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THE MIRROR OF LITERATURE, AMUSEMENT, AND INSTRUCTION.

VOL. XIII, No. 365.] SATURDAY, APRIL 11, 1829. [PRICE. 2d.

* * * * *

OLD SOMERSET HOUSE.

[Illustration: OLD SOMERSET HOUSE.]


The Engraving on the annexed page is, perhaps, one of the greatest
antiquarian treasures it has for some time been our good fortune to
introduce to the readers of the MIRROR. It represents the original
SOMERSET HOUSE, which derived its name from Edward Seymour, Duke of
Somerset, maternal uncle to Edward VI., and Protector of the realm during
most of the reign of that youthful sovereign. The time at which this
nobleman commenced his magnificent palace (called _Somerset House_) has
been generally faxed at the year 1549; but that he had a residence on
this spot still earlier, is evident from two of his own letters, as well
as from his "cofferer's" account, which states that from April 1, 1548,
to October 7, 1551, "the entire cost of Somerset House, up to that
period, amounted to 10,091l. 9s. 2d." By comparing this sum with
the value of money in the present day, we may form some idea of the
splendour of the Protector's palace, as well as from Stow, who, in his
"Survaie," second edition, published in 1603, styles it "a large and
beautiful house, but yet unfinished." The architect is supposed to have
been John of Padua, who came to England in the reign of Henry VIII. - this
being one of the first buildings designed from the Italian orders that
was ever erected in this kingdom. Stow tells us there were several
buildings pulled down to make room for this splendid structure, among
which he enumerates the original parish church of St. Mary-le-Strand;
Chester's or Strand Inne; a house belonging to the Bishop of Llandaff;
"in the high street a fayre bridge, called _Strand Bridge_, and under it
a lane or waye, down to the landing-place on the banke of Thames;" and
the _Inne_ or London lodging of the Bishop of Chester and the Bishop of
Worcester. Seymour states, that the site of St. Mary's church became a
part of the garden of Somerset House; and that when the Protector pulled
down the old church, he promised to build a new one for the parishioners,
but his death prevented his fulfilling that engagement. The Strand Bridge
formed part of the public highway; and through it, according to Maitland,
"ran a small watercourse from the fields, which, gliding along a lane
below, had its influx to the Thames near Somerset Stairs."[1]

[1] The present _Strand Lane_ (as it would seem to have been called in
Strype's time) skirts the eastern side of Somerset House, and forms
a boundary between the parishes of St. Mary and St. Clement Danes.
At its stairs, which are still, as formerly, "a place of some note
to take water at," is the outlet of a small underground stream.

Besides the places above mentioned, the palace-building Protector pulled
down part of the Priory church of St. John, Clerkenwell, a chapel and
cloisters near St. Paul's cathedral, for the sake of the materials. He
was, however, soon overtaken by justice, for in the proclamation, October
8, 1549, against the Duke of Somerset, previously to his arrest, he is
charged with "enriching himselfe," and building "sumptuous and faire
houses," during "all times of the wars in France and Scotland, leaving
the king's poore soldiers unpaid of their wages." After the attainder and
execution of the Protector, on Tower Hill, January 22, 1552-3, Somerset
Place devolved to the Crown, and was conferred by the king upon his
sister, the Princess Elizabeth, who resided here during her short visit
to the court in the reign of Queen Mary. Elizabeth, after her succession
to the throne, lent Somerset Place to Lord Hunsdon, (her chamberlain,)
whose guest she occasionally became. He died here in 1596. On the death
of Elizabeth, it appears to have become a jointure-house, or dotarial
palace, of the queens' consort; of whom Anne of Denmark, queen of James
I. kept a splendid court here. Arthur Wilson, in his "History of King
James," generally calls this mansion "the queen's palace in the Strand;"
but it was more commonly called Denmark House; and Strype says that by
the queen "this house was much repaired and beautified, and improved by
new buildings and enlargements. She also brought hither water from Hyde
Park in pipes." Dr. Fuller remarks that this edifice was so tenacious of
the name of the Duke of Somerset, "though he was not full five years
possessor of it, that he would not change a duchy for a kingdom, when
solemnly proclaimed by King James, Denmark House, from the king of
Denmark lodging therein, and his sister, Queen Anne, repairing thereof."

Pennant says, "Inigo Jones[2] built the back-front and water-gate about
the year 1623;" but it may be questioned whether these were not the new
buildings spoken of as having been previously raised by Anne of Denmark.
Pennant likewise speaks of the chapel which was begun by Jones in the
same year.

[2] Inigo Jones died at Somerset House, July 21, 1651.

Denmark House was next fitted up for Henrietta Maria, queen of Charles
I., and settled on her for life. By her marriage articles, extraordinary
concessions were made in favour of the Catholics. The queen was not only
allowed to have, herself, the free exercise of the "Roman Catholic
Apostolic religion," but all her children were to be brought up in the
same faith; she was to have a chapel in all the royal palaces; a bishop
of her own faith was to be her almoner; twenty-eight priests, or
ecclesiastics, were to serve in her chapel; the domestics of her
household were to be French Catholics, &c. Thus, this mansion became the
very focus of Catholicism, and a convent of Capuchin friars was
established here by the queen. At length, in 1642, it was ordered by the
Parliament that "the altar and chapel in _Somerset House_ be forthwith
burnt," and that the Capuchins be "sent into France."

In 1659, the Commons resolved that Somerset House, with all its
appurtenances, should be sold for the partial discharge of the great
arrears due to the army; and Ludlow states, that it was sold for
10,000l. except the chapel; but the restoration of King Charles
prevented the agreement from being fulfilled.

This mansion was frequently used for the state reception of the remains
of deceased persons of high rank previously to their interment. The
Protector, Oliver Cromwell, was laid in state here; and Ludlow states,
that the folly and profusion of this display so provoked the people, that
they "threw dirt, in the night, on his escutcheon, that was placed over
the great gate of Somerset House." After the restoration of Charles II.
Somerset House reverted to the queen dowager, who returned to England in
1660; went back to France, but returning in 1662, she took up her
residence at Somerset House; when Cowley and Waller wrote some courtly
verses in honour of this edifice, the latter complimenting the queen with
Somerset House rising at her command, "like the _first creation_."

In 1670, the remains of Monck, Duke of Albemarle, were laid here "for
many weeks in royal state." For several years subsequently to this period
the mansion was but little occupied; but in 1677, the Prince of Orange,
afterwards William III., resided here for a short period prior to his
marriage. In 1678, Somerset House became the reputed, if not the real
scene of the mysterious murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey, which is
attributed to the Papists connected with the chapel establishment of
Catherine of Braganza, queen of Charles II.; to whom this mansion was
destined, contingently, as a jointure-house, and who was occasionally
lodged here when Charles's gallantries had rendered it incompatible for
her to be at Whitehall. On the king's decease, in 1685, she removed
hither entirely, and kept her court here till 1692, when she departed for
Portugal, leaving her palace to the Earl of Faversham, who continued to
inhabit it till after the decease of the queen dowager in 1705.

From a description about 1720, we learn that "the stately piles of new
brick houses on both sides of Somerset House, much eclipse that palace."
At the entrance from the Strand, "is a spacious square court, garnished
on all sides with rows of freestone buildings, and at the front is a
piazza, with stone pillars, and a pavement of freestone. Besides this
court there are other larger ones, which are descended towards the river
by spacious stairs of freestone. The outward beauty of this court appears
by a view from the water, having a good front, and a most pleasant
garden, which runs to the water side. More westward is a large yard
adjoining to the Savoy, made use of for a coach-house and stables; at the
bottom of which are stairs, much used by watermen, this being a noted
place for landing and taking water at." The water gate was ornamented
with the figures of Thames and Isis, and in the centre of the
water-garden was a statue. The principal garden was a kind of raised
terrace, (ascended by steps from the water side) in which there was a
large basin, once dignified with a fountain. The ground was laid out in
parterres, near the angles of which statues were placed; one of them, a
Mercury, in brass, had been appraised, in 1649, at 500l.

In the early part of the last century, Somerset House was occasionally
appropriated to masquerades and other court entertainments. In the reign
of George II. William, Prince of Orange, resided here a short time; and
in 1764, the hereditary Prince of Brunswick became an inmate, prior to
his nuptials with the Princess Augusta, sister to George III. In April,
1763, a splendid fete was given here to the Venetian ambassadors, who
were entertained several days in this mansion.

In the year 1761, the second of his late majesty, Somerset House was
settled on the queen consort, in the event of her surviving the king; but
in April, 1775, in consequence of a royal message to Parliament, it was
resolved, that "Buckingham House, now called the Queen's House," should
be settled on her majesty in lieu of the former, which was to be vested
in the king, his heirs and successors, "for the purpose of erecting and
establishing certain public offices." An act was consequently passed in
the same year, and shortly afterwards the building of the present stately
pile was commenced under the superintendence of the late Sir William
Chambers. Extensive, however, as the buildings are, the original plan
has never been fully executed, and the eastern side is altogether
unfinished. The splendour of the building is, however, shortly to be
completed by the erection of another wing, to be appropriated as the
King's College; and surveys have already been made for this purpose.

The print represents the original mansion, or, we should rather say, city
of mansions, with its monastic chapel, and geometrical gardens, laid out
in the trim style of our forefathers. The suite of state apartments in
the principal front was very splendid, and previously to their being
dismantled by Sir William Chambers, they exhibited a sorry scene of royal
finery and attic taste. Mouldering walls and decayed furniture, broken
casements, falling roofs, and long ranges of uninhabited and
uninhabitable apartments, winding stairs, dark galleries, and long
arcades - all combined to present to the mind in strong, though gloomy
colours, a correct picture of the transitory nature of sublunary
splendour.

In the distance of the print is the celebrated Strand maypole, although
its situation there does not coincide with that marked out in more recent
prints. The original of our Engraving is a scarce print, by Hollar, who
died in 1677.

In the year 1650, an act was passed for the sale of the "honours, manors,
and lands heretofore belonging to the late king, queen, and prince," for
the payment of the army; and under that act were sold several tenements,
&c. "belonging unto Somerset House." In this list were several signs, and
it is remarkable, that the _Red Lion_, (opposite the _Office of the
Mirror_, and at the corner of Catherine-street, in the Strand) is the
only one which now remains. The _Lion_ may still be seen on the front of
the house. The Red Lion wine vaults, three doors from this corner was
probably named from the above, since nearly every house formerly had its
sign.

* * * * *



JERUSALEM.

_(For the Mirror.)_


City of God - thy palaces o'erthrown -
Thy nation branded - tribes o'er earth dispersed:
Thy temple ruin'd, and thy glory fled, -
Speak of thy impious crimes, thy daring guilt,
And tell a tale whose lines are traced in blood.

No more from hence ascends
The sacrificial smoke; the priest no more
Sheds blood of lambs, to expiate thy crimes -
Crimes foul as hell - crimes which the blood of Him,
Who came from heaven to die for guilty man,
Alone could purge, - and innocence impart.
Here holy David tuned his harp to strains
Sublime as those of angels, when he sung
In dulcet melody the praise of Him
Who should redeem from guilt the sons of man,
And rescue who in Him believed from death -
That second death - of which the first is type.
Here lived - here died - whom prophets long foretold,
Whom angels worship and whom seraphs praise,
The Son of God, mysterious God-Man:
He was rejected by the Jew; and here -
To fill the awful measure of their guilt -
At noon, a deed was done, without a peer;
A deed, unequalled since the world began,
The masterpiece of sin, of crime the chief;
At which the sun grew dark, earth's pillars shook,
Chaotic gloom as erst o'erspread the land,
And nature frowned at insults paid her God -
The crucifixion of His only Son.

Here now the banner of the prophet false,
Unfolds its silken folds to taunt the Jew;
The moslem minarets lift high their heads.
And raise their summits in the placid sky -
As tho' to rouse from his deep lethargy
The hardened Jew; to wrest from Paynim hordes
The Holy City, once the abode of God.

But shall Mohammed's banner ever float
On Salem's ruins? Shaft her sacred dust
Where Christ has shed His blood, by infidels
Be ever trodden down? Shall her temple
Prostrate lie, to cause the impious mock
Of Mussulmen for ever? It may not be.
Ere many years wane in eternity,
That banner shall be plucked from its proud height -
Those tow'ring minarets shall fall to earth
And God again be worshipp'd thro' the land.
David's fair city shall be then rebuilt;
Her pristine beauty shall be far surpassed
By more than mortal splendour; her temple
Point high its turrets to the skies - and He,
The God of Hosts with glory fill the place!

S.J.

* * * * *



PARLIAMENTS, ANCIENT AND MODERN.

_(For the Mirror.)_


Chamberlayne in his _Notitia Angliæ_, says, "Before the conquest, the
great council of the king, consisting only of the great men of the
kingdom, was called _Magnatum Conventus_, or else _Prælatorum Procerumque
Concilium_, and by the Saxons in their own tongue _Micel Gemote_,[3] the
great assembly; after the conquest about the beginning of King Edward I.,
some say in the time of Henry I., it was called by the French word
_Parlementum_, from _Parler_, to talk together; still consisting (as
divers authors affirm) only of the great men of the nation, until the
reign of Henry III. when the commons also were called to sit in
parliament; for divers authors presume to say, the first writs to be
found in records, sent forth to them, bear date 49 Henry III. Yet some
antiquaries are of opinion, that long before, nothing of moment wherein
the lives or estates of the common people of England were concerned, ever
passed without their consent."

[3] Or Wittenagemote, i.e. assembly of wise men.

In Edward the Third's time, an act of parliament, made in the reign of
William the Conqueror, was pleaded in the case of the Abbey of St.
Edmund's Bury, and judicially allowed by the court. Hence it appears that
parliaments or general councils are coeval with the kingdom itself.

Sir Walter Raleigh thinks the Commons were first called on the 17th of
Henry I.

_Parliamentum de la Blande_, was a denomination to a parliament in Edward
the Second's time, whereto the barons came armed against the two
Spencers, with coloured bands on their sleeves for distinction.

_Parliamentum Insanum_, was a parliament held at Oxford, anno 41 Henry
III. so called, because the lords came with great retinues of armed men
to it; and many things were violently transacted therein against the
king's prerogative.

_Parliamentum Indoctorum_, was a parliament held at Coventry, 6th Henry
VI. whereunto by special precept to the sheriffs of the several counties,
no lawyer, or person skilled in the law was to be called.

_Parliamentum Diabolicum_, was a parliament held at Coventry, 38th Henry
VI. wherein Edward, Earl of March (afterwards king) and several others
were attainted. The acts passed therein were annulled in the succeeding
parliament.

"In 1524, April 15, (says Stowe) a parliament was begun at the Blacke
Friers, wherein was demanded a subsidy of £800,000. to be raised of goods
and lands, four shillings in every pound; and in the end was granted two
shillings. This parliament was adjourned to Westminster, among the blacke
monks, and ended in the king's palace there the 14th of August, at nine
of the clocke in the night, and was therefore called the _Blacke
Parliament_."

Parliaments formerly sat in Westminster Hall and the Chapter house. "In
1397, (says Pennant) when in the reign of Richard II. the hall was
extremely ruinous, he built a temporary room for his parliament formed
with wood, covered with tiles. It was open on all sides, that the
constituents might see every thing that was said and done; and to secure
freedom of debate, he surrounded the house with 4,000 Cheshire archers,
with bows bent, and arrows knocked ready to shoot. This fully answered
the intent, for every sacrifice was made to the royal presence."

The place where the commons of Great Britain, now hold their assemblies,
was built by king Stephen, and dedicated to his namesake the
proto-martyr. It was beautifully rebuilt by Edward III. in 1347, and by
him made a collegiate church, and a dean and twelve secular priests
appointed. Soon after its surrender to Edward VI. it was applied to its
present use. The revenues at that period were not less than £1,085 a
year.

When the royal assent (says de Lolme) is given to a public bill, the
clerk says, _le Roy le veut_. If the bill be a private one, he says,
_soit fait comme il est désiré_. If the bill has subsidies for its
objects, he says, _le Roy remercie ses loyaux sujets, accepte leur
benevolence ainsi le veut_. Lastly, if the King does not think proper to
assent to the bill, the clerk says, _le Roy s'en avisera_; which is a
mild way of giving a refusal. This custom was introduced at the conquest,
and has been continued, like other matters of form, which sometimes exist
for ages after the real substance of things has been altered; and judge
Blackstone expresses himself on this subject in the following words: - "A
badge, it must be owned, (now the only one remaining) of conquest; and
which one would wish to see fall into total oblivion, unless it be
reserved as a solemn memento to remind us that our liberties are mortal,
having once been destroyed by a foreign power." (De Lolme.) Under the
walls of the _legal_ parliament, there is held an _illegal_ parliament,
composed of _livery_ men, who assemble in the members' servants
waiting-room. Every year, a speaker or chairman is chosen, and each
member addresses the other by the title his master bears. In case of
disputes, &c., the speaker (who sits in an elevated chair) decides, and
if there is any unparliamentary conduct, the party is fined.

This _ground_ parliament has powers peculiar to itself, and never
interferes with the _upper_ parliament under the same roof, its powers
not being so great as the "_Senatus populusque Romanus_." It is an annual
parliament, but does not extend to universal suffrage. The members vacate
their _seats_ or _stands_, when discharged by their masters in the
_upper_, or legal parliament. This parliament prints no journals, its
_acts_ not extending beyond the room, except when the _Irish members turn
out_ in palace yard. N.B. No member can be admitted till the fees are
paid. For further information relating to this self-elected parliament,
see the rules and regulations over the mantelpiece in the room.

P.T.W.

* * * * *



FINE ARTS.

* * * * *


THE COLOSSEUM.

_(For the Mirror.)_


The legitimate name of Mr. Hornor's colossal edifice in the Regent's
Park, we believe, was first set forth as the Gyrôrama, Girorama,
Panopticon, or General View. The Catholic Church of Berlin, although
diminutive in proportion to the Marylebone wonder, is, with the solitary
exception of the Pantheon at Rome, the only structure, perhaps, that
bears any resemblance to it in form and feature.

The porch, or, more properly speaking, the ôropylaion, or
fore-temple, is about the height of our Pantheon facade in Oxford Street;
and the apex of the dome may probably correspond in elevation with the
roof of that building. The whole effect, however, when viewed from the
great square in front of the opera house at Berlin, is extremely
pleasing; and, associating itself by general outline with the ideas of
the grand prototype of the eternal city, derives a degree of importance
which a minuter inspection would not confer. There are numerous churches
in Berlin, but three only which lay claim to particular notice, St.
Nicolas, the French Church, (standing on one side of the above mentioned
square) and the Catholic Church. The architecture of these is not pure in
any single instance; it having been the prevailing taste of the period
when they were erected to over-charge the building with ornament, and
substitute one or more gorgeous embellishments as appendages to the
design, for that chaste and elegant simplicity which is so essential a
part of grandeur. Accordingly we find several of the largest
ecclesiastical edifices, the site and contour of which would otherwise
entitle them to distinction, disfigured by some overpowering
frontispizio, and presenting a complication of decorative details which
distort the outline, and, in spite of toilsome and finished sculpture,
mar the truth and elegance of classic design.

There are seven doors surmounted by tablets of tolerably good sculpture
from scriptural history, five in the front and two at the sides of the
porch, the pediment of which rests on six columns of the Ionic order, and
is enriched by alto relievos, illustrative of our Saviour's ministry, as
also by marble statues representing the Virtues, &c. The entablature
bears an inscription relative to the occasion and date of this building
being erected in the last century. The interior is plain, and more
conspicuous for an accumulation of dirt and dust (a very common
characteristic of Berlin) than of ornament; the four-and-twenty
Corinthian columns, however, which contribute their support to the dome
are imposing in their appearance. The high altar and sacristy are
constructed in a recess formed by the annexation of a small chancel to
the rotunda. This church, built of freestone, stands in an angle of the
Place des Gens d' Armes, immediately behind the great Salle des
Spectacles (schauspielhaus) or theatre, in one of the finest squares of
Berlin. With the exception of a few small chapels, it is the only
Catholic place of worship in that city, the religion of Prussia being
chiefly Lutheran.

J.R.

* * * * *



HOGARTH.

_(For the Mirror.)_


An interesting discovery of paintings by Hogarth, viz. "The Modern
Midnight Conversation," and the "Hudson's Bay Company's Porters going to
Dinner," was made about three years' ago, upon the demolition of the old
Elephant public-house, Fenchurch-street.[4] The pictures were the
undoubted productions of Hogarth, something more than one hundred years
since, at which time he lodged there. The house was known as the Elephant
and Castle, where it had been customary for the parochial authorities to
have an entertainment, the celebration of which, from some cause, was
unexpectedly removed to Harry the Eighth's head, opposite, and still in
the same line of business. This removal being mentioned to our artist on


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Online LibraryVariousThe Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 13, No. 365, April 11, 1829 → online text (page 1 of 4)