London: volume 2

Knight, Charles.


XXVI.-The Building of St. Paul's.

XXVI.-The Building of St. Paul's.



Approaching London, or pausing on the last hill-top to look back on its wide expanse, we feel that the graceful and majestic dome of is the centre of the City--the nucleus about which its masses congregate--the stately Queen, round which tower, monument, and spire stand ranked as attendant handmaidens. Whether we stand on on a summer evening, with the Abbey towers of showing their distinct outlines through pure air, while the distant city is veiled by the pall of smoke which the light breeze is inclining towards the ocean, while the stately dome ascends where the regions of definite form and dim amorphous haze fade into each other, its golden cross gleaming through a slumberous golden light-or whether from the heights of Hampstead, when in the silence of the dewy morning we could imagine nothing was awake but the sun and ourselves, we behold the mighty structure by the deceptive influence of the clear air and sidelong light projected into startling nearness-or whether from the hill of Greenwich we see the huge mass swathed in mist, now dim and scarce distinguishable, now lost to view and again re-appearing, dark and threatening, like some Highland mountain amid its congenial vapours--from every point of view, under every change of atmospheric influence, the dome of remains the prominent and characteristic feature of London, viewed from a distance. Nor does its power over the fascinated eye and imagination cease when we mingle with the spring-tide of human existence, hurried in incessant ebb and flow along the multitudinous and labyrinthine streets of the metropolis. Ever and anon we are aware of the mighty pile seen through


some street vista, or appearing over the house-tops as if close at hand. It is ever present, ever beautiful, ever imposing. No more perfect picture, in point of form, arrangement, or colour, can be imagined, than that which presents itself as we pass along , on a bracing autumn morning, while the sun is yet struggling through an embrowned haze, in the winding ascent of , crowned by this majestic dome. The Cathedral church combines all the elements of grandeur and beauty. Of colossal size, its summit mingles with the clouds, and at times appears to shift with the thin mists that float past it. The impression made by its graceful outline is heightened by the finish of all its parts, indicating a compactness of structure which gives promise of an eternally youthful appearance. Seated high in the centre of London, might well appear to a fantastic mood, of those talismanic structures, of which we read in Arabian tales--the seat of the magical influence which has drawn together and upholds the aggregation of stately structures, the heaped--up wealth to and from which the money business of the whole world is attracted and diverges as from its centre of circulation, and the concentrated spirit of human passion which thrills and quivers so intensely around it.

Nor is it altogether a vain fancy that attributes an organic unity to London, of which may be considered the binding key-stone : the mind which projected a new city to be erected upon the ruins left by the Great Fire, made this the central point from which he extended his streets on all sides. Before the destruction of the old city he had pictured to himself a stately structure, something like the present, that might be erected on the site of old ; and when the fire had left London a , he traced his plan as a framework in which to set this jewel of his imagination. That plan was not adopted neither the new Cathedral of nor the new City of London are what Wren designed they should be; yet, though the pertinacity with which his contemporaries clung to their preconceived opinions, or defended their little properties, to a great extent baffled his project, still we can trace its lineaments imperfectly stamped upon the rebellious and obdurate material. What was done was done under his superintendence and control--not only , but most of the churches and halls in the City, were his work-and thus he was enabled to call into existence a sufficient number of the parts of the great whole he had contemplated to indicate an outline of his design, and impress something of a uniformity of character upon the new city. This circumstance confers an epic interest upon the rebuilding of London, of which is always the centre. And this consideration it is that has induced us to devote a whole paper to the

Building of

St. Paul's


a story of great designs partially accomplished--of perseverance triumphing over intrigue, after a struggle of long years-

The point to be made good is our assertion that the idea of giving to a figure nearly resembling that which it now has, had occurred to Wren previous to the Great Fire of London, and that his plan for the rebuilding of the city, if it was not suggested by that idea, was intimately connected with it. of the principal objects which occupied the mind of Charles II. on his restoration seems to have been the repairing of , sadly dilapidated during the civil wars. A commission was accordingly issued for


and the structure, of which Wren and Evelyn were appointed members. Wren, with the approbation of Evelyn, committed to writing an account of the condition in which he found the cathedral, and proposals for the necessary alterations, which, along with a number of explanatory drawings and designs, were laid before the King. In his memoir we find the germ of the present . He sets out with laying great stress upon the size of the building:--

It is a pile both for ornament and use; for all the occasion either of a quire, consistory, chapter-house, library, court of arches, preaching auditory, might have been supplied in less room, with less expense and yet more beauty; but then it had wanted of the grandeur which exceeds all little curiosity; this being the effect of wit only, the other the monument of power and mighty zeal in our ancestors to public works in these times, when the city had neither a


part of the people nor a


part of the wealth it now boasts of.

He then proceeds to point out the defects of the original construction of the building, rendering mere patchwork repairs inadvisable, and the artistical faults of the pile.

The middle part is most defective in beauty and firmness without and within: for the tower leans manifestly by the settling of


of the ancient pillars that supported it.


new arches were, therefore, of late years, incorporated within the old ones, which had straitened and hindered both the room and the clear thorough view of the nave, in that part where it had been more graceful to have been rather wider than the rest. The excessive length of the building is no otherwise commendable but because it yields a pleasing perspective by the combined optical diminution of the columns; and if this be cut off by columns ranging within their fellows, the grace that would be acquired by their length is totally lost.

After some further details he proceeds :--

I cannot propose a better remedy than, by cutting off the inner columns of the cross, to reduce the middle part into a spacious dome or rotunda, with a cupola or hemispherical roof; and upon the cupola (for the outward ornament) a lantern with a spring top, to rise proportionably, though not to that unnecessary height of the former spire of timber and lead burnt by lightning. By this means the deformities of the unequal intercolumniations will be taken away; the church, which is much too narrow for the height, rendered spacious in the middle, which may be a very proper place for a vast auditory; the outward appearance of the church will seem to swell in the middle, by degrees, from a large basis rising into a rotunda bearing a cupola, and then ending in a lantern, and this with incomparable more grace in the remoter aspect than it is possible for the bare shaft of a steeple to afford.

He then enlarges upon the practical details of time, expense, and materials, of which only this striking passage need be quoted :--

It will be requisite that a large and exact model be made, which will also have this use,--that, if the work should happen to be interrupted or retarded, posterity may proceed where the work was left off, pursuing still the same design. And as the portico built by Inigo Jones, being an entire and excellent piece, gave great reputation to the work in the


repairs, and occasioned fair contributions; so to begin now with the dome may probably prove the best advice, being an absolute piece of itself, and what will most likely be finished in our time, and what will make by far the most splendid appearance; may be of present use for the auditory, will make up all the outward repairs perfect, and become an ornament to his Majesty's most

excellent reign, to the Church of England, and to this great city, which it is a pity in the opinion of our neighbours should longer continue the most unadorned of her bigness in the world.

In the memorial from which we quote it is easy to discern exquisite perception of the sublime and beautiful-greatness and boldness of conception-talent for the minutiae of practical detail--the power of raising himself to a great undertaking, and taking such precautions as might ensure its being carried on should he die before its completion-all expressed with the unconscious eloquence of earnest love for the task. It reveals the real artist--Mr. Carlyle might say, and with truth,

the hero as architect.

Evelyn felt the truth and justice of Wren's remarks, though most of the commissioners could not raise their minds beyond mere patching and plastering; argued, when it was pointed out to them that the main building receded outwards,

that it had been built so originally for an effect in the perspective;

and stoutly maintained that the steeple might be repaired on its old foundation. This opposition prevented anything being done, until the Great Fire took the settlement of the question into its own hands, and placed Wren on a ground of vantage. Meanwhile he went on maturing his ideas. Trained a mathematician and curious observer of nature, he brought correct taste and minute inquiry into the whole practical bearings of any task he undertook-to the architectural pursuits into which accident, rather than his own free choice, seem to have led him. In he visited France, resided some months in Paris, inspected and studied the principal buildings of that metropolis, visited the places in the vicinity most worthy of attention, took particular notice of what was most remarkable in every branch of mechanics, and contracted intimacies with the most celebrated artists and men of letters. In a letter to his friend Dr. Bateman he says that the Louvre was for a while his daily object, where no less than a hands were constantly employed,

some in laying mighty foundations, some in raising the stories, columns, entablatures, &c., with vast stones, by great and useful engines; others in carving, inlaying of marbles, plastering, painting, gilding, &c., which altogether make a school of architecture, probably the best in Europe.

Almost every sentence of his letter is a picture characteristic at once of the object described and the describer:--

Fontainebleau has a stately wildness and vastness suitable to the desert it stands in;

the Palace, or if you please the Cabinet of Versailles, called me twice to see it-the mixtures of brick and stone, blue tile and gold, made it look like a rich livery--not an inch within but is crowded with little curiosities of ornament.

He adds,

the women, as they make here the language and the fashions, and meddle with politics and philosophy, so do they sway also in architecture.

The case seems to have been reversed in England in the days of Kent. His oracle, says Horace Walpole, was so much consulted by all who affected taste, that nothing was thought complete without his assistance. So impetuous was fashion, that two great ladies prevailed upon him to make designs for their birthday gowns. The one he dressed in a petticoat with columns of the five orders; the other like a bronze, in copper-coloured satin, with ornaments of gold.

Works of filigrane and little trinkets are in great vogue, but building ought certainly to have the attribute of eternal, and therefore the only thing incapable of new fashions. The


furniture of the Palais Mazarine pleased me much better.

He adds, that he has seen many

incomparable villas


all which

I have surveyed; and that I might not lose the impressions of them, I shall bring you almost all France in paper, which I have found by some or other ready designed to my hand, in which I have spent both labour and some money.


I have purchased a great deal of


, that I might give our countrymen examples of ornaments and grotesques, in which the Italians themselves confess the French to excel.

By such studies, and by the conversation of his friend Evelyn, who had already published his and others of similar tastes and pursuits, Wren prepared himself for his busy after-life.

The Fire of London roused the indomitable spirits of Englishmen.

They beheld,

wrote Dr. Sprat, with the ruins of the metropolis smoking around him,

the ashes of their houses, gates, and temples, without the least expression of pusillanimity. If philosophers had done this, it had well become their profession of wisdom; if gentlemen, the nobleness of their breeding and blood would have required it: but that such greatness of heart should be found amongst the poor artisans and the obscure multitude is no doubt


of the most honourable events that ever happened.

A new city is to be built, on the most advantageous seat of all Europe for trade and command. This therefore is the fittest season for men to apply their thoughts to the improving of the materials of building, and to the inventing of better models for houses, roofs, chimneys, conduits, wharfs, and streets.

On the morning of the Evelyn made a painful pilgrimage through the ruins, clambering over heaps of smoking rubbish, and frequently mistaking where he was.

The ground,

he says,

was so hot that it burnt the soles of my shoes.

The fruit of this excursion was a plan for the restoration of the city.

The King and Parliament,

he wrote to Sir Samuel Tuke, in ,

are infinitely zealous for the rebuilding of our ruins; and I believe it will universally be the employment of next spring.

Everybody brings in his idea: amongst the rest I presented his Majesty my own conceptions, with a discourse annexed. It was the


that was seen,

within two days after the conflagration


But Dr. Wren had got the start of me


Wren was appointed Deputy Surveyor-General, and principal architect for rebuilding the whole city, having been previously appointed architect and of the commissioners for the restoration of . The intimate knowledge he obtained of the topography of the metropolis in the course of his official surveys, and the natural tendency of a mind which has projected a general plan for the erection of a city to execute minor details with a constant reference to it, put him in a condition to realize some portions of his design.

The leading features of Wren's plan are given in No. XXV., but we may here mention them more in detail, as stated by himself:--

From that part of

Fleet Street

which remained unburnt, about St. Dunstan's church, a straight street,


feet wide, crosses the valley, passing by the south side of Ludgate prison, and thence in a direct line ends gracefully in a piazza at

Tower Hill

, but before it descends into the valley where now the great sewer (Fleet Ditch) runs, it opens into a round piazza, the centre of



Leaving Ludgate prison on the left side of the street (instead of which gate was designed

a triumphal arch to the founder of the new city, King Charles II.), the street divides into


others as large, and before they, spreading at acute angles, can be clear of


another, they form a triangular piazza, the basis of which is filled by the cathedral church of St. Paul. Leaving

St. Paul's

on the left, we proceed, as our


way led us, towards the Tower, the way being all along adorned with parochial churches. We return again to Ludgate, and, leaving

St. Paul's

on the right hand, pass the other great branch to the

Royal Exchange

, seated at the place where it was before, but free from buildings, in the middle of a piazza included between


great streets--the


from Ludgate leading to the south front, and another from


over the canal to Newgate, and thence straight to the north front of the Exchange.

There was to be a commodious quay on the whole bank of the river from Blackfriars to the Tower; a canal was to be cut at , with sluices at Holborn-bridge and at the mouth, and stores for coal on each side; the Halls of the chief companies were to be united into regular square annexed to ; the churches were to be designed

according to the best forms for capacity and hearing,

adorned with useful porticos and lofty ornamental towers, and steeples in the greater parishes; and all churchyards, gardens, and unnecessary vacuities, and all trades that use great fires or yield noisome smells, were to be placed out of the town. It is clear from this outline that the nucleus of Wren's plan for rebuilding London was that cathedral the capabilities of which he had so thoroughly studied and was so eagerly bent upon developing to the utmost. His plan being rejected, he was restricted to the realisation of his idea of an Anglo-episcopal cathedral, to dropping his halls and churches here and there in narrow spaces, obscured by the close proximity of tall houses, in the hope, perhaps, that a more civilised generation might deem it worth while to excavate them, and to introducing from time to time reforms in the line of streets, sewerage, and mode of constructing houses in the metropolis.

Some time, however, elapsed before he was allowed to set to work even upon the cathedral. On a particular survey by the architect and the rest of the commissioners, it was determined that part of the body of the old cathedral towards the west should, as being least damaged, be fitted up as a temporary choir, wherein the dean and prebends might have divine service until the of the whole (for that was still dreamed of), or a new cathedral should be built. A royal mandate was issued on the , for commencing these operations. The whole of that year and part of the next were consumed in clearing away the rubbish, and ascertaining the condition of the ruins. This examination established the correctness of Wren's judgment regarding the ineligibility of merely repairing the building. Dr. Sancroft wrote to him on the ,--

As he said of old,

Prudentiam est quaedam divinatio

; so science, at the height you are master of it, is prophetic too. What you whispered in my ear at your last coming hither is come to pass. Our work at the west end of

St. Paul's

is fallen about our ears. Your quick eye discerned the walls and pillars gone off their perpendiculars, and I believe other defects too, which are now exposed to every common observer. About a week since, we being at work about the


pillar from the west end on the south side, which we had new cased with stone where it was most defective, almost up to the chapitre, a great weight falling from the

high wall so disabled the vaulting of the side aisle by it, that it threatened a sudden ruin so visibly that the workmen presently removed, and the next night the whole pillar fell, and carried scaffolds and all to the very ground. The


pillar, which you know is bigger than the rest, stands now alone, with an enormous weight on the top of it, which we cannot hope should stand long, and yet we dare not venture to take it down.

Some entries in the Diary of Pepys, rather later in the same year, convey an impressive though sufficiently grotesque picture of the state of the ruins, and enable us to conjecture the utter helplessness of the who obstructed Wren and fancied themselves adequate to the task of restoring :--

I stopped at

St. Paul's

, and there did go into St. Faith's church, and also in the body of the west part of the church; and do see a hideous sight of the walls of the church ready to fall, that I was in fear as long as I was in it; and here I saw the great vaults underneath the body of the church.

And again--

Up betimes, and walked to the Temple, and stopped viewing the Exchange, and Paul's, and St. Faith's,

where strange how the very sight of the stones falling from the top of the steeple do make me sea-sick


It was therefore natural enough on the part of Dr. Sancroft earnestly to require Wren's

presence and assistance with all possible speed

in April, and to inform him in July that they could do nothing without him.

In consequence of the urgency of the commissioners, Wren made a report in which he demonstrated that it was impossible permanently to save the existing building. At the same time he stated in the. most emphatic language the difficulties in the way of a new erection :--

The very substruction and repair of St. Faith's will cost so much that I shall but frighten this age with the computation of what is to be done in the dark, before anything will appear for the use desired.

Nevertheless, with the hopefulness characteristic of great minds, he pointed out how the task might be begun. An order was issued in consequence of his report by the King in council, to take down the walls, clear the ground, and proceed precisely as recommended by Wren. Still the half-hearted and narrow-minded portion of the commissioners contrived to throw so many impediments in the way of the architect, that in , we find them still prating of repairing instead of rebuilding, and the site so encumbered with the old materials that it was impossible to proceed with the inspection of the ruins. A representation to this effect from Wren elicited an order for the removal and sale of the rubbish from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop and Lord Mayor of London, in which, alluding to

the new fabric,

a significant

which we hope may speedily begin

is added. It was not, however, till that the intention of repairing the old edifice was finally abandoned, and the architect desired to make designs for an entirely new edifice worthy the greatness of the nation, and calculated to rival every edifice of the kind in Europe. Even then the difficulties and annoyances to which Wren was subjected rather changed their character than abated.

His original design for the cathedral (of which the elevation is subjoined) embodied the great principles expressed in his report on the old church. The length of aisle to which he objected was necessary perhaps for the processions and pageantry of the Romish ritual, but was uncalled for in the reformed cathedral service. He availed himself of this circumstance to give greater compactness and squareness to the church which was to be the basis and


substructure of his dome. His judges, however, could not emancipate themselves from the notion that the form and arrangement of a cathedral to which they had all
their lives been accustomed was the only proper and possible form for such a building. The Duke of York, too, insisted, Spence tells us on the authority of Mr. Harding, that side oratories should be added--the anecdotist suggests because he already meditated converting the fabric to the use of the Romish worship. He adds-

It narrowed the building, and broke in very much upon the beauty of the design. Sir Christopher insisted so strongly on the prejudice they would be of, that he actually shed tears in speaking of it, but it was all in vain. The Duke insisted on the long aisles and oratories being inserted, and he was obliged to comply.

The modification of the original design which has been erected--a cruciform Italian cathedral, closely resembling that of St. Peter at Rome--was accordingly resolved to be carried into execution; and letters patent were issued superseding the old commission for

upholding and repairing

the ancient cathedral church, authorising the commissioners to

rebuild, new erect, finish, and adorn the said cathedral church upon new foundations,

and empowering them to

take down and demolish what is yet remaining of the old fabric.

Sir Christopher now commenced his great work by making the necessary preliminary arrangements for the accomplishment of his design. He appointed officers and chief workmen, with their proper officers, subalterns, and departments, all in subordination and rendering their accounts to himself. Early in the year the workmen began to clear away the ruins of the ancient cathedral, preparatory to laying the new foundation. The pulling down of the old walls, which were in many places feet high and in thickness, was an


arduous undertaking. At the men stood above, working them down with pickaxes, while labourers below moved away the materials that fell and dispersed them in heaps. The accumulation of rubbish by this means was so great as for a time to hinder them in forming the foundations; part, however, was in time removed to heighten or pave streets, or build the parochial churches. Before this was accomplished, however, Wren constructed scaffolds high enough to extend over the heaps in his way; and, dropping perpendiculars from lines drawn carefully upon the level plan of the scaffold, he set out his foundations. He worked on in this fashion, gaining every day more room, till he came to the middle tower that formerly carried the lofty spire. The workmen quailed before the dangerous task of mounting feet to cast down this ruin; and Wren's inventive genius immediately conceived the idea of attaining his end by the agency of gunpowder. He drove a hole feet square to the centre of the pier, deposited in it a deal box containing eighteen pounds of gunpowder; affixed to this a hollow cane containing a quick match, and, closing the mine, gave directions for its explosion. This small quantity of powder lifted up the whole angle of the tower, the great arches that rested upon it, and the adjoining arches of the aisles, with the masonry above. The walls cracked to the top, and were lifted visibly,--, about inches; then, suddenly subsiding again, they fell into a heap of ruins without scattering. It was half a minute before the heap opened in or places, and emitted smoke. The fall occasioned such a concussion that the inhabitants round about took it for the shock of an earthquake. The architect, confident in the accuracy of his calculations, awaited with perfect calmness the result of his experiment. His next officer, charged during his absence with the explosion of another mine, put in too much powder, and did not drive the hole deep enough; the consequence of which was that a fragment of stone was shot into the room of a private house where women were at work. Neither were injured; but the terror of the neighbours induced the commissioners to prevent any further use of gunpowder. The architect was thus forced to turn his thoughts to other methods of saving time, diminishing expense, and protecting men's lives and limbs. His most successful expedient was the adoption of the ancient battering-ram. He provided a strong mast of timber, about feet in length, and armed the bigger end with a great spike of iron, fortified with iron bars along the mast, secured by ferrules. This machine he suspended from places to ring with a strong tackle, on a triangle (such as were used to weigh heavy ordnance), and kept men beating with this instrument against the same part of the wall for a whole day. The workmen, not discerning any immediate effect, thought this mere waste of time; but Wren, who knew the internal motion thus communicated must be operating, encouraged them to persevere. On the day the wall began to tremble at the top, and fell in a few hours.

The stone of the new cathedral was laid on the , by the architect. It was , before the choir was finished, as to the stone-work, and the scaffolds struck both without and within in that part. It was the , before divine service was performed at for the time since the Fire of . And it was not till the year , when Wren had attained the year of his age, that his son Christopher


laid the highest stone of the lantern on the cupola, attended by the venerable architect himself, Mr. Strong, the master-mason to the cathedral, and the lodge of Freemasons, of whom, says his biographer, Elmes,

Sir Christopher was for many years the active as well as acting master.

years had elapsed since the burning of the ancient fane; since the laying of the stone of the new. reigns had terminated; a revolution had driven a family from the throne; a dynasty (that of Orange) had received the sceptre and become extinct; whilst the stately pile,

the Corinthian capital

of the metropolis, was slowly growing up. The cause of this delay is not the least interesting part of our tale.

The royal mandate of the , which was Wren's warrant for laying the foundation stone, was in fact little more than a permission to carry his plan into effect if he could. In the place, proper materials were not easily procured, notwithstanding an order issued by the King in Council, in , to the. effect that

there hath been for many years past great waste made of our stone in the Isle of Portland

; in consideration of which, and the great occasion we have of using much of the said stone

for the repair of

St. Paul's

, our pleasure is, and we do by these presents will and require all persons whatsoever, that they forbear to transport any more stone from our Isle of Portland, without the leave and warrant


obtained from Dr. Christopher Wren, surveyor of our works.

In the next place, money was not forthcoming in sufficient quantities. It is true that, in addition to the proportion of coal-duties allotted to the building of , King Charles graciously states in his commission-

We are very sensible that the erecting such a new fabric or structure will be a work not only of great time, but of very extraordinary cost and expense ;

and adds,

We are graciously pleased to continue the free gift of


by the year, to be paid quarterly out of our privy purse, for the rebuilding and new erecting of the said church ;

but the value of a

promise to pay

from the merry monarch was very fluctuating and uncertain. The remaining provisions for raising funds were-authority given to the commissioners to ask and receive voluntary contributions from all subjects; an injunction to the judges of the Prerogative Court and others to set apart

some convenient proportion

of all commutations for penance towards the erection of ; and an inquisitorial power vested in the commissioners to inquire after any legacies and bequests for the benefit of the cathedral church that may have been fraudulently concealed. In the Bishop of London felt it necessary to publish a very earnest and urgent address, exhorting all classes of persons throughout the kingdom to extend their liberality towards the building; and among the receipts of year we find entered from Sir Christopher Wren, whose annual salary as architect was only But the greatest obstruction he experienced was occasioned by the prejudices and ill--will of a section of the commissioners. They pestered him by incessant attempts to force him to deviate from his own plan, and introduce alterations, the suggestion of crude ignorance. This annoyance began with his undertaking, and even survived its close. The alterations forced upon him by the Duke of York have already been noticed. In the commissioners transmitted to him a resolution importing

that a balustrade of stone be set up on the top of the church, unless Sir Christopher Wren do, in

writing under his hand, set forth that it is contrary to the principles of architecture, and give his opinion in a fortnight's time; and if he doth not, then the resolution of a balustrade is to be proceeded with.

The venerable architect replied by a demonstration of the ignorance which dictated the proposal, prefacing his remarks thus:--

I never designed a balustrade. Persons of little skill in architecture did expect, I believe, to see something they had been used to in Gothic structures, and

ladies think nothing well without an edging

. I should gladly have complied with the vulgar taste, but I suspended for the following reasons,

&c. He concludes with the emphatic declaration-

My opinion therefore is, to have statues erected on the


pediments only, which will be a most proper, noble, and sufficient ornament to the whole fabric, and was never omitted in the best ancient Greek and Roman architecture; the principles of which, throughout all my schemes of this colossal structure, I have religiously endeavoured to follow; and if I glory, it is in the singular mercy of God, who has enabled me to begin and finish my great work so conformable to the ancient model.

It would have been well had the thwarting he experienced been confined to this meddling coxcombry of tampering with his plans; but, irritated at his opposition to their interference, his persecutors had recourse to still meaner devices for annoying him. As early as we find their creatures set on to fly-blow his fame with accusations of undue delay in the payment of workmen; and in we find them throwing obstacles in the way of finishing the building, for the avowed purpose of keeping him out of , the amount of a moiety of his salary suspended by Act of Parliament till the completion of the building.

Notwithstanding these obstructions, Wren single-handed completed in the course of years from the laying of the foundation-stone; while was the work of more than architects, supported by the treasure of the Christian world, under the pontificates of successive Popes.

Nor was the work of an undistracted attention. In a manuscript book of the transactions of the privy council, in possession of Mr. Elmes when he wrote the Life of Wren, the architect's name occurs in almost every page. Petitions are constantly referred to the


in order that he may make personal inspection and report. At time we find him despatched to , to report whether the site of a projected brewhouse be sufficiently remote from town; and a few days after he is ordered to report on certain buildings erecting in the rear of contrary to proclamation. Nobody but Sir Christopher Wren could be found to make proper arrangements for the accommodation of

,the Mayor, Aldermen, and officers of this city, and also of the livery of the



in Bow Church. To him was intrusted the task of designing and erecting a mausoleum for Charles I., and afterwards for Queen Mary. He was appointed by the Royal Society, in conjunction with Evelyn, to conduct the sale of College to Government. Upon him devolved the task of detecting and abating all nuisances, irregular buildings, defects in drainage, &c., that might prove prejudicial to public health or the beauty of the Court end of the town. These tasks imposed upon him much personal exertion and extensive and intricate calculations. In we find him engaged laying out a new road to Stepney, and in the new road from



Corner to Kensington. The , the Monument, , , many of the Halls of the great companies, churches of the largest parishes in London, and out of the remaining parishes on a large scale, were rebuilt under the direction and from the designs of Wren, during the time that he was engaged upon . When an Act of Parliament was passed in the year of the reign of Queen Anne for the erection of additional churches in the cities of London and , Wren was appointed of the commissioners for carrying on the works.[n.13.1]  Previous to his undertaking this new office he submitted to his colleagues a report on the proper method of conducting such an important business, pointing out the most fitting situations for new churches, the best, materials to be used, the most proper dimensions, situation of the pulpit, and other necessary considerations. As we found the germ of the conception of his own St.i:Paul's Cathedral in his report to King Charles on the condition of the ancient structure, so we find embodied in this report to the commissioners a satisfactory exposition of his theory of ecclesiastical architecture. Wren, a man of equally balanced disposition and strong judgment, was born and had his early education in the family of a dignitary of the Church of England; his scientific and literary training and many distinctions he received at Oxford. He was emphatically a Protestant according to the views of the Church of England--an admirer of its subdued yet elegant stateliness of ritual. This feeling, co-operating with his fundamental principle, that in architecture use and ornament must always go hand in hand, produced his peculiar style of church-building, and must never be left out of view in attempting to estimate the character and success of that class of his works. The object with Wren was to ascertain the proper capacity and dimensions of a church. Owing to the populousness of London,

the churches must be large; but still, in our reformed religion, it should seem vain to make a parish church larger than all who are present can both hear and see. The Romanists, indeed, may build larger churches; it is enough if they hear the murmur of the mass and see the elevation of the host; but ours are to be fitted for auditories.

Having determined the most eligible size of a church upon this principle, and hinted at the variations of form and proportion of which it was susceptible, he proceeds to the internal arrangement--the distribution of the area and the position of the pulpit:--

Concerning the placing of the pulpit, I shall observe a moderate voice may be heard


feet distant before the preacher,


feet on each side, and


behind the pulpit, and not this unless the pronunciation be distinct and equal, without losing the voice at the last word of the sentence, which is commonly emphatical, and if obscured spoils the whole sense.

Upon the useful he superinduces his external ornament, taking care that there shall be no discordance between the :--

As to the situation of the

churches, I should propose they be brought as forward as possible into the larger and more open streets; not in obscure lanes, nor where coaches will be much obstructed in the passage: nor are we, I think, too nicely to observe east or west in the position unless it falls out properly. Such fronts as shall happen to lie most open in view should be adorned with porticos, both for beauty and convenience, which, together with handsome spires or lanterns, rising in good proportion above the neighbouring houses (of which I have given several examples in the City, of different forms), may be of sufficient ornament to the town, without a great expense for enriching the outward walls of the churches, in which plainness and duration ought principally, if not wholly, to be studied. When a parish is divided, I suppose it may be thought sufficient if the mother-church has a tower large enough for a good ring of bells, and the other churches smaller towers for





Wren had a just conception of what was required from the architect in our climate and state of society. The Grecian temple was a dark and narrow sanctuary, externally adorned. The Gothic cathedral was a vast field for the processions of a gorgeous ritual, in climates not always favourable to out-of-doors display. The public buildings of England are places for assemblies in which men can hear and understand each other, or for the display of works of art. If ever we are to have an English architecture worthy to rank alongside of English literature, English statesmanship, and English science, the use of our buildings must be made the consideration, and their external form must be made not incongruous with-immediately derivative from-that use. This truth Wren felt and made his guide on all occasions. His extensive scientific acquirements enabled him to give that firmness and solid consistency to his structures which alone is susceptible of receiving and retaining high finish and ornament. The outlines of his works (see the accompanying parallel) are, like all his conceptions, at once stately and graceful. If there be occasionally deficiency, or even faultiness, in his ornaments of detail, that is owing to his limited acquaintance with the architecture of different ages and nations, and not unfrequently to his work having been stunted by a scantiness of funds.

There is a curious question connected with the building of , regarding the origin of Freemasonry. Herder in of his fugitive pieces asserts (but without stating his authority) that Freemasonry (meaning thereby modern European Freemasonry--the Freemasonry of St. John, as it is called) had its origin during the erection of the cathedral, in a prolonged jest of Wren and some of his familiar associates. Herder's story is that, on the stated days on which Wren was accustomed to inspect the progress of the building he and his friends were accustomed to dine at a house in the neighbourhood; that a club was thus formed, which by degrees introduced a formula of initiation, and rules for the conduct of the members expressed in symbolical language, derived from the masonic profession. Similar jocular affectations of mystery are not uncommon: an interesting instance is mentioned by Gothe in his , in which he took a prominent part during his residence in Wetzlar. It seems rather corroborative of Herder's assertion, that, while the biographers of Wren mention the attendance of the lodge of Freemasons, of which he was the master, at the ceremony of placing the highest stone of the lantern, no mention is made of their attendance at the laying of the foundation-stone. It is also worth notice


that every lodge in Great Britain (and we may add on the Continent) is an off-shoot from that lodge of which Sir Christopher was so long master, now generally known by the name of the Lodge of Antiquity. It is difficult too to conceive the tolerant spirit of masonry-its recognition of the personal worth of men irrespective of their opinions as their sole title to esteem, adopted by any body of men, while the inhabitants of Europe were growing into thinkers through the fever-fit of sectarianism. The age and nation in which Milton defended the liberty of the press, Taylor advocated the

liberty of prophesying,

and Locke wrote in defence of toleration, are the in which we can well fancy an association imbued with that principle to originate. Lastly, there are several circumstances connected with Wren's general career, and with the building of in particular, which seem to be mirrored in masonry. We pronounce no decided opinion on Herder's assertion-leaving the history of masonry, as far as we are concerned, in a state of dubiety, which seems more congenial than clear knowledge to such a mysterious institution. Should any zealous mason grumble at our implied scepticism regarding the great antiquity claimed by his order, we would respectfully remark that Sir Christopher Wren is as respectable a founder as he has any chance of getting--that he

may go farther and fare worse.

Wren[n.15.1]  was a man well qualified for drawing around him an intellectual and social circle of acquaintances. His talents were of the highest order, and he had overlooked no branch of knowledge cultivated in his day. Evelyn, in his Diary, says-- , .

After dinner I visited

that miracle of a youth

, Mr. Christopher Wren, nephew to the Bishop of Ely;

and in his


, or History of Chalcography,

Such at present is

that rare and early prodigy of universal science

, Dr. Christopher Wren, our worthy and accomplished friend.

His Latin composition is elegant; his mathematical demonstrations original and perspicuous. In he solved the problem proposed by Pascal as a challenge to the scientific men of England; and proposed another in return, which was never answered. In his year he was employed by Sir Charles Scarborough, an eminent lecturer on anatomy, as his demonstrating assistant; and he assisted Willis in his dissections for a treatise on the brain, published in , for which he made the drawings. His anniversary address to the Royal Society, in , bears testimony to the comprehensive and varied range of his intellect, as also to his constant recurrence to observation as the fountain and corrector of theory. With the characteristic carelessness of true genius, he freely communicated the progress and results of his inquiries unchecked by any paltry anxiety to set his own mark upon them before he gave them currency. The earlier annals of the Royal Society bear record that many small men have plumed themselves upon inventions and discoveries which really were Wren's, but which he did not take the trouble to reclaim. His was a social disposition, and the workings of his intellect afforded of his means of promoting the enjoyment of society. It is a flattering testimony to his temper, that during his long life he seems never to have lost a friend. Steele, in his sketch of Wren, under the name of Nestor, in the Tatler, dwells with emphasis on his modesty :--

his personal modesty overthrew all his public actions


the modest man built the city, and the modest man's skill was unknown.

It was, however, no sickly


modesty--the want of a proper consciousness of his own strength. The bitter tears he wept when forced to abandon his original design for , are a proof how truly he estimated its value. When told morning that a hurricane which occurred in the night had damaged all the steeples in London, he replied, with his quiet smile,--

Not St. Dunstan's, I am sure.

There are passages in his Reports to the Commissioners, already quoted, conceived in the very spirit in which Milton announced his hope to compose something which future ages

would not willingly let die.

An anecdote of Sir Dudley North, preserved by his brother Roger, conveys a distinct notion of Sir Christopher's conversation:--

He (Sir Dudley) was so great a lover of building, that

St. Paul's

, then, well advanced, was his ordinary walk: there was scarce a course of stones laid, while we lived together, over which we did not walk. ..... We usually went there on Saturdays, which were Sir Christopher Wren's days, who was the surveyor; and we commonly got a snatch of discourse with him, who, like a true philosopher, was always obliging and communicative, and in every matter we inquired about gave short but satisfactory answers.

His equanimity supported him when the intrigues of German adventurers deprived him of the post of surveyor-general after the death of Queen Anne.

He then,

observes- his son,

betook himself to a country life, saying only with the stoic,

Nunc me jubet fortuna expeditius philosophari

; in which recess, free from worldly affairs, he passed the


last years of his life in contemplation and study, and principally in the.consolation of the Holy Scriptures ;--cheerful in solitude, and as well pleased to die in the shade as in the light.

It is said-and it must be true--that the greatest enjoyment of his latter days was an occasional journey to London to feast his eyes upon . On of these occasions he was residing in . He had accustomed himself to take a nap after dinner, and on the , the servant who constantly attended him, thinking he slept longer than usual, went into his apartment and found him dead in his chair.

His mortal relics are deposited beneath the dome of , and his epitaph may be understood in a wider sense than even of that sublime interior: it embraces not merely the British metropolis, but every region where man is to be found who has benefited by the light which Wren, and his associates in philosophical inquiry, were so instrumental in kindling:--

Si monumentum requiris circumspice.


[n.13.1] 1. St. Dunstan's in the East.-2. St. Magnus.-3. St. Benet, Gracechurch Street.-4. St. Edmund the King, Lombard Street.-5. St. Margaret Pattens.-6. Allhallows the Great.-7. St. Mary Abchurch.-8. St. Michael, Cornhill.-9. St. Lawrence, Jewry.-10. St. Benet Fink.-11. St. Bartholomew.-12. St. Michael, Queenhithe.-13. St. Michael Royal.-14. St. Antholin, Watling Street.-15. St. Stephen, Walbrook.- 16. St. Swithen, Cannon Street.-17. St. Mary-le-Bow.--18. Christ Church, Newgate Street.-19. St. Nicholas, Cole Abbey.-20. St. Mildred, Bread Street.--21. St. Augustin, Watling Street.-22. St. Mary Somerset.- 23. St. Martin, Ludgate.-24. St. Andrew by the Wardrobe.-25. St. Bride, Fleet Street. The scale is expressed by St. Paul's in the background.

[n.15.1] Born 1631; died 1723.