W. J. (William John) Loftie.

Rambles in and near London : or, London afternoons online

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house on land adjoining the Garden, and seems to have
made it his residence. He was raised to the earldom of
Norwich by Charles I., a title which had been his maternal
uncle's, but he seems to have been called Lord Goring



242 LONDON AFTERNOONS.

to the day of his death, which did not happen till after
the Restoration. His career has been variously judged,
and need not be further noticed here. His house, during
the Commonwealth, was rented by Lenthall, the Speaker,
and after the Restoration by Henry Bennet, Earl of
Arlington, a member of the celebrated Cabal Ministry,
who had also a house and grounds at the opposite side
of the Park, where they are ^still commemorated by
Arlington and Bennet Streets. When the second Earl of
Norwich died childless in 1671, Arlington obtained a
crown lease at a nominal rent, and he had, therefore, been
about four years in possession when Henry Morgan made
his survey.

Views of Arlington or Goring House are extant.
One of them, an anonymous etching, is in the Grace
Collection, and is dated 1663. It show's a good plain
design of the Inigo Jones type, with a high cupola in the
centre and an arcaded portico. It is quite possible that
Borne remains of this house are still existing in the fabric
of Buckingham Palace.

Meanwhile, the Mulberry Garden became a place of
public amusement. Both Evelyn and Pepys in their
immortal Diaries speak of its attractions. It seems to
have been a resort of fashion even during the Protector's
life-time, and was furnished with a place in which to dine
and a good cook. Pepys, in April, 1669, much admires a
Spanish dish he calls it an " olio "of which he partook,
visiting the garden twice on the same day. The plays of
the Restoration period contain many allusions to the
garden and its convenient arbours, and the trees must
have been productive, for Dryden is recorded to have
loved the mulberry tarts.

The garden was probably closed to the public before
Arlington House passed into the possession of John Shef-



BUCKINGHAM PALACti. 243

field, Marquis of Normanby, who, in the same year, 1703,
in which he rebuilt it, was created Duke of Normanby,
and a few weeks later, Duke of the county of Buckingham.
He is known in history by the title and the form of it which
he preferred, for he signed his name not " Normanby
and Buckinghamshire," nor even " Buckinghamshire,"
but simply " Buckingham." And this form is still re-
tained in the official name of the palace. The architect
employed was Wynde, a Dutchman, generally referred
to as Captain Wynne. He built Newcastle House, in
Lincoln's Inn Fields, and Cliefden, on the Thames, near
Taplow.

Arlington had died in 1685, leaving an only daughter,
and the Duke seems to have bought the lease of 1671.
In his will he speaks of it as if it was a freehold. Buck-
ingham is an interesting character. His chief vices were
the vices of his time, added to an inordinate family pride.
He had, it was said, proposed to marry the Princess Anne,
and, being refused, retired for a time to the Continent ;
but he got over his disappointment, and eventually, by
a curious fate, married as his third wife her step-sister,
Lady Catherine Darnley, one of the acknowledged children
of King James II. This was the lady who received Lord
Hervey in a kind of funeral state on the anniversary of
the death of Charles I., her reputed grandfather. When
Princess Anne became Queen, she remembered the com-
pliment Normanby had paid her, and very shortly after
her accession conferred the two dukedoms upon him,
and made him Lord Privy Seal. In 1703 he put a new
front and two wings on his house in St. James's Park,
and about the same time he laid out the gardens, which,
strictly speaking, can only in small part have been on
the site occupied by King James's mulberries. In 1706,
on account, perhaps, of some slight to his vanity, he



244 LONDON AFTERNOONS.

resigned his office, but did not, as he writes to his friend
the Duke of Shrewsbury, go away from London.

" You accuse me," he says, " of singularity in resigning
the Privy Seal, with a pension added to it, and yet after-
wards staying in town, at a season when everybody else
leaves it, which you say is despising at once both Court
and country." The letter is printed at length in
Dodsley's " London and its Environs," 1761 ; and the
Duke makes a good excuse for his strange conduct
by offering his correspondent a delightful and, for
the age, wonderfully enthusiastic description of his
house and grounds. The difference which nearly two
hundred years have made in the appearance of the
West End of London cannot be better illustrated than
by some of the sentences of this letter. The garden
is able to suggest, by the advantages of its situation, the
noblest thoughts that can be, for it presents at once to
view " a vast town, a palace, and a magnificent cathedral."
Considering that London was then all to the eastward
of his house, that the palace was St. James's, and the
"cathedral" Westminster Abbey in which, by the way,
he was destined to be buried this is a rather high-flown
description. But he goes on to say that the commonest
shrub in his garden excites his devotion more than a
church, as the works of Nature appear to him to be the
better sort of sermons. " The small distance of this place
from London," he continues, " is just enough for recovering
my weariness, and recruiting my spirits so as to make me
better than before I set out." He then enters on a minute
description of his house, with its hall, " paved with square
white stones mixed with a dark coloured marble " ; its
parlour, thirty -three feet by thirty-nine, with a niche
fifteen feet broad for a beaufette, paved with white marble
and placed within an arch with pilasters of divers colours,



BUCKINGHAM PALACE. 245

the upper part of which as high as the ceiling is painted
by Ricci, its staircase decorated with the story of Dido,
and domed with the figures of gods and goddesses ; a
saloon, thirty-five feet by forty-five, also painted, and
a " closet of original pictures, which yet are not so
entertaining as the delightful prospect from the windows."

The exterior of the house itself is hardly mentioned by
the Duke ; and it seems to have been but little altered
even after its occupation for many years by Queen
Charlotte. It was of red brick, with stone dressings,
had a Corinthian portico, and two wings connected by
carved colonnades with the centre. An appropriate
Latin motto was on the entablature, referring to the
charms of the situation, and on the garden front were the
words, now so hackneyed, Rus in Urbe. There were
statues and fountains and other embellishments of the
kind, most of which disappeared after the Duke's death
in 1721. He left the house to his widow, who survived
him till 1743. In 1761 it was bought by the young
King, and it was settled on the Queen in 1775 when Somer-
set House, in the Strand, was given up for public offices.
The price paid to Sir Charles Sheffield, the Duke's eventual
heir, was 21,000,

George III. made Buckingham Palace the headquarters
of his immense literary collections. We must remember
that London in those days was but scantily furnished
with libraries. The nucleus of the library at the British
Museum was only formed in 1757, when George II.,
shortly before his death, gave it the old library of the
English Kings, in all about ten thousand volumes. There
were libraries at Syon College and St. Paul's for clergymen,
and in Queen's Square for Dissenters. A few other small
collections were open to the public, but do not seem to
have been much used. So liberally did the young King



246 LONDON AFTERNOONS.

go to work to start a new royal library, in the place of
that given away by his grandfather, that though he only
ascended the throne in 1760, and was then, as is well known,
but eighteen years of age, he had already, six years after
the purchase of Buckingham House, collected a library
which, to use the words of Johnson, as reported by Boswell,
" was more numerous and curious than he supposed any
person could have made in the time which the King had
employed." Barnard, the King's librarian, was much
beholden to Johnson for a long letter, in which he gave
elaborate instructions as to the formation of a library.
It would have been interesting to read that letter, but
Boswell could not obtain it from Barnard, who thought
it would detract from his own merits.

The great foreign collection of " Consul Smith "
contained books and manuscripts as well as pictures,
and new rooms had to be added to the old house.
Pyne gives the interiors of two of them, as well as views
of several other rooms, the hall, staircase, and saloon
of the Duke's building, evidently not much altered
since he wrote his letter to the Duke of Shrewsbury,
though by 1818, when Pyne's drawings were made, Wyatt
the elder had been at work. The libraries were plain,
their ornaments consisting of books alone, and it is interest-
ing to imagine the uncouth figure of Samuel Johnson
standing by that tall wire fire-guard, or sitting in one of
those comfortless armchairs with an editio princeps of some
classic author held close to his nose. Mr. Barnard, we
are told, " took care that he should have every accommo-
dation that could contribute to his ease and convenience
while indulging his literary taste in that place." The
King heard of it, and desired that he should be told of
Johnson's next visit. BoswelFs description of the inter-
view and the conversation that ensued is one of the best



BUCKINGHAM PALACE. 247

passages of the best biography in the language. The
minutes of the conversation were submitted to the King
for approval before publication. At the time of the
interview George III. cannot have been twenty-five years
of age, and considering the poverty of the education he
had received, and the slight knowledge he can have had
time to gain of his newly acquired books, his remarks
are surprisingly safe, if not sound.

The books collected here form now a very important
part of the library at the British Museum, to which
between sixty and seventy thousand volumes were
conveyed by an arrangement with George IV., who
had no room for them during the rebuilding of the
palace, and who neglected, or forgot, a library among
the new buildings at Windsor. It is interesting here
to note that another interview, more than ninety years
later, took place in Buckingham Palace between a
Sovereign and an eminent author. A few months only
before the sudden death of Charles Dickens I quote from
a passage in " Old and New London " (iv., 70) he went
to visit Queen Victoria at her Majesty's desire. The
Queen's kindness left a strong impression on his mind :
she gave him a copy of the " Journal in the Highlands * ;
and just two months from the day of the interview Dickens
was buried in Westminster Abbey

All the children of Queen Charlotte, except the Prince
of Wales, were born at Buckingham Palace, and after
the King's final illness in 1810 she resided here occasionally
until her death in 1818. The scheme of making this the
headquarters of the Court instead of St. James's was
one of the favourite ideas of George IV., but as there was
considerable difficulty hi obtaining funds from Parliament,
it was determined, ostensibly at least, only to repair and
enlarge old Buckingham House. Enormous sums



248 LONDON AFTERNOONS.

however, expended by Nash, with a most unsatisfactory
result, for the height and proportions of Wynde's design
were retained, although wholly unsuited to the new
dimensions of the palace.

When Queen Victoria succeeded, the palace had been
undergoing improvements and alterations; but, though
many of the State Apartments were handsome, it was
not suitable for the chief royal residence. William IV.
had never lived in it, and the Duke of Wellington said of
it that no European Sovereign was so ill-lodged as the
King of England. The old part of the house faces north
into the gardens, and is built of good stone from designs
by Nash. In this wing are the dining-room and other
domestic apartments, and an extensive and beautiful
collection of Sevres porcelain is in wall cases hermetically
sealed. A library, a sculpture gallery, and a low but
handsome hall, fifty feet by thirty, are among the best
features of the old palace. It was further set off by the
Marble Arch, which formed a stately entrance.

Several extensive additions were ordered to render
the building available for the use of the young Queen ;
but they were chiefly carried out in poor materials, covered
with stucco painted drab, and the design by Blore was
so debased being neither Palladian, like Wynde's and
Nash's work, nor Gothic, as Blore might have liked it
that it has been universally condemned. In 1850 the
Marble Arch was removed to Tyburn Turnpike ; the old
dome in the centre was pulled down, a great ball-room was
built on the south side, and a passage or corridor. A
picture gallery, the proportions of which may be judged
when we note that it is 152 feet long by 28 feet wide and
30 feet high, was added, in a wretched style, neither
Classical nor Gothic, and gaudily painted]and "gilded Jwith
skylights. ., ]



BUCKINGHAM PALACE. 249

The building remained essentially mean, and only not
commonplace because it was more than commonly ugly.
We may hope that, considered merely as a background
for the monument which is to commemorate Queen
Victoria's long and glorious reign, the front of Bucking-
ham Palace may be rendered more worthy to be known
as the residence of the greatest Sovereign in the world.



250



CHAPTER XXI.

THE LIBRARY OF ST. PAUL'S.

A Long Ascent The Preservation of Ancient Records Bishop
Comptoii The Model of Wren's Favourite Design for the
Cathedral The Manuscripts " Bishop and Portreeve "
Odd Names Priests' Sons.

ONE hundred and forty-three steps ! Such is the pre-
liminary exercise prescribed for those who would ascend
to the triforium of St. Paul's in order to see the Library.
In an ordinary London house twenty or twenty-five steps
take us up to the first floor, and we constantly hear people
complain of " those endless stairs." The visitor to St.
Paul's, therefore, may have to think twice before he sets
out on the long climb, and various methods have been
suggested by which it may be accomplished with the
smallest resultant fatigue and loss of breath. All I can
say is that mere curiosity will have very little reward ;
but that to the serious student, either of architecture
or of history, the excursion will prove most delightfully
novel, instructive, even thrilling ; and though a penalty
may have to be paid by panting lungs and aching limbs,
these things will be forgotten ; while the views east and
west, north and south, the objects of literary interest, the
ancient cathedral records, and the beautiful model of
Sir Christopher Wren's first and favourite design will live
long in the memory and return our expenditure with
compound interest.



THE LIBRARY OF ST. PAUL'S. 251

Let us dwell briefly on the Library and its contents ;
pay a visit to the model ; and spend the rest of our time
on an examination of some of these, the most ancient
series of muniments preserved by any capitular body in
England. Even that of the Corporation at the Guildhall,
marvellously ancient as it is, pales beside the collection
at St. Paul's a collection which owes nothing to the
collector, but has grown and accumulated ever since a
cathedral church, with a duly constituted Dean and
Chapter, occupied the site. I do not know how it was
saved from the flames in 1666 nay, so ancient are many
of the documents, from the Great Fire of 1136. If we
have time, when we have seen the Library and visited
Wren's model, we may pick out from among the manu-
scripts one or two which were probably in, I was going
to say Old St. Paul's, but I mean an older St. Paul's still,
the church founded by King Alfred two hundred and
fifty years before the first Great Fire, and seven hundred
and eighty years before the destruction of what we call
Old St. Paul's.

The triforium is full of what looks for a moment like
theatrical scenery. These great pictures stretched on
irregularly shaped frames are designs, some of them by
great artists, for the decoration of the dome. For instance,
Stevens the sculptor, who designed the Wellington Monu-
ment in the nave below, made sketches for three of the
prophets, which, with other drawings of his, are here.
Among others, there are also here experimental sketches
and pictures, some of them highly finished, by Sir
Edward Poynter and, I think, the late Lord Leighton
and Mr. Watts. When we have passed these curious
objects, we reach on the left the door of the Library. A
little further on, another door, also on the left, admits
to the head of the so-called " geometrical " staircase, and



252 LONDON AFTERNOONS.

there is a kind of gallery at the western extremity of the
church, from which a fine view may be obtained of the
nave and choir. The gallery forma a crossing from the
southern triforium to the northern : and here, in one
chamber, is Wren's model of his original design. Another
chamber forms a lecture- or class-room, sometimes used.

The Library contains, besides some fine books, many
objects of interest. Bishop Compton left half his library
to St. Paul's, and his portrait hangs in the gallery, above
the fireplace at the east end of the room. This was the
brave bishop who, dressed as a dragoon, carried Princess
Anne behind him on horseback to join the Prince of Orange
in the winter of 1688, and who as Bishop of London saw
the new cathedral opened for service in 1697, and the
whole building, so far as stone-work was concerned, finished
in 1711, as he survived until 1713. In one of the cases
is the promise of King Charles to give a thousand a year
towards the rebuilding. There are, unfortunately, no
records of a single payment. Some autographs of arch-
bishops and a signature in the neat hand of Sir Christopher
Wren are also to be seen.

On the opposite or north side of the triforium, a door
admits us to a chamber where, in a very cramped space,
is the beautiful model of Wren's original design.* It is
large enough to allow the visitor to enter a doorway in
the baize-covered pedestal on which its stands, so as to
understand more clearly how far the design accomplishes
the architect's object. He aimed at making a house
where the largest possible number of hearers might assemble
under cover a new " Paul's Cross," but not in the open-air.
He wished to provide a preaching place, a building in which
music could be performed to the greatest advantage,
where there should be the least possible interruption either

* A 'reproduction of the design will be found facing p. 1 64.



THE LIBRARY OF ST. PAUL'S. 253

to sight or sound. This model shows plainly the practical
manner in which Wren grappled with the difficulties
of the problem presented to him. In addition to the
necessities just mentioned, he never lost sight of one other :
his great preaching and praising place must be beautiful.
He bestowed upon it such delicate proportions that every
part answers to the rest, and that the eye is carried
upward by a series of carefully calculated curves from
the basement to the cross on the summit of the dome.
He depended upon these proportions for his effect, but
he did not neglect ornament. True, the ornaments were
to be entirely subordinate, but they were to enhance the
salient points of the design, and to add to the pleasure of
viewing the building in detail.

It is not very easy to describe the design so as to convey
a clear idea of its beauty. The new church was to consist
of a vast dome. Everything else was subsidiary. At the
west end was a pedimented portico of eight Corinthian
columns, recessed in the centre, where a series of pillars
led into a vestibule of considerable size, crowned with a
small dome, specially designed to afford the eye a measure
of the greater dome which was the principal feature of
the whole edifice. The supports of the dome, north,
south, east, and west, might be denominated transepts,
nave, and choir ; but in reality there were no such divisions,
as we shall understand better when we examine the in-
terior. The dome was supported by four great masses
of building of one storey in height. At the ends of the
northern and southern wings were small porticoes flanked
by engaged columns. At the eastern end was a slight
semi-circular projection, instead of the porticoes which
occurred north and south. The entrance to the western
wing was by a great arch from the vestibule mentioned
above. The vestibule was much narrower than the main



254 LONDON AFTERNOONS,

body of the church, with which it did not come into any
kind of competition, except in so far as it served for a foil.
It had, besides the portico, two smaller entrances, north
and south, with stately flights of steps leading up to them.
In plan the vestibule was almost an octagon, so that it
contrasted strongly with the main building, whose curves
were convex. The effect of these curves on the view
would have been as beautiful as it would have been singular.
Some critics have objected to them as unquiet ; and this
would have been a valid objection if the building had been
in any other hands. But Wren, while he curved the plan
of what would otherwise have been rectangular corners,
left the ends of what we must call the transepts square.
These projections came just under the dome, and were of
the same width. The spectator, therefore, would have
admired curves which added so much to the gracefulness
of the church, and at the same time would have been
satisfied as to the appearance of stability imparted by the
square fronts to the dome, which seemed to rest upon
them and rise from them.

The interior would have mainly consisted of the dome,
surrounded by a kind of continuous side aisle, of an even
width saving at the east end, where, as has been mentioned,
a shallow recess marked the place of the communion
table. The apertures were numerous between the cir-
cumambient aisle and the space under the dome, and a
congregation which filled both spaces would have been
able easily to see and to hear. These archways, eight
in number, were divided by piers, which themselves were
pierced, and the whole effect would have been that of
exceeding lightness combined with the most satisfactory
strength.

The dome was to rise three hundred feet above the
floor, and while it was, in many respects, like that of the



THE LIBRARY OF ST. PAUL'S. 255

present church, it was to be constructed on a different
system. These are points on which we need not enter
here. This noble and beautiful design was never carried
out.

In a former " Afternoon " we have visited the cathedral
as it is ; here we may pause to ask what critics have thought
and said of Wren's first design. Fergusson (" History of
Modern Architecture," p. 268), after speaking of the
height and width and other things, goes on :

" For the purposes of a Protestant church, it cannot be
doubted that this arrangement is superior to that of the present
church, the great defect being a want of definite proportion
between the small and large arches supporting the dome. As
they all sprung from the same level, the wide arches are too low,
the narrow ones are too high ; but the practical difference is
so slight that it looks like bad building, or as if the architect
had made a mistake in setting out the work, and tried to correct
his error by a clumsy device. Notwithstanding this defect, the
interior of the church as shown in the model would probably
have been as superior to that of the present church as the
exterior would have been inferior."

A little further on Fergusson objects to the curved outline :

" The hollow curve connecting the transepts with the nave
and choir would have had a most disagreeable effect, adding
considerably to the total want of repose in the whole outline."

As we have seen, there may be two opinions upon this
point, and undoubtedly Wren was far more likely than
Fergusson to judge rightly on such a question. Miss
Phillimore remarks in her "Sir Christopher Wren"
(p. 198):

" The outside, with the two hollow curves joining the transepts
with the nave ; and the two different-sized domes, would prob-
ably have been disappointing ; but one speaks with diffidence,
for this was Sir Christopher's favourite design, the St. Paul's
which he told his son he would most cheerfully have accom-
plished."



256 LONDON AFTERNOON'S.

Elmes, in his " Life of Wren " (p. 320), says of this design :


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Online LibraryW. J. (William John) LoftieRambles in and near London : or, London afternoons → online text (page 19 of 23)