Walks in London, vol. 2

Hare, Augustus J. C.
1878

Chapter VIII: Westminster

Chapter VIII: Westminster

 

Immediately facing us as we emerge from is New , backed by Hall and the New Houses of Parliament. They occupy the site of the palace inhabited by the ancient sovereigns of England from early Anglo-Saxon times till Henry VIII. went to reside at . Here they lived in security under the shadow of the great neighbouring sanctuary, and after another saw arise, within the walls of their Palace, those Houses of Parliament which have now swallowed up the whole. It was here that Edward the Confessor entertained the Norman cousin who was to succeed him, and here he died on the . The palace was frequently enlarged and beautified afterwards, especially by William Rufus, who built the hall; by Stephen, who built the chapel, to which the finishing touches were given by Edward III.; and by Henry VIII., who built the Star Chamber. Edward I. was born, and Edward IV. died, within the walls of the palace. The most interesting parts of the ancient building were Chapel, the Painted Chamber, and the Star Chamber.

Chapel was a beautiful specimen of rich

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Decorated Gothic, its inner walls being covered with ancient frescoes relating to the Old and New Testament history; it was used as the from till , and its, walls resounded to the eloquence of Chatham, Pitt, Fox, Burke, Grattan, and Canning.

The walls of the Painted Chamber were pointed out by tradition as those of the bedroom where the Confessor died. It was called St. Edward's Chamber, and took its name from the frescoes (arranged round the walls in bands like the Bayeux tapestry) with which it was adorned by Henry III., and which were chiefly illustrative of the History of the Maccabees and the Legendary life of the Confessor.[n.375.1]  Here conferences between the Lords and Commons took place; here the High Court of Justice sate for the trial of Charles I.; and here the king's death-warrant was signed in the disgraceful scene when Cromwell and Henry Marten inked each other's faces. It was here also that Cromwell's daughter Elizabeth Claypole lay in state, and, long afterwards, Lord Chatham and William Pitt.

The Star Chamber, which was rebuilt by Henry VIII., took its name from the gilt stars upon its ceiling. It was the terrible Court in which the functions of Prosecutor and Judge were confounded, and where every punishment except death could be inflicted-imprisonment, pillory, branding, whipping, &c. It was there that William, Bishop of Lincoln, was fined for calling Laud

the great Leviathan,

and that John Lilburn, after being fined , was sentenced to the pillory, and to he whipped from to . On the south side of the

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palace was the Chapel of Our Lady de la Pieu (des Puits?) where Richard II. offered to the Virgin before going to meet Wat Tyler. It was burnt in , but rebuilt by the brother of Elizabeth Woodville, Anthony, Earl Rivers, who left his heart to be buried there.

At the end of the old Palace, opening upon Old , was the Prince's Chamber, built upon foundations of the Confessor's time, with walls feet thick. The upper part had lancet windows of the time of Henry III., and beneath them the quaintest of tapestry represented the birth of Elizabeth. Beyond was the ancient Court of Requests, hung with very curious tapestry representing the defeat of the Armada, woven at Haarlem, from designs of Cornelius Vroom for Lord Howard of Effingham. This was the till . Its interior is shown in Copley's Picture of the who was attacked by his last illness () while declaiming against the disgrace of the proposed motion

for recognising the independence of the North American colonies.

Beneath was the cellar where Guy Fawkes concealed () the barrels of gunpowder by which the king, queen, and peers were to be blown up. Hither, on the day before the opening of Parliament, Lady Aveland, as Hereditary Lord High Chamberlain, comes annually, by her deputy, with torches, to hunt for the successors of Guy Fawkes. On the night of , occurred the great conflagration which was painted by Turner, and the ancient Palace of , with Chapel, and the old were entirely gutted by fire.[n.376.1] 

, containing the , was built -, from designs of Sir Charles Barry, R.A., in the Tudor style of Henry VIII. It is twice the size of the old palace, and is of the largest Gothic buildings in the world. The exterior is constructed of magnesian lime-stone from the Yorkshire quarries of Anston; the interior is of Caen stone. The details of many of the Belgian town halls are introduced in the exterior, which is, however, so wanting in bold lines and characteristic features that no would think of comparing it for beauty with the halls of Brussels, Ypres, or Louvain, though its towers group well at a distance, and especially from the river. Of these towers it has -the over the octagon hall; the ( feet high, occupying nearly the same site as the ancient clock-tower of Edward I., where the ancient Great Tom of for years sounded the hours to the judges of England);[n.377.1]  and the ( feet square, and feet high), being the gateway by which the Queen is intended to approach the . Over the arch of the gate is the statue of Queen Victoria, supported by figures of Justice and Mercy; at the sides her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, are commemorated, and other members of her family. The statues of the kings and queens of England from Saxon times are the principal external ornaments of the rest of the building.

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New was formerly entered by gateways, the finest being the

High Gate

on the west, built by Richard II., and only destroyed under Anne. On the left, where the Star Chamber stood, is now the House of the Speaker, an office which dates from the reign of Edward III.: the Speaker being Sir W. T. Hungerford, elected . On its south side, Hall faces us with its great door and window between square towers, and above, the high gable of the roof, upon which the heads of Oliver Cromwell, Ireton, and Bradshaw were set up on the Restoration. The head of Cromwell still exists in the possession of Mr. Horace Wilkinson, Sevenoaks, Kent.

On Hall

Ireton's head was in the middle, and Cromwell's and Bradshaw's on either side. Cromwell's head, being embalmed, remained exposed to the atmosphere for twenty-five years, and then one stormy night it was blown down, and picked up by the sentry, who, hiding it under his cloak, took it home and secreted it in the chimney-corner, and, as enquiries were constantly being made about it by the Government, it was only on his deathbed that he revealed where he had hidden it. His family sold the head to one of the Cambridgeshire Russells, and, in the same box in which it still is, it descended to a certain Samuel Russell, who, being a needy and careless man, exhibited it in a place near Clare Market. There it was seen by James Cox, who then owned a famous museum. He tried in vain to buy the head from Russell; for, poor as he was, nothing would at first tempt him to part with the relic, but after a time Cox assisted him with money, and eventually, to clear himself from debt, he made the head over to Cox. When Cox at last parted with his museum, he sold the head of Cromwell for £ 230 to three men, who bought it about the time of the French Revolution to exhibit in Mead Court, Bond Street, at half a crown a head. Curiously enough, it happened that each of these three gentlemen died a sudden death, and the head came into the possession of the three nieces of the last man who died. These young ladies, nervous at keeping it in the house, asked Mr. Wilkinson, their medical man, to take care of it for them, and they subsequently sold it to him. For the next fifteen or twenty years Mr. Wilkinson was in the habit of showing it to all the distinguished men of that day, and the head, much treasured, remains in the family. The circumstantial evidence is very curious. It is the only head in history which is known to have been embalmed and afterwards beheaded. On the back of the neck, above the vertebrae, is the mark of the cut of an axe where the executioner, having, perhaps, no proper block, had struck too high, and, laying the head in its soft embalmed state on the block, flattened the nose on one side, making it adhere to the face. The hair grows promiscuously about the face, and the beard, stained to exactly the same colour by the embalming liquor, is tucked up under the chin with the oaken staff of the spear with which the head was stuck upon Westminster Hall, which staff is perforated by a worm that never attacks oak until it has been for many years exposed to the weather. The iron spear-head, where it protrudes above the skull, is rusted away by the action of the atmosphere. The jagged way in which the top of the skull is removed throws us back to a time when surgery was in its infancy, while the embalming is so beautifully done that the cellular process of the gums and the membrane of the tongue are still to be seen.-Letter signed 'Senex,' Times, Dec. 31, 1874.

It was in the yard in front of Hall that Edward I. (), when leaving for Flanders, publicly recommended his son Edward to the love of his people. Here Perkin Warbeck () was set a whole day in the stocks. On the same spot Thomas Lovelace () was pilloried by an order from the Star Chamber, and had of his ears cut off. Here () Alexander Leighton (the father of the archbishop) was not only pilloried, but publicly whipped, for a libel on the queen and the bishops. Here also William Prynne (), for writing the which was supposed to reflect upon Henrietta Maria, was put in the pillory, branded on both cheeks with the letters S. L. (seditious libeller), and lost of his ears. And here the Duke of Hamilton, Lord Capel, and Henry Rich, Earl of Holland, were beheaded for the cause of Charles I. The wool market established by Edward III.

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in , when the wearing of woollen cloths was introduced into England by John Kempe, was moved by Richard II. from Staple Inn to New , where a portion of the trade was still carried on in the century. For many years, before the porch where we are standing, daily, in term time, used to be seen the mule of Cardinal Wolsey (who rode hither from ),

being trapped all in crimson velvet, with a saddle of the same stuffe and gilt stirrupts.

, built by William Rufus, was almost rebuilt by Richard II., who added the noble roof of cobwebless beams of Irish oak

in which spiders cannot live,

which we now see. On the frieze beneath the Gothic windows his badge, the White Hart couchant, is repeated over and over again. The Hall, which is feet long and feet broad, forms a glorious vestibule to the modern Houses of Parliament, and its southern extremity with the fine staircase was added when they were built. In its long existence the Hall has witnessed more tragic scenes than any building in England except the . Sir William Wallace was condemned to death here in , and Sir John Oldcastle the Wickliffite in . In queens-Katherine of Arragon, Margaret of Scotland, and Mary of France --

long upon their knees,

here

begged pardon of Henry VIII. for the

480

men and

eleven

women accused of being concerned in

the Rising of the Prentices,

and obtained their forgiveness.

Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, was tried here and condemned in , and, on hearing his sentence, pronounced the touching speech which is familiar to thousands in the words of

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Shakspeare.[n.381.1]  Here, , Sir Thomas More was condemned to death, when his son, breaking through the guards and flinging himself on his breast, implored to share his fate. Here Fisher, Bishop of Rochester (); the Protector Somerset (); Sir Thomas Wyatt (); Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk (for the sake of Mary of Scotland, ); Philip, Earl of Arundel (); Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, and Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton () were condemned to the block. Here sentence was passed upon the Conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot in , and on the Duke and Duchess of Somerset for the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury in . Here, concealed behind the tapestry of a dark cabinet (), Charles I. and Henrietta Maria were present through the eighteen days' trial of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford. In the same place Charles himself appeared as a prisoner on , with the banners taken at the Battle of Naseby hanging over his head.[n.381.2] 

Bradshaw, in a scarlet robe, and covered by his broad-brimmed hat, placed himself in a crimson velvet chair in the centre of the court, with a desk and velvet cushion before him; Say and Lisle on each side of him; and the two clerks of the court sitting below him at a table, covered with rich Turkey carpet, on which were laid the sword of state and the mace. The rest of the court, with their hats on, took their seats on side benches, hung with scarlet...... During the reading of the charge the King sat entirely unmoved in his chair, looking sometimes to the court and sometimes to the galleries. Occasionally he rose up and turned about to behold the guards and spectators, and then sat down again, but with a majestical composed countenance, unruffled by the slightest emotion, till the clerk came to the words Charles Stuart, as a tyrant, traitor, murderer, etc.; at which the King laughed, as he sat, in the face of the court. The silver head of his staff happened to fall off, at which he appeared surprised; Herbert, who stood near him, offered to pick it up, but Charles, seeing he could not reach it, stooped for it himself. When the words were read stating the charge to be exhibited on behalf of the people of England, a voice, in a loud tone, called out, No, nor the half of the people--it is false--where are they or their consents?- Oliver Cromwell is a traitor. This occasioned a confusion in the court; Colonel Axtell even commanded the soldiers to fire into the box from which the voice proceeded. But it was soon discovered that these words, as well as a former exclamation on calling Fairfax's name, were uttered by Lady Fairfax, the General's wife, who was immediately compelled by the guard to withdraw.-Trial of Charles I., Family Library, xxxi.

The sentence against the King was pronounced on the :--

The King, who during the reading of the sentence had smiled, and more than once lifted his eyes to heaven, then said, Will you hear me a word, Sir? BradshawSir, you are not to be heard after the sentence. The KingNo, Sir? BradshawNo, Sir, by your favour. Guards, withdraw your prisoner. The KingI may speak after the sentence, by your favour, Sir. I may speak after the sentence, ever. By your favour- BradshawHold! The KingThe sentence, Sir. I say, Sir, I do-. BradshawHold! The KingI am not suffered to speak. Expect what justice other people will have.--Trial of Charles 1.

In Viscount Stafford was condemned in Hall for alleged participation in the Roman Catholic plot of Titus Oates. On June IS, , the Hall witnessed the memorable scene which ended in the triumphant acquittal of the Bishops. In Edward, Earl of Warwick, was tried here for manslaughter. Lords Kenmure and Derwentwater, Carnwath and Nithsdale, Widdrington and Nairn were condemned here for rebellion in , and

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Cromartie, Balmerino, and Kilmarnock in , their trial being followed months later by that of the aged Lord Lovat. In Lawrence Shirley, Earl Ferrers, was condemned here to be hung for the murder of his servant. In Lord Byron was tried here for the murder of Mr. Chaworth; and in Elizabeth Chudleigh, Duchess of Kingston, was tried here for bigamy. The last great trial in the Hall was that of Warren Hastings (in ), so eloquently described by Macaulay.

But Hall has other associations besides those of its great Trials. It was here that Henry III. saw the Archbishop and bishops hurl their lighted torches upon the ground, and call down terrific anathemas upon those who should break the charter he had sworn to observe. Here Edward III. received the Black Prince when he returned to England with King John of France as a prisoner after the Battle of Poitiers. Hither came the English barons with the Duke of Gloucester to denounce Robert de Vere, Duke of Ireland, to Richard II.; and here, when Richard abdicated, Henry Bolingbroke claimed the realm of England as descended by right line of blood from Henry III.[n.383.1] 

Hall was the scene of all the Coronation banquets from the time of William Rufus to that of George IV. On these occasions, ever since the reign of Richard II., the gates have been suddenly flung open, and, amid a blare of trumpets, the Royal Champion (always a Dymok or Dymoke of Scrivelsby) rides into the hall in full armour, and, hurling his mailed gauntlet upon the

384

ground, defies to single combat any person who shall gain. say the rights of the sovereign. This ceremony having been thrice repeated as the champion advances up the hall, the sovereign pledges him in a silver cup, which he afterwards sends to him.

On ordinary days-

The great Hall of Westminster, the field Where mutual frauds are fought, and no side yield,-Ben Jonson.

is almost given up to the Lawyers. Nothing in England astonished Peter the Great more than the number of lawyers he saw here.

Why,

he said,

I have only

two

lawyers in all my dominions, and I mean to hang

one

of those when I get home.

The Law Courts, of which Sir E. Coke says,

No man can tell which is the most ancient,

have occupied buildings, from the designs of Sir John Soane, on the west side of the Hall, but will be removed when the New Law Courts at are completed. They are the Court of Queen's Bench, presided over by the Lord Chief Justice and used by the Masters in Chancery, so called from the , open screens, which separated it from the Hall, the Court of Wards and Liveries, the Court of Requests, the Bail Court, and the Court of Common Pleas, presided over by the Chief Justice, where the great Tichborne case was tried -. Up to the reign of Mary I. the Judges rode to the Courts of upon mules. Men used to walk about in the Hall to seek employment as hired witnesses, and shamelessly drew attention to their calling by a straw in their shoes. In the time when Sir Thomas More

385

was presiding in the Court of Chancery, his father, Sir John More, was sitting in the Court of King's Bench, and daily, before commencing his duties, he used to cross the Hall, to ask his father's blessing. The Exchequer Court at was formerly divided by the Hall, the being on side, the on the other.

The proverb- As sure as Exchequer pay --was in the prime thereof in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, who maintained her Exchequer to the height, that her Exchequer might maintain her. The pay was sure inwards, nothing being remitted which was due there to the queen; and sure outwards, nothing being detained which was due thence from the queen, full and speedy payment being made thereof. This proverb began to be crost about the end of the reign of King James, when the credit of the Exchequer began to decay; and no wonder if the streams issuing thence were shallow, when the fountain to feed them was so low, the revenues of the crown being much abated.-Fuller's Worthies.

(The Interior of the Houses of Parliament is shown on Saturdays from ten to four by an order which can be obtained at the Lord Chamberlain's office in the Royal Court on the south side of the building.

Strangers may be present to hear debates in the House of Lords by a Peer's order, or in the House of Commons by an order from any member or the Speaker. Each member can give one order daily.)

The Hall of William Rufus is now merged in the huge palace of Barry. A door on the east side of the Hall forms the Members' approach to the . It leads into the fan-roofed galleries which represent the restored cloisters of . A beautiful little oratory projects into the courtyard and the enclosure. Here it is believed that several of the signatures were affixed to the death-warrant of Charles I. The ancient door of the oratory has only recently been removed. Hence we enter the original of Chapel (

St. Mary's

Chapel in the Vaults

), which dates from , and has escaped the

386

fires which have since consumed the chapel above. While it was being restored as the Chapel of the , an embalmed body of a priest holding a pastoral staff was found. It was supposed to be that of William Lyndwoode, Bishop of St. David's (), who founded a chantry here. The chapel is now gorgeous and gaudy, gilt and painted, a blaze of modern glass and polished glazed tiles.

The staircase at the south end of Hall leads to ( ft. by , and high), which occupies the site of the old . It is decorated with statues:

Burke by Theed

Grattan-Carew.

Pitt-Macdowell.

Fox-Baily.

Mansfield-Baily.

Chatham-Macdowell.

Sir Robert Walpole--Bel.

Lord Somers-Marshall.

Lord Clarendon-Marshall.

Lord Falldand-Bell.

Hampden-Foley.

Selden-Foley.

It was by the door near Burke's statue that John Bellingham the disappointed Russia merchant waited, May ii, , to murder Spencer Perceval.

Hence we enter the , an octagon feet square adorned with statues of kings and queens. On the left opens the , adorned with frescoes by , viz.:

Alice Lisle helping fugitives to escape after the Battle of Sedgemoor.

387

Jane Lane helping Charles II. to escape after the Battle of Worcester.

The Last Sleep of Argyle.

The Executioner tying Wishart's book round the neck of Montrose.

The Lords and Commons presenting the crown to William and Mary in the Banqueting House.

The Landing of Charles II. at Dover, May 26, 1660.

The Acquittal of the Seven Bishops.

Monk declaring for a Free Parliament.

Hence we enter the . On the left, facing the river, are the luxurious rooms of the , where members write their letters and- concoct their speeches.

,

the principal chamber of the manufactory of statute law,

[n.387.1]  only measures ft. by , the smallest size possible for the sake of hearing, its architectural beauty as originally designed by Barry having been entirely sacrificed to sound. At the north end is the Speaker's chair, beneath which is the clerk's table, at the south end of which on brackets lies the mace, which was made at the Restoration in the place of

the fool's bauble

which Cromwell ordered to be taken away. The Ministerial benches are on the right of the Speaker, and the leaders of the Opposition sit opposite. Behind the Speaker is the Gallery for the Reporters of the Press,

the men for whom and to whom Parliament talks so lengthily; the filter through which the senatorial eloquence is percolated for the public.

[n.387.2]  On either side of the House are the division lobbies, the

Ayes

on the west, the

Noes

on the east.

Returning to the Central Hall, the stairs on the left, adorned with a statue of Barry (-), lead to the

388

, decorated with frescoes of the English poets.

The Peers' Corridor is lined with frescoes by. E. W. Cope.

Lenthall asserting the privileges of the Commons against Charles I.

Charles I. erecting his standard at Nottingham.

The Setting out of the Train Bands from London to relieve Gloucester.

The Defence of Basing House by the Cavaliers.

The Embarkation of the Pilgrim Fathers.

The Expulsion of the Fellows of Magdalen for refusing to sign the Covenant.

The Parting of Lord and Lady Russell.

The Burial of Charles I.

On the right is the used for conferences between the Houses of Lords and Commons. It contains the beautiful fresco of

the Delivery of the Law by Moses

by . Its execution occupied years, in compliance with the theory of the artist,

if you paint when you are not inclined, you only spoil art.

The ( ft. by ), overladen with painting and gilding, has a flat roof and stained glass windows filled with portraits of kings and queens. The seats for the peers (for ) are arranged longitudinally, the Government side being to the right of the throne, and the bishops nearest the throne. At the north end, below the Strangers' Gallery, is the dwarf screen of the bar, where witnesses are examined and culprits tried. Here the Speaker and Members of the appear with a tumultuous rush, when they are summoned to hear the Queen's speech. Near the centre of the House is the Woolsack covered with crimson cloth, with cushions whence the Lord Chancellor reads prayers at the opening

389

of the debates. The Princess of Wales sits here at the opening of Parliament, facing the throne.

The Queen enters from the Prince's Chamber preceded by heralds and takes her seat here, the Mistress of the Robes and the Lady of the Bedchamber standing behind her, when the Lord Chancellor, kneeling, presents the Speech. The Throne is so placed, at the of the House, that, if all the doors were open, the Speaker of the would be seen from it.

Thus at a prorogation the Queen on her throne and the Speaker in his chair face each other at a distance of some four hundred and fifty feet, and the eagerness of the Commons in their race from their own House to the bar of the Lords has more than once amused their Sovereign Lady. It used to be an open race, but the start is now so managed that the Speaker and the parliamentary leaders first touch wood, as schoolboys say.-Quarterly Review, clxxxix.

The frescoes above the throne are-

Edward III. conferring the Garter on the Black Prince. C. W. Cope.

The Baptism of Ethelbert. W. Dyce.

Prince Henry condemned by Judge Gascoigne. C. W. Cope.

Over the Strangers' Gallery are-

The Spirit of Justice. D. Maclise.

The Spirit of Religion. T. C. Horttby.

The Spirit of Chivalry. D. Maclise.

On the south of the is the , containing a very fine statue of Queen Victoria supported by Judgment and Mercy, by . This is approached from the Victoria Gate by the , containing frescoes of the Death of Nelson and meeting of Blucher and Wellington. When the Queen consents to arrive by the Victoria Gate, this gallery is

390

crowded with ladies to see the procession pass. At its south end is the , lined with frescoes from the Story of King Arthur by , left unfinished by the death of the artist. This room is the best in the palace both in proportion and decoration. In a small room adjoining, used for committees, is a painted copy off lost tapestry from the Painted Chamber, representing the English fleet pursuing the Spanish fleet at Fowey.

The Victoria Tower is approached by the open space known as , where Chaucer lived and probably died in a house the site of which is now occupied by Henry VII.'s Chapel. Ben Jonson also died in a house here. It was here that the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot suffered death, opposite to the windows of the house through which they carried the gunpowder into the vaults under the .

The next day being Friday, were drawn from the Tower to the Old Palace Yard in Westminster, Thomas Winter, Rookewood, Heyes, and Faukes. Winter went first up the scaffold, and protested that he died a true Catholick, with a very pale face and dead colour, he went up the ladder, and after a swing or two with the halter, to the quartering block was drawn, and there quickly despatched. Next came Rookewood, who protested to die in his idolatry a Romish Catholick, went up the ladder, hanging till he was almost dead, then was drawn to the block, where he gave up his last gasp. Then came Heyes, who was so sturdy a villain that he would not wait the hangman's turn, but turned himself off with such a leap that he broke the halter with the swing; but after his fall he was drawn to the block, and there his bowels withdrawn, and he was divided into four parts. Last of all came the great Devil of all, Guy Faukes, alias Johnson, who should have put fire to the powder. His body being weak with the torture and sickness he was scarce able to go up the ladder, yet with much ado, by the help of the hangman, went high enough to break his neck by the fall. He made no speech, but with his crosses and idle ceremonies made his end upon the gallows and the block, to the great joy of all beholders that the land was ended of so wicked a villainy.-The Weekeley Newes, Munday, 31st Jan., 1606.

The men who contrived, the men who prepared, the men who sanctioned, this scheme of assassination were, one and all, of Protestant birth. Father Parsons was Protestant born, Father Owen and Father Garnet were Protestant born. From what is known of Winter's early life, it may be assumed that he was a Protestant. Catesby and Wright had been Protestant boys. Guy Fawkes had been a Protestant, Perry had been a Protestant. The minor persons were like their chiefs-apostates from their early faith, with the moody weakness which is an apostate's inspiration and his curse. Tresham was a convert- Monteagle was a convert-Digby was a convert. Thomas Morgan, Robert Kay, and Kit Wright, were all converts. The five gentlemen who dug the mine in Palace yard, were all of English blood and of Protestant birth. But they were converts and fanatics, observing no law save that of their own passions; men of whom it should be said, in justice to all religions, that they no more disgraced the church which they entered than that which they had left.-Hepworth Dixon.

Here, , being Lord Mayor's Day, Sir Walter Raleigh was led to execution at o'clock in the morning and said as he playfully touched the axe,

This is a sharp medicine, but it will cure all diseases.

His death was managed by him with so high and religious a resolution, as if a Roman had acted a Christian, or rather a Christian a Roman.Osborne.

Sir Walter's head was preserved by Lady Raleigh in a glass-case during the years through which she survived him, and afterwards by her son Carew: with him it is believed to be buried at Horsley in Surrey.

In front of the Palace stands the equestrian statue of Richard Coeur de Lion by --a poor work, the action of the figure being quite inconsistent with that of the horse.

The , is the especial church of the , and, except the Abbey

392

and , has the oldest foundation in London, having been founded by the Confessor and dedicated to Margaret, the martyr of Antioch, partly to divert to another building the crowds who inundated the Abbey church, and partly for the benefit of the multitudes of refugees in Sanctuary.

The church was rebuilt by Edward I., again was re-edified in the time of Edward IV. by Sir Thomas Billing and his wife Lady Mary, and it has been greatly modernised in the last century. Here the Fast Day Sermons were preached in the reign of Charles I.; and here both Houses of Parliament, with the Assembly of Divines and the Scots Commissioners, met , and were prepared by prayer for taking the Covenant.

Then Mr. Nye in the pulpit read the Covenant, and all present held up their hands in testimony of their assent to it; and afterwards in the several Houses subscribed their names in a parchment roll, where the Covenant was written: the Divines of the Assembly, and the Scots Commissioners likewise subscribed the Covenant, and then Dr. Gouge in the pulpit prayed for a blessing upon it.-Whitelocke, p. 74.

Here Hugh Peters,

the pulpit buffoon,

denounced Charles as

the great Barabbas of Windsor,

and urged Parliament to bring the King

to condign, speedy, and capital punishment.

My lords,

he said,

and you, noble gentlemen of the

House of Commons

, you are the Sanhedrim, and the great Council of the nation, therefore you must be sure to do justice. Do not prefer the great Barabbas, Murderer, Tyrant, and Traitor, before these poor hearts (pointing to the red-coats), and the army, who are our Saviours.

[n.392.1] 

Amongst the Puritans who preached here were

Calamy, Vines, Nye, Manton, Marshall, Gauden, Owen, Burgess,

Newcomen, Reynolds, Cheynell, Baxter, Case (who censured Cromwell to his face, and when discoursing before General Monk, cried out,

There are some who will betray three kingdoms for filthy lucre's sake,

and threw his handkerchief into the General's pew); the critical Lightfoot; Taylor,

the illuminated Doctor

; and Goodwyn,

the windmill with a weathercock upon the top.

[n.393.1] 

In later times the rival divines Burnet and Sprat preached here before Parliament in the same morning.

Burnet and Sprat were old rivals. There prevailed in those days an indecent custom: when the preacher touched any favourite topic in a manner that delighted his audiences, their approbation was expressed by a loud hum, continued in proportion to their zeal or pleasure. When Burnet preached, part of his congregation hummed so loudly and so long, that he sate down to enjoy it, and rubbed his face with his handkerchief. When Sprat preached, he likewise was honoured with a like animating hum, but he stretched out his hand to the congregation, and cried, Peace, peace, I pray you, peace! -Dr. Johnson.

Sir John Jekyl told Speaker Onslow in proof of Burnet's popularity that day when he was present the Bishop preached out his hourglass before exhausting his subject.

He took it up, and held it aloft in his hand, and then turned it up for another hour; upon which the audience set up almost a shout of joy!

It was in that Dr. Sacheverell preached his sermon after his suspension, on Palm Sunday, .

The most important feature of the church is the east window, justly cited by Winston, the great authority on stained glass, as the most beautiful work as regards harmonious arrangement of colouring with which he is acquainted. It was ordered by Ferdinand and Isabella to

394

be executed at Gouda in Holland, and was intended as a gift to the new chapel which Henry VII. was building, upon the marriage of their daughter Catherine with his eldest son Arthur. But the execution of the window occupied years, and before it was finished Prince Arthur was dead, and the chapel was finished. Henry VIII. presented the window to Waltham Abbey, and thence, on the Dissolution, the last abbot sent it for safety to his private chapel at New Hall, an estate which was afterwards purchased by Sir Thomas Boleyn, father of Queen Anne. The window remained at New Hall till the place became the property of General Monk, who took down the window and buried it, to preserve it from the Puritans, but replaced it in his chapel at the Restoration. After his death the chapel was pulled down, but the window was preserved and was eventually purchased by Mr. Conyers of Copt Hall in Essex, by whose son it was sold in to the churchwardens of for .[n.394.1]  Even then the window was not suffered to rest in peace, as the Dean and Chapter of looked upon it as

a superstitious image and picture,

and brought a lawsuit for its removal, which, after having been fought for years, happily failed in the end.[n.394.2] 

The window represents--on a deep blue backgroundthe Crucifixion, in which, as in many old Italian pictures, angels are catching the blood which flows from the Saviour's wounds, the soul of the penitent thief is received by an angel, while the soul of the bad thief is carried off by a

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demon. At the foot of the cross kneels on side Arthur, Prince of Wales, with his patron St. George and the red and white roses of his parents over his head; on the other Katherine of Arragon, with St. Cecilia above her, and the pomegranate of Granada.

Over the altar is the Supper at Emmaus, executed in lime-wood in by from the Titian in the Louvre. In the porch near the north-western entrance is a beautiful carved -century seat where a loaf of bread and sixpence are given every Sunday to poor widows in accordance with the will of Mrs. Joyce Goddard, . Close by is the mural monument of Mrs, Elizabeth Corbett (who died of cancer) with Pope's famous epitaph--

Here rests a woman, good without pretence,

Blest with plain reason, and with sober sense--

No conquest she but her own self desired,

No arts essayed, but not to be admired:

Passion and pride were to her soul unknown;

Convinced that virtue only is our own:

So unaffected, so composed a mind,

So firm, yet soft, so strong, yet so refined,

Heaven, as its purest gold, by tortures tried;--

The saint sustained it, but the woman died.

I have always considered this as the most valuable of all Pope's epitaphs; the subject of it is a character not discriminated by any shining or eminent peculiarities; yet that which really makes, though not the splendour, the felicity of life, and that which every wise man will choose for his friend and lasting companion in the languor of age, in the quiet of privacy, when he departs weary and disgusted from the ostentatious, the volatile, and the vain. Of such a character, which the dull overlook, and the gay despise, it was fit that the value should be made known, and the dignity established. Domestic virtue, as it is exerted without great occasions, or conspicuous consequences, in an even tenor, required the genius of Pope to display it in such a manner as might attract regard, and enforce reverence. Who can forbear to lament that this amiable woman has no name in the verse? -Dr. Johnston.

In the same western porch are the monuments , , and , , founders of the Almshouses which are called by their names. In the north aisle is the curious but much injured Flemish monument and bust of of Breda, , builder of the almshouses in -

souldier with King Henry at Turney, Yeoman of the Guard, and Usher to King Henry, King Edward, Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth: a careful man for poore folke, who in the end of this toune did build for poore widowes

twenty

houses, of his owne cost.

Another monument, with quaint verses, commemorates

the late deceased virgin, Mistris Elizabeth Hereicke.

Near the north-east door is the monument of , , who sold oatmeal cakes by the church door, and left money for a sermon and the maintenance of poor widows. In the north-eastern porch are many monuments with effigies offering interesting examples of costume of the time of James I., and that to , , whose mother Ursula was daughter of the famous Countess of Salisbury, the only daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, brother of King Edward the :--

She served Queen Elizabeth

forty

years, lying in the bedchamber, esteemed of her, loved of all, doing good all she could, a continual remembrancer of the suite of the poor.

A tablet, with a relief of his death, commemorates , .

In the chancel is buried , , the satirical poet laureate called by Erasmus

Britannicarum literarum lumen et decus,

who died in Sanctuary, to which he was driven by the enmity of Wolsey, excited by his squibs on bad customs and bad clergy. Near him (not in the porch)

397

rests another court poet of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth- , , whose adventurous life was long romance. His best work was his

He was

one

of those unfortunate men who wrote poetry all his days, and lived a long life, to complete his misfortune.

[n.397.1]  Camden gives his epitaph, which has disappeared.[n.397.2]  Near these graves is that of a poet of the Commonwealth, , , author of the republican romance called Here also was buried Milton's beloved wife, (), who died in childbirth a year after her marriage to the poet.

In the south-eastern porch is the stately tomb of , :--

She was grandchilde to Thomas, Duke of Norfolke, the

second

of that surname, and sister to Charles Howard, Earl of Nottingham, Lord High Admiral of England, by whose prosperous direction, through the goodness of God in defending his handmaid Queen Elizabeth, the whole fleet of Spain was defeated and discomfited.

She married Edward Sutton, Lord Dudley, and secondly Richard Mountpesson, who is represented kneeling beside her. A tablet by , erected in , commemorates , the printer, , who long worked in the neighbouring and is buried in the churchyard. A brass plate was put up here in to , beheaded close by, and buried beneath the altar.

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Exiled to the vestry, but preserved there, are the

State Arms

put up in the church under the Puritan rule, but a crown has been added. After the Restoration, the church authorities rushed into the opposite extreme of loyal display, and a triumphal arch used to be erected inside the church annually in commemoration of the time of the king's return, till it fell and killed a carpenter in the beginning of the last century. The churchwardens for a years have held with their office the possession of a very curious , inside the lid of which is a head of the Duke Cumberland engraved by Hogarth in , to commemorate the Battle of Culloden. Successive churchwardens have enclosed it in a succession of silver cases, beautifully engraved with representations of the historical events which have occurred when they held office, so that it has become a really valuable curiosity, Before leaving this church may notice the marriage, at its altar, of Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, grandfather of Mary II. and Anne, with Frances, daughter of Sir Thomas Aylesbury; and the baptism, at its font (), of Barbara Villiers, the notorious Duchess of Cleveland. The restoration of the church is contemplated, which, it is to be hoped may conduce to the preservation, not (as is so often the case in London) to the ruin, of its monuments, which afford so many quiet glimpses of Elizabethan and Jacobean History.

The of is closely paved with tombstones. Wenceslaus Hollar, the engraver (), is said to lie near the north-west angle of the tower. Here also are buried Sir William Waller, the Parliamentary general (), and Thomas Blood, celebrated for his

399

attempt to steal the regalia (). The bodies of the mother of Oliver Cromwell; of Admiral Blake (who had been honoured with a public funeral); of Sir Thomas Constable and Dr. Dorislaus, concerned in the trial of Charles I.; of Thomas May, the poet and historian of the Commonwealth, and others famous under the Protectorate, when exhumed from the Abbey, were carelessly interred here. cannot leave the churchyard without recalling its association with the poet Cowper, while he was a boy.

Crossing St. Margaret's Churchyard one evening, a glimmering light in the midst of it excited his curiosity, and, instead of quickening his speed, he, whistling to keep up his courage the while, went to see whence it proceeded. A gravedigger was at work there by lanternlight, and, just as Cowper came to the spot, he threw up a skull which struck him on the leg. This gave an alarm to his conscience, and he reckoned the incident as amongst the best religious impressions which he received at Westminster.-Southey's Life of Cowper.

On the south and west of the Abbey and the precincts of School is a labyrinth of poor streets. commemorated the vineyard of the Abbey. Many of the old signs are historical-the , a record of the Crusades; the , the badge of Richard II.; the , the badge of the Tudors. In the poverty-stricken quarter, not far from the river, is , the of Queen Anne's churches, built () from designs of , a pupil of Vanbrugh. It has semi-circular apses on the east and west, and at each of the corners of the towers which made Lord Chesterfield compare it to an elephant on its back with its feet in the air. The effect at a distance is miserable, but the details of the church are good

400

when you approach them. Churchill, the poet, was curate and lecturer here (), and how utterly unsuited for the office we learn from his own lines:--

I kept those sheep,

Which, for my curse, I was ordained to keep,

Ordain'd, alas! to keep through need, not choice.

Whilst, sacred dulness ever in my view,

Sleep, at my bidding, crept from pew to pew.

, near this, leads to , erected in on the site of the horse-ferry, where Mary of Modena crossed the river in her flight from (), her passage being

rendered very difficult and dangerous by the violence of the wind and the heavy and incessant rain.

At the same spot James II. crossed days after in a little boat with a single pair of oars, and dropped the great seal of England into the river on his passage. The large open space called is used as a playground by the Scholars. In , on the north of the square, is , built by Miss Burdett Coutts in , and opposite this of . At the end of towards is the , a quaint building of , with statues in front in the costume of the children for whom it was founded. In the narrow streets near this is , built . The gate of the earlier prison here, called , is preserved in the garden.

At the end of , opposite the entrance to , is a very picturesque , by , in memory of the old boys killed in the Crimean war; and at the corner of is a

401

(by and ), erected in by Mr. Charles Buxton, in honour of those who effected the abolition of the Slave trade. With its pretty coloured marbles and the trees behind, it is of the most picturesque things in London. Near this is a by , erected in . It was in the
drawing-room of the opposite house, No. , , that the body of Lord Byron lay in state, , when it arrived from Missolonghi before its removal to Newstead. ends at , so called from Edward Storey,

Keeper of the Birds

(in ) to Charles II. Parallel with the Park on this side runs , with many houses bearing the

402

comfortable solid look of her date, and with porches and doorways of admirable design carved in wood: a statue of Queen Anne stands at an angle.

leads into , named after Frederick, Duke of York, son of George III., but formerly called , from the number of French Protestants who took refuge there in . Here No. , destroyed in (without a voice being raised to save it), was Milton's

pretty garden house

marked on the garden side by a tablet erected by Jeremy Bentham (who lived and died close by in ) inscribed

Sacred to Milton, Prince of Poets.

It was here that he became blind, and that Andrew Marvell lived as his secretary. His wife, Mary Powell, died here, leaving little girls motherless, and here he married his wife, Catherine Woodcocke, who died in childbirth a year after, and is commemorated in the beautiful sonnet beginning-

Methought I saw my late espoused saint, Brought to me, like Alcestis, from the grave.

Hazlitt lived here in Milton's house, and here he received Haydon,

Charles Lamb and his poor sister, and all sorts of clever odd people, in a large room, wainscoted and ancient, where Milton had meditated.

[n.402.1] 

We may turn down [n.402.2]  to , opened , but rebuilt -. It is now nearly twice as broad as any of the other bridges on the river. Hence we see the stately river front of the Houses of Parliament,

403

and the ancient towers of on the opposite bank.[n.403.1]  It is interesting to remember how many generations have

taken water

here to

go to London

by the great river highway.

Few visit the bridge early enough to see the view towards the City as it is described by Wordsworth-

Earth has not anything to shew more fair:

Dull would he be of soul who could pass by,

A sight so touching in its majesty:

The City now doth like a garment wear

The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,

Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie

Open unto the fields, and to the sky,

All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

Never did sun more beautifully steep

In his first splendour valley, rock, or hill;

Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep I

The river glideth at its own sweet will:

Dear God! the very houses seem asleep,

And all that mighty heart is lying still!

 
 
Footnotes:

[n.375.1] They are engraved in J. T. Smith's Vetusta Monumenta.

[n.376.1] The fire began in the rooms adjacent to the House of Lords, amid the piles of tallies which were preserved there-pieces of stick upon which the primitive accounts of the House were kept by notches.

[n.377.1] It was this clock which once struck thirteen at midnight with the effect of saving a man's life. John Hatfield, guard on the terrace at Windsor in the reign of William and Mary, being accused of having fallen asleep at his post, and tried by court-martial, solemnly denied the charge, declaring as proof of his being awake, that he heard Great Tom strike thirteen, which was doubted on account of the great distance. But while he was under sentence of death, an affidavit was made by several persons that the clock actually did strike thirteen instead of twelve, whereupon he received the king's pardon.

[n.381.1] Henry VIII. Act. ii. sc. i.

[n.381.2] Westminster Hall, by Edward Foss.

[n.383.1] Shakspeare in his Richard II. makes the King pronounce his abdication at this scene.

[n.387.1] Quarterly Review, clxxxix.

[n.387.2] Quarterly Review, clxxxix.

[n.392.1] Examination of Beaver in the trial of Hugh Peters

[n.393.1] Walcott's Westminster.

[n.394.1] Timbs's Curiosities of London.

[n.394.2] In memory of this triumph the then churchwarden presented to the parish the beautiful Loving Cup of St. Margaret.

[n.397.1] D'Israeli, Calamities of Authors.

[n.397.2] Come, Alecto, lend a torch, To find a Churchyard in a church porch; Poverty and poetry this torch doth enclose, Therefore gentlemen be merry in prose.

[n.402.1] Haydon's Autobiography, i. 211.

[n.402.2] William Godwin, author of Caleb Williams, died (1836) in a house (now destroyed) on the left. At the angle on the left is St. Stephen's Club, erected 1874, from an admirable design of J. Whichcord.

[n.403.1] Artists should find their way to the banks amongst the oats and warehouses on the Westminster shore opposite Lambeth and farther still.