The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 4

Allen, Thomas

1827

The Adelphi.

The estate of Durham Yard having become an unprofitable heap of ruins, was purchased by Messrs. Adams, brothers, by whose labours Great had been embellished with edifices of distinguished excellence.

To their researches among the vestiges of antiquity,

says Mr. Malton,

we are indebted for many improvements in ornamental architecture; and for a style of decoration unrivalled for elegance and gaiety, which, in spite of the innovations of fashion, will prevail so long as good taste prevails in the nation.

The building of the was project of such magnitude, and attracted so much attention, that it must have been a period of peculiar importance in the lives of these architects. In this work they displayed to the public eye that practical knowledge and skill, and that ingenuity and taste, which till then had been in a great measure confined to private edifices, and known only by the voice of fame to the majority of those who feel an interest in the art of building. The extreme depth of the foundations, the massy piers of brick work, and the spacious subterraneous vaults and arcades, excited the wonder of the ignorant, and the applause of the skilful; while the regularity of the streets in the superstructure,

255

and the elegance and novelty of the decorations, equally delighted and astonished all descriptions of people.

This judgment of the Messrs. Adams, in the management of their plans, and their care in conducting the executive part, deserves great praise; and it must be mentioned to their honour, that no accident happened in the progress of the work, nor has any failure been since observed; an instance of good fortune which few architects have experienced when struggling with similar difficulties. This remark will make very little impression on the careless observer who rattles along the streets in his carriage, unconscious that below him are the streets, in which carts and drays, and other vehicles of business, are constantly employed in conveying coals, and various kinds of merchandize, from the river to the consumer, or to the warehouses and avenues inaccessible to the light of day: but he who will take the trouble to explore these depths will feel its force; and when he perceives that all the buildings which compose the

Adelphi

, are in front but

one

building, and that the upper streets are no more than open passages, connecting the different parts of the superstructure, he will acknowledge that the architects are entitled to more than common praise.

The front of the , towards the river, on account of its extent, becomes of the most distinguishing objects between the bridges of and Waterloo, from each of which it is of nearly equal distance. On viewing the pile from the river, every must regret the necessity of those paltry erections on the wharfs in front of the arcade, which deface the whole building, by the smoke arising from them. The wharfs are very spacious; and it would certainly add greatly to the beauty of the river, as well as to the conveniency of its commerce, if the plan was adopted the whole of the way between the bridges of London and .

The terrace

is happily situated in the heart of the metropolis, upon a bend of the river, which presents to the right and left every eminent object which characterises and adorns the cities of London and

Westminster

; while its elevation lifts the eye above the wharfs and warehouses on the opposite side of the river, and charms it with a prospect of the adjacent country. Each of these views is so grand, so rich, and so various, that it is difficult to determine which deserves the preference.

of the centre houses on the terrace was purchased by David Garrick, esq.

The manner of decorating the fronts of the shops and houses in

Adam-street

, is equally singular and beautiful. It may be proper here to remark, what some future writer may dwell on with pleasure, that in the streets of the

Adelphi

, the brothers have contrived to represent their respective Christian names, as well as their family name; while by giving the general appellation of The

Adelphi

to this assemblage of streets and buildings, they have converted the whole into a lasting memorial of their friendship and fraternal co-operation.

256

 

In is the building designed and executed for he society for the encouragement of arts, manufactures, and commerce. This building alone demonstrates that the Messrs. Adams wire completely sensible of the beauty and. grandeur resulting from simplicity of composition and boldness of projection.

I know of no fabric in London,

continues Mr. Malton,

of similar dimensions, that can rival this structure in these characteristics. It is beautifully simple without meanness, and grand without exaggeration.

The principal front is built of brick, with stone dressings; the elevation is made into stories; the lower contains the doorway, fronted by a small portico,, composed of Doric columns: the upper consists of half columns of the Ionic order; the shafts fluted. They are surmounted by the entablature of the order,, and crowned with a pediment. On the frieze is inscribed,

Arts and Commerce promoted.

The interior of the structure is peculiarly elegant, and very commodious for the uses of the society, consisting of apartments for depositing the various models, &c. which have obtained prizes from the society; but the most peculiar object of curiosity is the great room. This is a fine proportioned hall, feet in length; in breadth; and in height, illuminated through a dome. The sides are the labours of the late James Barry, esq. to whose abilities the world is indebted for this valuable effort, in the patriotic intention of offering to the public a practical illustration of the arguments he had occasion to adduce against opinions generally received, and highly derogatory to the honour and genius of the British nation; those opinions generally asserted the incapacity of the British with respect to imagination, taste, or sensibility; that they were cold and unfeeling to the powers of music; that they succeeded in nothing in which genius is requisite; and that they seemed to disrelish every thing, even in life itself, &c. It was Mr. Barry's purpose, therefore, to refute the unjust and illiberal aspersion by the production of the magnificent exhibition we are about to describe.

The series consists of pictures, on dignified and important subjects, so connected as to illustrate this great maxim of moral truth,

That the attainment of happiness, individual as well public, depends on the developement, proper cultivation, and perfection of the human faculties, physical and moral, which are so well calculated to lead human nature to its true rank, and the glorious designation assigned for it by Providence.

To illustrate this doctrine, the picture exhibits mankind in a savage state, exposed to all the inconvenience and misery of neglected culture; the represents a harvest home, or thanksgiving to Ceres and Bacchus; the , the victors at Olympia, the , Navigation, or the triumph of the Thames; the , the distribution of rewards by the society: and the , Elysium, or the state of final

257

retribution. of these subjects are truly poetical, the others historical. The pictures are all of the same height, viz. feet inches; and the , , , and , are feet inches long; the and , which occupy the whole breadth of the room, at the north and south ends, are each feet long.

Though we are prescribed in our limits, we are compelled to give an account of the last pictures.

The Thames.-Personified and represented, of a venerable, majestic, and gracious aspect, sitting on the waters in a triumphal car, steering himself with hand, and holding in the other the mariner's compass. The car is borne along by the great navigators, sir Francis Drake, sir Walter Raleigh, Sebastian Cabot, and the late captain Cook: in the front. of the car, and apparently in.the action of meeting it, are figures, representing Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, ready to lay their several productions in the lap of the Thames. The supplicating action of the poor negro slave, or more properly of enslaved Africa, the cord round his neck, the tear on his cheek, the iron manacles, and attached heavy chain on his wrists, with his hands clasped and stretched out for mercy, denote the agonies of his soul, and the feelings of the artist thus expressed, before the abolition of slavery became the subject of public investigation.

Over bead is Mercury, the emblem of Commerce, summoning the nations together; and following the car, are Nereids carrying several articles of the principal manufactures of Great .

In this scene of triumph and joy, the artist has introduced music, and, for this reason, placed among the sea-nymphs his friend, the late Dr. Burney.

In the distance is a view of the chalky cliffs on the English coast, with ships sailing, highly characteristic of the commerce of this country, which the picture is intended to record. In the end of the picture, next the chimney, there is a naval pillar, mausoleum, observatory, light-house, or all of these, they being all comprehended in the same structure.

In this important object, so ingeniously produced by the sea gods, we have at last obtained the happy concurrence and union of so many important desiderata in that opportunity of convenient inspection of all the sculptured communications, the want of which had been so deeply regretted by all who had seen the Trajan and Antonine columns, and other celebrated remains of antiquity.

The Society.-This picture represents the distribution of the rewards of the society. Not far advanced from the left side of the picture stands the late lord Romney, then president of the society, habited in the--robes of his dignity; near the president his royal highness the prince of Wales; and sitting at the corner of the picture, holding in his hand the instrument of the institution, is Mr.

258

 

William Shipley,

whose public spirit gave rise to this society.

of the farmers (who are producing specimens of grain to the president) is Arthur Young, esq. Near him, Mr. More, the late secretary. On the right hand of the late lord Romney stands the present earl of Romney, then V. P.; and on the left the late Owen Salusbury Brereton, esq. V. P. Towards the centre of the picture is seen that distinguished example of female excellence, Mrs. Montaue, who long honoured the society with her name and subscription. She appears recommending the ingenuity and industry of a young female, whose work she is producing. Near her are placed the late duke and duchess of Northumberland, the late Joshua Steele, esq. V. P.. the late sir George Saville, bart. V. P. Dr. Hurd, bishop of Worcester, Soame Jennings and James Harris, esqs. and the duchesses of Rutland and Devonshire; between these ladies the late Dr. Samuel Johnson seems pointing out the example of Mrs. Montague to their graces' attention and imitation. Farther advanced is his grace the late duke of Richmond, V. P. and the late Edmund Burke, esq. Still nearer the right hand side of the picture, is the late Edward Hooper, esq. V. P. and the late Keane Fitz-Gerald, esqr. V. P., his grace the late duke of Northumberland, V. P. and the earl of Radnor, V.P. William Lock, esq. and Dr. William Hunter are examining some drawings by a youth, to whom a premium has been adjudged; behind him is another youth, in whose countenance the dejection he feels at being disappointed in his expectation of a reward is finely expressed. Near the right side of the piece are seen the late lord viscount Folkestone, president of this society, his son, the late earl Radnor, V. P. and Dr. Stephen Hales, V. P. In the back ground appear part of the water front of Somerset-house, , and other objects in the vicinity and view of this society as instituted at London. And as a very large part of the rewards bestowed by the society have been distributed to promote the polite arts of painting and sculpture, the artist has most judiciously introduced a picture and statue: the subject of the picture is the Fall of Lucifer, designed by Mr. Barry, when the royal academy had selected of the members to paint pictures for ; the statue is that of the Grecian Mother dying, and in those moments attentive only to the safety of her child. In the corners of the picture are represented many articles which have been invented or improved by the encouragement of this society. In the lower corner of this picture, next the chimney, are introduced large models intended by Mr. Barry as improvements of medals and coins. Elysium, or the State of Final Retribution.--In this sublime picture, which occupies the whole length of the room, the artist has with wonderful sagacity, and without any of those anachronisms which tarnish the lustre of other very celebrated performances, brought together those great and good men of all ages and nations, who have acted as the cultivators and benefactors of mankind..

259

 

This picture is separated from that of the society distributing their rewards, by palm-trees; near which, on a pedestal, sits a pelican, feeding its young with its own blood; a happy type of those personages represented in the picture, who had worn themselves out in. the service of mankind. Behind the palms, near the top of the picture, are distinctly seen, as immersed and lost in the great blaze of light, cherubim veiled with their wings, in the act of adoration, and offering incense to that invisible and incomprehensible Power which is above them, and out of the picture, from whence the light and glory proceed, and are diffused over the whole piece. By thus introducing the idea of the Divine essence, by effect rather than by form, the absurdity committed by many painters is happily avoided, and the mind of every intelligent spectator is filled with awe and reverence.

The groups of female figures, which appear at a further distance absorbed in glory, are those characters of female excellence, whose social conduct, benevolence, affectionate friendship, and regular discharge of domestic duties, soften the cares of human life, and diffuse happiness around them. In the more advanced part, just bordering on the blaze of light (where the female figures are almost absorbed) is introduced a group of poor native West Indian females in the act of adoration, preceded by angels, burning incense, and followed by their good bishop, his face partly concealed by that energetic hand which holds his crozier, or pastoral staff, may, notwithstanding, by the word Chiapa inscribed in the front of his mitre, be identified with the glorious friar Bartolomeo de las Casas, bishop of that place. This matter of friendly intercourse, continued beyond life, is pushed still further in the more advanced part of the same group by the male adoring Americans, and some Dominican friars, where the very graceful incident occurs of of these Dominicans directing the attention of an astonished Carib to some circumstance of beatitude, the enjoyment of which he had promised to his Carib friend. The group below, on the left hand, in this picture, consists of Roger Bacon, Archimedes, Descartes, and Thales; behind them stand sir Francis Bacon, Copernicus, Galileo, and sir Isaac Newton, regarding with awe and admiration a solar system, which angels are unveiling and explaining to them. Near the inferior angel, who is holding the veil, is Columbus, with a chart of his voyage; and close to him Epaminondas with his shield, Socrates, Cato the younger, the elder Brutus, and sir Thomas More; a sextumvirate, to which, Swift says, all ages have not been able to add a . Behind Marcus Brutus is William Molyneux, holding his book of the case of Ireland; near Columbus is lord Shaftesbury, John Locke, Zeno, Aristotle, and Plato; and, in the opening between this group and the next are, Dr. William Harvey (the discoverer of the circulation of the blood) and the honourable Robert Boyle.

260

 

The next group are legislators, where king Alfred the great is' leaning on the shoulder of William Penn, who is shewing his tolerant pacific code of equal laws to Lycurgus; standing around them are Minos, Trajan, Antoninus, Peter the great of Russia, Edward the Black Prince, Henry the of France, and Andrea Doria of Genoa. Here, too, are introduced those patrons of genius, Lorenzo de Medici, Louis the , Alexander the great, Charles the , Colbert, Leo the , Francis the earl of Arundel, and the illustrious monk Cassiodorus, no less admirable and exemplary as the secretary of state, than as the friar in his convent at Viviers, the plan of which he holds in his hand. Just before this group, on the rocks which separate Elysium from the infernal regions, are placed the angelic guards; and in the most advanced part an archangel weighing attentively the virtues and vices of mankind, whose raised hand and expressive countenance denote great concern at the preponderancy of evil; behind this figure is another angel explaining to Pascal and bishop Butler the analogy between nature and revealed religion. The figure behind Pascal and Butler, with his arms stretched out, and advancing with so much energy, is that ornament of our latter age, the graceful, the sublime Bossuet, bishop of Meux; the uniting tendency of the paper he holds in that hand resting on the shoulder of Origen, would well comport with those pacific views of the amiable Grotius, for healing those discordant evils which are sapping the foundations of Christianity amongst the nations of Europe, where in other respects it would be, and even is so happily and so well established.

Behind Francis the and lord Arundel are Hugo Grotius, father Paul, and pope Adrian. Towards the top of the picture, and near the centre sits Homer; on his right hand, Milton; next him, Shakespeare, Spencer, Chaucer, and Sappho. Behind Sappho sits Alcaeus, who is talking with Ossian; near him are Menander, Molieri, Congreve, Bruma, Confucius, Mango Capac, &c. &c. Next Homer, on the other side, is archbishop Fenelon, with Virgil leaning on his shoulder; and near them are Tasso, Ariosto, and Dante. Behind Dante, Petrarca, Laura, Giovanni, and Boccaccio.

In the range of figures, over Edward the black prince and Peter the great, are Swift, Erasmus, Cervantes; near them Pope, Dryden, Addison, Richardson, Moses Mendelshon, and Hogarth. Behind Dryden and Pope are Sterne, Gray, Goldsmith, Thomson, and Fielding; and near Richardson, Inigo Jones, sir Christopher Wren, sir Joshua Reynolds, and Vandyke. Next Vandyke is Rubens, with his hand on the shoulders of Le Soeur, and behind him is Le Brun. Next to these are Julio Romano, Dominichino, and Annibal Caracci, who are in conversation with Phidias; behind whom is Giles Hussey. Nicholas Poussin and the Sicyonian maid are near them, with Callimachus and Pamphilius; near Appelles is Corregio; behind Raphaello stand Michael Angelo and Leonardo da Vinci, and behind them Ghiberti, Donatello, Massachio, Brunaleschi, Albert Durer, Giotto, and Cimabue.

261

In the top of this part of the picture, the painter has happily glanced at what is called by astronomers the

system of systems,

where the fixed stars, considered as so many suns, each with his several planets, are revolving round the Great Cause of all things; and representing every thing as affected by intelligence, has shewn each system carried along in its revolution by an angel. Though only a small portion of this article can be seen, yet enough is shewn to manifest the sublimity of the idea.

In the other corner of the picture the artist has represented Tartarus, where, among cataracts of fire and clouds of smoke, large hands are seen, of them holding a fire-fork, the other pulling down a number of figures bound together representing War, Gluttony, Extravagance, Detraction, Parsimony, and Ambition; and floating down the fiery gulph are Tyranny, Hypocrisy, and Cruelty, with their different attributes: the whole of this excellent picture proving, in the most forcible manner, the truth of that maxim, which has been already quoted, but cannot be too often inculcated:

That the attainment of man's true rank in the creation, and his present and future happiness, individual as well as public, depended on the cultivation and proper direction of the human faculties.

Besides the pictures already mentioned as painted by Mr. Barry, the room is still further ornamented by whole length portraits: the of lord viscount Folkestone, painted by Gainsborough; the other of lord Romney, both presidents, by sir Joshua Reynolds. On the north side of the room are (presented by the late John Bacon, esq. R. A.) casts in plaister, from statues of Mars and Venus, and on the south side a cast from a Narcissus, designed and executed in marble, by that excellent artist; for which premiums offered by the society for promoting the art of statuary in this country were adjudged to him. Over of the chimnies is a clock of a curious construction, the gift of the late Mr. Thomas Grignion; and over the other chimney a bust of his present majesty, when prince of Wales, by Mr. I. C. Lockee. On the north side of the room are busts, presented by M. de la Blancherie; the of Dr. Benjamin Franklin, formerly an active member of this society; the other of M. Perronet, a celebrated French architect. On the south side of the room is a statue erected by Carlini (presented by Ralph Ward, esq.) of the late Dr. Ward, the inventor of the improved process of making sulphureous acid; and over the chair a miniature of Mr William Shipley, painted and presented by Mr. W. Hinckes.

The Society for the Encouragement of Arts, &c. was instituted in . The idea was suggested by Mr. Shipley, an ingenious artist, and eagerly patronised by the late lord Folkestone and the late lord Romney. The institution consists of a president, vice presidents, various officers, and an indefinite number of subscribers; and si supported solely by voluntary contributions.

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The chief objects of this society are to promote the arts, manufactures, and commerce of this kingdom, by giving premiums for all useful inventions, discoveries, and improvements which tend to that purpose; and, in pursuance of this plan, the society has already expended nearly , advanced by voluntary subscriptions of the members and legacies bequeathed.

On the north side of , nearly opposite , is

 
 
Footnotes:

[] See Milton, book iv. v. 598.

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 Title Page
 Dedication
CHAPTER I: Site, local divisions, and government of the City of Westminster; history of the Abbey; Coronation Ceremonies; and lists of the Abbots and Deans
CHAPTER II: Westminster Abbey, and Description of the Tombs and Monuments
CHAPTER III: History and Topography of St. Margaret's Parish
CHAPTER IV: History and Topography of St. John's Parish, Westminster
CHAPTER V: History and Topography of the parish of St. Martin's in the Fields, Westminster
CHAPTER VI: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. James, Westminster
CHAPTER VII: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Anne, Westminster
CHAPTER VIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Paul, Covent Garden
CHAPTER IX: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Mary-le-strand
CHAPTER X: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. Clement Danes
CHAPTER XI: History and Topography of the parish of st. George, Hanover Square
CHAPTER XII: History and Topography of the Precinct of the Savoy
CHAPTER XIII: History and Topography of the Inns of Court
CHAPTER XIV: History and Topography of the Precincts of the Charter-house and Ely Place, and the Liberty of the Rolls
 CHAPTER XV: Historical Notices of the Borough of Southwark
CHAPTER XVI: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Olave, Southwark
CHAPTER XVII: History and Topography of the parish of St. John, Southwark
CHAPTER XVIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Thomas, Southwark
CHAPTER XIX: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. George's, Southwark
CHAPTER XX: History and Topography of St. Saviour's Parish
CHAPTER XXI: History and Topography of the parist of Christ-church in the County of Surrey
 CHAPTER XXII: A List of the Principal Books, &c that have been published in Illustration of the Antiquities, History, Topography, and other subjects treated of in this Work
 Addenda et Corrigienda
 Postscript