London, Volume 1
There are, doubtless, few of our metropolitan readers who have not, like ourselves, often stood by to gaze on that magnificent work, the Banqueting House, opposite, and to ponder on the solemn and momentous event, the execution of Charles I., which seems (so instantaneously does the sight of the recal the memory of the other) to be recorded in indelible characters on the very walls. They have also, we have no doubt, wondered, as we have often wondered, through which of those beautiful windows the King passed to the funereal-looking scaffold, with its central block and axe, masked executioner, and surrounding sea of faces; and reviewed, as we have reviewed, all the long train of associations connected with that act, and with the men by whose agency it was achieved. And, absorbed in such thoughts, there, perhaps, have generally ended our mutual reminiscences of . The Banqueting House only dates from the time of Charles and his father; and
|there are no other remains of any importance of the once famous palace to direct the attention to its earlier history. The scene is, indeed, strangely altered. The spectators of the King's execution stood where we now stand; but the present busy street was then the enclosed court-yard of the royal mansion, which consisted of an immense irregular mass of buildings, extending from and Wallingford House (the site of the Admiralty) on the north, to and the top of on the south, and east and west from the Thames to . Where we now find the Treasury and the offices of the Secretaries of State, then stood the Tennis Yard and Cockpit, carrying back the memory to their sport-loving founder, Henry VIII., and still earlier, to the times when that monarch came hither as a guest to enjoy the splendid hospitality of his great minister, Wolsey, meditating perhaps the while how he should repay him by utter disgrace and ruin; a conclusion towards which his thoughts would-be rapidly accelerated, when they had once taken the direction,--by the --sight of the wealth spread around him on all sides. Now, however, there are no such visible indications of the ancient glories of ; and it is only when we begin purposely to reflect upon its history that we find the multitude of recollections of the highest interest that pertain naturally to the spot flow in upon us. , or rather the palace, for that name was unknown till after Wolsey's time, was originally built by Hubert de Burgh, the eminent but persecuted Justiciary of England during the reign of Henry III. He bequeathed it to the convent of the Black Friars in , and they sold it to Walter de Grey, Archbishop of York, in . From that time it was called York House, and remained for nearly centuries the residence of the prelates of that see. The last archiepiscopal owner was Wolsey; during whose residence it was characterized by a sumptuous magnificence that most probably has never been equalled in the house of any other English subject, or surpassed in the palaces of many of its Kings. In his gallery, on divers tables, were a great number of rich stuffs of silk, in whole pieces, and of all kinds and colours, as velvet, satin, damask, taffeta, &c. The walls were hung with cloth of gold and tissue, cloth of silver, and other rich cloths of divers colours. Here hung his suit of copes, which Cavendish, his gentleman-usher and biographer, says was the richest he had ever seen in this country. In chambers, called respectively the Gilt and the Council Chambers, were set in each broad and long tables, upon trestles, with an almost incredible quantity of the most valuable plate. In the Gilt Chamber all was gilt, and a cupboard, standing under the window, was furnished wholly with plate of solid gold, whereof a part was enriched with pearls and other precious gems. In the Council Chamber all was silver, and parcel gilt. He maintained a train of persons, among whom were or lords, knights, and squires. His very domestics must have thought themselves personages of no little consideration, for his cook wore a satin or velvet jerkin, and a chain of gold round his neck. Wolsey's own appearance was worthy of the central object of this rich picture. His portly figure was set off with silk and satins of the finest texture and the richest scarlet or crimson dyes. On his neck and shoulders he wore a tippet of costly sables; his gloves were of red silk, his Cardinal's hat of|
|scarlet, and his shoes silver gilt, inlaid with pearls and diamonds. When he appeared in public the hat was borne before him by a person of rank; he was immediately preceded by priests of stately height and noble appearance, each carrying a ponderous silver cross; before these rode gentlemen bearing silver staves; and in front of. all marched his pursuivant-at-arms, with a huge silver-gilt mace. Wolsey, as a priest, rode on a mule, with saddle and saddle-cloth of crimson velvet, and stirrups of silver gilt; but his followers were all mounted on beautiful horses, richly caparisoned, perfect in training and spirit.|
|At his levee, which he held every morning at an early hour, after a very short mass, he always appeared clad in red. And thus|
This account derives additional interest from the circumstance that Shakspere, in his Henry VIII., has almost literally followed it in most of its details, and with great dramatic skill made it the foundation of the scene where Henry, in
sees Anne Boleyn, and is smitten with her beauty. And what a contrast does not all this festivity, and mirth, and
enjoyment, present to the heart-sickening despair felt by the same prelate, in the same place, a few years later, when the Dukes of Suffolk and Norfolk waited upon him in the very chambers which had witnessed all that festivity, and told him he must quit , for the King meant to live there himself!
| The next day he did quit it, and from his barge on the Thames looked perhaps for the last time on the halls and towers of , and bade
Fiddes, in his Life of Wolsey, says that the Cardinal built a great part of York House; and the statement is strengthened by a passage in Storer's Metrical History of Wolsey (), in which are the following lines:--
It has been supposed that among these erections a
and hence the origin of the present appellation. On Wolsey's fall, in , we know that the name of was prohibited, though no other appears to have been immediately substituted for it, except by the popular voice. Shakspere refers to this change in his Henry VIII., in a passage interesting not on that account only. gentleman is giving to others a description of the coronation of Anne Boleyn, in which occur the following lines:--
This coronation took place on the . Henry and Anne had been married at on the previous in a very secret, un-sovereignlike style. Dr. Lee, of the court chaplains, was summoned very early in the morning of that day to celebrate mass in a remote garret of the palace, where, to his astonishment, he found the King with of the grooms of his bedchamber, and Anne Boleyn, with her trainbearer Mrs. Savage, afterwards the Lady Berkeley. Lee, however, although a court chaplain, would not, it is said perform that ceremony till Henry overcame all scruples by saying the Church of Rome had decided in his favour as to the divorce of his previous wife, Katherine. About this time the King made many alterations in the palace, as we learn from an Act of Parliament passed in . This act recited that the old palace of was then and had been a long time before in utter ruin and decay, and that the King had lately obtained great mansion-place and house, and that upon the soil and ground thereof he had
and adjoining thereunto
It was then enacted that all the said ground, mansion, and buildings, together with the said park and the entire space between and at , from the Thames on the east side to the park wall westward, should be deemed and called the of . Among these was a gallery which Wolsey had set up at Esher not long before his disgrace. As Pennant observes in a striking passage-
He was a scholar, a lover-performer-and composer of music, a writer of ballads, and so good an architect that it has been considered as a matter of regret that a tomb he designed for himself was never completed. He formed a collection of pictures at , which afterwards became the nucleus of the splendid collection of Charles I. He made munificent proposals to Raffaelle and Titian, neither of whom however accepted them, though the former painted a
for him. eminent artist, however, was prevailed upon to come over to England by the reputation of his taste and generosity; we allude to Hans Holbein, who was introduced to Henry VIII. by Sir Thomas More, at his house at , where a number of the painter's works had been previously distributed round the walls. The King immediately took him into his service, gave him an apartment in and a pension, besides paying him for his pictures. From Holbein, who was a universal genius, he received the design of a magnificent Gate-house, which he built in front of the palace, opposite the entrance into the Tilt-yard. This edifice was constructed of small square stones and flint boulder, presenting different colours, glazed, and disposed in a tessellated manner. On each
|front were naturally-coloured and gilt busts, which resisted all the influences of the weather. of these busts were traced by the activity of Mr. Smith into the possession of a gentleman of Essex, Peter Luard Wright, Esq., where he had the pleasure of seeing and of having drawings made from them to engrave in his work. They were of terra cotta, larger than life, and, it is said, representations of Henry VII., Henry VIII., and Fisher, Bishop of Rochester.|
Mr. Smith supposes them to be the work of Torregiano. The , it has been stated, has been recently found in a cottage near Windsor. The gate was removed in , in order to widen the street, when it was begged by William Duke of Cumberland, the son of George II., with the intention of erecting it at the end of the long walk in the Great Park at Windsor, of which he was ranger. But the intention was never fulfilled. A very forcible proof of the estimation in which Henry held this distinguished artist is given in the following anecdote:--A nobleman of high rank day roused Holbein's anger to so high a degree by intruding upon him whilst he was occupied at his easel, that the latter thrust him down stairs. Alarmed at what might be the consequences of so rash an act, Holbein instantly sought the King's protection by telling the whole story. The nobleman followed to present his complaint, but found that his royal master not only defended the painter, but threatened himself with his severest displeasure if he contrived or adopted any mode of revenge.
said the King to his irritated but humbled listener,
We should make the most of all these genial and excellent traits in Henry's character, not only that it is but justice to do so, but also that the imagination may be a little sweetened after the disgust it must always experience at the mention of his name, on account of the illustrious blood he has shed, the countless hearts he must have broken, and the general baseness of his character as regards all those who should have been nearest and dearest to him. If those he had injured panted for vengeance, his last hours at must have satisfied them. So great was his fear of death that several persons had actually been executed for saying he was dying. Consequently, when he in the condition he so much dreaded, there were none to tell him that the awful fiat had gone forth, and enable him to spend his last hours in the most fitting manner.
[n.340.1] Sir Anthony Denny at length undertook the task, and successfully accomplished it. Henry, finding there was no hope, began to reflect on his course of life, which he much condemned, but still professed himself confident that through Christ all his sins, though they had been more in number and weight, might be pardoned. Cranmer was sent for in great haste, who, on his arrival, found the King speechless. He bent over the bed, exhorting him to hope for God's mercy through Christ, on which Henry grasped his hand as hard as he could, and expired-we may add, just in time to save the Duke of Norfolk, who was to have died at an early hour on the same day, the .
In neither of the following reigns, those of Edward VI. and Queen Mary, do we find any record of importance connected with , further than that the latter sovereign went from by water to her coronation at , Elizabeth bearing the crown before her. It is said that the Princess could not help whispering to Noailles, the French ambassador, that it was very heavy.
replied the ready-witted diplomatist;
From the time of the splendid entertainments of King Henry to that anticipated by Noailles, when Henry's daughter ascended the throne of England, must have been but a dull place. Edward's boyhood, and Mary's cheerless bigotry, alike prevented Mirth and all her crew from rioting in the palace-chambers of . But Elizabeth reigned, and the court was more than ever the great centre of attraction to the young and light-hearted--to the scholar, wit, statesman, and poet--to all, in short, who could adorn or dignify it by their beauty or their accomplishments, their talents or their character. This is the poetical era of . The virgin queen, as writers have delighted to call her, was not long after her succession in asserting her determination to remain unmarried. Her very parliament sent a deputation with an address to ,
Elizabeth received the deputation in the great gallery built by her father, and, having heard the message, answered them at some length, and in a most characteristic style. For instance, having stated her preference for a single life, and the temptations she had had to withdraw her from it, she continued:
This was pretty well for a young queen to her parliament, and showed that with the blood she inherited no small portion of the absolute spirit of Harry the . She concluded her address with the observation--
If Elizabeth's conduct has not been misrepresented, she exhibited occasionally no very great solicitude as to the strict performance of her determination; though, after all, vanity was perhaps the ruling passion that seduced her into such equivocal situations with her worthless favourite, Leicester. It was something to show that not even time could reduce the number or affect the constancy of her lovers. Thus, in her year, her persevering suitor, the Duke of Anjou, whom she had formerly refused, had nearly obtained her permission for the marriage by playing upon this weakness. He sent over Simier, a nobleman peculiarly qualified, by his appearance, manners, and abilities, to plead for him, and who represented to Elizabeth that the Duke was almost dying of love for her. He also obtained possession of an important secret, the marriage of the Earl of Leicester to the widow of the late Earl of Essex. Still Elizabeth protested she would never agree to marry a man whom she had not seen. In the following summer the Duke of Anjou suddenly appeared at the palace at Greenwich, having travelled thither incognito. The romance of the affair delighted the queen; and the adventurous lover's appearance
| made a favourable impression. But the desire for her marriage had ceased on the part of Burleigh and her other advisers, and, although no opposition was offered, she is said to have shed passionate tears that they did not, as before, unanimously petition her to marry. In a short time she declared again her determination to remain unmarried. But, in the spring of , a splendid embassy arrived in London from Catherine de Medici, the Duke's mother, when it was agreed the marriage should take place within weeks. The Queen attested her own sense of the importance of the occasion by building a banqueting-house |
The Queen also ordered a great tournament to be given in the Tilt Yard, which was considered to be the most sumptuous celebration of the kind ever known in England. Nor was this all. The Queen placed herself in the gallery of the palace, which was accordingly called
and a mimic fight took place between Her Majesty's defenders and Desire, with his foster-children, who stoutly attacked the castle. The combatants on both sides were persons of the rank, and of them bore a name that the world will not willingly let die,--Master Philip Sidney. A regular summons was sent by Desire to the garrison, with the delectable song of which the following is a specimen:
Not even this very mild and considerate message being attended to,
Whilst this was going on in Elizabeth's presence, a regular tourney and jousting took place in the Tilt Yard, where Sir Harry Lee, the Queen's devoted and veteran knight, broke staves in her honour. On the
| following day, the foster-children of Desire entered |
was played by a band concealed within the chariot, on the top of which sat Desire herself, represented by a beautiful lady, in company with the knights. On approaching the Queen, a herald expressed the challengers' despair of victory; yet, as
they besought her Majesty to vouchsafe the eyes of her peerless beauty upon their death or overthrow.
by requesting her Majesty to accept the challengers as her perpetual bondmen, notwithstanding their degeneracy and unworthiness in making
The people now began to think Elizabeth was really going to be married. The Duke was formally elected Sovereign of the Netherlands, partly through her influence, and when he marched into the country to take possession of his new dominions she sent him crowns as a present, to assist him in dislodging the Spaniards. On the approach of winter he put his troops into winter-quarters and hurried over to England. His arrival was welcomed with fireworks and other rejoicings; and the Queen, before her whole court, was seen day to take a ring from her finger and put it on his. The very next morning, however, Anjou found his affianced bride pale and in tears: she had been talking overnight with some of her council, and the result was that before he left her she assured him she never could marry. The Duke returned to his lodgings stung with the deepest mortification; where in his anger, it is said, he threw the ring she had given him on the ground, and gave loose to many bitter reflections on the fickleness of Englishwomen. After a months' stay Anjou departed, that he would soon return; and she actually accompanied him to Canterbury, and there took a weeping farewell.
[n.343.2] Almost immediately after his return to France the Duke was seized with an illness which proved mortal in a few months; and so ended this affair, which is said once to have approached so near to the conclusion anticipated, that Elizabeth had the pen in her hand to sign the proper documents, when she laid it down and refused to proceed. Hentzner, who visited England in
|, has given us some interesting particulars of the Queen's appearance and habits, and of the royal palace of . He describes her (she was now in her year) as having a wrinkled face, red periwig, little eyes, hooked nose, shining lips, and black teeth; yet listening with as great delight as ever to the gross flattery of her courtiers concerning her beauty, &c. Of the |
palace he notices the library as being well stocked with books in the Greek, Latin, Italian, and French languages. Among others was a little in her own beautiful handwriting, addressed to her father. The books were all bound in velvet of different colours, chiefly red, and with. gold or silver clasps; some even had pearls and precious stones set in their bindings. He also notices a number of curiosities, such as little silver cabinets of exquisite workmanship, in which Elizabeth kept her writing materials;--her bed, ingeniously formed of woods of different colours, and with quilts of silk, velvet, gold, silver, and embroidery;--a little chest decorated all over with pearls, in which the Queen kept the most valuable of her jewels;--numerous portraits ;--a piece of clockwork, an Aethiop riding upon a rhinoceros, with attendants, who all made their obeisance when it struck the hour;--lastly there was in the garden a jet d'eau, with a sun-dial, at which while strangers were looking they were suddenly sprinkled with a quantity of water forced by a wheel, which the gardener turned at a distance, through a number of little pipes.
Elizabeth died at Richmond on the , and immediately the lords of the council proceeded in great haste to , where they drew up a proclamation, stating that the right of succession was wholly in James King of Scots, and caused it to be signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Keeper Egerton, the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Robert Cecil, Sir J. Fortescue, and Sir J. Popham. Within hours after the Queen's death this proclamation was read by Sir R. Cecil in front of , and the multitude with consent cried aloud
James was not long in taking personal possession of the sovereignty he had so much coveted. He set out on the , though he did not reach London till the : what with feasting, and what with the pleasure of examining his new dominions and exercising his new rights in dubbing almost everybody who came in his way, he seems to have found this progress very pleasant. Although by the time he reached James had already knighted persons, he was by no means yet satiated with the gratification it afforded him. On the , all the judges, all the serjeants at law, and among them Bacon, all the doctors of civil law, all the gentlemen-ushers, and
were summoned to the garden of , and there dubbed by the King. The next incident of any importance connected with the history of is the examination of the bold, courageous fanatic, whose name is so indissolubly connected with of the most terrible plots of wholesale vengeance and murder that oppressed and despairing men ever devised. Guy Fawkes was brought to immediately after his arrest at the door of the cellar by Sir Thomas Knevett, a magistrate of . He was led into the King's bedchamber, and there, pinioned hand and foot, interrogated by the trembling King and his council; even in that state he appears to have terrified them by his
| bold voice and steady air, and by the scorn and defiance with which he answered their inquisitive glances. They asked his name; he said it was John Johnson,his condition that of a servant to Mr. Thomas Percy. He unflinchingly avowed his intentions, and regretted they had not been carried into execution. When pressed to disclose the names of his accomplices, he replied that he could not resolve to accuse any. James asked how he could have the heart to destroy his children, and so many innocent souls that must have suffered? |
was the answer. A Scottish courtier inquired why he had collected so many barrels of gunpowder.
From he was sent on the following morning to the Tower; and the unutterable horrors of the torture began. would have thought that an affair of this kind would have brought some serious and useful meditations into the king's mind on the subject of the people committed to his charge, and the necessity for some amelioration of the dreadful state of things indicated by the plot from which he had so narrowly escaped; or, if this were out of the question, that it would at least have left him better and wiser as a man. What says Sir John Harrington on the subject in a letter written shortly after the conclusion of the event referred to?
[n.345.1] The occasion of all this unseemly display was the visit of Christian IV. King of Denmark; when a round of most costly feasts, hunts, and entertainments was given. The writer of the paragraph we have just transcribed observes satirically that the parliament had voted the subsidies in good season.
says another contemporary, who appears also to allude to the gunpowder plot in his concluding words,
[n.345.2] Like other spendthrifts, James found the
for these extravagances always an unpleasant matter. The parliament grew less and less inclined to vote the necessary funds; and although James's minister, Cecil, went boldly to work and imposed duties on various kinds of merchandise by orders under the great seal, this by no means lessened the difficulty: the parliament had still to be applied to, where a strong opposition had grown up, and had been made resolute and clamorous by this last and most illegal act. The King at intimated to them by a message that they must not talk on such subjects; and the practical answer was that they talked louder than ever. James now called both houses before him at , and delivered a speech which we may safely
| say has never been paralleled in this country for its blasphemy and absurdity:-- |
said this brilliant specimen of. earthly divinity,
Who can read this, and--remembering--that James's successor held the same notions with infinitely greater ability and ambition to carry them into action-wonder that a civil war should have deluged England with blood within the next years? The principle of divine right was here so fairly and fully asserted, that no alternative was left to the English people but to accept it and become the veriest slaves that ever breathed, or oppose it-peacefully, constitutionally, and legally, whilst they might-but to oppose it at all events, through all dangers and in spite of all consequences. James ended his speech in the same spirit in which he had commenced, by telling the members that it was sedition in subjects to dispute what a King might do in the fulness of his power; that Kings were before laws, and that all laws were granted by them as a matter of favour to the people. With whatever disgust the Commons heard all this, they acted with admirable prudence and in a most business-like manner. In answer to all the impious parallelism that James had instituted, and the theoretical deductions made therefrom, they contented themselves with laying down their rights in distinct language, and, whilst leaving the doctrine of the King's power to make and unmake his subjects, decidedly objected to his laying any duties upon and without their consent! All this while the court was furnishing matter for continual illustration of the nature of kingly divinity, in the characters of its chief personages, and in the base intrigues that were perpetually set on foot within its precincts. We may particularly instance the divorce of the beautiful but unchaste and vindictive Countess of Essex from her husband (a son of the Earl of Essex, executed by order of Elizabeth), and her subsequent marriage with her lover, the Viscount Rochester, James's great favourite. The wedding took place on the , in the royal chapel of , in the presence of the King and Queen, Prince Charles, and a splendid assemblage of the spiritual and temporal aristocracy. The countess appeared with her hair hanging down in loose curls to her waist, the costume of a virgin bride. The Bishop of Bath and Wells united the hands of the guilty pair, and the Dean of preached the marriage sermon. At night the lords of the court presented a gallant masque; and for some days there was a continued succession of amusement,
[n.347.1] No doubt earthly things, and the opinions of earthly people, would have given him but little satisfaction. This shameful marriage spread abroad a general sentiment of disgust, fast verging into emotions of a still deeper character, from the remembrance of of its attendant circumstances. Rochester's friend, Sir Thomas Overbury, who had assisted him in his stolen interview with the then Countess of Essex, when the marriage was proposed, objected very naturally to it, urging the
Rochester, in his infatuation, told the Countess what Sir Thomas had said, who from that moment determined to destroy him. The unfortunate man was seduced by Rochester's professions of friendship to refuse an embassy which had been purposely offered to him, and that refusal was made matter of accusation with the King. He was thrown into the Tower; Sir William Wade, the lieutenant, removed, and a creature of Rochester's and the Countess put in his place; and the very day before the sentence of divorce from the Earl of Essex was obtained, Sir Thomas Overbury . Among the feasts given in honour of Rochester, now Earl of Somerset, and his bride, was where the gentlemen of were the entertainers; who, it appears, did it very unwillingly, for Bacon claimed the entire merit of vanquishing their reluctance. He had his reward for this and other equally sycophantic acts. He was created Chancellor in ; and when James visited Scotland in he was intrusted with such extraordinary powers, that the great philosopher turned giddy with the elevation. According to Sir Anthony Weldon, a caustic reporter of his conduct, Bacon immediately began to believe himself King, to lie in the King's lodgings at , and give audience in the great banqueting-house to ambassadors and others; to make the members of the council attend him with the same state that they observed toward the King, and when they sat with him for the despatch of business to know their proper distance.
The passage is in all probability an exaggeration of Bacon's conduct, and both his pride and his humility might receive a worthier explanation than Sir Anthony Weldon has given. The Banqueting House which witnessed Bacon's temporary exercise of of the attributes of sovereignty was not the building erected by Elizabeth, but the splendid edifice so familiar to our own eyes, which had been but recently erected. The history of this building has some features of too great interest and importance to be hastily passed over at the conclusion of the present paper; we postpone it therefore to the
|commencement of the next. The old of Wolsey, Henry VIII., and Elizabeth, which had become thoroughly decayed and worn out by James's time, and the of modern times--of Charles I., Cromwell, and Charles II., of which the Banqueting-room remains to us--are essentially distinct buildings, and in connexion with the length of our subject point naturally to the division we have adopted. We have now concluded the history of the ; our next number will embrace the history of the other.|
[n.340.1] Pictorial History of England, Book vi. p. 451.
[n.343.1] For a view of the animated scene presented by the Tilt Yard on these occasions, see The Parks, p. 191.
[n.343.2] Letter of Lord Talbot, in Lodge, Illustrations.
[n.345.1] Letter in Nugae Antiquae.
[n.345.2] Arthur Wilson.