are huge and commodious,
capable of holding a hundredweight of coal at a time. On a cold
winter’s day, when their genial warmth penetrates every portion of
the room, and the merry flames dance and leap after each other up the
capacious chimney space, a man listens to the howling wind without,
or hears the rain pattering on the paved courts. Here gather poets,
painters, lawyers, barristers, preachers, journalists, stockbrokers,
musicians, town councillors, and vestrymen, with just a _soupçon_ of
sporting celebrities, and a decided dash of the impecunious ‘Have
beens.’ The latter represent in the ‘Cheese’ colony the Irish division
in Parliament. Up-stairs there are extensive ranges of kitchens,
where burnt sacrifices are being perpetually offered up in the shape
of mutton and beef; a dining room, and a smoke-room, dark-panelled
and cosy, where a man may forget the world and be lost to it during
a much-coveted midday rest. The privileged few who are allowed to go
into the wondrous cellars--redolent of sawdust, cobweb-coated, and
covered with dust--wander amidst avenues of wine-bins with wonder and
astonishment at the space occupied underground as compared with the
upper regions.”

[20] They gave an entertainment on St. Luke’s Day, and we find that on
May 17th, 1635, Mr. Inigo Jones, the King’s surveyor, was invited to
dinner, and very willingly came and dined with the company. Some of the
invitations have the signature of Verrio and Sir Godfrey Kneller. The
ancient pictures on the wall are mostly gifts from the painters, who
were living men of the company. One of the minutes in the books has
justly furnished considerable entertainment from its quaint simplicity:
“On the 10th March, 1673,” is pronounced this censure: “That the
painter of Joseph and Pottifer’s Wife and the Fowre Elements be fined
£3 6s. 8d. for such bad work.”

[21] It may be added that the difficulties in getting admission to see
old monuments in London seem insuperable. As a general rule they are
rarely open--or open at awkward hours. No one about appears to know
where the person in charge is to be found, and he is usually “out,”
being busy with other functions. The old City Halls are jealously
guarded, and we recall how shocked the old lady housekeeper was at
one of these places when admission was proposed. Application must be
made to high officials, who, however, are gracious enough in according
permission. The result, however, is long delay and loss of opportunity.

[22] It was thus that passing by St. Magnus’s on one Sunday afternoon,
the door open, the organ pealing out, we expected the usual “Sunday
service” in the City, with its dozen or so of congregation--the few
old women, the sleeping old men, who had turned in for the purpose.
Who could have thought of realizing so perfectly the traditional Swift
story of “Dearly Beloved Roger”? For there was literally the minister
and his clerk, reading and responding, the pew-opener sitting by the
door, and not a soul besides! The pew-opener rose, making a piteously
imploring, despairing appeal to remain; the incumbent glanced over,
half-ashamed--but the intruder fled!

[23] Some time ago there was a controversy in the papers as to the
propriety of opening the churches, City and others, “for private
prayer.” Mr. Brook, the rector of this pretty church of St. Mary
Woolnoth, gave his experiences of an experiment he made in this way.
“The abuse,” he said, “of the privilege had been very great, though
certainly, by reason of constant watchfulness, not as bad as it used
to be. Your readers will scarcely believe it when I mention that
dozens and dozens of times men and women have actually made a public
convenience of the sacred building; others have come in and stripped
themselves nearly naked in the darker corners, for what reason no one
can say; others come for the sole purpose of altercation with the
attendant, and one lately even struck and seriously hurt her; indeed,
if it were not for the friendly policeman on the neighbouring point,
such incidents would be of daily occurrence. It was only a few weeks
since a child was born on the mat in the entrance of the church, though
this is not so common as it used to be in days gone by; and when I
first became rector of the parish the church, between one and two
o’clock, was regularly used as a luncheon room.”

[24] This relic is now on the eve of being demolished.

[25] All his visions therefore faded away: the “cloud-capp’d towers and
gorgeous palaces” dwindled gradually and shrank: prose, and questions
of convenience, took the place of this baseless fabric of a vision.

[26] A prelate once applied to Pugin for a design for a new church. It
was to be very large, he said, the neighbourhood being very populous;
it must be very handsome, as a fine Protestant church was close by; and
it must be _very cheap_--they were very poor, in fact had only £--.
_When could they expect the design?_ The architect wrote back promptly:
“My dear Lord, say thirty shillings more, and have a tower and spire at
once. A. W. P.”

[27] As a specimen of the unconsidered artistic trifles to be found
in London by those who search for them, the simple railing that runs
outside in front of the _grille_ of the British Museum is worth a
moment’s attention. The low posts, or standards, are capped with a
little sitting lion, exceedingly quaint and spirited in design. This
has often been sketched or hastily modelled by the sculptor, for it
is the work of the unfortunate Alfred Steevens, who is only now being
appreciated as he deserves to be.

[28] On the old familiar green cover of “Pickwick,” Mr. Pickwick is
shown seated in a punt, fishing, and in the background is seen the old
Putney Church, with the quaint bridge.

[29] “There is one apartment,” says a visitor, “looking out on an
old-fashioned garden of circular laurel-beds and well-groomed hedges,
which has interest as the nursery of Queen Victoria--now bare like the
rest, save that it contains the toys that amused our Queen’s childhood.
Here they repose, a little dusty to be sure, but not much the worse for
their sixty and odd years of life. On the mantelpiece is a headless
horsewoman who still keeps her seat; in a box, carefully folded in
tissue paper, is a doll clothed in a muslin dress of fine quality,
with a delicately-worked lace cap tied under the chin, almost hiding
her bright fluffy hair. Then against the wall stands a three-masted,
fully-rigged ship, six feet long, its last voyage done. By the side of
the vessel is a large red doll’s house of many furnished rooms, with a
kitchen, containing a well-stocked dresser and a miniature wooden cook
who had fallen on her face, on whom I took pity and seated before the
kitchen range. I left the nursery, and soon came to the room where the
Queen was born--an apartment of mirrors, with paper (one of the few
rooms with wall decoration intact) of a pleasing tint, picked out with
an heraldic device. Hard by is found the apartment where the Archbishop
of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham kicked their heels till the timid
attendant could make up her mind to rouse the sleeping Princess, and
tell her she was Queen of England.”

[30] Many years ago the town was excited by the description of a room
which that clever, erratic artist, Mr. Whistler, had designed and
painted for a gentleman of fortune, Mr. Neyland. It was known as “the
Peacock Room,” and is all painted in blues and gold, after the pattern
of tints in the peacock’s tail. The dado is blue on a gold ground, and
above it the scheme is reversed, being gold on a blue ground. This rich
and gorgeous arrangement is now, probably enough, somewhat faded.





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