The million-peopled city
The College was not completed till the Revolution.
But although was founded by , it was not till shortly before the Revolution that the edifice was completed, and occupied by pensioners. thus sketches the events of the interim:-
"No appeal seems to have been made... to the public at large; but while the voluntary contributions of the charitable were received with gratitude, the troops were, in some sort, burthened with the expenses of the asylum from which they were themselves to derive the sole benefit. I need scarcely observe, that during the reign of , the standing army of England was very inconsiderable, its numbers scarcely amounting at one period to five thousand men, and never exceeding eight thousand. From the pay issued to these, a deduction was ordered to be made of one shilling in the pound; which being divided into 3 equal parts, was devoted, 1 to defray the expenses of the Pay- master's office, 1 to the general uses of the soldiers, and 1 to the accumulation of a fund, first for the building, and ultimately for the maintenance of the Hospital. By giving to this regulation a retrospective effect, so as to include the whole of the year , and strengthened by donations of 1,300l. from , of 1,000l. from , Esq., of 1,000l. from , , and of nearly 7,000l. from the , the projectors of the establishment had at their disposal a sum of 17,0121. 14s. 7d., with which they
|determined to make a beginning. The consequence was, that on the , the foundation-stone of was laid, himself taking the lead in a ceremony which was witnessed by all the principal nobility and gentry of the kingdom.|
"Begun on a scale of great magnificence by its gifted architect, , the building of the Hospital went on so slowly, that neither nor enjoyed the satisfaction of beholding it complete. In it had indeed advanced so far, that , then Paymaster- General of the forces, made a report to his Majesty, in which he represented the edifice as capable of accommodating 416 men, with a governor, chaplain, curate, physician, secretary, treasurer, housekeeper, and 16 matrons. But the views of the King's Government extended much beyond this.
" I have never been able to ascertain the exact date at which the veterans took possession of their new abode. That some of them were domiciled in during the latter part of the reign of . seems, however, to be proved by the fact, that the covering for the altar, pulpit, and desk in the chapel, as well as the magnificent com- munion plate and black-letter Prayer-books which belong to it, were the gift of that monarch. Nor are traditions wanting relative to the efforts made by the King to bring back his decayed soldiers within the pale of the . He is said to have paid frequent visits to the Hospital, appealing first to one and then to another of the inmates, till a fine old warrior on a certain occasion cut him short in a manner which he could neither forgive nor resent. 'Why should not you adopt the religion of your Prince?' said . ' Please your Majesty,' was the reply, ' I was once a Catholic; I then became a Protestant; and I should be very happy to go back to your Majesty's religion again, only
|when I was at , I entered into an agreement, that the next time I changed my creed, I should become a Turk.' - was mortally offended at this reply, and ceased to importune the pensioners farther.|
" While the Hospital was in progress,-that is, from till the admission of the invalids,-provision seems to have been made for their support by pensions granted out of the fund set apart for the purposes of the building. Of these, all, considering the value of money at the time, were liberal, while some may be accounted magnificent."