Being the Thames half of the 1876 book
The Tiber and the Thames" an American view published by Lippincott.
I am not clear about Authorship. Edward Caledon BRUCE and Sarah Butler WISTER are in the frame but I can nowhere find it stated that they are the authors.
The illustrations are as yet incomplete.
To the westward drift alike fashion, history and empire. The west end of cities corresponds to the west end of chronology.
It is the forward end, the eventful end - the end of gayety, change, life, movement.
The eastern end - for even this spherical perch of ours must have a beginning somewhere - is that which melts into the stagnant past, as into, say, the yellow blankness of the babylonian plains and the swamp of Siam or the Isle of Dogs.
So the excursionizing visitor in London, having performed the melancholy duty of groping through the cobwebs and fungi of the great wine-vaults and the other -wonders of the dock - region— Doré's illustrations of which are scarce surpassed in unearthly gloom by those of his Wandering Jew - is not apt to do more in that direction than take a hasty glance at Greenwich, where the pensioners used to be, and the telescopes and the whitebait still are. Beyond and below that all is blank; for, though a jaunt to Margate is a thing of joy to thousands of Londoners, "nobody" lives there or ever did. Our knowledge of, or interest in, the place we owe almost exclusively to the Rev. Sydney's account of the "religious hoy that sets off every week for Margate," and Elia's more sympathizing sketch of a trip thither by a more rapid and less saintly conveyance. The estuary of the Thames is almost as poor a cover for the explorer to draw as the estuary of the Delaware. So he gives the wind to the herring country over the way, and turns his nose up stream.
Old Westminster Bridge
Above Westminster Bridge, starting from the Houses of Parliament, he looks for the haunts of the hard fighters and hard thinkers, past and present, of England, and for her most characteristic charms of landscape, natural and artificial. Our starting-point, though above the limits of the city proper, is five, six or seven - no one can tell exactly how many - miles below the western edge of the metropolis. The ancient city, with three hundred thousand inhabitants more than two centuries ago, and hardly a hundred thousand to-day, is but the dingy nucleus of a vast nebula of brick, that differs from a comet in constantly expanding and never contracting. As a sample of its progress, the opening, in the ten years from 1861 to 1871, of six hundred and thirty-five miles of new streets will serve. Nine or ten thousand houses are annually erected - twice as many as are in the same time added to the most rapidly growing American city. About four millions of souls occupy an area of one hundred and thirty-one square miles, this being still but a corner of the space - five hundred and seventy-six - included within the beats of the metropolitan police. London has thus gathered to itself not only home provinces, but outlying colonies. More populous than Rome ever was, her commissariat gives her none of the worry that so complicated the politics of her prototype. Seventy miles of beeves, ten abreast, stalk calmly every year into her capacious maw. And it cries out for more, and will not be appeased with anything short of a corresponding tribute of sheep, pigs, poultry, etc. by way of entremets. Statistics like these pass from the arithmetical into the poetic, and approach the sublime. Hecatombs do capital duty in the old epics, but what are hecatombs to such nations of livestock as these? An army, said Napoleon or Wellington, or both, travels on its belly. London equals in numbers and exceeds in consumption forty armies larger than either of these generals had at Waterloo. Fancy the commensurate receptacle! The mass oppresses the imagination. Let us get from under it.
Making a day's excursion from a place which, at the travel-rate of half a century ago, it takes something like a day's-journey to traverse,
seems akin to the idea of taking a week's trip from the United States, since it is easy to run across the United States in a week.
A great part of the time is consumed in attaining the point proper of departure.
The most determined sight-seer is apt to be blase before reaching the rural part of his tour,
to such a degree has the earth-hunger of Britain's capital, typical in that attribute, as in many others, of Britain itself, swallowed the adjacent territory.
Village after village and parish upon parish has been absorbed. We find them in every stage of assimilation,
digested into wards or crude as districts.
A century or two ago, according to the doggerel of the time, when the lord mayor and aldermen set out on their annual hunting excursion, their route lay "from Cheapside down by Fenchurch street, and so to Aldgate Pump," and soon found themselves, despite the tardy locomotion of their fat Flemish horses, among the fields.
From where we set forth, two miles up the river, we may, the eye following the current,
mark where the magnificent Thames Embankment carries elegance, atmosphere and health into the noisome tide-marshes that skirted their haunts.
On Westminster Bridge, the second of the name constructed within a century and a quarter, we stand, as on the Bridge of Sighs, "a palace and a prison on each hand".
The Houses of Parliament, excelling in cost and elaboration most palaces, look down upon one of Mr. Bull's recently abandoned pets, the Millbank Penitentiary, situated on the same (or north) side of the Thames.
Over the way, Lambeth, the ancient residence of the archbishops of Cantebury, is both palace and prison. Replete with memories of Cardinal Pole, Laud, Juxon, Tillotson and their successors, that part of its irregular façade which is first sought by the eye of the stranger is the Lollards' Tower, wherein the followers of Wycliffe tasted the first fruits on English soil of religious persecution.
Vauxhall Gardens have passed away with Sir Roger de Coverley, and the superior taste which improved them out of existence manifested itself in a fashionable pigeon-shooting resort dubbed the Red House.
Monument to Bolingbroke, [Battersea Church]
Battersea Red House
Chelsea from the River
Glancing to the northern shore again, Chelsea Hospital comes into view, a present which England owes, as she does her Indian empire, her American colonies, her navy, St. Paul's, the best of her art-treasures, and so many other acquisitions of power and culture, to the maligned Stuarts. The story that Nell Gwynne has the credit of having suggested the creation of this national retreat for the broken soldier is far from having gained universal acceptance. Yet the existence of the tradition is as complimentary to her as would be its truth. It proves what a character for that charity which covereth a multitude of sins the active benevolence of the gay comedienne had earned among the people. The Hanoverian ladies who came "for all your goots" have never been accused of any such freak.
The shadows of the famous dead begin to thicken around us with the bending trees—of great men, not as they mingled in the turmoil of court and council, but as they strolled in their gardens, labored in the study, or went, like common people, through the daily round of domestic life. Within a very circumscribed space lay the abodes of Pym, Shaftesbury, Locke, Addison, Steele, Swift and Atterbury. The extinct hamlet of Little Chelsea was thus gilded by the greater lights of the Augustan age of British literature. Swift for a time had for his next neighbor over the way his intriguing brother of the cloth, and got on with him much more smoothly and pleasantly than was his wont with others. Had they agreed better they would doubtless have been worse friends.
Sir Thomas More's Monument
Far back of this circle, in point of time, nourished on the same spot the author of Utopia, Sir Thomas More, handed down to us by that enigma among philosophers and divines, Erasmus, as every way a model man. Other accounts go to justify this character. To himself, his long and placid life must have appeared a perfect success, and he may well have deemed himself to be lapsing dreamily into the bliss of his imaginary republic until rudely awakened by the axe of the tyrant whom in the epitaph of his own composition in the heyday of his prosperity he styles the "best of princes". Readers of this inscription, which stands in faultless Latin on his monument in Chelsea church, may note, after the passage which proclaims the writer and deceased a stern foe to thieves and murderers, a blank space which was originally filled with "heretics," the identical class of malefactors' for belonging to which he was himself, within three years, brought to the block by the best of princes. A keen helmsman it must have taken to steer in the wake of bluff Harry. The Vicar of Bray was right in claiming to be the only consistent man of his day.
Sir Hans Sloane's Monument
A different style of philosopher, one of our modern evangelists of the practical, Sir Hans Sloane, unites with More in illustrating Chelsea.
His works have not followed him, but still speak in monuments which cannot lie—in the dispensary system for the relief of the poor,
in broad and beautiful Botanic Gardens, and in the British Museum, whereof his bequest was the nucleus.
The West End, as we follow the river, has become the south end, and that in its most aggravated shape we have on the south bank. The majesty of the past gives place to the might of modern England in the very unsavory guise of the pariahs of the factory tribe. From monumental chimneys gin, vitriol and soap insult the welkin with their surplus fumes. It may be a question whether the most elegant of English political writers, the site of whose villa and the resting-place of whose remains is among them, would altogether enjoy such evidences of the prosperity of the kingdom whose welfare he pursued through paths so tortuous and yet illumined by so much genius. He —and certainly his friend Pope—might scorn such "meaner things." The statesman and the poet would have been loath to accept the soapboiler as a colaborei in the cause of national elevation, although manufactures are at once the source and the expression of wealth, the familiar ally of statesmanship and poesy. "The first king was a fortunate soldier", and his workshop, the battlefield, is less pleasant to look upon than the foulest of factories.
All this, however, does not lessen our anxiety to leave behind these homes of progress and get into the unprogressive country. It is not easy to keep out of the way of growing London. It almost visibly follows us up the river. In fact, as we skim the currentless surface of the placid and canal-like stream, where garden and grove more and more exclude the town, it has stolen a march upon us —flanked us, so to speak, on the right or north, and taken a short cut across a semicircular bend of the Thames, miles in advance to Hammersmith and beyond. Two miles' sail from the metropolis will thus bring us back into the midst of it.
But till then we shall enjoy the suburband-villa sensation supplied by the scenery near Putney and Fulham.
Abundance of celebrities here beset us. The chief of them in modern eyes are Gibbon, who was born, and the younger Pitt, who died, at Putney. It was not among these tranquil folds and meadows that "the lord of irony, that master-spell", formed the plan of his great history. Conceptions of war and revolution seem here wholly forced and unnatural ideas. At first thought, they would appear equally so amid the ruins of the Coliseum, where, as he tells us, the design first occurred to him. But there the remains of the empire whose epitaph he was to write lay broad and clear around him. To disentangle from the obscure and involved records of twelve centuries of barbarism the reasons why so much and so little of it survive, was a task that one is surprised should have been left to a wanderer from the British Islands. It is a task thoroughly performed by him. His work has not been mentionably improved by any of the corrections and expansions that have been essayed: the author's edition remains the best. It may be pronounced not merely the only history of the vast period it covers, but the only compendious and perspicuous history of any considerable portion of it. It stands out in European literature from a host of monographs, chronicles and memoirs, many of them more brilliant and exhaustive, like one of Raphael's canvases in a gallery of Flemish cabinet pictures. Gibbon and Clarendon may almost be termed the only English historians. Hume and Robertson were Scotch; Macaulay's fragment is a clever partisan pamphlet, not a history; Froude, the fashion of the hour, is already on the wane, as befits a chronicler whose passion is for paradox rather than for truth. In one or another respect each of these is Gibbon's superior in style. His method of expression is rhetorical and involved to the last degree. And yet it does not tire the reader. Discovering the sense soon ceases to be an effort, with such unfailing regularity does the meaning distill, drop by drop, from those convoluted sentences. The calm, clear, idiomatic flow of Hume, and the direct, precise, engine-like beat of Macaulay, are both technically preferable; but the former would have put us to sleep before we got through a long reign of the Lower Empire, and the vigorous invective of the latter, pelting as with rock-crystal the ample material before him, would have palled upon us ere losing sight of the Antonines.
Bowling Green House
Pitt, the "great young minister", a maker and not a writer of history, died at the Bowling Green House on January 23, 1806, of an attack of Austerlitz. The courier who brought him the news of that battle brought him his death-warrant: a French bullet could not have been more fatal. Napoleon had his revenge for the disasters of the future. Pitt might have outlived him and died anything but an old man, but the satisfaction of witnessing Moscow and Waterloo was denied him. It would have been in his eyes the happy and natural close of the great drama, only the first two or three acts of which it was his to witness. It is impossible to repress a feeling of sympathy with the earnest and patriotic statesman, galled, baffled and beaten, compelled, while racked with bodily suffering, to face some of the mightiest foes at home and abroad that publicist had ever to encounter—the eloquence of Fox and Sheridan and the sword of Napoleon —laying down the chief power of the realm to die heartbroken in these secluded shades.
Less secluded are they now than seventy years ago. Attracted by the comparatively elevated situation and fine air of Putney Heath, many residents have sought it. It is now covered with villas, each boasting its own private demesne, if only large enough to accommodate a tree and some shrubs. It does not take a great mass of verdure to conceal a smallish house that stands back from the road, or to give to the whole row, square, crescent, terrace or walk a rural and retired effect. A passion for planting is common to the English everywhere, and especially does it manifest itself where all the conditions are so favorable as on the upper Thames. Trees are the natural fringe of rivers in all countries. The watercourses of our great Western plains are mapped out by the only arboreal efforts Nature there seems capable of making. The streams of England, naturally a forest country, must always have been peculiarly rich in this decoration; and had they not been the people would have made them so. The long stone quay is backed by its bordering grove, and towns and houses that throng down to the water are content, or rather prefer, to view it through such peepholes as the leaves may vouchsafe them. And then the turf, the glory of Britain, that shower and shears, Heaven and man, vie in cherishing! The basin of the Thames is nearly as flat as the bottom of the ancient sea through which the chalk and clay that underlie it were slowly sifted down. Neither rocky cliff, breezy down, nor soaring mount has part in its scenery. What variety of outline the horizon seen from the river possesses is due to grove or facade. But all the variety these can give is there. The stream itself, so barren in some of the ingredients of the picturesque, is as agreeably astonishing in the use it makes of what it has. The tide running to Teddington, twelve miles above London, and lock and dam navigation taking possession above that village, there is little current but that caused by the tide. The Thames, in other words, where not an estuary is a canal—we had almost said moat. It has neither rapids nor rocky islets. It labors under the fearfully depoetizing drawback of a towpath.
Racing shells, miraculously slim and crank, traverse with safety its roughest bends.
From Putney, where we now are, to Mortlake, four miles above, is the aquatic Newmarket of England,
where the young thoroughbreds of Oxford and Cambridge yearly measure their mettle.
Tufted islets—or "aits," as the local vernacular has it — varied in size and shape, divide the stream. Long reaches, with spire or palace faint and pearly in the distance, alternate with sweeping curves scolloped with billowy masses of foliage that bastion broad re-entering angles of tesselated lawn and meadow. Willow and elm, the most graceful of trees, luxuriant as such a habitat can make them, send streaks and masses of richest shadow beneath and beyond them. "Schools" of water-lilies star the clumps of reflected shade or blend with catches of sunlight brighter than themselves. Vistas of water among the aits, and of velvet-green among the meadows, lead off here and there. Now we thread a bridge, modern and smart, or mediaeval and mossy, with a jumble of peaked arches diverse each from the other in shape and proportion. The cumbrous piers of these veterans repeat themselves in reflection, substance and shadow cut apart by multiform ripples and swirls, that shift and start and interlace and pass hand in hand finally into the glassy sheet below, as they did when the Norman masons set them first in motion. They built to last, those "Middle-Aged" artisans. Prodigal of material, and not given to venturesome experiments on the capacities of the arch, like those who designed the flat elliptical spans of Waterloo Bridge, their rule was to make security more secure. They multiplied spans, made them high and sharp, and set them up on piers and starlings that occupied— and occupy yet where they have not been removed as impediments to the march of improvement—the greater part of the width of the river. From that portion of its course now under notice these old bridges have pretty well disappeared. Old London Bridge, the most considerable of them, and an exaggeration of their most fantastic traits, gave place to its elegant successor half a century ago, after having sustained the rush of waters below and of a crowd of humanity, resident and locomotive, above, for five or six centuries. As we ascend the stream into regions less harried by the inexorable invader, Progress, they grow more and more common. They enhance the difference in the character of the scenery. Chronology and landscape march together. As we are borne into the country, we are led back, pari passu, into the past. It is taking a rustic tour into the Dark Ages by steam. Not that the absurd little steamers which infest these waters—the equation of hull, cabin, paddle-box and pipe reduced to its lowest terms of a horizontal line and a vertical ditto erected on the centre—can penetrate far into the antique. Their field grows narrower year by year with the wash of the expanding city. These boats will always be the gondolas of London's Grand Canal, and all the more assuredly when the water-front shall have been transformed by the completion of the long line of quay and esplanade now in progress; but, as with their less prosaic congeners of Venice, their operations outside of the city limits will be restricted.
It is in perfect keeping that the charms of the lush and mellow landscape that unrolls itself on either hand should be those of peace. Nearly two centuries and a half have passed since it was disturbed by battle. The fact helps us to realize the unspeakable blessing England's unassailablity by land is to her. Not only are her liberty and prosperity enabled to expand and establish themselves without fear of disturbance from external forces, but they receive an impulse from the mere recognition of this fact derived from observation of the fortunes of her neighbors under the contrary condition. Her domestic politics, unlike those of the continental nations, are controlled only by domestic interests. The result is a practical and commonsense treatment of them, such as a merchant makes of his individual affairs in the seclusion of his counting house. The nation boutiquière carries "shop" into her Parliament. Could a ditch impassable to Von Moltke be drawn around poor France from Dunkirk to Nice, and kept impregnable even for a few decades, the world would witness a notable change in the steadiness of her institutions and her industry. It is not question purely of race, as we have usually been taught to consider it. Circumstance makes race, and race cannot rise wholly above circumstance. The Jutes and Saxons in their native seat are not distinguished above the other peoples of Christendom for intelligent and effective devotion to free institutions. Many continental families are more so. The Welsh and Scots, largely sharing the Celtic blood which is alleged to enfeeble the French, are in no way inferior to their English brethren in this regard. Peace at home tells, in three words, the main story of English freedom and might. Beranger, lifting up his voice from the ruins of the First Empire, sings—
J'ai vu la Paix descendre sur la terre,
Semant de l'or, des flcurs et des epis.
L'air etait calme, et du Dieu de la Guerre
Kile etoufiatt les foudres assoupis.
With him it was an aspiration for peace. From the banks of the Thames, unsmirched of blood and smoke and blooming with everything that war can destroy, his aspiration would have been to peace, pervading in divinest aura the lovely scene. A realization of this peculiar blessing is general among Englishmen. The tremendous lesson of the Conquest, eight hundred years old, is fresh with them yet. Thierry maintains that that invasion, in the existing domination of the Norman nobles in both houses of the national legislature, and in their more and more absolute monopoly of the land, still weighs upon them. Be that as it may, the nobles are at least an infinitesimally small numerical minority, compelled not only to govern under a wholesome sense of that truth, but to recruit their numbers from the subject masses cooped up with them in the island and constituting the whole of its military and industrial strength. The commonalty have endured much for the sake of the tranquillity the palpable fruits of which surround them. And they will endure more, if necessary, as is evidenced by the slow progress and frequent backsets of liberalism, and the utter contempt into which republicanism has fallen. More reforms are to come, and will be exacted if not conceded freely; but war to procure or to prevent them is the interest of neither the rulers nor the ruled. The faint whiff of villainous saltpetre that floats from the direction of Charles I.'s capital at Oxford along the skirmishlines of Rupert and Essex as far down as Turnham Green is dilute with the breath of a dozen score of English springs. Yonder old elm may have closed around the pikehead of a Puritan or a Cavalier bullet, but it has smothered the disreputable intruder in two or three hundred tough and sturdy rings. The wall over which it hangs may have been similarly scarred without equal faculty of healing by the first, or any, intention, but the hand of man has come to its relief, and difficult indeed is it now to find trace here of the mêlée when wood and water rang to the charge-shout—
For God, for the laws, for the Church, for the cause!
For Charles, king of England, and Rupert of the Rhine!
Horticultural Gardens, Chiswick
Wide and splendid gardens, filled with the botanic spoil of all the latitudes, overspread the field of forgotten combat. Societies, commoners, and peers compete along the Thames, as in other parts of the island, in this charming strife.
Garden Scene, Chiswick House
The duke of Devonshire, the owner of famous Chatsworth, possesses a country-box called Chiswick House, less noted for any association with the Cavendishes than as having witnessed the last hours of C. J. Fox and George Canning. Fox's deathbed, like his death-hour and his tomb, was very close to that of his great rival.
Drop upon Fox's grave the tear,
'Twill trickle to his rival's bier.
You may read their epitaphs without turning on your heel, although a truthful one will not be written for either until we stand in the midst of such a quarter of a century as that wound up at Waterloo. All was exceptional then —acts and motives alike. The globe's polity, like its crust, is built of sedimentary layers, filtered in calm, shot through by rare volcanic veins. When the subterranean fires shall break out again we may understand these men and their contemporaries on both sides of the Channel. Exactly who and what was wrong may come clear when everything is once more muddle. Our mental optics must be adjusted to the turbid medium in which they moved. We cannot now determine how far the country for which both labored is the better or worse for their having lived. If at all the worse, wonderful indeed would have been her present exaltation, for it is difficult to conceive a finer spectacle of national thrift and ease. Certainly, there is much misery among the poor, rural and oppidan, throughout the kingdom, reduced as it has been of late years, and the inequality in the distribution of property is greater than in any other Christian country; but nothing of this is obtrusive to the voyager on the Thames. The lower classes appear under the not particularly repulsive guise of gardeners, bargemen, drivers, park-keepers, etc. There are palaces, but none of them overshadowing save Windsor and Hampton Court. Though the towns do not always put their best foot foremost and dip it in the water, their slums rarely offend the eye. At this part of the river's course they are in great part new and bright, thanks to the growth of the great city. The rotund and genial clumps of trees that compose so much of the view shelter rich and poor alike, and the velvet sward is pressed as freely by brogan as by slipper. The wearers of both may chant as they cross it, "Merrily hent the footpath way, and merrily hent the stile-a". Water, the universal detergent, is at war with the squalid; and nowhere more thoroughly can it perform that office, with shower, dew and river always flush. It ensures to the scenery that first requirement of English taste, an air of respectability.
Chiswick churchyard accommodates, like most other churchyards, an odd jumble of sleepers.
The earl of Macartney, the modern introducer of the Flowery Land to its forgotten and forgetting acquaintance of old, Europe;
Charles II.'s duchess of Cleveland;
Mary, the daughter of Oliver Cromwell;
Cary, the translator of Dante;
Kent, the architect;
and, chief of all, Kent's tormentor, Hogarth,—are among its occupants. Hogarth's well-known epitaph, by Garrick, we may quote:
Farewell, great painter of mankind,
Who reached the noblest point of art.
Whose pictured morals charm the mind.
And through the eye correct the heart !
If genius fire thee, reader, stay;
If Nature move thee, drop a tear;
If neither touch thee, turn away,
For Hogarth's honored dust lies here.
In his latter years the father of British caricature owned a cottage near by, where he spent his summers in retouching his plates and preparing them for posterity. He still retained his Leicester Fields residence, for he could have no other real home than old London. It is curious to speculate on what might have been his position in art had he brought himself to shake the cockney dust from his feet and seek true aesthetic training in Italy. One year, or three, or five, spent at Rome or Florence would not have sufficed to replace his inborn devotion to the grotesque with something higher, not to say the upper walks of design. Wilkie, who has been styled his moonlight, cannot be said to have been improved by a similar step, the works executed after his return being inferior to his earlier efforts. Hogarth, too, might have been spoiled for the field he holds without challenge, and spent the rest of his career in cultivating one more elevated, but unsuited to his genius. It may be as well, therefore, that the hand of the gendarme was laid on his shoulder at Calais gate. The Frenchman proved an "angel unawares". He saved England an illustrator she values more highly than she would have done a manufacturer of Madonnas and Ajaxes. When the outraged Briton was whirled round on the deck of the little packet, and his nose violently pointed in the direction of the white cliffs, neither he nor his unpleasant manipulator was aware of the highly beneficial character of the proceeding to the party most concerned. Hogarth would not have admitted relationship to the Rowlandsons, Cruikshanks, Brownes and Leeches who represent satirical art in the England of the nineteenth century. He would have but distantly recognized even Gilray, who belongs as much to the end of his own [18th century] as to the beginning of our [19th] century, and whose works are of a higher stamp than those of the sketchers we have named. He claimed to be a character painter, remitting to a lower class altogether those wielders of the satiric pencil who dealt in the farce of "caricatura," as he termed it. He drew a distinction between high comedy and farce, and sometimes aspired to a position for himself in melodrama. Marriage à la Mode he claimed to belong to such a class, not without some countenance from independent critics. He is needed now to administer a little wholesome regimen to British artists. How he would have lashed the Pre-Raphaelites! Into what nightmares he would have exaggerated some of the whimsies of Turner, as truly a master as himself! Possibly the coming man has already arrived, and has caught inspiration from the appropriately square, solid, broad-bottomed monument that looks out over the fast swelling hurly-burly of new London from Chiswick burying-ground.
Barn Elms House
Barn elms on our left was the home in their respective periods of secretary Walsingham and of Cowley. That the latter did not select, in this choice of an abode, "so healthful a situation as he might have done", we are assisted in conceding by a glance at the tendency to swampiness which yet afflicts the spot. One account given of the circumstances of his demise requires no heavy draft on the aid of malaria. He missed his way on returning from a "wet night" at the house of a friend, and passed what remained of the small hours under a hedge. A timely quotation to him then would have come from his own Elegy upon Anacreon:
Thou pretendest, traitorous Wine !
To be the Muses' friend and mine:
With love and wit thou dost begin
False fires, alas! to draw us in;
Which, if our course we by them keep,
Misguide to madness or to sleep.
Sleep were well: thous't learnt a way
To death itself now to betray.
A weakness of this description, combined with his well-tried loyalty, was calculated to win him a friend in the Merry Monarch. Charles's eulogy was, that "Mr. Cowley hath not left a better man behind him in England." The judgment of Charles's subjects was, that he was the first of living English poets, Milton to the contrary notwithstanding. They placed him, accordingly, in Westminster Abbey, by the side of Chaucer and Spenser, while his rival, blind and in disgrace, with the bookseller's five pounds for the copyright of Paradise Lost in one pocket and— unhappily for his weight with the literati of the Restoration—a thousand from Cromwell in the other for pelting Monsieur Saumaise with bad Latin, was sinking into an obscure grave at St. Giles's.
Mortlake, at the western extremity of what may be dubbed University Row,
cherishes the bones of another brace of votaries of imagination.
Partridge, the astrologer and maker of almanacs, has a double claim to immortality — first, as Swift's victim in The Taller; and second, as having distinguished himself among the tribe of lying prophets by blundering into a prediction that came true — of snow in hot July.
The other was no less a personage than Dr. Dee, familiar to readers of Kenilworth. Good Queen Bess luxuriated, like potentates of more recent date, in a kitchen cabinet, and Dr. Dee was a member. In his counsels Elizabeth apparently trusted as implicitly as in those of her legitimate ministers. She often sought his retreat, as Saul did that of the Witch of Endor, for supernatural enlightenment. Unfortunately, the journals of these seances are not preserved. Dee's show-stone, a bit of obsidian, in which he pretended to mirror future events, was in Horace Walpole's collection at Strawberry Hill. How such matters were viewed in those times is evidenced by the facts that the learned Casaubon published a folio of Dee's reports of interviews with spirits; that Dee was made chancelor of St. Paul's; and that he was employed to ascertain by necromancy what day would be most auspicious for Elizabeth's coronation. Still, let us remember that Cagliostro's triumphal march across Europe dates back but a century; that Cumming's prophecies constitute a standard authority with many most excellent and intelligent persons; that Spiritualism, despite the most crushing reverses, numbers many able votaries on both sides of the Atlantic; and that futurity is a show as regularly advertised in the newspapers of one of our cities as the theatre or the ward-meeting.
Very vivid is the contrast that awaits us at the coming curve, between the unlovely town of Brentford, the "lang toun" of South, as Kirkcaldy is of North, Britain, on the right, and the horticultural marvels of Kew on the left. Brentford, however, is, as we have said is the case with other weak points of the Thames, screened from the reprobation of the navigator by the friendly trees of a large island. If you feel a personal interest in studying the field of two battles, fought, one eight hundred and sixty years ago, between the Saxons and Danes— "kites and crows", as Hume held them — and the other two hundred and forty years since, between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers, you will pull up at Brentford.
If you lack time or taste for that diversion, you will "choose the better part" and go to Kew, one of the lions of the river. In front stands the old red brick palace, the favorite country home of George III.— our George, so sadly berated by Mr. Jefferson and Dr. Wolcott, but a perfectly sincere and conscientious man, a bowshot in all good points beyond either of his namesakes. It is to his queen, worthy and unbeauteous Charlotte, that London and its guests owe the foundation of the matchless Botanic Gardens. Their glories are inventoried in the guidebooks: two hundred and forty acres of park and seventy-five of garden; acres of space and miles of walk under glass; the great palm-house, tall enough for most of the members of that giant family to erect themselves in and enjoy the largest liberty; the Chinese pagoda, one hundred and sixty-three feet high; the entire vegetable world in microcosm, ordered, trimmed and labeled with as much of business precision as though, instead of being the manufacture of Nature, they were so many bales of Manchester goods ticketed for exportation to some other planet;—a collection and display, in short, not unworthy of an empire whose drum-beat, etc.
Conspicuous on the opposite side of the Thames, midway of the linked sweetness of Kew, stands storied Sion, a seat of the dukes of Northumberland. Originally a wealthy nunnery, it was seized— and of course disestablished and held as his own— by the Eighth Harry. It served him as a prison for one of his wives, Katharine Howard, and a few years later furnished a night's rest to his own remains on their way to Windsor. His daughter, on what still flourishes of whose repute in the uncongenial soil of Protestant England Mr. Tennyson is testing the blackness of his ink, revived the nunnery. It had reverted to the Crown on the attainder of the duke of Northumberland, who had been granted it on the attainder of the Protector Somerset, to whom Edward VI. had presented it. From Sion House, Lady Jane Grey stepped to a throne and a scaffold. Its associations with the misfortunes of royalty do not end here. In it the children of Charles I. were held in custody by the Parliament, and it witnessed an interview between them and their unfortunate parent, procured by special intercession as a special favor. The Smithsons, representatives of the Percies, and fixed in the esteem of our people by the Institution at Washington, are in undisturbed and exclusive possession now— too exclusive, think some tourists, who desire to explore the house, and find difficulty in procuring the permission usually accorded at other aristocratic seats. Yet it is easy to surfeit of sight-seeing without grieving over a failure to penetrate the walls of Sion.
Sion House Boat House
A little above, Isleworth, the home of Lord Baltimore, the original grantee of Maryland, helps to sentinel Kew. The church-tower, if decapitated, would somewhat resemble that of Jamestown. Like the latter, it is of brick. The similitude is not the less apt to suggest itself that beyond it, as we ascend the river, lies Richmond.
Having thus achieved our "on-to-Richmond" movement, we are admonished that justice to our objective point and to its more interesting neighbors, Twickenham, the home of Pope and Walpole, the Great Park, and other attractions, requires another article. We have reached the head of steam-navigation, and lost the last whiff of salt water. We forget that Britain is "shrined in the sea", and begin to cultivate a continental sensation. The voice, the movement and the savor of ocean have all disappeared. If aught suggestive of it linger, we find it in the moisture that veils the bluest sky, lends such delicate gradations to the aerial perspective, adds a richer green to tree and turf, and seems to give rotundity to the contours of both animate and inanimate Nature. That this excess of vapor is comparatively unattended by chill is due, we suppose, to the great ocean stream sent over by America, with her climate of extremes, to make that of Britain one of moderation and equality.
Arrived at Richmond, a spot which divides with Hampton Court and Windsor the sovereignty of rural Thames, the correct thing is to climb Richmond hill, an eminence which secures a distinction over both the rival attractions in at least one respect - that of breadth of prospect. That so slight an elevation should do so illustrates the extreme flatness of the country.
View from Richmond Hill
The rise above the plain is not so great as that which commands a less noted but not less beautiful view at our American Richmond -
a scene which stands credited with having determined the name of the latter city.
The winding river, broken by islets, and the immense expanse of level woodland, are the leading features of both pictures.
Ours [the American Richmond] has less advantage of association. It has no Windsor and no minor palaces. The town in the foreground, though boasting a far more picturesque site, is less picturesquely built, finely as the lath-and-plaster Capitol stands out against the eastern sky. But the James, as a piece of running water, unquestionably excels the Thames. It is, in the lower and more placid part of its course, much like the Thames, while it possesses in the so-called falls which foam and sparkle in a thousand rapids and cascades among nearly as many birch- and elm-clad rocks and islets at the spectator's feet, an element wholly wanting in the other. Gazing upon the Virginian scene, Claude and Salvator would have opened their sketch-boxes and sat down to work side by side. The English would have kept the former, and sent the Neapolitan away.
Let us borrow from Thomson—"Oh, Jamie Tamson, Jamie Tamson, oh!"— who sleeps in the odd little church below,
[Thompson] whose pen is most successful in the Claude style, what we need in the way of description of a scene so often limned with both instruments:
Here let us sweep
The boundless landscape: now the raptured eye
Exulting swift to huge Augusta send,
Now to the sister hills that skirt her plain;
To lofty Harrow now, and now to where
Imperial Windsor lifts her lofty brow.
* * * *
Here let us trace the matchless vale of Thames,
Far winding up to where the Muses haunt—
To Twickenham bowers: to royal Hampton's pile:
To Claremont's terraced heights and Esher's groves.
Enchanting vale! beyond whate'er the Muse
Has of Achaia or Hesperia sung.
Another minstrel from Tweedside tried his hand upon it in The Heart of Midlothian.
He stops Jeanie and the duke, notwithstanding the life-and-death importance of their errand, to mark where
"the Thames, here turreted with villas and there garlanded with forests, moved on slowly and placidly, like the mighty monarch of the scene to whom all its other beauties were but accessories."
It is but a limited monarchy, of the mild British constitutional type, that can be attributed to a sluggish stream of a hundred yards in width, majestic as it may have appeared to the poet of "Tweed's fair river, broad and deep". In this case, stateliness and dignity attach rather to the land than to the water, if only because there is more of it. Magnitude is essential to them. Kings must not be little, as Louis XIV. taught us by his robes and padding and periwigs. It is an odd sort of sovereign, moreover, that occupies the lowest place in the presence-chamber, and is dominated by all his surroundings.
One visit will not do for the scene before us. He who desires to test its multiformity must see it again and again. The English sky has a vast variety of cloud-effect, which repeats itself in "moving accidents" as artists term them, "by flood and field". When the sky is not entirely overcast, the ever-varying catches of light and shade on so broad a surface forbid its presenting exactly the same appearance for more than a few moments together. The white buildings scattered over it assist this kaleidoscopic movement. As we gaze upon a smooth patch of unbroken shadow some miles off, it is suddenly and sharply flecked, thanks to a drift of the cloud above it, by a bright light, and another and another, till a whole town or range of villas, before unseen, brightens the distance. Onward sweeps the cloud, followed by its fellows, and these new objects fade into nothingness, while others beyond them, or it may be nearer, flash into view. The water aids this incessant change in the general and particular distribution of light and shade by its reflection. It deepens shadow and intensifies light. It is never sombre, however dull may be the visage of the land. Somewhere, edging an island or shooting out from a point, it will furnish a bit of glitter, all the more effective because of the gloomy setting that demands it and supplies its foil. Singular as is the predominance, in this view, of copse and grove, over the signs of habitation and industry belonging to the heart of so densely peopled a kingdom, art has not failed of its share in decorating the foreground. Villa and terrace cluster along the slope; for this has always been a favorite retreat of the Londoners, whether they came for a day or for a decade.
Gate Richmond Great Park
Turning from the river, we lapse again under the sovereignty of turf and leaf as we enter the gateway of the Great Park.
This must have been a second surprise to our [American] countryman, whose disappointment with the front view vented itself in the remark:
"Why, this country wants clearing!"
Richmond Great Park
Here we are within the precincts of royalty. The Park, some eight miles in circuit, belongs to the Crown; as part of it, with the old palace of Sheen, has done since Henry I., and the rest since Charles I., who purchased and enclosed it at great cost to his purse and popularity, of neither of which had he much to spare. The gay groups of holiday folks who throng the walks suggest, instead, that it is the property of the people. The phrases are becoming synonymous. The grounds attached to the royal palaces, in this as in other parts of England, are more enjoyed by the masses than by the sovereign. The queen abandons them all for her new boxes, with their scant and simple demesnes, at Balmoral and Osborne. Two centuries and more have elapsed since any of her predecessors lived at Richmond, and the chances are against its becoming the abode of her successors. It is too historical to be a home. Kings and queens, like common people, like to set up their own household gods and construct a lair for themselves. They do not like, even in the matter of a dwelling-place, to wholly sink their personality and become a mere dynastic expression. This fancy for setting up for themselves has been especially strong among the Hanoverians. George III. liked to bury himself at Kew or among his pigs and sheep on the farms into which he converted part of Windsor Park. His hopeful son established himself at Carlton House, with the occasional relaxation of the Chinese monstrosity at Brighton. The present prince of Wales has domiciled himself at several places. His favorite residence, Sandringham, is a new purchase. Should he retain his liking for it, it may rank in future story with Woodstock or Sheen.
Sheen or Shene, with a variety of other spellings, was anciently the name of Richmond.
Sheen Palace was occupied by the first three Edwards: the hero of Crecy there closed his eyes on the glory of this world in the leafy month of June,
when the England whose language under him first breathed the atmosphere of a court, and who singled him out as her favourite among the plantagenets,
was looking her loveliest. Through the window came to the dying warrior the murmur of the same river and the breadth of the same groves
we now look upon.
Far in the west the new towers of Windsor, built by him, broke, as now, the flat horizon.
The mass of leafage that matched it in the distant East may have bent above Chaucer's pilgrims on their merry return from Canterbury
with sins newly shriven and an ample stock of indulgences a cover a new supply in the future.
If the tales with which they began their penitential way to the sacred shrine were of the character given us by their poetic chronicler,
gay indeed must have been those which, pious duty discharged and conscience disburdened, cheered their homeworld ride.
Henry VII gave the palace in its present name in honour of Richmond in Yorkshire, from which he derived his title. It witnessed his closing hours, as also those of the last of his dynasty. It was down Richmond Hill that "Cousin Gary" dashed on his long gallop to Scotland to tell James VI. that the halls which had received the body of his ancestor, James IV., a slain enemy of England, brought from Flodden wrapped in lead and tossed unburied into a lumber-room, were his. In our day Cary would have simply stepped into the telegraph-office, and at the cost of a shilling placed the information in the hands of the new incumbent before the rigor mortis had seized the limbs of the old. But the nearest approach possible then to this achievement existed only in the imagination of Mr. Burbage's partner in the Globe Theatre. That very practical business-man was exercising his mind on the invention of the still popular despatch-machine called Ariel, which promised to
—drink the air before me, and return
Or e'er your pulse twice beat.
The first of the Stuarts did not greatly affect Richmond, perhaps because he did not like treading too closely in the footsteps of the murderer of his mother, and perhaps because of other associations with the place. Elizabeth herself had been a prisoner at Richmond for a short time in her sister's reign. It served a similar purpose for Charles I. in 1647. All this helps to explain the fancy of monarchs for setting up new establishments. The old ones, in the course of time, accumulate such an unpleasant stock of reminiscences. Memento moris lurk under the archways and glare out from ivy-clad casements. The Tuileries have earned the disgust of three French dynasties; and no British sovereign will ever carry a good appetite into Inigo Jones's banqueting-room at Whitehall, beautiful as it is.
A further reminder of the misfortunes of royalty is furnished by a glance across the river.
A stately mansion on the shore opposite Richmond was the retreat, during part of his exile, of the "citizen king", as Louis Philippe
delighted to style himself; and also, by another shuffle of Fortune's cards, since 1848 that of one of his sons.
He left behind him an excellent repute, as did Charles X. at Holyrood, Louis le Bien-aime at Hartwell, and the latest, not last probably,
of the migratory Louises at Chiselhurst.
It may be doubted if any of them was ever so happy as in England, allowing them their full share of the Frenchman's proverbial contempt
for a home anywhere outside of France.
The sense of repose and security could not fail to be the keenest of luxuries to the occupant of so shaky a throne.
Nowhere in the broad British asylum could that sense be more complete and refreshing than here under the sleepy trees by the sleepy river;
everything in the remotest degree suggestive of war, tumult and revolution smothered out;
the whole strength of the British empire interposed against peril from the fevered Continent, and the peace of centuries inwoven into the
ways of the people and the air of their abodes.
In the time of Louis Philippe that prophecy of the first Darwin—the father who looked to the future, and not the son who reads the past—
which harnesses steam to "the slow barge" had not come to pass.
That snail-like craft, dependent on the tow-rope and such capfuls of wind as the groves allowed to filter through, monopolized the river.
Even the very moderate commotion due to the passage of a small steamboat was wanting.
And that is again disappearing. The wrinkles it drew upon the calm and venerable face—venerable in an old age the most hale and green imaginable—
of Father Thames, are fading away, and he smiles up from his leafy couch into the face of king or commoner, Frenchman, Briton or American,
with a freshness that is a sovereign balm for inward bruises of heart and mind.
These Bourbons and Bonapartes all grew fat in England. Whatever else she may grudge the "blarsted foreigners",
she is lavish to them of adipose tissue. The fat of the land will always find its way to their ribs, as the eglantine will to the cheeks.
The ever-watchful pickets thrown by the nerves to the whole circuit of the body physical in our climate find themselves speedily driven in
on landing upon British soil. Its assembled forces no longer sleep upon their arms.
Let us trust that the enforced migrations of Gallic rulers are all over, and that the Septennate of Marshal MacMahon
may end, after the scriptural rule, in jubilee. Should it fall out otherwise, however,
the long tiers of villas that terrace the green slopes of Richmond and Twickenham are ample to accommodate generations of exiles.
Good company awaits them, too; for fashion takes the locality under its wing, and the peerage is not unrepresented
among what we should call the settlers.
The "bauld Buccleuch", head of the rieving clan Scott, still makes occasional raids across the Border upon the beef of the Sassenachs,
with the difference that he now brings knife and fork along instead of hurrying his sirloin northward on four legs at full trot.
Orleans House, we should add, was not indebted for its first introduction to royalty to Mr. William Smith, as Louis Philippe named himself on his final escape from Paris, having borrowed the idea of adopting that widely known surname possibly from Buckingham and the prince of Wales (afterward Charles I.) on their visit, also incognito, to the same city in 1623. Queen Anne, when simple princess of Denmark, and on her good behavior to secure the honor of rising to a higher title after the demise of Dutch William, made it her residence.
Duke of Buccleuch's Villa
On an ait in front, sacred now to bourgeois picnics, and named Eel-pie Island from the viand to which, in deference to their tastes, it is consecrated, the last hope of the Protestant Stuarts, [Queen Anne's] son, the little duke of Gloucester, was wont to drill his young playmates in mimic war.
But the Fates had other use for him. Hence the four Georges, Queen Victoria and—Arthur II. (?)
Years after, when Mrs. Masham's and the duchess of Marlborough's handmaiden had followed her boy, Caroline, queen of the Second George, was entertained by Mr. Secretary Johnstone, the then proprietor of Orleans House. Her visit is memorable only as having caused the addition of the semi-octagonal excrescence seen in the engraving.
Marble Hill, Twickenham
That it was not repeated may be accounted for by the circumstance that Marble Hill, the next house, was built by her loving spouse
for the countess of Suffolk. The reader will recall the deathbed scene, the request to marry again, and George's impassioned protestation,
through blinding tears,
"Non, j'aurai des maitresses !"
Capital fun those "wee wee German lairdies" have purveyed, unwittingly, for the wits of their days, from Swift down through Wilkes and Walpole to Tom Moore. The Hanoverian line may thus be said to form the vertebral column of a century of squibs, or rather the wooden pole around which they twine (not very lovingly) and shoot. It was a queer family. Its little peculiarity, notorious through its whole career on English soil down to our day, of being perpetually at war with itself, was alone ample material for satire. Lord Granville, one of its ministers, said,
"It always has quarreled, and always will quarrel, from generation to generation."
The princes of Wales have always been in opposition. Prior to George III., who was prompted to a neat touch in his first address to his Parliament in declaring himself "entirely English", and even in that furnishing new food for lampoons, the weaning of it from Germany, in speech, habits or residence, was not much more than a pretence. The difficulty of extracting the king from the delights of his Hanoverian hermitage, once there, was a perpetual worry to Lords and Commons. The vernacular of his subjects was as foreign as Sanskrit to the First George, and nearly as much so to the Second. The former communicated with his prime minister, Walpole, in Latin—royal Latin, a shade better than dog Latin, and not so good as law Latin. Carteret had the advantage of his chief. As Macaulay says, he
"dismayed his colleagues by the volubility with which he addressed His Majesty in German. They listened with envy and terror to the mysterious gutturals, which might possibly convey suggestions very little in unison with their wishes."
Horace Walpole, whose castle of cards, as fantastic and almost as unsubstantial as his Castle of Otranto, lies about a mile above Twickenham, has sent down to us many gossipy items in reference to Richmond and its neighborhood. His father enjoyed, among his long list of other profitable and pleasant sinecures, the rangership of the Great park. The office was nominally held by his son, but the statesman made it his resort on Saturdays and Sundays. His relaxation from business consisted, he said, in doing more business than he could in town on those days. He and George found time however, to do a good deal of shooting over the 2,300 acres which compose the enclosure, and after that to dine tête-à-tête. Her grace of Suffolk, fearful of the effect of post prandial punch on the royal head, and consequent disclosure to the astute minister of more than he might otherwise know, placed some German spies around the board to check the elector's potations. The plan failed, the indignant monarch putting them to flight with a tremendous volley of the most sulphurous oaths and epithets the High Dutch vocabulary can boast. Blucher might have envied his accomplishments in that line.
Let us traverse the range of these old sportsmen to the south-eastern end of the park. The descendants of the bucks whose haunches furnished the chief dish at their — in several senses — rude feasts troop across our woodland path or gaze at us from their beds of fern. Little cottagers, quite as shy, or little Londoners at play, quite the reverse, help to people the glades. What should we more naturally hit upon, under the greenwood tree in these depths of merry England, than Robin Hood Gate?
It points us, in a short walk, to Robin Hood Farm on the edge of Wimbledon Common.
There is nothing here of the bold forester but the name; and that we find in other parts of England, for he represented the popular
and antiprivilege party in the dim days ere party or constitutional government was invented.
Some stretch of the fancy may bring him back in the flesh on match-days, when the modern successor of his trusty yew
is displaying its powers in the hands, perchance, of keen-eyed and stalwart yeomen from over-sea forests undreamed of by him.
"Teams" take the place of the bands of merry Sherwood, and the distance marked off for their aim is fifty score instead of six score,
the ultimatum of the long bow. This he would, after a bit of the conservative hesitation of the Englishman, admire;
and he would mourn that he and Friar Tuck had lived too soon. Less adjustment of his perceptions and sympathies would suffice
to place him quite at home among the modern throng upon the ground. Allowing for the change of dress, absurd enough,
from the lithe jerkin and hood to the stiff hat and tight coat, he would detect, in the voices that spoke from and the forms imprisoned in the new garb,
the rugged Saxons of old, deep of speech, deep also of thew and bone, rough and blunt in play and talk.
He might wonder whence came the thousands that dotted the breezy swells of the common, and the long lines of equipages,
each more elegant than the most sumptuous litter of Coeur de Lion's court; but he would trace some triumph of his politics
in the nearer fraternizing of Giles on foot and Fitz on wheels or horseback, implied in friendly rivalry at the butts of peer and commoner.
The queen's son-in-law, a Redshank from the savage fastnesses of Argyll, figuring among the contestants,
with lesser lights of his class around him, would seem a realization of his dreams.
The common, too, is yielding to the march of progress. Long beleaguered by rank on rank of villas, they are gathering it to themselves. As we write gangs of navvies are leveling the embankment of "Caesar's Camp" on its southern edge, a circular entrenchment of six hundred feet in diameter, the two opposite entrances, perfect till to-day, traversed by a farm-lane, through which Hodge, Buck and Bright, three well-matched cronies, lumber along in the track of the legions. The new Rome is not to be gainsaid. Her irresistible march sweeps away her own pagani—pace Hodge, who is unquestionably orthodox, and thinks with Mr. Gladstone, if he ever thinks at all, the Anglican Church "worth preserving" if only to provide him a Sunday's snooze below the curate as he
Heers un a-bummin' awaay loike a buzzard-clock ower his yead.
Wimbledon House offers its park, beautiful exceedingly, for an eastward stroll toward London if we wish to go back. But such is not our present plan. Standing on Charles I.'s "musk-milion ground, trenched, manured and very well ordered for the growth of musk-milions "— wherein, all undreaming of his fate, a few days before he was brought to trial by Bradshawe & Co., he gave directions for the planting of some choice Spanish seed—we listen, unseduced, to the siren strains of the South-western steam-whistle, that shrills across lake and grove from the station below, and turn back by a more southerly route than that which brought us hither. How smoothly and unconsciously the miles roll off under our feet in this cool air and on these cool pathways! An American, all unused to walk on the English scale, forgets himself, and is surprised to see how distance disappears. This time we cross the park toward Ham, passing the knoll where Henry is said to have waited impatiently to hear the gun that announced his summary divorce from Anne Boleyn, and to have sprung instantly into the saddle to announce his happiness to her destined successor.
The bend of the river which we now cross may be called Poet's Corner.
Thomson's resting-place at Richmond we have mentioned.
Edmund Kean, the powerful interpreter of poets, if not one himself, sleeps by his side; the thunders of the pit, whereof he had his full share,
This nook was the haunt also of Collins, who composed at Richmond some of his best productions. Unless on the principle of Christopher North, who, if called on to describe the loveliest of landscapes, would, he said, have carried his writing-desk into the deepest cellar of the Canongate, it is not very apparent how this slumberous river-side could have supplied inspiration for a stirring "Ode to the Passions".
Pope's Villa 1744
Over Twickenham hovers a mightier shade than these.
"Close by those meads for ever crowned with flowers",
and quite as close to the river, once stood Pope's house.
Lady Howe's Villa, Miscalled Pope's 1842
[Pope's Villa] was destroyed by Lady Howe, purchaser of the place, early in this [19th] century. This fair Erostratus comes in for a vast amount of inverted benediction from pilgrims to the shrine of the author of the Rape of the Lock; and the poet himself, could he have looked into futurity, would probably, after the example of Shakespeare, have bequeathed some maledictions to the desecrator. But it stands to reason that she had a perfect right to build a house on her own property to suit herself. What, else, were the use of being a true-born Briton, with her house for a castle, and a right, of course, to model it as she thought best for defence or any other purpose? She did not greatly improve the style of the structure, it is true, but that also was her own concern. She has the undisputed merit, moreover, of preserving the famous grotto in tolerable condition.
Pope's account of this structure, fashionable in his day, will be as much as the reader wants of it:
"From the river Thames you see through my arch up a walk of the wilderness to a kind of open temple, wholly composed of shells in the rustic manner, and from that distance under the temple, passing suddenly and vanishing, as through a perspective glass. When you shut the door of this grotto it becomes in the instant, from a luminous room, a camera obscura, on the walls of which all the objects of the river, hills, woods and boats are forming a moving picture in their visible radiations," etc.
The rheumatics seize us as we think upon it. Was it not damp enough above ground for the shivering little atomy, that he must needs have a subaqueous burrow, like a water-rat, and invite his guests to
Where Thames' translucent wave
Shines, a broad mirror, through the shady cave,
Where lingering drops from mineral roofs distill,
And pointed crystals break the sparkling rill?
Pliny's description of his villa seems to us more excellent fooling than this.
And yet it was true taste once in the eyes of a writer a leading trait of whose verse, in selection of words and imagery, is exquisite taste.
He had the aid, too, in his decorations, of the glass of fashion to the kingdom, the prince of Wales, who presented him with sundry urns and vases.
The most interesting fact connected with this seat, aside from the fame of its creator and of the friends who visited it —Swift, Bolingbroke, Gay, Arbuthnot, etc.—is that, like Abbotsford, it was built by the pen. Abbotsford, the child of mediaeval romances, was erected, naturally enough, in the Gothic style. Pope's villa, the fruit of his profits in "traducing" Homer, bears, or bore, as fitly the Periclean imprint. The blind old bard, weakened as he was in Pope's heroics, was yet, "all his original brightness not yet lost", strong enough to build for him a better house than is likely ever to have sheltered his own hoary head. Pope coined him into broad British sovereigns, and among Anglo-Saxon readers, as a mass, he is current under Pope's mint - mark to this day. When we quote the Iliad, we usually quote Pope. A host of other translations since, some of them superior in accuracy both of language and spirit, have failed to supplant his. Only a poet can translate a poet, and in such a translator we pardon liberties that would be scouted in others. He is sure to give us something fine, if not precisely what was bargained for. The others irritate us by the very exactness which he could afford to neglect, and which is their only merit. Pope's Homer, washed and dressed up to the requirements of our civilization, has outlived the blunt semi - savage chalked in hard outline for us by his competitors.
From Richmond Hill we take in at one view the lairs of the greatest English poet of the eighteenth century and the chief of the nineteenth. Bluish-gray in the north—blue it would be in our atmosphere—rise the towers of Harrow-on-the-Hill. As we have now reached the upper level of the Thames, the first weir and lock occurring at Teddington, a short distance above where we stand,
we may as well branch off through the rural part of Middlesex and follow the valley of the Brent, by Hanwell, with its neat church,
to Harrow, lounge in the playground of Byron, Peel and some other notable boys, and regain our original starting-point by the great North-western Railway, the world's wonder among iron roads, with its two thousand locomotives, its forty thousand wagons and coaches, and its revenue larger than that of the British empire a hundred years ago. Master John Lyon, when in 1592 he endowed the school, showed admirable judgment in his selection of a site. It occupies the highest ground in Middlesex. From its belfry we look down upon the "huge dun canopy" of St. Paul's in the east, and imagine, through the mist, fog or smoke that usually forms a secondary canopy to the city beneath it, London. Over wood and hill, to the south-west, the view stretches to Windsor; the battlements of intellectual confronting those of feudal and monarchical power— siegeworks raised against the stronghold of despotism at long range, and working through a long leaguer, but triumphant at last.
The church dates, in part at least, from long before the school. They show you, in the base of the tower and the columns between the nave and the aisles, masonry attributed to Lanfranc in the time of the Conqueror. Near by, on the summit of the hill, you find a curious achievement of Nature a good deal older still in an unfailing well from which Saxon swineherds may have drunk when the Falaise tanner's daughter was in maiden meditation fancy free. It was a fair Castaly for Childe Harold, yet supplemental to those among "the highest hills that rise above the source of Dee." To them he himself traces the Muse's half-fledged flutterings that ripened into so broad a flight:
The infant rapture still survived the boy,
And Loch-na-Gair with Ida looked o'er Troy.
He was then a child of but eight years. But for the lucky snatch of an attendant, he would, on one of his boyish scrambles above the Linn of Dee, have tumbled into the torrent and left Tennyson unchallenged. Three more decades were allotted to the line of the Byrons. The glory of eight hundred years was to be crowded into that closing span.
Harrow School Chapel
The place, with a slight reservation in behalf of his school- and form-fellow Peel, belongs to Byron. He is the second founder of the ancient seminary. More than that—as he would, we fear, were he alive, be amused to learn—he has, after a fashion, reconsecrated the church. The charm about that edifice lies no longer in crypt and column coeval with the Conquest, nor even in the edifying ministrations of the duly presented rector, but in a rusty old tombstone over some forgotten dead which the poet so much affected as a seat that his playmates dubbed it Byron's tomb.
From it Windsor Castle is in full view, and constituted, conceivably, the core of his boyish meditations. It is still open as a resting-place to any sympathetic tourists who choose this mode of absorbing the afflatus. It does not appear, however, that any verse much superior to the Hours of Idleness has ever resulted from the process. We, at least, are content to stop with—
Oft when oppressed with sad, foreboding gloom,
I sat reclined upon our favorite tomb;
and, neither sitting nor reclining, much less both at once, we wind up our dawdling with catching a fly and utilizing its wings
to reach the station in time to catch the next train from Mugby—alias Rugby — Junction, another educational centre of note,
known to more as a railroad-crossing than as a school, since everybody travels and everybody reads Dickens,
while the readers of Arnold and Tom Brown are comparatively a select few.
Ere we are well settled in our seat we are whizzing past Hampstead Heath, with its beautiful spread of down, grove, cottage and villa, and "slowing" into the—in its way—equally sublime station-building at Euston Square. Here, if our sight-seeing enthusiasm be proof to the chaos of cabs and cabmen, porters, unprotected females and male travelers, and passers who plunge forward with that singleness of purpose and devotion to Number One characteristic of the bold Briton in a crowd and elsewhere, we may protect our flanks with arms akimbo, and, undisturbed by the wreck of luggage and the crash of cabs, look up at the statue of honest George Stephenson, the apostle of the rail and Watt of the locomotive. It is as much above the general run of railroad statuary as the facade of the building is above that of railroad architecture. He was a sculpturesque old fellow, with a career "of the same". The tubular boiler is a better study for the chisel than the detached condenser or the spinning-jenny; or Peel senior's parsley-pattern, which made the fortune of that house, sent Robert to Harrow and secured the overthrow of the Corn laws. Had we been consulted as to the design, we should have proposed for a bas-relief on each side of the pedestal the smashed cow and the floored M. P., distinguished in George's chief recorded joke —that of the classic "coo". Not that it was his only joke, by any means, for he came fully up to the Yorkshire standard in point of "wut", and was generally able to give more formidable antagonists than the average run of British legislators at least as good as he got. Here we are, back in the heart of the metropolis, only a mile and a half from Waterloo Bridge. We have time left us today to hunt up some other seeable things. To begin, let us employ the next half minute in getting out of London. How? Do we move east, west, north, south, or in the air?
Neither. We step into the middle of the street and dive.
Our first sensation in moving toward Orcus is, naturally enough, a sulphurous smell.
Our next is a very comfortable railroadcar; and our third, a few seconds behind the heels of its predecessor, a rapid movement, attended by the Hades-like music of shriek, rattle and groan familiar to all who have passed through a tunnel. We are traveling on another marvelous railway, eighteen miles underground, but really endless, since it forms an elliptical circuit around the central part of the metropolis. It bears the appropriate name of the Metropolitan Railway; cost four millions of dollars per mile or eighty an inch; carried forty-four millions of passengers in 1874, and twenty-four millions in the first six months of 1875; runs one hundred and ninety-five trains of its own and eight hundred and fortynine for the different open-air roads which lead to all parts of the kingdom, each "swinging round the circle" in fifty-five minutes, and stopping at some or all of twenty-two stations; and offers the statistically-inclined inquirer many other equally stunning figures. Such is the parent of rapid transit in London. Young as it is, it has a large family already, multiplying, as we write, to such an extent that arithmetic fails us. Its progeny wander down to Greenwich, pop through the Thames Tunnel, and meander among and under the great docks in the most bewildering way. But our destination is in the opposite quarter. We push westward, under the middle of the Marylebone road, its ponderous traffic rolling over our heads. Skirting Tyburnia, with its unpleasant memories of Jack Sheppard and other unfortunate heroes of his kidney, we emerge from our subterranean whirl at Kensington Gardens, the western amplification of Hyde Park.
The old structure, resembling a boarding-school or a hospital, and which would improve the beautifully planted park by its absence, began its history as a palace under William III., the genial and self sacrificing Hollander so dear to Whig historians. It has probably finished its career in that capacity under Victoria, who was born there, and who has remitted it, like Hampton Court and the old Palais Royal of Paris, to a class of occupants it will be hard to rummage out unless the rookery is set fire to. It is afternoon, and a Guards' band is playing across the avenue to the left. The crowd is drifting toward them.
Let us push a little farther west, past the not particularly interesting village church of Kensington, and follow in the footsteps of most of the literary and political celebrities of the nineteenth century to the most picturesque and (in strictly modern history) most noted of the old countryhouses that London has swallowed up. This is Holland House, the home of Addison, the two Foxes, and, more freshly familiar to our day than either, the last Lord Holland and his wife. If the lady kept her lions in order by much the same "heroic" method of discipline adopted by keepers of a menagerie, abruptly silencing Macaulay when his long fits of talk, and snubbing Rogers when his short fits of cynicism, began to bore, her quiet and amiable spouse was always prompt to apply balm to their wounds. He was the chief of British Maecenases. The series of ana begotten of his symposia—of the list of guests at which, invited or uninvited, he used to say he was never advised until after they had met—would make a fair library. south, south-east and north-west; while the Chatham and Dover distributes itself over most of the region south-east of London, closing its circuit by a line along the coast of the Channel that completes a triangle. We can go almost anywhere by any road. It is necessary, however, in this as in other mundane proceedings, to make a selection. We must have a will before we find a way. Let our way, then, be to Waterloo Station on the Southwestern rail.
The hour, as we turn eastward, speaks of evening. The summer sun, in a latitude five degrees north of Quebec and a day of eighteen hours, contradicts it. We may pass in from what only the other day was the country toward what is but technically the City, and is reverting in sparseness of population to the country character and find, on the way, the life of London streets as stirring as, and more gay than, at high noon. The heavier and slower features of it have died out. Drays, wagons and 'buses leave the road clearer. We see farther and see more. No longer blockaded to a block, the whole length of the street opens before us. Daylight brightens into gaslight, and we realize that for to-day we are no longer out of town.
Today our movement shall be up the Thames by rail, starting on the south side of the river to reach an objective point on the North bank. So crooked is the stream, and so much more crooked all the different systems of railways, with their competing branches crossing each other and making the most audacious inroads on each other's territory, that the direction in which we are travelling at any given moment, or the station from which we start, is a very poor index to the quarter for which we are bound. The railways, to say nothing of the river, that wanders at its own sweet will, as water commonly does in a country offering it no obstructions, or quite defiant of their geographical names. The Great Western runs North, West and southeast; the south western strikes South, southeast and northwest; while the Chatham and Dover distributes itself over most of the region southeast of London, closing its circuit by a line along the coast of the channel that completes the triangle. We can go almost anywhere by any road. It is necessary, however, in this as in other mundane proceedings, to make a selection. We must have a will before we find a way. Let our way, then, be to Waterloo station on the south western rail.
Half an hour's run lands us at Hampton Court, with a number of fellow-passengers to keep us company if we want them, and in fact whether we want them or not. Those who travel into or out of a city of four millions must lay their account with being ever in a crowd. Our consolation is, that in the city the crowd is so constant and so wholly strange to us as to defeat its effect, and create the feeling of solitude we have so often been told of; while outside of it, at the parks and show-places, the amplitude of space, density and variety of plantations, and multiplicity of carefully designed turns, nooks and retreats, are such that retirement of a more genuine character is within easy reach. The crowd, we know, is about us, but it does not elbow us, and we need hardly see it. The current of humanity, springing from one or a dozen trains or steamboats, dribbles away, soon after leaving its parent source, into a multitude of little divergent channels, like irrigating water, and covers the surface without interference.
It would be a curious statistical inquiry how many visitors Hampton Court has lost since the Cartoons were removed in 1865 to the South Kensington Museum. Actually, of course, the whole number has increased, is increasing, and is not going to be diminished. The query is, How many more there would be now were those eminent bits of pasteboard— slit up for the guidance of piece-work at a Flemish loom, tossed after the weavers had done with them into a lumber-room, then after a century's neglect disinterred by the taste of Rubens and Charles I., brought to England, their poor frayed and faded fragments glued together and made the chief decoration of a royal palace— still in the place assigned them by the munificence and judgment of Charles? For our part—and we may speak for most Americans — when we heard, thought or read of Hampton Court, we thought of the Cartoons. Engravings of them were plenty—much more so than of the palace itself. Numbers of domestic connoisseurs know Raphael principally as the painter of the Cartoons. A few who have not heard of them have heard of Wolsey. The pursy old cardinal furnishes the surviving one of the two main props of Hampton's glory. An oddly-assorted pair, indeed—the delicate Italian painter, without a thought outside of his art, and the bluff English placeman avid of nothing but honors and wealth. And the association of either of them with the spot is comparatively so slight. Wolsey held the ground for a few years, only by lease, built a mere fraction of the present edifice, and disappeared from the scene within half a generation. What it boasts, or boasted, of the other belongs to the least noted of his works— half a dozen sketches meant for stuff-patterns, and never intended to be preserved as pictures. Pictures they are, nevertheless, and all the more valuable and surprising as manifesting such easy command of hand and faculty, such a matter-of-course employment of the utmost resources of art on a production designed to have no continuing existence except as finished, rendered and given to the world by a "base mechanical", with no sense of art at all.
Royalty, and the great generally, availed themselves of their opportunities to select the finest locations and stake out the best claims along these shores. Of elevation there is small choice, a level surface prevailing. What there is has been generally availed of for park or palace, with manifest advantage to the landscape. The curves of the river are similarly utilized. Kew and Hampton occupy peninsulas so formed. The latter, with Bushy Park, an appendage, fills a water-washed triangle of some two miles on each side. The southern angle is opposite Thames Ditton, a noted resort for brethren of the angle, with an ancient inn as popular, though not as stylish and costly, as the Star and Garter at Richmond.
The town and palace of Hampton lie about halfway up the western side of the demesne. The view up and down the river from Hampton Bridge is one of the crack spectacles of the neighborhood. Satisfied with it, we pass through the principal street, with the Green in view to our left and Bushy Park beyond it, to the main entrance.
Hampton Court West Front
This is part of the original palace as built by the cardinal. It leads into the first court. This, with the second or Middle Quadrangle, may all be ascribed to him, with some changes made by Henry VIII. and Christopher Wren. The colonnade of coupled Ionic pillars which runs across it on the south or right-hand side as you enter was designed by Wren. It is out of keeping with its Gothic surroundings. Standing beneath it, you see on the opposite side of the square Wolsey's Hall.
Hampton Court Wolsey Hall Entrance
It looks like a church. The towers on either side of the gateway between the courts bear some relics of the old faith in the shape of terra-cotta medallions, portraits of the Roman emperors. These decorations were a present to the cardinal from Leo X. The oriel windows by their side bear contributions in a different taste from Henry VIII. They are the escutcheons of that monarch. The two Popes, English and Italian, are well met. Our engravings give a good idea of the style of these parts of the edifice.
Hampton Court Middle Quadrangle
The first or outer square is somewhat larger than the middle one, which is a hundred and thirty three feet across from north to south, and ninety-one in the opposite direction, or in a line with the longest side of the whole palace.
Hampton Court Archway
A stairway beneath the arch leads to the great hall, one hundred and six feet by forty. This having been well furbished recently, its aspect is probably little inferior in splendor to that which it wore in its first days. The open-timber roof, gay banners, stained windows and groups of armor bring mediasval magnificence very freshly before us. The ciphers and arms of Henry and his wife, Jane Seymour, are emblazoned on one of the windows, indicating the date of 1536 or 1537.
Below them were graciously left Wolsey's imprint—his arms, with a cardinal's hat on each side, and the inscription,
"The Lord Thomas Wolsey, Cardinal legat de Latere, archbishop of Yorke and chancellor of Englande."
The tapestry of the hall illustrates sundry passages in the life of Abraham. A Flemish pupil of Raphael is credited with their execution or design. This hall witnessed, certainly in the reign of George I., and according to tradition in that of Elizabeth, the mimic reproduction of the great drama with which it is associated. It is even said that Shakespeare took part here in his own play, King Henry VIII., or the Fall of Wolsey. In 1558 the hall was resplendent with one thousand lamps, Philip and Mary holding their Christmas feast. The princess Elizabeth was a guest. The next morning she was compliant or politic enough to hear matins in the queen's closet.
The Withdrawing Room opens from the hall. It is remarkable for its carved and illuminated ceiling of oak. Over the chimney is a portrait of Wolsey in profile on wood, not the least interesting of a long list of pictures which are a leading attraction of the place. These are assembled, with few exceptions, in the third quadrangle, built in 1690. Into this we next pass. It takes the place of three of the five original courts, said to have been fully equal to the two which remain. The modern or Eastern Quadrangle is a hundred and ten by a hundred and seventeen feet. It is encircled by a colonnade like that in the middle square, and has nothing remarkable, architecturally, about it. In the public rooms that surround us there are, according to the catalogue, over a thousand pictures. Leonardo da Vinci, Paul Veronese, Titian, Giulio Romano, Murillo and a host of lesser names of the Italian and Spanish schools, with still more of the Flemish, are represented. To most visitors, who may see elsewhere finer works by these masters, the chief attraction of the walls is the series of original portraits by Holbein, Vandyck, Lely and Kneller. The two full-lengths of Charles I. by Vandyck, on foot and on horseback, both widely known by engravings, are the gems of this department, as a Vandyck will always be of any group of portraits. Days may be profitably and delightfully spent in studying this fine collection. The first men and women of England for three centuries handed down to us by the first artists she could command form a spectacle in which Americans can take a sort of home interest. Nearly all date before 1776, and we have a rightful share in them. Each head and each picture is a study. We have art and history together. Familiar as we may be with the events with which the persons represented are associated, it is impossible to gaze upon their lineaments, set in the accessories of their day by the ablest hands guided by eyes that saw below the surface, and not feel that we have new readings of British annals. Among the most ancient heads is a medallion of Henry VII. by Torregiano, the peppery and gifted Florentine who executed the marvelous chapel in Westminster Abbey and broke the nose of Michael Angelo. English art—or rather art in England may be said to date from him. He could not create a school of artists in the island - the material did not exist - but the few productions he left her stood out so sharply from anything around them that the possessors of the wealth that was then beginning to accumulate employed it in drawing from the Continent additional treasures from the newly-found world of beauty. The riches of England have grown apace, and her collectors have used them liberally, if not always wisely, until her galleries, in time, have come to be sought by the connoisseurs, and even the artists, of the Continent. The last picture-gallery we traverse is the only one at Hampton Court specially built for its purpose; and it is empty. This is the room erected by Sir Christopher Wren for the reception of the Cartoons. It leads us to the corridor that opens on the garden-front. We leave behind us, in addition to the state apartments, a great many others which are peopled by other inhabitants than the big spiders, said to be found nowhere else, known as cardinals.
The old palace is not kept wholly for show, but is made useful in the political economy of the kingdom by furnishing a retreat to impecunious members of the oligarchy. Certain families of distressed aristocrats are harbored here— clearly a more wholesome arrangement than letting them take their chance in the world and bring discredit on their class.
Portico Leading To Gardens
Emerging on the great gardens, forty four acres in extent, we find ourselves on broad walks laid out with mathematical regularity, and edged by noble masses of yew, holly, horse-chestnut, etc. almost as rectangular and circular.
Hampton Court Garden Front
We are here struck with the great advantage derived in landscape gardening from the rich variety of large evergreens possible in the climate of Britain. The holly, unknown as an outdoor plant in this country north of Philadelphia, is at home in the north of Scotland, eighteen degrees nearer the pole. We are more fortunate with the Conifers, many of the finest of which family are perfectly hardy here. But we miss the deodar cedar, the redwood and Washingtonia of California, and the cedar of Lebanon. These, unless perhaps the last, cannot be depended on much north of the latitude of the Magnolia grandiflora. They thrive all over England, with others almost as beautiful, and as delicate north of the Delaware. Of the laurel tribe, also hardy in England, our Northern States have but a few weakly representatives. So with the Rhododendra.
Gate to Private Garden
When, tired of even so charming a scene of arboreal luxury, we knock at the Flower-Pot gate to the left of the palace, and are admitted into the private garden, we make the acquaintance of another stately stranger we have had the honor at home of meeting only under glass. This is the great vine, ninety years or a hundred old, of the Black Hamburg variety. It does not cover as much space as the Carolina Scuppernong—-the native variety that so surprised and delighted Raleigh's Roanoke Island settlers in 1585—often does. But its bunches, sometimes two or three thousand in number, are much larger than the Scuppernong's little clumps of two or three. They weigh something like a pound each, and are thought worthy of being reserved for Victoria's dessert. Her own family vine has burgeoned so broadly that three thousand pounds of grapes would not be a particularly large dish for a Christmas dinner for the united Guelphs. We must not forget the Labyrinth, "a mighty maze, but not without a plan," that has bewildered generations of young and old children since the time of its creator, William of Orange. It is a feature of the Dutch style of landscape gardening imprinted by him upon the Hampton grounds. He failed to impress a like stamp upon that chaos of queer, shapeless and contradictory means to beneficent ends, the British constitution.
Hampton Court, notwithstanding the naming of the third quadrangle the Fountain Court, and the prominence given to a fountain in the design of the principal grounds, is not rich in waterworks.
Hampton Court Viewed from River
Nature has done a good deal for it in that way, the Thames embracing it on two sides and the lowness of the flat site placing water within easy reach everywhere. This superabundance of the element did not content the magnificent Wolsey. He was a man of great ideas, and to secure a head for his jets he sought an elevated spring at Combe Wood, more than two miles distant. To bring this supply he laid altogether not less than eight miles of leaden pipe weighing twenty-four pounds to the foot, and passing under the bed of the Thames. Reduced to our currency of to-day, these conduits must have cost nearly half a million of dollars. They do their work yet, the gnawing tooth of old Edax rerum not having penetrated far below the surface of the earth. Better hydraulic results would now be attained at a considerably reduced cost by a steam-engine and stand-pipe. At the beginning of the sixteenth century this motor was not even in embryo, unless we accept the story of Blasco de Garay's steamer that manoeuvred under the eye of Charles V. as fruitlessly as Fitch's and Fulton's before Napoleon. Coal, its dusky pabulum, was also practically a stranger on the upper Thames. The ancient fire-dogs that were wont to bear blazing billets hold their places in the older part of the palace.
Crossing the Kingston road, which runs across the peninsula and skirts the northern boundary of Hampton Park, we get into its continuation, Bushy Park. This is larger than the chief enclosure, but less pretentious. We cease to be oppressed by the palace and its excess of the artificial. The great avenues of horse-chestnut, five in number, and running parallel with a length of rather more than a mile and an aggregate breadth of nearly two hundred yards, are formal enough in design, but the mass of foliage gives them the effect of a wood. They lead nowhere in particular, and are flanked by glades and copses in which the genuinely rural prevails. Cottages gleam through the trees. The lowing of kine, the tinkling of the sheep-bell, the gabble of poultry, lead you away from thoughts of prince and city. Deer domesticated here since long before the introduction of the turkey or the guinea-hen bear themselves with as quiet ease and freedom from fear as though they were the lords of the manor and held the blackletter title-deeds for the delicious stretch of sward over which they troop. Less stately, but scarce more shy, indigenes are the hares, lineal descendants of those which gave sport to Oliver Cromwell. When that grim Puritan succeeded to the lordship of the saintly cardinal, he was fain, when the Dutch, Scotch and Irish indulged him with a brief chance to doff his buff coat, to take relaxation in coursing. We loiter by the margin of the ponds he dug in the hare-warren, and which were presented as nuisances by the grand jury in 1662. The complaint was that by turning the water of the "New River" into them the said Oliver had made the road from Hampton Wick boggy and unsafe. Another misdemeanor of the deceased was at the same time and in like manner denounced. This was the stopping up of the pathway through the warren. The palings were abated, and the path is open to all nineteenth-century comers, as it probably will be to those of the twentieth, this being a land of precedent, averse to change. We may stride triumphantly across the location of the Cromwellian barricades, and not the less so, perhaps, for certain other barricades which he helped to erect in the path of privilege.
Directing our steps to the left, or westward, we again reach the river at the town of Hampton.
It is possessed of pretty water-views, but of little else of note except the memory and the house of Garrick.
Hither the great actor, after positively his last night on the stage, retired, and settled the long contest for his favor between the Muses of Tragedy
and Comedy by inexorably turning his back on both. He did not cease to be the delight of polished society, thanks to his geniality
and to literary and conversational powers capable of making him the intimate of Johnson and Reynolds. More fortunate in his temperament and
temper than his modern successor, Macready, he never fretted that his profession made him a vagabond by Act of Parliament,
or that his adoption of it in place of the law had prevented his becoming, by virtue of the same formal and supreme stamp,
the equal of the Sampson Brasses plentiful in his day as in ours among their betters of that honorable vocation.
His self-respect was of tougher if not sounder grain.
"Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow",
was the motto supplied him by his friend and neighbor, Pope, but obeyed long before he saw it in the poetic form. Garrick's house is separated from its bit of "grounds", which run down to the water's edge, by the highway. It communicates with them by a tunnel, suggested by Johnson. It was not a very novel suggestion, but the excavation deserves notice as probably the one engineering achievement of old Ursus major. We may fancy the Titan of the pen and the tea-table, in his snuffy habit as he lived and as photographed by Boswell, Mrs. Thrale, Fanny Burney, and their epitomizer Macaulay, diving under the turnpike and emerging among the osiers and water-rats to offer his orisons at the shrine of Shakespeare. For, in the fashion of the day, Garrick erected a little brick "temple," and placed therein a statue of the man it was the study of his life to interpret. The temple is there yet. The statue, a fine one by Roubillac, now adorns the hall of the British Museum, a much better place for it. Garrick, and not Shakespeare, is the genius loci.
This is but one, if the most striking, of a long row of villas that overlook the river, each with its comfortable-looking and rotund trees and trim plot in front, with sometimes a summer-house snuggling down to the ripples. These riverside colonies, thrown out so rapidly by the metropolis, have no colonial look. We cannot associate the idea of a new settlement with rich turf, graveled walks and large trees devoid of the gaunt and forlorn look suggestive of their fellows' having been hewn away from their side. The houses have some of the pertness, rawness and obtrusiveness of youth, but it is not the youth of the backwoods.
Bob and sinker are in their glory hereabouts. Fishing-rods in the season and good weather form an established part of the scenery.
From the banks of the stream, from the islands and from boxlike boats called punts in the middle of the water, their slender arches project.
It becomes a source of speculation how the breed of fish is kept up. Seth Green has never operated on the Thames.
Were he to take it under his wing, a sum in the single rule of three points to the conclusion that all London would take its seat under these willows
and extract ample sustenance from the invisible herds. If perch and dace can hold their own against the existing pressure and escape extinction,
how would they multiply with the fostering aid of the spawning-box!
We are not deep in the mysteries of the angle, but we believe English waters do not boast the catfish.
They ought to acquire him. He is almost as hard to extirpate as the perch, would be quite at home in these sluggish pools under the lily-pads,
and would harmonize admirably with the eel in the pies and other gross preparations which delight the British palate.
He hath, moreover, a John Bull-like air in his broad and burly shape, his smooth and unscaly superficies and the noli-metangere
character of his dorsal fin. Pity he was unknown to Izaak Walton!
At this particular point the piscatory effect is intensified by the dam just above Hampton Bridge. Two parts of a river are especially fine for fishing. One is the part above the dam, and the other the part below. These two divisions may be said, indeed, in a large sense to cover all the Thames. Moulsey Lock, while favorable to fish and fishermen, is unfavorable to dry land. Yet there is said to be no malaria.
Hampton Court has proved a wholesome residence to every occupant save its founder.
The angler's capital is Thames Ditton, and his capitol the Swan Inn. Ditton is, like many other pretty English villages, little and old. It is mentioned in Domesday Book as belonging to the bishop of Bayeux in Normandy, famous for the historic piece of tapestry. Wadard, a gentleman with a Saxon name, held it of him, probably for the quit - rent of an annual eel-pie, although the consideration is not stated.
The clergy were, by reason of their frequent meagre days and seasons, great consumers of fish. The phosphorescent character of that diet may have contributed, if we accept certain modern theories of animal chemistry as connected in some as yet unexplained way with psychology, to the intellectual predominance of that class of the population in the Middle Ages. That occasional fasting, whether voluntary and systematic as in the cloisters, or involuntary and altogether the reverse of systematic in Grub street, helps to clear the wits, with or without the aid of phosphorus, is a fixed fact. The stomach is apt to be a stumbling - block to the brain. We are not prone to associate prolonged and productive mental effort with a fair round belly with fat capon lined. It was not the jolly clerics we read of in song, but the lean ascetic brethren who were numerous enough to balance them, that garnered for us the treasures of ancient literature and kept the mind of Christendom alive, if only in a state of suspended animation. It was something that they prevented the mace of chivalry from utterly braining humankind.
The Thames is hereabouts joined from the south by a somewhat exceptional style of river, characterized by Milton as
"the sullen Mole, that runneth underneath",
and by Pope, in dutiful imitation, as
"the sullen Mole that hides his diving flood".
Both poets play on the word. In our judgment, Milton's line is the better, since moles do not dive and have no flood—two false figures in one line from the precise and finical Pope! Thomson contributes the epithet of "silent", which will do well enough as far as it goes, though devoid even of the average force of Jamie. But, as we have intimated, it is a queer river. Pouring into the Thames by several mouths that deviate over quite a delta, its channel two or three miles above is destitute in dry seasons of water. Its current disappears under an elevation called White Hill, and does not come again to light for almost two miles, resembling therein several streams in the United States, notably Lost River in North-eastern Virginia, which has a subterranean course of the same character and about the same length, but has not yet found its Milton or Pope, far superior as it is to its English cousin in natural beauty. For this defect art and association amply atone. On the southern side of the Mole, not far from the underground portion of its course— "the Swallow" as it is called—stand
the charming and storied seats of Esher and Claremont.
Esher was an ancient residence of the bishops of Winchester. Wolsey made it for a time his retreat after being ousted from Hampton Court. A retreat it was to him in every sense. He dismissed his servants and all state, and cultivated the deepest despondency. His inexorable master, however, looked down on him, from his ravished towers hard by, unmoved, and, as the sequel in a few years proved, unsatisfied in his greed.
Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, was called upon for a contribution. He loyally surrendered to the king the whole estate of Esher, a splendid mansion with all appurtenances and a park a mile in diameter. Henry annexed Esher to Hampton Court, and continued his research for new subjects of spoliation. His daughter Mary gave Esher back to the see of Winchester. Elizabeth bought it and bestowed it on Lord Howard of Effingham, who well earned it by his services against the Armada. Of the families who subsequently owned the place, the Pelhams are the most noted. Now it has passed from their hands. That which has alone been preserved of the palace of Wolsey is an embattled gatehouse that looks into the sluggish Mole, and joins it mayhap in musing over "the days that we have seen".
Claremont, its next neighbor, unites, with equal or greater charms of landscape, in preaching the old story of the decadence of the great. Lord Clive, the Indian conqueror and speculator, built the house from the designs of Capability Browne at a cost of over a hundred thousand pounds. His dwelling and his monument remain to represent Clive. After him, two or three occupants removed, came Leopold of Belgium, with his bride, the Princess Charlotte, pet and hope of the British nation. Their stay was more transient still—a year only, when death dissipated their dream and cleared the way to the throne for Victoria. Leopold continued to hold the property, and it became a generation later the asylum of Louis Philippe. To an ordinary mind the miseries of any one condemned to make this lovely spot his home are not apt to present themselves as the acme of despair. A sensation of relief and lulling repose would be more reasonably expected, especially after so stormy a career as that of Louis. The change from restless and capricious Paris to dewy shades and luxurious halls in the heart of changeless and impregnable England ought, on common principles, to have promoted the content and prolonged the life of the old king. Possibly it did, but if so, the French had not many months' escape from a second Orleans regency, for the exile's experience of Claremont was brief. We may wander over his lawns, and reshape to ourselves his reveries. Then we may forget the man who lost an empire as we look up at the cenotaph of him who conquered one. Both brought grist to Miller Bull, the fortunate and practical minded owner of such vast waterprivileges. His water-power seems proof against all floods, while the corn of all nations must come to his door. Standing under these drooping elms, by this lazy stream, we hear none of the clatter of the great mill, and we cease to dream of affixing a period to its noiseless and effective work.
If we are not tired of parks for today, five minutes by rail will carry us west to Oatlands Park, with its appended, and more or less dependent, village of Walton-upon-Thames. But a surfeit even of English country-houses and their pleasances is a possible thing; and nowhere are they more abundant than within an hour's walk of our present locality. So, taking Ashley Park, Burwood Park, Pains Hill and many others, as well as the Coway Stakes— said by one school of antiquarians to have been planted in the Thames by Caesar, and by another to be the relics of a fish-weir — Walton Church and Bradshaw's house, for granted,
we shall turn to the east and finish the purlieus of Hampton with a glance at the old Saxon town of Kingston - on - Thames. Probably an ardent Kingstonian would indignantly disown the impression our three words are apt to give of the place. It is a rapidly - growing town, and "Egbert, the first king of all England," who held a council at "Kyningestun, famosa ilia locus," in 838, would be at a loss to find his way through its streets could he revisit it. It has the population of a Saxon county. Viewed from the massive bridge, with the church-tower rising above an expanse of sightly buildings, it possesses the least possible resemblance to the cluster of wattled huts that may be presumed to have sheltered Egbert and his peers.
A more solid memento of the Saxons is preserved in the King's Stone. This has been of late years set up in the centre of the town, surrounded with an iron railing, and made visible to all comers, skeptical or otherwise. Tradition credits it with having been that upon which the kings of Wessex were crowned, as those of Scotland down to Longshanks, and after him the English, where on the red sandstone palladium of Scone. From the list of ante Norman monarchs said to have received the sceptre up on it the poetically inclined visitor will select for chief interest Edwy, whose coronation was celebrated in great state in his seventeenth year. How he fell in love with and married secretly his cousin Elgiva; how Saint Dunstan and his equally saintly though not regularly beatified ally, Odo, archbishop of Canterbury, indignant at a step taken against their fulminations and protests, and jealous of the fair queen, tore her from his arms, burnt with hot iron the bloom out of her cheeks, and finally put her to death with the most cruel tortures; and how her brokenhearted boy-lord, dethroned and hunted, died before reaching twenty,—is a standing dish of the pathetic. Unfortunately, the story, handed down to us with much detail, appears to be true. We must not accept it, however, as an average illustration of life in that age of England. The five hundred years before the Conquest do not equal, in the bloody character of their annals, the like period succeeding it. Barbarous enough the Anglo-Saxons were, but wanton cruelty does not seem to have been one of their traits. To produce it some access of religious fury was usually requisite. It was on the churchdoors that the skins of their Danish invaders were nailed. Kingston has no more Dunstans. Alexandra would be perfectly safe in its market-place. The rosy maidens who pervade its streets need not envy her cheeks, and the saints and archbishops who are to officiate at her husband's induction as head of the Anglican Church have their anxieties at present directed to wholly different quarters. They have foes within and foes without, but none in the palace.
Kingston bids fair to revert, after a sort, to the metropolitan position it boasted once, but has lost for nine centuries.
The capital is coming to it, and will cover the four remaining miles within a decade or two at the existing rate of progress.
Kingston may be assigned to the suburbs already. It is much nearer London, in point of time, than Union Square in New York to the City Hall.
A slip of country not yet endowed with trottoirs and gaslamps intervenes. Call this park, as you do the square miles of such territory
already deep within the metropolis.
London's jurisdiction, as marked by the Boundary Stone, extends much farther up the river than we have as yet gone.
Nor are the swans her only vicegerents. The myrmidons of Inspector Bucket, foot and horse, supplement those natatory representatives.
So do the municipalities encroach upon and overspread the country, as it is eminently proper they should, seeing that to the charters so long ago exacted,
and so long and so jealously guarded, by the towns, so much of the liberty enjoyed by English-speaking peoples is due.
Large cities may be under some circumstances, according to an often-quoted saying, plague-spots on the body politic,
but their growth has generally been commensurate with that of knowledge and order, and indicative of anything but a diseased condition
of the national organism.
But here we are, under the shadow of the departed Nine Elms and of the official palace of the Odos, deep enough in Lunnon to satisfy the proudest Cockney, in less time than we have taken in getting off that last commonplace on political economy. Adam Smith and Jefferson never undertook to meditate at thirty-five miles an hour.
LET our demonstration to-day be on the monarchical citadel of England, the core and nucleus of her kingly associations, her architectural eikon basilike, Windsor.
To reach the famous castle it will not do to lounge along the river. We must cut loose from the suburbs of the suburbs, and launch into a more extended flight. Our destination is nearly an hour distant by rail; and though it does not take us altogether out of sight of the city, it leads us among real farms and genuine villages, tilled and inhabited as they have been since the Plantagenets, instead of market-gardens and villas. We go to Paddington and try the Great Western, the parent of the broad gauges with no very numerous family, Erie being one of its unfortunate children. That six-foot infant is not up to the horizontal stature of its seven-foot progenitor, but has still sixteen inches too many to fare well in the contest with its little, active, and above all numerous, foes of the four-feet-eight-and-a-half-inch "persuasion". The English and the American giants can sympathize with each other. Both have drained the bitter cup that is tendered by a strong majority to a weak minority. Neither the American nor the British constitution, with their whole admirable array of checks and balances, has shielded them from this evil. In the battle of the gauges both have gone to the wall, and will stay there until they can muster strength enough to reel over into the ranks of their enemies. This relative debility is, at the same time, more apparent to the stockholders than to their customers. The superstructure and "plant" of the Erie has lately stood interested inspection from abroad with great credit, and that of the Great Western is unexceptionable. The vote of travelers may be safely allotted to the broad gauge. They have more elbow room. The carriages attain the requisite width without unpleasantly, not to say dangerously, overhanging the centre of gravity; and, other things equal, the movement is steadier. Nor is the financial aspect of the question apt to impress gloomily the tourist as he enters the Paddington station and looks around at its blaze of polychrome and richness of decoration generally. As the coach doors are slammed upon you, the guard steps into his "van", the vast drivers, taller than your head plus the regulation stovepipe, slowly begin their whirl, and you roll majestically forth through a long file of liveried servants of the company, drawn up or in action on the platform, the sensation of patronizing a poverty stricken corporation is by no means likely to harass you. You cease to realize that the Napoleon of engineers, Monsieur Brunei, made a disastrous mistake in the design of this splendid highway, and that, as some will have it, it was his Moscow. His error, if one there was, existed only in the selection of the width of track. Whatever the demerits of the design in that one particular, the execution is in all above praise. The road was his pet. Once finished, it was his delight, as with the breeder of a fine horse, to mount it and try its mettle. Over and again would he occupy the footboard between London and Bristol, and rejoice as a strong man in running his race at close to seventy miles an hour. He and Stephenson were capital types of the Gaul and Briton, striving side by side on the same field, as it will be good for the world that they should ever do.
Combats of another character—in fact, of two other characters—recur to our reflections as we find that we have shuffled off the coil of bricks and mortar and are rattling across Wormwood Scrubs. More fortunate than some who have been there before us, we have no call to alight. Calls to this ancient field of glory, whether symbolized by the gentlemanly pistol or the plebeian fist, have ceased to be in vogue. Dueling and boxing are both frowned down effectually, one by public opinion and the other by the police. It is only of late years that they finally succumbed to those twin discouragers; but it seems altogether improbable that the ordeal by combat in either shape will again come to the surface in a land where tilting-spear and quarter-staff were of old so rife. In France chivalry still asserts, in a feeble way, the privilege of winking and holding out its iron, and refuses to be comforted with a suit for damages. Southall, a station or two beyond, suggests sport of a less lethal character, being an ancient meeting-place for the queen's stag-hounds. John Leach may have collected here some of his studies of Cockney equestrianism. The sportsmen so dear to his pencil furnished him wealth of opportunities on their annual concourse at the cart's tail. The unloading of the animal, his gathering himself up for a leisurely canter across country, the various styles and degrees of horsemanship among his lumbering followers, and the business-like replacing of the quarry in his vehicle, to be hauled away for another day's sport, served as the most complete travesty imaginable of the chase. It has the compensation of placing a number of worthy men in the saddle at least once in the year and compelling them to do some rough riding. The English have always made it their boast that they are more at home on horseback than any other European nation, and they claim to have derived much military advantage from it. Lever's novels would lose many of their best situations but for this national accomplishment and the astounding development it reaches in his hands.
To the left lies the fine park of Osterley, once the seat of the greatest of London's merchant princes, Sir Thomas Gresham.
An improvement proposed by Queen Bess, on a visit to Gresham in 1578, does not speak highly for her taste in design.
She remarked that in her opinion the court in front of the house would look better split up by a wall. Her host dutifully acceded to the idea,
and surprised Her Majesty next morning by pointing out the wall which he had erected during the night, sending to London for masons
and material for the purpose. The conceit was a more ponderous one than that of Raleigh's cloak —bricks and mortar versus velvet.
A greater than Gresham succeeded, after the death of his widow, to the occupancy of Osterley—Chief-justice Coke. His compliment to Elizabeth on the occasion of a similar visit to the same house took the more available and acceptable shape of ten or twelve hundred pounds sterling in jewelry. She had more than a woman's weakness for finery, and Coke operated upon it very successfully. His gems outlasted Gresham's wall, which has long since disappeared with the court it disfigured. In place of both stands a goodly Ionic portico, through which one may pass to a staircase that bears a representation by Rubens of the apotheosis of Mr. Motley's hero, William the Silent. The gallery offers a collection of other old pictures.
Should we, however, take time for even a short stop in this vicinity, it would probably be for the credit of saying that we walked over Hounslow Heath intact in purse and person. The gentlemen of the road live only in the classic pages of Ainsworth, Reynolds and, if we may include Sam Weller in such worshipful company, that bard of "the bold Turpin". Another class of highwaymen had long before them been also attracted by the fine manoeuvring facilities of the heath, beginning with the army of the Caesars and ending with that of James II. Jonathan Wild and his merry men were saints to Kirke and his lambs.
Hurrying on, we skirt one of Pope's outlying manors, in his time the seat of his friend Bathurst and the haunt of Addison, Prior, Congreve and Gay, and leave southward, toward the Thames, Horton, the cradle of Milton. A marble in its ivy-grown church is inscribed to the memory of his mother, ob. 1637. At Horton were composed, or inspired, Lycidas, L' Allegro, II Penseroso, Comus and others of his nominally minor but really sweetest and most enjoyable poems. In this retirement the Muse paid him her earliest visits, before he had thrown himself away on politics or Canaanitish mythology. Peeping in upon his handsome young face in its golden setting of blonde curls,
Through the sweetbrier or the vine,
Or the twisted eglantine.
she wooed him to better work than reporting the debates of the archangels or calling the roll of Tophet.
Had he confined himself to this tenderer field, the world would have been the gainer.
He might not have "made the word Miltonic mean sublime," but we can spare a little of the sublime to get some more of the beautiful.
To reach Milton, however, we have run off of the track badly. His Eden is no station on the Great Western.
We shall balance this southward divergence with a corresponding one to the north from Slough, the last station ere reaching Windsor. We may give a go-by for the moment to the halls of kings, do homage to him who treated them similarly, and point, in preference, to where,
in many a mouldering heap,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
They show Gray's tomb at Stoke Pogis church, and his house, West End Cottage, half a mile distant. The ingredients of his Elegy—actually the greatest, but in his judgment among the least, of his few works—exist all around. "The rugged elm", "the ivy-mantled tower", and "the yew tree's shade", the most specific among the simple "properties" of his little spectacle, are common to so many places that there are several competitors for the honor of having furnished them. The cocks, ploughmen, herds and owls cannot, of course, at this late day be identified. Gray could not have done it himself. He drew from general memory, in his closet, and not bit by bit on his thumb-nail from chance-met objects as he went along. Had his conception and rendering of the theme been due to the direct impression upon his mind of its several aspects and constituents, he would have more thoroughly appreciated his work. He could not understand its popularity, any more than Campbell could that of Ye Mariners of England, which he pronounced "d—d drum-and-trumpet verses." Gray used to say, "with a good deal of acrimony" that the Elegy "owed its popularity entirely to the subject, and the public would have received it as well had it been written entirely in prose". Had it been written in prose or in the inventory style of poetry, it would have been forgotten long ago, like so much else of that kind.
Not far hence is Beaconsfield, which gave a home to Burke and a title to the wife of Disraeli, the nearest approach to a peerage that the haughty Israelite, soured by a life of struggle against peers and their prejudices, would deign to accept. We know it will be objected to this remark that Disraeli is, and has been for most of his career, associated with Toryism. But that was part of his game. A man of culture, thought and fastidious taste, he would, had he been of the sangre azul, have been the steadiest and sincerest of Conservatives. Privilege would have been his gospel. As it is, it has only been his weapon, to use in fighting for himself. "The time will come when you shall listen to me," were his words when he was first coughed down. The time has come. The most cynical of premiers, he governs England, and he scorns to take a place among those who ruled her before him.
Extending our divergence farther west toward
"Cliefden's proud alcove, the bower of wanton Shrewsbury and love", we find ourselves in a luxuriant rolling country, rural and slumberous. Cookham parish, which we should traverse, claims quite loudly American kinship on the strength of its including an estate once the property of Henry Washington, who is alleged, without sufficient ground, to have been a relative of the general.
But we are within the purlieus of Windsor. The round tower has been looking down upon us these many miles, and we cannot but yield to its magnetism. Eton, on the north bank, opposite Windsor, and really a continuous town with that which nestles close to the castle walls, is on our way from Slough. The red-brick buildings of the school, forming a fine foil to the lighter-colored and more elegantly designed chapel, are on our left, the principal front looking over a garden toward the river and Windsor Home Park beyond. We become aware of a populace of boys, the file-closers of England's nineteenth century worthies, and her coming veterans of the twentieth. We may contemplatively view them in that light, but it has little place in their reflections. Their ruddy faces and somewhat cumbrous forms belong to the animal period of life that links together boyhood, colthood and calfhood. Education of the physique, consisting chiefly in the indulgence and employment of it in the mere demonstration of its superabundant vitality, is a large part of the curriculum at English schools. The playground and the studyroom form no unequal alliance. Rigid as, in some respects, the discipline proper of the school may be, it does not compare with the severity of that maintained by the older boys over the younger ones. The code of the lesser, and almost independent, republic of the dormitory and the green is as clear in its terms as that of the unlimited monarchy of the schoolroom, and more potent in shaping the character. The lads train themselves for the battle of the world, with some help from the masters. It is a sound system on the whole, if based, to appearance, rather too much on the principle of the weaker to the wall. The tendency of the weaker inevitably is to the wall; and if he is to contend against it effectively, it will be by finding out his weakness and being made to feel it at the earliest possible moment.
Not on land only, but on the river, whereinto it so gradually blends, does lush young England dissipate. Cricket and football order into violent action both pairs of extremities, while the upper pair and the organs of the thorax labor profitably at the oar. The Thames, in its three bends from Senly [sic - actually Surley] Hall, the Benny Havens of Eton, down to Datchet Mead, where Falstaff overflowed the buck-basket, belongs to the boys. In this space it is split into an archipelago of aits. In and out of the gleaming paths and avenues of silvery water that wind between them glide the little boats. The young Britons take to the element like young ducks. Many a "tall ammiral" has commenced his "march over the mountain wave" among these water-lilies and hedges of osier.
Shall we leave the boys at play, and, renewing our youth, go ourselves to school? Entering the great gate of the western of the two quadrangles, we are welcomed by a bronze statue of the founder of the institution, Henry VI. He endowed it in 1440. The first organization comprised "a provost, four clerks, ten priests, six choristers, twenty-five poor grammar-scholars, and twenty-five poor infirm men to pray for the king." The prayers of these invalids were sorely needed by the unhappy scion of Lancaster, but did him little good in a temporal sense. The provost is always rector of the parish. Laymen are non-eligible. Thus it happens that the list does not include two names which would have illuminated it more than those of any of the incumbents—Boyle the philosopher, "father of chemistry and brother of the earl of Cork," and Waller the poet. The modern establishment consists of a provost, vice-provost, six fellows, a master, under-master, assistants, seventy foundation scholars, seven lay clerks and ten choristers, with a cortege of "inferior officers and servants" — a tolerably full staff. The pay-students, as they would be termed in this country, numbering usually five to six hundred, do not live in the college precincts, but at boarding houses in the town, whence their designation of oppidans, the seventy gownsmen only having dormitories in the college. The roll of the alumni contains such names as the first earl of Chatham, Harley, earl of Oxford, Bolingbroke, Fox, Gray, Canning, Wellington and Hallam. That is enough to say for Eton. The beauties of the chapel, the treasures of the library and the other shows of the place become trivial by the side of the record.
Over the "fifteen-arch" bridge, which has but three or four arches, we pass to the town of Windsor, which crouches, on the river-side, close up to the embattled walls of the castle—so closely that the very irregular pile of buildings included in the latter cannot at first glance be well distinguished from the town. High over all swells the round tower to a height above the water of two hundred and twenty feet— no excessive altitude, if we deduct the eminence on which it stands, yet enough, in this level country, to give it a prospect of a score or two of miles in all directions. The Conqueror fell in love with the situation at first sight, and gave a stolen monastery in exchange for it. The home so won has provided a shelter—at times very imperfect, indeed —to British sovereigns for eight centuries. From the modest erection of William it has been steadily growing—with the growth of the empire, we were near saying, but its chief enlargements occurred before the empire entered upon the expansion of the past three centuries.
It is more closely associated with Edward III. than with any other of the ancient line. He was born at Windsor, and almost entirely rebuilt it, William of Wykeham being superintending architect, with "a fee of one shilling a day whilst at Windsor, and two shillings when he went elsewhere on the duties of his office", three shillings a week being the pay of his clerk. It becomes at once obvious that the margin for "rings" was but slender in those days. The labor question gave not the least trouble. The law of supply and demand was not consulted. "Three hundred and sixty workmen were impressed, to be employed on the building at the king's wages; some of whom having clandestinely left Windsor and engaged in other employments to greater advantage, writs were issued prohibiting all persons from employing them on pain of forfeiting all their goods and chattels." In presence of so simple and effective a definition of the rights of the workingman, strikes sink into nothingness.
And Magna Charta had been signed a hundred and fifty years before!
That document, however, in honor of which the free and enlightened Briton
of to-day is wont to elevate his hat and his voice, was only in the name and on behalf of the barons.
The English people derived under it neither name, place nor right. English liberty is only incidental, a foundling of untraced parentage, a filius nullius.
True, its growth was indirectly fostered by aught that checked the power of the monarch, and the nobles builded more wisely than they knew
or intended when they brought Lackland to book, or to parchment, at Runnymede, not far down the river and close to the edge of the royal park.
The memorable plain is still a meadow, kept ever green and inviolate of the plough.
A pleasant row it is for the Eton youngsters to this spot.
On Magna Charta island, opposite, they may take their rest and their lunch, and refresh their minds as well with the memories of the place. The task of reform is by no means complete. There is room and call for further concessions in favor of the masses. These embryo statesmen have work blocked out for them in the future, and this is a good place for them to adjust to it the focus of their bright young optics.
The monarchical idea is certainly predominant in our present surroundings. The Thames flows from the castle and the school under two handsome erections named the Victoria and Albert bridges; and when, turning our back upon Staines, just below Runnymede, with its boundary-stone marking the limit of the jurisdiction of plebeian London's fierce democracy, and inscribed "God preserve the City of London, 1280," we strike west into the Great Park, we soon come plump on George III. a great deal larger than life. The "best farmer that e'er brushed dew from lawn " is clad in antique costume with toga and buskins. Bestriding a stout horse, without stirrups and with no bridle to speak of, the old gentleman looks calmly into the distance while his steed is in the act of stepping over a perpendicular precipice. This preposterous effort of the glyptic art has the one merit of serving as a fingerboard. The old king points us to his palace, three miles off, at the end of the famous Long Walk. He did not himself care to live at the castle, but liked to make his home at an obscure lodge in the park, the same from which, on his first attack of insanity, he set out in charge of two of his household on that melancholy ride to the retreat of Kew, more convenient in those days for medical attendance from London, and to which he returned a few months later restored for the time. Shortly after his recovery he undertook to throw up one of the windows of the lodge, but found it nailed down. He asked the cause, and was told, with inconsiderate bluntness, that it had been done during his illness to prevent his doing himself an injury. The perfect calmness and silence with which he received this explanation was a sufficient evidence of his recovery. Bidding the old man a final farewell, we accept the direction of his brazen hand and take up the line of march, wherein all traveling America has preceded us, to the point wherefrom we glanced off so suddenly in obedience to the summons of Magna Charta. On either hand, as we thread the Long Walk, open glades that serve as so many emerald-paved courts to the monarchs of the grove, some of them older than the whole Norman dynasty, with Saxon summers recorded in their hearts. One of them, thirty-eight feet round, is called after the Conqueror. Among these we shall not find the most noted of Windsor trees. It was in the Home Park, on the farther or northern side of the castle, that the fairies were used to perform their
dance of custom round about the oak
Of Herne the hunter.
Whether the genuine oak was cut down at the close of the last century, or was preserved, carefully fenced in and labeled, in an utterly leafless and shattered state, to our generation, is a moot point. Certain it is that the most ardent Shakespearean must abandon the hope of securing for a bookmark to his Merry Wives of Windsor one of the leaves that rustled, while "Windsor bell struck twelve", over the head of fat Jack. He has the satisfaction, however, of looking up at the identical bell-tower of the sixteenth century, and may make tryst with his imagination to await its midnight chime. Then he may cross the graceful iron bridge—modern enough, unhappily —to Datchet, and ascertain by actual experiment whether the temperature of the Thames has changed since the dumping into it of Falstaff, "hissing hot".
Back at the castle, we must "do" it, after the set fashion. Reminders meet us at the threshold that it is in form a real place of defence, contemplative of wars and rumors of wars, and not a mere dwelling by any means in original design. A roadway, crooked and raked by frowning embrasures, leads up from the peaceful town to the particularly inhospitable-looking twin towers of Henry VIII.'s gateway, in their turn commanded by the round tower on the right, in full panoply of artificial scarp and ditch. Sentinels in the scarlet livery that has flamed on so many battlefields of all the islands and continents assist in proving that things did not always go so easy with majesty as they do now. But two centuries and more have elapsed since there happened any justification for this frown of stone, steel and feathers; Rupert's futile demonstration on it in 1642 having been Windsor's last taste of war, its sternest office after that having been the safe-keeping of Charles I., who here spent his "sorrowful and last Christmas". Once inside the gate, visions of peace recur. The eye first falls on the most beautiful of all the assembled structures, St. George's Chapel. It, with the royal tomb - house, the deanery and Winchester tower, occupies the left or north side of the lower or western ward. In the rear of the chapel of St. George are quartered in cozy cloisters the canons of the college of that ilk — not great guns in any sense, but old ecclesiastical artillery spiked after a more or less noisy youth and laid up in varnished black for the rest of their days. Watch and ward over these modern equipments is kept by Julius Caesar's tower, as one of the most ancient erections is of course called. Still farther to our left as we enter are the quarters of sundry other antiquated warriors, the Military Knights of Windsor. These are a few favored veterans, mostly decayed officers of the army and navy, who owe this shelter to royal favor and an endowment. The Ivy tower, west of the entrance, is followed in eastward succession by those of the gateway, Salisbury, Garter and Bell towers. The fine exterior of St. George's is more than matched by the carving and blazonry of the interior. The groined roof bears the devices of half a dozen early kings, beginning with Edward the Confessor. Along the choir stretch the stalls of the sovereign and knights-companions of the order of the Garter, each hung with banner, mantle, sword and helmet. Better than these is the hammered steel tomb of Edward IV., by Quentin Matsys, the Flemish blacksmith. In the vaults beneath rest the victim of Edward, Henry VI., Henry VIII., Jane Seymour and Charles I.
The account of the appearance of Charles' remains when his tomb was examined in 1813 by
Sir Henry Halford, accompanied by several of the royal family, is worth quoting.
"The complexion of the face was dark and discolored. The forehead and temples had lost little or nothing of their muscular substance. The cartilage of the nose was gone; but the left eye, in the moment of first exposure, was open and full, though it vanished almost immediately, and the pointed beard so characteristic of the reign of King Charles was perfect. The shape of the face was a long oval; many of the teeth remained; and the left ear, in consequence of the interposition of some unctuous matter between it and the cere-cloth, was found entire. The hair was thick at the back part of the head, and in appearance nearly black. A portion of it, which has since been cleaned and dried, is of a beautiful dark-brown color. That of the beard was a reddish-brown. On the back part of the head it was not more than an inch in length, and had probably been cut so short for the convenience of the executioner, or perhaps by the piety of friends after death in order to furnish memorials of the unhappy king. On holding up the head to determine the place of separation from the body, the muscles of the neck had evidently contracted themselves considerably, and the fourth cervical vertebra was found to be cut through its substance transversely, leaving the face of the divided portions perfectly smooth and even—an appearance which could have been produced only by a heavy blow inflicted with a very sharp instrument, and which furnished the last proof wanting to identify Charles I."
A highly-edifying spectacle this must have been to the prince regent and his brother Cumberland. The certainties of the past and the possibilities of the future were calculated to be highly suggestive. A French sovereign had but a few years before shared the fate of Charles, and a cloud of other kings were drifting about Europe with no very flattering prospect of coming soon to anchor. Napoleon was showing his banded foes a good double front in Germany and Spain. His dethronement and the restoration of the Bourbons were not as yet contemplated. The Spanish succession was whittled down to a girl—that is, by Salic law, to nothing at all. The Hanoverian was in a similar condition, or worse, none of the old sons of the crazy old king having any legitimate children. The prince regent himself was highly unpopular with the mass of his people; and the classes that formed his principal support were more so, by reason of the arrogance and exactions of the landed interest, the high price of grain and other heavy financial burdens consequent on the war, the arbitrary prosecutions and imprisonment of leaders of the people, and the irregularities of his private life. But these sinister omens proved illusory. Leigh Hunt, Wraxall and the rest made but ineffectual martyrs; the Bourbons straggled back into France and Spain, with such results as we see; George IV. weathered, by no merit of his own, a fresh series of storms at home; the clouds that lowered upon his house were made glorious summer by the advent of a fat little lady in 1819 —the fat old lady of 1875; and we step from the tomb of Charles in St. George's Chapel to that where George and William slumber undisturbed in the tomb - house, elaborately decorated by Wolsey. Wolsey's fixtures were sold by the thrifty patriots of Cromwell's Parliament, and bought in by the republican governor of the castle as "old brass". George was able, too, to add another story[sic] to the stature of the round tower or keep that marks the middle ward of the castle and looks down, on the rare occasion of a sufficiently clear atmosphere, on prosperous and no longer disloyal London. This same keep has quite a list of royal prisoners; John of France and David II. and James I. of Scotland enjoyed a prolonged view of its interior; so did the young earl of Surrey, a brother-poet, a century removed, of James.
Leaving behind us the atmosphere of shackles and dungeons, we emerge, through the upper ward and the additions of Queen Bess, upon the ample terrace, where nothing bounds us but the horizon. Together, the north, east and south terraces measure some two thousand feet. The first looks upon Eton, the lesser park of some five hundred acres which fills a bend of the Thames and the country beyond for many miles. The eastern platform, lying between the queen's private apartments and an exquisite private garden, is not always free to visitors. The south terrace presents to the eye the Great Park of thirty-eight hundred acres, extending six miles, with a width of from half a mile to two miles. The equestrian statue at the end of the Long Walk is a conspicuous object. The prevailing mass of rolling woods is broken by scattered buildings, glades and avenues, which take from it monotony and give it life. Near the south end is an artificial pond called Virginia Water, edged with causeless arches and ruins that never were anything but ruins, Chinese temples and idle toys of various other kinds, terrestrial and aquatic. The ancient trees, beeches and elms, of enormous size, and often projected individually, are worth studying near or from a distance. The elevation is not so great as to bring out low-lying objects much removed. We see the summits of hills, each having its name, as St. Leonard's, Cooper's, Highstanding, etc., and glimpses of the river and of some country - seats. St. Anne's Hill was the home of Fox; at St. Leonard's dwelt the father of his rival and rival of his father, and at Binfield, Pope, of whom it is so hard to conceive as having ever been young, "lisped in numbers, for the numbers came", natural descriptions, ethical reflections, vers de societé and all, for around him here there was food for them all. To descend from Pope in point of both time and romance, the view includes the scenes of Prince Albert's agricultural experiments. Quite successful many of them were. He was a thoroughly practical man—a circumstance which carried him by several routes across ploughed fields and through well - built streets, straight to the hearts of the English people. His memory is more warmly cherished, and impressed upon the stranger by more monuments, than that of any other of the German strain. It might have been less so had he succeeded in the efforts he is now known to have made soon after his marriage to attain a higher nominal rank. He possessed, through the alliance of Leopold and Stockmar and the devotion of Victoria, kingly power without the name and the responsibility, and with that he became content. He used it cautiously and well when he employed it at all. His position was a trying one, but he steered well through its difficulties, and died as generally trusted as he was at first universally watched. The love-match of 1840 was every way a success.
Another figure, more rugged and less majestic, but not less respectable, will be associated with Victoria in the memories, if not the history proper, of her reign. This is John Brown, the canny and impassive Scot, content, like the Rohans, to be neither prince nor king, and, prouder than they, satisfied honestly to discharge the office of a flunkey without the very smallest trace of the flunkey's spirit. He too has lived down envy and all uncharitableness. Contemptuous and serene amid the hauntings of the mob and the squibs of the newspapers, he carries, as he has done for years, her majesty's shawl and capacious India-rubbers, attends her tramps through the Highlands and the Home Park, engineers her special trains and looks after her personal comfort even to the extent of ordering her to wear "mair claes" in a Scotch mist. The queen has embalmed him in her books, and he will rank among the heroes of royal authors as his namesake and countryman the Cameronian, by favor of very similar moral qualities, does with those of more democratic proclivities.
We cannot apply literally to the view from Windsor Thackeray's lines on "the castle towers of Bareacres":
I stood upon the donjon keep and viewed the country o'er;
I saw the lands of Bareacres for fifty miles or more.
We scan what was once embraced in Windsor Forest, where the Norman laid his broad palm on a space a hundred and twenty miles round, and, like the lion in the fable of the hunting-party, informed his subjects that that was his share. The domain dwindled, as did other royal appurtenances. Yet in 1807 the circuit was as much as seventy-seven miles. In 1789 it embraced sixty thousand acres. The process of contraction has since been accelerated, and but little remains outside of the Great and Little Parks. Several villages of little note stand upon it. Of these Wokingham has the distinction of an ancient hostelry yclept the Rose; and the celebrity of the Rose is a beautiful daughter of the landlord of a century and a half ago. This lady missed her proper fame by the blunder of a merry party of poets who one evening encircled the mahogany of her papa. It was as "fast" a festivity as such names as Gay and Swift could make it. Their combined efforts resulted in the burlesque of Molly Mog. These two and some others contributed each a verse in honor of the fair waiter. But they mistook her name, and the crown fell upon the less charming brow of her sister, whose cognomen was depraved from Mary into Molly.
Wiclif's Oak is pointed out as a corner of the old forest, a long way east of the park. Under its still spreading branches that forerunner of Luther is said to have preached. Messrs. Moody and Sankey should have sought inspiration under its shade.
In the vast assemblage of the arboreal commonwealth that carpets the landscape the centuries are represented one with another. It is a leafy parliament that has never been dissolved or prorogued. One hoary member is coeval with the Confessor. Another sheltered William Rufus, tired from the chase. Under another gathered recruits bound with Coeur de Lion for the Holy Land. Against the bole of this was set up a practicing butt for the clothyard shafts that won Agincourt, and beneath that bivouacked the pickets of Cromwell. As we look down upon their topmost leaves there floats, high above our own level, "darkly painted on the crimson sky", a member, not so old, of another commonwealth quite as ancient that has flourished among their branches from time immemorial. There flaps the solitary heron to the evening tryst of his tribe. Where is the hawk? Will he not rise from some fair wrist among the gay troop we see cantering across yonder glade? Only the addition of that little gray speck circling into the blue is needed to round off our illusion. But it comes not. In place of it comes a spirt of steam from the railway viaduct, and the whistle of an engine. Froissart is five hundred years dead again, and we turn to Bradshaw.
Yet we have a "view of an interior" to contemplate before facing the lower Thames. And first, as the day is fading, we seek the dimmest part. We dive into the crypt of the bell-tower, or the curfew-tower, that used to send far and wide to many a Saxon cottage the hateful warning that told of servitude. How old the base of this tower is nobody seems to know, nor how far back it has served as a prison. The oldest initials of state prisoners inscribed on its cells date to 1600. The walls are twelve feet thick, and must have begotten a pleasant feeling of perfect security in the breasts of the involuntary inhabitants. They did not know of a device contrived for the security of their jailers, which has but recently been discovered. This is a subterranean and subaqueous passage, alleged to lead under the river to Burnham Abbey, three miles off. The visitor will not be disposed to verify this statement or to stay long in the comparatively airy crypt. Damp as the British climate may be above ground, it is more so below.
We emerge to the fine range of state apaitments above, and submit to the rule of guide and guide-book. St. George's Hall, the Waterloo gallery, the council - chamber and the Vandyck room are the most attractive, all of them for the historical portraits they contain, and the first, besides, for its merit as an example of a Gothic interior and its associations with the order of the Garter, the knights of which society are installed in it. The specialty of the Waterloo room is the series of portraits of the leaders, civil and military, English and continental, of the last and successful league against Napoleon. They are nearly all by Lawrence, and of course admirable in their delineation of character. In that essential of a good portrait none of the English school have excelled Lawrence. We may rely upon the truth to Nature of each of the heads before us; for air and expression accord with what history tells us of the individuals, its verdict eked out and assisted by instructive minutiae of lineament and meaning detected, in the "off-guard" of private intercourse, by the eye of a great painter and a lifelong student of physiognomy. We glance from the rugged Blucher to the wily Metternich, and from the philosophic Humboldt to the semi-savage Platoff. The dandies George IV. and Alexander are here, but Brummel is left out. The gem of the collection is Pius VII., Lawrence's masterpiece, widely familiar by engravings. Raphael's Julius II. seems to have been in the artist's mind, but that work is not improved on, unless insofar as the critical eye of our day may delight in the more intricate tricks of chiaroscuro and effect to which Lawrence has recourse. "Brunswick's fated chieftain" will interest the votaries of Childe Harold. Could he have looked forward to 1870, he would perhaps have chosen a different side at Waterloo, as his father might at Jena, and elected to figure in oils at Versailles rather than at Windsor. Incomparably more destructive to the small German Princes have been the Hohenzollerns than the Bonapartes. We forget these nineteenth-century people in the council chamber, wherein reign Guido, Rembrandt, Claude, and even Da Vinci. If Leonardo really executed all the canvases ascribed to him in English collections, the common impressions of his habits of painting but Little, and not often finishing that, do him great injustice. Martin Luther is here, by Holbein, and the countess of Desmond, the merry old lady
Who lived to the age of twice threescore and ten,
And died of a fall from a cherry tree then,
is embalmed in the bloom of one hundred and twenty and the gloom of Rembrandt. The two dozen pictures in this room form nearly as odd an association as any like number of portraits could do. Guercino's Sibyl figures with a cottage interior by Teniers, and Lely's Prince Rupert looks down with lordly scorn on Jonah pitched into the sea by the combined efforts of the two Poussins. The link between Berghem's cows and Del Sarto's Holy Family was doubtless supplied to the minds of the hanging committee by recollections of the manger. Our thrifty Pennsylvanian, West, is assigned the vestibule. Five of his "tenacre" pictures illustrate the wars of Edward III. and the Black Prince. The king's closet and the queen's closet are filled mostly by the Flemings. Vandyck's room finally finishes the list. It has, besides a portrait of himself and several more of the first Charles and his family in every pose, some such queer, or worse than queer, commoners as Tom Killigrew and Sir Kenelm Digby and Venetia his hopeful spouse, so dear to novelists of a certain school.
Vast sums have been expended on the renovation and improvement of the castle during the past half century. With Victoria it has been more popular as a residence than with any of her predecessors since the fourteenth century. What, however, with its greater practical proximity to London, due to railways, and what with the queen's liking for solitude since the death of her consort, the more secluded homes of Osborne and Balmoral have measurably superseded it in her affections. Five hundred miles of distance to the Dee preclude the possibility of the dumping on her, by means of excursion trains, of loyal cockneydom. She is as thoroughly protected from that inundation in the Isle of Wight, the average Londoner having a fixed horror of sea-sickness. The running down, by her private steamer, of a few more inquisitive yachts in the Solent would be a hazardous experiment, if temporarily effective in keeping home invaders at bay. Holding as her right and left bowers those two sanctuaries at the opposite ends of her island realm, she can play a strong hand in the way of personal independence, and cease to feel that hers is a monarchy limited by the rights of the masses. It is well for the country that she should be left as far as possible to consult her own comfort, ease and health at least as freely as the humblest of her subjects. The continuance of her life is certainly a political desideratum. It largely aids in maintaining a wholesome balance between conservatism and reform. So long as she lives there will be no masculine will to exaggerate the former or obstruct the latter, as notably happened under George III and William IV. Her personal bearing is also in her favor. Her popularity, temporally obscured a few years ago, is becoming as great as ever. It has never been weakened by any misstep in politics, and so long as that can be said will be exposed to no serious danger.
We are far from being at the end of the upper Thames.
Oxford, were there no other namable place, is beyond us. But we have explored the denser portion - the nucleus of the nebula of historic stars that stretches into the Western sky as seen from the metropolis. We lay aside our little lorgnette. It has shown us as much as we can map in these pages, and that we have endeavored to do with at least the merit of accuracy.